Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. A sad day in American history.
Today, I have been thinking a lot about what Dr. King would have to say about a lot of current events. Especially the state of affairs in Southern Africa and the contrast between South Africa and its northern neighbor, Zimbabwe.
Both nations emerged from colonialism and white rule. Zimbabwe in 1980 and South Africa beginning in 1990. But the results of the emergence of black rule ends there.
Zimbabwe was a jewel on a badly mismanaged continent. In 1980, when Robert Mugabe won election as president of Zimbabwe, life expectancy for all races was 60 years old. Now, thanks to the dictatorial rule of Mr. Mugabe, that has plummeted to an expectancy of 35 years old. And, Zimbabwe has sunk to the depths. Unemployment is hovering at 80% and inflation anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000% Yes, that is thousands.
Look at South Africa. The economy is the envy of the African continent. Blacks are attaining economic power and the white business establishment is encouraging it. Inflation is low and unemployment is low. And, this is most important, whites by and large are being integrated along with the majority blacks, mixed race "coloureds" and large Asian, mostly Indian, populations.
The reason is that Mr. Mugabe went from freedom fighter to dictator. He is the ONLY president that Zimbabwe has ever had. He has made himself a cult of personality and thus does have some support among the masses. But while Mr. Mugabe has presided over the economic collapse of this once prosperous nation, he decided to make the whites that have remained in Zimbabwe the scapegoat by beginning to seize their farmland in 2000. It only delayed the inevitable.
When Nelson Mandela was freed from the hated Robbin Island prison in 1990 and became the first elected black president in South African history, he did not hold on to the job like some potentate. He graciously stepped aside and let a new leader take over the African National Congress party. And, Mr. Mandela worked along with Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu to lead a national reconciliation.
Mr. Mugabe used the whites to further his stranglehold on power.
Now, while it is clear that he lost the presidential election to Morgan Tsvangrai and his Movement for Democratic Change party, he is still trying to hold on to power by claiming that Mr. Tsvangrai did not get the 50% plus one of the vote and thus there should be a runoff. No doubt that at the very least there was electoral fraud and that maybe why the "official" results may show Mr. Tsvangrai with less than the required vote.
I think that Dr. King would be appalled at what has happened in Zimbabwe and would be happy to see what reconciliation can lead to as is the case of South Africa. And I think that the world is lesser today with out the moral leadership of Dr. King