ANC Failures Hasten Malema Rise: White South Africans Prepare for Exodus

Julius Malema drew thousands of supporters to his Economic Freedom March earlier this week, continuing his incision into the support of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) whose faltering performance, corrupt tendencies and listless leadership have led to widespread protests across the country.

Malema at the Economic Freedom March
Malema at the Economic Freedom March

Whatever the faults of the ANC – and there are many within the Jacob Zuma administration – growing support for Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is an alarming development, particularly if you happen to be a white South African. Malema has made no secret of his desire to completely disenfranchise the white population in favour of the blacks, advocating a raft of ridiculous economic policies likely to send South Africa back to the Dark Ages.

Left-wing struggles are not new in South Africa. In 1919, the Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) launched in Cape Town to provide a radical political vehicle for labour reform (regardless of race) and they were joined in 1921 by the South African Communist Party (SACP). These two groups provided a more effective opposition to white minority rule than the ANC did during the early days of protest.

The ICU pursued a populist mandate which neglected effective labour organisation
The ICU pursued a populist mandate which neglected effective labour organisation

Although the ICU was a short-lived organisation, the SACP would later align itself with the ANC as one of the foremost opponent groups of Apartheid. Indeed, the SACP actively encouraged and organised some of the earliest anti-pass book protests and bus boycotts in South African cities and townships during World War Two (WWII).

Of course the ANC would later be painted as communists by the ruling National Party (NP) in an attempt to retain the political backing, and economic support, of their Western allies. There was certainly a conflation of ideas and endeavour between the ANC and SACP. Indeed, longtime SACP leader Joe Slovo was one of the most prominent anti-Apartheid campaigners and a commander of the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe wing of the ANC.

Through a combination of militant violence, international lobbying and political and social persuasion, these ‘left-wing’ groups helped bring about the fall of Apartheid.

These groups were, however, fighting against an unjust and repressive political system. Malema and his EFF seek to topple the democratically-elected ANC so that they can use the levers of power to punish the whites. Should the EFF ever displace the ANC then there will be a repeat of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in South Africa.

Robert Mugabe has allowed blacks to seize white farms in Zimbabwe, destroying productivity in the process
Robert Mugabe has allowed blacks to seize white farms in Zimbabwe, destroying productivity in the process

The ANC has performed a wholly inadequate role in the post-Apartheid era. In a desperate attempt to reverse the racial discrimination of the Apartheid era, they have progressed too swiftly and with tragic results. Few incentives remain for white businessmen and farmers to stay in the country and yet they are the ones with the experience, capital and organisation to provide a sound economic basis for the country. The blacks, because of their stifled development under Apartheid, do not have the same economic capacity and this scenario will not improve if they are simply handed rewards without work (something Malema is keen to extend beyond the current ANC policy).

City centres have become slums and impoverishment amongst the black population has increased under the ANC’s watch. Why? Because its leaders are more interested in lining their own pockets and protecting their own business and political interests than improving the lot of their people, a sad fact common across the African continent.

The once-trendy district of Hillbrow in Johannesburg is now a crime-ridden slum
The once-trendy district of Hillbrow in Johannesburg is now a crime-ridden slum

It is therefore understandable that Malema and his populist rhetoric have struck a chord with poor black South Africans. Undoubtedly, should he ever attain political office he is likely to go the same way as Jacob Zuma and all those other self-serving ‘freedom fighters’ he claims to revile.

More worryingly, however, is the fact that he will plunge South Africa into anarchy, sealing its economic fate and driving out the remaining few whites who have resisted the racist policies and declining opportunities of the past few years to contribute what they can to the country that they love.

The Christian Mission: from ‘Soldiers of God’ to Humanitarian Educators

Roman Catholic missionaries were amongst the most important explorers during the European Age of Discovery, venturing where no others would dare in the hope of inculcating ‘primitive heathens’ into their all-powerful church. Today such missionaries receive little attention yet they remain active nonetheless, seeking not only to spread Christian doctrine across the globe but also to translate bibles into indigenous languages in an attempt to create a more uniform Christian teaching within ethnically-diverse states.

A Jesuit missionary instructs schoolboys in the Congo - 1930s
A Jesuit missionary instructs schoolboys in the Congo – 1930s

A good case in point is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Accurate statistics are hard to come by in this vast and war-torn nation, although it is possible that up to 80% of the population identifies itself as Catholic. Either way, this branch of the Church certainly makes up the overwhelming majority.

The Kingdom of Kongo (as the western part of the DRC was then known) was one of the first states in the African interior exposed to the proselytizing missionaries of Europe. Diogo Cao – the famed Portuguese navigator – first reached the Congo River in 1482 and on a subsequent voyage in 1485 he is recorded to have penetrated deep inland and met with the Manisono, the chief adviser to the King (the Manicongo). Several African natives accompanied the return voyage to Lisbon, on which Cao died.

In 1490-91 another voyage set sail for the Kongo with the stated purpose of converting the natives to Christianity. Much historical debate remains over which Catholic order undertook the mission. Contemporary chroniclers suggest it was the Franciscans, although subsequent claims have been made for both the Dominicans and the Order of St John the Evangelist taking the lead. Either way, the mission was remarkably successful. The Manisono was converted, along with several provincial chieftains, and it was not long before the Manicongo himself had taken the cross, being christened Joao in honour of the Portuguese king.

Nzinga a Nkuwu - otherwise known as Joao I
Nzinga a Nkuwu – otherwise known as Joao I

There is a paucity of first-hand sources for this period, as one might expect. However, the ease with which the Manicongo and his people were converted has been attributed by some to the belief that several friars remained in Kongo after Cao’s second voyage. Either that, or the natives that were returned to Portugal were instructed in the European tongue and were therefore well-placed to translate the necessary sacraments – with their supposed merits – to their kinsmen.

It was certainly one of the more successful of the European missionary ventures and Catholicism has retained a presence in the Congo region ever since, with a variety of orders picking up the mantle of whoever first converted the natives.

Of course despite this, animist and other traditional forms of religion have persisted, sometimes cloaked within the guise of Christianity. This explains why the Congo mission has never ended. During Belgian colonial administration great efforts were made to translate the bible into the plethora of native languages that existed across the country, making a simultaneous push to improve literacy rates and thus help the proliferation of Christian doctrine.

The  Christian faith is practiced with local variants in the DR Congo
The Christian faith is practiced with local variants in the DR Congo

One persistent problem for the Christians – in their purest form – is that their religion is historically associated with conquest and colonisation. Therefore, traditional practices – such as the worshiping of ‘false idols, shamanism, spiritual healing and even human sacrifice – have persisted in certain provinces.

As such the role of the missionaries – at least as far as the Church is concerned – will never end. Their duties have taken on a more educational and humanitarian aspect over the past century, rather than simply existing to swell the numbers in the Christian ranks and to eradicate ‘pagan’ beliefs.

It is perhaps a more respectable role that these ‘soldiers of God’ now play, though no doubt examples remain of over-interfering, self-serving proponents of the faith. It also demonstrates the sheer absurdity of the early Catholic missions. They had a goal – and a staunch belief – that they would convert all in their path, smash the heathens and find long-lost Christian tribes dwelling deep within the interior of undiscovered states.

Presumably such sentiments have long been forgotten…and we move into a new age of the Christian mission.

Whatever your views on Christianity, these people have taken a central role in history. Let us hope that they continue to do so.


Boehrer, G.C.A, ‘The Franciscans and Portuguese Colonization in Africa and the Atlantic Islands, 1415-1499, Academy of American Franciscan History (Jan, 1955)