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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 22 September 17, 1969

The Great African Rift

page 11

The Great African Rift

There is a rift in Africa. This rift runs from South Africa to Israel. This rift is not only geographical; it is also political.

The political rift exists because two minority racial groups wish to keep large populations in political subjection. On the one hand three million Jews want to hold down millions of Arabs. On the other hand three million South Africans. Rhodesians. and Portuguese want to hold down many millions of negroes.

The Jews and the South Africans want to maintain their oppression by force. But the use of force has a consequence.

That force has already produced a counterforce. In the northern region this takes the form of the Arab confrontation of Israel. In the southern region it takes the form of guerrilla activity in Mozambique, Angola, Rhodesia, and Malawi.

Necessarily the Arabs and the Negroes will accept aid from any quarter against their oppressors. The Russians have been quick to offer the Arabs aid. with a clear diplomatic and military gain to the Russians.

Russian gains in the Middle East have in fact swung the balance of world power in favour of Russia.

But the rift in Africa is under such pressure because of the force of the Arabs and the Russians that it must continue to expand until Africa is split from North to South.

In the last few months the rift has materially increased by a left-wing coup in the Sudan.

In the Sudan the army allied with the Sudanese Communist Party and other elements in the state seized power and instituted a regime which today has a cabinet containing 12 Marxist out of 21 ministers, the rest being Nasserites.

The regime has indicated its solidarity with the Communists by recognising East Germany. Its good sense is also evident in the fact that it has made an immediate attempt to slop the war going on in the south Sudan against the Negro population. It has offered the Negro Sudanese autonomy.

The prospect is that the new left-wing Sudan may become the Cuba of Africa.

The Sudan has some special advantages for this role. It is comparatively 'isolated and inaccessible', It has Egypt as its northern neighbour. and so a direct and safe channel of communication with the Communist bloc.

It has a shore on the Red Sea. and so is open to Chinese shipping.

Furthermore, it has common frontiers with Libya, Chad, the Central Africa Republic, the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The Sudan is therefore well placed to serve as a channel of communication with left-wing activity in central Africa.

It is highly unlikely that the red tide will stop at the Sudanese border. Events in southern Africa are radicalising Zambia, and it is likely that an increasing demand for military supplies will he made through Zambia to the Communist bloc.

It seems likely that these supplies will reach the guerrillas of southern Africa along a trial running from Egypt through the Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania.

It seems unlikely that Kenya and Tanzania will be able to refuse to allow supplies to move through them in view of their stand about apartheid.

Inevitably, Kenya and Tanzania will go to the left. Two different forces are pushing them in that direction. The first is the economic difficulties which they are increasingly encountering, and which are causing racial strife within their boundaries.

The second is this. The increasing military activity in southern Africa will gradually force Kenya and Tanzania to a more committed role just as the military activity in the Middle East has forced Lebanon in the same direction.

The possibility is strong, therefore, that Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia will come to have radically left-wing regimes in the fairly near future.

The course of events so far envisaged will lead to the escalation of military activity in southern Africa to a point where military confrontation will be facing South Africa, Portugal and Rhodesia.

I think we must expect to see this confrontation match that which Israel is today facing. In other words, a middle eastern situation is likely to appear in southern Africa at an early date.

South Africa will be in the front line of jungle warfare within three years.

In view of this likelihood, it is plainly unwise for New Zealand to form any sort of military alliance with South Africa, because we would very soon find our troops in the front line if we did.

Will South Africa, Rhodesia, and Portugal be able to stand up to confrontation?

Portugal will be exhausted very quickly. The South Africans and Rhodesians will doutless then try to carry the burden throughout the entire region.

South Africa and Rhodesia have the military hardware to hold their own for a time. However, they will come to experience the same difficulties as Israel.

That is. their small European population of three million will find the physical task of manning the military machine very wearying. So much so that their final collapse is inevitable.

But the collapse of South Africa and Rhodesia is only a secondary consideration. The major consideration is the same as that in the Middle East. The longer Israel or South Africa can hold out, the more complete will be the radicalisation of the Arab and Negro states.

—Niel Wright