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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 15-Jul-2021
15-Jul-21 World View -- South Africa tribal violence spreading and growing

Web Log - July, 2021

15-Jul-21 World View -- South Africa tribal violence spreading and growing

Cuba street protests at start of its generational Crisis era

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

South Africa tribal violence spreading and growing

Burning warehouse in Durban following riots gives rise to fears of food and fuel shortages (Reuters)
Burning warehouse in Durban following riots gives rise to fears of food and fuel shortages (Reuters)

Communal violence is spreading in South Africa, led by members of the Zulu tribe. More than 70 people have been killed and more than 1,200 people have been arrested, as the violence continues into the eighth day.

Rioters have been looting shopping centers, stores and warehouses, possibly emulating the antifa-blm looters in Portland and Chicago. There are already pockets of hunger in South Africa, and it's feared that the looting will make shortages of food and fuel worse.

The rioting was triggered by the jailing of South Africa's ex-president Jacob Zuma, a charismatic and popular Zulu leader who was ousted from his own ANC party over accusations of corruption and rape.

For several weeks, Zuma has been calling on his supporters to prevent his arrest by locking arms and blocking the police from arresting him. He has often been seen singing his favorite revolutionary song "Umshini Wami" (Bring me my machine gun), often accompanied by him swirling his hips and skillfully doing a traditional Zulu dance. He used that song frequently during his political campaigns.

The two largest tribes in South Africa are the Zulu tribe and the Xhosa tribe. Between them, they make up a third of South Africa’s 55 million people.

The African National Congress (ANC) is the only political party that has won elections since South Africa's independence in 1994. Thus, the leader of the ANC always goes on to become the president. Up until recently, the Zulu and Xhosa tribes have dominated the ANC.

The ANC hero, Nelson Mandela, a Xhosa, became the first president of the ANC and of South Africa in 1994. He was followed by Mandela's hand-picked successor, Thabo Mbeki, another Xhosa. The ANC became sharply divided in Decenber 2007, when when Mbeki lost a bruising battle for ANC leadership with a Zulu, Jacob Zuma.

Xenophobic violence during Jacob Zuma's term

In 2008, xenophobic violence against immigrants from other African countries, originating in Alexandria, a suburb of the capital city Johannesburg, spread east into the Zulu heartland of Durban and west into Cape Town. The violence was spurred by a poor economy and a lack of jobs, with the accusations that other African immigrants were taking the good jobs.

Tens of thousands of immigrants were forced to flee for their lives from their homes and businesses, often with no time to collect their belongings before their homes and businesses were looted and destroyed. The violence and looting were generally perpetrated by young South Africans from the Zulu and Xhosa tribes. (See "South Africa will create 'temporary shelters' for migrants, not 'refugee camps' (31-May-2008)")

The xenophobic violence was repeated in 2015 when thousands of people, mostly foreigners from Zimbabwe and Malawi, fled for their lives, after mobs with machetes attacked them in the city of Durban. Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, which is the heartland of the Zulu tribe. The anti-immigrant violence spread to Johannesburg. It's believed that the attacks were triggered by remarks made by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, who said in a public speech, "We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries." ( "17-Apr-15 World View -- South African xenophobic violence echoes 1820s Mfecane Zulu massacre")

Cyril Ramaphosa, from the Venda tribe, becomes president

Jacob Zuma was ousted from the party before his second term ended in 2018. He is facing 16 charges of corruption, fraud, graft and racketeering relating to a 1999 purchase of weapons and gear from European arms firms when he was deputy president. In 2006, he was in court for the alleged rape of a colleague's HIV-positive daughter. He was acquited of those charges, but not before bragging that he had unprotected sex with the woman, but avoided catching HIV by taking a shower after sex.

A surprise candidate, Cyril Ramaphosa, won the ANC leadership in 2017, in a close battle with the favored Zulu candidate. Ramaphosa is a member of the Venda tribe, a small tribe with fewer than 700,000 people, living near the border with Zimbabwe.

Ramaphosa became president in the hope that he could be relatively neutral between the Zulus and Xhosas, and could resolve the divisiveness between those two tribes. One businessman voter was quoted as saying,

"There are not enough Venda to hijack the country. When Thabo Mbeki was president [from 1999 to 2008], you had to be Xhosa to get anywhere. Under Zuma, the Zulus have led the way. I am hoping that Cyril as a Venda will have to involve all South Africans because his own people are so few."

There have been very divisive issues during Cyril Ramaphosa's term as president, and Ramaphosa has been successful in defusing most of them. The most explosive one was the proposal to confiscate the land of white farmers without compensation. Ramaphosa found a way to mitigate the land confiscation without compensation to make it less divisive.

However, probably the most explosive issue of all has been the jailing of Jacob Zuma for corruption, and that has led to the current tribal violence that appears to be increasing.

Brief generational history of South Africa

Human existence has forever been controlled by one major law: That the population always grows more quickly than the food supply. This is the reason why every society has to have an existential, genocidal war every 80 years or so. The purpose of the war is to kill off enough people so that the survivors have enough food to eat.

That appears to be what happened in southern Africa at the end of the 1700s. Population levels were increasing rapidly, and resources were increasingly scarce. The introduction of corn by the Europeans had the double effect of producing more food, but using more water to grow. Corn became a major staple, but there was massive disruption and suffering with declining rainfall at the end of the 1700s, followed by a calamitous ten-year drought that began about 1800. Presumably, this is the fault of "climate change."

Kingdoms that had existed side by side in peace for decades began to fight each other for resources. The result was a massive war called the Mfecane ("the crushing") that climaxed in 1828. The Mfecane gave rise to Shaka, considered to be possibly the greatest African warrior in history. Shaka introduced many new warfare techniques. One of the best known was to use short spears, which required close combat with the enemy, rather than long spears, which would be thrown but would not always be effective.

By the mid-1820s, Shaka ruled a kingdom of more than 100,000 people with a standing army of 40,000 men. The great Zulu Empire lasted for decades, until it was destroyed by the British in 1879 in the bloody Anglo-Zulu war. At the climax of that crisis war, the Zulus were dispersed, and the Zulu nation ended.

South Africa's last generational Crisis war was World War II. Since South Africa was part of the British Empire, it fought on the side of the allies, although some tribal factions wished to side with the Germans or stay neutral. The British colonists introduced Apartheid during the 1940s, but it was abolished in the generational Awakening era of the 1990s that led to South African independence, an Awakening era climax.

When I talk about the world in today's generational Crisis era, I talk about increasing nationalism and xenophobia in almost every nation. The same is true on a tribal basis in South Africa. The Zulus have become extremely nationalistic, and this is driving the current round of looting and rioting. But this time the violence is directed at membrs of other South African tribes, not just a "immigrants" from other African countries, as occurred in 2008 and 2015.

As the world approaches a new world war, South Africa can be expected to be involved in two different wars. One war will be as a participant in the world war on the side of either China or the West -- to be decided -- and the other will be an internal civil war, refighting the battles of the Mfecane.

Rewriting the history of the Mfecane

Just as China blames all its failures on the 1840s Opium Wars, some South African historians are blaming all their failures on the Mfecane, and blaming the Mfecane on the Europeans.

In 1988, a historian named Julian Cobbing published a paper on "The Mfecane As Alibi." He argued that the Mfecane was caused by the European and Brazilian slave trade, and if it hadn't been for the Europeans, then the Mfecan would never have occurred.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is nonsense. As we said, there was overpopulation and a calamitous drought at the beginning of the 1800s, and this is exactly the formula for a generational crisis war, a war of extermination, whose purpose is to kill off enough people so that the survivors will have enough to eat. So the Mfecane would have occurred with or without the Europeans.

The same thing is happening today, around the world. A report earlier this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that "world hunger and malnutrition levels worsened dramatically last year, with most of the increase likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic." This continued and accelerated a trend that had already been occurring prior to the pandemic.

According to the report, "Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. No region of the world has been spared."

The increase in hunger and malnutrition means that there is less food per capita in the world. For populations living on the margin, this means that they will have to fight for enough food to feed themselves and their families. This usually translates into anti-government protests, such as the ones we see today in South Africa and Cuba, and leads to either civil wars or external wars.

Cuba street protests at start of its generational Crisis era

Cuba's government is in turmoil in the face of large anti-government protests that started over the weekend.

Analysts are blaming three factors:

Analysts are comparing this to the 1994 student protests, which fizzled fairly quickly.

However, today's protests are different because this is the beginning of a generational Crisis era.

Cuba's last generational crisis war was Fidel Castro's revolution that climaxed in 1960. The new Crisis era began 58 years later, in 2018.

Prior to 2018, Cuba was in an Unraveling era, when many of the Communist policies imposed by Fidel Castro began to unravel. They moved hundreds of thousands of people from government employment to private sector employment, including self-employment. They abandoned the core principal of Marxist Socialism, "From each according to abilities, to each according to needs." Instead, workers in the private sector will be able to earn high salaries.

Today's new anti-government protests are larger and more widespread than the 1994 student protests. Since this is the beginning of a generational Crisis era, it's quite possible that it will spread, in the following weeks and months, into a re-fighting of Castro's revolution.


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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2021) Permanent Link
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