Magazine June 24, 2019, Issue

Land and Demagogy in Africa

Sand blows across a normally submerged area at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 20, 2018. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)
An author’s up-close view of how disregarding property rights entrenches misery

In starting to confiscate land from white farmers without compensation, the South African government is acting in one of Africa’s most destructive patterns. But to make that case I need the testimony of a most special inside-outsider, who died a number of years ago.

My friend John Broom, white and British-born, was a partner in the Zimbabwean branch of Deloitte & Touche, and then a long-term exile to South Africa and the finance director of the Quaker Peace Center. In 2000, shortly after the Zimbabwean farm invasions began, he nudged me into visiting his modest apartment in a Cape Town suburb:

Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

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