The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Alec Hogg
My childhood hometown of Newcastle in Northern Natal was typical of the time. In those years before television arrived in South Africa, the highlight of any pre-teen’s weekly entertainment was a packed Saturday afternoon matinée at The Plaza, the only movie house in a 100 km radius.
Those days, Hollywood’s latest would only reach Johannesburg months after release. It took years to wind a slow path to The Plaza. So, the Saturday matinée was often decades old – including one of my favourites, the memorable 1939 classic, “Beau Geste,” a tale of three derring-do English brothers who joined the French Foreign Legion in North Africa.___STEADY_PAYWALL___
I was reminded of that movie by R.W. Johnson’s latest column. The French Foreign Legion has been operating in Africa since its creation in 1831. That imbued deep institutional memory, a point Johnson makes while explaining the blunder by those Francophone nations which have ejected the Legion and replaced it with Wagner mercenaries.
The consequences will run deeper than just another tragedy of African ‘democracy.’ As any rational mind could have predicted, Wagner is proving to be far less effective than the Legionairres. As a result, long-sealed doors are suddenly opening for jihadists. Increasingly so, as Putin is now withdrawing Wagner resources from Africa to support his 628-day-old ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
The result: ISIS and al-Qaeda have never been better placed to establish a permanent foothold in Sub-Saharan Africa. This matters for South Africans. Hundreds of SANDF troops are already in Mozambique fighting extremists. Given the country’s AU commitments, there could soon be many more required further north.
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Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.