If there is a God above who had a hand in shaping SA’s fate, I think he gave white people all the luck. The thought crossed my mind recently when I reread CW de Kiewiet’s masterpiece, A History of South Africa. Writing in 1940, De Kiewiet marvelled at SA’s good fortune. Modern capitalism had just been through the Great Depression and SA, a vulnerable economy exposed to a global hurricane, ought, by rights, to have been battered to smithereens. But SA had gold. "Here was an industry," De Kiewiet wrote, "which feared neither locusts nor cattle diseases, neither drought nor summer floods. Its product always commanded a ready sale in the financial centres of the world…. It stabilised revenues and preserved national income from violent fluctuations…. Like a great flywheel [it] gave stability to a country that otherwise would have been singularly sensitive to movements in the world economy."Over the following three decades, the luck of which De Kiewiet wrote only got better. After war’s e...

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