CHRIS ROPER: South Africa flirts with failure
South Africans are often dismissive of the rest of Africa, steeped in the belief of their nation’s exceptionalism. But the country resembles struggling states more closely than we may want to admit
Last week I had dinner at Le Lagon in Dakar, a beautiful restaurant built out onto a pier in the bay. It’s been there since 1956, an impressive longevity. This was my second visit to Dakar, the first having been about 10 years ago. Weirdly, on that visit I was also taken to Le Lagon, so clearly it’s the go-to place when you’re entertaining visitors.
This is emphasised when you arrive, as the boardwalk leading up to the restaurant entrance has long rows of brass plaques lining each side, with the names of famous visitors emblazoned on them. These range from presidents to cultural celebrities, and though I didn’t take notes, I think I noticed the names of Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko (who famously stole $5bn-$15bn from his people), former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and celebrity fundraiser Bono of U2. Oh, and former German chancellor Angela Merkel...
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