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Journeys To Africa

Diaries of my trips to Southern Africa

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TRIP 1                          TRIP 2                            MAPS                         SUMMARY 


During the 1980's there was a great deal of focus on Southern Africa. Concerned but naive academics, clerics, journalists and other well-meaning but poorly informed activists made it their business to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations. This meddling took the form of urging "economic sanctions".

Under their sanctions plan, colleges, governments and businesses were to cease doing business in nations which did not meet their criteria. College, government, and company pension plans were supposed to sell their shares in companies doing business in or with those nations to create economic and social pressures to force their desired changes. During that time I served as a member of the Board of Regents of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. 

Early on I smelled a rat. The Board of Regents was being pressured to "disinvest" from South Africa by a small but vocal group of earnest but misled students and faculty spearheaded by the leadership of the American Lutheran Church with which the college maintained a nominal affiliation. (The ALC is now merged into the ELCA). 

But the flimsy premises behind this "spontaneous student pressure" for Luther College to divest did not seem to ring true. Also, the value of "disinvesting" college retirement funds seemed a speculative cure even if the alleged problems did exist, and even if this was any of their business, or ours. There seemed to be a hidden agenda.  

Before voting on this matter I decided to find out more so I went to Southern Africa to see for myself. Twice. What I observed there was reported to the Board of Regents in the form of these diaries.

Based on these findings, plus corroborating support from other Regents who had been to South Africa earlier, the Board of Regents voted strongly against "disinvestment". Twice. Also based on these findings and the Boards actions, the Governor of Iowa vetoed a bill that would have disinvested certain Iowa State government employee pension funds.

Reviewing the documents and newspapers of that time, now over two decades later, I am startled at the "fever swamp mentality" that surrounded this issue. [ED: It is much like what surrounds the topic of "Global Warming" today.] It was in that highly charged Cold War atmosphere these trips were taken and diaries written. They have been updated and edited for internet posting, with links, photos, and contemporary EDitorial comments added.

Dr. David A. Lien
PO Box 1014
Battle Ground, WA  98604

TRIP 1                          TRIP 2                            MAPS                         SUMMARY 

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