As we were winding up this issue, an event of great global, as well as African, import was taking place in Johannesburg. It was the 10th summit of the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
This summit of essentially developing nations comes at one of those momentous periods in human history when the global balance of power and economic domination could tip over and shift decisively.
Historically, there have been several dominant civilisations, from Mesopotamia to the Persian Empire, from India and China to Rome and Constantinople, from the Islamic civilisation to Western Christian hegemony, which was characterised by an active colonisation of most of the world.
After the end of World War II, the US and the Soviet Union emerged as the undisputed leaders of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US, at the head of the Western European nations, remained the sole global superpower --unmatched in military, economic and cultural strength and reach.
This period also saw the break-up of the former global colonial empires of Britain and France, principally, but also to a minor extent, those of Portugal and Spain, unleashing a host of independent sovereign states onto the global stage.
While the dominant West sought to entrench its economic and military suzerainty, the former colonies embarked on a process of economic and political reforms--some more successfully than others.
Some 30-40 years ago, new economic forces began to emerge, mainly in East Asia and to some extent, Latin America. Globalisation and a quantum leap in technology shrank the world and ushered in an era of unprecedented growth in world trade.
Initially the Tiger economies, and China, served as the 'world's factory floor', applying surplus Western capital to their vast pools of cheap labour to produce goods for the affluent West.
About a decade ago, there was a decided shift in the economic power balance as China emerged as the second-largest economy after the US and it is projected that in another 20 years, Asia will be the world's dominant economic power.
The West had two choices--either ride with the winds of change and benefit from the new prosperity emanating from the East, or confront it. The West chose the former option--until the election of Donald Trump, who has effectively declared a trade war with China and by extension, with many of the Tigers, as well as Africa.
The EU, which collectively has a GDP very similar to that...