Flat Earth: Dark continent

AND with Newt calling the shots in Washington there will be far less foreign aid flowing from America's treasure chests. This, however, should mean fewer of the absurdities attached to US aid. In South Africa, for example, Black Sash, the group of mostly white women who've spent 40 years fighting apartheid, last week were refused their usual grant for their welfare work among blacks. Why? USAid says that its money must now be given to ''minority-led'' groups. In other words, because black people are a minority in America, they are a minority everywhere - even when they're hugely in the majority, as in South Africa.

But America has always been eccentric, or ethnocentric, in its perceptions of Africa. Ronald Reagan once expatiated thus on the wars in Angola and Mozambique: ''It's too bad,'' he said. ''If there were no war there, why, Africa could be a - a - why, it could be a billion-dollar vacationland!''