If the pioneering Jews of Africa saw fit to nurture an emerging Jewish state, it would be that independent state that would guide Africa. Golda Meir in the 1950s believed that Israel was in a position to contribute to Africa. "Like them," she said, "we had shaken off foreign rule; learnt for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves." Israel could provide a better model for the newly independent African states, Meir believed, because Israelis "had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered." She initiated Israel's policy of cooperation with the newly independent nations of Africa, introducing a cooperation program based on Israel's development experience, which continues to this day.