13 December 2011

Is There a Cure for African Backwardness?

SubSaharan Africa is historically the most backward region of the world. Of the 42 poorest nations listed by the UN in 2010, almost all are located in SubSaharan Africa.
1. Zimbabwe
22. Tanzania (United Republic of)
2. Congo (Democratic Republic of the)
23. Djibouti
3. Niger
24. Angola
4. Burundi
25. Haiti
5. Mozambique
26. Senegal
6. Guinea-Bissau
27. Uganda
7. Chad
28. Nigeria
8. Liberia
29. Lesotho
9. Burkina Faso
30. Comoros
10. Mali
31. Togo
11. Central African Republic
32. Nepal
12. Sierra Leone
33. Papua New Guinea
13. Ethiopia
34. Mauritania
14. Guinea
35. Madagascar
15. Afghanistan
36. Benin
16. Sudan
37. Yemen
17. Malawi
38. Myanmar
18. Rwanda
39. Cameroon
19. Gambia
40. Ghana
20. Zambia
41. Bangladesh
21. Côte d'lvoire
42. Kenya

2010 United Nations via Infoplease
This is not a recent, or temporary phenomenon. Remains of human ancestors were first discovered in Africa. But if you click on the timeline of civilisations below, you can see that civilisation did not arise until after humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia. And ever since, Africa has remained essentially the same, while the rest of the world pushed civilisation ahead by fits and starts.

As an African....if you are honest with yourself you come to realize, and admit the truth: central to this continent's backwardness are its people. Precisely the mentalities which most Africans approach life with. This is making a blanket statement obviously, because a hundred percent of any people cannot have a uniform view on any one issue. But by and large, too many black Africans are too willing to wallow in the blame game, to point accusing fingers at everyone but themselves. They are people who seem totally unaware that as grown human beings they (and other Africans like them) are to a large extent responsible for the choices they make, and how such choices impact their lives. They are utterly unwilling to accept facts that may contradict their world view, which is the dangerous and false idea that we are backward because other people are making us so; that these other people "will never give us a break and allow us to develop our societies so that we too can live in better material conditions..." _All Africa
There is a lot more than low IQ to blame for African backwardness and failure to civilise and develop a homemade high tech infrastructure. High disease rates, high rates of corruption in government, low executive function and poor impulse control -- all these and more combine to create the perfect storm of perpetual backwardness.

Africa stayed where it was for millenia - they didn't invent an alphabet and written language, neither did they make use of wheeled transport except in isolated cases. These are two of the corner stones of any technological society. Engineering is based on mathematics. Another discipline Africa knew nothing of.

Look at the facts. Then find an answer that fits the facts. If newer facts force one to update or abandon one's answer, so be it.

Statistically, any society needs a certain percentage of its population that is mentally agile. These people will be responsible for the bulk of all the advances of that society. I don't know what that percentage is - my guess is 10 - 15%. Africa does not have the required number of these achievers able to lift the whole society. And that's it.

Africans are not responsible for this state of affairs. None of us made ourselves. _WikiAnswers
You can find a large number of news stories about how quickly Africa is lifting itself out of poverty. But the future of Sub Saharan Africa is more accurately written in "The Coming Anarchy" than in the wishful whimsies coming from the politically correct skankstream.

"High" GDP growth rates are easy to achieve when you are starting from nothing. You must look at the source of Africa's wealth -- oil, diamonds, precious metals, uranium, etc -- and follow where the wealth goes. To Swiss bank accounts? To London townhouses and villas on the Med? More importantly, where is the human capital of Africa going? Overseas to the wealthy nations? Or is it staying at home to try to raise the native human capital of Africa? Be honest.

Africa's needs for food, technological assistance, monetary aid, outside medical support and intellectual uplift, is expanding as quickly as its rapid population growth. As long as the outside world supports the dark continent, we are nowhere close to reaching the theoretical limit to Africa's ability to absorb and dissipate outside help.

Africa needs to find ways to support itself, and build homegrown technologies and civilisations. But unless the stark underlying reality of African backwardness is acknowledged and addressed, Africa will continue to be the source of much tongue-clicking and head shaking.


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Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Perhaps part of the lack of progress as defined by Western standards is that sub-Saharan Africans have been blessed with a climate and resources sufficient to feed and shelter their populations with minimal need for innovation.

Given the lack of necessity, perhaps invention was not as highly rewarded as other areas of the world that are less hospitable. That would have placed less pressure on superior intelligence to survive and made simple physical abilities the differentiator among groups.

Tuesday, 13 December, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

The evolutionary challenge was the gauntlet of diseases and infestations in tropical Africa. Evolution's answer to that challenge was to make African women more prolific child bearers (more twins, more total births, etc). African children mature more quickly than those of other descent as well.

The earlier maturation seems to apply to the brain as well as the rest of the body, which might be something of a disadvantage in terms of ultimate cognitive development.

It may also make IQ comparisons in childhood and early adolescence less reflective of ultimate relative cognitive aptitude.

Tuesday, 13 December, 2011  
Blogger Wadi'The Zima' said...

Al fin
Your ignorance of History and Geography is astonishing. Your piece is in essence a throwback to the long discredited idiocy and shibboleth of the 18th&19th Century
I will open my comments by giving you a brief lesson on these two subjects.
Lesson 1)
Africa is a continent, stretching from Cape to Cairo, Lagos to Mombasa and the surrounding Islands. What you refer to as Sub-Sahara is a relatively recent development, During Pharaonic times what is now referred to as 'The Sahara' was a verdant area in which, amongst other things,We use to hunt Antelopes, Deer etc. There was no such thing as 'Sub-Sahara'. Africa was whole.
Lesson 2)
Africa is not only the birth place of our species but the birth place of 'Human Civilisation'

the pyramids and obelisks of Ethiopia and Egypt attest to this, when we were building the pyramids Europeans were living in caves and painting themselves blue. Some of the greatest break throughs in Astronomy, Mathematics, Philosophy, Construction, Art, Agriculture,Medicine etc We owe to we Africans. We gave the World its first Urbanised Society and organised Religion to name but a few of our gifts/contributions to human civilisation.
You would do well to study Herodotus (484BC-425BC)considered to have produced one of the seminal works of History, in which he revealed that the Greeks sent their 'finest students' to Ethiopia (Land of the Blacks) to learn and be taught by the greatest minds in the 'known World'.
While I am providing you with a reading list you might familiarise yourself with the works of Prof. Chancellor Williams, in particular his seminal work 'The Destruction of The Black Civilisation'(The History of Africa 4000BC-2000AD)
Fast forward to Today, as we finally break the chains and begin the arduous task of healing the scars inflicted by our recent history. Barely 70years with the exception of Ethiopia there was not a single Independent,Sovereign, non-Colonised Nation State in the 12 Million Sq Miles of Africa. In the succeeding 70 years we have moved from a Pre-nation state existence to the fashioning of a continental 'People and Nation' The African Union (AU). As a continent and People we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves down and re-engage with our destiny, This is the pledge we Pan-Africanist Make.

Wednesday, 14 December, 2011  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Al Fin,

The sub-Sahara portion of Africa certainly has been impacted by the environment in both beneficial [abundance of flora and fauna] and detrimental [tropical disease and more aggressive insects] ways. Perhaps the greatest impact has been the Sahara itself {Sahara Desert is redundant], which is formidable barrier to cultural mixing ... or to state the inverse ... a formidable force for isolation to the sub-Sahara.

There is little doubt that sub-groups of a species in relative isolation will tend to exhibit evolutionary divergence from the main population reflecting their environment.


You missed the point of Al Fin's post which focused on the issue of the sub-Sahara population. The northern tier of Africa has been a beneficiary of climate and trade, unlike the sub-Sahara. The hub of Western civilization is the eastern Mediterranean, while China /India are the hub of Eastern Civilization.

Wednesday, 14 December, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Bruce: The Sahara has indeed been a formidable obstacle to trade and the dissemination of ideas between the dark continent and the outside world, particularly when the world civilisation centered around the inland sea.

Arabs, Berbers, and other tribes traded with Africa by sea and overland, but they were not the most enlightened tribes around, and traded for black slaves as often as not.

Zima: Some of my readers may be unfamiliar with the "Afrocentric" interpretation of history. Thank you for bringing it to their attention.

Thursday, 15 December, 2011  

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