02 March 2012

Africa's Amazing Rise

A spate of articles in the popular media has attempted to paint an image of Africa as a resurgent continent in the middle of a great economic and cultural ascendancy. While such imaginative viewpoints may fit the modern mood of political correctness, they risk the inducing of complacency in the persons who might otherwise want to help develop solutions for the rapidly worsening plight of sub-Saharan Africans.

Here is an excerpt from a recent article about the "Africa's Amazing Rise."
The conversation about development, still too often mired in outmoded discussions of African poverty and stagnation, must catch up to the realities on the ground. A decade ago, development experts lectured African governments on the importance of crafting pro-poor policies. Now the question increasingly asked is how Africans can share their wealth more equitably. _Atlantic
These African Panglossians make a number of fundamental errors in thinking and argument when attempting to portray the dark continent as a veritable up and coming Garden of Eden.

First, they fail to distinguish between Muslim North Africa, and black sub-Saharan Africa.

Next, they focus on growth numbers such as per cent growth in GDP, without noting that "high" GDP growth numbers mean very little when one is starting from virtually nothing.

In addition, they look at growth industries such as "cell phones" as an example of the increasing vitalisation of the area. While cell phones may help facilitate genuine economic enterprise, they may also be used for a large number of non-economic and often decadent purposes.

Moreover, these cheerleader pieces of pseudo-journalism fail to confront the horrendous and worsening problems which SS AFrica faces. Dictatorships, overpopulation, bloody tribal war, religious wars, over-dependency on natural resources, neo-colonisation by China, tropical disease, HIV, collapse of family structure, premature urbanisation into crumbling cities of perpetual decay... and so on.

One would do far better in understanding the future of sub-Saharan Africa by reading The Coming Anarchy.

Wishful thinking -- even politically correct wishful thinking -- will not make a silk purse of a sow's ear. Anyone who still cares about Africa, beyond its vast resource wealth, will want to confront the reality of Africa, rather than the fantasy.

First published on abu al-fin


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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