More Western naivete on Africa

The West doesn’t have a clue about Africa. I make this bold statement after having just seen The Constant Gardener.

Not a bad movie, but I have some serious issues about the political angle. The movie is about how the West, in this case through big pharmaceutical companies, abuses Africa. I’m certainly no fan of big business and I’m very very worried about the GM interest in Africa, BUT I think to blame only the West is a head-in-the-sand reaction to a much more complex problem.

For a start, African leaders in general are weak and corruptable. They get away with this because the people allow them to. I doubt whether you can count the number of countries that aren’t corrupt in Africa on one hand and this has nothing to do with the West.

You will always find those who will do anything for money, but in the West the people won’t stand for it (the US oil gathering exercise in Iraq is hopefully the exception that proves the rule). In Africa, this kind of accountability does not exist. Money grubbing bastards exploit Africa only because they can. This dates back to slavery itself. I know this is bound to get many readers worked up, but many African chiefs got paid lots of money to provide slaves to the slave traders.

Another thing that always upsets me about Africa is the living conditions. Sewage and litter is not managed at all, creating serious health hazards. People in the West will not accept these conditions, even if it means moving away or doing something about it yourself. I simply cannot understand why can so many African people not clean up after themselves.

The nonsense that is political correctness stops us from asking these questions honestly and openly. Well, I’m sick of political correctness and I’m saying that Africa has got to take responsibility for itself.

Unfortunately this is a long and often very painful process. But every time the West interferes, the process is neccesarily set back. I know this sounds heartless, but I think that with all the “wishy-washy” crap that the likes of Bob Geldof & Bono dish up, some clear thought is required.

I’m willing to bet that in another 20 years the next glory seeking musician will be collecting money for the same old problems and it still won’t change a thing.

I love Africa more than most readers are likely to know. It is in my genes as well as my jeans 🙂 It is the most gloriously beautiful place on Earth. But it also has major problems.

You cannot solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. To this end I think honest discussion is the best way to start, so if you have any thoughts on the matter – even if it directly opposes mine, don’t hesitate to comment; even if it is anonymously.

2 thoughts on “More Western naivete on Africa

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  1. I think it’s slightly simple to state that the corruptness of African politics is entirely a product of history that leads to a tribal mentality and malaise on the part of the people.

    Corrupt African governments have often come into being through western intervention and/or support, where governments “over here” have turned a blind eye to how a President governs their country in order to have a political ally or trading partner “over there”.

    I’m sure I don’t have to name the many examples.

    It has also been shown that when the people of an African country are freed from a tyrannical ruler, they embrace democracy and turn out in huge numbers to vote in free elections. I understand this often doesn’t last and it appears easy for a new dictator to entrench themselves, although I believe this is due to two factors.

    Firstly, a political history of dictatorship is a difficult starting point for a democracy. Citizens will often vote overwhelmingly for the main opposition party (as there was generally one previous underground opposition movement). New parties are relatively underdeveloped and unable to ballot effectively.

    Secondly, institutions such as the Press, NGOs etc will be few or non-existent, and these are crucual elements to maintaining a democracy through accountability to the people.

    Both of these factors (and no doubt numerous others) lead to a democratically elected government with an overwhelming majority and almost no accountability. Mix this in with the corrupting nature of power and politics and you don’t have a good recipe for democracy.

  2. DG:

    “I think it’s slightly simple to state that the corruptness of African politics is entirely a product of history that leads to a tribal mentality and malaise on the part of the people.”

    Did Attie say that?

    Anyway, Attie, agree wholeheartedly with your point about PC. Thankfully, its an attitude that people are beginning to stand up to in the UK.


    PS. You once diagnosed me a Tory, think you might be right mate!

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