March 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Recent Entries

free hit counter

RSS Feeds

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0

June 01, 2004

So Amazingly Wrong, So Amazingly Right

When the President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, recently spoke to the South African Development Community, he railed against two things: imperialists who use African nations and instigate wars, and African complacency in the face of horrific acts within the community.

"Nobody will bring peace to Africa if we don't do it ourselves. Africa must stop living on handouts of imperialist countries", Nujoma told the opening of a parliamentary forum in the Namibian capital.

"Africa has more riches than Europe and America together", he said at the forum of the 13-nation South African Development Community.

"The imperialists take our resources or make us fight against each other", Nujoma added.

He singled out as an example the Democratic Republic of Congo where fighting re-ignited over the weekend, and criticised members of the forum for not speaking out against the violence there.

"The SADC Parliamentary Forum is a representative institution of the people of our region politically, but to my dismay, wrong acts, including the military invasion of a member state of SADC, the DRC, by some war-mongering countries a few years ago resulted in the genocide of more than three million persons, mostly women and children and the elderly", Nujoma said.

"However, in the face of these barbaric acts, SADC parliamentarians remained silent", he said.

While he unreasonably blamed the wars and the unrest on imperialists who want to have all of Africa's wealth to themselves, he also stated things that utterly need to be said. Namely, that African nations will never rise above their problems until they take the responsibility to solve those problems themselves. The handouts that he references are used to prop up failing economies far more often than they are used to put the systems in place to create long-term solutions to health, economic, and education problems, for instance.

It's not so much that the nations should stop taking the help that is being offered, though, it's that they should use that help more wisely. Of course, solutions from the West tend more toward Band-Aids than they do prevention--which I've discussed here before. Those Band-Aids, though, don't truly solve much; while I hate to resort to cliches, the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching a man to fish really does apply.

The one area where the West really does need to take part, aside from targeting aid more intelligently, is in free trade. Africa is an immensely wealthy continent. In gems and minerals and in agricultural potential, in particular, some African nations should be easily self-sufficient. Things like subsidized farming here in the United States, though, makes agriculture a difficult place for any African nations to compete.

Intriguingly, though, one solution is to guide African nations away from trade with the West. Nudging the nations toward creating stronger trading blocks between regional groups would make far more sense than trying to become competitive in Western markets, but trade is usually subdued between neighboring nations. Part of the problem is a lack of decent infrastructure to support easy trade--things like reliable roads and rail systems are simply too limited to make those regional trade coalitions an easy thing to achieve.

Part of targeted aid to African nations from the West needs to address the infrastructure issues more directly, and the money spent would most wisely be directly administered by international agencies instead of being given as gifts to the nations themselves. Bureaucracies always have an amazing capacity for siphoning off funds, but international agencies with strict oversight would probably do far better than most national agencies within the developing nations themselves (the UN oil for food scandal notwithstanding).

Weaning African nations away from Western handouts is no easy task--but there are things that we in the West can do to make it easier and to target aid more effectively. It's good to see that some leaders in Africa feel the same way.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at 03:53 PM | Comments (7)
Contributors to
Deb Yoder
IB Bill
About AfricaBlog
Submissions Guidelines

Contact Us At