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Killing with Kindness

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I worry about Africa. I really do. They seem to be in a lot of trouble. There are a lot of horrible dictators there. There are a lot of famine and droughts, and people seem to be constantly starving.

Why are they always starving in Africa? America doesn’t seem to have famine like that. I mean, has the United States ever had a famine?

When was the last time that Britain had famine? Or France? Or Germany?

Why should Africa be so full of famine? What’s the deal with that?

Here is one Kenyan economist’s explanation:

    the Europeans’ devastating urge to do good can no longer be countered with reason…We can buy these donated clothes cheaply at our so-called Mitumba markets…Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here… Instead, our tailors lose their livlihoods. They’re in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria’s textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.”

I recommend reading the interview. He makes some incredibly valid points. We need to let the African countries take care of themselves. They are much stronger than we have let them be. They deserve the chance to be truly independent. We just have to get out of the way.

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  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Nice to see someone else picking up on this. I gave it extensive coverage in Western Aid is Destroying Africa”. Looks like now that the G8 is over news from it is finally starting to filter out into the blogosphere.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    At the risk of being accused of being mean-spirited, I have always wondered how it was that the world has poured billions into Africa, enough to rebuild Europe 5 times over, probably, and yet it continues to be a festering pit of want & destitution. Not just money, but food, medicines, education, technology – all of it free & without strings, have been given in huge amounts over the years to every part of Africa. These people should be the most prosperous on earth by now, if we just go by the amounts & efforts given over the years. Obviously, something is wrong here, she said perceptively (DUH!). Is it that aid is stupidly donated, so that most of it never gets to those needing it but ends up in private markets? Is it that they have been targeted by god or luck with (it would seem from all the endless declarations of disaster) what seems like over 100 years of drought or other ecological disaster? Is it because the people haven’t figured out yet that incessant overbreeding means that more children will die, while restricting births will give those born a better chance at survival? Is it because the entire population of Africa seems to engage in mass murders and aimless wars constantly – and why; what resources are they all fighting over if the entire continent is so desolate & poverty-stricken? The only thing that is ever heard about Africa is that there is yet another disaster wiping out the entire continent, followed by pleas for more money, more food, more funds, more this, that, or the other thing, and this has been an ongoing constant for over a century. When is all the donated education, training, building, etc. finally going to take hold? Why is it that pouring all these things into Africa decade after decade seems to change nothing, like pouring water down a hole? I think perhaps people are getting cynical about all this. I have no good information or opinions on why this should be, that Africa is still after all these years in such a bad spot & nothing seems to help. If anybody does, I’d be truly interested in hearing the reasons for what seems to be to be either unprecedented bad luck or astounding mismanagement by both the Africans themselves and those trying to aid them. Thanks.

  • Vile Stench

    I know it’s not PC but perhaps there is a more sinister cause to the problem. Maybe Africans don’t have the proper genetic makeup to maintain a modern European style society on their own, period.

    Nobody wants to hear it and you will all call me a racist in a knee jerk reaction but it could be true. The other explanation would be that racists have somehow managed to hold a whole continent of people down. Also in their spare time they have devised a devious IQ test that somehow discriminates against people of color. Police and employers are in on it too. Africans are overrepresented in jail and underrepresented in the workforce in virtually all countries that keep reliable records. Is it a massive conspiracy or an inherent weakness in African culture, genetics, etc. that reduces their ability to compete in modern society. You be the judge.

  • bunny

    Well, I don’t have the answer, if that is what you are looking for. And, though I firmly believe in God, I certainly cannot answer for Him or for the run of bad luck we see in Africa. But I will say that when cultures collide, one loses. We are in the middle of a great clash now between the “West” and Islam. Hopefully it will be settled without turning into the Crusades Revisited. Africa has it’s own history.

    We see the world through our American eyes, those of us who are American, at least. Most of our worldview is essentially European, philosophically, religiously, and economically. A lot of fuss is made about the role of religion in global conflict, but philosophy and economics is often ignored. European (and American) culture is socially based on the family, and economically based on the machine of capitalism. While capitalism itself has evolved from various forces in Western Civilization, it is itself a very advanced cultural force.

    The colonization of Africa by European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries was a grand clash of Cultures. Due to superior economies, military might, and unity of command, European nations successfully ‘subdued’ the African contintent and began an attempt to ‘civilize’ the natives. In addition to the Christian religion, Western civilization introduced a form of economics which was foreign to Africa.

    Part of our problem today, as Americans, is that we think the problem is with Africa. Perhaps Africa would be just fine left alone, but we constantly try to define what their culture should be, and we belittle thier standards of living because they are not comparable to ours. Like our European ancestors, we feel a need to ‘civilize’ anyone who differs from us.

    And no, that is not an exclusively far right wing problem. It is an American problem, and a European problem – no matter what side of the politcal aisle you are on or if you embrace or shun religion.

    In short, the problem with Africa is that it isn’t America, and we can’t come to grips with it.

  • bunny

    I know it’s not PC but perhaps there is a more sinister cause to the problem. Maybe Africans don’t have the proper genetic makeup to maintain a modern European style society on their own, period.

    I would say, Vile Stench, that the issue is more cultural than ‘genetic’.

  • bunny

    But they do make good athletes.

  • Nancy

    I’m not talking Africa in terms of whether they live in grass huts or use western technology; it seems to me they are ALWAYS starving, ALWAYS in the middle of a crisis or drought or war or plague. They NEVER seem to prosper, at whatever level of technology they utilize, and whatever is offered to try to better the conditions of absolute poverty & privation never seems to ‘take’ or do any good, no matter how often or how lavishly it’s presented. Also, both of you have brought up another issue: how is it that in every single culture/place on earth, ‘whiter is better’, & darker people are less valued? It’s not logical or reasonable, yet all over the world it would seem to be a cultural constant.

  • bunny

    Well, I would say if you asked the African’s, they probably wouldn’t say that whiter is better. The Chinese think they are the center of the universe. So did Hitler and Super Race of Germans. America is pretty high on itself, and Canada thinks they are better than America. As illogical as it is, most people consider themselves to be important.

    It is latent in your comments. We live in a very peaceful nation, since we stopped killing each other and the Native Americans. We have seen consistent advances in industry, technology, human rights, etc. The fact that Africa does not exhibit these same characteristics in their society is to us disasterous. It is also why black people suffer so much from racism in America. The Poles and Irish weren’t treated as first class (though they weren’t slaves). But our commonalities were strong enough to allow America to be a melting pot. But the diffences between African and European are great.

  • bunny

    I’m not suggesting that we should applaud Africa for war/famine/genocide/pestilence. They are being visited by the four horsemen. What is the reason? I told you, I don’t have the answer.

  • Nancy

    Why are we all of a sudden posting in italics? Eric?

    Any other speculators out there about the misfortunes of Africa?

  • Eric Olsen

    you rang? Itals appear to have been fixed

    I too care about Africa, but I don’t have the answer either. There probably isn’t AN ANSWER, but rather a series of incremental answers to problems eventually leading to better than disaster. I hope

  • Nancy

    Thanx for fixing font. Where are the other ‘great thinkers’ out there? Gonzo? Nalle? Shark? Natalie? Bring it on!

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Africa was the first part of the world to fall under the yoke of European colonialism, and the last part of the world to finally shake free of colonial domination.

    Even after officially gaining their independence, many African nations remained battlefronts in the global conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. We called it a “Cold War” here, but in many parts of Africa we encouraged that war to get hot. Both sides threw additional gasoline on the same fires of ethnic conflicts the colonial powers had fanned into flame in order to remain in control.

    Only vast and willful ignorance of history could make anyone blame Africa’s problems on the black skin of its peoples, or even on their cultures. (Rarely has a commenter here been more honestly and appropriately named than “Vile Stench” above.)

  • Bennett

    “Rarely has a commenter here been more honestly and appropriately named than “Vile Stench” above.”

    Awwwwww.. you beat me to it!

  • gonzo marx

    you rang, Nancy?

    but to categorize me as any kind of “great thinker” does a disservice to those who can actually cogitate coherently..

    but i digress…

    Africa, eh? not my speciality of study, but perhaps i can share some observations…

    many times the mistake is made by outsiders of joining our current President in thinking “Africa is a big country”

    this leads to some very tragic mistakes, what may help those in Ghana might not be so good in Ethiopea, etc

    even in some of the Nations themselves, there are huge differences in regions

    much difficulty also arises form the “give them a fish and they eat for a day” rather than “teaching them to fish”

    what i mean by that, is that much of the aid are simple quick fixxes that don’t really deal with many of the underlying problems…cash donations that line the pockets of those in Power, yet no schools get built…no infrastructure made…good points inthe original article about farming and textile industries being wiped out by the huge influx of donated goods

    no easy answers

    first steps woudl be to take care of the immediate problems…a years worth of food for a famine area, then helping to build irrigation, roadways and such to help prevent it from occuring again so next years crops could be safe…and ALL th ehired labor shoudl be from the native population…or at least TRAIN and TEACH them what they need to know to keep these improvements working, and build more themselves…

    the nut here seems to be educating the populace, and giving them the means needed to work on solving the structural problems they face

    best your humble Narrator can come up with, i’m afraid…

    would that it could be some small help

    Excelsior!

  • Vile Stench

    I will agree that cultural issues may be as large or larger a factor as genetics in the current situation. I just believe, although it is unpopular, that intelligence may be related to race and measured IQ may very very loosely relate to the success or failure of whole groups of people.

    Jewish people score higher on intelligence tests than whites on average and they managed to thrive despite vigorous persecution in many countries. I doubt most people could be dumped on a pile of sand in the middle east and build a thriving western style democracy in a matter of decades like they have. Also rated higher in intelligence are certain oriental groups such as the Japanese and Chinese. They have and will be successful despite suffering the similiar burdens and problems of Africa.

    I see much statistical, anecdotal, and scientific evidence that intelligence and “success” in life may be linked to genetics and race. Many people will dismiss this offhand as racism, but most cannot come up with any credible argument as to why it’s not true.

    Sure, a few researchers who set out to destroy the genetic “myth” can turn the facts and almost eliminate the intelligence gap just like George Bush’s scientists can claim that global warming is not caused by humans. That does not necessarily make it true.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Ignoring Vile Stench, I carry on…

    If you check the link I posted earlier you will see exactly why Africa has these problems. It’s all about the money. Money corrupts and people in power use the corrupt authority of their positions to syphon off money from all forms of foriegn aid to their own benefit.

    To fix the problems in Africa you need to reform or remove the existing corrupt leaders and governments and impose or create better, more humane governments. Which is no easy job, and not one the US or even the UN is ambitious enough to take on any time soon.

    Dave

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Comparing Africa to Israel is typical of the bogus logic racists can’t stop themselves from using.

    Israel’s prosperity does not exclusively flow from the allegedly superior intelligence of Jewish people. To be sure, Israel’s citizens have shown great ingenuity and determination in building and protecting their nation. They also received military hardware and financial backing from the United States government, and substantial donations from the Jewish communities across the world.

    Modern Israel has seen a great influx of resources from all over the world for all the decades of its existence. Modern Africa faces the cumulative effect of centuries when the world has busily sucked out its resources and carted them away. Recent donations of aid to Africa are just a drop in the bucket compared to what is still being taken away from the continent.

    Once we finally get past the continuing legacy from colonial patterns of economic exchange, once Africa is given a level playing field on which to compete with the rest of the world, its peoples and nations will give the lie once and for all to the baseless and inhuman theories of racists like “Vile Stench.”

  • KYS

    I’d be interested to know what you all think about this organization: http://www.heifer.org/

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Well, KYS, theirs looks like a good approach which would be effective in many areas. Its long term benefits might not be sustained when areas become afflicted with drought, as livestock sometimes doesn’t tend to last very long during a bad dry spell. And of course it’s not really possible to research in a very short time how efficiently they carry out their programs, but at first glance the basic concept seems likely to help many people.

  • jEllabean

    It’s true, so much of it is about money and corruption, my parents used to live in Kenya, and she said you could walk into some shop and they’d be selling bags of rice that had the Red Cross emblem on it for a ridiculous amount of money. In other words selling off donated food (and other items) for their own profit. And these guys were the wealthy ones.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    And they got that rice from the government officials who were supposed to be distributing it, but were instead selling the rice off for their own profit on the black market. Some countries are ripe for revolution. The problem is whether things would get any better if there were a revolution. Past experience suggests chances of an improvement are slim.

    Dave

  • Vile Stench

    I understand now. Giving countries like Israel support helps them but giving African nations support destroys their economies. Colonization in places like Hong Kong, USA, and Canada has been beneficial but the “legacy” of colonization has destroyed Africa.

    Many of you do a great job of blaming the west for Africas demise, perhaps that is why you feel so guilty and the need to dump billions of dollars a year into that cesspool. I don’t know who’s right but I think all of us would agree that our “help” to Africa is a complete and utter waste of resources. If they have the potential, as all of you seem to agree, then by all means lets just leave them alone and see what they can do.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    You do seem to have reached the right conclusion, Vile. Now talk to the leftists who control all the NGOs and convince themm to believe the same thing.

    You might start by pointing out that the countries which are best off in the third world are the ones which retain the most vestiges of colonialism, and that the ones whcih have been allowed to go native to the largest extent are the biggest disasters.

    Israel is a case in point. It doesn’t hurt to give them aid, because they are completely western in character and have a functional government that handles the money relatively responsibly.

    Dave

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Africa has never received support remotely comparable to what Israel gets. Only by conveniently forgetting the resource extraction side of the equation can anyone make such a comparison. For every million dollars of goods donated to African charities, billions are stolen from its economies.

    The last time Israel’s resources were managed as poorly as Africa’s are today was during the decline of the Roman empire. Roman mismanagement turned the whole region into the desert wasteland modern Jewish immigrants to Palestine encountered in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    Modern colonialists have inflicted the same thing to Africa, and they still haven’t stopped even as we speak.

  • Marcia L. Neil

    Africa’s multitude of species has the combined power to exert enormous organismic pressure upon the human race. No one is ‘helping’ Africans with ‘aid’ in the form of dairy foodstuffs; or other, mechanical products manufactured from a use of dairy or living creatures captured so as to die and be food and fuel for product development schemes. Inter-species gestaults can’t support such casual activity, and human beings are a species in Africa among some of the world’s most spectacularly large animals…with Asia’s species multitudes a mere river-hop away. Humans who enjoy char-broiled [blackened] livestock-origin meals may well find themselves to be the focus of an inter-species effort to similarly blacken them. [There is some reason to believe that volcanoes, as example, can be intentionally loosed upon a region.]

  • Krystal

    First of all, Africa does not need to be more like the Europeans that’ the problem Africa needs to be Africa! America wouldn’t be what it is today if they hadn’t brought the African over. As a matter of fact what other race could have endured slavery and it’s effects. No other!! All Africans need to withdraw all contributions and themselves from America, and go home. America is a rapist,abuser, and not for African. Africans need to go to Africa to rebuild their country that was torn apart by the souless Europeans who will not be blessed in the end. Africans are a strong race that has not yet reached their full potential, but they soon will! Europeans need to be given what they fear most, and that’s a educated Africa ready for war!