A QUICK TAKE ON AFRICA
I really do love Mark Steyn's work. He's always the "go-to guy" when their are difficult things that are in dire need of being said. No less is the case in this column on Africa. My only disagreement is on the subject of Bob Geldof. I must give Geldof a great deal of credit; when most of his ilk are wearing ribbons and blathering on about "awareness" (as though awareness ever really changes anything) at least Bob is using is celebrity toward something positive. He seems to me to be genuinely concerned about an issue about which we should all be concerned. Whereas most of Geldof's entertainment industry collegues are content with blaming Bush for all of the world's ills, Bob is, at least, doing something constuctive. What good will it do? Probably very little, but it's a hell of a lot better than appearing on an awards show with an "awareness" ribbon on the lapel of a $5, 000 jacket and prattling on and on as to how "Bushhitler" is the source of all of the world's evil.
That said, it's clear that Mark is right when he says that the source of Africa's problems lie in their political situation. Most of the continent's contries are run by madmen, depots and mad despots. They have succeeded in keeping the people ignorant and in poverty, for an educated population with only a moderate degree of prosperity simply will not tolerate mad despotism as their form of government.
Africa is is textbook example of how food can be used as a weapon and the African tyrants deJour have used it with a mastery not seen since Stalin. Africa is a continent rich in natural resources and with an abundance of fertile land. For decades, Ethiopia was the very definition of starvation - why, to this day whenever I hear the word "Ethiopia" I get an image in my mind of a starving child; sunken cheeks, skeletal limbs, bloated belly and flies all over his face. Ethiopia, however, produces some of the most expensive and most sought-after coffee in the world! How is it that a country that can produce some of the finest coffee in the world, could not feed itself? Drought was the cover story, but a despotic government lies at the heart of the problem and ignorance continues to feed and maintain the despots.
Many of those in the west blame our "neglect" of Africa. What neglect? We have spent many billions of dollars in feeding Africa, only to find out that the age-old Biblical adage is true - "give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish, and he'll never be hungry again." What Africa needs is modern agricultural methods that will solve their food problems, and education that will solve their AIDS problems. Unfortunately, none of this will be possible until the political leaders of Africa are receptive to the kind of what they really need and what they need is progress. culturally and economically. The means are at hand to solve this unfortunate continent's problems, but they have to be willing to accept the fact that many of their problems are not the fault of the west, but are the fault of themselves.
We are not neglecting Africa, Africa is neglecting itself. I, for one, am tired of the west taking the fall for every backward culture's failure to embrace progress - from the Middle East to Africa. The solution is there for the taking.