“Why is Africa poor?
Is it a legacy of colonial exploitation? Tropical diseases and parasites? Or is it that local mammals, like the zebra and the African elephant, were difficult to domesticate and harness in agriculture?
The above is a good, short article on Africa’s poverty. It’s heartbreaking in many ways. In others is tells a story of phenomenal courage by orphaned children. Like our friend Beth recounted, she shared the article with me, it seeks to address a question we too had when we visited Africa most recently “Why is Africa Poor?”
In my opinion the article is interesting but doesn’t necessarily answer the question, fully. The reason it gives (poor governance) does help explain the destruction of some African countries today, is that the root of the problem? What historic factors have contributed to this? If the majority of countries in Africa were governed well what would the result be in five, ten or twenty years? What would be the impact of their trade, deficit and other relationships with the developed world?
It might be a naive parallel; but what if one or more countries in Africa has the kind of success China has had in the past twenty years? What type of halo affect would that have on the surrounding countries, and other countries in the world?
My thoughts are drawn back to those children of the article, and their lives. Whilst we were in Africa, being surrounded by such abject poverty was a powerful, visceral experience. One striking part of which was seeing how happy the children in Rwanda were. It could have been a modern cultural awareness of the positive impact “Muzungo” had on their lives… then again it could have been simple, playful, childish happiness. These thoughts created a dichotomy of feelings. On the one hand my heart goes out to them, as it did with the children described in the article. On the other I wonder if relativity comes into play, that happiness is subjective and able to flourish in an environment that we might, at first, pity.
My mind remains open on the matter.
Photos of my recent Africa journey’s can be found here; http://www.fluidpixel.com/Places/Africa