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Whither Africa?

Over at Austin Bay, there's an interesting piece on the idea of electing an African pope. His thesis is that there is a huge lack of interest in sub-Saharan Africa, and the horrendous occurrences going on there are simply shrugged off by the rest of the world. By electing a Pope from that area, he hopes it might trigger attention and a move towards freedom and reform much like electing Pope John Paul II did for Poland -- and, by extension, all of Eastern Europe.

But he also asks why there is so little sustained interest in the doings of sub-Saharan Africa. I've been giving it some thought, and I think I have a few answers.

(First, a couple of notes. One, I'm going to be tossing around quite a few heavy arguments. If you're of the type to toss around the term "racist" and "racism," get them ready. Just please back them up with some counterarguments, if you will -- if I felt like being randomly insulted, there are a lot better places than here I could do it. Second, I'm going to dump the clumsy, euphemistical term "sub-Saharan Africa" for "Black Africa." It means much the same in this case, and addresses the issues I'm going to raise -- the people, not the location of a hunk of sand -- far more directly and honestly. Also, it's easier to type.)

Austin raises an interesting question: just why don't we have any sustained interests in Black Africa? The answer is far too complex to address thoroughly here, but I think I can bring up a few factors.

1) Lack of relevancy. Our interest tends to follow our interests. We have a great deal of our economy invested in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, so we pay more attention to them. Black Africa simply doesn't play a very big role in our economy or day-to-day concerns. As brutal as it is to admit, the last time Black Africa had a big impact on the West's economy was during the slave trade. Since then, nothing has come forward to take its place in connecting Black Africa to the West.

2) Guilt. Guilt is a lousy motivator to get someone to do something. (Unless, of course, you're someone's mother, but even then it's notoriously unreliable.) The West has, over the centuries, treated Black Africa horrendously. First, with colonization, we shattered existing tribal structures and sociogeographical lines and imposed artificial divisions and unities that suited European interests and whims. Nearly every single Black African country exists because it was imposed on the people living there, in utter disregard for their pre-existing mores, groupings, alliances, and emnities. Then, with the slave trade, we exploited, aggravated, and instigated tribal rivalries and animosities to benefit ourselves, and to hell with the costs to the people we were exploiting.

3) Lack of connection. This one also ties in to the slave trade. We have millions of people who can claim Black African ancestry, but they feel no link to their ancestral home. To many of them, they are "African." They don't feel a particular tie to any tribe, any region, any nation because they simply don't know to which they belong. And the reason is because the slave trade literally made them racial orphans, and tossed them into the great orphanage that is the United States. Compare that to two groups that dominate Boston, just for example -- the Irish and the Italians. They're still fiercely American, but they can tell you exactly what part of the Old Country their ancestors came from, why they left, and in many cases what old feuds they're still carrying on. The events going on back in the Old Country are a bit distant to them, but they still keep its memory alive.

So, what do we do about it? The current strategy of simply shrugging and looking away will quite likely continue -- it has for some time, and we seem to be no worse off for it. And preying on our guilt hasn't done any good. Even when you bring up the fact that Africa is the "cradle of humanity," where the human race first began, doesn't do any good. Nobody really wants to go back to their cradle and clean it up. They're looking for the future, not the past.

Austin thinks that electing a Black African as Pope could be a good first step. After all, look what electing a Pole as Pope during the height of the Cold War did. It's a good idea, and might do some good.

I don't think it'll do as much good as a lot of people think, though. It's been speculated that one of the reasons Pope John Paul II condemned the War in Iraq was to defuse the argument that this was another "Crusade" by Christians against Islam, and I think there might be some truth to that. Right now, some of the nastiest situations in Black Africa are Muslims against Animists, and Animists against Animists. Eastern Europe had literally centuries of Christian heritage, to the exclusion of nearly all other faiths (Judaism excluded), but in Black Africa Christianity is the newcomer -- and the other faiths have a lot more history.

But I think there's another way.

The West (and by this, I mean the United States) didn't really get involved in the Middle East until 9/11, when suddenly the problems and horrors of the situation over there came here and killed thousands. At that point, we started seriously intervening out of simple self-preservation -- let's face the problem head-on, at its source, instead of waiting for it to come here. Let's fight them at a time and place of our choosing, not theirs. I think a similar approach to Black Africa might help, but it just needs a catalyst.

And we already have one.

Disease.

Africa isn't just the cradle of humanity. It's the cradle of diseases. Terrifying, horrendous diseases. Diseases that, if left unchecked, can potentially wipe out whole countries. Diseases that make the Black Death look like Swine Flu.

Need an example? I'll give you two. Ebola and AIDS. Both came out of Africa. One's been largely contained, but the other has reshaped the world.

Need proof? I'll tell you a joke. Anyone over 30 should get it immediately.

A man walks up to the counter of a pharmacy. He says loudly, "I'd like a box of condoms.." and then his voice drops to a whisper "...and a pack of cigarettes."

That, people, is the legacy of AIDS. That is the legacy of looking guiltily away from Black Africa and hoping it quietly will fix itself or go away. And that is merely the slightest taste of the future, because I think we'd have to turn to science fiction to get a good description of what disease could come out of Black Africa next.

And we're not gonna be able to do squat about that next disease unless we somehow "fix" Black Africa. Unless we find a way to get past the current mess the continent is in.

The only semi-workable solution I've heard of so far is one I don't particularly care for -- simply "wall off" Black Africa for a few decades and let the place fall apart, then rebuild itself along new, indigenous lines. Let them toss off the vestiges of colonialism and colonial identities and develop their own nations, states, tribes, provinces, and governments without our interference. I don't like that because it smacks of washing our hands of the situation, but I haven't heard any reasonable counterproposals.

But we need to find something. The days when we can simply ignore, forget about, shrug off Black Africa are winding down. They may already be gone.

One final note: I'm sure I made a few mistakes here when discussing particulars about Black Africa. I grew up not really knowing much or caring about it, and I still find it hard to overcome that conditioning. As an example, I have a pretty good grasp of geography -- I can tell you, at least vaguely, where any given country is in the world. Except Africa. If I can't place a country immediately, I default and guess "Africa," and I'm pretty safe. And that ignorance of mine is yet one more argument -- as fascinated as I am by so many things, I simply have never cared enough or had reason to learn very much.

I believe I am hardly unique in that respect, and it is that level of benign neglect that has led to the situation as it is today.

J.


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Comments (32)

I didn't find your argument... (Below threshold)
Curtis:

I didn't find your argument racist at all, but I am not black so...

One thing I think I should say that doesn't really detract from your argument, is that you underestimate the strength of christianity in Africa. You pointed out that "some of the nastiest situations in Black Africa are Muslims against Animists, and Animists against Animists. Eastern Europe had literally centuries of Christian heritage, to the exclusion of nearly all other faiths (Judaism excluded), but in Black Africa Christianity is the newcomer -- and the other faiths have a lot more history."

This might be true in north africa, but in sub saharan africa Christianity is the most powerful religion by far. Those missionaries may have been newcomers but they did a helluva job converting the population. When my wife lived in East Africa for two years she couldn't go anywhere without people there talking about god and church. It is a powerful institution and an african pope really could do a lot of good for africa.

Curtis, I meant that in Eas... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Curtis, I meant that in Eastern Europe, there were no conflicting faiths to rival Christianity. There was the atheism of Communism, but that was also relatively young. There were no centuries-old pre-existing faith structures to struggle against -- which is exactly what Africa has. Sorry if I didn't phrase it better.

J.

I also don't find anything ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I also don't find anything here inherently "racist" and particularly not "fascist" (an awkward word in today's climate, given how often it is used with fascist intention to apply/discredit that which is not fascist -- relying on the "hard to prove" if prove at all, just what is and what isn't and so allowed all too often to stand however inaccurately applied).

Anyway, I agree with a lot of those comments, if not all of them, that article...however, about the "new" Pope, it's not a popularity contest (I realize you haven't suggested that it was, just saying...). But there are some important aspects to at least share:

-- the suggested leading candidates are all aging and if the Pope is selected from among them, the next Pope will assume his office with a short office-term expectancy, so there's that to consider among the general list that's been mentioned, also suggesting that the purpose of the selection from among these "limited term office" candidats for Pope will be of a specialized type (perhaps more social than anything);

-- the Pope isn't an office or figurehead for a region and suggesting the next Pope poses merit based upon region of origin is odd to my view, and is keyed into the first (^^) considerations: a socially significant selection based upon regional concerns/interests who is anticipated to hold office a short time due to aging years at time of selection;

and,

-- church attendance is way, way up in the regions of Africa, South America, Latin America and Southeast Asia, and down in Northern Europe and supposedly in America (however, I disagree with that last given what I've read, contrary to what the mainstream media is reporting) (what seems to be declined in America is Priests, not membership), so basing a selection upon Regional origins, limited length of anticipated time in office and particular Regional origins specifically seems, again, far more a social statement than anything else.


I'd prefer Ratzinger due to his knowledge and insight about Scripture and the Church as it reflects Scripture (Ratzinger was Pope John Paul's advisor on these matters), or a Pope, if Regions are all that significant, from Northern Europe or even the United States, given that these are the problematic areas of followers, as compared to the others.

Not on ethnic terms (perhaps a subtle influence there, but only within the limitatios of this discussion, as initially included of the non-negative, non-pejorative kind) but if Region of origin is relative here (I'm curious as to why that is), that the new Pope be selected from among the Regions of our world where a figure would be most influential, not least so.

Sorry, Jay Tea, I realize y... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Sorry, Jay Tea, I realize your focal point was Africa, not so much Papal selection process...

BUT, about Africa, and what's written here, I agree with you. I once had a roommate from Southern Africa while in college and she emphasized to me how intense was the poverty there and I responded by trying to suggest solutions....like, agribusinesses and textile manufacturing from locally grown fibers, fruit plantations, etc...and she grew very hostile and dismissed my ideas because, she responded, "that's what the white racists have been doing" (meaning, those solutions to the poverty were what the locals found to be so objectionable and worked to overthrow).

The only solution I know to poverty is character change by individuals. And dedication to some sort of industry, personal or corporate. You have to produce, and believe that you can.

It's frustrating to try to continue to address the horrible poverty of areas of Africa because all the solutions are so often dismissed.

And from poverty comes all the rest of those that you mention here.

Actually, the oldest establ... (Below threshold)
Stormy70:

Actually, the oldest established Christian Church in the world started in Ethiopia sometime in the first century. Africa was predomininately Christian until the Middle Ages when Islam conquered it by the sword. Egypt used to be Christian, and the Coptic Christians have been there for centuries.

Good post! I think about t... (Below threshold)
Jay:

Good post! I think about this sometimes as well.

The only thing I have come up with is maybe giving parts of Africa super special economic zone status, to encourage companies to take the risk of sourcing there. Let the flow of money and self-interest bootstrap things.

Well I was going to say wha... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Well I was going to say what Stormy did. There is a huge history of Christianity in some parts of Africa, although the issue of competition (when Muslims came through the region) may have been more an issue for Africa than for Europe.

I think you are right about the isolation-there is a certain lack of connectedness that makes Africa uninteresting to the West, and when Africa does grab the news it is usually for things that make us want to write it off (thug leaders, uprisings, genocide, desease etc).

I lived in Sub-Saharan Afri... (Below threshold)
moyibi:

I lived in Sub-Saharan Africa for a few years, and I agree many of your comments and didn't find them "racist" at all, but in fact logical. The only comment that could have been explored a little more is the question it's economic impact. For example Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is the largest exporter and producer of Cocoa for the worlds chocolate. Sierra Leone and others are famous for the export of "blood" diamonds, which make up a very large percentage of the world's diamonds sales. Becuase of colonialism, Europe still controls a lot of economic output from that region.

I agree with the thrust of ... (Below threshold)
Dave:

I agree with the thrust of your argument, but not the reasons you cite for it. More here.

It won't happen; they are s... (Below threshold)
thfirstbrokenangel:

It won't happen; they are still a minority in the Cardinal arena. Personally I'd like to see Cardinal McCallick of Washington, DC be the next Pope; I think he'd do exceptionally well and also take away the pain and loss of Pope John Paul II that I feel overwhelmingly.

Cindy

It could be effective to el... (Below threshold)

It could be effective to elect Arinze, given his JP2-shared conservative views. But Arinze, like JP2, would be ensconced in Rome. The benefit to Africa would come from his familiarity and fluency with that continent, and the resulting connection the rest of the Catholic and political world would recognize.

But Rome may balk, or consider its stakes in South America to be more crucial and rewarding. They may also consider that they don't want to cede control to an outsider again and make it a rule rather than an exception, though I'm not sure they really thought of JP2 as a true outsider.

Regarding Africa, it needs what any society needs for stability - capital, thriving markets and enough stability to fight for them if necessary. Islam hasn't provided this, colonialism hasn't, nor have the tribes been able to coalesce. I'm not convinced that outside intervention offers anything that the inhabitants can grasp and make their own in a successful way. They need secure education to advance technology and the markets, better health and supply of staples to stabilize communities in order to begin building, and their own interconnected market to ensure the resources replenish the areas and communities in question. Most of their resources are poached for other off-continent markets or are devoured by a starving population.

Great topic, btw. One that I hope will become the focus of the next decade with the hope of transforming that continent to thrive as it should. One question that might provide either a catalyst or a reason for a lack of catalyst: Are there significant, untapped oil fields in the sub-Sahara?

Jay Tea, are you Catholic? ... (Below threshold)
julie:

Jay Tea, are you Catholic? I know you have mentioned what faith you were raised in before, but I can't remember the specifics. I'm not sure why non-Catholics are so interested in sharing their opinions about matters of a different faith. I agree with S, in that one shouldn't select a Pope by region. Their is no comparison between Eastern Europe and Africa. I'm not sure that the selection of an African Pope would not antagonize Islamics and make thinks worse. OTOH, who cares what they think.

I keep hearing polls and discussions by non-Catholics about how the Church should change. Why? I sincerely doubt the majority of Catholics want women in the priesthood or accept homosexuality. And the implication that the Church must change to please people outside the faith is offensive.

Post you might check out by... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Post you might check out by Kim du Toit:
http://www.kimdutoit.com/ee/index.php/essays/let_africa_sink/

I agree that it is up to th... (Below threshold)

I agree that it is up to the Catholic church to choose its leaders. But the church sees itself as having a role in the complete lives of its constituents, and it sees all humans as potential constituents. I think it is the recognition of this relationship and the perceived power held by the pope that make it an issue for world news.

Jeff, “Black” Africa is a m... (Below threshold)
Jim in Texas:

Jeff, “Black” Africa is a mess and it seems that every time the U.S. tries to help in any way (sadly, much too little in my estimation) we get hammered by the Euro-Elites, both within and without of Africa.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/071304B.html

” Instead, every American should be proud that while the European sophisticates sneer and the noisy activists shout, the United States actually does something significant to fight a disease that infects 40 million people worldwide and kills 3 million a year. We're inventing the drugs, building the hospitals, training the health-care workers, caring for the patients, nurturing the orphans, and providing the hard cash.”

But as the article infers, there might be a limit to what we as a people might be willing to endure in the name of helping.

Between New York and California are a lot of Americans who have never made an international phone call and who see no real reason why they should be required to interact with the world. They’re wrong, of course, but that’s not what’s at issue.

Europe abandoned Africa in the last century largely because Europe doesn’t want to admit that several centuries of shameful exploitation and colonization http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/resource/impafr.htm

had left the continent in religious, racial, ethnic, political and economic ruin. Mainly caused by Britain and France, but Portugal, Spain, Italy and Belgium have their share of the blame as well.

I’ve been in Africa more times than I want to recall and every time it was on a U.S. military humanitarian mission to feed, to rescue, to help. There has never been a military deployment to Africa that wasn’t humanitarian (evacuations are essential “neutral” deployments)

I’m fearful that the political will in Europe and the U.S. is not there at this time to make a meaningful project of helping “Black” Africa and it is a fear born of hands on experience.

I hope I’m wrong.


Julie said: "And the imp... (Below threshold)

Julie said: "And the implication that the Church must change to please people outside the faith is offensive."

I'm not Catholic, yet, I agree wholeheartedly with this. I would venture to guess that in changing any of the views of the Church it would become more a political entity than religious. And that's just wrong. Cristianne Amanpour was an idiot making the remarks she did regarding the Church staying relevant in the future. It's been relevant for two thousand years. Why is today different?

Interesting you should bring up the idea of a Black (sub-Saharan) African Pope. My husband brought up the very idea yesterday. And he doesn't read your blog.

Personally I'd like to s... (Below threshold)

Personally I'd like to see Cardinal McCallick of Washington, DC be the next Pope; I think he'd do exceptionally well and also take away the pain and loss of Pope John Paul II that I feel overwhelmingly.

I share your feeling of loss, Cindy -- I was not only still Catholic when John Paul II became Pope, I was attending a Catholic high school at the time.

But everything I've read about the chances for an American Pope discounts the possibility. In the eyes of people elsewhere in the world who are skeptical of the U.S. (whether we agree with their skepticism or not), it's best both for the Church and for the shared goals of the Church and the U.S. that the Church keep enough distance from the U.S. to keep from being seen as an American "puppet."

Such perceptions have to be taken into account regardless of how unfounded they may be. Besides, the U.S. should be able to work with any new Pope. To the extent we've ever needed to, we've always been able to.

There is one thing that we ... (Below threshold)

There is one thing that we might start caring about Africa for - some countries have oil, like Nigeria. Other than that, I agree with you.

"And the implication that t... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"And the implication that the Church must change to please people outside the faith is offensive."

I actually agree with this. I am not Catholic (I am protestant), but I wouldn't want a poll of just anyone taken to determine the direction my faith should take.

Shoot I am not even convinced that polls of Catholics in this regard is a good idea, if they aren't going to seperate the cultural/cafeteria/dedicated Catholics from each other. The outlook of each of these groups is going to have lots of variation.

I was listening to Michael Medved yesterday and he posed the question asking for examples of where a church compromising its core beliefs/values/demands has helped it grow-I don't think anyone could come up with an example. Almost all of the compromising churches have lost membership and continue to do so.

I can't speak for anyone el... (Below threshold)
Pat:

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, the reason I can't stay interested in the Africa situation is because it has been going on for SO long, and it never seems to get any better. I'm just worn out with thinking about Africa.

One would think that with the huge amount of aid that has poured into that continent, for so many years, they would at least be able to feed themselves by now. Isn't anyone teaching them how to farm, build roads, build houses, generate electricity? Or is the World community just sending bags of wheat and corn to stave off starvation?

Seems to me, the aid money for Africa could be better utilized. Maybe a Pope from that area could focus attention on the bigger problem of self- suficiency (teaching them how to fish).

This is just a thought-alon... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

This is just a thought-along the lines of bounce it off the wall and see where it goes kind of thought.

But I wonder how much the UN contributes to the sustaining power of some of the various African thugships.

One of my big complaints about the UN is that it lends a legitimacy to governments that are run by thugs, and are huge human rights violators. I wonder if by giving them some legitimacy and some level of power (seats-even rotating ones on the Security Council, human rights commission etc) doesn't allow them enough authority to keep on doing the same old same old.

I wonder if the UN (okay not gonna happen) announced that any government run by a dictator or that engagedin genocide or human rights violations would be denied any voice in any portion of the UN, would it make a difference in some of these countries?

I also wonder if making aid more contingent upon reforms would help? Of course you then enter the world where the guy in power would rather watch his people starve than make the required changes to get the aid.


It is a mess, and I don't see any easy solutions, especially as many factors went into creating the mess and many of those can't be undone (like Colonialism).

Why should the election o... (Below threshold)
B's Freak:

Why should the election of an African Pope do any more for Africa than the election of an Africa to lead the UN?

Good question.Alth... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Good question.

Although one difference that immediately comes to mind is that the Pope has a moral authority behind him that may motivate Christians to acceptable action. Also, frankly the Sec Gen of the UN just doesn't seem to come with much moral authority behind him, considering that the UN tries to be as amoral as possible, just look at how they have tried to avoid labeling what is happening in the Sudan as genocide, and their inability to come to an agreement on what constitutes terrorism-stuff like that.

So I guess the Sec Gen is in many ways beholden to the UN members that put him there, while the Pope is beholden to noone but God.

Although, I am not too hopeful that an African Pope would do a whole lot to change Africa, other than maybe raise awareness through the bully pulpit, but I don't know that his bully pulpit is big enough at the moment.

the UN is a political body.... (Below threshold)

the UN is a political body.

The Catholic Church is a religious body and doesn't let politics (except internal politics, let's not go there) sway its direction.

"The Catholic Church is a r... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

"The Catholic Church is a religious body and doesn't let politics (except internal politics, let's not go there) sway its direction."

Nonsense.

The Roman Church has always been political and continues to be so. It may be LESS so that it was, but the current stories about abandoning Taiwan for Red China isn't terribly reinforcing of any trends in that direction. The chief reason that John Paul II is so beloved of many non-Catholics is that he had a tremendous political influence that helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union.

Ok, I'm not certain how man... (Below threshold)
NJRob:

Ok, I'm not certain how many people that visit this site are people of faith, but anyone who is realizes that the next Pope is supposed to be the direct conduit between God and man on earth. He is supposed to be selected after the College of Cardinals members take a great deal of time to pray and become enlightened by God as to who the next Pope is to be. There's isn't supposed to be a political consideration into the selection of Pope.

Now, since most of us have a practical view of the world, we believe that the next Pope will be chosen as to how they deal with the concerns of mankind and not of God. If this is the case, then the next Pope loses any moral authority he has and just becomes another "elected official." Think about that while debating who the next Pope should be.

I'm afraid I'm inclined to ... (Below threshold)

I'm afraid I'm inclined to agree more with Dan S. than with Henry about the Catholic Church's political tendencies. In fact, John Paul II was easily the most politically engaged Pope in the last 100 years.

The Church is a 2,000-year-old institution -- you don't keep any organization alive that long without learning politics and playing the game reasonably well even at your worst. More than anything else the Church has going for it, is its long history. And I don't think it's forgotten much.

If this is the case, the... (Below threshold)

If this is the case, then the next Pope loses any moral authority he has and just becomes another "elected official."

Nonsense. God's plan progresses by whatever means He chooses.

Jay Tea:First of a... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

Jay Tea:

First of all I have to say that I dont think that what you are writing is racist at all...I think what you wrote was honest, which is about as much as can be asked for. I appreciate the fact that you wrote about the subject and invested thought into it. Thanks.

As far as Africa "lacking relevancy", well, I have to disagree with you. The fact that Africa, an entire continent, isnt at the top of our list of economic priorities is one thing, but in my opinion the relevancy is clear. What happened to all the people who were so concerned about human rights and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does that same feeling just whither away when it come to millions of people in Africa? That doesnt make sense to me at all.

As brutal as it is to admit, the last time Black Africa had a big impact on the West's economy was during the slave trade. Since then, nothing has come forward to take its place in connecting Black Africa to the West.

How about this for a connection between Africa and the West: there are millions of human beings who live there. Thats a pretty good connection.

How about this statement:

In Africa, promise and opportunity sit side by side with disease, war, and desperate poverty. This threatens both a core value of the United States— preserving human dignity —and our strategic priority—combating global terror. American interests and American principles, therefore, lead in the same direction: we will work with others for an African continent that lives in liberty, peace, and growing prosperity.

Thats the current U.S. "Africa Policy" according to:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/africa/

That Whitehouse statement makes the relevance of Africa really clear...unless that statement is all just for public relations purposes. It makes a very strong case for why Americans should care about whats going on in Africa.

I agree that guilt isnt a good reason to care about whats going on in Africa countries. You gave a good brief synopsis of how western nations played a big role in decimating Africa...now isnt there some responsibility that the west has in rectifying past wrongs? Or is the statute up already? Do they just have to deal with it?

For example: shouldnt Belgium be held at least partially responsible for the state of affairs in the Republic of Congo? I mean, have you heard what King Leopold did to that country? (And it wasnt all that long ago)

In my opinion, what separates western democratic nations from past nations is the fact that we supposedly adhere to certain ideals, with democracy, freedom, and human rights being major pillars. Is that all irrelevant when it comes to Africa? Why?

But we need to find something. The days when we can simply ignore, forget about, shrug off Black Africa are winding down. They may already be gone.

I completely agree with you here.

As far as ignorance of Africa, I can relate to you as well on that regard. Grade school and high school...well we all know how much they taught us about Africa there. Maybe a little about the Egyptians, then a big jump to the Transatlantic slave trade, then a discussion of all the starving people in Ethiopia and how they cant feed themselves. Thats what I remember of it.

We never learned much about the pastoral people, the hunter gatherer societies, or the large African Empires like the Mali or the Ashante.

We learned about the history of western civilization, and excluded the histories of many other people. That type of education gave alot of us blind spots when it comes to thinking about, caring about, or being interested in places that we never heard much about.

I believe I am hardly unique in that respect, and it is that level of benign neglect that has led to the situation as it is today.

Again, I agree with you. Ignoring whats going on, or pretending thats its irrelevant, wont help at all.

As a 7th generation white S... (Below threshold)
TrueAfroAmerican:

As a 7th generation white South African, whose family fought against the British in the Boer War for independence, I must sadly agree with Kim du Toit's article in Mark's link above.

Perhaps the Repubic of South Africa could have been the shining example of prosperity for the rest of Africa with its economy, roads, schools, hospitals for all races, but the liberals in America managed to destroy that hope with their insistence on sanctions and devil-may-care what happens afterwards attitude.

Although there were white-on-black atrocities by some there, it was nothing compared to the black-on-black atrocities there and in the rest of Africa. The Republic of South Africa, during white rule, had millions more black immigrants streaming in across its borders looking for jobs and a better life, than blacks leaving. The ones I remember leaving were Mandela's followers going to communist terrorist training camps in Angola and Russia.

Hey TrueAfroAmerican:... (Below threshold)
areaman:

Hey TrueAfroAmerican:

Anyone who recommends a link from someone who says this:

So here’s my solution for the African fiasco: a high wall around the whole continent, all the guns and bombs in the world for everyone inside, and at the end, the last one alive should do us all a favor and kill himself.

...is completely sick. That goes against everything that any person with a drop of compassion or humanity in them should think.

Although there were white-on-black atrocities by some there, it was nothing compared to the black-on-black atrocities there and in the rest of Africa.

Ya, right. White Colonials were saints alright. They didnt exploit the hell out of an entire continent or anything. Nothing like deferring blame. And the long atrocity of aparteid was "nothing" huh? It's hard to consider South Africa as a model state when the first multiracial elections occured just a little over a decade ago in 1994.

What I find amazing is the ... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

What I find amazing is the compassion that many Americans can muster for single individuals like Mae Magouirk and Terry Schiavo, while at the same time an entire continent of millions of people can be brushed aside as "tiring" and not worth thinking about.

Amazing...and when I say amazing I mean depressing.




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