February 2023
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Time to stop making excuses for Africa?

It seems like half the BBC news at the moment is taken up by yet more trouble in Africa – sham elections, coups, civil wars, brutality and of course a famine or two. It is now over half a century since most African countries got their independence and in almost all cases, while the rest of the world has developed, most African states are poorer now than they were fifty years ago. This is a stunningly consistent picture of stupidity, corruption, greed and violence. Many African countries have followed the same six-step process. 1. A brutal, corrupt, incompetent regime takes over. 2. They plunder the country’s wealth while investing little to nothing in schools, hospitals, roads, rail, water, electricity etc. 3. Faced with grinding poverty, families have large numbers of children in the hope that a couple will survive and be able to look after their parents in their old age. 4. The population expands faster than the economy leading to massive environmental destruction and even worse poverty. 5. Wealthy countries provide more aid to Africa than any other region of the world, but most of this is stolen by African leaders and either wasted on imported luxuries or sent into offshore bank accounts. 6. Eventually there is rebellion, civil war and a new government of greedy corrupt fools takes over and then we’re back at step 1 again.

Historian Niall Ferguson once wrote that the normal routine of Haitian politics was “theft, murder, intimidation, corruption”. Though in the Carribean, Haiti is culturally an African country and the description of  “theft, murder, intimidation, corruption” could apply to most African states.

Many African countries have huge natural resources and massive amounts of fertile land. They could be amongst the richest in the world, instead they are usually the poorest. Nigeria could be as wealthy as Norway, instead it is a hell-hole of poverty, violence, corruption and waste. It’s not colonialism or drought which are responsible for the disaster that is Africa, it is the African people themselves. Until they start changing their behaviour, sadly we are wasting our time and money giving any more help to Africa.

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