May 2, 2009

AS THE CONTINUED RULE OF BABY ASSAD IS W'S SINGULAR FAILURE:

Bright Continent: a review of AFRICA: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden (NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NY Times Book Review)

Mention Africa in polite company, and those around you may grimace, shake their heads sadly and profess sympathy. Oh, all those wars! Those diseases! Those dictators!

Naturally, that sympathy infuriates Africans themselves, for the conventional view of Africa as a genocide inside a failed state inside a dictatorship is, in fact, wrong. In the last few years, Africa over all has enjoyed economic growth rates of approximately 5 percent, better than in the United States (although population growth is also higher). Africa has even produced some “tiger cub” economies, like Botswana and Rwanda, that show what the continent is capable of. (A new Web site, See Africa Differently, specifically aims to present a more positive image of the continent.)

The bane of Africa is war, but the number of conflicts tearing apart the continent has dwindled. The murderous old buffoons like Idi Amin are gone, and we’re steadily seeing the rise of highly skilled technocrats, who accept checks on their power and don’t regard the treasury as their private piggy bank. The Rwandan cabinet room is far more high-tech than the White House cabinet room, and when you talk to new leaders like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia you can’t help wondering about investing your 401(k) in Liberian stocks. [...]

“The media’s problem is that, by covering only disasters and wars, it gives us only that image of the continent,” Dowden writes — and 90 percent of the Africans reading this are now nodding at that line. “Persistent images of starving children and men with guns have accumulated into our narrative of the continent.”

“The aid industry too has an interest in maintaining the image of Africans as hopeless victims of endless wars and persistent famines,” Dowden continues. “However well intentioned their motives may once have been, aid agencies have helped create the single, distressing image of Africa. They and journalists feed off each other.”

In particular, Dowden lets loose at celebrities like Bob Geldof and politicians like Tony Blair with their “messianic mission to save Africa.” As Dowden writes: “That set teeth on edge. It sounded like saving Africa from the Africans.”


...Mugabe is Tony Blair's.



Posted by Orrin Judd at May 2, 2009 7:08 AM
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