Thursday, July 14, 2005

Africa's Colonialist Legacy

Inorganic political organization

Social scientists (this writer included thus this blog entry), western politicians, development professionals, famous people, and philanthropists love Africa. It is the cradle of mankind and is everything "the West" is not. From your first visit there you will be hooked as it is different from anywhere you've been before.

Why does it not "develop"? The short answer is that it is because the African state (the Nation-State) is an oxymoron here. Africa was carved-up by the colonial powers during the late-19th through the mid-20th century, with most countries gaining independence in or around 1960. There is a new book proclaiming Africa's 50th anniversary of independence, this is a little premature, its mostly 45 years old.

Indigenous African culture and society was village, clan and trade and market-oriented, with power and local decision-making, when problems arose, self-selected at the local level. Only with the creation of the European Nation-States, and the powerplays that this created in each state's quest for power, was this formal delineation of borders and formal delineation of 'countries' forced upon Africa. The continent never had a chance to grow its own form of modern, "international", organization. Now it is still living with with this alien construct, and studied to death by foreign 'experts' trying to 'help'.

Maybe one answer for the people of Africa is to deny the continuation of Western political dominance, deny all IMF funding, deny World Bank loans, deny development assistance (international welfare), open their borders to trade and capital flow (in the old days sea-shells not central-bank monopolies) with each other and with the West and East and South. And especially important, open-up intra-continental migration of people to the re-unification of families and the flow of labor to where supply equals demand. Try to take steps to discontinue the artificial State from indeginous human relations.

Though definetely welcome philanthropy, foreign or local, to individuals (not governments), just like anyone down on their luck might do. And you might like to do for your unemployed neighbor down the street, at least until they can get a job, they might do the same for you.

Just a thought, on Africa's "50th" Birthday, because, after all, with age comes wisdom.