Thursday, June 09, 2005


That word Africa conjured up magical images for me as a boy, and conjures up magical images today. I am a hunter, you see, and for millions of kids like me who grew up on Hemingway and Corbett and O'Conner, the lust for Africa has been strong for many, many years.

Now, it would appear that Africa (or more particularly, Sub-Saharan Africa) is back in the news. It seems that we are assaulted daily by horror stories from Darfur, or from Zimbabwe, about famine or genocide, or AIDS. We, as Americans, want to do something, anything, send aid, intervene. We want to end the suffering, as taught by our Lord. We want to do the Right Thing.

However, Africa ain't like Europe or the US. Or like Asia for that matter. Africa is different, and the old Africa hands remind us of that. I can remember reading Capstick, when he said that Africa wins regardless of what anyone does, and that life is very cheap in Africa. For most of Africa, a person walking around is just so much protien and when a person dies, Africa is very, very good at processing protein.

Still, the horror stories remain and our civilized hearts are tugged and we want to help those least able to help themselves. So I turn to those best educated in Africa, those hearty souls who emigrated from there and made a life in a new country. If you've never read Kim duToit, his writings reveal a deep love of the African continent, yet his advice is simple. Let Africa Sink.

This paragraph is most eloquent:
The viciousness, the cruelty, the corruption, the duplicity, the savagery, and the incompetence is endemic to the entire continent, and is so much of an anathema to any right-thinking person that the civilized imagination simply stalls when faced with its ubiquity, and with the enormity of trying to fix it. The Western media shouldn’t even bother reporting on it. All that does is arouse our feelings of horror, and the instinctive need to do something, anything--but everything has been tried before, and failed. Everything, of course, except self-reliance.

Go read the whole thing. You'll read an essay by a man who knows, who has been there. You'll know why I say that I am no expert on Africa and we should follow the advice of those that are.

There is nothing we can do to help Africa. As hard-hearted as that sounds, the people of Sub-Saharan Africa must first help themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "let Africa sink" position is really Social Darwinism or Spencerism after Hubert Spencer (1820 - 1903). Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest," not Darwin, and he coined it in reference to cultures. In other words, let the cultures clash and the most fit to survive will survive.

Spencerism would solve the middle east problem of today if the US would quit propping up both cultures--one in the form of payments for oil and the other one in direct payments.