Sunday, October 24, 2010


Hundreds of billions of dollars have been pumped into Africa since 1980 and it’s now poorer than it was then. What exactly did that money do?

The money built roads, schools, governments, wells and farms. It hasn’t worked. Why hasn't it worked? I think the answer is clear, It hasn’t worked because African culture doesn’t work. There. I said it, now I'll pause briefly so you can throw tomatoes at me... done? OK moving on... Why do we hold culture up as something intrinsically good and untouchable? Why is it taboo for me to say “culture is the problem” the only answer (I think) can be that we are afraid of such an objective eye being turned on our own culture. Eliminating culture from the possible causes of poverty has prevented us from addressing it. To address culture, we need to build people not roads. We need to build people not schools, we need to build people not governments. If we build roads they’ll get washed out, if we build schools they’ll crumble, if we build governments they’ll become kleptocracies. If we build people they will build and maintain roads, if we build people they will build and teach in schools, if we build people they will build and run government. If we build people they will build a better culture.

What is building a person? In order to build a person we first need a standard for them to be built to, what is a good person? What is the ideal man? ...And we need to be realistic, we won’t be able to build perfect people and we won’t be able to build the ideal man. But... if we can make “the standard” the goal of the imperfect person himself, then I think we have succeeded.

Here is a standard I think most will agree on. Someone who is honest, someone who cares most about things that matter most and least about things that matter least (I understand that "what matters most" needs to be defined but for now I'm just going to say some things clearly don't make the cut, like soccer) Someone who does to others what he would like to have done to himself, someone who works hard, someone who is loving, generous, kind, patient and persevering.

We now have a goal and a set of standards. The goal is to make it the goal of the individual to adhere to the aforementioned standards. Now why would he do such a thing, why would he rebel against a culture that is more comfortable with cronyism and chronic shortsightedness? What will inspire him to such heights of altruism? ...I know only one man for the job. Jesus. Jesus teaches the values that Africa needs. Changing African culture has to happen by first changing individuals and that doesn't mean abandoning the African arts or forcing Americanization down their throats. The futility of continued operations in Africa is an embarrassment, an embarrassment that is a reflection of the embarrassing contents of human nature. While it’s uncomfortable for some I really think Africa's need for God has become quite inescapable, as Matthew Parris writes in the December 27, 2008 issue of The Times: “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.”

When atheists start advocating God, there's probably something to it; Africa will benefit when we escape the traditional faux pas and go with strategies that actually work.

OK I understand that writing doesn’t in and of itself help anyone but I had to get this one off my chest and I do plan to put hands and feet to these words.

1 comment:

  1. I sincerely agree. This writing gets the approval stamp of Trycorporation, based in Iceland