Archive for the ‘Africa’ tag
I really appreciated David Brooks recent column about how — especially as the recent “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign for those abducted schoolgirls of Nigeria filters through the American media — the outside world still has Africa as a whole quite wrong.
In 2011, roughly 60 million African households earned at least $3,000 a year. By next year, more than 100 million households will make that much. Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200 percent since 2000. Since 1996, the poverty rate has fallen by 1 percent per year. Life expectancies are shooting up.
Only about a third of this new wealth is because of commodities. Nations like Ethiopia and Rwanda, which have no oil wealth, are growing phenomenally. The bulk is because of economic reforms, increased productivity, increased urbanization and the fact that in many countries political systems are becoming marginally less dysfunctional.
Not so different from the recent Touching Strangers (on LB) or First Kiss (on LB) ideas, photographer Pieter Hugo recently went to Rawanda to capture pairs of genocider and victims in close proximity to each other as the twentieth anniversary of the event comes to pass. There’s quite interesting images, and the presentation here is fantastic:
I’ve said before and it’s still true: my favorite part about the major book review magazines is that they’ll sometimes do deep reporting of the kind I rarely happen across. This one about Uganda, a country I knew nearly nothing about. Unfortunately, it’s not the most uplifting story:
Nebanda died in December 2012, poisoned, some of her parliamentary colleagues maintain, by Ugandan government operatives. Then, in August 2013, an online magazine published an interview with General David Sejusa, the former coordinator of Ugandan intelligence services, who had fled into exile in the UK in May 2013. The general claimed that Nebanda, and many other prominent Ugandans who also died from mysterious illnesses or in sudden accidents, had been deliberately killed on “orders from on high”—meaning at the direction of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled this country for twenty-eight years.
The two basic values of this piece are: (1) showing what an utterly appalling farce international relations can be, and (2) giving some view into a country you very likely know almost nothing about. It’s also an amusing and well-told story.
(via The Browser)
Stephen W. Smith offers a brilliant and devastating primer about recent Rwandan history for anyone who thinks the country’s problems ended with the 1994 genocide. The whole piece is great, but for the lazy, the crucial sentences:
We’ve learned the wrong lesson from the organised massacre of 800,000 people, which we failed to prevent. … the denial of freedom and rights under the previous regime in Rwanda impels us to shower Kagame with leadership awards and aid money even as he denies them again. We are hypnotised by the 1994 genocide, and oblivious to the atrocities of a regime we regard as exemplary. Aid, we say, must be conditional on good governance – but post-genocide government is an exception.
I feel like I either linked or read something about this idea before, but could find no record. In any case, Paul Romer’s idea is both appealing and problematic:
By building urban oases of technocratic sanity, struggling nations could attract investment and jobs; private capital would flood in and foreign aid would not be needed. … To launch new charter cities, he says, poor countries should lease chunks of territory to enlightened foreign powers, which would take charge as though presiding over some imperial protectorate. Romer’s prescription is not merely neo-medieval, in other words. It is also neo-colonial.
I liked this animated map of the spread of paleolithic man, but it probably won’t change your life.
If all the publications and people grousing about the death of reporting were producing pieces like this, I’d feel a great deal more sympathy for them. A comprehensive (and thus somewhat daunting) look at Ethiopia’s problems today.
In a further effort to lessen my — and your — ignorance of current events: The Cliff Notes version of the recent Guinean coup.
I recently heard — I wish I remembered where — Bill Clinton make the point that a moratorium on the use of the word “Africa” would likely make people see the continent as a little less bleak. While there are still big problems in places like Somalia, Chad, Sudan, and the DRC, there are a number of good and improving governments and economies.
The Ibrahim Index, a quantification of a sub-Saharan government’s quality, highlights the differences. While the aforementioned contries have the lowest scores, places you rarely hear about — Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Botswana, Namibia — are relatively well run. (South Africa’s pretty good too, but we constantly hear about it.)