There is no hope for Africa
March 8, 2007
Why are people drawn to the “Dark Continent?” Many of my friends want to do mission work in Africa, half of Hollywood is up in arms over Darfur and Sally Struthers is still trying to save the children for only $18 a month; but all I can tell these people is that Africa, as a continent, is a lost cause. No amount of volunteerism or money can save it from a history of colonialization and a present situation of warlords, disease and corrupt governments.
When colonial powers took over the entire continent, they polarized and victimized the inhabitants by introducing the caste system. They brutalized the indigenous people and gave them a pretty big chip on their shoulders. When the colonialists left, everybody wanted a piece of the pie, so warlords popped up everywhere and started vying for power. The military coups and death began, and humanitarians everywhere started thinking up ways to fix Africa.
But you can’t fix it. Philanthropy can’t help a lot of African countries because many lack basic natural resources. The problem of overpopulation spreads the few resources even thinner. Life won’t last in a place with poor agriculture and contaminated water. Some would say we can teach agricultural techniques, give them clean water or drop supplies, but will that take care of everyone?
Can we stop guerilla fighters from taking these supplies or murdering the farmers and forcibly recruiting the children as soldiers? What really shows that the continent is screwed is that some countries DO have abundant natural resources and are still Third World nations.
Take Angola for example. They sit on huge oil wells, and a massive number of diamond mines. By all rights, they should be the wealthiest nation in all of Africa. Instead, the guerilla militia uses diamond mining as a means of funding rebellion that the sanctioned government must quell by using oil money. The guerillas enslave villagers to mine the diamonds and then chop their arms off with machetes so that they cannot support the sanctioned government. Everyone loses in a country that has limitless potential.
The most recent genocide is the one in Darfur. (Not to be confused with the genocides of Rwanda, Uganda, Congo or Somalia.) There have been over 400,000 people murdered in Sudan so far. That much death is hard to imagine; I think it is downright evil. Many are saying that the U.S. government should step in and stop the killing, but nothing we could do would stop the murders, and our intervention would only be a temporary fix. We would stop the killing, but as soon as we left, it would continue, so we would be stuck there, holding the hands of a people who aren’t willing to help themselves. Much like the current situation in Iraq, we can take their guns, but we can’t remove the hate from their hearts.
The problems in Africa go deeper than I could ever tell. My friends who have gone for mission work still have nightmares of being held at gunpoint and of starving children. You can go ahead and believe in that “power of one” crap, but no amount of your time or money can help a continent that is on a course for self destruction.
It comes down to this: until we can find a way to stop men from coveting and lusting for power, they will continue to defile Africa, regardless of how many starry— eyed college students join a “Save Darfur” Facebook group.
Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.