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Why Is Africa Poor? 2/5

Several scientists, scholars, researchers, economists, anthropologists, and many, many, more have tried to figure out why the continent of Africa is poor.

The various explanations can be divided into different schools of thoughts. I have divided them into four schools.

The four schools are

  1. History Matters
  2. Institutions Matter
  3. Resources Matter
  4. People Matter

I will go through each school and mention the pros and cons of each one. The schools have severe flaws, which are often overlooked when discussing the predicament of African countries. Each school will be published independently to avoid this piece getting too long.

5. I will end the series with an overall conclusion, where I’ll discuss William Arthur Lewis’ take on Africa.

And if Africa is poor? All these schools try to explain why Africa is poor, but what if that point of departure is not correct?

The second article in the ongoing series:

2. Institutions Matter

This piece will dwell on predominantly three aspects of this theory.

  1. Democracy and Institutions
  2. If leaders are the problem, why do people elect bad leaders?
  3. Bad policies


A) Democracy and Institutions
The main argument is a matter of causality.

We can observe, that countries with strong institutions also tend to have a strong democracy.

But is it a strong democracy that generates strong institutions, or is it strong institutions that are vital for a strong democracy to take hold?

Europe has for a long period of time supported the thesis that democracy is necessary for strong institutions to emerge.

After the end of the Cold War, good governance became one of the conditions before aid was given. After civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and DR Congo, the first measures were to hold democratic elections.

A strength focusing on elections is that it is visible. Donors can prove to the people back at home that progress is made. Your tax dollars are making a positive difference, and everybody can pat themselves on the shoulder reaffirmed that they are the good guys.

The problem is, at times it is the less visible that is the most crucial. The focus in holding elections have led to some African leaders stealing elections. Winning an election provides the leader with the needed authority. But it is the election ritual that provides the authority to the leader not how it was conducted, it appears. Holding an election is not difficult. North Korea is having elections.

Elections in some countries are a standing joke, like this clip from the movie “The Dictator” illustrates.

A reason we witness elections in countries such as Angola, Rwanda, Togo and the Republic of Congo, even it is merely a play. Everyone knows their lines and the result is known before a single ballot has been cast. If there is doubt about, the authorities shut down social media, as it happened during the latest presidential election in Uganda in 2016, and the  Republic of the Congo shortly afterward. Each president won. Surprise? Not really.

An election ends becoming a facade to a basically undemocratic and oppressive regime. It is an expensive facade.

Consequently, democracy might not automatically lead to strong institutions, and the money that could have been spent on strengthening the institutions were spent on a big theatre.

Perhaps it is time to focus more on improving existing institutions, that prevents leaders from stealing elections that allow said leaders to hold scam, yet expensive, elections.

If we accept there is a causality between having a democracy and having strong institution, we then accept A -> B

Though, instead of viewing democracy aka elections as A, what if elections are a consequence rather than a cause.

Instead to strive for elections as soon as possible, look behind the curtain and examine the institutions. If institutions are strong they will likely lead to a stronger democracy and credible elections.



B) If leaders are the problem, why do people elect bad leaders?
Elections are won by people who then become leaders regardless whether an election is credible or not.

The argument is that the fault for Africa’s predicament is the bad leaders. However, if the leaders are blameable, then why do people elect bad leaders?

The counter arguments is that blaming leaders does not provide a satisfactory answer since leaders do not exist on their own merit.

There are countless examples of bad leadership among African leaders, a reason we also witness tension between the people and a leader. In Burkina Faso, the tension led to former President Blaise Compaoré fleeing the country, an escape facilitated by France.

Critique of African leaders is not new. The Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, in the book “Anthills of the Savannahargues that Africans want to be oppressed in style. If you have power, then you must display your wealth for others to know, that you are a big man.

Several authors, such as Frederick Cooper, Gerard Prunier, Patrick Chabal, Daniel Jordan Smith, and more, have argued the problems with clientelism facilitated and kept alive by the big men.

Jordan Smith also reminds the readers in his the book “A Culture of Corruption“, that the people support the system of clientelism. When a person gains access to resources, he or she instantly becomes a patron. As a patron, you are believed to benefit your network aka be corrupt. Even when a person wants to act according to the law, the networks demand special treatment. Jordan Smith compares it to how Nigerians react when in a traffic jam. The passengers in the bus complain when other vehicles break the traffic regulations, but they criticise their own driver when he tries to obey the same regulations. In this manner, the people become victims and facilitators of corruption. A similar conclusion to that of Achebe.

But it is still not a good explanation. Africans are no different than everybody else, hence we must assume they are as rational and irrational as the rest of us. They favouring bad leaders do not logically add up.

Furthermore, this explanation or rather an accusation has one more major flaw, it is an easy excuse for donors to free themselves from any misconduct or wrongdoings. Donors and the Bretton Woods Institutions (The IMF and the World Bank) can brush off bad outcomes of various programmes, African countries have to implement in order to receive aid.

If a programme fails, it is easier to blame it on the African president than to admit you were wrong.

This conveniently leads to the third and last point.


C) Bad policies
Through the past decades, donors have told African leaders what to do in order to develop.

It started on January 20, 1949, when the American President, Harry S. Truman. In his speech, he divides the world into two realms: the developed world and the underdeveloped world.

America and Europe were part of the developed world, and as so their job was to guide the underdeveloped parts of the world to become developed. An echo of the racial colonial ladder and the white man’s burden are hard to look past.

The Westerner remained the center of the world, and Africa remained in the periphery. Europe and the USA looked at each other and concluded, they were at the top of the ladder, therefore, they knew best.

Several development models were proposed. The more famous one was the Rostow Five Stages of Growth. Ironically, the path to Capitalism looks remarkably similar to Karl Marx’ stages toward Communism, even that one consisted of six stages.

Both theories see the world as operating in stages, both are strictly deterministic and teleological, and both theories operating on a global and universal scale, where one size fits all.

Rostow was wrong, and the project failed.

Neoliberalism made a terrible situation worse. During the reign of the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the American President Ronald Regan in the 1980s, They paved the way for the so-called SAP reforms. Structural Adjustment Programmes demanded through the IMF. The main hypothesis was that the state was a force for harm due to bad leadership and the market was a force for good. The reason for this was the infamous Berg Report made for the World Bank (empirical data contradicted the Berg Report, but that data were neglected, overlooked, or denied).

The demands were to make the African states as small as possible.

The consequences were horrifying. The imposed demands on African countries were detrimental to their growth and to the well-being of the citizens. Ghana lost 50 per cent of their doctors, Senegal experienced their numbers of nurses fell sixfold. At least 13,000 doctors left Zimbabwe to find work in Europe or South Africa. It led to a collapse in the health care and the education sector in numerous African countries.

In 1991, an employee of the World Bank, Robert Klitgaard, wrote the book “Tropical Gangsters ”, where the gangsters-part refers to the ruling elite, but also to somebody else:

The real tropical gangsters are the capitalists, both domestic and foreign, and the aid agencies who promote them. Perhaps even the expatriate so-called experts qualify- such as you. (p. 11)

The bad leader-argument forgets that part.

Yes, some African countries do have bad leaders, but that in itself does not explain why a country does not perform. It decimates the influence of the people, it overlooks terrible imposed policies imposed by donors and the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the argumentation makes it easy for Western countries to wash their hands since they can use African leaders as scapegoats for their inept forced demands.

Other articles in this series
1) History matters
3) Resources Matter
4) People Matter
5) Is Africa Poor?


Prez. Macron, Africa, and Arthur Lewis


lewis.jpgPresident Emmanuel Macron is criticized for racist remarks on Africa.
Before I will even begin to comment on Macron, I will like to travel back in time.

In the 1950s, the field of development economics was born.

Economist William Arthur Lewis was pondering how his country, Saint Lucia, could transform from a primary agriculture dominated society to an industrialized one.

He came up with a revolutionary idea. How about we try to look at the underdeveloped countries on their own merits.

Meaning instead of comparing e.g. Saint Lucia to a mythological ideal archetype, translating: what is Saint Lucia missing to fulfill this unrealistic mythological ideal. Instead, how about we dig into what the country has to offer.

Revolutionary yet so simple. Instead, to look for what a country is missing, let’s see what is present.

How to marshal the human and natural resources into driving industrialization.

In 1979, William Arthur Lewis was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic. The only black person to ever get this one.

Somehow, down the road, Lewis’ idea was cast aside by a field dominated by white economists. Their focus continued to be on what is missing. The academic term for this is “the subtraction approach”.

Basically saying, why is country X not like country Y.

Why is Mali not like Sweden. What is Mali missing to become like Sweden?
The simple answer is because Mali is not Sweden.

The consequences of the subtraction approach are that mostly white economists look for what Africa is not (while Europe and we represent what is present). Africa became stuck in a negative tale. African countries either have the wrong leaders, wrong institutions, wrong people, wrong location, or wrong policies.

President Macron just represents this ancient approach in how to understand Africa and the problems on the ground. The continent of the missing. Africa is the mythological opposite to Europe.

The focus on what is missing blinds us all for what is present. When you only decide to look at weaknesses, it is easy to overlook the strengths. The subtraction approach also led to horrible history writing. Suddenly it appears, Africa has always been “backward”. Led to theories why Africa was trapped in history. We overlook that African countries, also post-colonialism, have experienced growth. Economists remember the downs but forget the ups. When the correction was done, it clearly proved that not a single African country was trapped.

Perhaps it is time to bring back the past; to bring back William Arthur Lewis and his revolutionary ideas that did earn him a Nobel Prize in economic.

1) Examine a country on its own merit, not to a mythological archetype.

If you were constantly compared to Einstein, you would always appear inadequate on every level

2) Look at what is present

3)Use that to marshal the present human and natural resources for the better of the country

Why Is Africa Poor? 1/5

Several scientists, scholars, researchers, economists, anthropologists, and many, many, more have tried to figure out why the continent of Africa is poor.

The various explanations can be divided into different schools of thoughts. I have divided them four schools.

The four schools are

  1. History Matters
  2. Institutions Matter
  3. Resources Matter
  4. People Matter

I will go through each school and mention the pros and cons of each one. The schools have severe flaws, which are often overlooked when discussing the predicament of African countries. Each school will be published independently to avoid this piece getting too long.

5. I will end the series with an overall conclusion, where I’ll discuss William Arthur Lewis’ take on Africa.

And if Africa is poor? All these schools try to explain why Africa is poor, but what if that point of departure is not correct?

The first article in the ongoing series:

1) History Matters

This school of various scholars argues that the reason for Africa’s problems shall be found in the past, where the history of slavery and colonialism are given as the primus motor.

The school arguing that history matters is the much influential school and also the most controversial and criticised one. The book “Why Nations Fail The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” published in 2013, rose this school to fame, but on dubious claims.

Four subgroups can be found within this school, and I will go through each one by one.

A) Slave Trade
The main thesis is, that the slave trade caused the current level of mistrust, as Africans sold each other. This created a precedence for lack of cooperation that still hunts Africans to this day, and prevents Africa from finding peace and prosperity

Professor of Economics at Harvard University, Nathan Nunn, is the main supporter and defender of this hypothesis that the slave trades, the Atlantic as the Indian Ocean slave trade, caused a high level of mistrust in present day African societies across the continent.

In his most famous article, The Slave Trade and the Origins of Mistrust in Africa, co-written by Professor in Political Economy at Princeton University, Leonard Wantchekon, Nunn argues:

The fact that slaves often were taken or tricked into slavery by individuals close to them suggests that the slave trade may have eroded trust even in the most intimate social relationships. Furthermore, because chiefs often were slave traders, or were forced to sell their own people into slavery, the slave trade also may have engendered a mistrust of political figures, particularly local leaders  (2011:3226)

This hypothesis receives critic on two issue. The first issue is a lack of proving causality between a low level of trust of today, and what happened several hundred years ago. It is problematic when jumping from an era to another. In this case, jumping from the era of the slave trade to modern day.

The other issue scholars have is that Africans did not sell Africans. They did not sell their own kind.

Associate Professor of History at the City University, NY, Kwasi Konadu, writes in the book “Transatlantic Africa 1440-1888” published in 2015 that:

The existence of the potential captive and the potential captor make nonsense out of the fictitious but popular phrase “Africans sold other Africans into slavery”. Said in another way, this phrase is troubling because the homogenizing term “African” therein contains three false premises: that individuals and groups viewed their own and others as “Africans,” that these undifferentiated “Africans” ceded their “brothers and sisters” into “slavery,” and this “slavery” was unproblematically the same as the one in Africa (p. 32).

He directly addresses Nunn and Wantchekon:

This “culture of mistrust” and “400 years of insecurity,” however insightful, cannot be reduced to a number or set of numbers. The same is true for cultural norms or core values;… (p. 122)

Professor in Economic History Gareth Austin argues in “Resources, techniques, and strategies south of the Sahara, that:

[M]ost of the African rulers involved sought to protect their own subjects from enslavements while capturing, buying, selling or reselling outsiders.” (p. 1005)

The exact opposite of what Nunn says.

But did the slave trade not have any negative impact?
Of cause it had! The Transatlantic Slave Trade was a holocaust.

Professor at History and Associate Professor at Vermont University, Sean Stilwell has carefully examined the history of slavery in Africa through history in his book Slavery and Slaving in African History, published in 2014.

In relation in how the transatlantic slave trade affected the continents, he looks at three kingdoms in West Africa; Oyo, Dahomey, and Asante. They each became highly dependable on the slave trade, which spurred increased militarisation leading to violence and disorder. But they were affected differently.

The Oyo descended into civil war over who had the right to control the trade, and in the end, Oyo collapsed. The Nigerian Professor at African Studies and a historian, narrates in the book A History of Nigeria, published in 2008, that the Oyo Empire ranged somewhere near 29,000 km2 (about the same size of Albania). Oyo raided weaker neighbours to keep the flow of slaves going. When it collapsed and civil war ensued, the Ekitiparapo War broke out, mainly to fight the emergence of Ibadan domination. The war lasted sixteen years, but the total war lasted from 1877-1886. It ended when the British intervened, which gave Britain a foothold and paved the way for British colonisation (Toyin 2008:75-6). Slave traded caused some kingdoms to collapse and made it easier for colonial powers to conquer the land.

Dahomey was smaller than Oyo, but they became a powerful and militarised local state, that thrived under the era of the slave trade, which caused prosperity especially in Benin City.

The Asante Kingdom became one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms in the entire West Africa. A title only challenged by the Sokoto Caliphate.

Stilwell argues that:

Slavery helped fuel a political revolution that led to the consolidation of states” while the “Europeans were militarily weak, remained vulnerable to tropical diseases, and were always at risk of having their food supplies cut off by angry Africans. Africans demanded rent for the small piece of parcels of land that Europeans occupied (p. 44 + 48).

The era of Slave Trade is a complicated one. Violence ensued, and clans actively waged war against neighbours causing instability and disorder. Millions of innocent people were taken abroad died a horrible death.

In this climate, highly developed states emerged, while other states collapsed due to greed for controlling this valuable commodity, slaves were, or by being conquered by more power states.You lived in fear of being sold. The fear was intensified by the widespread belief among locals in Africa, that the whites were cannibals (Konadu 2015:90). But your state did actively try to protect you, unlike what Nunn argues.

You lived in fear of being sold. The fear was intensified by the widespread belief among locals in Africa, that the whites were cannibals (Konadu 2015:90). But your state did actively try to protect you, unlike what Nunn argues.

For weaker clans and states, the slave raids became a nightmare, that left people in horror for centuries. Though, the majority of slaves captured along the west coast of Africa stayed in Africa.A reason it is important to keep how slaves were treated in Africa separate from how slaves were treated and used in the new colonies by the Europeans. A reason Africans often have a different attitude toward the era of slavery than black Americans, whose forefathers came to the continent as slaves. The latter ones were victims of horrendous crimes. The ones who stayed in Africa, their stories are nuanced.

A reason it is important to keep how slaves were treated in Africa separate from how slaves were treated and used in the new world by the Europeans. A reason Africans often have a different attitude toward the era of slavery than black Americans, whose forefathers came to the continent as slaves. The latter ones were victims of horrendous crimes. The ones who stayed in Africa, their stories are nuanced.

Furthermore, we shall remember there were three slave routes. The transatlantic route, through which ca. 12 million slaves were sold, the Indian Ocean slave routes through which ca. 12 million slaves were sold, and the Trans-Saharan slave route, where ca. 7 million slaves were sold to Arabic rulers, according to Lovejoy cited in A History of Sub-Saharan Africa published in 2014 (p. 228).

In this summary, it might look like the Transatlantic and the Ocean slave trade were equally bad. They were not. The transatlantic slave trade lasted merely 400 hundred years, whereas the Indian Ocean slave trade lasted from 800-1900, meaning expanding 1100 centuries.

The European slave trade was significantly different in scope and intensity, which left a greater mark on societies in Europe and along the west coast of Africa.

B) European colonisation
Professor in African History, Gerard Prunier, argued at a lecture in Copenhagen in 2015, that a reason for Africa’s predicament was the era of colonialism.

The normal response is, if colonialism is the cause, Ethiopia should stand out from the rest of the continent. It does not. Liberia is complicated and requires it own article why Liberia is located in a grey area in the colonised/non-colonised binary.

Professor in Economic History with a focus on Africa, Morten Jerven, also points out in his book Africa, Why Economists Get It Wrong from 2015, that African countries have experienced growth and decline the last 400 years, like every other country on earth. Colonialism has not changed that.

However, there is no doubt, that odd borders that came into be through The Scramble for Africa, or how several African leaders failed to get rid of the system of oppressive institutions formed during the era of colonialism creating despots, as argued by Professor Mahmood Mamdani in his book from 1996, “Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism“.

However, as the Danish Professor in Economy, Martin Paldam, has argued as well, if the predicaments of African states were due to colonialism, we should expect things to get better as we move away from the era of colonialism.

More voices have been out criticising the vital importance of colonialism in order to understand contemporary African states, such as Professor Patrick Chabal arguing, that issues such as clientelism predate colonialism. Colonialism has exacerbated certain problems, but they were not created by colonialism.

The argument is not whether colonialism has had an impact on African countries, but to what degree it can be blamed for the current challenges present.

Africa is also seeing generations who have never experienced colonialization. Africa’s upcoming young generation can pave the way for reforms needed and to get rid of the last ones of African dictators, who look and rule more akin to tropical gangsters than to leaders interested in the problems of the people.

Unlike the hypothesis proposed by Nunn, the importance of colonialism bears merit, but it is likely not the factor, but a factor. A factor made worse by the Cold War interfered in the decolonising of Africa, where dictators were awarded as long as they supported the right superpower. It led to mounting debt, deaths, new era of violence, and indescribable suffering still haunting the states and the generations in contemporary Africa.


C) Settlers hypothesis
Professors in Economics Daron Acemoglu, David Johnson, and James Robinson published in 2001 this article The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation. In this article, they argued in favour of the Settler Mortality Hypothesis.

Shortly, the hypothesis says, that:
High settler mortality led the colonial power to develop extractive institutions. Loot what you can, and get out!

Low settler mortality led to colonial powers willing to settle and build strong institutions, that led to stronger and stable states.

However, it turned out they cherry picked data supporting their hypothesis and “forgot” to include the data that did not. In the end, their hypothesis did not survive basic scrutiny.

Furthermore, I will just paraphrase Professor Morten Jerven, who argues another problem with the above-mentioned hypothesis; reverse causality. He uses the example of the idea, that there should be causality between crime and the numbers of police officers in a given area. Police reduce crime, crime increases the police. Hence, you will likely conclude, that more police officers in an area equal more crime.

To see if that might be true, he adds a third factor, since the weather will impact the number of police officers out on the street too. We assume that good weather makes more police officers wanting to be outside. Meaning sunshine leads to more police officers on the streets. But we also assumed, that more police officers on the streets were a sign of more crime. Therefore, rain will have the opposite effect. Fewer police officers on the streets which mean less crime. Ergo, rain reduces crime? No.

That was the fallacy they made.

They took a perfectly reasonable idea, that a high income leads to good institutions. But we cannot conclude that bad institutions lead to a low income. Like we cannot assume rain reduces crime (2015:65).

Today, the settler mortality hypothesis is considered dead.

D) The Protestant hypothesis
PhD. in sociology, Robert D. Woodberry, published in 2011 the article The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. He argues not only is there a correlation between countries that are mainly Protestants and countries that are democracies, he also argues there is a causation.

This is not a largely accepted hypothesis for several reasons. But before I dig into this,  I will briefly sum up Woodberry’s main points, so a few quotations.

CPs [conversionary Protestants] influenced democracy directly by shaping democratic theory and institutions and indirectly by creating religious incentives for elites to disperse economic and political power. CPs wanted people to read the Bible, thus they initiated mass education and mass printing.


CPs also dispersed power by developing and spreading new organizational forms and protest tactics that allowed non-elites, early nationalists and anti-colonial activists to organize both non-violent political protests and political parties. Many scholars argue that this type of organizational civil society helped foster democracy (Putnam 1993; Fung 2003).


Furthermore, the strength of Calvinism and Nonconformism better predicts where democracy emerged than does the strength of Greek and Enlightenment influence.

In short, it is not any kind of Protestantism that will do, but a specific type. The missionaries helped to nourish democracy by education people to read and to participate in civil society.

The data shows otherwise, however. If Protestantism led to democracy, how come it took several hundred years for democracy to take hold?

The Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) are traditionally ranked as the most democratic countries on Earth. The majority of people are Protestant-Lutherans. Countries that are not, are statistically less democratic. Protestantism was introduced in Denmark in 1536 by King Christian II. In 1660 Denmark underwent a reform in how it was governed. Absolute Monarchy (Enevælden) was introduced, and it lasted until Denmark became a democracy in, 1849, when the first constitution was passed (though a lot of people were denied the right to vote, such as if you were a woman or poor). If Protestantism led to democracy, how come it took more than 300 years?  And why did it lead to a dictatorship beforehand?

We can also take the US as an example. The US introduced representative democracy in 1776, with the passing of the Declaration of Independence. But democracy was not meant for everyone. Blacks were given no rights. Not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even then, things have been tough. Christendom in any shape does not automatically lead to democracy.

If Protestantism deterministic led to democracy, I would be fair to argue, we should see a greater support for democracy in Africa among Christians than non-Christians. That is not the case

A PEW study from 2010 titled Tolerance and Tension – Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa states:

Asked whether democracy is preferable to any other kind of government or “in some circumstances, a nondemocratic government can be preferable,” strong majorities in every country choose democracy. In most places there is no significant difference between Muslims and Christians on this question. (p. 10)

Similar patterns can be found around the globe. Christianity cannot claim ownership to democracy or to prime people to be more democratic oriented.

To return to Africa, it also forgotten that missionaries did not do a good job converting Africans. It was locals converting locals. Christianity did not really take hold in African before after the first wave of independence hit the continent around the 1960s. Missionaries were not the root cause, and definitely not white missionaries. The locals created a new version of Christianity fitting the reality on the ground.

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 12.30.47.png

However, it is correct, that missionaries did influence locals. Missionaries were deeply involved in printing Bibles on the native languages to ease the converting. Reading out loud in a tongue nobody understood would not get your message across.

A sense of shared belonging based on similar languages grew. For many ethnic groups, it was also the first time their oral language became a written one. To be able to communicate through the written word opened a new door for the ones who mastered this. But the written word is not enough for democracy to take hold or for democracy to survive. The US has just been downgraded from being a democracy to be a flawed democracy

This hypothesis further risks, unintentionally, to excuse colonisation and to reiterate the often used cliche, that Africa needs the West. There is not the case.

One could also argue that democracy spurred in the West as in Africa not because of Christianity, but despite Christianity.

No-one argues that the past does not matter. The disagreement is to what extent. Scholars also disagree, if you see what you want to see, and risk confusing causation and correlation. There is also the risk of reverse causality. Not to forget cherry picking your data, or you being blinded by a Western-centric worldview.

The positive aspect of the criticism of this school is, that no country is trapped in history, and every country can create its own future.

Other articles in this series
2)  Institutions Matter
3) Resources Matter
4) People Matter
5) Is Africa Poor?

Senegal – katastrofen der aldrig skete

Det er min kommentar til DRs nyhedshistorie om Senegal.

DR udelader vigtige punkter, hvor jeg mener, at DR er for eurocentrisk-orienteret i vinklingen af denne historie. Tillad mig at tilføje vigtig information.

Senegal – katastrofen der aldrig skete

Året er 2011, Vestafrika plages stadig af diktatorer. Borgerkrigen i Elfenbenskysten var lige overstået, Jammeh sad trygt i Gambia, ligeså gjorde Blaise Compaoré i Burkina Faso. I Guinea-Bissau boblede utilfredsheden hos dele af eliten. Året efter kulminerede dette i et militærkup. I Togo sad (og sidder) diktator Faure Gnassingbé tungt på magten.

I denne situation sad Senegals præsident Abdoulaye Wade og besluttede, “lad mig tilsidesætte Senegals forfatning og gå efter at få en tredje periode på posten. Det, Vestafrika har behov for, er flere diktatorer.”

Hvad værre, Wade var ved at køre sin søn i stilling som arvetager, Karim Wade. Med andre ord, Wade var ved at forandre Senegal fra et demokrati til et familiedynasti, som vi har set i Togo, Gabon og muligvis i Ækvatorialguinea.

Heldigvis havde Wade gjort regning uden vært. Han glemte befolkningen. Op til valget gjorde senegalserne noget, senegalesere meget sjældent gør, de demonstrerede. De var vrede over stigende fødevare- og huspriser og den voksende inflation. Samtidig så de en præsident, der havde penge til at indvie en kæmpe statue til $27mio, the African Renaissance Monument , mens befolkningen ikke havde råd til at købe basale fødevarer.

Da valget oprandt d. 26. februar, 2012, tabte Wade valget med et brag. Folket havde talt og taget deres fremtid i egne hænder. Dermed indtraf kastrofen ikke pga. folket.

Den nye præsident, Macky Sall, vandt gennem koalitionen Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY), der mest havde et tilfælles, de var imod Wades centralisering af magt omkring sig selv og sin familie.

Siden magten kom i hus har Sall oplevet indre spændinger i koalitionen, der bestod af fire partiet. I 2013 forlod Idrissa Seck koalitionen, der stadig havde flertal, men koalitionen var såret.

Problemerne under Wade er fortsat under Sall. Det meste af Senegals jord er udpint og/eller ramt af tørke. Det gør, at Senegal er stærkt afhængig af import af fødevarer. I følge Afrobarometer går de færreste personer i Senegal sulten i seng, men hele 3/4 angiver, at de ofte mangler penge. Afhængigheden af import af fødevarer og mangel på en stabil indkomst gør de lokale sårbarer overfor selv minimale prisstigninger på fødevarer.

Hvad gør EU for at hjælpe? Senegal er afhængig af fiskeri, men store internationale virksomheder er rykket ind og bygget fiskemelsfabrikker.

Fabrikkerne medfører, at:
1) prisen på fisk fortsætter med at stige

2) overfiskeri

3) fisk, der kunne blive brugt til at brødføde lokalbefolkningen, i stedet eksporteres til vesten, hvor de ender som billigt dyrefoder.

Vores forbrug af billigt dyrefoder tvinger fødevarepriserne op, gør lokale fiskere arbejdsløse, og gør det sværere for lokale at have råd til basale fødevarer.

Senegalesiske fiskere har ikke mange valgmuligheder end at søge arbejde andet sted. Europa giver dem ikke andre muligheder sammen med en regering, der stadig ikke har omsat sit landbrugsreformsprogram Accelerated Program for Agriculture in Senegal (PRACAS) fra skrivebord til virkelighed.

Senegalesere i udlandet hjælpet landet på fode
Der er tilsidst noget, mange facebookbrugere glemmer; når senegalesere finder arbejde andet sted, går mange af de penge til netop at forbedre deres hjemland.

Den senegalisiske diaspora sender årligt $1.6 mia hjem til Senegal. De penge går direkte til at forbedre Senegal. Mændene rejser for at søge en indkomst for at hjælpe deres land, ikke for at lade deres land i stikken. I 2014 udgjorde penge fra diasporaen anslået 10% af hele Senegals BNP, ifølge Verdensbanken.

Før fremmedangsten helt får fat i os. 10.000 senegalesere er kommet til Europa i år. Senegal har en befolkning på ca. 16. mio.

10.000 personer svarer til, at 0.0625% af den senegalisiske befolkning er kommet til Europa i år. Det er ikke alarmende.

PS: senegaleserne benytter også andre veje end fra Libyen til Italien. Mange forsøger også at komme over murerne rundt om de to nordafrikanske, spanske byer, Melilla og Ceuta. Dagbladet Information kaldte i 2010 murerne om disse to byer for “Europas beskidte hemmelighed“.

Information on Africa You Can’t Live Without

Are you a major African geek? You are at the right place


How many African states have won a Nobel Prize?
What is the name of the head of state in Gabon?
When did Malawi gain independence?
Whom was the first president of Mali?
What is the date for the next election in Liberia?
Has a Nigerian president ever won the Mo Ibrahim Prize?
Whom is José Mário Vaz?
Who will take over when José dos Santos steps down as President of Angola?
What African country used to be a Spanish colony?

Curious? Get to know the answers to all of these questions above and much, much more.
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Last updated: Sept 1, 2017
The Kenyan Supreme Court just nullified the result of the recent election. A new election will be held within 60 days. Uhuru Kenyatta’s win is hereby erased.

Fine print: the situation in Africa is constantly changing, meaning this document is frequently updated to make sure it is always up to date. If something is missing, something mentioned is incorrect, or you want a special copy with specific information not included in this document (laws on sexual minorities, size of population, corruption etc) let me know.

NGO’er og dødstallet over Middelhavet



Hvis et træ vælter i skoven, men ingen er tilstede, afgiver det en lyd?

Medlem af partiet Venstre, Marcus Knuths, kritiserer flere NGO’er for, at deres redningsaktioner på Middelhavet er med til, at flere personer forsøger at tage rejsen over Middelhavet, der er med til at flere også drukner. Altså Knuth direkte anklager disse NGO’er, deriblandt Red Barnet, for at folk drukner i deres færd over Middelhavet

I 2015 druknede 3771 personer på deres tur over Middelhavet.
I 2016 druknede 5.000, en stigning på 25%.

Årsagen er korrekt, at bådene, menneskesmuglerne bruger, er i dårligere og dårligere stand, og at flere både sendes afsted samtidigt.

Men denne debat indeholder 3 dele, og de færreste når omkring dem.

1) Årsag og virkning
2) Hvis et træ vælter i skoven…
3) Alternativer

1) Årsag og virkning
Dette er et punkt, rigtig mange lægpersoner og professionelle kløjs i.

Vi er enige om, at A -> B, men hvad er A og hvad er B?

Knuth og andre abonnerer på ideen om, at redningsbåde tæt op af den libyske kyst gør, at kyniske menneskesmuglere sender dårligere og dårligere både ud. Det øger dødstallet, hvilket gør, at Red Barnet med flere indirekte er medskyldige i, at antal druknede er så højt.

A = NGO’ernes tilstedeværelse tæt på den libyske kyst ->
B = menneskesmuglerne bruger dårligere både

Løsning: fjern redningsbådene tæt ved Libyens kyst.

Men her er det vigtigt at huske, at årsag altid kommer før virkning. Altid!
Så hvad kom først? Kunne situationen ikke være omvendt?

I 2014 sluttede Operation Mare Nostrum, og Operation Triton begyndte.

Fokus fra FRONTEX og EU skiftede fra at lede efter både med flygtninge tæt ved Libyens kyst, til primært at patruljere ud for eget farvand. Dødstallet steg markant, hvor internationale rederier skældte ud, at det ikke var deres kerneopgave at redde mennesker.

I kølevandet på indledning af Operation Triton, gik NGOer ind for at udfylde en opgave, EU ikke længere udfyldte.

Altså dårligere både og mange druknede gik forud for NGO’ernes involvering i redningsarbejdet. Efter kritik fra rederier og NGO’er ændrede EU kurs, der knækkede kurven, hvilket gjorde, at dødstallet for 2015 ikke blev større.

Vi må derfor antage, da årsag altid kommer før virkning, at A -> B nærmere ser sådan ud.

A = dårligere både brugt af menneskesmuglere ->
B = flere redningsbåde tæt op af den libyske kyst

Løsning: at sikre bedre flugtveje, da redningsbåde er en følgevirkning af, at bådene bliver dårligere, de er ikke årsagen til bådenes kritisable tilstand.

Ej at forglemme, at en af årsagerne til, at bådene bliver dårligere, er EUs skyld. Tidligere så vi flere træbåde, men EU har systematisk ødelagt disse træskibe for at undgå, at de blev brugt til at transportere mennesker over Middelhavet. Menneskesmuglerne er gået over til at bruge gummibåde. Ødelæggelse af smuglernes træbåde er sket under Operation Sophia, der igen afløste Operation Triton. Gummibåde er endnu farligere end træbåde, der øger faren med overfarten og dermed risikoen for drukneulykker.

NGO’erne gør deres pligt, og der er umiddelbart ikke bevis for Knuths påstand. FRONTEX kunne også mistænkes for at ville dække over egen fiasko. Siden Operation Mare Nostrum sluttede, fordi EU ikke ville hjælpe Italien økonomisk, har de resterende operationer fejlet.

2) Hvis et træ vælter i skoven, men ingen er tilstede, afgiver det en lyd?
Inden for menneskerettigheder opereres der med to begreber “the enchanted state” og “the practical state”. På dansk “den fortryllede stat” og den “praktiske stat”.

Den fortryllede stat er, hvordan en given stat ser selv, hvor den praktiske stat mere afspejler virkeligheden og statens pragmatisme.

Den fortryllede stat kommer ofte til udtryk, hvordan staten kan fastholde sit positive billede af sig selv ved at vende det blinde øje til problemer, der ødelægger det positive selvportræt af staten.

Den fortryllede stat kommer i en positiv og negativ udgave. I Sverige valgte det svenske politi pludseligt at gå samlet til frokost, da danskere afleverede flygtninge på den svenske side i 2015. Politiet skal anholde dem, men hvis de ikke ser ulovligheden, skete det så?

Hvis statens og dens myndighedspersoner ikke ser en given overtrædelse, bliver overtrædelse ikke registreret, og den fortryllede stat kan fortsætte sin egen selvfortælling.

Hvis EU ikke ser de druknede, findes de så? Vi kan allerede observere, at EU holder sig væk fra områder, hvor det står værst til.

NGO’ernes tilstedeværelse er med til konstant at minde EU – og dermed samtlige medlemslande- om, at EUs taktik fejler, og deres selvforståelse som en humanitær magt vedbliver med at få ridser i lakken.

3) Alternativer
Knuth m.fl. glemmer strategisk, at ingen som sådan er modstander af, at NGOer ikke skal drive redningsaktioner, men flere efterspørger alternativer. Knuth og co. har gang i operation Fort Europa, for at undgå at flygtninge overhovedet når til Europa. Målet er ikke at redde flygtninge, det er at holde dem væk.

Hvad der er behov for er veje, der sørger for, at flygtninge kan komme til Europa gennem sikre kanaler. Hvilket er svært, når Danmark tilmed nægter at tage imod kvoteflygtninge.

Hvis Knuth oprigtigt kerere sig om druknede flygtninge, vil jeg gerne høre alternativer til at beskytte liv. Indtil da gør EUs operationer, det desværre nødvendigt for NGOer at bedrive redningsaktioner tæt op af Libyens kyst.

Kommentar til Lise Nørgaard om Afrika

Lise Nørgaard har fornyeligt udtalt under et interview dette:

Det er jo en dråbe i havet, hvor vi alle sammen kan få lov til at føle os rigtig gode ved at give en skærv, men det hjælper ikke. Det, de skulle have, tænker jeg tit på, det var et helt vogntog med præservativer, siger hun.


Og Afrika har simpelthen været et problem, lige siden kolonisamfundene ophørte

Jeg vil bruge den næste tid på at forklare, hvorfor Lise Nørgaard tager fejl, og desuden er historieløs i sin argumentation.

Hvorfor kondomer ikke vil ændre noget
1) Afrika som kontinent har mere end nok til at kunne brødføde sin befolkning, hvis landbrugssektoren blev effektiviseret.

2) Flere afrikanske lande lider under landgrabbing, hvor udenlandske lande eller virksomheder bruger jord til at dyrke afgrøder til eget brug. Fx har England haft marker i Afrika, hvor “maden” blev fragtet til England og derpå brugt til bio-brændsel. Kina, Indien og flere er igang med at importere fødevarer fra fx Etiopien til sig selv. Den jord og de fødevarer kunne være brugt til at brødføde den lokale befolkning.

I Senegal ender lokale fisk som fiskemel, der blandet andet sendes til Europa og bruges til dyrefoder

3) Fra 1870-2010 har majoriteten af dødsfald i forbindelse med sult ikke været i Afrika, men Østeuropa og Asien. Anslået 88% af alle dødsfald grundet sult var sket i disse to verdensdele. Afrika stod for 10%.

4) Sultkatastrofer skyldes som ofte ikke overbefolkning, men dårligt lederskab. Dårligt lederskab har ikke fokus på de nødvendige investeringer: der er oftere konflikt og penge bruges på våben. Et eksempel på dette er Sydsudan.

Når EU med flere støtter dårlige ledere, understøtter vi indirekte hungerkatastrofer ved at holde dårlige ledere ved magten (eksempelvis i Etiopien og Eritrea).

5)  Afrobarometer udgav i 2016 en rapport om forholdene i 35 afrikanske lande, hvor de blandt andet spurgte befolkningerne i disse lande, om de havde manglet mad inden for det seneste år. Gennemsnitligt gik næsten 70% aldrig eller meget sjældent sultne i seng.

6) Flere afrikanske lande døjer med to modsatrettede problemer. Befolkningen døjer med sult og overvægt. Det gør også, at flere afrikanske lande både skal forholde sig til nyere sygdomme som diabetes, og til sygedomme og problemer grundet sult, såsom død.

Problemerne er mangel på en effektiv landbrugssektor og af politisk karakter, ikke overbefolkning.

Derfor ville løsningen ikke være at sende kondomer, det er at få rettet op på det politiske system. Og det er Europa ikke den bedste til.

Årsagen til at befolkningen i Afrika vil stige med ca. 100% inden 2050 er ikke, at afrikanere får flere børn end tidligere (tallet varierer kraftigt fra land til land og mellem land og by), men at der fødes færre børn, men flere af børnene nu overlever, samtidigt med at folk generelt bliver ældre og ældre. Igen ikke noget kondomer som sådan ændrer på.

Men har Lise Nørgaard ikke ret, at der er behov for kondomer?
Problemet med LN’ udtalelser er, at hun generaliserer ved at tale om Afrika nærmest som et land.

Hun glemmer også, at fertilitetsraten er faldet og er faldende i de fleste afrikanske lande, og family planning er tilstede i de fleste lande, hvor prævention og børn diskuteres.

Ingen er uenig med Lise Nørgaard, at family planning og adgang til kondomer er godt! Problemet er, at det lyder som om, at Vesten igen vil til at bestemme over afrikanerne, og nu vil vi også bestemme over deres sexliv.

I lande, hvor fødselsraten stadigvæk er høj, skyldes det en blanding af høj børnedødelighed (sygdom, konflikt o.lign.), og at mange afrikanere stadig bor på landet, hvor der er behov for børn til at hjælpe på gården.

Igen kondomer er godt, men det er noget kvinderne selv skal efterspørge, og kondomer skal i langt højere grad være tilgængelige og være billige (helst gratis). Personligt er jeg ligeglad med om staten uddeler kondomer, eller om en privat virksomhed som Coca Cola får opgaven. Jeg er fuld af beundring for Coca Cola. Jeg har endnu ikke hørt om en person, der har befundet sig i en afrikansk landsby uden, personen kunne købe Coca Cola.

Men den bedste måde at mindske fertilitetsraten er ikke at fortælle afrikanerne hvad de skal eller ikke skal, det er at støtte den nuværende proces, sørge for at kvinderne får en uddannelse og understøtte jobskabelse.

Årsagen til at det er et problem, at befolkningstallet mere end fordobles frem mod 2050 er jo ikke, at der ikke er plads. De fleste Afrikanske lande har masser af plads, måske med undtagelse af Burundi, Rwanda og Kivu regionerne i det østlige DR. Congo,

Problemet er, at kontinentet går en stor ungdomsårgang i møde, og der er ingen jobs, hvor en lille elite fortsat sidder på resourcerne. Det er en ugunstig situation, der kan destabilisere flere lande.

Vi ser det allerede i Nigeria med gruppen Boko Haram og i Somalia med al-Shabab.

Det ville være bedre, hvis DK hverken sendte kondomer eller lavede smarte Afrikaindsamlingsshows.

I stedet skulle vi:
* begynde at lave udvekslingsprogrammer, hvor danske studerende kunne studere i fx. Uganda, Kenya, Ghana eller Senegal, og deres studerende lettere kunne studere i Danmark

* gøre mere for at styrke erhvervslivet og samarbejde landene på tværs og mellem afrikanske lande og danske virksomheder

* gøre noget ved landbrugsstøtten. Den skrævvrider det frie marked til gunst for europæiske bønder, og er med til at svække de afrikanske bønders konkurrencemulighed til at sælge deres produkter lokalt, nationalt, regionelt og internationelt.

Problemet var ikke kolonitidens ophør, problemet var kolonialismen
Koloniseringen handlede aldrig om at redde afrikanerne (og fra hvad?), det var en systematisk udplyndring af kontinentet. Kolonierne skulle give overskud, for at skatteyderne ikke endte med regningen

Det var tilfældet for Belgien over til Frankrig og England og Portugal.

Afrika har været et problem lige siden kolonialiseringen begyndte. Der er en mærkbar forskel end til at mene, at ophøret af kolonialiseringen var problemet.

Men det er måske svært at sluge, at flere arkæologiske fund viser, at nogle byer i Afrika var moderne storbyer, Benin City havde gadebelysning, men alt blev ødelagt af briterne. Ashantiriget oplevede ligeså systematisk udplydring, hvorfor dens pragt ikke er vel bevaret eller kendt af europæerne i dag.

For at fastholde afrikanerne som primitive, måtte europæere opfinde bizarer myter, såsom at årsagen til at Buganda Kongedømmet var så udviklet skyldtes, at deres udvikling slet ikke skyldtes de lokale, men den hamitiske race udsprunget fra Ham. De var flygtet til Bugunda og andre steder. Myten fungerede som ad hoc forklaring, når de “primitive” teede sig civiliseseret.

Lise Nørgaard er aldrig kommet videre end før den hamitiske myte endegyldigt blev klassificeret som en myte, og siden smidt på den historiske mødding sammen med eugenik og social-darwisme. Hendes viden om Afrika er ubeskriveligt ringe og til tider direkte racistisk og paternalistisk. Europa skulle have fortsat kolonialismen for at passe på de lokale-retorik. I virkeligheden er problemet nærmere, at personer som Lise Nørgaard ikke har indset, at det er holdninger som disse, der er problemet. Både under kolonialismen og i dag anno 2017.