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QUIZ – 25 Questions on Africa and Homosexuality 


  1. During the era of Colonialism, it was a wide spread myth among Europeans, that Africans were children who had no knowledge or experience with same-sex behavior. One of the more vocal voices on this idea was Edward Gibbon. In 1885, a supporter of Gibbon wrote in “The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night” that: “the negro race is mostly untainted by sodomy and tribadism”. Who was the author?
    a) Trick question, still Edward Gibbon
    b) Frederick Trump
    c) Sir Richard Burton
    d) Morton Stanley
  2. In 1970, this famous British anthropologist debunked the myth that homosexuality was alien to Africa when he published his article titled “Sexual Inversion Among the Azande”. In his article, he revealed same-sex activities among members of the Azande were common. What was the name of this British anthropologist?
    a) Sir Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
    b) Edward Burnett Tylor
    c) Jack Goody
    d) Clive S. Gamble
  3. In 1998, this famous anthology edited by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe shred light on the presence of same-sex behavior across the African continent prior to colonialism. The book provides the final nail in the coffin to the myth that homosexuality is alien to Africa. What is the name of this anthology?
    a) Sexual Diversity in Africa
    b) Queer African Reader
    c) Heterosexual Africa?
    d) Boy-Wives and Female Husbands
  4. In 2011, the Ghanaian professor and director of the Institute of African Studies at the Ghana University in relation to homosexuality was cited saying that “there is ample evidence to show that homosexuality, like other practices or sins, is not uncommon in Africa historically.” What is the name of the Ghanaian professor?
    a) Akosua Adomako Ampofo
    b) Edward Kissi
    c) Serena Dankwa
    d) Dzodzi Tsikata
  5. This Ugandan scholar has repeatedly scolded Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his stance, that homosexuality should be un-African. The scholar notes that a cave in Guruve in Zimbabwe depicts two men engaged in some form of ritual sexual activity. Who is the name of this Ugandan scholar?
    a) Stella Nyanzi
    b) Frank Mugisha
    c) Nicholas Opiyo
    d) Sylvia Tamale
  6. In 2012, this president said that “Homosexuals in small numbers have always existed in our part of black Africa (…) They were never prosecuted. They were never discriminated.” Who once said this?
    a) Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
    b) Yoweri Museveni, Uganda
    c) Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
    d) John Atta Mills, Ghana
  7. In how many of the 54 African states are same-sex acts legal?
    a) 0
    b) 50
    c) 21
    d) 30
  8. Ten African countries have signed the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) where they promise to uphold the human rights of sexual minorities. The African countries that have signed this declaration are: 1) South Africa, 2) Rwanda, 3) Central African Republic, 4) Gabon, 5) Guinea-Bissau, 6) Mauritius, 7) Cabo Verde, 8) Sao Tome and Principe, 9) Seychelles and…
    a) Ghana
    b) Botswana
    c) Lesotho
    d) Sierra Leone
  9. In the majority of African countries, where same-sex sexual activities are totally or partly prohibited, the prohibition originates from?
    a) Indigenous traditions predating colonialism
    b) The French criminal code
    c) The British Common Law
    d) The origin is unknown
  10. This former African president is a vocal supporter of decriminalization of homosexuality in not only his own country but across the African continent. What is his name?
    a) Festus Mogae, Botswana
    b) Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria
    c) Mwai Kibaki, Kenya
    d) Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal
  11. In 2016, the independent African think tank, Afrobarometer, asked people in 33 African countries if they would tolerate homosexuality. How many percentages of the people answered yes in relation to accepting homosexuality in Namibia?
    a) 8 %
    b) 55 %
    c) 90 %
    d) 42 %
  12. According to Afrobarometer, how many percentages of the people would accept homosexuality in Senegal?
    a) 85 %
    b) 3 %
    c) 7 %
    d) 59 %
  13. In what year did Cabo Verde legalize same sex activities?
    a) 2004
    b) 1999
    c) 2008
    d) 2012
  14. In 2014, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights passed a resolution demanding every member state of the African Union to protect and uphold the human rights of all of its citizens regardless of real or alleged sexual orientation, and for “States to end all acts of violence and abuse”. In what African capital was the resolution signed?
    a) Harare, capital of Zimbabwe
    b) Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia
    c) Luanda, capital of Angola
    d) Libreville, capital of Gabon
  15. Gay pride parades are held in Mauritius, South Africa, and Uganda. What year did the first gay pride parade in Uganda take place?
    a) 2011
    b) 2012
    c) 2015
    d) 2016
  1. A common critique of African scholars is, that if they support legalization of homosexuality, then they must have been brainwashed by unknown Western agents. Ugandan scholar and human rights activist, Stella Nyanzi, narrates in one of her many articles, how and where she learned about homosexuality and hence developed her revulsion against homophobia. In what country did she encounter her first meeting with homosexuality?
    a) During her fieldwork in the Gambia
    b) When she met a pastor from Nigeria
    c) On a trip to Kenya
    d) In Uganda during her years in an all girls’ boarding school
  2. Most former British African colonies adopted the British Common Law after they gained independence. The Common Law prohibits unnatural carnal knowledge, a relic from the British Victorian Era when sex was purely for procreation. Ordinary natural carnal knowledge is when the penis of a man penetrates the vagina of the woman. Unnatural carnal knowledge is when the penis of a man penetrates anything else, such as it happens during anal intercourse and fellatio. Can women be punished for possessing unnatural carnal knowledge?
    a) Yes
    b) No, since women cannot penetrate one another, and hence they are excluded from the article
    c) It is a trick question. Most African countries clearly ban homosexuality by name and not through such a vague term as “unnatural carnal knowledge” rendering this question useless
    d) Can you repeat the question? You are telling me that blowjobs might be illegal?
  3. During the Apartheid regime in South Africa, was it illegal for two men to engage in penetrative sexual acts?
    a) It was perfectly legal. Whites want to protect homosexuals and to spread the practice
    b) The Apartheid regime was silent on such relationships, but it was discouraged
    c) It was strictly illegal. The Apartheid regime adopted the British Common Law that directly outlawed such practices. Several cases of abuse are recorded, as well as attempted cures all proving negative during the Apartheid era
    d) Even the law was silent, the regime actively promoted it
  4. In 2011, the Ghanaian Attorney General said this in relation to if it was illegal for two consenting adults of the same gender to have sex in their bedroom: Your house is your castle; your room is your castle, what you do there is nobody’s business.” What was this person’s name?
    a) Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong
    b) Nana Akufo-Addo
    c) Betty Mould-Iddrisu
    d) Martin Amidu
  5. In 2014, the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Nigerian anti-gay bill. What famous Nigerian musician spoke out against the bill by saying that “Today I am writing this not as a fight for “gay rights”, I am fighting for all rights. People should be allowed to express themselves freely and this includes their sexuality”?
    a) Wizkid
    b) Seun Kuti
    c) Olamide
    d) Victor Uwaifo
  6. In 2016, the artist group “Art Attack” made a remix of Macklemore’s ‘Same Love” to talk about same-sex rights, LGBT struggles, gender equality, gay struggles and civil liberties for all sexual orientations. From which country is “Art Attack” from? 
    a) Kenya
    b) Zimbabwe
    c) Cameroon
    d) Ethiopia
  7. South Africa has laws protecting its citizens against hate crimes. Even so, South Africa has been extremely slow in dealing with abuse and rape of alleged and real homosexuals. Especially cases of so-called corrective rape have soared since the year 2000. Corrective rape is the myth that a woman will become straight if she is raped. In South African, how many women have reportedly been killed due to corrective rape since the year 2000?
    a) 9
    b) 14
    c) 29
    d) 37
  8. Who published the article “I am a homosexual, mum” in 2014?
    a) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    b) Ayi Kwei Armah
    c) Binyanvanga Wainaina
    d) Wole Soyinka
  9. In a report from 2016, the US Department of Human Rights describes this African country like this: “The LGBTI community was rarely identified or discussed, which observers attributed to the severity of the stigma and legal penalties attached to such labels. No cases of abuses based on sexual orientation were reported during the year.”
    Which African country does this report talk about?

    a) Mauritania
    b) Guinea-Bissau
    c) The Republic of the Congo
    d) Burundi
  10. Recently, the Kenyan High Court voted in favor of groups belonging to sexual minorities are allowed to register their organization by citing the Kenyan Constitution article 36 “Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind.” In what year did the Kenyan High Court pass this decision?
    a) 2014
    b) 2015
    c) 2016
    d) 2017
1c, 2a, 3d, 4a, 5d, 6b, 7c, 8d, 9c, 10a, 11b, 12b, 13a, 14c, 15b, 16d, 17b, 18c, 19d, 20b, 21a, 22d, 23c, 24a, 25b

Nej, Matadors mor ramte slet ikke plet hvad Afrika angår

Det giver ikke mening at skrive, hvor mange børn den gennemsnitlige afrikanske kvinde får. Denne kvinde findes ikke.

28. JUL. 2017 KL. 15.58
Cand.mag. i afrikastudier, Politiken

I et indlæg 17.07 i Politiken skriver Flemming Ytzen, at Lise Nørgaard jo har en pointe om Afrika.

Ytzen beretter om, at Afrika har en højere fertilitetsrate, hvor den gennemsnitlige afrikanske kvinde får næsten dobbelt så mange børn som resten af verden. Han giver delvis de dårlige afrikanske ledere skylden, han refererer til som tropiske gangstere. Nej, Matadors mor ramte ikke uhyggeligt præcist, hvad angår Afrika.

Først og fremmest giver det ikke mening at skrive, hvor mange børn den gennemsnitlige afrikanske kvinde får. Denne kvinde findes ikke, og hun har aldrig fandtes. At fokusere på denne fiktive kvinde gør, at vi overser, hvor stor variation af fertilitetsraten, vi finder på dette gigantiske kontinent, og vi overser forskellene mellem land og by. Blot i et land som Kenya er spændet massivt.

I landdistriktet Wajir får en typisk kvinde 7,8 børn. I storbyerne har fertilitetsraten været helt nede på 1,5 børn pr. kvinde. Det er lavere, end hvad vi finder i Danmark. Hvis disse forskelle findes inden for samme land, tænk så på, hvor store forskellene er i de 54 afrikanske lande imellem. Vi skal alle stoppe med at behandle Afrika som ét land.

Afrikanske ledere skal kritiseres, men der er i lige så høj grad behov for selvkritik

En årsag til, at kvinderne typisk får flere børn i landdistrikterne, er, at børnedødeligheden er større, og børnene hjælper til på gården. Kondomer vil ikke ændre på denne situation, da det er at overse, hvorfor kvinderne får flere børn til at begynde med.

Det glemmes også, at en af årsagerne til, at kondomer mangler i landdistrikterne, er den dårlige infrastruktur, der gør det vanskeligt at distribuere kondomer. Vi kan sende tons af kondomer af sted, men hvis de ikke kan transporteres til landområderne, er det lige meget. Vi skal ej heller glemme, at der i flere afrikanske lande allerede er kondomer og fokus på familieplanlægning. En årsag til, at fødselsraten er markant lavere i byerne.

Flemming Ytzen bruger udtrykket tropiske gangstere i sit indlæg. Udtrykket stammer fra Robert Klitgaards bog af samme navn udgivet i 1991. Klitgaard gennemgår sine oplevelser under sit ophold i Ækvatorialguinea, hvor han beskriver, hvem de tropiske gangstere er:

»De rigtige tropiske gangstere er kapitalisterne, lokale og udenlandske, og hjælpeorganisation, der fremmer dem«.

Læs også: Lise Nørgaard har jo en pointe om Afrika

Tropiske gangstere er et begreb, der omslutter alle aktørerne. Ikke kun de afrikanske ledere. Flere afrikanske lande har set deres andel af dårlige ledere, hvor Frankrig har været med til at gøre ondt værre gennem en gennemgående uvidenhed om kontinentet, der blandt andet kom til syne under deres redningsaktion af hutu-militærledere under folkedrabet i Rwanda i 1994.

Hvor meget magt Frankrig har i sine tidligere franske kolonier i dag, er stadig til diskussion. I 1998 lukkede Frankrig sit ministerium for samarbejde og integration også kendt under navnet Françafrique. Under ministeriets levetid blev dette ministerium brugt som et nykolonialistisk værktøj til at give fransksponsorerede ledere positiv særbehandling. Dette ministerium ophørte med at eksistere, da blev underlagt Udenrigsministeriet.

Frankrig er dog stadig dybt involveret i Afrika, hvilket sås under konflikten i Elfenbenskysten under fredsprocessen, da præsident Nicolas Sarkozy inviterede afrikanske ledere og diktatorer fra udvalgte tidligere franske og belgiske kolonier i Afrika til middag i Paris.

Læs også: Orker vi snart flere historier om nødlidende børn, sultkatastrofer og civile, der bliver bombet i stykker langt væk fra Danmark?

Eller i 2014, da Burkina Fasos præsident Blaise Compaoré måtte flygte med halen mellem benene, var det Frankrig, der faciliterede flugten til Elfenbenskysten, der ledes af præsident Alassane Ouattara, der igen nyder støtte fra Frankrig.

Nedlæggelsen af ministeriet, der faciliterede Françafrique, har medført, at flere afrikanske lande nyder større frihed end tidligere, og åbner igen op for, at lokale ledere kan kritiseres endnu mere, da de i stigende grad opererer på egen hånd.

Men det hele skal ses i den historiske kontekst. Frankrig styrer ikke så meget som tidligere, men Frankrig er stadig i rummet. Françafrique er ikke død. CFA’er er ikke død. Der er en grund til, at nogle afrikanske ledere er yderst glade for Frankrigs støtte, såsom lederen af Gabon, Ali Bongo.

Afrikanske ledere skal kritiseres, men der er i lige så høj grad behov for selvkritik. Som Klitgaard sagde, vi er alle en del af de tropiske gangstere. Det er for let at kritisere afrikanske ledere for at være tropiske gangstere uden at nævne, at vi er den del af denne konstellation.

Quiz – 25 Questions on Africa

Fun Quiz About Africa


For nerds, know-it-alls, for you who are curious, and for you who just came by

This quiz will include recent questions about the 54 African countries. They will relate to the present and to the past.

The answers are located at the bottom.

Enjoy 😀

  1. What is the name of the current longest serving president?
    a) President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe
    b) President of Cameroon, Paul Biya
    c) President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
    d) President of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos
  2. Which one of these countries is deemed less corrupt than Spain?
    (According to the latest Corruption Perception Index by Transparency Intl.)
    a) Ghana
    b) Rwanda
    c) Lesotho
    d) Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)
  3. The famous explorer, John Rowlands, is best known under a different name, which one?
    a) Pietro Paolo Savorgnan di Brazza
    b) Henry Morton Stanley
    c) Charles George Gordon
    d) Alexander Murdoch Mackay
  4. The largest African country is Algeria, what is the second largest country?
    a) Burundi
    b) the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    c) Egypt
    d) Sudan
  5. In 1971, the President of Congo (-Leopoldville), Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, changed the country’s name to Zaire. From where did the name Zaire derive?
    a) The name of an ancient African empire
    b) The nickname of a great warrior, who fought against Belgium
    c) When Portuguese sailors arrived a long time ago, they asked the inhabitants what the name of the local waterbody was. The people answered “Nzadi”, but the sailors misspelled it “Zaire”. Mobutu read this old book and thought the word “Zaire”  referred to the name of the land. Zaire is a misspelling of Nzadi meaning “River”
    d) A late evening President Mobutu went for a walk. The moon was shining and not a cloud was in sight. An angel appeared out of nowhere with a message from God. The angel told him to change the name from Congo to Zaire to honour Mobutu and God, since Zaire means “the conqueror”
  6. In 2016, the Ghanaian media reported, that the reign of the Johns was officially over. What did they refer to?
    a) Since 1992, every winner of the presidential election first name has been John. In 2016, the winner of the Presidential election did not bear the first name John
    b) John refers to the male gender in general. Since 1957, every leader of the police force has been a man. In 2016, the police force selected a female leader for the first time
    c) John refers to the last member of a notorious gang. In 2016, he passed away 78 years old
    d) John is the name of a local insect named after the British discover John Gendrick back in 1932. The insect is best known for killing cocoa trees. A swarm of these insects is locally known as “Johns”. In 2016, The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) finally declared that the “Johns” have been eradicated
  7. What is the capital of Gabon?
    a) Brazzaville
    b) Bamako
    c) Libreville
    d) Malabo
  8. The Democratic Republic of the Congo shares borders with nine other countries. Which ones?
  9. Which African country has ski resorts?
    a) Kenya
    b) Lesotho
    c) Mali
    d) the Central African Republic
  10. In 2008, the UN dubbed this country, the world’s first narco-state
    a) The Gambia
    b) Libya
    c) Niger
    d) Guinea-Bissau
  11. Only one of these countries has experienced a coup. Which one?
    a) Senegal
    b) Botswana
    c) Eritrea
    d) Ghana
  12. On July 1, 2015, this country decriminalized homosexuality
    a) Mozambique
    b) Namibia
    c) Kenya
    d) Ghana
  13. Kwame Nkrumah is generally viewed as the founder of Pan-Africanism. What country was he from?
    a) Nigeria
    b) Egypt
    c) Ghana (Gold Coast)
    d) Guinea
  14. In 1502, Vasco da Gama visited an African city. This city has later been cited as being more refined than Portugal itself. What city?
    a) Kilwa, modern day Tanzania
    b) Mombasa, modern day Kenya
    c) Cape Coast, modern day Ghana
    d) Cape the Good Hope, modern day South Africa
  15. The banana and Africa are often associated to one another, but the banana is not indigenous to Africa. The first traces of the banana in Africa are from the first century CE. From where did the banana originate?
    a) Europe
    b) Asia
    c) Middle East
    d) We do not know
  16. Journalist Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe aka Zik was a leading figure in advocating for independence from Britain during the 1950s. What country was he from?
    a) Sierra Leone
    b) Kenya
    c) Zimbabwe (South Rhodesia)
    d) Nigeria
  17. Several leaders have been awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for good leadership. Which one of these former presidents has not received this prize?
    a) Hifikepunye Pohamba, Namibia
    b) Festus Mogae, Botswana
    c) John Kufuor, Ghana
    d) Pedro Pires, Cabo Verde
  18. Rwanda has a population density of about 500 people per km2. What is the population density of Namibia?
    a) 367 people
    b) 3 people
    c) 18 people
    d) 136 people
  19. What is the capital of Equatorial Guinea
    a) Malabo
    b) Free Town
    c) Maseru
    d) Asmara
  20. Oct. 30, 1974, Kinshasa, Zaire, hosted the famous boxing match named the Rumble in the Jungle. The boxing match was between George Foreman and whom?
    a) Larry Holmes
    b) Ken Norton
    c) Muhamed Ali
    d) Roberto Durán
  21. In 2013, American artist Akon featured on a remixed version of the song “Chop my money” by the famous group P-Square. What country is P-Square from?
    a) Nigeria
    b) Kenya
    c) Ghana
    d) the Gambia
  22. This Kenyan writer is most famous for his books “One Day I Will Write About This Place” and “How to Write About Africa”. In 2014 he came forth saying he was homosexual
    a) Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
    b) John Samuel Mbeti
    c) Binyavanga Wainaina
    d) Meja Mwangi
  23. This Ghanaian female singer is best known for singing, that when she becomes 16 years, she will tell her poppy-o if you touch her thing-o
    a) Efya
    b) Mzbel
    c) Becca
    d) Kaakie
  24. Africa is divided into various regional African communities. The EAC stands for the East African Community. Which countries are members of the EAC?
  25. Which African country is still an absolute monarchy?
    a) Morocco,
    b) Malawi
    c) Lesotho
    d) Swaziland


1c, 2d, 3b, 4b, 5c, 6a, 7c, 8) Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Rep. of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, 9b, 10d, 11d, 12a, 13c, 14a, 15b, 16d, 17c, 18b, 19a, 20c, 21a, 22c, 23b, 24 Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan,Tanzania, Uganda, 25d

Enøjede danske medier fremstiller afrikanere som statister

Pressens fremstilling af Afrika og afrikanerne ødelægger vores forståelse af kontinentets udfordringer.

17. JUL. 2017 KL. 19.33, Politiken

Cand.mag. i afrikastudier

Den danske dækning af flygtningekrisen og Afrika er simpelthen for navlebeskuende. Ligegyldigt om vi taler regeringens nye strategiplan eller DR’s seneste nyhedsdækning af Senegal, så er Afrikas rolle at være statist i vores egen selvfortælling.

Afrika eksisterer ikke i sin egen ret, men kun i kraft af, hvordan denne statist påvirker hovedrolleindehaveren, os selv.

De lokale stemmer udelades eller opsøges slet ikke, og det ødelægger forståelsen af udfordringerne i de vidt forskellige afrikanske lande.

I den seneste tid er det kammet fuldstændigt over. Narrativet er nu, at det at lade børn og voksne drukne skal forestille at være fornuftigt. Personerne er kun statister, og derfor tæller deres liv mindre end vores. Vi er trods alt de vigtigste i vores fortælling.

Læs også: EU’s satsning tvinger migranter til farligere ruter

Tendensen er ikke ny. De seneste 200 år har kontinentet Afrikas vigtigste rolle været at bekræfte vores egen selvforståelse som verdens midtpunkt og styrke vores eget selvbillede.

Under kolonialismen blev kolonierne vores tjenere. Deres eksistensberettigelse var dels at forsyne os med de råstoffer, Europa havde behov for, og dels at bekræfte den hvide europæer som det menneske, alle ønskede at blive.

Vores krige er ingen undtagelse. Under begge verdenskrige deltog afrikanske soldater, men hvor ofte husker vi deres bedrifter? Aldrig.

Det fortsatte under den kolde krig, og selv i dag bruges afrikanske lejesoldater til at udkæmpe vores krige. Tidligere børnesoldater fra de to vestafrikanske lande Sierra Leone og Liberia deltog som lejesoldater i henholdsvis krigene i Afghanistan og Irak. Deres navne er ikkeeksisterende.

Afrikas job er at stå til rådighed for vores behov, og der sættes sjældent spørgsmålstegn ved dette stærkt eurocentriske udgangspunkt. Det gør os blinde for de lokale dynamikker, og hvordan vores indgreb og politik påvirker lokalsamfundene i Afrika. Dermed afholder vi afrikanerne fra at blive ligeværdige aktører.

Denne egoistiske dynamik går igen, når samtalen falder på migrant- og flygtningestrømmen over Middelhavet. Det påvirker løsningsmodellerne og den måde, medierne dækker historien på.

Når flygtningekrisen fremstilles i danske medier, virker det, som om alle flygtninge er på vej mod os – Mathias Søgaard

Regeringens strategiudspil fra juni i år taler stort set kun om, hvordan flygtningenes hjemlande skal tvinges til at tage imod egne statsborgere, og hvordan afrikanske lande kan gøre mere for at forhindre, at flygtninge når Middelhavet. Vi vil have afrikanske stater til at servicere os, men har kun minimalt fokus på de lokale behov.

Derfor ser vi gennem fingre med, at diktatorer belønnes for massive menneskerettighedskrænkelser. Politiken fortalte for nylig, hvordan militsen bag folkemordet i Darfur nu modtager penge fra EU i håbet om, at den kan bremse flygtningestrømmen. Samme fremgangsmåde bruges i Libyen, hvor både FN og Amnesty International beretter om grufuld behandling af personer i detentionscentrene.

Læs også: Mysteriet om de (muligvis) kinesiske gummibåde i Middelhavet

Når flygtningekrisen fremstilles i danske medier, virker det, som om alle flygtninge er på vej mod os. Alle kort, der bringes, viser flygtningeruter fra Vest- og Østafrika mod Europa. Ruteangivelserne er korrekte, men de mange ruter internt i Afrika udelades; ruter fra Sydsudan til Uganda, fra Burundi til Tanzania eller fra Den Centralafrikanske Republik til Cameroun. Uganda alene huser over 1 million flygtninge. Når alle piler peger mod os, glemmer vi de lokale indsatser, og vi overser, at Europa faktuelt modtager en yderst begrænset del af flygtningene. Langt hovedparten af afrikanske flygtninge bliver i Afrika.

Et eksempel på denne glemsomhed ses i DR’s seneste rapport fra Senegal om, hvordan lokale ønsker at tage rejsen mod Europa.

Artiklens synes alene at bekræfte vores opfattelse: Europa er bedst, og alle ønsker derfor at komme hertil. Der sættes aldrig spørgsmålstegn ved hvorfor. Svaret er jo selvindlysende.

Medierne må til at give Afrika og afrikanere en ret i sig selv og ikke kun som statister i vores navlebeskuende verdenssyn – Mathias Søgaard

Der spørges ikke ind til, hvorfor fiskerne ikke kan tjene penge. Så havde man kunnet fortælle, at der inden for de senere år er skudt fiskemelsfabrikker op i landet, så fisk, der skulle være endt på senegalesiske spiseborde, i stedet sendes til udlandet, deriblandt EU, som billigt dyrefoder.

Yderligere fører tilstedeværelsen af udenlandske trawlere til, at fiskebestanden er under pres. Det medfører færre fisk i havet, højere markedspriser og færre jobs til de lokale fiskere.

Medierne må til at give Afrika og afrikanere en ret i sig selv og ikke kun som statister i vores navlebeskuende verdenssyn. Først da kan vi løse de problemer, der får et menneske til at forlade sin familie for at sætte sig op i utæt gummibåd.øjede-danske-medier-fremstiller-afrikanere-som-statister

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?