“This is Africa”

11 03 2008

“This is Africa”, sometimes shortened to TIA, is a phrase I hate. It is meant to lessen the shock of what you see here, but I don’t want that shock lessened. When spoken by whites you can almost hear the unspoken “and what did you expect from a bunch of savages?” When used by Africans the resignation and defeat is depressing.

Personally I want to remain angry about the poverty I see and corruption I hear about. I want to remain angry that a child born in northern Ghana is 11 times more likely to lose his or her mother when she bears them than a child in England, and that they can expect 20 fewer years of life than an English baby. I want to remain angry that the Ghanaian child is going to receive a much worse education and have almost poor job prospects. Righteous indignation seems the only response to the incompetence and corruption that fritter away the meagre resources that are available.

“This is Africa” is intellectually lazy, applying one explanation to many phenomena, complacent in its implicit assumption that this is how things must remain and often inaccurately assumes certain problems or categories of problems are particular to Africa rather than to poverty generally, or indeed universal.

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2 responses

12 03 2008
Ellen Cranton

Very well written Tim. I could almost feel your indignation and anger.

24 03 2008
Jamessn

favorited this one, guy

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