Kevin Myres has written another article which has caused a bit of stir. This time on
The reaction on the Indo letters page to Myres’ piece tells us two things. First, people still care about
Given the overall record in Sub-saharan Africa since the withdrawal of the colonial powers between the 50s and the 80s, it is understandable that many people have given up hope. People in rich countries can feel betrayed too, when a country they have supported and was making progress is suddenly swept back to square one by another coup d’état. Sometimes it all seems so futile.
Yet I find it disheartening that the debate on
We often hear about African countries closing ranks. Sadly that is often the case. But nuances are emerging. For example, Kenya’s prime minister Raila Odinga recently spoke out against Mugabe, but there too internal political games might well be at play. The reality behind this is complex. The African experience of Western colonialism – which was so recent and brutal – has shaped a particular world view. Whether we like it or not, the world looks very different to African leaders. There is a fundamental ideological spit which prevents any real dialogue from taking place. Having said that, it seems undeniable that a gradual willingness on the part of moderate African leaders to crticise brutal regimes would be a vital step forward for the continent.
Aid too is a complex issue and it appears that many economists doubt its long term value in terms of development. That said, in a situation of crisis, such as war, famine or epidemc, aid is nothing less than essential and those who would deny it for some ideological position do not possess a human heart. The other point about aid is that nowadays no-one is under the illusion that aid alone can bring
Before we explode in anger at Myers’ uncompromising and seemingly heartless words, we need to appreciate that his piece comes from the pen of seasoned polemicist. He has honed his arsenal – and when he fires the results can be devastating. But his job is not to educate or enlighten – merely to provoke. In that he succeeds brilliantly. I welcome his opening of the debate on Africa, though it’s unfortunate that Irish media remain silent on
I digress, and I’d like to return to a few points in the article. Mr. Myres inadvertantly raises a crucial point. He pointed out that
Again to Myers’ comparison.
If we work with Africans to help them build functioning societies and if we fail, they cannot walk away, and neither should we. We just replant, and try harder next time.