Are all men in Africa goatherds?

No, not all men in Africa are goatherds. My father was not a goatherd, nor was my grandfather. If there was ever an era when this was the main male profession in Africa, that must be really far back in time, so much so that it is, to say the least, absurd to think today that all men in Africa are goatherds. It is tantamount to saying that all Americans are cowboys. It must be pointed out though, that there are ethnic groups that thrive mainly on goat herding and/or cattle rearing such as the Maasai of Kenya, or the Fulani of Nigeria. Of the strategic nature of herding in parts of Somalia, for example, Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi writes:

In Somali-inhabited areas of the Horn, there are neither verdant tropical areas nor mines of gold; so Somalis adopted livestock raising, an economic activity best suited to their dry land. It is therefore livestock, such as sheep, goats, and camels raised by pastoralist families, concentrated mostly in the northern and central regions, which continues to be the principal economic activity, providing jobs and livelihoods to at least 60 percent of the population. Even today, if there are no official statistics, it can be assumed the situation has not changed. (155)

Even with this picture, which is true of other countries in Africa, it cannot be said that all men in Africa are goatherds, for there are communities that are mainly agrarian and know next to nothing about herding.

What kinds of jobs are there in Africa?

The same jobs existing in other parts of the world are found in Africa—white and blue collar jobs. It is only a question of varying factors within the nations concerned. For example, given their historically aggressive foreign policies, some non-African nations have the need for a large standing army, which is not necessarily the case in some African countries. In this case, the number of men and women employed as soldiers will be higher in these countries compared to most African countries. Or consider the excellent standards of living in some Western countries which make it possible for them to hire many more workers in different areas—medicine, for example, with better patient-doctor ratios when compared to some African countries where one may have hundreds of patients to one doctor. Again, there are countries that rely heavily on fast foods; these employ more persons in this industry, which is not yet the case in Africa where people are more comfortable eating with family and friends at home. So it is a question of preferences, needs, and the resources available. This notwithstanding, the job market is basically the same all round the world, with minor differences triggered by cultural values and the resources available.

Since the standard of education is very low in Africa, do you need degrees to get a job?

It is always trumpeted that Africans are uneducated, yet I do not believe this to be the case, more so especially after my travels. There is the need to differentiate here between illiteracy and education. That a reasonable proportion of the African population might be illiterate is true, yet it is my conviction that it is not different in other parts of the world. The case of Africa's is easily noticeable because Africans mostly speak a different local language before speaking one or more European languages. As a result those who cannot communicate in a European language are quickly branded uneducated which is not the case. It is more shocking, after all these centuries, to find many families in the West still bragging today about first generation college members of their families just getting into college, the vast majority being high-school graduates or drop outs. If this is pitted against the African scenario, mindful of when Western educational systems became entrenched in Africa, then not only are Africans very educated people, they are also very literate. And yes, academic qualifications determine who gets hired depending on the job.

Do you have 401k in Africa?

By 401K, I assumed the focus was on retirement plans. There are retirement plans in African countries, but they are not as reliable as those in Western nations, because of Africa's turbulent socioeconomic landscape. As leaders come and go, there are those who do not understand the economics behind such projects and so end up misappropriating the funds until the whole scheme collapses. Cameroon is a good example here. The citizens' pension scheme has been robbed of its financial backing by pilfering leaders until it has collapsed. Hard working citizens who contributed for their retirement now find themselves stranded, with a government that cannot account for the money they contributed while serving the country in different capacities. There are retirement plans in Africa, but how reliable they are is a whole different question, and that varies from one country to another.

Is it true the unemployment situation in Africa is bad?

Today it is, mindful of the effects of the structural adjustment program, and other such programs, imposed on African countries by world bodies, financial and otherwise, that claimed to be interested in helping get African countries out of their economic woes. Their policies and terms were such that shrunk virtually every existing economic structure in these nations, resulting in so much hardship, with numerous qualified citizens on the streets without jobs. As a result, those who can, have left their countries, and are trotting the world as economic refugees, while some who cannot and others without the necessary qualifications to facilitate emigration have resorted to corruption and banditry in the extreme.

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