1) The national borders in Africa were drawn up by Europeans, with no concern for ethnic realities and tribal identity. More than ninety percent African States have conflict-ridden multiethnic identities (Glassner 1996). As if that was not enough, after the Second World War English-speaking countries expanded their territory at the expense of their neighbours, as Ghana did with Togo when they annexed those areas which were rich on natural resources (here first of all timber).

2) The banking system is wrecked in most African countries, likewise the insurance system. General corruption prevails. In the 1960s and 1970s many Western intellectuals imagined that the Third World could offer a superior value-system, a kind of liberation of the industrialized individual, a return to the essentials so to speak, to a simpler way of life. What do we find today? Most Third World projects have been failures, fostering corruption and nurtured the vilest dictators, ultimately creating social disorder. Some say that we decolonized too rapidly. Now it is too late to re-colonize.

3) Few young Westerners are willing to leave their comforts and work in a Third World country. Our missionary spirit has disappeared. Most Westerners who go to Africa today are either overpaid government-funded consultants, or civil servants searching for an exotic break in their otherwise monotonous careers.

4) China is succeeding where the Western world has failed in Africa. It is sending over thousands of its highly-educated countrymen, who speak both English and French. Above all they are building, conferring gifts in the form of large-scale infrastructure projects in return for access to African consumer markets. Chinese are also being hired as executives in local companies.

5) As soon as African countries have generated their own elites, the members of these have moved to the Western world where they can live a more comfortable life. This is largely due to lack of national patriotism. Compare this with Korean students, who often write on their essays: "For the prosperity of my family and my country". That spirit is unknown to many Africans. Forming an educated class in many of these countries means deposing their existing elites. Our involvement has often had a perverse side-effect: we have organized their non-development.

6) Hunger, indeed starvation, have been a major problem in much of the Sahara region, from Mauritania across to Chad, in Nigeria, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Angola, and Mozambique; and malnutrition is a problem for almost all of sub-Saharan Africa.

7) According to Johan Galtung, there are close to a billion people with no money, and 125,000 die each day from starvation (25,000)and from preventable and curable diseases (100,000).

8) If you send money, it will be stolen. If you send food, you need to create jobs. By donating food we are easing our conscience, but neglecting our responsibility.

9) The best thing we can do in Africa in the short run is to remove the subsidies we give our own companies to undercut African producers. We have been and are removing from Africans the only competitive advantage they have today: food production. Our export subsidies to Africa equal the amount we give in overseas aid.

10) If you take a closer look at the pot called "overseas aid", you will see that most funds come back to our own companies and organizations in the form of administrative costs, consulting fees, accommodation, and educational programmes. But it looks very good on paper: "1 per cent of GDP".

Sierra Leone

1) Sierra Leone was one of the biggest markets for arms during the first Gulf War. Like a number of neighbouring countries, its story has been a long series of social, political, and economic catastrophes.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >