Africa's development: provide employment.

Author:Sorbara, Mark J.
Position:THIS MONTH'S PRIZE LETTER - Letter to the Editor

The West's never-ending desire for moral grandstanding and its devotion to being the judge, jury and executioner for all ethical questions has created a continuous debate on what role the West should be playing in Africa and the wider developing world.


Throughout the last 200 years, thousands of conferences, seminars and research missions have articulated a myriad of different ways the West can deliver what they believed Africans wanted. It was never a debate about whether the West should have a role in Africa or not. Given the West's sense of moral superiority the only question that remained was how?

This question has lingered in the back of every missionary, colonial officer, 'development expert' and NGO worker's mind. Expand the question of 'how' and add some fancy title and you have a simple equation that has dominated the West's relationship with the developing world, especially Africa. The equation is as follows: a sum of a sense of moral superiority, concrete economic superiority, skin colour and a title--less a little self-criticism and pretence at listening to Africans--equals the West's past and present relationship with Africa. This sense of superiority has continued to blind the West from the simple truths for the past 200 years. Hence the question of how we--with our economic, political, social and cultural superiority--assist those poor Africans develop, remains a conundrum

If the West refuses, or is unable to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and continues to see Africa as an experiment in 'development', then I offer this simple answer. Just as when those in the West complete their education their first priority is to get a job, hopefully a job they wish for but if not any job that can pay the bills, so Africans have the same ambition.


To continue reading