Short-term pain for long-term gain.

Author:Coughlin, Robert E.
Position:Letters - Letter to the Editor

I am a white European (UK) currently living in The Gambia with my Gambian wife and our half-Gambian-half-English little boy of six months. As a person who prefers to look forward to solutions rather than constantly back at causes, I am heartened to see that the African Union (AU) is beginning to take shape. I fully agree that it is only by pulling together as one that Africa and Africans will be able to improve their long-term economic situation.

In an ideal world, Europeans would shoulder their responsibility to redress the economic imbalance created by colonialism and exploitation, and realise that in the long term it is in everybody's best interests to do so. However, most people are pretty shortsighted when it comes to things outside their immediate interests. When the surface hyperbole is scraped away, the main motivations are nearly always self-interest and greed.

This also explains why many elected African leaders choose to ignore the plight of their people, and instead embrace the pomposity and self-aggrandisement that become theirs with their positions of power. A wise man once said: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The answer for Africa lies in a collective refusal to allow the pillaging of their natural resources by Western countries to bolster their already rich economies. A united front for a year or two would undoubtedly bring short-term hardship but great benefits in the long term. One need only look at the example of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to see the truth in this.

On a final note, although I find the...

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