Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo
The political scientist Benedict Anderson once observed that Africa functioned as a kind of continental Rorschach blot for intellectuals, who tended to project onto it their grand ideas about economics and government. From the beginning of the European encounter with the Africa, it was seen mainly as a place of barbarism (the “Dark Continent”), and it was on this basis that the imperial powers carved up its territories at the 1884 Berlin conference. Following World War II and the decolonization of European empires around the globe, Africa became the repository of the dreams of Fabian socialists, who taught a generation of African bureaucrats about the wonders of central planning. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union vigorously courted opportunistic African leaders, depicting them as virtuous, forward-looking statesmen genuinely committed to their side in the struggle between Communism and democratic capitalism.
Now that colonialism and Communism have been relegated to the dustbin, another vision has evolved: Africa as beneficiary of our collective pity. And indeed, there seems to be no end to pitiable circumstances, whether it is the ongoing genocide in Darfur, perpetual war in Somalia, or endemic poverty, disease, and political instability in virtually all of Sub-Saharan Africa. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that so much effort has been expended to alleviate these problems.
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