Africa – Not Our Problem

By John Tyndall

Perhaps it is the summer season (2005) that brings with it outbreaks of universal silliness beyond the customary norm, but the last month has been especially trying for those of us who endeavour to keep our feet on the ground of reality. We refer here to the latest outburst of hysteria – voiced in chorus by all the mainstream political parties and mass media – over the fate of the poor in Africa and the presumed obligation of the advanced nations to do something about it. “Make poverty history” is the new (though in terms of meaning very old) slogan dripping from the mouths of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Bob Geldolf et al. But do these folks really believe they have some special touch of genius enabling them to alter one of the most basic facts of the universe we live in which is that the people of the continent of Africa, and most of the so called ‘Third World’ besides, have always suffered and will always suffer the most degradingly poor conditions of living by comparison with ourselves? They do so not because of either white capitalist exploitation, or the corruption of their own myriad dictators, but because of something that is deep and probably ineradicable in themselves. Our ancestors understood this and, while they and other Europeans ruled large portions of Africa and other backward regions, they attempted to alleviate the poverty as far as was humanly possible by sound and mostly in-corrupt administration and observance of sensible economic laws. With these responsible hands taken from African affairs, the descent into present chaos and misery was always certain. So why the universal shock and surprise?

Dictators just a symptom

One of the feeblest responses to what is now happening in Africa is the claim that everything would be all right were it not for the greedy and corrupt dictators who have emerged in the countries of that continent and are hogging for themselves so much of the little wealth that is to be found there. But just how and why do these tyrants perpetually come to the top – except by processes that are endemic to African politics and almost certainly products of the African psyche? We just do not seem to have learned the lesson that to Africans, as to Arabs, western style democracy is a strange and alien implant – utterly unable to thrive on the local soil. Get rid of one gang of corrupt tyrants, such as Robert Mugabe, and in no time another will take its place.

And even if it is accepted that the tyrants are hogging much more than their share of the wealth of the land (or of such aid as we may be sending them), just what difference would it make if they were not? Just supposing that the wealth Africans are capable of creating were shared more equitably, how much better off would that make them? They would still be living in the most grinding squalor by comparison with Europeans.

And by just what reasoning is it our obligation to lift them out of this squalor anyway? The old saying that God helps those who help themselves was never more applicable than here. Just why should Europeans – or for that matter the East Asians who have built prosperous societies by their own efforts – apply their brains and industry, seemingly forever, so as to make over a portion of their earnings to rescue Africans from the consequences of their own ineptitude?

Aid needed at home

If liberals and leftists are so desperate to dispense help to those in need, there are plenty of deserving causes here in Britain crying out for their attention. It is estimated that there are 5,000,000 people in the UK still living below the poverty line. There are pensioners who face a bleak future as a result of their funds being raided by this very Government. There are parts of the national infrastructure that urgently call for new investment: roads, railways, hospitals, schools, the armed forces and much more. Why must there be some special moral virtue attached to raising money to feed the hungry in distant climes rather than those in our own back yard? Blairs and Geldofs of this world take note!

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