Thoughts on Sub-Saharan Africa in Light of Recent National Conversations

In my experience, as both a student of, a writer on, and a visitor to several sub-Saharan African nations–meeting people in both urban and highly rural settings–here are some things that I would assert as a white American male:

1. People in these countries care just as much about the health and well-being of their children, their families, their communities as anyone in any country (including Norway).

2. The leadership in these countries tracks the range of leadership throughout our own and throughout the rest of the world–there are people of great integrity, people of good intentions and mediocre skills, people who are out for what they can get, and ugly, hateful despots.

3. These countries are not shit holes. They have some of the most amazing landscapes and natural beauty to be found anywhere in the world. Yes, like our own country, there are areas that lack aesthetic appeal because of a host of reasons (see below).

4. Every country on the continent has, in its past, been a colony of a European country (or, with Liberia, of the United States–for all intents and purposes) and NONE of these colonizers concerned themselves with creating sensible national boundaries, with developing self-reliant agriculture or manufacturing within the borders of these colonies, or with building up infrastructure that would benefit the residents of their then-colonies. For example, in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), the British created grain and agricultural storage units and built roads to facilitate exporting crops outside the country, not to store or distribute ANYTHING to the people of that land.

4. Most colonizers (Portugal, are you listening?) utterly plundered the riches of their colonies or else entangled them in long-term economic dependence (France, are you listening?) before pulling out and ceding independence to them.

5. The United States, to the extent that it built a basis for prosperity, greatly availed itself of enslaving Africans to that end.

6. Much of sub-Saharan Africa has only one leading economic country that is actively working to help it build infrastructure: China.

7. I ask you to question ANY eye-rolling that any of the above points spurred in you.

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