Does Underdevelopment in Sub-Saharan Africa Undermine Racism Mitigation In The African Diaspora?
Sub-Title: What Are The Foundational Elements For Sustainable Development In Africa?
Summary: Because poverty and misery vastly outnumber development and pleasures in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, respectability for the continent is impossible. Today, most non-Africans view Africans and their descendants via the prism of the conditions in African nations. Africa is a continent loaded with enormous natural and human resources, yet its leaders are unable to provide the bare necessities for decent human existence, e.g. clean water for the inhabitants. Outsiders may be sympathetic to the dwellers of such a region, but admiration and respectability are not in play. Yes, the underdevelopment in Sub-Saharan Africa clearly undermines Racism mitigation in the African Diaspora. Africa’s underdevelopment should concern all persons with global worldview as the coronavirus pandemic reminds us that we exist in a ‘small’ global village. But, at the end of the day, Africa must lead the charge in shaping its own destiny.
Africans/Descendants and The Rest
A long standing and complex deep wound in the African Diaspora is the issue of “Racism”. The voices on this issue span a wide spectrum. There are those who would rather not talk about it and there are those at the other end of the discourse who talk about it daily.
Some people deny systemic and institutional racism while others believe they are alive and thriving.
However, as United Nations Secretary General Mr. António Guterres reminded us on the occasion of the first celebration of International Day for People of African Descent on August 31, 2021;
“This day is a celebration of the enormous contributions of people of African descent to every field of human endeavour. It is a long overdue recognition of the profound injustices and systemic discrimination that people of African descent have endured for centuries, and continue to confront today.”
One thing most people of African descent living outside Africa would admit is that they would experience bias and stereotyping at some point, and more likely at several points in their lives.
The bias, stereotype and injustice can happen consciously or sub-consciously. They can also be so subtle that they would go unnoticed by an innocent bystander or they can be blatant and even result in death.
The degradation of human beings of African descent because of their dark skin color is however not peculiar to any particular non-African nation. It is global, either in a crude form or as a refined camouflage.
Unless you, an African descendant, are in a situation where people of non-African descent really know you, most of the time, you are instantly pegged to the bottom of the group. Some non-African descendants may deny this, but this is an indisputable fact.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage several nations of the world, the availability, efficiency and resilience of several healthcare systems across the globe have come under the microscope.
Even developed and wealthy nations have not escaped the slamming and viciousness of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.
As America, the richest and most powerful nation on earth struggles to control the spread of the coronavirus, the deficiencies in its unique healthcare system have been revealed.
These deficiencies include hitherto often articulated inadequate access to healthcare, and disproportionate number of people with chronic health conditions among its minority population.
There are two fundamental questions regarding underdevelopment in Sub-Saharan Africa and its impact on ‘Racism’ mitigation in the African Diaspora.
Today, who carries the burden for the continuing degradation of people of African descent by many non-Africans ? Who should lead the charge to remedy the situation?
There are several well qualified candidates for the responsible party. Slavery, Jim Crow, colonialism, imperialism, and share ignorance readily come to mind.
There is however another potent, rarely discussed candidate for this pervasive abasement of people of African descent. It is the profundity of poor development and misery in post-independent Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. A baffling and inexplicable situation, given the enormous natural and human resources of the region.
Why is this factor so important?
Because the moment many non-Africans see a “Black folk”, the image that is registered in their eyes and minds is that of Africa.
As Africa goes, thus goes the essence of all its sons, daughters and descendants in other people’s sight and psyche anywhere in the world.
This answer may sound simple but it is not simplistic.
Until Africa pulls itself up from the basement, its sons, daughters and descendants anywhere outside Africa will always be marginalized.
The reality of our world and daily human experience is that people equate skin colour and external physical features with continental origin.
Today, a lion’s share of the blame for the profound underdevelopment of Africa lies at the doorstep of most of the post-independent leaders of the nations in the continent. The oligarchs, kleptocrats, tyrants and dictators who have decimated a continent so richly endowed, yet buried in poverty, sorrow, destitution and chronic dependency on other segments of the human race.
Check out any report about Africa by credible institutions regarding underdevelopment in the face of bountiful natural resources.
Here are few examples:
From Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Center for Africa:
Dr. Belay Begashaw, Director General of the Center stated in his June 2019 report:
“The lack of progress on SDGs in Africa is a shared failure for all stakeholders. There is a persistent lack of clarity on mutual accountability mechanisms. Public revenue shortfalls are sizable, the pace of reform is slow, and one in five African countries does not raise enough in revenues to meet its basic state functions. Financial outflows — particularly illicit financial flows — remain large, and exceed each of the main financial inflows into Africa. The attainment of SDGs by African countries will not be business as usual. Africa’s failure to attain SDGs will have implications everywhere on the planet. Africa must step up, but shared pragmatic responsibility is also critical”.
From the World Bank: Africa’s Pulse, №24, October 2021 : An Analysis of Issues …
“Africa’s unique conditions, such as low baseline development, preexisting climate vulnerabilities, low use of fossil fuel energy, and high reliance on climate-sensitive agriculture, pose additional challenges from climate change, but also provide opportunities to build and use greener technologies. In a region where much of the infrastructure, cities, and transportation systems are yet to be built, investments in climate-smart infrastructure can help cities create jobs”.
From Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Vaccination rate in Africa as of January 11, 2022:
Partially Vaccinated (14.14% of population)
Vaccination Completed (9.47% of population)
Booster Dose (0.35% of population)
Who should lead the charge to remedy the situation?
When we look at human history, the ascent or descent of people’s wellbeing, whether individuals, communities, cities or nations has always originated from within. This is particularly true of independent entities.
There is a reason for the endowment of our large brain and the mind by Nature. They are freely provided to augment determinism.
This augmentation is not like Augmented Reality by Artificial Intelligence. It is True Augmentation by Natural Intelligence, i.e. biological neurons, not artificial neurons.
We have seen this augmentation during the Renaissance, the period of Enlightenment, the Protestant Reformation and the Industrial Revolutions, despite their imperfections.
With 1.3 billion brains and enormous natural resources, the baton of development is in the hands of Africans, particularly the leaders. Africa’s sons and daughters in the Diaspora also have a major role to play in this endeavor.
The report: Poverty and Development in Africa from the Global Policy Forum drives this point home.
“Africa, a continent endowed with immense natural and human resources as well as great cultural, ecological and economic diversity, remains underdeveloped. Most African nations suffer from military dictatorships, corruption, civil unrest and war, underdevelopment and deep poverty. The majority of the countries classified by the UN as least developed are in Africa. Numerous development strategies have failed to yield the expected results. Although some believe that the continent is doomed to perpetual poverty and economic slavery, Africa has immense potential”.
Profound statements indeed, testifying boldly to the truth.
Therefore, Africa must lead the charge in shaping its own destiny with honest, accountable, selfless governance, a 180 degree turn in mindset and fierce thirst and hunger for knowledge and imagination.
The foundation for closure of the Development Gap in Africa must be laid in Africa by Africans and its sons and daughters in the Diaspora. They are also responsible for constructing the social edifice on that foundation and bringing it to fruition.
The pitiful returns from more than 1 trillion (USA) dollars in foreign Aid to Africa and advice from scores of foreign experts in the last 50 to 60 years should make this patently obvious.
The Role of Concerned non-Africans
We all live our lives understandably concerned mainly with the wellbeing of family members and kitchen table matters.
Hence, it is easy to forget the extent to which the global village has shrunk today, and how much the continental populations depend on each other.
In his opening address to the United Nations Annual General Assembly meeting in September 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres described COVID-19 Pandemic as Wake-Up Call
“We are at a foundational moment, we cannot respond to this crisis by going back to what was or withdrawing into national shells”.
So, what is the best way for non-Africans to help Africa close the “Development Gap”?
Aid to Africa will yield the greatest return when it goes to those entities engaged in transforming the mindset of Africans to “Build it yourself”; and awakening them, especially the youths, to sharpen their imagination.
A few million dollars invested in mindset transformation, fierce pursuit of knowledge and polishing the imagination will bear far more fruit than the more than 1 trillion dollars in foreign Aid to the continent in the last 50 to 60 years.
Sadly, today the failed playbook of Development in Poor Nations remains embedded in the philosophy of the vast majority of global Development Agencies, corporations and deep pocket individuals.
Yes, the big challenge is how to identify trustworthy and accountable entities in Africa to execute this paradigm shift.
These entities, small and medium size organizations are certainly present in the continent and the Diaspora. Though overshadowed by the vocal, powerful aficionados of the status quo, no effort should be spared in identifying them.
The earlier the paradigm shift commences in Africa, the better it is for all of humankind.