Thursday, 13 November 2008

Africa Past and Present: Episode 16

I am listening to a podcast interview of Mac Maharaj (biography), South African intellectual, activist and fellow prisoner and comrade of Nelson Mandela: African Past and Present podcast

Of particular interest to me are the comments he makes about home grown and external solutions used to resolve power sharing conflicts in Africa. He refers to the example set by the South African transition government and the contrast between that and the political conflicts in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Here is a quote -

"What we are creating in these other countries not only has those implications [credibility and legitimacy] but another implication. And that is, it is almost creating a culture of impunity by those who may commit gross violations of human rights and atrocities against people."

" . . I was really using this opportunity to urge scholars to say, look at these problems this is not being disloyal to ourselves. But we need to interrogate our experiences, understand the context in which we created those mechanisms, understand the limitations of transporting them and exporting them into other situations and avoiding the danger - that we would be appearing to solve problems but creating bigger ones for the people of the current respective countries."

This kind of critical thinking is what we need to unravel the conflicting aims of aid in Africa and its lack of effectiveness. In many of its current implementations, it is removing the incentives of government and internal agents of change (entrepreneurs, businesses, government agencies) to invest in solutions to their problems - why pay for it if we can get it for free? This leads to a bankruptcy of initiative and innovation.

Listen to the podcast and share your thoughts.

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