Haiti, Africa & The Plight of Black People
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the news about the earthquake in Haiti and once you get away from the stories about grief, loss and poverty, there’s another story that is also simultaneously being told and it is the story of countries ruled by black people and why they can’t seem to get out of continuous tragedy. This uncomfortable topic was ignited by a New York Times conservative columnist called David Brooks in an article he wrote about Haiti, where he tries to figure out why that country has never been able to emerge out of it’s depth of poverty. He argues that culture has a lot to do with a countries economic success and that some cultures are …(in his words) “progress-resistant”.
I tend to agree with Brook’s commentary that culture has a lot to do with a country’s progress. I’ve said before that Africa’s poverty can be attributed to the fact that Africa does not have a culture of production. If something cannot be extracted from the ground (e.g. oil, gold, etc, etc) – we simply will not create or make it and this culture of non-production is the main cause of Africa’s poverty. That’s why foreign aid hasn’t worked. It’s because the do-gooder’s of the world have refused (out of fears of being labeled “racist” – have refused to confront this underlying question of culture).
I’ve enclosed some comments from the NYT’s article below, which I thought were interesting and which honestly and bravely bring out this uncomfortable topic.
“Truly, the more time goes by I realize that British imperialism was the best solution for a lot of the Third World. The British brought the modern world to these places, and ran things reasonably efficiently. Sadly, in other places, like Africa and Palestine, the locals simply couldn’t handle independence. The only way I will support “rebuilding’ Haiti is if it’s done by Western capitalists that have a profit motive, mixed in with some protections for the native population that give them a stake in the action. That’s the only way this suffering society will ever get out of its rut. Throwing more aid money at the problem will be useless”.
“Thoreau said: “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” Same should be true for nations. In the long run, local leadership that promotes self-reliance will be the only catalyst for fundamental national changes. In the disaster that has hit Haiti, there is obviously need for as much aid as possible. But a few months from now, Haitians will have to think long and hard about responsibility and accountability and the courage to discard what doesn’t work and embrace what does”.
What if there was an earthquake of this magnitude in Kenya? In Nairobi? a city with the same population as that of Port-au-Prince (3 million people) and with just as many slums. The death toll would have been just as high.
Nairobi has one fire truck, which it received as a donation from the state of Virginia. One truck for 3 million people.
If you are the president of a poor, African country and you are watching Haiti, this is what you should be thinking about.
Black people need to fix their countries.