Monday, October 10, 2005

Giving aid to Africa isn't working.

Just last week over 1,000 would be refugees stormed the Spanish enclave of Melilla, trying to get a foothold into Europe. They have an idea that once there they can stay, that a life of crime as an illegal alien in Europe is better than being with their families in their native countries.

And what is Spain to do? Their own govenments won't take them back. And everyone is criticising Spain, as if these would be immigrants have a right to invade Spain.

But who is at fault? It has to be the African governments that drive these people away in the first place. And I repeat, giving aid isn't helping. The object of aid is to help people stand on their feet, to get their lives together and be able to tackle the future. But it's not happening.

I turn 50 this month. My entire life, the world has been giving aid to Africa. As a kid, we used to knit squares for the poor, we were exhorted to "adopt" children financially. And what is the result, 50 years later?

Nothing. Zero. Zilch. If anything, Africa is poorer and worse off than it was. It's not learning to stand on its feet. It just needs more aid, more debts written off. And the people all want to move Europe, the continent from which the hated colonists came.

I guess the African governments feel that the First World can be relied on to take care of the African people, so they have no reason to bother. We are blitzed with pictures of starving women and dying babies; though I have yet to see a photo of a skinny, starving soldier. Where is the aid going?

The object of the democratisation of Africa was to free the people from the tyranny of the Colonists. Instead, we have the tyranny of corruption and eternal poverty. Democracy in Africa more or less takes the form, "vote for us or we'll shoot you." That's why incumbent governments are returned with landslide majorities. That's why the Hutus wipe out the Tsutsis.

Somebody smart needs to draw up a bigger picture for Africa. Tackle the problem which lies at the root of government, and not just the symptoms, which are poverty, illness, despair.

When I was younger I had dreams of a United States of Africa, not just a mouthpiece Organisation of African Unity. A common passport, free travel and free trade between all the countries of Africa. Even a common currency. I guess now it would be a bit like the European Union. The countries would have to join together in pursuit of a common prosperity, instead of indulging in endless wars which persecute and impoverish.

Is there anyone smart enough to make that come true?