To analyze a business that is running like a ship off course, listing and potentially sinking, I first examine the external—or macro—factors: the histories, the markets and the environments that impact that business. These must be understood before you can dive-in to the company’s specific issues in any worthwhile way. So, too, to search a way for these countries to detour from their current collision course, I will examine those same types of background factors in an SSAfrican context, a necessary basis for understanding the SSAfrica of today.
SSAfrica has trauma and scars like an abused child who has been tossed around from one dysfunctional foster family to another, even though each family might have claimed to be doing its best. Many waves of intrusion and interference over the years by the external world have rendered SSAfrica debilitated and lost, looking for a way out. Historically more economically successful nations, whether wanting to exploit or help, have controlled and impacted nations, peoples and cultures they did not understand and—worse—for which they had minimal respect. These societies were always viewed as inferior. No other group of countries has experienced remotely comparable levels of destructive intrusion and interference.
The first modern-history wave of brutal and savage intrusions occurred in the 1800s, led by the initial explorers and traders, the most celebrated being explorer Henry Stanley. They primarily worked in the name of European governments, treating the native populations as chattel. The slave traders, with the United States sanctifying and providing economic incentives, amplified this inhumane period.
European colonization provided the second wave as England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Portugal divided the continent, creating totally artificial borders and callously ignoring natural physical or tribal boundaries. They put in place oppressive ruling governments, more or less enslaving entire regions and communicating and teaching (well, it seems) the credibility of a highly controlling, self-serving, despotic form of governance. The third wave began following World War II, where most colonial powers gave up on direct governance and withdrew, leaving behind a colossal governance vacuum, while at the same time strong-arm influencing the makeup of the replacement regimes. Then began a period of commercial rather than territorial exploitation by the same powers, combining aid and development and bribes in an attempt to gain economic advantage for themselves. During the 1960s and 1970s hopes for true economic development also grew, unfortunately primarily based on artificial support mechanisms and irrational and illegal arrangements.
The fourth wave had its roots in that same post-World War II period, but flourished in the 1970s through the 1990s. A rich developed world, fueled by extensive communications concerning the poor, diseased and underfed populations, created the fourth episode in this disaster-laden series of intrusions. Hundreds of organizations in the Aid and development community beat their drums louder and louder to pump funds into their organizations, with the stated objective of providing help to the people of SSAfrica.
We’re currently experiencing an amplified and potentially more destructive tsunami morph of the fourth. Music concerts, G7 conferences, advanced NGO marketing techniques, and all sorts of “sound and feel good” activities and communications fill the air. On the surface, these proclamations of more aid and cancellation of debt seem humane, constructive, and progressive. However, not only do the results to date belie the effectiveness of more of the same, some of the sources are also suspect. Hundreds, thousands of spokesmen, preachers, academicians, and others earn some or all of their income, or encourage selfserving political behavior, or gain personal fame by promulgating the necessities of Aid and development support and external intrusion into the lives of the SSAfrican citizens (although the word intrusion doesn’t make it into their speeches).
The results are, unfortunately, perhaps even more disastrous than those produced in the first three intrusion waves. “It has become Africa’s fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help—not to mention celebrities and charity concerts—is a destructive and misleading conceit.” Paul Theroux NYTimes He also added his dismay when returning to Malawi at the state of the country vs. his live-in experience as a teacher there 40 years ago, “But we are even more appalled by most of the proposed solutions!”