Snarky Behavior

How Can We Raise Awareness in Darfur on How Much We’re Doing for Them?

December 5, 2007 · Leave a Comment

This video from The Onion is tongue and cheek, obviously, but like any good satire, it exposes an important truth.

As William Easterly argues:

The obsessive and almost exclusive Western focus on them is less relevant to the vast majority of Africans — the hundreds of millions not fleeing from homicidal minors, not HIV-positive, not starving to death, and not helpless wards waiting for actors and rock stars to rescue them… Economic development in Africa will depend — as it has elsewhere and throughout the history of the modern world — on the success of private-sector entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and African political reformers. It will not depend on the activities of patronizing, bureaucratic, unaccountable and poorly informed outsiders.

Conservatives tend to get a bum rap for being heartless, utilitarian, and unsympathetic to the plights of others. But Easterly has a point: as long as the West focuses on Africa’s deficiencies instead of its possibilities, the continent will never be an attractive destination for investment capital. Blanket aid causes massive distortions in economies, shifts disproportional attention to unrepresentative issues, constrains the growth of indigenous markets, and trends to unhealthy relationships of dependency.

This is not to say that the Darfur conflict is not an issue worth paying attention to, be it finacially, militarily, or simply via lip-service. Only that the celebrity bandwagoning in the Sudan, Somalia or Malawi casts a long, pessimistic shadow on the entire region.

Of course, there is a counter-argument that without guilty liberal issue-domination stemming from legacies of colonialism and slavery, the West wouldn’t pay much attention to Africa at all.

Given China’s recent interest in the region, I don’t buy that argument. Africa’s important, now and in the future.

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