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close this bookBottle-necks of Development in Africa (HABITAT)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. The absence of peace and security.
View the document2. Destructive style of political and economic leadership
View the document3. A frustrated democratization process.
View the document4. Inadequate international cooperation
View the document5. Little technology transfer
View the document6. International debt
View the document7. Corruption
View the document8. The international market injures Africa
View the document9. Poverty
View the document10. Population pressure
View the document11. Sustained hunger and poor health
View the document12. Illiteracy and ignorance
View the document13. Over - use of foreign languages
View the document14. Destroyed traditional knowledge, and spiritual heritage.
View the document15. What then?

12. Illiteracy and ignorance

Yet another obstacle to development is illiteracy. Perhaps because Africa did not have its own alphabets, literacy is an over-valued asset and education and the ability to read and write has been overemphasized and equated with extra-ordinary abilities. And illiterate people over-trust-those who can read and write under-value and underestimate them selves. This poor self-image and lack of self confidence nurture an inferiority complex which puts illiterate citizens at the mercy of literate members of society.

The other source of general knowledge and information is the radio. Yet the Government refuses to issue licences for independent airwaves, arguing that the State-controlled media is adequate for the people. In mid-February 1995, for example, the Ambassador of the United States to Kenya expressed the wish of her Government to see the development of independent media networks. She hoped that the Kenya government would issue licences because freedom of the press was a pre-requisite to good governance- and the freedom to choose. For daring to et-ate that, she was heavily criticized by government ministers who accused her of interfering with the sovereignty and independence of Kenya. The national radio and television are the means of communication and are intended for public information and education. Unfortunately, many leaders in Africa use the national radio and television for propaganda and personal aggrandizement, censoring all information reaching the public.

Yet, the phenomenon of a national government being given directives by foreign envoys~about national issues is also embarassing because it is indicative of the amount of sovereignity African nations have already sacrificed so that they may be given aid and grants by the governments which such envoys represent. Sovereignity is constantly being interfered with by the World Bank, IMF and other members of the Paris Club when they make demands for the political and economic environment in which they prefer to do business. But the government would not wish such weaknesses to be exposed because that dismystifies their enormous image. Hence the fuss over comments by such envoys even though the reality is well known by all . The very fact that a foreign envoy has to appeal to a national government over human rights of its own citizens is indicative of the oppressive governance under which citizens live. Uninformed, such citizens are easily cowed, manipulated and governed.