|The Courier N° 134 - July - Aug 1992 - Dossier A fresh look at Africa? - Country Reports Grenada- Seychelles (EC Courier, 1992, 104 p.)|
|Dossier: A fresh look at Africa?|
Here we go beyond the crisis in African development and society to shed new light on a continent where two thirds of the population were born after decolonisation and have only ever known their countries led by Africans. The under-30s i are, overall, better educated than their elders, more urbanised and more knowledgeable about the international scene.
The confidence crisis has been heightened by the poor image put about by the world media - and indeed sometimes projected by Africa itself. All that has been said about the lost decade is surely demotivating. Harping on about catastrophe may well get people moving, but it may also have the opposite effect.
However, some Africans seem to be regaining their selfconfidence, thinking of their continent as the prime mover rather than the object of its own development and preferring to take an internalised view rather than copy other people - just one reason why most of the articles in this dossier are by Africans, with Axelle Kabou, for example, wondering what happens when Africans criticise Africa and D. Etounga-Manguelle discussing how Africa can change.
It is dangerous to treat the continent as all of a piece, for there are many different Africas. It is clearly not a famine stricken continent, for example. Some phenomena, unpleasant though they be, are, mercifully, unequally distributed and not structural.
The reality of Africa is more complex than that and there is often room for hope. Marginalism may be a means of taking up the challenge by triggering initiative.
The economic record is more varied than is often imagined and fortunately does not always reflect decline and drift. The laws of the market are part of the practices of a new generation of leaders now associated with political and economic recovery.
Enterprise is a popular tradition in Africa, as is the market economy. All it needs is a move from private survival to collective take-off . With proper policies and financial support from abroad, any country can take its own future in hand, provided it does not expect the outside world to do it all. As Issa B. Y.Diallo says, Africans have to wake up to the fact that Africa has to develop itself and not just survive thanks to the outside world.
Signs of recovery are there. The priorities have at last been revised and economic reform is under way. Lastly, it would be wrong to underestimate the potential role of post apartheid South Africa in the medium term, something which Colin Stoneman and Carol Thompson cover in their 'SADCC. the realistic hope for Southern Africa'.
Bloc-to-bloc ideologies make political reform possible. Diane Senghor discusses one of the consequences of this in her 'Press pluralism in Africa', while Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff looks at 'Consociational democracy - a new concept for Africa?' and Fr Ives Chituba Bantungwa investigates the role of the Church in the democratic process, with particular reference to what has happened in Zambia. The reforms in question here should make for a period of transition for the restructuring of African economies - a subject dealt with in 'Promoting regional cooperation and integration in sud-Saharan Africa'.
The external context may be propitious to trends of this sort, while, on the domestic front, market democracy may halt the spread of predatory practices and the quest for profit with nothing given in return.
Afropessimism is destructive and our African partners' current drive for economic and political reform is to be encouraged, not greeted with polite expectation and resignation or, worse, derision, fear or exclusion. This is the backdrop to Augustine Oyowe's article on 'Africa's population and development, and immigration into Europe'.
M. Kouroum's picture of European civilisation through African eyes and an article on 'Mimicry and self-awareness - politics in Africa as a self-determining phenomenon' round off the dossier. Dominique DAVID