Chapter II

The Dark Continent

Ruled by tyrannical regimes that once they are at the
helm of governance think it suicide to step down come
what may, much of Africa is dismal. While the rest of the world is advancing at breakneck pace, that continent is regressing instead.

Just two decades back, when the colonized were clamoring for emancipation from their masters, both Asia and Africa were treading the same path in their endeavor to rid themselves of their taskmasters, whom they blamed for all sorts of things, including their doleful state of nationhood and development. And in many aspects, Africa or some parts of it were more developed than some parts of Asia, excluding Japan. Now, when people talk about business and the centers of activity Asia almost parallels Europe and America while Africa is hardly mentioned. Ever wonder why only 1% of all American foreign investment is channeled to Africa, even including giant South Africa?

All one hears of Africa and sees of it is a trail of human tragedy. Yesteryears it was Mozambique, Angola, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Today, what we see is Rwanda, Zaire and Burundi. Same sad stories. Same pictures. Same regimes. When will the world stop seeing pictures of starving Africans? When will we ever break from being asked to donate money to feed the hungry, the starving? When will they ever stop fighting? When will they ever step down? When will they realize that we can’t live forever? When will they ever realize the folly of greed and power?

Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Zaire and Burundi are just the tip of the African tragedy. They are the extremes that the news media are interested in covering. Africa, many maintain, is an old continent. Some say it’s where life began. No doubt, it is dying. Maybe it’s just old age. If I’m wrong

then tell me why everyone else is moving ahead, yet Africa is backsliding? Roads that were tarred at the time of independence or soon after have become impassable. Cities that were once glittering have become plastered with mud that gives them a wretched look. Workers who could afford to raise families on their monthly earnings have seen their incomes slashed beyond subsistence. Unemployment is monumental. University graduates can’t find jobs. Those who do make do with whatever would keep them breathing. This is a sad case; one that doesn’t encourage education. And education is what that continent desperately needs. Education of all sectors of society, including those egotistical and avaricious leaders.

In an era when mandatory education for all school-age people is the norm in much of the world, in Africa you’ll be lucky to find a country with 50% literacy figures. The result is appalling. Don’t be surprised to discover that that continent has the highest number of people who can’t read and write. How could such people hold any intellectual dialog with others in other lands who are well-informed? This is a tragedy in that we live in the time when everyone is talking about the Global Village. If the world has become a global village, but also one where competition knows no boundaries and when only the most nimble, the most ferocious and tactical make it in this fierce battle for survival, then to put it in Darwin’s words, the African species will soon be extinct.

This axiom is not hard to prove. Just watch TV. Go to your nearest convenient store. Who are those with ribs protruding, those in rags, those with eyes bellowing out, with flies in their mouths? Those seconds away from the pit? It’s the Africans. Yes, the Africans. Year in, year out.

When will this calamity ever end?

Millions are dying of AIDS. Millions are afflicted. I hear Africans make up 60% of all AIDS sufferers. I read it in the papers. Hear it in the news. Not fair, I scream. Is it that Africans are the most promiscuous people? How come then that they are afflicted the most?

In the past, Mormons would not evangelize Blacks. Believing in pre-existence prior to earthly life, they associated Blacks with the demons that sided with Satan to fight God. As a result, anyone who’s born Black is a demon incarnate, so to speak, and since God hates demons - He curses anyone He hates - Blacks just have to live with the fait accompli.

No doubt then that Africa, especially the one south of the Sahara appears to be a cursed place, just as well. How else would you explain the failure of all the development programs and efforts that have been lavished on that continent? Don’t tell me it’s because of the corrupt governments! Forgive my ignorance but many governments in Asia are also corrupt, yet they are the tigers of our age, in spite of the latest financial crisis rampaging across the region.