Fixing Africa:

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There's a lot of threads here about "how to fix the world" or some variation, but I feel like that is a bad approach. Instead of fixing the whole wide world, let's up and fix just a small (or not so small) part of it first - Africa. I'll start with a geopolitical explanation of Africa's woes, and my suggestions for how to correct them.

First, Africa can be divided into roughly six parts, separated by natural barriers that prevent much trade or cultural exchange.

In the north, most settlements are around the Mediterranean Sea. This region has always been rather prosperous due to its ties to Europe and the Silk Road. I don't even really consider it in this discussion, mostly because the region has closer ties to the Middle East and is somewhere between the developing world and the first world when it comes to things like literacy rates and available food. In other words, whatever issues the region faces, they will resolve themselves in the coming years.

The North is separated from the rest of the continent by a vast desert - the Sahara. The Sahara is basically an effective no-man's land that prevents much interaction between the north and the rest of the continent.

The second region, the Horn of Africa and East Africa, is one of the most volatile regions on the planet. The Horn's wealth arises both from trade and oil deposits, but that is also where the region's problems begin. Being so reliant on trade routes has also created a great "melting pot" in the region (minus the melting), where animists, christians, and muslims all clash. The region has much potential, if only the ethnic clashes could end.

The third region, The Heart of Darkness Congo river basin, consists of the Congo rainforest. The Congo river is the only real method of transporation and communication in the region, and the thick forest effectively isolates the rest of Africa from the region outside of coastal trade. Crops are also difficult to grow here.

The fourth region is the savannah that grows south of the Congo. This region has permanent access to water due to the Zambezi river, mineral wealth, and fertile farmland.

The fifth region, south of the fourth and separated from it by the Kalahari desert, is South Africa. South Africa is considered a first-world nation, and thus not part of this discussion.

The final region, West Africa, consists of the Niger River basin.

With that out of the way, here is what I believe is Africa's main problem: political boundaries do not reflect physical or cultural realities.

For starters, the entire Niger basin would be better off if it was one large country based upon the Niger river - not 14! The same story applies to the Congo and the Zambezi. Fortunately, all four of these regions could be united relatively easily - they share similar cultural traditions and laws, and at least in one case - the Niger river - there were strong, unified nations there in the past (the Songhai & Mali). While this unification might be achieved peacefully, perhaps by initiatives like a common currency, it most likely will require strong military leaders willing to subject these nations into a cohesive empire.

The problem is much more complex in East Africa, because many cultures all claim to be the legitimate rulers in the area. Frankly there will always be strife in the region until either one side finally wins out or religion's influence wanes. The first is much more likely than the second, and is actually happening now - Muslims are continuing Mohamed's conquests across the Horn, and will probably displace if not outright eliminate the christians and animists in the region in the coming decades. Once that is accomplished the region will finally know peace.

In conclusion, we should allow African nations to wage war with one another, until they have finally fixed their borders the way they like them. It might sound cruel, but ultimately it will end more suffering than prolonging civil and economic strife based on a system that is not in balance.
Um... isn't allowing the wars to continue the same as prolonging civil and economic strife? Surely there are better ways to fix the system.
3 feotakahari11th Jan 2012 11:29:07 AM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
It seems kind of imperialistic to talk about allowing or disallowing wars between other countries . . .

edited 11th Jan '12 11:29:12 AM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Considering that the wars have been going on ever since a bunch of Europeans drew lines on the map a few hundred years ago (I want to say 1700's, but that doesn't sound right), I think we can objectively say that plan isn't working.

I was always taught that the problem is largely that each supposed "country" is a pretty much a completely arbitrary distinction invented by the aforementioned Europeans, who ended up lumping a bunch of warring tribes together and telling them to play nice. So maybe the solution is actually to divide them, give each tribe and ethnic group their own country. I mean, even if they still fight, normal war isn't as bad as civil war, right?

Someone who knows more about Africa can feel free to correct any of the horrible misconceptions I learned from public high school.
It seems kind of imperialistic to talk about allowing or disallowing wars between other countries . . .

Honestly my #1 concern is human suffering and human rights violations. I don't mean to say that any country should take over Africa, nor do I necessarily mean military intervention.

I suppose it's naive of me to think that Western countries can get involved without weaseling some benefit for themselves out of it, is it.
Foreign aid tends to end up in the hands of corrupt governments. Closing down sweatshops there leaves people with the even worse local jobs. So many of the things the average person seems to think will help just tends to make things worse.

I'm really not sure what to suggest, apart from promoting condoms there, such that with fewer children, there are fewer mouths to feed. That may seem really defeatist, but perhaps that may be a fitting reaction to a continent for which the mainstream solutions to its problems tend to make things worse.
"I even like the idea of a nice man who sees me when I'm sleeping and knows when I'm awake. And that man is Barack Obama." - Bill Maher
7 feotakahari11th Jan 2012 05:56:56 PM from Looking out at the city
8 FFShinra11th Jan 2012 06:10:35 PM from Ivalice, apparently , Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Beware the Crazy Man.
Africa has to be fixed at a region by region level. Some nations need to be broken up, others need to be federated/subsumed with only a scant few that should remain untouched. In short, the mistakes of Imperial Europe and its ridiculous borders should be fixed, as that then at least starts the process of healing between tribes and other groupings that never wanted to live together in the first place or were seperated by arbitary lines.

Might this lead to war in a few cases? Yes. But these regions generally are afflicted by war anyway for resources and ethnic supremacy, so it might be more worth it.
Final Fantasy, Foreign Policy, and Bollywood. Helluva combo, that...
Proud Canadian
[up][up]Democracy succeeded in the US without all of those things.
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10 MajorTom11th Jan 2012 06:52:10 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
^ But we had two things that Africa seems incapable of developing on its own regardless if you did those things or not:

  • An identity.
  • A dream.

Almost none of the nations of Sub-Saharan Africa have a sense of identity in their countries. Even fewer have a dream about where or what they want to be in the world.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
11 FFShinra11th Jan 2012 07:29:33 PM from Ivalice, apparently , Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Beware the Crazy Man.
[up] Blatant Lies.

You obviously know nothing about Africa if you make such a statement without irony. You seriously need to research other nations before you make claims about them. Then you'd sound less ignorant.

Its identities are as ancient and varied as South America, Europe, or Asia. Its dreams are simple: prosperity, and the wish to keep foreigners out of their affairs.
Final Fantasy, Foreign Policy, and Bollywood. Helluva combo, that...
12 MajorTom11th Jan 2012 07:36:02 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
Its identities are as ancient and varied as South America, Europe, or Asia.

Then why is the concept of Botswanan, Somali and Congolese among others so foreign in those lands? They aren't the only place on Earth where ethnic groups cross national boundaries. (And in those places the ethnic groups say they are usually of the nation they live in like Mexican, American, Russian, etc.)

ts dreams are simple: prosperity, and the wish to keep foreigners out of their affairs.

That's pretty low aims and the former these days is impossible without dealing with the latter.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
scratching at .8, just hopin'
They have an identity. These identities are just as likely to be Yoruba, Hutu, Zulu, etc. rather than Nigerian, Rwandan, South African, and so on.

And I've seen dreams out of Africa too. They just look different from what we know as dreams, is all.
14 FFShinra11th Jan 2012 08:05:39 PM from Ivalice, apparently , Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Beware the Crazy Man.
[up][up]Somali isn't a foreign concept. Hell, its the one thing keeping that conflict going since no outsider is allowed to interfere. And Congolese is a unifiying concept. The problem is not all the people in the DRC are Congolese, particularly in the east. Notice how the Republic of the Congo just northwest of DRC doesn't have nearly the same problems. Has nothing to do with the foreignness of the Congo identity, but rather the fact that they are being perpetuated at the cost of various other identities. This goes to what I said earlier, some nations in Africa need to be broken up (like Congo and what is left of Sudan) while some need to be merged (like how the Lake Victoria states are doing).

The real problem is that the institution of the nation-state is meaningless unless naturally-built.

Those aims were the same as the US at its foundation. Like the US, those asperations will evolve. And when I mean foreigners, I mean Europeans. They have no problem dealing with Asia, since they've been doing that for ages.

[up] Also this.

edited 11th Jan '12 8:06:03 PM by FFShinra

Final Fantasy, Foreign Policy, and Bollywood. Helluva combo, that...
There's no single solution to all the problems in Africa, any more than there's a single solution to all the problems in other continents. Generally though, people fight over stuff like religion and ethnicity less if there is less inequality and more prosperity. The target should be to ameliorate the living conditions in the countries, which an increasing number of those countries are doing. South Africa, for example, has made remarkable progress since apartheid.

Also, I agree with Shinra.

{Unnecessary rude response deleted. —Madrugada}

edited 12th Jan '12 8:36:48 PM by Madrugada

16 Ramidel11th Jan 2012 10:04:48 PM , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
One possibility, assuming the First World can get behind it and contribute soldiers to the effort (can you hear the whoosh of wings and the oinking?) would be recolonization (or actually first colonization, in one nation's case) of the Horn.

This would require Boer War-level tyranny in the opening, wiping out entire populations that resist. Abandoning every sacred cow of freedom of religion in exchange for forced Christianization of the population. * Follow this mandate with a British Empire-esque road to political autonomy, passing from the status of colony, to dominion, then perhaps to independent nation or nations again, once they have agreed to basic principles of human rights that we've shoved down their throats.
17 FFShinra11th Jan 2012 10:12:11 PM from Ivalice, apparently , Relationship Status: Too sexy for my shirt
Beware the Crazy Man.
Sans Somalia, East Africa is doing fine actually. Also, a cheaper way to kill off Somalis, if that is indeed what you think is right (I disagree), would simply be to seal them in and let the rest take care of itself.

That said, Eritrea (Africa's North Korea) is in need of a kick to its ass, both for instigating conflict with all three of its land neighbors as well as funding and arming al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Final Fantasy, Foreign Policy, and Bollywood. Helluva combo, that...
18 Ramidel11th Jan 2012 10:23:18 PM , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Sealing them in would tie up the navy for a good long while, though, and there's no indication that the Somalis will ever properly clear the deck (they're weeding their garden but not actually wiping themselves out yet). Finally, I consider genocide, as opposed to culturcide, to be a last resort; as I said, I would prefer finishing the job of civilizing the region. (Yes, I did unironically advocate the White Man's Burden there.)

And I do wonder what metric you're using to define Ethiopia as "doing fine." Kenya is fine, but anything north of that is a bloody mess. Eritrea is, as you said, making a mess for others if not for themselves. (I confess ignorance on Djibouti, but I can't imagine that they'd be "doing fine" between their neighbors.)

edited 11th Jan '12 10:23:52 PM by Ramidel

I think this is one of the few places where White Man's Burden can actually be the moral high ground, since stupid white men are the cause of most of the problems in the first place. Its more of cleaning up old messes.

And I really, really wish the kill-happy plan you guys are talking about didn't sound like it actually has the best chance of working...
20 Ramidel12th Jan 2012 12:06:28 AM , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Me either, to be honest (my individualistic streak positively divides by zero when I see a place where you factually cannot give women a free choice about what they do with their own genitalia). But it's how South Africa was turned into a proper Dominion of the British Empire and thence to a first-world country, after a long, slow process of fucking its indigenous people over.

edited 12th Jan '12 12:06:49 AM by Ramidel


Shockingly, Djibouti is doing decently, compared the sandwich of fail around it. The nation right now acts as a port for Ethiopia, at least to a point. They did get involved minorly in the Arab Protests earlier, but not to the same scale as to their north or east.

Also, the issues we are seeing regarding Islamists are coming from across the Red Sea. The Salafis are promoting the form of Islam throughout the planet. In many cases, it comes attached with "aid" it gives out to poorer Muslim States. You can see where problems begin. Sudan went down this road too. In the 90's a Hardline Islamist Government came to power, and has received assistance from the Gulf States frequently.

However, the same conclusion is here. Salafi Islam must be destroyed. The Ottomans 200 years ago came within a hair of succeeding.

Away from this though, Botswana is probably the best functioning state on the continent proper. The big issue the have is an catastrophic AIDS epidemic, but that is true of the whole region of Southern Africa. Namibia and South Africa do pretty good as well.

edited 12th Jan '12 12:08:21 AM by RAWieren

22 Ramidel12th Jan 2012 12:19:41 AM , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
[up] Not talking about Salafism, I'm talking about the potpourri of tribal customs, such as slavery and female circumcision, that have been given the imprimatur of fanatical religion with the coming of Islam.

That brand of Islam also needs to burn in the Hell that the Qur'an prescribes for it.

Problem is, Christians in the Area have been doing it too. Ethiopia has a massive rate of occurrence. Not only that, we have records of it occurring before Islam and Christianity. Strabo documented its occurrence being common in Egypt (Where it is the most common) back in 25 BCE.

It's similar to the Caste System issue in India. When the religion would come in, you would think the bad practice would end up being uprooted. Both in both cases, that didn't happen, and locally, the religion adapted to include the bad.

24 Ramidel12th Jan 2012 12:40:52 AM , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
I just said that. Islam just makes the mix that much more volatile.

That said, the work done to weaken (albeit not eliminate) the caste system in India was done without breaking the local religion, so there's that. Either way, we do need to Westernize the place. I pointed at burning Islam and animism to the ground to the extent that they make trouble, but if that's not necessary then the religions can be left intact. (I'm skeptical, though, because a modern, secular and tolerant Islam is still in the formative stages right now. We don't have a lot of teachers to draw upon to replace Salafism with a better school.)

Islam started sliding into a Dark Age after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (Not helped by Turkish Hyper-Nationalism, causing the Genocides in WWI). The Saudi Monarchy came into this vacuum, creating the chaos we see today. When the Ottomans were around, they held a clamp on the Salafis/Wahhabis.

The Muslim World used to be a great deal better. People like Avicenna, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, Rumi, and so, so many others. Sadly, this has been somewhat forgotten, not helped by the Sauds calling these writers "Un-Islamic," and carrying out book burnings of these Esteemed Authors.

Certainly, things were not perfect back then. But they were a hell of a sight better than what we see right now.

Right now, we need to realize that doing what you are saying will do absolutely no good, and would likely set us backward, not to mention them. The first thing that should be done is ensure the starvation in the Horn stops. After that, find nations to help counter balance Saudi in the Muslim Parts (Turkey and Morocco look good) and correct the FGM idiocy, while the the Churches smack sense into the Christians. Then work from there.

The Hanafi school of Fiqh is the best one candidate for counter-acting the Salafis. And that's good, because Turkey seems to be pushing on Salafis in their own territory in an interesting manner.

edited 12th Jan '12 12:55:12 AM by RAWieren

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