Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A history lesson

Last week I had a short but interesting conversation about Africa with a friend. Reflecting back on the conversation now, it occurs to me that the perspective expressed by my friend might be one of many Americans. My friend, perhaps finally voicing a suppressed angst and cynicism about our work in Africa, said this (my summary):

“The fact that so much of the African continent seems to be caught in an endless cycle of disease, poverty, illiteracy and civil war is Africa’s own fault. The rest of the world managed to move through history learning how to overcome these things, and African people have had the same opportunity as the rest of the world to create their history. It is not our responsibility to rescue Africa from self-made problems, and doing so keeps Africa stuck in the cycle.”