02 May 2008

The Shackled Continent



Parents with young children should never go away for the weekend… we don’t know how to enjoy the freedom…

On my 62-hour trip to California I took… 3 books… 12 sermons on my IPOD… half of Season 6 of 24… and I booked my schedule from 6 AM – 2 AM… allowing 4 hours for sleep and down time…

I got through 1 book… so much for my ambitious plans… BUT…

The 1 book was amazing…

The Shackled Continent… by Robert Guest… is the most well written history / explanation of Africa’s struggles since the end of colonialism…

For those who like… history… Africa… problem solving for the 3rd World… or reading… this is the book for you…

Maybe I’m too into this book… but here are my thoughts…

I was on the black leather couch in my counselor’s office spilling my life story… feelings… struggles… and my counselor said the most profound thing to me…

“Jeff, this issue has 2 parties… you can only solve half the problem on your own… do your part and its up to them to do theirs”

“Oh…”

What does this have to do with Africa?

Everyone thinks the Western world… Bono… Bill Gates… Oprah… or yours truly… can solve the problems of Africa… but this isn’t realistic…

Africa holds the keys to solving their own problems… the outside world can help… assist… be a part… but cannot finish something they did not start… or something they do not fully understand…

This gives me so much hope… I am part of the solution… but not the answer…

I don’t need to go crazy trying to fix everything in Uganda… I just need to find Ugandans to work with who want to be part of the solution… and I can help!

Here are the problems… according to the author… for those who won’t read it:

1. Africa is not free… democracy does not exist in a continent where leaders take and keep control by military force…
2. Africa’s natural resources do not benefit the people… they are owned by outsiders and the elite…
3. African’s have no property rights…
4. AIDS continues to spread… due to misinformation and poor education… why would you practice “safe sex” in a countries that don’t require seatbelts… taking precautions are part of western thinking... not African thinking where people don't expect to live to 40…
5. Tribalism and racism...
6. Lack of fair trade and free trade… we call them sweat shops but for those who live in poverty it’s a good job that provides for their family and relatives…
7. Investing in Africa doesn’t guarantee a return…
8. Africa’s most debilitating problem: the fact that politics is the most popular route to wealth… Africa belongs to the people, not its rulers…unfortunately the rulers are holding the continent by the neck...

So there you have it… problem solved… or maybe just identified…

3 comments:

Holly Bigelow said...

wow - oh, wow, jeffrey, thank you so much for this post! these are things that i think about so often...and i have a lot of thinking yet to do. i appreciate what you have presented. muchas gracias! que Dios de bendiga, y tu familia!

Jen said...

black leather couch, huh? thanks for the reminder that i can't carry all of the problems of the world on my shoulders!

Kristen said...

Amazing perspective and a great reminder. even with my VERY limited experience, I can totally see this.