Leading Black American Journalist Dishes It Out On Africa



I recommend Keith Richburg’s 1997 book, Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. Given what he had written, it is not surprising one never sees this man on the idiot box.

However, back in 1994, he ought to have listened to the Afrikaner who predicted the descent of Zimbabwe into the African abyss. But they were the bad guys. I wonder if Richburg would care to throw the bones on South Africa—predict what’s in the offing there. Or will he wait until the truth is undeniable and another western outpost on the Dark Continent bites the dust.

Richburg writes this in the British Observer:

“[M]uch around the continent has remained the same. Some of those who I considered ‘new’ African leaders have proven themselves just as venal and anxious to cling to power as the Big Men of old. And some of the places offering a modicum of hope have fallen backwards. Ivory Coast and Kenya, two places that during my time were considered islands of stability, places where foreign correspondents went to regroup, file their stories and have a good meal before flying into the next war zone, have slipped into their own vicious violence. Both countries fell apart after elections that exposed deep ethnic divisions, sad confirmation again that even in the most seemingly stable countries, tribalism is never very far from the surface.

Somalia was a failed state ruled by warlords and rival militias when I last set foot there in 1994, and it remains today a place of violence and anarchy. And after the Rwanda genocide, the world said: ‘Never again’, only to watch as a new genocide takes place in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Despite all the talk about an African renaissance of democracy – and some notable election successes – by almost any measure repression remains widespread. According to the Economist democracy index, of the 44 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, 23 are listed as authoritarian, 13 as hybrids, seven, including South Africa, are called ‘flawed democracies’. The US-based democracy-monitoring group Freedom House rates 14 sub-Saharan African countries as ‘not free’ and 23 others were considered just partially free. Freedom House said the year 2007 ‘saw the deterioration of freedom on the continent’.

And for most, along with repression is the poverty. Africa is still home to most of the world’s poorest countries, a fact that many of the more optimistic like to obscure by pointing out facts such as how the stock market in Ghana provides one of the world’s highest returns on investment. A broader view was supplied by Kofi Annan. With the rise in global food prices, he warned recently of ‘100 million people on the brink of abject poverty’ which will be measured ‘in the number of infant and child deaths across Africa’.”

Read the complete column.

8 thoughts on “Leading Black American Journalist Dishes It Out On Africa

  1. Alex

    The only thing that I really don’t like about that is all the gushing about democracy. If they think democracy brings freedom, they need to move to Canada – or here.

    Certainly much better than the Dark Continent, but slowly degenerating into the same political sewage.

  2. AnIdea

    It’s the culture. No amount of money is going to change it. Same with most of Latin America. Best to stay away from all of that business and focus on keeping our country from going the same direction. Sadly, this is becoming less and less likely given our immigration policies and the bogus idea of cultural relativism (aka. multiculturalism).

    Culture matters. Western countries aren’t like Africa because our culture is better and we respect the ideas that make modern society possible such as education, private property, free markets (what’s left of them), etc. Without these and other ingredients any society is going to continue to wallow in despair and never rise out of poverty. Even today these ideals are being swept away in the name of some common good collectivist ideals. It won’t work. If we’re not careful we’ll end up the same way as these countries we read about in the news.

  3. EN

    Gordon Brown’s labour government is calling for the British people to quit wasting food as a way of feeding Africa. They want stores to stop running two for one deals and end bulk buying. This is a traditional African nation state model of dealing with famine through anti-market tactics. It’s been decided to take stupidity global. Africa, an equalitarian/multicultural dream, is now a model for a European country.

  4. Christopher Link

    Memo to Alex: “Americans have always been . . . idiots.” Jefferson was an American. Did you mean “some” Americans, or “most” Americans? I do stand corrected concerning the demise of the Federalists (memory failure), but Jefferson was not responsible for the considerable damage done during Washington’s administration, or Adams’. (Like many others) Jefferson didn’t fare as well during his second term, but his first term was very successful.

  5. JLE

    The Economist regards South Africa as a flawed democracy.

    I would be interested to know on what basis this conclusion is reached. Is their view based on the fact that even though it is a “democratic” society, the economy and infrastructure is in an ever increasing downward spiral?
    Or is their view based on the fact that our “democratic” election process is nothing but a census count?

    [“Now what we have in my former homeland is African democracy as raw and as ripe as sewerage.”–IM]

  6. Andrew T.

    While we’re at it, I want my food to become “democratic”, my favorite sports team to be “democratic”, and my woman “democratic”.

    It’s supposed to be a good thing, right?

  7. EN

    “While we’re at it, I want my food to become “democratic”, my favorite sports team to be “democratic”, and my woman “democratic”.”

    I prefer my wine and women to be market driven. They are far too expensive as it is. Turning it over to “democracy” would make the price go up exponentially and radically reduce quality. Imagine a world such as that? No wonder men fight.

  8. Tom

    African tribalism and ethnic warfare is more than just cultural, as evidenced by similar crime rates among black Americans in ghettos. Perhaps liberal idealists should admit that black criminal behaviour may have to do with nature too–biological and genetic factors.

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