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Why?

Why?

Because this blog is all about questions.

CAN we save Africa?   Is the saving able to be accomplished?  Is it is a doable mission? Is the continent a lost cause? Should it we even try?

Can WE save Africa: Who is the ‘we’?  Who is working on saving Africa? Why are they doing it? How does who they are impact what they are able and unable, willing and unwilling to do?

Can we SAVE Africa: What does ‘saving’ Africa look like?  What would a saved Africa look like? What futures for the continent are being articulated?  When will we know that Africa has been saved?

Can we save AFRICA: Which Africa?  Sub-Saharan Africa? Where does the distinction come from?  Which Africans are we talking about?  There are so many different types!  Which aspects of the continent’s diversity are we thinking about when we try to save Africa? Why?

Props to Africa Knows for letting me use the image in the header.  Why the railroad?

It too is a question.  Where is Africa headed?   What is the destination?

Railroads have a long and torrid story in Africa.  Built in the colonial era to ease of resource extraction from the continent, a map of the railroad system across the continent shows how all paths lead outwards.  The continent’s resources, whether slaves, ivory, gold, or high-potential youth all leaving.  This is the earlier story of Africa.

What is the new story? What can a map of the continent’s current transportation network, with its interconnections and density tell us today?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2010 11:42 PM

    Great blog. Bravo.

  2. Bev permalink
    April 5, 2010 7:04 PM

    Keep on keeping on, Wanjiru. I like the idea of blogging as way to keep one’s self writing — I’m a junior professor too…so I know the drill. Have you checked out academicladder.com? It’s got a nice support system for writers.

  3. April 7, 2010 5:50 AM

    What an excellent question to ask.

    I think that, in the eyes of many Westerners, ‘saving’ Africa means making it more like the West, with its conspicuous consumption, corporate power, democracy and McDonalds. Which is fine … if that’s what African people want.

    I don’t see too many people asking African people what they want though. Plenty of telling, not so much with the asking and listening though.

    I think the big problem is that Western humanitarian efforts are woefully tangled up with Western economic interests, and there-in lies the rub. Corporations, the real powers behind Western (and increasingly Chinese) power, need African resources, and to get at those resources, they need African nations to be Western enough to “fit” into the global system, so to speak. Until that whole mess gets disentangled, where people genuinely, honestly offer their help (and ask HOW they can help) without strings attached, things won’t change.

    As to what a saved Africa looks like: it looks however the people of Africa want it to look. To me the only real determiner is balance of power – a saved Africa would be a continent where the glaring imbalances of power that African people suffer under today would be, to the greatest extent possible, eliminated. Whether that comes about in the form of capitalist democracy, anarchist communism or even benevolent dictatorship is ultimately for the African people to decide.

    Mina.

  4. danny permalink
    April 7, 2010 10:55 AM

    NO, only africans can save themsleves. People can help by investing and not charity.

  5. April 14, 2010 11:43 PM

    HI Wanjiru and colleagues.
    Thanks for asking the question and for highlighting the importance of the discussion… this question has been asked, presented in layers here (good questions) and now we need to go further – bring others to the conversation (yes motivate them even), discuss with others but also complement that with investing in what resonates with us the ‘right’ approach; step by step action with discussion. I’m so very pleased there’s an effort to connect with african organisations – and they need to be african voices truly. I tweeted about this last night actually; that i’m struggling to find African organisations or Africans to collaborate with on a small scale project I’ve just started although I’ve been actively engaged by two foreign ones (international based in Africa who appear to be doing amazing work). I guess I just feel responsible (in the best sense of the word) for getting Africans from different pockets and corners of my society to engage in an issue that INDIRECT affects them- that’s just outside of their direct peripheral vision yet threatens their way of life.. anyway, sorry about the ramble
    I will be following you and hope to engage much more.
    Ana

  6. May 22, 2010 8:56 AM

    HI Wanjiru and colleagues.Thanks for asking the question and for highlighting the importance of the discussion… this question has been asked, presented in layers here (good questions) and now we need to go further – bring others to the conversation (yes motivate them even), discuss with others but also complement that with investing in what resonates with us the ‘right’ approach; step by step action with discussion. I’m so very pleased there’s an effort to connect with african organisations – and they need to be african voices truly. I tweeted about this last night actually; that i’m struggling to find African organisations or Africans to collaborate with on a small scale project I’ve just started although I’ve been actively engaged by two foreign ones (international based in Africa who appear to be doing amazing work). I guess I just feel responsible (in the best sense of the word) for getting Africans from different pockets and corners of my society to engage in an issue that INDIRECT affects them- that’s just outside of their direct peripheral vision yet threatens their way of life.. anyway, sorry about the rambleI will be following you and hope to engage much more.Ana
    +1

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