Magazine article New African

Readers' Letters

Magazine article New African

Readers' Letters

Article excerpt

Wrong about Africa

As a resident of the UK, I have become fed up with the arrogance of Western governments, media, NGOs and churches in their approach to "development" in Africa. Now that I'm visiting the continent, I can see that arrogance -- and indeed ignorance -- translated into inefficiency of projects that receive large funds while the people they are supposed to help look on.

It is high time Europeans came to Africa to see what they could learn instead of what they could criticise or control.

It can be crushing to reach 23 years of age (as I am now) only to realise that the vast majority of the things that you were thought (as I was taught) about Africa is wrong; and that we were, and still are, deliberately misled! My only consolation is that I have now had the opportunity to visit Africa and see things for myself.

While visiting countries that have suffered the full thrust of colonialism in Africa, I, a European, have still been treated with nothing but a complete generosity of spirit.

Back home in the West, people like to talk about the necessity of education in developing countries. But really, with the inequalities of today, the persisting prejudices and miscarriage of justice that have followed the colonial era, a complete overhaul of the Western education bequeathed to Africa is necessary and urgent. Our reluctance to open our minds and reconsider the mythical interpretation of the history we had been fed over the years continues to condemn others.

I only hope that many more people outside Africa would get to know your magazine and read it on a regular basis as a way of changing the current attitudes.

We in Western Europe, enjoying all the fruits of discriminatory trade practices and exploitation of resources in countries about which we receive heavily distorted teachings, have a debt to repay.

I plead with anyone from the rich nations who might read this to begin, in whatever way he/she can, to correct the wrongs and show a face of humanity that has been hidden for too long.

Brian Garvey

Amagh, Northern Ireland

'A Republic, if you can keep it'

In the November issue of New African, Edward Akinola of Kiel, Germany, (NA, Letters), suggested that the Americans should "send experts on democracy to Nigeria rather than the military experts Clinton promised".

I have news for Mr Akinola. The United States of America has no experts on democracy. Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution makes very clear the form of government prescribed for the USA in its founding document: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..."

For the first person who can show me the word "democracy" or any of its variants in the US Constitution, I have a nice new twenty dollar Federal Reserve note. Although the words "our democracy" flow over the lips of Al Gore, George Bush and many political hacks in the USA like water over Victoria Falls, they cannot be found anywhere in the US Constitution.

You people in London and Kiel would do well to heed the words of the 18th century historian, Alexander Fraser Tytler (some say he and Lord Woodhouselee are one and the same), an Englishman, who wrote:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship".

Readers of New African who may be interested in additional information about republics v democracies should check out John F. McManus article, A Republic, if you can keep it, in The New American magazine (6 Nov issue).

Weston I. Van Buren

Los Angeles, USA

(Editor's note: We have reprinted McManus article on p22 headlined, America -- a lesson in democracy? …

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