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Optimism in Africa

A few days ago I read this post by Ethan. He links to this piece in the New York Times that is seeking the source of Africa’s “relentless optimism.” The author asks: “Where does such relentless optimism in the face of unyielding misery come from? One glance at the statistical profile of the continent’s 900 million people will tell you that Africans can expect to live the shortest lives, earn the lowest incomes and suffer some of the worst misrule on the planet. They are more likely than anyone on earth to bury their children before the age of 5, to become infected with H.I.V., to die from malaria and tuberculosis, to require food aid.”

I have no issues with the question, but like Ethan I’m bothered by the explanations she comes up with I think the crux of it is right there towards the end of her piece. She writes, “I was in search of a safe place to sleep in a perilous land. Mr. Mostapha, a minor town official, offered me what little hospitality he could: a patch of earth on which to sleep beneath the stars, a communal bowl of stew and porridge shared among all those assembled within his compound, a few cups of hot tea. Grateful for all, the next morning I thanked him for his hospitality.” In my experience, this kind of hospitality, kindness, and warmth exists nowhere else in the world – humanity or in Swahili utu is still an important value in Africa more so than your profession, your ideologies, your achievements etc. Maybe that is why we are so optimistic, we still believe in humanity, we place high value on the simple things, and we still find ways to enjoy life because at the end of the day it’s all you have (no matter where you are).

Does that make sense?

AOB: The EU cannot be giving us grief about fighting corruption while shielding shady European companies who are part of the corruption network at the same time…this is just wrong. Our ambassador in France should hold a press conference to condemn this 😉



5 comments to Optimism in Africa

  • Good link, and a good take on it. Africans (generally) are some of the friendliest people I’ve come acrosss. Be it in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda…. you get the idea. I’m painting with a big brush, but it’s true – something about African hospitality is just hard to match elsewhere in the world.

  • Sarah

    :evil:@Hash, what of the xenophobia of Black South Africans to other Africans hmmm………..

  • Prousette

    When you have lost everything hope is the only thing to keep you alive. We have no choice but to hope.

  • Ory – Good job on the blogs. I do the same but not online..just log my thoughts wherever and occassionally send to friends. Anyway, this is Mary G. – back in the day Kabbzville…Good luck on your comeback (rather, ” go-back”)to Nairobi. I’m pretty sure things will work out. ps:-Coming from someone who’s in Atlanta..hahaha! Jokes aside though.

    Cheers! Keep it positive! Asalaam Aleikum.