We are Poor Because We are Poor
After considering how common economic reasoning may apply to the African context, the author concludes that Africans suffer not because of poor resources, young histories, colonial legacies, or international interference—but because Africans themselves hold poor attitudes towards development.
If we are to have a snap shot at our African continent and then juxtapose it with other continents, one cannot help but shed a tear at the litany of problems that our continent is grappling with. Almost all African countries, despite being under the illusion that they are independent, are actually in some way or another dependent on aid from other countries, their external debts are extremely high, the income per capita is extremely low, the gap rates are despicable, the standards of living are very low, all basic indices remain grim, very lousy roads, no medicine in hospitals, low quality education, very lousy and corrupt governments, wars, hunger and starvation are the order of the day, and all these emanate from one cause and that is POVERTY. So a question arises, why is it that we are poor while countries from other continents are rich?
What were we doing while those countries were getting rich? And what have we done to get rich like those countries? Could it be that people from those countries are super humans while for us we are ordinary humans?
In trying to find answers to those questions I bumped into two economists’ works, Adam Smith and Rostow, who tried but failed to explain the African poverty complexity. Adam Smith attributes our poverty to lack of resources and that those other countries are very rich because they are well endowed with resources which we do not have in sufficient quantities here. However, if we are to contextualize this reasoning in the African frame, why is it that countries with vast resource endowments like DRC are still very poor yet a very small country like Japan with no real mineral resources to brag about is almost the richest country in the world? So Adam Smith’s reasoning falls short when it comes to Africa’s poverty.
Rostow tries to attribute our poverty to the age of our countries. He says those countries are rich because they are older in age than ours and that they were at one point poor like us when they were still at our age, but again if we are to Africanize this reasoning, why is it that countries like Egypt which is over 2000 years old is still poor yet young countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada which are just over 100 years old are rich?
At the end of the day, the African poverty phenomenon is not a question of economics, neither is it a religious question. We are poor not because we lack resources, neither are we poor because we are young nations, we are poor because we ourselves are poor. We Africans have very poor attitudes towards development, we lack ethics as a principle to foster our development, we lack integrity, we are very irresponsible, we do not have the will to comply with those functional principles of rich and developed societies. We do not have the will to develop our selves. Our attitudes are poor and we do not have the urge to get ourselves out of our poverty. Instead we expect others to get us out of it. We cannot think of developing ourselves without outsiders giving us a hand. We do not have will to sacrifice for ourselves; instead, we just waste time blaming historical factors, educational systems, and people in the rich countries for creating the current development impasse on our continent.
No one has the urge to help a people who do not have any will to develop themselves. Instead of wasted looking upon others, it’s high time we did away with our poor attitudes towards development or we shall remain poor.