Sunday 26 June 2011

Africa Again

I am enjoying reading Richard Dowden's impressive, comprehensive and humane Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. It looks like becoming a long term companion.

One of his earliest observations chimed perfectly.

 "Africans have in abundance what we call social skills. These are not skills that are formally taught or learned. There is no click-on-have-a-nice-day smile in Africa. Africans meet, greet, and talk, look you in the eye and empathise, hold hands and embrace, share and accept from others without twitchy self-consciousness. All these things are as natural as music in Africa."

How true and what we could learn....

And in an irony so sharp it's painful, contrast that with those we send to Africa to "help" the continent "develop". People I have met in the aid brigade are some of the most emotionally constipated and socially handicapped human specimens I have come across anywhere. Why do we think it's acceptable to send these dysfunctional individuals to Africa ... is it a way of getting rid of them from our societies I wonder? Or is it some form of self-selection, rooted in a deep disdain for humanity's home continent? I propose engaging a cadre of African consultants to run a people skills boot camp for the poverty industry. They would need long contracts.

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