Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What to do about Africa?

Is Africa doomed to be a perpetual basket case of kleptomaniacs, famine, disease, and war? It sometimes seems so, and there is precious little helpful thinking about the problems of that large continent. One interesting exception is this op-ed by Paul Theroux in yesterday’s NYTs. Theroux criticizes the rock star approach popularized by Paul Hewson, or “Bono”, which is now backed by the Gates fortune. This approach calls for ever greater floods of Western money, food aid, volunteers, and debt relief. But, as Theroux argues, this has been tried for many years, and it has failed. For example, large amounts of money and many thousands of volunteer foreign teachers, nurses, and doctors have not prevented Malawi from becoming a failed state; indeed, in some ways they have been an obstacle to the development of a corps of native Malawi teachers, nurses, etc. The “Bono” approach undermines the development of African self-reliance and blinds us to Africa’s most crucial need – good government. Theroux ends with the intriguing suggestion that Ireland, a place with which Africa has some surprising similarities, points to a better approach. Read the piece for details.

Discussions - 3 Comments

An excellent piece. I do have a question about this, however:

Just a few years ago you couldn’t buy condoms legally in Ireland, nor could you get a divorce, though (just like in Malawi) buckets of beer were easily available and unruly crapulosities a national curse.

"Crapulosities," I take it, is the plural of "crapulosity." What a truly wonderful word, if it exists. Alas, dictionary.com doesn’t recognize it. As this is no doubt a term that I’d like to work into everyday conversation, I’d appreciate it if anyone can offer me a definition.

Aha! I did find the word "crapulence," defined as:

1. Sickness caused by excessive eating or drinking.

2. Excessive indulgence; intemperance.

This certainly fits the context. I shall consider my vocabulary expanded.

I would like to thank John Moser for finding a definition of this word for me. This time it was in a book review by Paul Theroux. It must be a favored word. Thanks JH

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