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TAKING SIDES: Clashing Views on African Issues, Fourth Edition
Table of Contents
Clashing Views on African Issues, Fourth Edition
• Unit 1 History
• Issue 1. Did the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Underdevelop Africa?
YES: Paul E. Lovejoy, from “The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa: A Review of the Literature,” Journal of African History (1989)
NO: John Thornton, from Africa and the Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 14001680 (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Paul E. Lovejoy, professor of history at York University, argues that the trans-Atlantic slave trade significantly transformed African society. It led to an absolute loss of population on the continent and a large increase in the enslaved population that was retained in Africa. The economic advantages of exporting slaves did not offset the social and political costs of participation, there were disastrous demographic impacts, and Africa’s relative position in world trade declined. John Thornton is a professor of history at Boston University. He notes that slavery was widespread and indigenous in African society. Europeans simply worked with this existing market and African merchants, who were not dominated by Europeans, responded by providing more slaves. African leaders who allowed the slave trade to continue were neither forced to do so against their will, nor did they make irrational decisions. As such, the preexisting institution of slavery in Africa is as much responsible as any external force for the development of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
• Issue 2. Have the Contributions of Africans Been Recognized for Developing New World Agriculture?
YES: Duncan Clinch Heyward, from Seed from Madagascar (University of North Carolina Press, 1937)
NO: Judith Carney, from “Agroenvironments and Slave Strategies in the Diffusion of Rice Culture to the Americas,” in Karl S. Zimmerer and Thomas J. Bassett, eds., Political Ecology: An Integrative Approach to Geography and Environment-Development Studies (Guilford Press, 2003)
Duncan Clinch Heyward, a former Carolina rice planter writing in the middle of the last century, represents the mainstream view that Europeans were primarily responsible for developing South Carolina’s remarkable rice plantations in the eighteenth century. In his own accounting of the rise of rice cultivation in the Carolinas, Duncan suggests that the techniques and approaches must have been derived from those observed in China. Judith Carney, a professor of geography at UCLA, explains that slaves from rice-producing areas in West Africa have only recently been recognized for their intellectual contributions to the development of rice cultivation in the New World. Carney describes how her work, and that of others, challenged the view that slaves were mere field hands, “showing that they contributed agronomic expertise as well as skilled labor to the emergent plantation economy.”
• Issue 3. Is European Subjugation of Africans Ultimately Explained by Differences in Land, Plant, and Animal Resources?
YES: Jared Diamond, from “Why Europeans Were the Ones to Colonize Sub-Saharan Africa,” in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (W. W. Norton & Company, 1999)
NO: Lucy Jarosz, from “A Human Geographer’s Response to Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Case of Agrarian Development and Change in Madagascar,” Antipode (2003)
Jared Diamond, professor of physiology and biogeography at UCLA, argues that Europeans were able to colonize Africa (rather than vice versa) because of the advantages of guns, widespread literacy, and political organization. These advantages stem ultimately from different historical trajectories that are linked to “differences in real estate” (or differences in physical geography). Lucy Jarosz, associate professor of geography at the University of Washington, is troubled by Diamond’s narrow conception of geography and asserts that explaining differences in wealth and power between regions must also take account of social, political, and economic connections. She focuses on the specific case of Madagascar and argues that the intentions of the colonizer are as or more important than their military power for determining the nature of the colonial relationship.
• Issue 4. Did Colonialism Distort Contemporary African Development?
YES: Marcus Colchester, from “Slave and Enclave: Towards a Political Ecology of Equatorial Africa,” The Ecologist (September/October 1993)
NO: Robin M. Grier, from “Colonial Legacies and Economic Growth,” Public Choice (March 1999)
Marcus Colchester, director of the Forest Peoples Programme of the World Rainforest Movement, argues that rural communities in equatorial Africa are today on the point of collapse because they have been weakened by centuries of outside intervention. In Gabon, the Congo, and the Central African Republic, an enduring colonial legacy of the French are lands and forests controlled by state institutions that operate as patron-client networks to enrich indigenous elite and outside commercial interests. Robin M. Grier, assistant professor of economics at the University of Oklahoma, contends that African colonies that were held for longer periods of time tend to have performed better, on average, after independence.
• Unit 2 Development
• Issue 5.Have Free-Market Policies Worked for Africa?
YES: Fudzai Pamacheche and Baboucarr Koma, from “Privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa—An Essential Route to Poverty Alleviation,” Africa Integration Review (2007)
NO: Thandika Mkandawire, from “The Global Economic Context.” In: B. Wisner, C. Toulmin, and R. Chitiga, eds., Towards a New Map of Africa (Earthscan, 2005)
Fudzai Pamacheche, of the Southern African Development Community Directorate on Trade, Industry, Finance, and Investment, and Baboucarr Koma, of the Private Sector Development, Investment and Resource Mobilization Division of the African Union Commission, argue that privatization is an example of a free-market policy that has benefited African people. They suggest that the privatization of public enterprises creates efficiency gains, stable and reduced prices, lower government subsidies and the redirection of scarce resources elsewhere, the payment of dividends to government, and increased employment. They further argue that privatization programs, if well designed, are crucial for poverty alleviation and economic integration regionally and globally. Thandika Mkandawire, director of the UN Research Institute for Social Development, counters that while African governments have reshaped domestic policies to make their economies more open, growth has faltered. Mkandawire assesses structural adjustment from a developmental perspective, judging its effects on economic development and the eradication of poverty. He suggests that structural adjustment policies designed to integrate Africa into the global economy have failed because “they have completely sidestepped the developmental needs of the continent and the strategic questions on the form of integration appropriate to addressing these needs.”
• Issue 6. Do Cell Phones and the Internet Foster “Leapfrog” Development in Africa?
YES: Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., from “Leapfrogging into the Information Economy: Harnessing Information and Communications Technologies in Botswana, Mauritania, and Tanzania,” in M. Louise Fox and Robert Liebenthal, eds., Attacking Africa’s Poverty: Experience from the Ground (World Bank, 2006)
NO: Pádraig Carmody, from “A New Socio-Economy in Africa? Thintegration and the Mobile Phone Revolution,” The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Papers (2009)
Joseph O. Okpaku, president and CEO of the Telecom Africa International
• Issue 7. Is Increasing Chinese Investment Good for African Development?
YES: Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, from “Friends and Interests: China’s Distinctive Links With Africa,” African Studies Review (2007)
NO: Padraig R. Carmody and Francis Y. Owusu, from “Competing Hegemons? Chinese Versus American Geo-Economic Strategies in Africa,” Political Geography (2007)
Barry Sautman, associate professor of social science at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Yan Hairong, the Department of Applied Social Science, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, argue that China’s links with Africa represent a distinctive “Chinese model” of foreign investment. They further suggest that this Chinese model represents a lesser evil than assistance offered by the West. Padraig Carmody, of Trinity College Dublin, and Francis Owusu, of Iowa State University, are less sanguine about Chinese involvement in Africa. Although they also perceive potential benefits from increasing trade with China, they describe how increasing resource flows are strengthening authoritarian states and fuelling conflict.
• Issue 8. Does Foreign Aid Undermine Development in Africa?
YES: Dambisa Moyo, from “Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa,” The Wall Street Journal (March 2009)
NO: Apoorva Shah, from “Slamming Aid,” Policy Review (June/July 2009)
Dambisa Moyo, who has worked for both Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, argues that aid to Africa has made the poor poorer and economic growth slower. She further states that aid has left African countries more debt ridden, prone to inflation, vulnerable to currency markets, and unattractive to high-caliber investment. Apoorva Shah, research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, does not necessarily disagree with many of Moyo’s assertions. His concern is that Moyo is not offering anything new to the debate and that she ignores how new stakeholders are moving beyond the old debates. He discusses how the Millennium Challenge Corporation only works in countries where progress is being made on the consolidation of institutions, accountable governance, and freer peoples. He further finds it difficult to accept some of Moyo’s broader generalizations, such as a characterization of aid as “large systematic cash transfers from rich countries to African governments.”
• Unit 3 Agriculture, Food, and the Environment
• Issue 9. Is Climate Change a Major Driver of Agricultural Shifts in Africa?
YES: Pradeep Kurukulasuriya et al., from “Will African Agriculture Survive Climate Change?” World Bank Economic Review (2006)
NO: Ole Mertz, Cheikh Mbow, Anette Reenberg, and Awa Diouf, from “Farmers’ Perceptions of Climate Change and Agricultural Adaptation Strategies in Rural Sahel,” Environmental Management (2009)
Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, of the United Nations Development Programme, and colleagues argue that agricultural revenues for dryland crops in Africa will fall under global warming scenarios. They suggest that irrigation is a practical adaptation to climate change in Africa. Ole Mertz and colleagues, of the Universities of Copenhagen and Dakar, suggest that farmers in Africa’s Sahelian region have always faced climate variability at annual and decadal time scales. Although households at their study site in Senegal are well aware of climate change, they attribute most changes in farming practices to economic, political, and social factors, rather than environmental ones.
• Issue 10. Is Food Production in Africa Capable of Keeping Up with Population Growth?
YES: Michael Mortimore and Mary Tiffen, from “Population and Environment in Time Perspective: The Machakos Story,” People and Environment in Africa (John Wiley & Sons, 1995)
NO: John Murton, from “Population Growth and Poverty in Machakos District, Kenya,” The Geographical Journal (March 1999)
Michael Mortimore, a geographer, and Mary Tiffen, a historian and socio-economist, both with Drylands Research, investigate population and food production trajectories in Machakos, Kenya. They determine that increasing population density has a positive influence on environmental management and crop production. Furthermore, they found that food production kept up with population growth from 1930 to 1987. John Murton, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British government, uses household-level data to show that the changes in Machakos described by Mortimore and Tiffen “have been accompanied by a polarization of land holdings, differential trends in agricultural productivity, and a decline in food self-sufficiency.” As such, he argues that the “Machakos experience” of population growth and positive environmental transformation is neither homogenous nor fully unproblematic.
• Issue 11. Does African Agriculture Need a Green Revolution?
YES: Kofi A. Annan, from Remarks on the Launch of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa at the World Economic Forum, in Cape Town, South Africa (June 14, 2007)
NO: Carol B. Thompson, from “Africa: Green Revolution or Rainbow Revolution?” Foreign Policy in Focus (July 17, 2007)
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, deplores the fact that sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where per capita food production has declined. Annan is now leading a new organization that answers the call of many African leaders to build on the achievements and lessons learned from the Green Revolution in Asia and Latin America that began several decades earlier. He is spearheading an African Green Revolution that aims to increase African food production. Carol Thompson, professor of political economy at Northern Arizona University, suggests that increasing yields of a few targeted crops will not solve Africa’s food problems. Rather, she argues that sustaining Africa’s food crop diversity and indigenous ecological knowledge is the key to reducing hunger. She further eschews food security built on global market dependence in favor of food sovereignty.
• Issue 12. Is Community-Based Wildlife Management a Failed Approach?
YES: Peter J. Balint and Judith Mashinya, from “The Decline of a Model Community-Based Conservation Project: Governance, Capacity and Devolution in Mahenye, Zimbabwe,” Geoforum (2006)
NO: Liz Rihoy, Chaka Chirozva, and Simon Anstey, from “‘People are Not Happy’: Crisis, Adaptation, and Resilience in Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE Programme,” in Fred Nelson, ed., Community Rights, Conservation and Contested Land: The Politics of Natural Resource Governance in Africa (Earthscan, 2010)
Peter Balint, of George Mason University, and Judith Mashinya, of the University of Maryland, found that the situation in Mahenye, Zimbabwe, has deteriorated significantly since an earlier time period when it was deemed to be a model community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) program. They do not blame this decline on political turmoil in Zimbabwe, but rather on a failure of leadership and the departure of outside agencies responsible for oversight and assistance. As such, they argue against full devolution of authority to the community level for wildlife management. Liz Rihoy, of the Zeitz Foundation, and Chaka Chirozva and Simon Anstey, of the University of Zimbabwe, arrive at a very different conclusion about the same community in Zimbabwe. Although they acknowledge that CBNRM could be viewed as a failure in Mahenye at certain moments in time, they see the situation as an ongoing process of development in which there are the seeds of opportunity. They claim that the CAMPFIRE program has had real impact in terms of empowering local residents, providing them with incentives, knowledge, and organizational abilities to identify and address their own problems.
• Unit 4 Social Issues
• Issue 13. Should Female Genital Cutting Be Accepted as a Cultural Practice?
YES: Fuambai Ahmadu, from “Rites and Wrongs: Excision and Power among Kono Women of Sierra Leone,” in B. Shell-Duncan and Y. Hernlund, eds., Female “Circumcision” Africa: Culture, Controversy, and Change (Lynne Reiner, 2001)
NO: Liz Creel et al., from “Abandoning Female Genital Cutting: Prevalence, Attitudes, and Efforts to End the Practice,” A Report of the Population Reference Bureau (August 2001)
Fuambai Ahmadu, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics, finds it increasingly challenging to reconcile her own experiences with female initiation and circumcision and prevailing (largely negative) global discourses on these practices. Her main concern with most studies on female initiation is the insistence that the practice is necessarily harmful or that there is an urgent need to stop female genital mutilation in communities where it is done. She suggests that “the aversion of some writers to the practice of female circumcision has more to do with deeply imbedded western cultural assumptions regarding women’s bodies and their sexuality than with disputable health effects of genital operations on African women.” Liz Creel, senior policy analyst at the Population Reference Bureau, and her colleagues argue that female genital cutting (FGC), while it must be dealt with in a culturally sensitive manner, is a practice that is detrimental to the health of girls and women, as well as a violation of human rights in most instances. Creel et al. recommend that African governments pass anti-FGC laws, and that programs be expanded to educate communities about FGC and human rights.
• Issue 14. Are Women in a Position to Challenge Male Power Structures in Africa?
YES: Richard A. Schroeder, from Shady Practices: Agroforestry and Gender Politics in The Gambia (University of California Press, 1999)
NO: Human Rights Watch, from “Double Standards: Women’s Property Rights Violations in Kenya,” A Report of Human Rights Watch (March 2003)
Richard A. Schroeder, an associate professor of geography at Rutgers University, presents a case study of a group of female gardeners in The Gambia who, because of their growing economic clout, began to challenge male power structures. Women, who were the traditional gardeners in the community studied, came to have greater income-earning capacity than men as the urban market for garden produce grew. Furthermore, women could meet their needs and wants without recourse to their husbands because of this newly found economic power. Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit organization, describes how women in Kenya have property rights unequal to those of men, and how even these limited rights are frequently violated. It is further explained how women have little awareness of their rights, that those “who try to fight back are often beaten, raped, or ostracized,” and how the Kenyan government has done little to address the situation.
• Issue 15. Is the International Community Focusing on HIV/AIDS Treatment at the Expense of Prevention in Africa?
YES: Andrew Creese, Katherine Floyd, Anita Alban, and Lorna Guinness, from “Cost-Effectiveness of HIV/AIDS Interventions in Africa: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” The Lancet (2002)
NO: Philip J. Hilts, from “Changing Minds: Botswana Beats Back AIDS,” in Rx for Survival: Why We Must Rise to the Global Challenge (Penguin Books, 2005)
Andrew Creese and his colleagues, who work for the World Health Organization (WHO) and European universities, suggest that cost-effectiveness is an important criterion for deciding how to allocate scarce health care funding. A case of HIV/AIDS can be prevented for $11 by selective blood safety measures and targeted condom distribution with treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. In contrast, antiretroviral treatment for adults can cost several thousand dollars. They argue that a strong economic case exists for prioritizing preventive interventions and TB treatment. Philip J. Hilts, who teaches journalism at Boston University, describes a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program in Botswana. This program offered not only preventive care, but sophisticated triple drug AIDS treatments to all people of the nation, free of charge. By 2005, the program was treating 43,000 people and the cost of treatment is one-tenth of what it is in the United States.
• Unit 5 Politics, Governance, and Conflict Resolution
• Issue 16. Is Multi-Party Democracy Taking Hold in Africa?
YES: Michael Bratton and Robert Mattes, from “Support for Democracy in Africa: Intrinsic or Instrumental?” British Journal of Political Science (July 2001)
NO: Joel D. Barkan, from “The Many Faces of Africa: Democracy Across a Varied Continent,” Harvard International Review (Summer 2002)
Michael Bratton, professor of political science at Michigan State University, and Robert Mattes, associate professor of political studies and director of the Democracy in Africa Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, find as much popular support for democracy in Zambia, South Africa, and Ghana as in other regions of the developing world, despite the fact that the citizens of these countries tend to be less satisfied with the economic performance of their elected governments. Joel D. Barkan, professor of political science at the University of Iowa and senior consultant on governance at the World Bank, takes a less sanguine view of the situation in Africa. He suggests that one can be cautiously optimistic about the situation in roughly one-third of the states on the African continent, nations he classifies as consolidated democracies and as aspiring democracies. He asserts that one must be realistic about the possibilities for the remainder of African nations, countries he classifies into three groups: stalled democracies, those that are not free, and those that are mired in civil war.
• Issue 17. Does Increased Female Participation Substantially Change African Politics?
YES: Elizabeth Powley, from “Rwanda: Women Hold Up Half the Parliament,” in Julie Ballington and Azza Karam, eds., Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2009)
NO: Carey Leigh Hogg, from “Women’s Political Representation in Post-Conflict Rwanda: A Politics of Inclusion or Exclusion?” Journal of International Women’s Studies (November, 2009)
Elizabeth Powley, a specialist on gender and postconflict reconstruction, argues that Rwandan women are beginning to consolidate their dramatic gains that came with a gender-sensitive constitution in 2003 and parliamentary elections, which saw females win 48.8 percent of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. These successes were built on the specific circumstances of the Rwandan genocide, a quota system, and a sustained campaign by the women’s movement in Rwanda. The women’s caucus in the Rwandan parliament reviews existing laws and introduces amendments to discriminatory legislation, analyzes proposed laws with an eye to gender sensitivity, and works closely with women’s organizations. Carey Leigh Hogg, program officer for Vital Voices, describes how the ruling political party in Rwanda has advocated for greater inclusion of women under the premise that this will improve the political climate, yet this same party also suppresses political dissent and ethnic identification. She argues that the Rwandan case shows how women’s political identities can be dangerously frozen in a situation where the ruling party is intent on building national unity by quieting dissent.
• Issue 18. Is Corruption the Result of Poor African Leadership?
YES: Robert I. Rotberg, from “The Roots of Africa’s Leadership Deficit,” Compass (2003)
NO: Arthur A. Goldsmith, from “Risk, Rule, and Reason: Leadership in Africa,” Public Administration and Development (2001)
Robert I. Rotberg, director of the Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, holds African leaders responsible for the plight of their continent. He laments the large number of corrupt African leaders, seeing South Africa’s Mandela and Botswana’s Khama as notable exceptions. According to Rotberg, the problem is that “African leaders and their followers largely believe that the people are there to serve their rulers, rather than the other way around.” Arthur A. Goldsmith, professor of management at the University of MassachusettsBoston, suggests that African leaders are not innately corrupt but are responding rationally to incentives created by their environment. He argues that high levels of risk encourage leaders to pursue short-term, economically destructive policies. In countries where leaders face less risk, there is less perceived political corruption.
• Issue 19. Are African-Led Peacekeeping Missions More Effective Than International Peacekeeping Efforts in Africa?
YES: David C. Gompert, from “For a Capability to Protect: Mass Killing, the African Union and NATO,” Survival (Spring 2006)
NO: Nsonurua J. Udombana, from “Still Playing Dice with Lives: Darfur and Security Council Resolution 1706,” Third World Quarterly (2007)
David C. Gompert, an adviser to Refugees International and a senior fellow at the RAND