Africa / Environment

Money will not end Africa’s famine

There was a time in Africa when elders would “talk” to the drought and negotiate their way into receiving rainfall.   With their unique understanding of causation, elders would either sacrifice a black sheep or ask a virgin girl to bathe in a lake in order to draw the attention of the rain gods.  Would that they could do so now.

With an estimated 50 million Africans in dire need of food aid and an additional 120 million facing starvation if immediate measures to alleviate the situation are not taken, the general assumption has become that developing countries do not have what funds are necessary to increase food productivity.

Too little time has been invested in seeking to understand why Africa, with its vast farmlands and its brilliant and innovative sons and daughters, still goes hungry as the rest of the world battles with obesity. Computer experts are aware of malware, the “malicious software” that is designed to infiltrate a computer without the owners’ informed consent.  The general computer user is familiar with viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware among other programmes that cause harm to the operating system.

As we talk about famine in Africa, we should take a moment to evaluate the hostile and intrusive programmes operating in the background as food aid in particular and aid in general run in the foreground.  Ask yourself, for example, why a majority of Africans have changed their diets.  Kenyan nutritionists point out that we have ignored high value foods and replaced them with junk, sacrificing thousands of Africa’s domesticated and wild edible crops at the altar of modernity. Crops whose production should be scaled up by virtue of their ability to adapt to Africa’s climate have instead been framed as crops of poverty.

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