Without a doubt, Africa is a dysfunctional continent. War, poverty, disease, corruption, and immorality abound. For decades the countries of the West, through their governments, private charities, and churches have poured billions of dollars into Africa preventing starvation but doing nothing to lessen the litany of dysfunction.
Kevin Myers, writing in the Irish Independent, shares this frustration. His proposed solution to the issue, unfortunately, is as barbaric as the system he seeks to dispatch. He advocates for the West to turn its back on Africa. Let them starve, let malaria kill them, and let them kill each other. All this in the hope that the corrupt systems will fix themselves.
Indeed, we now have almost an entire continent of sexually hyperactive indigents, with tens of millions of people who only survive because of help from the outside world.
This dependency has not stimulated political prudence or commonsense. Indeed, voodoo idiocy seems to be in the ascendant, with the next president of South Africa being a firm believer in the efficacy of a little tap water on the post-coital penis as a sure preventative against infection. Needless to say, poverty, hunger and societal meltdown have not prevented idiotic wars involving Tigre, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea etcetera.
So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?
How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.
For self-serving generosity has been one of the curses of Africa. It has sustained political systems which would otherwise have collapsed.
It prolonged the Eritrean-Ethiopian war by nearly a decade. It is inspiring Bill Gates’ programme to rid the continent of malaria, when, in the almost complete absence of personal self-discipline, that disease is one of the most efficacious forms of population-control now operating.
In former times, the West believed in its own God-given mission to bring civilization to the “savages.” While the abuses of colonialism are etched in our minds, the other things it brought are hazily remembered. The West used to believe it could bring civilization to the uncivilized. This meant much more than food. It brought government, it brought education, it brought technology, it brought culture, and most importantly it often brought Christ, His Church, and His sacraments.
Since the West has largely renounced Christ, we no longer see our culture — our civilization — as having anything to offer to the rest of the world other than money. But money has not and cannot fix the problems in Africa. So is the West now — weary in its largess — disposed to let millions die speculating that the cancer that now runs rampant will also eventually be the cure? I pray no.
We must continue to feed the hungry, for as we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Christ. But we must also rediscover what else we have to offer besides money. We must rediscover Christ and His culture. His civilization. Then we can once again provide real hope and real change.
If we in our frustration cut off the only thing that we mistakenly believe is all we have to offer, money, then we will have become the most uncivilized of savages. Then perhaps one day in His mercy, Christ will send Christian Africans to bring civilization to us.