Saturday, January 5, 2008

Less Diagnosis More Prescriptions

I've to agree with Shakara;

In short, Ayittey again and again states that Africa is poor because it’s ruled by kleptocratic dictators. It’s not exactly a dissenting opinion. The majority of the population anywhere in Africa agrees and the minority that doesn’t agree would about a past leader or someone they don’t have a (political, financial, ethnic) tie to. Yet, it’s not a new or interesting opinion either. Sure you can spend days discussing the Mobutu-Abacha-Mugabe-Idi Amin axis of evil or the Babangida-Bongo-Moi school of corrupt political trickery but how it won’t show you there’s a way out, let alone showing you the way out.

My problem with Ayittey is that he’s distracting. As a scholar, an economist, I somehow expect him to properly analyze problems and carefully propose solutions. Yet I don’t even see the beginning of an attempt. And no, motivational talks about the existence of “cheetahs” who are about to take on “hippos” have no other effect than to make a few geeks important about themselves. Likewise, pessimistic predictions about prospects for undescribed “reforms” that end up with suggesting a reduction of the political offer (you have to read it) are not a way to start finding solutions anymore than an eulogy that quickly mentions misguided policies but really focuses on corruption, democracy and corruption (did i mention corruption ?).

I think another way to think about it is that his main audience is western not African-- his talks are geared to the style of those of his main audience.

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