rather alarming developments

I just read this article on the Economist website on the security situation in Southern Sudan. The piece reminded me of posts I made on this blog a while back about nomadic pastoralism and other supposedly “African” ways of life.

The strongly worded emails that I got over these two posts notwithstanding, I still stand by them. I think that it is time we woke up and faced the truth. Subsistence agriculture, nomadic pastoralism and the isolated rural life that characterizes most of Africa are inefficient at best and the real causes of African poverty at worst. Economic history shows that the percentage of a state’s population involved in agriculture is inversely proportional to per capita GDP. Forgive the cliche, but numbers don’t lie (at least not all the time).

Now I am not advocating for Soviet-style relocation of whole populations or anything close to that. But African governments ought to be cognizant of the above mentioned trend and so offer incentives to their nomadic communities to settle down (plus it easier to provide public goods to sedentary populations)  and encourage rural farmers to consolidate their production.

I say this with a firm belief in agriculture as a pillar of economic development. Again, the history books show us that agriculture, textiles and construction comprise the holy trinity of economic development. This was true for England during the Industrial Revolution in the mid 18th century and is still true today. Starving, unclothed and homeless people will not magically start thinking about how to land a man on Mars.

while countless Kenyans starve or face starvation….

The Daily Nation reports that Kenya has sent a 13 member delegation (Ory says they are as many as 30!) to make a five minute speech in Geneva. The delegation will attempt to defend the Kenyan government, whose police force stands accused of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals, most of them members of the banned (murderous) Mungiki sect.

It still baffles me how fully grown adults pull off  such stunts with a straight face. Signs of an overloading of the Geneva delegation emerged when ODM complained that the initial government delegation was not representative of the entire government since it only included ministers from PNU. The solution was to add new ministers from the ODM wing of government, but without chucking any of the initial members of the team. And all so they could fly to Geneva and witness one of their colleagues give a five minute speech defending the well documented extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals which took place under their watch.

Who are these people???