It was a few minutes after seven o’clock. The radio was on kiss fm – a popular local radio station – and the presenter (the very much likeable Caroline Mutoko) was talking about the envelope that Kofi Annan gave to Moreno Ocampo, the ICC chief prosecutor. The envelope supposedly has names of leading-light Kenyan politicians who organised the bloodshed that followed the botched 2007 presidential elections. We were discussing what this means for Kenya as my dad navigated the congested roads of Nairobi – the number of vehicles in this city keeps increasing but no one bothers to widen the roads. There are no lanes on most of them, and pedestrians – like the woman who almost got run over by my dad – do not care for the barely functional traffic lights and rare zebra crossings. Everyone plays games with the many traffic policemen stationed at junctions and roundabouts.
My dad had his sights ahead and to his left, trying hard not to be scratched by this very loud matatu that was trying to squeeze into the (imaginary) middle lane when all of a sudden some woman jumped into the road from the right. My dad instinctively hit the breaks, but it was too late. The front right tire hard caught the woman’s left shoe as she tried to jump back onto the pavement.
The craziest part of all this is how calm everyone involved was – including me. My dad reversed, the woman removed her shoe and then kept walking – like nothing had happened. I am convinced that Nairobian pedestrians are the toughest in the world.
A reader gave this link to a certain critique of Moyo’s “Dead Aid.” The criticism offered by this gentleman, although weighty in its own right, has not changed my admiration of Moyo’s work. The fact of the matter is that Africa needs to rid itself of dependency on well wishers from wherever on the globe.
Moyo’s book, because it is intended for general consumption, lacks the regressions and seminar-like proof that some of her critics are asking for. It does not take a statistical genius to realize that it was Western aid that propped the corrupt (and most probably mentally challenged) Bokassa.
And the simple argument that correlation does not imply causation does not fly either. It has been more than forty years of western aid to Africa without any meaningful development. Within the four decades, if there was something else other than aid that was retarding African development we should have discovered it. The fact that we have not means that aid might be the problem. And what Moyo proposes is a viable alternative.
And to be honest, the main reason why I am in full support of the Moyo way is not because I am sure that it would succeed. It is for the simple reason that it would give Africans agency in their lives. It would force African governments to govern their people humanely. And it would reduce African dependency on the rest of the world. Anyone who has taken time to observe Africans’ interaction with the rest of the world knows the enormous degree of self-doubt that Africans have. Grown men take off their hats to kids the ages of their grandchildren simply because they are not from the Continent. This much needed self-confidence will only be achieved when Africans truly take charge of their destiny. Moyo offers an option that might lead to this.