Perhaps after experiencing a Bill Easterly moment, a friend of mine (grad student here at Stanford) had this on his facebook wall:
“Hello, my name is Mr. Development Man. I know Africa so much!! I went there one summer and stayed with an NGO. I talked to my servant cook who served me food, so I know African workers. I read a few books written by white Americans about Africa, and remembered their big words. So I know African ideology. African prostitutes talked to me at my hotel poolside, so I know about relationships in Africa. I took pictures of kids at the orphanage, so I know how Africans suffer.
My conclusions: Africans are corrupt. The place is poor because of poor policies. And my knowledge can help them. If they just listened to my smart American knowledge — obtained from the 2 months at the NGO, my white man books, my prostitutes, my few words with my servant cook — they would develop!! Why don’t they listen to me?? I can help them…Stubborn, corrupt African politicians…
Signed, Mr. Development Man. Remember, I am here to help you Africa!!”
I have a sense that Mr. Development Man’s note is directed at both development practitioners and academics alike. Let us all take heed.
Chad, who is into short stories and is also a late night radio DJ, wrote this Letter to Mr development man on the dynamics of the love-hate relationship between donors and aid recipients.