You can learn everything you need to know about the main challenges facing Africa today by talking to just two people in Senegal: the rapper and the weatherman. They’ve never met, but I could imagine them doing an amazing duet one day — words and weather predictions — on the future of Africa.
The title of his column in “Out of Africa: Part III.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
Younger Me: 18th century European views of Africa and Africans are sticky. This means that occasionally, even educated sophisticates like Friedman (especially as they get older), can let slip horse manure like this.
Current Me: This is racism masquerading as stylistic hyperbole. For an uncomfortably high proportion of Americans — whether educated or not, in media houses or in the seminar room — Africa is a simple place with simple people facing simple problems that require simple solutions. Africa is just different in every dimension imaginable.
Very few of these people ever updated since reading Joseph Conrad.
In order to know about Africa’s future, you don’t need to talk to someone with a sophisticated understanding of the Senegalese economy (or for that matter, Africa’s other 53 economies). Just talk to the rapper and the weatherman. Or some dude in Kibera. Or a warlord somewhere in Eastern Congo. And then pepper your story with some quotes from WENA (Western Europe, North America, and the Antipodes) diplomats.
Think about it. At least two college-educated people at the New York Times looked at this and let it through.
Also, there is a way to have an intelligent conversation about climate change in Africa without always tying it to conflict and migration to Europe.
H/T Matina Stevis.