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Pretending to Be Dedicated to the Poor While Practicing Dedication to Self

Updated on April 11, 2020
Teresa Maru profile image

Teresa is a development enthusiast who believes in the potential and capacity of Africa to be an equal player with other continents

Development workers' understanding of Africa

Africa is a beautiful continent endowed with all kinds of natural resources and beautiful people, from Capetown to Cairo, or from Nairobi to Lagos. Africa is not a country as some people in the west, Asia and Americas believe. It is a continent made up of 54 independent countries with great similarities in some ways and diversity in other aspects. Most African students learn about the world continents and countries in school, and even though many of them may not have had an opportunity to travel, they generally know the world countries and their locations, and sometimes even the leaders of respective countries. The same cannot be said of Asian, American and European compatriots who may have no clue where Togo or Zambia is. whenever I travel in the West I'm asked where I come from and my answer of Malawi normally draws blank stares until I'm forced to rephrase the answer that Malawi is part of Southern Africa, then suddenly the faces brighten up! But while South Africa is a country, Southern Africa comprises several countries. In one conference in London many years ago I walked into an animated group being addressed by a male white colleague who had never been to any country in Africa but was lecturing his enthusiastic crowd on how African live in the open and drink cow urine as some form of medicine. Obviously I did not know which book or which stories he had been listening to because I have traveled several African countries and never witnessed what he was alleging. So it is no wonder that development workers from outside of Africa often arrive in Africa with a lot of misconceived truths about the countries of Africa and the people. Some of them arrive believing Africans know nothing, while others arrive with an aura of "i know it all attitude". This fallacy then becomes a weak start or foundation for development partnership.

So much work and little to show for it; who is to blame

It is true that most African countries are underdeveloped and riddled with poverty, and over the years many foreign and local partners have partnered with African governments to try and improve development, but even after many years little can be seen of such partnerships. There are probably many reasons why faster development has not been recorded despite various partnerships and help. While the African people themselves are to blame because of their low creativity and corruption, the partners and development workers must share the blame. In my view, corruption and selfish leadership are the top stumbling blocks for development in Africa. Botswana and Rwanda have clearly demonstrated that with selfless leadership, corruption can be minimized and development escalated. May be, only may be, the current COVID-19 crisis may help re-orient the thinking of African leaders. Just may be! Africans do have the capacity for selfishness and that is why it is may be. On the other hand the development partners or workers are partly to blame because many of them have ended up taking home more than 80% of investments in pay and allowances, while only a small portion is actually invested in African communities. To make it worse, sometimes the community investments are completely misaligned to the needs of the communities. For example there might be cases where communities have been trained in business, but at the end, that knowledge comes to nothing because they lack money to start businesses. The misalignment may also arise because of the inadequate understanding of the local situation by the development workers.

So what is the solution or is Africa doomed?

I passionately believe in Africa and its people. For one they such hard workers, but they need to stop focusing on the easy way out and focus more on creating and innovating. There is hope given some of the technology advancements recorded in the last few years for example the success of mobile banking.

Even though the development workers start out by wanting to touch the poor of Africa, their dedication usually result in self as evidenced by their wealth gain while the African communities remain the same or worse off after the projects are completed. I believe the challenge can be overcome by Africans taking responsibility for their lives, their continent, their resources and stop believing outside help is a panacea. Africans have to believe more in themselves and their capacities and support of each other or for one another. Our brother and sister helpers or partners must learn a little bit more about Africa before offering help, and such help should be with the people not for the people. The time for off the shelf interventions invented in the West is over, Africa needs fresh custom made solutions.

© 2020 Teresa Maru

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    • Teresa Maru profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Maru 

      10 months ago from Kenya

      Good summary! Asante

    • Teresa Maru profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Maru 

      10 months ago from Kenya

      Thank you

      Very true.Will contact you for that piece by Mallence

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      10 months ago from london

      Follow hubbers whose work you like, being attentive to leaving a comment on their Hubs, then they will reciprocate.

      What you are saying about Africa is very real. My spiritual mentor used to say that only God can help, and that we should instead serve, because humans are our brothers and sisters.

      What happens with helping is a subtle feeling of superiority; a greater or smarter than you idea, a feeling of pity rather than oneness. Ego is sometimes very strong in the very people who say that they are helping us. Good to chat with you, Teresa, Salaam!

    • Teresa Maru profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Maru 

      10 months ago from Kenya

      @manatita44 wow both comment and advise appreciated! Am bumbled see you are seasoned contributor so honored to get some tips, will drop you a line

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      10 months ago from london

      A brave and beautiful piece from an emerging sister. Gratitude.

      The root of all problems is ignorance, which takes many forms, the five essential ones being: greed, lust, anger, attachments/desires and ego. Of course there's fear, insecurity and a host of others which are essentially bye-products of the first five, especially name and fame.

      I would love to send you a piece by Mallence Bart-Williams (If you don't yet have it) You may find it useful.

      About your Hub, just make your paragraphs shorter, four or five lines. Easy to read for speed-readers and more user-friendly for hubbers, for readers and the Hubpages gods.

      Welcome here. Keep doing what you're doing. Much Love.

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