External and internal dynamics are crucial to Africa's problems, conclude two scholars who return to Ayittey's thesis:
Kwabena Gyasi, Global Systems, Inc Orlando, Florida
This is perhaps Mr. Ayittey's most spirited and most convincing argument to date over his sometimes controversial stance on the causes of Africa's problems. There is no doubt the economist's analysis is correct and worthy.
The problem with his position, however, has been an either-or premise which has precluded the possibilities of other root causes in the diagnoses of the problems of the Continent.
The problem with Africa is both structural and non-structural. The structural includes the legacy of colonialism and Africa's historical trading arrangements with the rest of the world. This fact is well acknowledged and documented by well-respected writers like Alvin Toffler. To deny that is to gloss over the realities of well-calculated and effectively implemented hegemonstic strategies of Western expansionism and control. Neo-colonialism is not a chart-busting title to a blues song Nkrumah and his brethren of astute commentators made up on Africa's relationship with the rest of the world. It, indeed, is a sober reflection of the crippling attitude of the West to Africa (and the third world) that the most level-headed scholarship will acknowledge.
In the end, however, that does not excuse the gross incompetence and avarice of the bandits that pass for leaders in Africa. In fact, looking at the figures presented by Mr. Ayittey, our leaders have been our own worst enemy in recent times.
In order to bring a change that fully rids the Continent of its woes, Mr. Ayittey and his antagonists are going to have to come to terms and understand that the problems of Africa cannot be neatly compartmentatlized into the either-or paradigms that they so energetically seek to champion. The apparatus that overthrew Nkrumah and Lummumba was not inspired by a genuine revolution from the grassroots but from a meddlesome and subversive CIA that at the time had only one purpose in Africa: to hold the communists in check and keep Africa in its place as well. That, without gainsaying, eventually inspired much of the tradtions of coup-making and military mis-adventurisms in the evolving democratic experiments that post-Independence Africa was at the time seeking to put in place. The apparatus that ensured that millions of American tax dollars, as well as the coffers of his countrymen, flowed to his Swiss bank accounts was not progressive African leaders but, again, the hegemonistic instruments of American foriegn policy. Equally true is the fact that four billion dollars stashed away by Abacha was facilitated by a greedy and murderous cabal that was indigenously African.
Hopefully, our energies will be focused in finding comprehensive solutions instead of tearing each other down like it is witnessed in African intellectual fora such as this.
M. Fyle, Ohio State
I would support the wide-ranging efforts to address both Ayitey's and other comments. The point is well taken that we should be forthright in discussing ideas about solutions, but not, in my impression, with minimizing the role of these external factors. We sometimes talk as if when we pronounce these good ideas, we intellectuals would have solved the problems. Far from the reality. For implementation we would need the folks back in Africa, the African urban middle class, whose ONLY perception about our problems is that we are solely responsible; that our cultures have nothing to do with that glorious thing called "development". This pattern of thinking affects the way they think, or will think about our proposed solutions, and what they will do about implementing them. They need to know, too, that there have been, still are, forces that are powerful and determined enough to thwart whatever designs we come up with. Knowing this helps to counter such forces. So the education about the past MUST continue!