Edward Kissi,:

I offer other questions, some background history and some very modest advice in addition to Dr. Omolala's questions for the new President of the World Bank.

Is this Africa-focus thing a sweet-nothing or some serious change of attitude towards the Africa policymakers from Washington have kicked around since 1949?

Was it not a couple of weeks ago [ in 2005]  that we read on the Dialogue about a pessimistic and dismissive US intelligence report about Africa reminiscent of Friederich Hegel's opinions about the continent?

I am very very skeptical of Knights who promise to make the continent of Africa a Paradise Regained when they mount a new  horse in scarlet armor.

On 20 January 1949, President Harry Truman and his new administration in Washington made the "development" of Africa the centerpiece of what was called Truman's "Point Four" program.

The four points were:

1, pledging American support for international security through the UN [THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED YET]

2, promising American financial assistance to rebuild war-ravaged Europe [YES,  IT HAPPENED THROUGH THE MARSHALL PLAN BECAUSE EUROPE MATTERS TO POLICY WONKS IN WASHINGTON]


4, putting America's economic and technical resources at the forefront of a crusade against hunger and poverty in "economically under-developed" countries and continents [A-A-H-A! THIS IS YET TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THE COMMITMENT IS MORE IN THE RHETORIC THAN IN EVERYTHING ELSE].

  In 1949,  the Truman Administration wanted "democratization" or "spreading democracy" [as America defined and determined it] to be the condition for American assistance towards the development of Africa. As Truman put it, "only free men, freely governed can make the magic of science and technology work for the benefit of human beings." Thus, Truman's fourth point presumed that ONLY the American approach to nation-building provided the viable model for the development of under-developed societies.

I hope Wolfowitz's pledge to Africa, in 2005,  is not a revival of Truman's Point Four program and America's traditional pledges to Africa since 1949. The new Bank President would like to know that the Point Four approach to development in Africa never worked---according to the historical record. And W.W. Rostow's "modernization" approach did not work too. So a new cooperative framework of engagement may be needed.

The new President of the Bank might also want to review all the Bank's activities in Africa since 1960 and find out how and why all of them failed to accomplish the objectives set.

Finally, in his Presidential campaign speeches in the 1960s, J.F. Kennedy referred to Africa 479 times over a three month period to demonstrate his concern for Africa. Some analysts said at that time that Candidate Kennedy wanted to make Africa and not Asia or Europe the focus of US foreign policy. As President, J.F. Kennedy did not put Africa at the center-stage of American diplomatic priorities. In fact, in terms of funds, dedication, thought and concern, Africa sank to the bottom of  U.S. global policy.

Mr. Wolfowitz has long been a key architect of US foreign policy. I hope he has a different image of Africa and affection for the "over-developed"; "over-modernized" and "over-structured"  yet under-developed continent. As President of the World Bank, I wish him well. On the Bank's Africa policy, he should surround himseIf with a completely different breed of Africa-advisors in Washington. He should consult with, and listen to Africans on the African continent. They are in a better position to tell him what their needs are.

I  hope his pledges for Africa are sincere and may not follow the path of other pledges made before about Africa which dried up in the air a minute after they were made. All of us would be watching. The President of the Bank should make good on his commitment. Those commitments should not turn out to be like Truman's commitment to help Africa on condition that Africans marched lock and step behind everything Washington and the Bank dictated.