What Ayittey has right?
Ayittey has an unstoppable faith in the ability of African people. He uses indigenous African culture to build modern-day programs. He sees value in Africans and their natural skills. Often leaders take it as given that Africans must conform to some external standard.
Many of Ayitey’s critics say he should not criticize African leaders in forums of non-Africans. In reality, most people already hear about the problems of Africa outside of context and without any proposed solutions. Ayittey can talk about issues most people have already heard about and prove they are not proof of inherent flaws in the African people. He also shows individuals what they can do to help. Usually, economists portray Africa as a lost cause.
He is careful to not to talk about conspiracies by Western governments to prop up dictators and remove revolutionary leaders. He doesn’t explicitly explain why he does this. However, it is reasonable to assume he wants to concentrate on economic solutions. Talking about challenging to prove conspiracy theories will only alienate people not familiar with the struggles of Africa. His goal is to bring people together to create solutions to problems. Pointing the finger at clandestine government organizations will not change anything. In fact, the best way to expose or stop government plots against Africa would be to build a large grassroots voter base interested in the wellbeing of Africa. Once voters are paying close attention to the continent, the government will have to create mutually beneficial relationships with Africans. As it is now, few even pay attention to the continent so that the first world nations can act with no political consequences.
He also talks about the importance for Africans and American black people to call out injustice done by African leaders. Living in a world in which black people are often viewed stereotypically, causes blacks always to counter anything that could fuel a stereotype. Knowing we are unfairly judged causes black people to default to extending the benefit of the doubt when talking about our brothers. However, the development of our people requires critical analysis. The common retorts of “white people do that too” or “this was caused by slavery” only continues our stagnation.
Aiyttey’s criticisms of Africa are different than most black conservatives in that he is clear that issues are not proof of inherent flaws in black people and has viable solutions when speaking on a problem. He knows that pointing out issues could fuel racist stereotypes so he explains how the issue did not exist in pre-colonial Africa and how we can modify the environment to facilitate better behavior. He understands he nor his audience has a direct and immediate influence on government policies, so his solutions can be implemented on a grassroots level.
What Ayittey has wrong?
Ayittey overestimates the amount of agency African nations had in developing their political identity. Under colonialism, the Western powers had no incentive to integrate the native population into the economic structure. The Africans would always be reduced to servant roles or segregated into indigenous economies. If an African created a successful venture Western powers would destroy it, as they did with African enterprises in Western Cape. The Western powers had to be overthrown, to allow for Africans to control the resources in their countries and become part of the world economy.
The only way to get the modern weapons, military training, and money was to build an alliance with the USSR. Once the countries liberated themselves, they needed to integrate into the world economy. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the only way to do that was to be a capitalist economy or a socialist economy. Many of the western powers embargoed the emerging African countries because they did not want to see them free. To work with the USSR, they needed government systems similar to the USSR. The need to build a relationship with the USSR led to many socialist governments in Africa.
Soviet or Western economies would have isolated the African countries if they created brand new economic system incompatible with Western capitalism or Eastern socialism. The African countries owed the Soviets a war debt, so the Soviets had influence. These countries needed to be recognized by the world to have diplomatic relations. Ultimately, they had to align themselves with the Soviets.
Socialism in Africa failed as it did in Eastern Europe. So the system in itself was flawed, and its failure was not caused by it not being an indigenous system. The other system attempted on a large scale in Africa is the military dictatorship, and it fails as it has in South America. So there are systems that work and systems that do not. It is irrelevant where the economic or political system has its origin.
The need to integrate into a world economy leads people to doubt Ayittey’s indigenous economic plan. The indigenous economies did not have to receive foreign investment or sell minerals on a large scale to foreign governments. They also did not have to fund large-scale civil projects or fund public services. The number of solutions that can be garnered or developed from pre-colonial Africa is limited. Developing and adapting systems that have been proven to work in other countries is only logical.
When he describes African precolonial culture, he describes aspects that conform to capitalism. When African socialist describe precolonial culture, they illustrate the conditions that conform to socialism. In reality the culture and economy were not capitalist or socialist, it had elements that could develop into both systems, but the culture did not fit either definition of the time. It was, to use Gravesian terms a BO local, agricultural, economy.
Now Africa must conform to an ER/FS information based world economy. Isolation is not an option because the world needs Africa’s minerals and manpower. Since no other region is fighting the lasting effects of colonialism, slavery, civil war, and miseducation no one can frame Africa as a success or failure. In the same vein, no solution is un-African. Africa had elements of all philosophies and methodologies in its culture. All life comes from Africa, so nothing is foreign to her.
In Graham Linscott’s Uhuru and Renaissance the story of Zulu chief Dabulamanzi. Dabulamanzi was able to take weapons and clothes from slain British soldiers and outfit his army. Once his army was entirely equipped, they copied British tactics and attacked British strongholds. The enemy was amazed at the discipline and execution of maneuvers the Zulu saw only a few weeks earlier. As Dabulamanzi was not afraid to take on “foreign” battle tactics, the rest of us should not be afraid to use solutions that work from other places.
Where is Ayittey on the Spiral?
Ayittey’s work is centered on the Orange Meme. He functions as an economist, so he concentrates on the material uplift of Africa. However, his most recent book Defeating Dictators he can connect the struggles of Africa with other developing nations. The ability to connect the efforts of Africa to the rest of the world regardless of race is a Green Meme trait. However, the majority of his work is in the Orange Meme.
In Ayittey’s work, he supports both First and Second Order change depending on circumstance. He concentrates on “IT Space Solutions.”
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