Christian Long

George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos

In TED Talks on May 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Reflection by ALEX E.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

George Ayittey:  Cheetahs vs. Hippos

This video hit the center of Africa’s problems and troubles.

His ‘Hippo’ generation, the small, wealthy ruling class, are the main reason to why Africa is in its current state. This ‘Hippo’ class are the ones that complain that Africa is suffering from the effects from colonialism. Africa is not a resource poor continent; it has large amounts of potential land and large deposits of minerals. But this wealth never goes to the African people, but is instead used to fill the coffers of the governments and to foreign countries. They always ask for money from the richer, more prosperous nations because they feel sorry for the Africans. This ‘begging bow’ leaks, most of the money goes to the government’s corruption and to other sources, but little goes to the African people. People believe Africa’s economic state would improve if we pour more money into the begging bowl and the modern sector of the economy. This is a waste of money, since Africa’s bowl leaks and doesn’t go to the people and the modern sector in the African economy has collapsed.

This is because the African traditional and informal sectors have little attention/care. Most of the African people are to be found in these traditional and informal sectors, but the money rarely goes in their direction. These areas include farming, traditional medicine and, as from the video, small businesses(the boat builder). About fifty years ago, Africa was not only able to feed itself, but also exported food around the world, but now has to import food to feed its expanding population. This happened because the farmers were never really taught the most efficient ways to farm and now Africa is suffering. The modern sector of healthcare has collapsed, but there is still the widely used traditional forms of medicine that has been neglected by modern people as unsophisticated. There is also the struggling informal sector, where we could find small business owners and labors. These three areas need help to get Africa’s economy going, then we could possible move on to develop the modern sector.

Africa’s economy is hindered by the ‘Hippo’ generation and needs to be replaced with the ‘cheetah’ generation to get the economy restored and return wealth to the African nations.

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