Christian Long

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Want to Help Africa? Do Business Here

In TED Talks on May 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Reflection by CAROLINE M.

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

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala:  Want to Help Africa?  Do Business Here

Ngozi Okonjo addresses the mindset of most under-informed Americans, and all other countries around the world. When we hear words like corruption, poverty, AIDS, and malaria our minds jump to the countries of Africa. We tend to refer to Africa as subordinate. We only know of the Africa with disease, poverty and corruption. We only hear of this Africa. Therefore we categorize Africa as a continent desperate for help and charity. Okonjo tries to inform us in this video that not only is Africa not as corrupt as we think, but in fact changing and improving constantly. With their current mindset they are hoping to re-inform ours.

It seems that for some time we’ve been so invested in helping the children on the commercials and fixing individual lives that we forget that Africa is not a country but a continent. We see the countries of Africa that are submerged in conflict and poverty, and we forget that there is opportunity and success existing in other countries. We hear about Sudan, and the genocide in Darfur, but what about the other 53 countries? Okonjo tells us that with certain political leaders now in charge there is a wave of change in action, and that these countries of success and reinvention are attempting to alter the worlds view of Africa as a whole. There is a will to reform rushing through the continent, and although certain countries have been involved in dictatorship, poverty, and a number of other issues, these countries are trying to turn the tables back around. The desire to improve the place they call home is existent and growing more and more each day.

It’s our job to help get these countries back on their feet.This is not our fight, although our assistance is appreciated. As Okonjo says, it’s not that the people aren’t grateful for our help and charity, they’re just tired of constantly being associated with charity. We can no longer just send shoes, we need to help them find and make shoes of their own and give them a pair for now. There’s a large difference between help and what we are doing today. Leaders of different countries want to get Africa back on its steady legs. What they don’t need is for other continents and countries sitting at home thinking how poor and under-privileged Africa is. Nigeria for example has truly begun to change their country. With their focus set on reforms in privatization and finance they are determined to achieve the highest form of success. Their greatest chance for improving is in jobs, and the establishment of them. With a steady income, those that need medicine can buy them themselves. They don’t need other people that have seen the two minutes commercials making us aware of this issue and that issue to help and buy the medicine and save children’s lives. If these people can get a job and a steady income imagine that possibilities. Not only can they buy this medicine but they can provide for their family in ways generous donors can not. They can supply a hearty education for their children. They can do it with the money from their job.

It’s time for the rest of the world to see Africa as a place of possibilities. Our view of this continent is no longer correct, and for Africa to have the ability to grow, we can no longer cater to it. Like a child, there’s a point in time where the parents have to let go. When the guardians can no longer help the youth through their problems, but instead have to set them free to learn and flourish on their own. Africa is having a rebirth, and it’s time to let go and watch them blossom.


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