Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Adrenoceptor (adrenoreceptor; adrenergic receptor) to Ambient » Afropessimism - Depiction, African Rebirth, Impact, Explanations, A Middle Ground, Bibliography

Afropessimism - Explanations

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Two explanations have been put forth for the conditions that produced the phenomenon of Afropessimism. One is the apparent inability of postcolonial African leaders to practice good governance. Since the 1960s, when most countries in Africa south of the Sahara regained political independence from European colonialists, the standard of living in Africa has fallen below expectations. The achievement of political self-rule naturally came with raised expectations of the good life for Africans who had been subjected to exploitation and subjugation by colonial tyranny. In the exuberance of the freedom moment, the new indigenous leaders of Africa promised their fellow citizens a brighter future. However, by the 1980s, more than twenty years after independence, the African condition (especially for the masses) had fallen far below the continent's potential. For the most part, bad leadership was responsible for the disappointing performance. Independence ushered in an era of political instability, military dictatorships, and gross mismanagement of natural resources by very corrupt African leaders. By the 1980s all these conspired to drive down the standard of living in most African countries, forcing an otherwise resource-rich continent to become severely dependent on foreign aid and foreign debt.

Another school of thought locates the source of Africa's social and economic downfall on the international political environment. According to this school, Africa regained self-rule during the era of the Cold War, when the relationship between the countries in the Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union and countries of the Western bloc led by the United States was marked by a state of military competition and political tension. The rivalry stopped short of actual war between the two superpowers, but it forced Africa to become a surrogate terrain for the hot war between the two camps. In the process, African countries, most of them weak and dependent on the Western or Eastern ideological blocs, became little more than client states. Under this new dispensation, Africans lost the power to choose their own leaders. Africa's dependent dictators owed their offices to the economic and military support of Cold War powers. For the most part they put the interests of the foreign powers on which they were dependent ahead of their own national interests. This situation, which was as exploitative and impoverishing as colonialism, became known as neocolonialism and is blamed for the postcolonial impoverishment of Africans that fueled the fires of Afropessimism in the 1980s. Consequently, with the end of the Cold War, some Africanists came to believe that if the detrimental international conditions it imposed were ultimately reversed, then conditions in Africa would improve through good governance. Those who believe in this are known as Afro-optimists. Challenging the view that sub-Saharan Africa has only regressed since independence, they advance examples of postcolonial triumphs achieved by Africa's political leadership despite the prevailing problems identified by Afropessimists. They argue that the energy and perseverance of African peoples portend hope for the future of the continent.

Afropessimism - A Middle Ground [next] [back] Afropessimism - Impact

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