Africa: The Bogey of Over-population

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Africa: The Bogey of Over-population

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AFRICA: The bogey of over-population

by Femi Akomolafe

“From birth, black people are told a set of lies about themselves. We are told that we are lazy – yet I drive through the Delta area of Mississippi and watch black people picking cotton in the hot sun for fourteen hours. We are told, if you work hard, you’ll succeed – but if that were true, black people would own this country. We are oppressed because we are black – not because we are ignorant, not because we are lazy, not because we are stupid (and got good rhythm), but because we’re black.’ – Maulana Ron Karenga, quoted in ‘Black and White Power Subreption’, by Joseph R. Washington, Jr. Beacon Press, Boston, 1971. pp.71-72.

Moreover, all the structural handicaps that are supposed to hold back Africa have been present in most of today’s rich countries – poor climate (artic and tropical). Landlockedness, abundant natural resources, ethnic divisions, poor institutions and bad culture. These structural conditions seem to act as impediments to development in Africa only because its countries do not yet have the necessary technologies, institutions and organizational skills to deal with their adverse consequences. The real cause of African stagnation in the last three decades is free-market policies that the continent has been compelled to implement during the period. Unlike history or geography, policies can be changed. Africa is not destined for underdevelopment.” – Professor Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t tell you about Capitalism, p. 112-113

Eldridge Cleaver once said that Americans see themselves as a huge rescue squad on permanent call to step in anywhere in the world. Brother Eldridge was only half right.

I do not think that this is an American ailment, it’s a disease that afflicts the whole Western world. Westerners believed it their ‘manifest-destiny’ to interfere in other society’s affairs, whether or not their ‘help’ is needed.

Blinded by their racial prejudice, they believe that they, alone, have answers to the world’s problems. Talk about natural conservation, they are at the forefront – even when their industrial science has done much to damage earth’s ecology, and their fracking technologies is inducing earthquakes all over the place. Talk about women’s right, they shout the loudest – even when in their societies, women are treated as mere objects, where not even a bottle of water is sold without showing a woman’s breast. Talk about human rights, they do the most denunciation – even when in their own societies, minorities are being singed daily by neo-Nazis, right-wingers or whatever have you.

Frantz Fanon told us how Europeans say that they are concerned with the rights of man, but that it is man that Europe has devoured wherever they went. Fanon was right.

The result of European intervention is that disasters are created where they did not exist, or compounded where they do. We know what mess they have created in Iraq and Libya, where they went to fight for democracy and human rights.

It looks like every European is an expert when it comes to diagnosing African problem. In one breath, we are told, Africa’s biggest problem is bad government. When we asked how Italy managed to overtake Britain economically despite her bad governments, they shifted gear. No, we are told again, it is corruption. When we questioned why corruption did not stop Japan or China or Korea from becoming economic super-powers, they blinked and said: ‘hold on, it is absence of market forces and lack of democratic institutions.’ When we ask them why the Asians (Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, China, etc.) were not hindered by the lack of ‘democratic institutions.’ They blinked once more, scratch their heads and replied. ‘No, it is over-population and the absence of birth-control.’

Do you need tell these ‘specialists’ that both India and China have population far bigger than Africa?

It would be barely acceptable, if these things are just discussed and talked about in normal academic circles. That, however, was not the Westerners intention. THEY MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Blinded by racial arrogance which makes them believe that Africans are incapable of doing anything for themselves. They will apply for and be given grants to go and impose their demented ‘solutions’ to these ‘problems.’ They will get the BBC, the TIME magazine, the CNN and other western media involved. The United (sic) Nations must call a conference whose agenda is dictated by the Western nations.

In no time, local issues, in Africa, will suddenly become a big, global event. It would be transformed into huge media circus to be put daily on the television. Bill Clinton must give press conferences to address it, so must other leaders of the Western world. They will dragoon their minions in Africa like Kofi Annan and that diminutive priest, Bishop Tutu, to join their silly bandwagon. There will be marches and rallies. It will be bannered on headlines. Whether it has to do with African elephants, or the African rain forests, the self-conceit of Europeans is boundless and it drives them into imposing their values on other people, who neither needed nor desired them. Where pleading, bribery and arm-twisting failed to do the trick, they will impose sanctions and, of course, they can always send NATO. Although, in most instances, the results of these interventions, have not be pleasant, that hasn’t stop the bleeding hearts of Europe from moving elsewhere. There are still enough places on earth waiting to be depraved by the West; the bleeding-hearts will be employed for long time to come.

Some years ago, the apostles of SAP descended on Africa. The continent will become a paradise if Africa nations will entrust their economic future to the ‘experts’ from the IMF and the sadly-misnamed World Bank. A lot of African countries ceded their sovereign rights to these neo-colonial agencies. Two decades or so later, the continent is going through its roughest patch yet. As soon as Africans fulfill one conditionality, another is imposed. The Euro-Americans keep changing the rules. Their promised ‘aid’ and ‘investments’ that will transform our economies are yet to materialise. By one estimate, Africa remitted in excess of US$100 billion annually to those who claim to be aiding us! In the meantime, Euro-Americans keep destabilising the continent, overtly and covertly.

We have moved from lack of democracy to lack of market forces to lack of structural adjustments, we’re now on the population train. When it becomes a demonstratable fact, that Western economic policies, imposed on Africa via the IMF and the World Bank have become a huge fiasco, another reason must be adduce which exculpate Euro-Americans from the present wretchedness of Africa. Over-Population become the swan song.

The only charitable thing we can say about those who maintain that Africa is over-populated, is that they do not know what they are talking about.

We can put continental U.S.A., India, Japan, China, New Zealand and the whole of Europe within continental Africa (minus the Islands), and you’ll still have a lot of space to spare. India’s population alone is larger than that of Africa, yet foul-mouthed apostles of racicide are telling us that Africa is overpopulated.

Those who maintain that Africa is over populated are those who wished Africans to just disappear from the face of the earth. They are talking neither geography nor demography nor science nor sense. Those arguments are motivated by nothing but crass racism.

If the proponents are sincere, why is the same argument not use in the context of Europe? Sudan with about 1.9 million Square kilometer of landmass is populated by only 39 million people, while about 65 million British crammed themselves into an island of about 243,610 KM. Congo’s massive 2.344 million KM of land is populated by about 68 million people, while about 66 million Frenchmen squeezed themselves into a third of that size. Somali’s 14 million people has an area mass of over 637 thousand KM, while 16 million or so Dutch people in Holland squeezed themselves into about 43 thousand KM. Who is overpopulated now?

The West which consume and squander inordinate amount of the world’s resources, most of which are produced in the poor countries, does not see itself as responsible for some of the world’s serious problems. Everything must be blame on Africa. Instead of admitting that it’s the West’s greediness and gluttonous appetite, that’s causing much of the Worlds’ hunger, the blame is being shifted to the hapless Africans.

The thesis that Africa’s underdevelopment is caused by over-population, is simply untenable, and they are intellectually indefensible. The facts are simply not there. It is simply motivated by racism.

According to the United Nations MONTHLY BULLETIN OF STATISTICS (1990 issues), Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique, the three African countries most affected by famine and starvation, has 38, 12 and 20 inhabitants per square kilometers respectively. This contrast sharply with 363 for The Netherlands, 324 for Belgium, and 234 for the United Kingdom. Germany has a population density of 219 inhabitants per square kilometer. Ghana, which has about the same size as the United Kingdom, is inhabited by about fourth the population of the latter. This, however, does not stop Western commentators from telling us that Africa is overpopulated.

Let’s call a spade by its proper name; let’s face facts, however unpalatable. Rather than face reality, and admit that Western-inspired policies foisted on Africa is causing Capital flight; run-away inflation; great economic dislocations; social and political instability; currency devaluation to the point of inutility; withdrawal of subsidy on education and health; the sacking of workers without compensation; poor prices for Africa’s primary products; heavy loan burden; arms-sales and military interventions ;migration of expensively-trained technocrats – measures, which are inflicting great assault on Africa, so-called Western-experts are bemoaning the bogey of over-population.

The saddest thing is that only a few of African leaders seems to be aware of the REAL cause of most of their problems.

Those who decry our persistent criticism of the West should tell me what they think qualifies the West to give lectures. Some wrote to ask why I don’t criticise the Asians. Why should I? I got no ax to grind with Asians, a people who are doing their level best to solve THEIR OWN PROBLEMS. I would like Africans to start solving theirs, I am sure we could if we are left alone. We could redeem ourselves if we are not saddled by all the handicaps Euro-Americans are throwing in our way.

How could we grow when from infancy we have Europeans breathing down our neck until we go to our graves. European missionaries are there to baptise us; European ‘experts’ are always there to ‘advise’ us.

Let the European busy-bodies come back to their continent and try to solve THEIR own problems of joblessness, homelessness, hopelesness, copelessness, drug-abuse, child-abuse, and social-disintegration.

Country Size
China 3,705,387 sq. mi.
U.S.A 3,615,10
India 1,269,338*
Europe 1,906,176
Argentina 1.068,296
New Zealand 103,736
Total 11,668,035 sq. mi.

Africa is 11,706,166 sq. mi.

* India’s population alone is said to be bigger than that of Africa.

Ethiopia 102,403,196 1,104,300
Somalia 14,317,996 637,657
Sudan 39,578,828 1,886,068
Mozambique 28,829,476 801,590
Angola 25,789,024 1,246,700
Ghana 27,043,093 238,535
Burkina Faso 17,322,796 274,200
Kenya 48,655,760 581,309
Zimbabwe 16,150,362 390,757
France 66,991,000 640,679
Germany 82,175,700 357,168
UK 65,648,000 243,610
The Netherlands 17,164,800 41, 543
Switzerland 8,401,120 41,285
Belgium 11,303,528 30,528
Italy 60,589,445 301,338


Do those that called for population control in Africa have these figures?




Actually, our problem is not with the Western nations, but with African leaders who, with child-like helplessness, continue to look up to Euro-America for leadership and guidance. They can do a lot more for their people by forming alliances among themselves to solve their common problems.

Euro-Americans are just pursuing their own interests, and these are diametrically opposed to ours. It is time we start to look after our own interests. We have paid too much attention to Euro-America.

How do we drum this into the heads of our rulers in Africa? Solution anyone?


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the Man and Machine Coordinator at Alaye Dot Biz Limited, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

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