Future Lens

A renewed focus on African agency is central to Herbst and Mills predictions about the alternate futures that the continent of Africa faces. What is most interesting about the argument they have raised is the underlying issue that manages to tie together all of the hindrances that stagnate African growth. This underlying issue is a required revolution of culture, which is overlooked by the two authors, an embracement of new ideals, values, and ideologies that will allow the states to enact crucial systematic reforms. How else can democratic be embraced or women empowered if not for the fundamental concepts that accompany social reform towards liberalism? An important distinction of the culture is that the point is not that corruption and inefficiency are inherent in the African populace. It is that corruption, marginalization of population groups, ethnic conflict, etcetera have become more normalized facets of African society. Removing citizens from having to operate in these social systems can benefit states in the long run. Moreover, what this focus on African culture creates is a catch-22 styled complication for the next step for African states. In essence in order for African states to develop a middle class and the necessary economic infrastructure that guarantees long-term growth, a substantive culture or desire from the populace must be in place to allow for changes to be made. On the other hand, from a historical standpoint, the argument becomes that in order for African states to have a cultural change they must have the economic mobility that frees the lower classes to seek better policies from their government.

In specific response to today’s readings, the give & take scenario for Africa’s future appears to be the most plausible reality. The complexity and variance between African statehood suggest that a unified push amongst all nations has a relatively remote chance of succeeding. The completely opposite scenario, the maintenance of the status quo and lack of development, is equally unlikely for separate reasons. What the continental trend has shown is a mixture of strong and weak states that strive to focus on domestic improvement and seizing foreign opportunities. Taking into account that this reading originated from data in 2006, provides a different lens in which we process the scenarios because there is a full decade of knowledge that adds weight to the argument. In terms of Nigeria, South Africa, and other continental “powerhouses” there have been obviously marked improvements in terms of wealth, governance and potential interests.

Some additional comments include:

It is without a doubt that “first imagery” or who is the leader in any given nature is imperative to determining a countries future. Depending on who takes leadership and whether the character of said person can break the molds of action formed by their predecessor is instrumental to determining the future.

The first scenario, which is “Africa takes charge”, takes into account some of the external factors that remain out of Africa’s control. However, a thought to be further developed is how much of a unified Africa is in the interests of those abroad? The development of African statehood and even the ideology of Pan-Africanism can still pose a threat to foreign interest, and thus affect long-term improv

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