Bono: Africa's best spokesperson?

If you're an African, you're probably not all that comfortable with a Euro-pop celebrity speaking on your continent's behalf. At least that's how Max Bankole Jarret feels.

From Reuters in the Vancouver Sun:

"For most Africans it's a turnoff when Geldof/Bono are used to present a range of African issues," Max Bankole Jarrett, a Liberian living in Ethiopia responded to one story last month.

"It perpetuates everything these guys claim to be speaking out against -- an Africa that is weak and incapable of picking itself up." Whether rich nations should focus less on aid and more on encouraging foreign investment in Africa is a hot topic for debate on the continent right now. And the leaders of the Western countries who must make policy decisions on how they treat the world's poorest people often meet with Geldof and Bono before they do. "Even though Geldof and Bono now talk about investment, they will always be associated with negative images of Africa and that discourages investors and tourists," says David Thomas, a Briton working on private sector development in Ethiopia. "Success stories from new African faces would better promote the continent." I meet these new faces that Thomas is talking about every day. As Africa's economies have grown, they have bred a new generation of educated businesspeople who are questioning whether the model of aid from the West is now helping at all.

It is perhaps no surprise to some readers that the elite media's favorite pop star, Bono -- the multimillionaire anti-poverty crusader -- is always trying to "fix" the continent with Eurocentric leftwing solutions. Surprising, though, is his lack of self-awareness.

Think. Is Bono Africa's best spokesperson? Outside the offices of the white-majority New York Times, I mean. In addition to unwisely praising Al Gore - who wants to turn Africa into a wildlife sanctuary - the clueless European pop star also worships failure, for some unfathomable reason. 

From Peter van Onselen of The Australian:

Lectures on poverty from Bono and other musically gifted white multi-millionaires don't add much value to the public policy debate.

Adding that:

More radically, some suggest aid should be stopped altogether to help Africans help themselves. Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo has written a book titled Dead Aid, putting her Oxford and Harvard postgraduate qualifications to good work. In it, she argues in favour of a five-year cap on aid, gradually phasing it out during that time.

As the thesis goes, traditional aid delivery in Africa fosters a culture of dependence and economic inactivity. In fairness to this rather harsh-sounding solution, Moyo is not opposed to aid delivery in crisis situations such as famines, natural disasters or the aftermath of war. Such assistance is rendered to developed nations by the international community and naturally should also be given to under-developed states.

Like Peter van Onselen, I support empowering Africa (and all continents) through democracies as opposed to sitting by and aiding unaccountable thugs. Besides, what's the alternative? More undemocratic non-representative rulers fuelled by unaccountable dollars, to impose their will on Africa's majority? Yes? No? Maybe?

Some simply say that democracy is a western concept. My typical response: What? Or: Huh? There are many forms of democracy. Besides, what works more effectively is what matters most. Eco-Socialism is also a western concept, but I never hear about that for some suspiciously political reason.

For the record, though, many democracies are built on Judeo-Christian principles, and the Bible, of course, stems from multiracial, multilingual and cross-generational contexts, stretching from Africa to Europe. Heavens, Moses married an African.  Pop stars are married to ignorance.

Thomas Lifson adds:

L.E. Ikenga has addressed the question of western leftist ideologies in Africa in her important essay, Obama, the African Colonial, as well as on other AT articles.

There is a growing body of literature on the futility and corruption of western aid in Africa. One of the best, most vivid and compelling books on the subject is Tropical Gangsters, by Robert Klitgaard.

Update from Cliff Thier:

But, it's nothing to do with "helping Africa." Or helping Africans. If it was then programs would be evaluated by measuring results. Programs that were failing to achieve their goals would be redesigned or ended.

What it is about is feeling good about oneself. Assuaging guilt for spending $30 or $40 or $80 dollars a head for dinner. Being one of the "good people."

Going to concerts with like-minded compassionate people. Holding hands. Singing songs. Tut-tutting the lack of American empathy for the poor. Especially the poor with dark skins. What's could make a person feel better than that?

If these good people really gave a malnourished Ethiopian rat's ass about the people in Africa they'd be screaming in President Obama's ear that it's time to tell the Sudanese Arab/Muslim government to stop slaughtering Black Africans by the tens and hundreds of thousands-or else we send cruise missiles flying at Sudanese military bases.

But helping other people isn't at all what this debate and these politics are about. It's about smug, self-centered, ego-driven neurotics and their needs.