Monday, December 13, 2010

African Incompetence: Part 2

In part 1. I discussed why it was a bad idea to approach the discourse of African incompetence either by dismissing it as merely racist or by affirming it as self-evidently true. Here I will list series of other positions that one could conceivably hold that I think are not too extreme in either direction, though I don't necessarily endorse them myself. I'll go from positions that are most sympathetic to the discourse to those that are most hostile to it.

-African incompetence is real and pervasive although it has nothing to do with any inherent or unchangeable characteristic of Africans themselves. Drastic attitudinal change, however, is required of Africans if they want to escape their incompetence.

-African incompetence is real but not particularly pervasive and is due primarily to a lack of economic and educational opportunities rather than the pervasive existence of "backward" attitudes amongst African.

-African incompetence is more apparent than real. The discourse is a popular one only because those who espouse it are incapable of recognizing the difference between incompetence and preference. Africans often have alternative ways of accomplishing goals, or simply alternative goals, that outsiders are not sufficiently aware of.

-African incompetence is a myth without any empirical foundation. Any unbiased review of services, whether performed by governments or private entities, in African nations would show that they are provided with equal competence to those provided in Western and Asian nations.

These four positions are not necessarily mutually exclusive but do exist on a sort of continuum. I suspect that most people could place themselves somewhere on it without too much problem. If you think there is another position that I have not covered, leave it in the comments.