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Topic:   AFRICA MATTERS

Mutombo
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posted 09 March 2005 02:52         

AFRICA MATTERS !


References:
Catholic Encyclopedia
Michael Crichton, Congo, New York: Ballantine Books, 1980)
John Reader, Africa a biography of the continent” (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 1998; originally published in 1997 in London).
David Lamb, The Africans, New York: Random House, 1983).
George B.N. Ayittey, Africa in Chaos.
(New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999); pp.5-6.
Peter Schwab, Africa: A Continent Self-Destructs.
(New York: Palagrave, 2001); pp.54-55.


To better understand Africa, we first must overcome two fundamental myths, the climatological myth and the myth of African overpopulation.


The myth of bad African environment was well expressed by the British anthopologist John Reader, who despite his rejection of colonial scholarship, concluded his Biography of the African continent with the following myth:
If modern civilization and technological culture are judged to be the epitome of human achievement, then it is unlikely that the material way of life to which most of humanity currently aspires would have developed if those small bands of modern humans had not left Africa 100,000 years ago. All the accepted markers of civilization occurred first in non-African locales-metallurgy, agriculture, written language, the founding of cities. It has been estimated that about 1 million people inhabited Africa when the emigrants left the continent 100,000 years ago. By AD 200 numbers are said to have risen to 20 million - of whom more than half lived in North Africa and the Nile Valley, leaving a sub-Saharan population of under 10 million. By AD 1500 the population of the continent is estimated to have been 47 million in a state of “stable biological equilibrium.” Meanwhile, the out-of-Africa population had risen to just over 300 million. A massive disparity is evident. While the out-of-Africa population grew from just hundreds to 200 million in 100,000 years, and rose to just over 300 million by AD 1500, the African population increased from 1 million to no more than 20 million in 100,000 years, and rose to only 47 million by AD 1500. And the disparity persists to the present day, though both groups were descended from the same evolutionary stock. Both groups inherited the talents and physiological attributes that evolution had bestowed during the preceding 4 million years in Africa. Why did the migrant population grow so much faster? Or, to approach the disparity from another direction, what prevented the African population from achieving similar levels of growth? Since the ancestral genetic stock was identical, the divergent history of the two groups implies that Africa itself was in some way responsible.

Reader’s notion of the evolution of African population is quite curious, given that many studies conducted by the United Nations and many other scholars offer a far greater number.

As for Neo-Malthusianism, Patrick Chabal grasped its meaning in the following:

“The current Western perception of Africa is under the powerful spell of two generations of prophets. The first, vocal since the seventies, is essentially neo-Malthusian. Africa is doomed because its population growth is far outstripping its food production. Food production is sacrificed because of export needs but exports cover a decreasing proportion of import needs, including food. The second generation of prophets is gloomier yet. Into this scenario of doom it introduces the ecological dimension. African agricultures are suffering so much from man-made and natural ecological calamities that the prospect for self-sufficiency in food, let alone development, is virtually non-existent.”
Patrick Chabal, Power in Africa: An Essay in Political Interpretation.
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994); p.7.


I. WHAT AFRICA REALLY IS

Contrary to the dominant Eurocentric scholarship which presents Africa as the most dangerous place on earth, in reality Africa is one of the best regions in the whole world.
1. Africa is huge,
2. it is strategically well situated on the globe,
3. It has as a whole all kinds of climate, and most importantly while in Europe seasons are instable, with periods of longer nights and periods of longer days throughout the year, in most parts of Africa the sun rises at 6 am and sets down at 6 pm, thus giving people a more stable and well balanced life rhythm.
4. Africa is also the oldest and most stable land mass on Earth.
As a result Africa is extraordinarily rich in climate, natural resources, peoples, languages, history and cultures.


Misconceptions about African religion, African people and African thought start with the land itself. A trick of the mercator projection has often distorted the dimension of the continent adding more confusion to popular imagination where Africa is often perceived as a country rather than a large continent with various realities.

Covering nearly twelve million square miles (or 30 million km2) Africa is huge:
- it contains 22 % of the Earth's land surface,
- Second largest continent in the world (after Asia), it is about three times as large as Europe, five times as large as the United States, without Alaska (or four times the geographical size of the United States).

- Africa is so big that you can put the United States of America and the Australian continent into it and still have a bit of space left over. Africa is almost as large as North America and Europe combined. It is nearly twice the size of South America.
- A single African country such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is larger than France, Germany, England, Spain, Italy, and Japan combined!
- The drainage basin of the Congo River occupies one-tenth of the continent, nearly half the size of the continental United States: a million and a half square miles of silence, damp, dark forest. This primeval forest has stood unchanged and unchallenged for more than sixty million years!

Africa is the oldest and most stable landmass on Earth, and the evolutionary cradle of countless plant and animal species-including humans.

Africa represents a tremendous ecological potential for the whole world. It is a continent with immense untapped mineral wealth.

Africa has:
- “40 percent of the world’s potential hydroelectric power supply;
- the bulk of the world’s diamonds and chromium;
- 30 percent of the uranium in the non-communist world;
- 50 percent of the world’s gold;
- 90 percent of its cobalt;
- 50 percent of its phosphates;
- 40 percent of its platinum;
- 7.5 percent of its coal;
- 8 percent of its known petroleum reserves;
- 12 percent of its natural gas;
- 3 percent of its iron ore; a
- and millions upon millions of acres of untilled farmland. There is no other continent blessed with such abundance and diversity.”

Africa is the oldest and most stable landmass on Earth, and the evolutionary cradle of countless plant and animal species-including humans. Indeed, human beings have been in Africa probably longer than in any other part of the world. For perhaps two million years, or more (depending on how humanity is defined) people have been learning how to get the best out of African environments. Occupying a strategic position on the globe, Africa has an exceptional fecundity which explains why life developed first of all on that continent. While the Antarctica, for instance, measures 16 million square kilometres and offers almost nothing, Africa, on the other hand, straddles the Equator and offers a great deal. It extends from about 37° North to about 35° South, and has an altitudinal range from depressions that are below sea level to mountain peaks that exceed 5000 metres. As a result it has an incredible diversity of environments. It contains some of the driest deserts in the world, and yet has three of the world’s major rivers: the Nile, the Niger and the Congo. Some of the hottest places on earth are in Africa, and yet there are glaciers on its highest mountains. There are steaming rainforests and dry savanna grasslands, low-lying river valleys and high plateaus, extensive deserts and gigantic lakes, mangrove coasts and surf-pounded beaches.

African rivers have a unique form of power because their water flows to the oceans from sources situated at a very high altitude. Thus two main reasons explain the power of African rivers: abundant equatorial rain, and the high altitude of the African soil.

- Indeed Africa rests on a rocky foundation, which forms an immense plateau in the interior, whence, in isolated masses, branch off ranges like the Atlas, the mountains of Abyssinia, Cape Colony, the Orange River Colony, the Transvaal, the Kenya, Kilima-Njaro, the Mfumbiro, and the Kameruns. It is there that are found, more than anywhere else, vast lakes of uncertain outlines; long rivers whose branches cover millions of square miles, solemn forests and the endless desert, vast and well suited to the peculiar nature of great plants, and huge mountains, such as Kilima-Njaro, Kenya, etc., which rise suddenly from the level surface of great plains; These mountains, which attain in some places a height of 20,000 feet, have the appearance of islets, where rise in stages belts of a wonderfully varied vegetation. This plateau is bounded by a coast depression, whence the land sinks gradually. On the Equator the rains are frequent and torrential; at Gaboon, for instance, it rains every day for nine months. Thus an enormous quantity of water is gathered in aerial seas by the winds, which, meeting, neutralize each other. This water, drawn down by the daily thunder-storms, forms the vast reservoirs of the interior: the lakes of Timbuctu, Tchad, Victoria, Albert, Tanganyika, Bangweolo, Mweru, Nyassa, and others, whence flow the principal rivers: the Niger, the Benue, the Congo, the Zambesi, and the Nile, and others, less known, but of considerable importance. Most of them flow to the sea over rocky beds, forming rapids and waterfalls.
- These rivers have their sources at a much greater altitude than the rivers of other continents.
- The source of the Congo is at a height of 6,000 feet;
- of the Nile at 4,500;
- and of the Niger at 3,000;
- while that of the Amazon is not more than 700 feet, and the Mississippi only about 2,000 feet.
- The Nile is the longest river of the world (with 6,695 kilometres from source to estuary); both the Congo and the Niger rivers are more than 4,000 kilometres long and the Congo alone drains a basin covering 3.7 million square kilometres, which is larger than all of India (3.2 million square kilometres); on the world scale, only the Amazon basin is larger-7.04 square kilometers. The drainage basin of the Congo River occupies one-tenth of the continent, nearly half the size of the continental United States: a million and a half square miles of damp, dark forest. This primeval forest has stood unchanged and unchallenged for more than sixty million years! Africa’s deserts occupy 40 per cent of the continent and the rain forests account for almost 8 per cent of the landmass.


The first advantage is that Africa is not at all overpopulated, despite the contrary claim spread by the scholarly propaganda of colonialist nations that dominate African people and exploit African natural resources.

Though Africa contains 22 percent of the Earth's land surface, African population is the smallest of all the continents. Africa is much less densely populated, with less than one-quarter of the population of the other regions. Indeed, there are more people living in India (with one-tenth the land area, 3 million km2) than in all of Africa (30 million km2).