Poverty and politics in Africa

What an African Woman Thinks has these reflections on poverty and politics in Africa

Gallup conducted a survey across sub Saharan Africa between 2006 and early 2008 on hunger and nutrition. According to the findings, only 36% of Kenyans said they or their family members had never had to go without ‘enough to eat.’ . . .

. . . We’re in 2008, and 36 % of our people are still languishing at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. That’s as stinging an indictment on our claim to nationhood as I’ve come across lately.

And it takes me right to the doorstep of something I’ve come to understand only recently: you cannot build political stability on empty stomachs. No ifs no buts. It is as it is.

Which would explain why Africa is what it is today. . .

. . . The chaos in Kenya at the beginning of this year was catalysed by botched elections, yes, but at its heart was the deep grievance of those who felt that others were feasting at the table of a ‘growing economy’ while they held no hope of receiving even the crumbs from that table.

The xenophobic attacks in South Africa have the same genesis: . . .

. . . This is not a revelation to many, I know. But it’s hit home for me as never before this year. And it’s changing the way I read the headlines as they trickle in from around the world.

Sometimes when I’m busy making my judgments from my place of relative comfort, I stop and ask myself what I really know about quashed aspirations, about eking out a miserable living from bleak to day to bleaker day and about real hunger and what it can drive a person to do. . .

For more on that gallup survey, follow this link.

Click to read her full post.

17 thoughts on “Poverty and politics in Africa

  1. katch up says:

    Agreed. Poverty is a principal soource of upheavles in many countires and has always been.

    The violence in SA is a manifestation against long-time desperation, only triggered by ever rising cost of living. In all societies, foreigners are always the first to take the blame. Give SA 5 or 10 more years, and imagine it without foreigners over that time and tell me if we will still not count big-time paupers.

  2. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    Polical leadership and economic status of a country are mutually exclusive.Leadership is the driver of the aspiration of the people, its the leadership function that determines to what extend the people, resources and time are intergreted to achieve a desired end, yes, the common good.The political climate within a country is directly propostional to the coresponding economic pointers, for growth or decline – for in this contextual climate are encoded secrity, investors trust, the emaneting miasma of the future direction of a perticular governance…Give me a stable country and you shall reap prosperity, or give me torn political sailing and I will give you the Zimbwabwe economy.

  3. Ben says:

    Doesn’t your last statement almost contradict your first? I understand you are trying to draw a distinction, but your last point indicate that political stability is necessary for economic prosperity. Or is it that economic prosperity is necessary for political stability?

  4. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    The political climate of a country determines the ecomony of the country, indeed this can not be evaluated in vacuum, since other factors always comes in play.Take the case of Kenya, there were this times when its was being termed as the haven of peace but whatever the under current were, pronounced the final vadict of the country ‘s economy. This affirms that, it’s not what the leadership is proclaiming to be offering ,but, what it is in the reality. If it’s corrupt while hoodwinking the people, that everything is for their intrest, the end result is the best litmus: economic status will the best judge.

  5. Ben says:

    Okay. So you are simply drawing a distinction between the public face of political leadership and the true leadership realities. The exception to economics as a litmus test might be Tanzania, which by my understanding had quite a good government but misguided economic policies. Maybe it is a combination of poor economies and corrupt governments that leads to upheaval?

  6. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    In Tajudeen Abdula-Raheema is article: A Future Without Aid Possible, the UN deputy directure for millenium campaign didn’t diagonise the contribution of politics in regard to the chasm that is existing between the North hemisphere (developed countries) and the South Hemisphere(developing: poor countries). How can we set common goals in such clear stratified state?And the obvious question that need urgent adress is: Aid to who?To the political leaders? He quoted Mahtma, but, have we ever asked ourselves our we can surrender our greed.How we can do away with our greed.We usually go aroundthe bush in raising answers to our predicaments,but, we need to be bold and use terms we would cheerish to do away with: Selfishness – SIN. The problem of SIN is beyond our human solution.The solution to sin is external.Our part is to make a choise.And ourselfiness tells us, the other wise – that ecomic and political problems can not be answered by what the Word of God(Bible) says.Yes, but that is where it begins, that is where it ends.We need to be new creators(beings), with a new mind, a new attitude,that has been transformed to love our fellow human beings as we love ourselves – hence greed will not have a place; in its place generosty will the substite.

    As our leaders convine in Ghana their question should not be: what they expect from the people,but what they are. are they ready to live the basics of what they profess?

  7. Ben says:

    These are all good points. The greed issue applies at several different levels – from individual to corporate to governments. At another level, there needs to be wise policies.

  8. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    The greatest challenge we are facing, is that our needs are open, the options are many – formulating wise policies seem to be the greatest challenge, notwithstanding, that vast volumes of policies are gathering dust without ever seeing the light of implemantation. This calls us to raise more questins tha answers: are we comfortable when our neighbours are sleeping without a meal while we are damping tones of food stuff in the dust bin – isn’t this the concept of wanting policies our leaders are cheering?

  9. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    You’re so still, as the wheel of African economy is evolving… The AGOA meeting was here – I need to here your comment now than before. Food insecurity, energy crisis, environmental concerns (Mau Forest) that seems to be getting out of our hands,; which is the way forward? Let’s speak…

  10. Ben says:

    I’ve been leaving these kinds of discussions in hands of those who are better informed. (Many of them are linked to in my Links of the Day in the right; I like the op-eds in the newspapers too). At some point, it’s hard to say any more than we have already said…as long as politicians continue to be politicians–out for their own interests (on both sides of the ocean I may add)…what more is there to say? As long as we ALL tend to act in our own self interests…

    Feel free to add your comments or point us in directions you think will be helpful.

  11. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    True. At times – times like this, there is a temptation of letting things take their own course. But there exists the beauty of small things, unseen, unnoticed…, yes very ordinary things done in an exta ordinary manner. As a writer, a newspaper correspondent with The People Daily (feature writter) – I have came to hold a conviction of thinking big – but making my contibutions through a small, obvious way. Let’s keep on sharing… I’m learning from you.

  12. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    True. At times – times like this, there is a temptation of letting things take their own course. But there exists the beauty of small things, unseen, unnoticed…, yes very ordinary things done in an exta ordinary manner. As a writer, a newspaper correspondent with The People Daily (feature writer) – I have came to hold a conviction of thinking big – but making my contibutions through a small, obvious way. Let’s keep on sharing… I’m learning from you.

  13. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    Last week I attendend a 4 day confrence on sustainable water at Chiromo Campus,University of Nairobi; hosted by Pan Africa Chemistry Network. Sponsored by Syngeta and Royal Society of Chemistry, among others. The research findings on climate change, water, and poverty are a larming.

    Climate change for Africans is like beating a sick person. Know we need to champion,what? To live the findings – to do whatever we can; plant a tree, save a drop of water, drop wastes at the right place….

    Sharing gives hope – that we’re not a lone someone, some where is listening! You.

  14. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:

    http://www.eastandard.net/mag/mag.php?id=1143984485&catid=409 – [Cached Version]
    Published on: 4/9/2008 Last Visited: 4/17/2008

    By Robert Onsare

    A story is told of a man who aspired to change his society when he came of age.After graduating with a PhD in Change and Reformation from a prestigious university, he embarked on his dream.After a decade at the national level he failed to alter anything.

    Undeterred, he went a step lower and turned his focus to his tribe.Another decade later he had achieved nothing.With his indefatigable zeal for change, he retreated to his clan, now with an experienced enthusiasm.Here he bagged 30 years without realising an iota of change among his people.

    With resentment and age catching up with him, he resorted to change and reform his family.But his children were already grown ups and since old dogs do not learn new tricks, he hit another brick wall.

    The learned but worn out agent of change was now suffering from ailments related to age and frustration.But somehow he came to his senses.He was now confronted by stark naked truth that to start with, he needed change himself in order to offer change to the world!

    For Recruiters

  15. Robert Okemwa Onsare says:



    Give me a book.
    My fare you’ve paid,
    To visit places
    I might never reach.
    To interact with people,
    I might never meet.

    Give me a book:
    My mind to mold,
    To esteem myself true.
    Other people’s opinion endure,
    Others as they’re, appreciate.
    Value, care, love…
    Give me the right book.

    Give me a book.
    To unlock opportunities, possibilities
    Beyond my aspiration.

    Give me a book.
    To reach beneath and beyond
    Were my sight can’t behold,
    And my memory recollect not.

    Give me a book.
    To melt my empty moments,
    To turn life into a song
    And living a melody to stay.

  16. Ben says:

    You need to start your own blog. It’s very easy, and it’s free.

  17. I have fun with, lead to I found just what I used to be looking for.
    You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man.
    Have a great day. Bye

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