How European Mythology Relates to Africa and the Caribbean
Last week, I went out on a limb, praised Jamaica and then, in the same vein [to the dismay of my colleague Ryan Elcock] basically put the negative onus on Jamaica to ensure that the next 50 years are more fruitful than the past Post independence ones. Is it wrong to look at the cup as half empty for the progress made by Africa and the Caribbean? Probably. In fact, the Wolof of Senegal have a saying that goes: ‘It is better to walk than curse the road.’
Under the circumstances, it might make sense for us to be optimistic. The world is our oyster and Africa should be given an opportunity to do the good things it can in its own time and I do deserve criticism for being frivolous in my apparent obloquy. There is, in fact, an appropriate proverb for this from Ghana which says that although the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up.’ Simply put: We ought to give Africa and the Caribbean a chance to develop in the middle of this international economic order that might not necessarily seem like it favors people of color.
For his part, Mr. Elcock argues:
As Africa and the Caribbean continue to develop their own economies and bring prosperity to their people, there are sure to be hiccups along the way along with detractors [such as Dennis Matanda] who will point out all the issues these regions face. However, one must take into account that both Africa and the Caribbean were colonies of several European hegemonies, such as Britain, France and the Netherlands. Save, for Haiti [which] rebelled and fought against [the] French, most of Africa and the Caribbean only came into independence around the mid to late 1960’s thus making these countries [infants] compared to America, Canada, Britain and most of Europe and Asia.
There’s much to say about this argument – many counterfactuals, in fact. Nonetheless, credit needs to be given where credit is due. Jamaica is working as best as it can; and despite its 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s politics has moved way away from its dark times. Ghana’s post independence leaders have managed to strive for peace in political transitions; and Zambia is not doing too badly. Should we be worried about another outbreak of political unrest in Ethiopia with the death that country’s Prime Minister? Perhaps we ought to. Or maybe, we could argue that the Land of Sheba does not belong here since it was never colonized.
But if we are to truly see the gains that Africa and the Caribbean are starting to achieve, we must look at them through the lens of continued growth and also, a little Norse mythology. You see, Thor [God of the sky, thunder and fertility], his servant [a human called Thialfi] and his step brother and fellow god Loki [The sly, trickster of the Norse gods], sojourned together – and in the process of the pilgrimage, each received various onerous tasks. The hero of this story, Thor, is given three tasks – a test of strength; drinking; and wrestling. In condensing the story, Thor, that great god and son of the Odin, King of the Norse gods loses all these tasks in utter humiliation. However, we learn that the cards had been stacked against him from the very beginning. It turns out that Utgard Loki [different from the trickster] had used illusions to defeat Thor and his companions. In fact, Thialfi was truly the swiftest of all mortals, Loki is not truly vanquished by the all consuming fire and Thor truly was mightier than his wildest dreams.
What are we to learn from this very redacted tale? Well, there is actually much to embrace. First, it seems as though the decks are stacked against Africa and the Caribbean; burdens so great that it might seem as though we are not getting out from underneath them. Poverty and the different dire elements of macro economics are macro indeed. It may not take a miserable 50 to 70 years to solve.
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