Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

I remember talking in class about how many countries view Africa as this place that needs help because it is a “genocide inside a failed state, inside a dictatorship.” However, this view is completely wrong and in fact infuriates many Africans. One book that aims to showcase all that is positive with Africa is one by Robert Dowden titled, Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. His main motive is to correct the negative stereotypes many have about Africa.He believes that the media only covers the disasters that occur in Africa and none of the positives, creating this negative stereotype of Africa. He believes that “persistent images of starving children and men with guns have accumulated into our narrative of the continent,” and because of continuous reinforcement, a very hard stereotype to extinguish. No matter how much aid industries want to help Africa, they are in fact making the situation look even worse by playing off of the media and vice versa. The main belief that Dowden holds is that “aid agencies, Western celebrities, rock stars and politicians cannot save Africa. Only Africans can develop Africa. Outsiders can help, but only if they understand it, work with it.” He believes we can do other things rather than increasing the number of aid industries that will be more helpful. For example, if the West ends agricultural subsidies, this would benefit the many African farmers who have to compete. Specifically West African cotton farmers suffer severely from America’s cotton subsidies.


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