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University of San Francisco Theology of Africa Discussion

1)Colonization had a major impact on Africa. One of the lasting impacts is the industrialization of some countries and the introduction of capitalism to the continent. Do you think that capitalism has been a net positive or a net negative for Africa? On one hand, I can see it being a net negative because the colonization of Africa led to the exporting of raw materials and an increase in slavery. However, one could argue that capitalism was a net positive because it has allowed for rapid economic growth in some countries which has resulted in better educational and health outcomes. Furthermore, capitalism is often seen as having negative consequences for the environment. Many large countries like the U.S. have taken steps to mitigate the human footprint of climate change. Do you think it’s fair to stifle the economic development of underdeveloped countries with environmental restrictions when capitalism is what made countries like the United States places of economic prosperity?

2)I’m not sure that establishing capitalism and the free market in Africa would work to successfully improve conditions because they would need to accept international aid that ignores African cultural structures, environmental regulations, and create postcolonial imperialist structures. For example, IMF backed countries need to, “devalue currency to make exports cheaper, reduce deficits, eliminate subsidies, end import restrictions, privatize state-owned enterprises, and increase bank interest rates,” which destabilizes established governments in order to try to get trade deals with developed countries (p.87). There have been attempts to internally improve conditions in African countries, such as, Thomas Sankara rejecting international aid in favor of establishing his own systems, including extensive health and environmental policies, to improve the quality of life in Burkina Faso using socialist structures and ideology before his assassination in a coup. The new regime led by Blaise Compaoré reversed Sankara’s policies and accepted IMF assistance, which then led to a liberalized autocracy and stilted socio-economic improvements backed by the IMF and France, the country’s former colonizer. This raises the question: is capitalism good for Africa if it comes with post-imperialist control and de-stabilizing policies, or should developed countries and associations like the IMF and World Bank simply let Africa choose its own path, policies, and governing bodies?


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