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June 14, 2013

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The article points out something that's too often forgotten: crappy post-colonial leadership in Africa isn't separate from the colonial system. The single worst legacy of colonialism in Africa is that there just wasn't a big pool of potential leaders in most countries. African countries were essentially playing a leadership lottery; with so few people to pick from, you were more likely to both get a bad one and have nobody who could replace them. Idi Amin became head of the army because he was one of the only native officers Uganda had at independence; most countries probably have Idi Amins, but they don't get to be commander-in-chief.

That said, finding the "main cause" for problems in post-colonial Africa is like finding the main cause for the Scientific Revolution or why Ming China didn't dominate the world; anything is going to be an oversimplification. The article doesn't mention, for instance, that "Africanization" didn't always happen that fast; a lot of Francophone countries (like Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville)kept the old system intact for a decade or more.

And the comments on the article are fascinating...are they really that different from Americans commenting on why the American system is irredeemably corrupt/screwed/unfixable?

God, I hope you're not manic, because this is one hell of a spurt of free productivity for me to read. Be nice to see it continue...

Or in other words, this was a really great article I wouldn't have found otherwise, and I appreciate it. Applicable to many areas of the third world.

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