I’ve had the opportunities throughout my life to travel extensively writes Dean Morris.
I’ve traveled to 24 countries on 5 continents (not South America and not Antarctica), with notably several equatorial African countries in the mix. I have a model that anthropomorphises the different regions and my take is as follows:
North America: rich old white men living on borrowed money;
Europe: much the same. Europe will be undone by the cranky folk in the MidEast finding their way there.
Oceania (Aus, NZ): younger people in the prime of their earning capacity, hamstrung by red tape. ‘Shit works’ is the phrase you hear about these places. Until it doesn’t with the people having become very reliant on ‘shit working’.
Asia: growing into their own; opportunities abound, but culture and language is very different from our own.
Middle East: cranky folks with faulty beliefs, standing on their wealth; they won’t survive once their source of wealth evaporates.
South America: cannot comment as not been there. My suspicions are a Latino Africa.
Africa: is the spotty teenager with daddy issues (i.e. colonialism). Once Africa gets past its daddy issues, it will be the land of opportunity. Kenya and Ghana offer great examples of what Africa could be; both are great places and strongly identify that Africa will never look like Europe or the US.
Africa is its own unique place, and it varies very greatly, but by and large, it does have one advantage over most of the rest of the world: things get done by working around red tape. Opportunities exist because of the absence of bureaucracy and people have to make their own plan.
I have a British passport and because of my field of expertise, the choice of living in almost any country; I choose South Africa because this is my home and I choose Africa for my children because this is where the future opportunities lie.
South Africa is not Africa; for an understanding of the possibilities and charm that is Africa, I’d suggest visiting the likes of Kenya. Cameroon is the most charming of countries and Ghana is just so very awesome.
And the most noticeable aspect of the African countries I’ve visited? Racism is non-existent. Kenya has a very similar past to South Africa, but some 30 years earlier. Yes, there were passbooks and very similar race ideologies to what we’ve had here. Today, Kenya doesn’t care for your race; it only cares that you can do the job. That is a future headed our way in S. Africa.
When I encounter the race rhetoric I counter with “I’ve seen black people do some really smart things and I’ve seen white people do incredibly stupid things.” I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the smartest engineers on the planet; people who recite arcane concepts, leaving you wondering (and occasionally out loud) “How the f&*k do you know that?”. And yet, the smartest engineer I’ve worked with was a black woman in Cameroon; a local Cameroonian to whom I never had to repeat a single concept, and based on her questions thereafter, had a full understanding of the points of discussion.
So, yes, given a chance, Africa will surprise you. Stop wanting it to be first world, because with the dark clouds of climate change and over-industrialization of the world, is that what you really want?
You have to be tough, individualistic in your thinking, community-minded in your spirit and self-reliant in your doing. If that isn’t you, please change or leave.
By Dean Morris