Monday, January 31, 2005

It's About The People

You might have noticed by now that there haven't been any overwhelming vistas or amazing buildings or evidence of ancient civilizations. And the only wild animal I've seen so far is a squirrel. So why go to West Africa other than because it's there?

Well, that's always been a good enough reason for me. But here's another one that folks come up with: It's because of the people.

That is, they're not what you expect them to be. They're hard working, honest, pretty sober, extremely pacific, and they carry their poverty with about as much dignity as humanly possible. And by and large they're really, really nice.

I mean, really, really nice.

It's not their fault that they've been left out of the globalization loop; Or that the economic fantasy of comparative advantage doesn't really apply here. Or that we project our racist fantasies of shiftlessness, etc., upon them.

They're trying to make their way on a continent that, next to Australia, has the crappiest land in the world. They're saddled with absurd boundaries, no infrastructure ever, and a government structure not even haphazardly thrown together about 40 years ago.

Really, somebody should cut these guys a break.

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