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The Importance of Africa

Much of Africa is little known and misunderstood. Most outsiders only know Africa as a dark continent, a jungle, a wildlife park. They generally see Africa as a negative place; a basket case; an area of war, disease, famine, ignorance, debt, corruption, mismanagement and dictatorship. If people understood Africa better, they would be more likely to treat Africa and Africans better.
Africa may be the poorest, least developed, most exploited, worst suffering area on earth. But it is also a barometer of world economic justice. Until Africa is prosperous, the world as a whole cannot be prosperous. Living in the US, you get the impression that the world's big problems are the US and European economy and military security, but the suffering and poverty of ordinary people in developing countries will have a more important long-term impact on the world's future.
In Africa, life is still meaningful. There are still struggles between life and death, good and evil, heroes and villains. In the West, life is conservative. People are diverted and sheltered from real human problems. Life revolves around money, entertainment and self-indulgence.
Africa's great linguistic and cultural heritage is being quickly destroyed rather than preserved or nurtured.
African values may hold the key to human survival on earth.
Africa contains an eighth of the world's people. African population is much smaller than in Asia, but the growth rate is the highest of any continent. As African population explodes, it will contain a larger percentage of the world's population, perhaps 20% by 2050.
Political Power
Africa has about a fourth of the world's countries, and each country has a seat in the United Nations, so their vote is potentially highly influential. The current Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan of Ghana, and the previous one, Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, are Africans, showing the importance of Africa in leading the world. Some of the top candidates to be the next pope are Africans, and Africa has the largest and fastest-growing number of Christians of any continent.
Africa is volatile. There are many ethnic conflicts, and military power is highly concentrated into a few hands. It threatens to be the world's most war-torn area in the near future.
Africa is not a random accident or hopeless disaster. Many of its problems and miseries are caused not by geography, climate or nature but by people, and many of the problems can be solved by people, sometimes the same ones.