Post 3: Emerging Africa, Nutritional Issues, and Nigeria

In Steven Radelet’s book entitled “Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries are Leading the Way,” he goes into detail about the phrases “cheetah” and “big man,” also known as the cheetah generation and the hippo generation. Ghanaian scholar, George Ayittey describes the cheetah generation as “a new generation of young Africans who look at African issues and problems from a totally unique perspective” (Radelet, 2017). The cheetah generation is representative of Africa’s redefining through democracy, transparency and a dynamic private sector. They are looking to move forward strongly. Radelet explains that they are moving to improve their government, political leadership, and civil society groups (Radelet, 2017). Cheetahs are men and women, most young, well educated, energetic, and objective. They stand apart because of their drive and desire to replace the old Africa and focus on ‘uniquely Africa’.

In much contrast is the hippo generation. Radelet talks about how the hippo generation is slow moving, stuck in the past, and mainly complained about colonialism and imperialism. They are much different than the cheetah’s who are focused on being innovative. Many of the first postcolonial presidents and prime ministers proved to be lousy by fighting against the colonial government, rather than running their own. Radelet explains, “many of those leaders consolidated power in their own hands, weakened mechanisms for accountability and transparency, and hung on in office for far too long” (Radelet, 2017). These practices are fading away, and cheetahs are taking control over Africa in the most positive way.

A book on poverty, entitled “Poor Economics,” by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo discusses the a real problem people face when they think of poverty—my small contribution won’t save starving children, what’s the point? Jeffrey Sachs, adviser to the United Nations and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in NYC explains that “poor countries are poor because they are hot, infertile, malaria infested, often landlocked…makes it hard for them to deal with these endemic problems” (Banerjee, 2011). When living in poverty, it is hard to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs to survive. The book discusses how the human body needs a certain amount of calories to survive, and talks about Pak Solhin’s, a man living in a small village in Indonsia, food intake. They explain, “he was clearly not eating enough when we met him, but he was eating enough to survive; why would it not pay someone to offer him the extra bit of nutrition that would make him productive in return for a full days work?” (Banerjee, 2011). We need to rethink the food policy because people do not necessarily eat the nutritious foods we think we are putting our money towards. The book also talks about how witch-hunts are still occurring. Witch-hunts happen when poor countries face really horrible incidents, and are forced to get rid of people who are not helping with the crisis. They often beat the ‘witches’ and force them to leave their village so they can be productive in dealing with these cases.

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Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and is a leading oil producer. It is the second-largest economy in Africa, yet they have an estimated 61 percent who live in extreme poverty, mainly in the northern area. GDP, which is not always the most reliable when looking at a country’s economic performance, has grown in the last 15 years up to $558 million in 2014, but fell to $481 in 2015. Population has severely increased in past years. This can place pressures on the country’s sustainability through impacts on many natural resources and social infrastructure. It puts pressure on availability of land for agriculture production, increases demand on food, energy, water, and social services. According to United States Institute of Peace, Nigeria is currently facing many challenges: “an economic crisis triggered mostly by low oil prices, a resurgence of militancy in the Delta over economic grievances, an uptick in agitation in the Southeast by pro-Biafra nationalists, and ongoing conflicts over land use in the Middle Belt” (Current, 2017). Their economy is suffering and will only continue to do so if nothing changes. After a lot of going back and forth from one military coup to another, Nigeria now has an elected leadership (Nigeria Country, 2017). The current president is Muhammadu Buhair, who was elected in 2015. According to BBC News, “the government faces the growing challenge of preventing Africa’s most populous country from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines” (Nigeria Country, 2017). As you can see, there are several underlying issues going on with Nigeria’s economy and political standpoint.

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Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty. New York: PublicAffairs.

Nigeria. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://data.worldbank.org/country/nigeria?view=chart

Nigeria country profile. (2017, January 19). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13949550

Radelet, S. (n.d.). Emerging Africa- How 17 Countries are Leading the Way.

The Current Situation in Nigeria. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://www.usip.org/publications/the-current-situation-in-nigeria

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