The scope of Africa's problems, like that of its growth and vitality, is not apparent from headlines and snapshots highlighting dramatic examples of war, poverty, disease, refugee camps, and the like. There are major public health problems in Africa. Not just the spread of HIV and AIDS, but the prevalence of malaria, polio, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, and other diseases. Transportation and communication infrastructure, important in combating these conditions, are sometimes sub-optimal. War, including the awful use of child soldiers, is too widespread. The under-education of women, and their frequent lack of access to means of controlling their fertility, are other problems widely seen by development experts, and an underlying cause of the continent's problems. I'm no expert, but even these preliminary details are not widely discussed in the American media. But the details obviously matter to the design of effective responses.
Billions of dollars of aid have been spent on countries in Africa, but all of that money has done no good. It ends up in the wrong hands or is used unwisely. Just because they have made little progress in Africa does not mean the rest of the world has not been compassionate. Money can not solve their problems, only they can solve their own problems. Until the people of africa rebel against the tyrannical leaders, nothing can be done to solve their problems.
The general public in the international community has little understanding of conflicts in Africa. Many people think that Africa is a country and fail to realize that in reality it is a large, diverse continent made up of many countries with very different histories, cultures, languages and social situations. This leads many people to generalize about very complex situations stemming from a variety of historical and cultural roots. The first step in resolving some of the diverse issues in Africa is educating Americans and the international community about the history and culture of African nations.
Where I live, in America, I've grown up to a land with millions of people, fast food restaurants, iPhones and xboxes, malls, and water that flows from the fridge. I bet half of the people in America couldn't even last a week in the life of a African in poverty. Those people have it hard, and it's good that they can stay strong.
The history of the various states of Africa is riddled with colonization, manipulation, deceit, and violence. Many of the struggles between tribes or groups were created by colonizers, and later escalated into very violent blood conflict. If you did not know the history of the British assignment of Hutu or Tutsi, and their subsequent treatment of both created groups, you would not be able to fully understand the later bloodbath that took place. This holds true, over and over again, for different regions and the conflicts that they have. You must also look to the exploitation/theft of resources by colonizing powers. For example, the oil rights owned by Dutch Royal Shell company had little to no money going back to the community doing the work. In this case, the oil company also used their money to hire mercenaries to murder those who opposed their work. Before any person can claim or believe that the African people deserve their current fate, or have done nothing to solve their own problems, they must first understand the role that the rest of the world has had in creating them.
The Western media shows mostly very local events and news, and give hours of coverage to scandals, celebrities, trials of famous people, and things like that. The many countries in Africa face complex situations that cannot be covered in sound bites, so they just do not get reported. All we see in the USA is an occasional story with a very stereotypical appeal to donate money to starving kids. We never hear about Africa's successes in fighting AIDS, distributing anti-malarial bed nets, and funding schooling. Many Americans are not even able to locate the countries in Africa on a map, much less explain why, for example, Ghana is more stable than Zimbabwe.
I believe that people across the world do not fully understand the reality or severity of the many ongoing conflicts faced by the African continent. Without delving into the causes for these conflicts, it's difficult to understand the reality of numerous wars between nations, secessionist/separatist conflicts, wars for independence, major riots and massacres within nations and acts of government-sponsored violence, and even genocide, against its own citizens.
The media has made it nearly impossible to pass along vital news these days. With all of the celebrity news, shows, and reality bits, it is becoming less and less important to people for them to watch the news. There is not enough coverage on these topics in the first place. So, if you aren't digging for the information, then it isn't readily available to you.
I believe it is very hard for people across the world to understand the reality of the conflicts faced by those in Africa because the problems seem so big and so different than the issues that the average person faces. We all get very caught up in our own lives and in the conflicts in our own countries. It's very heartbreaking to see some of the tragedies going on in Africa right now and sometimes it's easier to turn our heads than to face the horrors that they live on a daily basis. It's very hard to imagine living life in that way because for most of us, we don't understand what it's like to starve or have our families killed by crooked rulers. We don't understand the plight of refugees because most people have never personally gone through such traumatic experiences.
In this day and age, we are able to communicate easily through technology. This brings with it a false pretense that we are able to communicate the full picture of a situation. Video, photos, story, and text cannot fully explain the atrocities that go on in parts of Africa. People across the world may see a quick glimpse in to these problems, but will probably never understand the issues, unless they live with them.
People across the world do not understand the reality of the conflicts in Africa, because of the vast cultural differences. Different cultures have different values and views. Europeans have had codified laws for millennia, while Africa has had codified law for only 500 years, and still observes tribal law. Under codified law, killing a person is wrong. Under tribal law, killing a member of your tribe is wrong, while killing a member of another tribe is permissible.
I believe that people in the western world do not understand the conflicts and struggles of those in Africa or any third world country for that matter. The demographics of Africa are nothing like here in the states and by far they do not have the geography, food supply or ease of obtaining basic necessities that we do. We the people here in the western world I don't think are able to think past the things we find so simple and take for granted. So how could we understand it because we just don't have to go with out it.
I do not truly think that the majority of the world is aware of what goes on in Africa, past or present. As with other countries, the media often misrepresents the country, hindering many from understanding its true nature or condition. The country of Africa is currently embattled with everything from corrupt governments, to political genocide. While many of their situations stem from outdated laws and religion, foreign in understanding to most other countries.
The issue with Africa is that there are a number of nations, not just one, who are faced with hard times. Tough times, particularly for Westerners, might include thinking about how to pay a bill or get their child through college. However, they can do this over a nice breakfast. They cannot relate to the extreme poverty and health issues, such as AIDs, spreading through Africa because it does not affect them on a day to day basis.
Nowadays people are faced with lots of problems in their own country. Maybe a few realize the situation but overall people in general are not very aware of the situations in Africa.
I believe that the larger, so-called diplomatic nations of this world, including this country, should be ashamed that they are not offering more assistance to the African nations dealing with horrific conflicts. Our government, and many others, would rather focus on conflicts where the outcome has potential monetary gains. It shows that the United States isn't as concerned with people's freedom as it would like the world to believe. I think anyone that took some time and researched the brutal acts and horrific atrocities being committed in African nations would be surprised and confused as to why we are not offering more assistance.
Since most people have a poor understanding of history, is difficult to understand the nature of many of the conflicts in Africa today, as they are usually rooted in historical conflicts.
Without experiencing the conflicts that any country or culture has, it is impossible to truly understand what they are going through. To compare it to something else, if one family loses their only child to a drunk driving accident and another family loses their only child to cancer, even though both families have experienced a similar loss, they are still completely different losses that can't be compared. It is the same with Africa - even though we feel we may be able to understand, we can't unless we experience it just as they are.
There are an incredible number of factors that make understanding the many conflicts that Africa is faced with very hard. There are historical factors, ethnic factors, tribal factors, governmental factors, and economic factors that make for a really complicated mix of problems in Africa. It is not easy for one outside of Africa to come to an understanding of these factors.