George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's future

This grab-you-by-the-throat speech by Ghanaian economist George Ayittey unleashes an almost breathtaking torrent of controlled anger toward corrupt leaders and the complacency that allows them to thrive. These "Hippos" (lazy, slow, ornery) have ruined postcolonial Africa, he says. Why, then, does he remain optimistic? Because of the young, agile "Cheetah Generation," a "new breed of Africans" taking their futures into their own hands.

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Cheetahs are not really doing so well. The populations are barely stable even in protected areas. Despite their speed they can only kill a small percentage of antelopes, and are easily chased off it by lions or hyenas. Hippos by contrast are thriving...

Sorry, unnecessary analogy.

There are many good points in that speech, but one basic flaw. Why the emphasis on "postcolonial" Africa ... pre-colonial Africa was no utopia despite his cherry-picked example. And surely his argument that so much wealth was expatriated to Europe was definitely even more true in colonial Africa.

So the fundamental problem, as he talks about later in the speech after the initial headline phrases, is the centralization of the land and resources in just a few hands. His justified criticism of "swiss bank socialism" merges into a generic (unjustified?) attack onto any general socialist principles that may be a valid part of the first steps in reducing poverty and redistributing stolen resources.