New Generations, Witch Hunts, and Burkina Faso

Part I

The meanings of “Cheetah” and “Big Man” refer to two very different generations which are opposing in Africa’s social spectrum. The Big Man, also called the hippo generation, are called such because their generation is, according to Radelet, “old and slow-moving.” They tend to focus on the past, complaining about how Africa is set up as a country that is reliant and indistinguishable as independent. To their peers, they are stubborn and do not move forward, but stall progress. They are the aged generation. The Cheetah generation in contrast is the complete opposite of the Hippo generation, and is in fact slowly but surely making big changes in their country. The Cheetah’s are fast growing and more numerous than the Hippo’s. They are the younger generation of big thinkers, radical idealists, and leaders in their communities.

Radalet says that there are five main ways that the Cheetah generation excels in this time in Africa. The first is that they are successful in grand levels of ideation. They bring ideas to the table and are progressive thinkers. They are also technologically efficient. They are constantly bringing new solutions to old problems, says Radalet, and they are very proficient in technological fields; much more so than their predecessors. The Cheetah’s are entrepreneurs, and they are constantly innovating and contributing to the society around them. The generation’s contribution to the market system of Africa is also a huge positive impact they bring to the country. They start their own businesses, and they have immense buying and investing power. One of the final tags of the Cheetah generation is that they are more transparent and accountable in the work that they do. They are trying to bring the country of Africa away from its past of colonialism and imperialism, and corruption. They aim to make democracy work for Africa, and to eliminate inefficient ways of dealing in both social and political fronts.

What brings on this age of fast and tenacious people and ideals? Radelet says that their connection to the internet has played a huge role in how young people across the continent are connecting with systems and ideas that are different from their norms. It has given them a platform for free thinking and opportunities for learning which they did not have before. These internet-given opportunities have also been creating jobs and setting the stage for greater economic opportunity in Africa. It is this “new” world of information and technology that has been, in some small part, setting back the progression of poverty in the country today.

Part II

What Banerjee and Duflo outline in their text is that there is a definite nutrition shortage among the poor in Africa. But this is not due to a lack of food quantity in the country, but of quality. Banerjee and Duflo state that if the poor of the country needed food desperately, then the greatest percentage of their incomes would have been spent on only food products. But studies have shown that this is not the case, and that food is not the number one priority for poor families. The authors of Poor Economics say that the transport of large quantities of food is a great mistake and only leads to more problems. The food transported can go rotten or infected with parasites, and cause sickness among recipients. The solution to this problem is to shift the focus to food quality. The quality of food given to families, with nutrient contents that match their needs, will go much farther than the large sums of food already given.

On the subject of witch hunts, they are still prominent in the small poor communities of Africa, and have become a problem for family stability in these areas. At times, a mother’s own family works against her when they may suspect she may be a witch. These suspected women are thrust away from their communities, the victims of heartbreak, abuse, or even murder. The cause of these cases can be many things, but the one I want to point to in particular is as a money-making scheme for individuals in these communities who are purported to be able to “cure” or “clear” or “bless” the witches that they might come back to their homes and villages, but at an enormous cost. Rumors float around communities which start suspicion of witchcraft, but at the end of it all, only one person really benefits from it all: the shamans who can “clear” the accused, or the family member who had to feed the accused woman.

Part III

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa which has been growing significantly in recent years. According to the World Bank, its GNI has been held above 600 since 2011, and a GDP, PPP of over 30 billion dollars. They have received large amounts of funding towards many sectors, predominantly towards children, women, and girls (http://sdgfunders.org/mdgs/country/burkina-faso/lang/en/). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been huge supporters of Burkina Faso, donating over 79 million dollars to the country. It has had significant social change since 2014, as the past leader of the country, Blaise Compaore, was ousted by an uprising. Political unrest has been a prominent problem for the country, and looks as though it may continue to be in the future (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13072774).

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