All observations come back to population pressures. The projections indicate AIDs and malaria are holding growth down but still population increases 2-4% Likewise, the lifespan is headed down to somewhere in the 30's which puts 50% of the population in the below 15 years age bracket. This lack of educated, informed citizenry and adult leadership makes for an environment of 'me first' and family/tribal connections weaken as more rural population moves into urban slums. The possibilities of famine increase with fewer living on subsistence farms. The increased spread between rich and poor and concentration of power due to external pressures to extract resources likewise make war/genocide much more probable. Once the civil authorities lose control over legitimizing property rights, and state control is a question of greed - corruption spreads and external, moral pressures hold little sway. I see Africa reflecting what eventually most of planet will come to experience. Gradual deterioration of civil institutions due to competitive greed and a widening gap between rich and poor. More authoritarian rule to control the ever increasing hungry population and repercussions from this(migration,dislocation, war lordism, youthful gangism).
After Zim I am more convinced than ever that these observations are valid. The catastrophy over food prices caused by corporate & governmental greed visa vis biofuel just brings into focus the extent to which unthinking greed and corporate interests feed on one another. The vast majority of poor and powerless pay the price, just to feed stockholders and politicians needing to get elected. Thus is goes, the corporate welfare state leaves nothing for the general welfare except to send paltry rebates which will only go to pay higher fuel & food prices which in turn bring greater profits to the wealthy. There is little reason to expect the least literate (who just have to open their eyes to see the corruption and abuse of power) to respect civil authority without getting something in return especially when they are starving. (See web site allafrica.com/stories...UN Integrated Regional Info Networks)
NGO's, missionaries, & civil govt are western constructs placed in Africa, a veneer over tribal groupings which now have been severely weakened, therefore the social support system of the tribe no longer is operative outside rural villages. The 3 above have created a welfare system of sorts which encourages individual selfish interests (also promoted thru TV, music videos, movies, etc.) rather than the communal/tribal system. Thus, rather than a long term goal/perspective(as found in family/tribe/ancestor worship) the new dynamic is very short term, "What can I get today/tomorrow" and get rich quick. This attitude is 'taught' by the very institutions mentioned and in turn diminishes the 'helpfulness' of NGO/missionaries/govt.& overall civil development since they see these indiv. and groups come & go w/ no real change. What has happened is the inputs of these intitutions/org. are corrupted by siphoning off great %ages of their resources just to maintain their beaurocratic organizations. End result - little reaches the people so attitudes w/in family remain unchanged(relying on large families) even with a 20% death rate of new borns & HIV spreading rapidly in many areas and the unsustainable growth of population continues. Tun's estimate of 10-15 yrs before resources are harvested/mined/drilled out may be optimistic. He was very clear in his analysis of African soils(thin, poor, and now no longer replenished due to the elimination of jungle growth) which require more and more fertilizer to remain even marginally productive. Even still at the end of Africas 'usefullness', foreign interests in maintaining their costly support will disappear. Perhaps the only solution is to withdraw all foreign inputs/support NOW and allow underlying tribal systems to rejuvinate, or whatever Africans replace them with. At least they will be THEIR institutions and relationships will be distinctly African. Regaining control of their own destinies may be a pipe dream given the top level corruption now in place since so much of that corruption is supported by the West and advanced economies.
If we only learn one thing from Iraq it should be that it's impossible to invade another country(by force of arms, NGOs, missionaries, or govt missions) ostensibly to eliminate WMD, terrorists, other 'threats' to 'democracy', or to bring democracy/nation building and hide the fact that the real intent is to gain control of their resources & siphon them off!
I must say it is somewhat hypocritical of the west to accuse China of 'neo-colonialism'. The way I see it they are much more up front about their actions and intent. "Yes, we will construct a 5 lane, 1000 km superhighway from Caprivi Strip in Namibia into the heart of Congo's jungles. But we want first dibs on your lumber & minerals. We will provide all the labor (to insure it's done right and as rapidly as possible). And by the way we will in no way interfer with how you run your govt. or treat your people, as long as you help protect our interests." Thus, the best infrastructure is put in place, the most efficient harvesting & mining & drilling facilities are utilized and China gets what it wants and powers that be get what they want.
The consequences are clearly known...access to previously inaccessable tracts of land bringing in more people from outside the region looking for a livelihood. In the US it was the goldrush, cattle baron, RR building era with 'settlers' moving into Indian territory. Here the old growth jungle is removed leaving natives w/o their previously familiar & sustainable environment. Left to fend for themselves and deal with newcomers who also find a need to live of the land, they utilize whatever is available to support themselves. The story line doesn't change from the 'Wild West' scenerio, only the characters are different. Rather than 'pioneers', 'settlers', hunters, trappers, and traders, the natives and newcomers are labelled 'poachers' or worse since the critters are now exposed(no jungle to hide in), and they become 'threatened species'! Remember the buffalo, the carrier pidgeons, etc. It would seem to me from the standpoint of the natives and newcomers the Chinese would appear to be 'poachers' but then they (Chinese) have made their agreements with governments or local political entities making sure the rewards to them are sufficient to ensure a return on their 'investment' i.e. enuf control is exerted over the area for long enuf to enable them to accomplish siphoning off the resources. In the Wild West the US Army and their forts provided the protective shield. In Africa the reliability of govts is questionable so local politicians(sometimes called 'warlords' or rebels by the media) are needed closer to the actual extactive locations.
Make no mistake, what China does is no different from colonialism in the sense that extracting resources is the name of the game! The difference is that China wants nothing to do with directing local politics (unless it interfers w/ their extactive goals). Both sides are clear, the game plan is the same but the end result does not leave behind a moral/cultural/civil overlay imposed by China! It is strictly an economic exchange - free market advocates REJOICE!!! The little fascism involved is short term, unless of course the local politicians choose to maintain their authority after the Chinese leave.