Department header
Bewildering Stories


by Gabriel Timar

Challenge 297 Response

Challenge 297 asked how to rid Africa of its dictators.

I appreciate the challenge very much. Many of us who served in developing countries believe that recolonization would be one of the few options. Stopping aid, canceling diplomatic recognition and perhaps suspending their U.N. membership would do the trick, but these would never happen. Let’s face it; dictators or leaders who acquired their presidency by underhanded or questionable methods rule the majority of the world. They would torpedo such efforts.

How did we get to this point? We granted independence too soon to most colonies. They did not have time to develop their middle class, the backbone of society. Therefore, politics and greed permeated the system. The belated development of the African middle class got on the wrong track. The rich, crooked politicians became the role models, thus, the new African middle class is often riddled with corruption.

In conclusion, I agree with my challenger, the most efficient option is recolonization. The average African would welcome it, but I wonder about our electorate...

Gabriel Timar

Copyright © 2008 by Gabriel Timar

Thank you for the response, Timar. It’s important, coming from an old “Africa hand” like yourself.

For the record, I asked: “At least one of the keys to overcoming poverty is said to be ridding Africa of its dictators. If Africans themselves can’t do that, how can non-African governments do it without recolonizing the continent?”

I was not proposing recolonization, far from it. The prospect is unthinkable: would North America accept being colonized? In any event, who would undertake to export a middle class and democratic values to Africa? The former imperial countries have no interest in doing so. Would Russia? China? The U.S.? All three countries have a civil society, to widely varying degrees, but can any of their governments be counted on to export democracy rather than corruption?

Can the outside world rid Africa of tribalism? Hardly. Africa has nothing to teach the rest of the world about that source of strife. No, Africans will have to hoe their own row. South Africa rid itself of apartheid, with the help of other nations; so much the better for South Africa and those who helped it. But now that country is discovering that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Liberty and democracy are a state of mind: imposing them is a contradiction in terms; they must be both earned and learned. The “founding fathers” of the United States knew that, although later politicians have fostered illusions to the contrary for purposes of their own — with unfortunate consequences.


Home Page