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Times Series on Africa

January 02, 1985

The publication of the series of articles on Africa is a commendable departure from the inattention of the mainstream press to the profound issues facing people living under post-colonial governments.

However, the underlying premise that the fault lies in the incapacity of African leadership to deal with current problems in a rational manner ignores what scholars have long been addressing with regard to the institutional legacy of colonialism and the nature of the economic situation of raw material-producing nations in the shrinking international economy of the 1980s.

Until we can look at the Third World in this context we will continue to confront historical forces with individual blame-placing, an approach that rightly appears to be a repetition of the racist assumptions that permitted past injustices.

Deep-seated structural problems are not solved by the dance of personalities, but by fundamental changes in relationships within Africa and globally. These problems were critically explored and understood by writers like Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral, whom Powers dismisses out of hand. It is time that U.S. journalistic explanation included an appreciation of structural analysis.




Hamilton is assistant professor of Pan-African studies; Donald Bray is professor of political science, and Marjorie Bray is coordinator of Latin-American studies at California State University at Los Angeles.

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