It is, without doubt, the best x-ray on the African continent that we can read in Spain. And on each of its countries and regions. Because Africa is not a country nor even a continent. We are talking about 55 states, with 1,215 million inhabitants. “It is too complex to unify it with the term ‘the Africans’,” noted Javier Fariñas, editor of Black World, during the presentation this afternoon of “Special Africa 2016”.
A comprehensive report showing us a polyhedral continent, far from the “third world” vision that we still have today from Europe. An analysis of Africa, of several Africas, which as explained by Jaume Calvera, director of the magazine, “aims to provide an updated information of the continent as a whole, with a vertical reading of all data, and a horizontal interpretation of them.”
The cover page, with its back cover, is already a statement of intent: a continent in black on white on the front page, and its negative image in the last one. “We want to honor and recognize African men and women, with their lights and shadows,” he said.
For his part, Javier Fariñas stressed how “within 15-20 years, the continent will have more manpower than China and India combined,” despite the “news blackout” on the continent, which however is decreasing. And it is because the vision of Black World is “Afro-optimist” and highlights how the continent is changing, in full motion. About 45% of the population already live in cities, and four in ten are under 15 years. The youngest continent in the world, the one with the greatest future.
“Africa is moving, is moving politically, though we still have ‘eternal’ presidents; but they have changed a third of their leaders in these three years,” said Fariñas. It is also changing citizenship, which has risen since the ‘Arab Spring’, and wants to occupy a public space that until now it had not.” With a large foreign debt, but also with capital flight: from the 1970’s, 1.7 billion dollars have fled the continent.
“We have sought to let the Africans be protagonists,” noted Fariñas. Therefore, the singing voice of the presentation had Mbuyi Kabunda, president of the Association of Africanists, who wondered if there was growth or development in Africa. “Africa today is the world’s region with the highest growth. Has it contributed to the betterment of its citizens? I do not think so. Poverty rates have tripled. It is a growth without development”.
As an example, he said that external debt has gone down from 120% of GDP to 25, which could be good news. “But all that has been done is to give priority to repay foreign debt at the expense of domestic needs. How many children were unable to go to school, how many have died?” For Kabunda, “Africa needs a structural change, it needs to break dependence and humiliation. Africa has taken the first step of change, a qualitative one”.
“We are not equations, or guinea pigs. All models of development have been tried on the African continent. Never have the participation of Africans themselves been counted on. Africa has 700 million mobile phones, but many of those who use it have no drinking water,” he complained.
Asked about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and cooperation among religions towards peace, the expert described the advancement of jihadism as “worrying”, especially in the Sahel, “a no-man’s land where mobsters’ movements have developed trafficking in human beings, raw materials and weapons”, and their efforts to act jointly with Boko Haram. “Someone has to take the responsibility.” In Africa there are 220 million Catholics, 405 million non-Catholic Christians, and 518 million Muslims. “The process of liberation of Africa started with the involvement of the Church in demanding change,” he said.
By Jesús Bastante