Why is Africa so unstable

Why is Africa underdeveloped?

There are many theories as to why the African continent is at the bottom of economic, health and other rankings. While the average per capita income in Africa was US $ 1,800 in 2000, the global average was US $ 8,800. Nowhere else is life expectancy so low and the illiteracy rate so high. And that despite the fact that US $ 568 billion in development aid has flowed to Africa since the early 1950s.

In a new article (via 3 quarks daily - one of my favorite blogs), economist Nathan Nunn argues that slavery is largely to blame. Without the transatlantic slave trade, 72% of the income gap between Africa and the rest of the world would not exist. According to Nunn, slavery was particularly widespread in the most developed regions of Africa between 1400-1900, but which are now among the poorest. The slave trade led to political instability, weak states, ethnic and political fragmentation, and a weakening of legal institutions.

Now “One Big Thing” theories are always questionable. And that's why I add one (among many other) explanations afterwards: Numerous anthropologists see a cultural factor as essential for Africa's underdevelopment: the pronounced egalitarian tendency of many African societies:

If a young South African does not pour concrete on the tamped clay floor of his hut, although he would like to and financially could, then that is not a sign of laziness, but has to do with the fact that the village community recognizes every expression of individual prosperity as a threat to the narrow, reciprocal Looks at relationships with one another and is afraid that richer individuals could disengage themselves from the safety nets and destroy the fundamental feeling of security in the village.

People who are successful and do not share their wealth with their relatives and friends quickly get a reputation for making use of supernatural powers, i.e. they are prescribed as sorcerers or even put around the corner with witchcraft. Anyone interested in this topic can read my old brand eins column or this article on witchcraft research by Swiss ethnologist David Signer (via anthropologi).