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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 10:38 GMT
Does America owe Africa?
President Clinton says the US must do more to help Africa - what do you think?
The first American National Summit on Africa has concluded in Washington DC with President Clinton saying the US must do more to help Africa.

News and Information for Africa
But does Africa want or need America's help?

Is America indebted to Africa because of the slave trade? Or, as some African-Americans have claimed, are they the lucky ones, living on a continent far richer and more stable than Africa?

Does America owe Africa? What do you think?

Your Reaction

Selling arms in the name of help is a worst habit of America which has seen it's effect in the last century. If America really wants to help anyone, they can waive loans and arrange more financial aid.
Prasad Kothare, India

Africa does need help. However, that help should not be in monetary form. Rather, the US should try and help African countries cleanse their governments from corruption. The idea of investing does sound appealing, only if it benefits everyone, and not just one sort of people. Africa needs guidance, as it seems that we are following a domino effect with each country being torn apart by some useless matter. Yes, Africa does need help, but the most important decision is how to help Africa without colonising it and making it a "western" continent.
Jigsha Desai, USA/ Zambia

The United States and most Europeans countries are responsible for every single problem the continent faces today. They all know that Africa is the "Capital of natural resources" and they all aware of what the black race can accomplish once back in ruling its own destiny; therefore they are trying their best to cleanse our race from the continent.
Yenga S. Radja, Dem. Rep. of Congo but in the U.S

Africa needs the help of the US! Also a lot of these countries were once rich, but were ruined by dictators like Mugabe. Also, the Americanisation of Europe shouldn't happen here. It's already happening here in South Africa, with McDonalds opening up in every town and CNN being trusted more than the SABC. I wouldn't be surprised if in 20 years there were no Zulu villages left, just roadside strips and WalMarts.
Zaki Moosa, South Africa/UK

The best that the US and the west could do is to begin treating the African Continent as a partner and not as place of beggars. If only Hollywood was to wake up and begin translating the words of the Washington bureaucrats in action. We are tired of stereotypes that depict us as sufferers.
Ngosa Chisupa, Zambia

If Africa accepts American help then they will see corporate exploitation and cultural imperialism

Stuart Huntley, England
If Africa accepts American help then they will see corporate exploitation and cultural imperialism. Only Africans can save themselves from a situation brought about by the European empires of past history. The problem is corruption and tribalism and soon water Supplies. America can't cure these problems, only make them worse.
Stuart Huntley, England

America and the rest of the former colonial powers are partly to blame for Africa's misfortune. Whoever argues that the western powers inclusive of America owe nothing to Africa is either selfish or is pretending to be deaf and blind. When colonial powers were ruling Africa, they did little to develop the continent in manufacturing particularly when it comes to Africa's own natural resources. All they were doing was to strip Africa of its natural resources, ship these resources to their own countries, use slavery labour in the case of US, turn such resources into commodity items of high value and thus create wealth for themselves.
Shilongo, Namibia

Until we get our act right, no amount of help will solve our poverty.

Makwa, Zambia/US
Africa needs to get its act right. Many African nations are rich but their governments have distributed the wealth only amongst the political leaders. Before we get any help from the US or anywhere else, let's help ourselves. Our biggest problem is the POLITICIAN. Get rid of the politician, half the problem solved. We need honest leadership that is accountable. We also need to make our leadership accountable. If we see something wrong, we should fight it and try to make it right before we complain to other governments. Until we get our act right, no amount of help will solve our poverty.
Makwa, Zambia/US

Firstly, Africa does not want or need America's help. America owes us a lot. It can only bail itself out by compensating Africa. What other drain is there compared to siphoning off a continent's manpower for years through slave trade? This business simply disorganised Africa SO MUCH . The continent was robbed of its brains, skills, talents and value for generations.... I am of the view that when America is done with compensating Africa, then the idea of whether we want or need its help will hold.
Akello Grace, Uganda

YES!!! Africa needs the US and everyone else's help. But not the way it's been done. It makes me sick when I see those images of a handful of food aid going to some African Countries as if that is going to feed the whole of Africa; and that is the idea that most ignorant people have of us, when lots of us get fed very well and exhibit a much better health and intellectual capacity than lots of them. I am against food aid except for special circumstances. What we need is investment and a better transfer of technology and know-how.
Daniel Neto Vaz, Sao Tome and Principe

Africa cannot tolerate the brain drain taking place now. Africa need to recognise that if they are not going to do some thing to reduce the brain drain it will soon be a continent with no brains. A lot of professionals have left Africa because of several reasons for example civil wars, political instability, corruption to mention a few. Leaders of these countries need to put their acts together and invite foreign investments, create good economic environments, invest more in human resources and reduce informal businesses.
Isaac Onywere, Kenyan Staying Jamaica

Charity begins at home. If the USA wants to help Africans they should start by taking care of the legacy of the slave trade within their own borders. The recent case of Mr Diallo, an African murdered by the police in America is just one example amongst many which highlights the desperate situation that Africans are in in America. Sort that out first.
Kwame, UK

America owes Africa a partnership based on mutual common interests. The United States cannot rewrite Africa's history, but it can, together in partnership, with the countries that act in the best interest of their citizens, help the region to write a better future.
John S Pritchett, USA

I think Africa has a lot of problems at the moment and if those problems could be solved, we would not need aid from the US. 1) corruption 2)selfishness 3) disorganization 4)political and economic chaos. We have a long way to go, brothers and sisters. I need divine intervention to solve our problems not the United States.
Stanley Wilson, Cameroon

I am an American citizen who grew up in Africa. I feel that Americans are in no way obligated to Africa because of the slave trade. Most Western countries were involved in the slave trade. It is too great of a responsiblity for one country to take on. Also most Africans that I know would prefer the United States to stay out of their countries. They feel that the US has enough problems of their own without getting involved in everyone else's problems.
LeCrecia, USA-Swaziland

Africans owe themselves a lot, therefore, they should start to solve their own problems.
beyene tekie, eritrea

To deny that the past matters is to avoid responsibility.

MC Yap, Malaysia
To deny that the past matters is to avoid responsibility. Much of Africa is in its present wretched state precisely because the U.S. and its allies have willingly provided the means for tyrants to suppress the population and to milk the country The former is achieved by the lucrative weapons deals while the latter by providing easy loans to known corrupt leaders and then extracting harsh repayments from the poor via the IMF.
MC Yap, Malaysia

I think America need to support African countries by investing more businesses, time and money. On one hand, America should also reach out to African countries-course if America can be able to help out other countries of the world like keeping peace in war areas of the world - for instance East Timor. They should like-wise do the same for African countries where they don't have too much to gain anything from ("but the people of Africa will thank the Americans for supporting Africa with what they preach and believe in-maintaining peace, freedom and friendship with the world as a whole").
Michael Eyanagho, USA

Saying America is indebted to Africa because of the slave trade, is no different then blaming all the Germans for the Nazi Holocaust! Descendants should not be held accountable to their forefathers' actions!
Richard, Wales

Yes, but not to aggravate the political and military instability.
BM, Sweden

The National Summit for Africa had little to do with Africa or with creating a two-way dialogue with Africans.

Dalia Haj-Omar, USA - Sudanese citizen
I was one of the many delegates who participated in the National Summit for Africa in Washington D.C last week. As an African I thought it was thrilling to be part of a "democratic" policy making process that could influence my continent in so many positive ways. Little did I know that I what walking into.
While initially it was refreshing to see hundreds of delegates from all around the US coming together to amend and vote upon a progressive American policy toward Africa in the New Millennium. It did not take long for me to realise that the National Summit for Africa had little to do with Africa or with creating a two-way dialogue with Africans. It was all about American corporate interests, asserting the African American identity and its links to the "mother land", and at times about the ongoing presidential campaign.
Dalia Haj-Omar, USA - Sudanese citizen

We need to quit blaming others for our lack of progress and ineptitude.

Eric Peabody, Liberia - United States of America
Emphatically, NO! The United States does not owe Africa anything. What African nations need to do is to rid themselves of the bums that they have as leaders who squander their wealth and enrich themselves in the process. We need to quit blaming others for our lack of progress and ineptitude. We are what we are; we are not what others made us to be! Stop the blame game.
Eric Peabody, Liberia - United States of America

Yes, Africa needs assistance from the US, but not monetary assistance. What Africa needs is simple: save it from its mad rulers. They are incompetent, crooks, tribalists and most of all have no respect for human rights.
Gabriel Agonafer, Ethiopia

The world needs to see us as a partner and not as a beggar.

Elhage, Senegal
Africa needs the help of everybody starting with ourselves. I think we should try to live as brothers and sisters in a peaceful way, that's the first step. The second step is to take responsibility for our own destiny, because the history we had with the West doesn't give us the confidence to trust them. It's not just America but all the western countries still now rape Africa.
On their media they never show a good image of Africa - that's another way to tell to their people they're better than Africa. And remember the help of America or Europe has never been free, they always expect something in return. The world needs to see us as a partner and not as a beggar.
Elhage, Senegal

Where Clinton goes, long term damage follows. Beware of this ten-headed snake. How is it that Arkansas businesses ended up obtaining fantastic contracts in the Congo if it was not for this devious man's doing??? Do not accept anything from Clinton. You will lose.
Saiful Rimkeit, United States

I am not a racist, but blaming modern America for the slavery is like blaming every single German for the war.

Rich, USA
I cannot believe the amount of 'liberal-minded' comments on this edition! I am not a racist, but blaming modern America for the slavery is like blaming every single German for the war. Condemning a nation or race for crimes of the past, instead of condemning the individuals, is in my view 'bigotry' and very much racist!
Rich, USA

Yes America owes a dept to Africa, for 2 main reasons:
(1) The United States was built on the backs of Africa's daughters and sons.
(2) After exploiting Africans through slavery, America exploited used Africa in its quest for world domination during the cold war. America and the former USSR supplies the weapons and financed the dictatorships that are affecting Africa today.
Abuoh Neufville, United States

America was built and became rich and powerful on the backs of Africans

Jackie Peavy Sunmola, US/Nigeria
Absolutely! America was built and became rich and powerful on the backs of Africans. Millions of African bones are at the bottom of the Atlantic. Africa's wealth has been stolen and exploited by the Dutch, British, Germans, Portuguese, etc. These countries raped and are still raping the vast and wealthy African continent. Yes, the US owes Africa for its very existence. I wonder what North America would be like without 200 hundred years of slaves labour.
Jackie Peavy Sunmola, US/Nigeria

It may surprise many in this generation in Europe that the U.S. was not the only country that permitted slavery. The idea that we alone should be financially penalised today is ludicrous since none of us now living were slaveholders or slaves. Much of our population has ancestors who migrated after slavery was eliminated. The reason for this unending call for reparations for all our nations past transgressions is based upon us now having the deepest pockets.
Steve B, US

I feel that Africa needs America's help but only in ending the second phase of colonialism "Black Colonialism".

Ed, Kenya
I feel that Africa needs America's help but only in ending the second phase of colonialism "Black Colonialism". The problem with most African countries is that independence was lost as soon as it was gained. I have known of NO African countries in the past where any sane citizen, would have dared to be critical of their own government without suffering the dire consequences. The USA and her allies have helped most of the corrupt and draconian dictators of Africa to power; of cause we can all claim that this is the legacy of the cold war, but I believe that only in a limited way does America owe the Africans. However Africa and the Africans must strive to archive political maturity.
Ed, Kenya

Africa has always been a case of 'Help yourself' to America (West, international Community, call it what you will) and the west has helped itself to the 'Raw materials' Africa has to offer. Apart from OPEC (which seems to be getting it's act together) there are few such high-profile organisation which look after the interest of these emerging Countries in Africa. Africa is still highly dependent on the West to help build-up and maintain the infra-structure necessary for Economic and Social (includes political) development and until the minimal trade between Africa and the Developed Nations is truly fair, Africa can only hold it's breath, the question is how long must Africa hold it's breath.
Chidi Opara, UK

A comparison of the justification of reparations to the Jews and the claim that slavery of the black man requires compensation answers the question - yes America owes Africa. However, is the African leadership ready to receive any form of compensation? An emphatic no. We are still experiencing teething problems in governance. Furthermore our present predicaments cannot be entirely blamed on Americans, British et al. I blame it on our leadership. I have a hope that one day in the distant future sanity shall prevail. As for the Americans of a dark pigmentation I wish them well. They are Americans like any other American, Africa should not expect more from them.
Dan Sichombo, Zambia

Well, a few sentences are not enough to comment on that difficult issue. But one thing is for sure US help is never for free and the question is whether it would help already if the United States would pay their debts to the UN in order to set up educational programs for African states. I believe education is everything and the effort has to be to educate and keep people back in Africa.
Patricia Enogieru, Switzerland

Investment - only if it comes with fair wages and fair conditions (see Hait for other US examples). As for the USA's cultural (oxymoron) input... say no more.
Mike, England

No, America (or Western Europe) does not owe Africa anything. Decisions long ago were often atrocious but you can't hold the people of today who live on the same soil accountable. The problem the world has is it blames everyone else of its woes instead of moving on and learning.
Peter, USA (ex UK)

US: COME AND INVEST! Stop racketing and help the African continent to cancel their exterior debt, which is a real burden to sound and healthy development.

Isabelle G., Togo
The past is the past! And it is not by looking for guilt all the time will develop. As a French lady living in a French-speaking African country, I just want to say to the US: COME AND INVEST! Stop racketing and help the African continent to cancel their exterior debt, which is a real burden to sound and healthy development.
Isabelle G., Togo

While we need Western help, we don't need it in monetary form. Financial aid has only served to make the problem a bigger one. We want it in the forms of technology, education, and most importantly respect. You know what would make a big difference and not cost the West a single red cent; a more generous portrayal of Africa in the Western media. I don't know if the cost in trade and investment money that results from Africa being painted as a war-torn, hungry desert can be counted.
David S.,

Any help given to any African nation should not be linked to the slave trade era

Michael U Adikwu, Germany
The entire human race lives on give and take. Any help given to any African nation should not be linked to the slave trade era. When African nations develop the developed nations are indirectly helping themselves. There will be a decrease in the desire to migrate overseas from these African nations. There will be increase in the market size for goods made in the developed nations. Increased development contributes to global peace. Aid to African nations should not be monetary alone; it could be in terms of investment. It could be in terms of manpower in vital sectors.
Michael U Adikwu, Germany

I think African deserves the same rights like other. The USA must do everything in its power to stop the killing of the civilians.
Henok, Sweden

America and other developed countries can help Africa by not selling ammunitions to Africa. Instead help teach them "how to fish" by encouraging trade with Africa, developing raw materials mined in Africa in Africa rather than in their in developed countries that then ends up resold to Africa for higher profit.
Dorcas Kamanda, USA

Absolutely! The United States corporate elite owes Africa far more than is possible to repay.

Geoffrey Shuey, US
Absolutely! The United States corporate elite owes Africa far more than is possible to repay. The amount of pain and suffering inflicted on Africa by the government of the United States is impossible to measure and so the debt is impossible to repay.
Geoffrey Shuey, US

I do not know whether the blame for the slave trade should be borne by the US, England, France, Portugal or Spain; or whether any other body of peoples should bear that responsibility. But the fact remains that in those days labour was the most important input in the production process. Having such free productive input explains the tremendous economic expansion made by European and North American countries. But in the other hand, lacking its most vital resources definitely explains why African civilisations could not evolves as it should have, for the past few centuries. All the ills of Africa today find their roots in the slave trade.
Mori Diane, USA

Yes America should help Africa, but only if it won't interfere in ANY African affairs. America is too used to interfering in other countries internal affairs and this should stop. And not just America should help, but other countries should too, Africa needs help, but doesn't need anymore abuse.
Ahmed, Egypt

Yes, it is time for America to pay what it owes Africa back.

Zayyid Tahar, Australia
Does America owe Africa? Yes, it is time for America to pay what it owes Africa back. American media should play big role and focus more on African crisis, such as the Ethio-Eritrean war and all other African crisis.
Zayyid Tahar, Australia

America does not "owe" Africa. They do not even have an obligation to pay a single cent to Africa. If they choose to do so, it will have to be because they want to give aid, or invest. If Africa talks to America from the starting point that the States owes them for slavery, I am afraid that investment will dwindle. Africa should stop whining and drop their: "the world owes us" attitude and rather concentrate on creating desirable investment opportunities in their countries. Africa should also take more responsibility for their own demise. Look at all the ethnic violence and all the corrupt dictators. Is that also slavery's fault? Come on!
Zach, South Africa

Africa is Rich. It does not need any help.
Mabhunu, South Africa

The buying of the leaders from African countries, by rich countries as there is America, the ongoing disturbance of natural balancing and developing doesn't give hope for new vision.
Anne Peeters, Netherlands

The problems of today's Africa are a result of flawed American foreign policy of the last 40 years

Lwanga, USA
America owes Africa nothing for the slave trade. The problems of today's Africa are a result of flawed American foreign policy of the last 40 years. This has left Africa with a legacy of multimillionaire dictators and a glut of armaments. The guilt money will only find its way to those in power, the people who need it most will not see any of the reparations. Constructive foreign and economic policy (encourage multiparty democracy and corporate investment) is the only way that America can help fix the mess it helped to create.
Lwanga, USA

I think America and the western world, in general owes the African continent a lot; But we blacks all over the world, and African's in general, white and black, are not asking for monetary compensation. We accept the status quo, and all we want is the support to strengthen the new democracy in the continent of Africa. I as an African believe that the black man in general has gone through more hardship than any other race on earth. Still we have kept our dignity and a belief that at the end, the black race will still be smiling. So sending food to Africa is not what we need, we want the Western world to help us get our money and the other things that has been stolen from Africa by all the dubious leaders in collaboration with their western counterparts, and a little respect for the oldest continent and it's people.
Austin, USA

I am a Malawian currently living in the USA. I feel America owes Africa a lot. Take for example the introduction of democracy forced on African countries to adopt, else no Aid. There those who are proud to be called African American but do none to promote their mother continent. You and I know at least not less than 100 black multimillionaires who can't even think of investing in Africa. Indeed America has changed the culture of many countries and they need to pay for that. American dollar has weakened most of African currencies because of manipulating world trade. Honestly America owes Africa in many ways numerous to point out.
Dave Khama Banda, MALAWI

Africa continent needs co-operation with America

Michael Aringo, Zimbabwe
Africa continent needs co-operation with America in the fields of education and technical know how, if only the Africans leaders could encourage democracy to prevail in the continent and dictatorship type of government comes to and end promptly.
Michael Aringo, Zimbabwe

Does the United States owe Africa? In a different time and place maybe along with the Europeans and Arabs. But a lot of the blame goes to African rulers past and present. I keep hearing this from some of your readers from India white people are racist? What do you call your caste system; democracy?
Eddie, USA

The African slaves were enslaved by African kings. Americans were wrong to trade with them and wrong to permit slavery in America, but the fundamental guilt lay with the Africans who did the enslaving. America owes a debt to Afro-Americans but owes Africa nothing.
James Castro, USA

I think it is time for America to stop interfering in African politics for the sole purpose of our national interest. Rather, we should help them to grow with us. We may even benefit business wise from exportation of more modern technological products if we let them grow rather than keeping them poor. I strongly believe America should stop supporting African dictators like Mobutu of Zaire (now Congo).
Mengesha, US

Nice calling, Clinton, but as usual there is little reason behind your statements.

Jeremy, UK
What America can provide is pressure for reforms, not blind investment. Africa has yet to provide any real incentive for investment except for the benefit of cheap labour. And this cheap labour can be achieved for roughly the same overall costs, with greater productivity, elsewhere. Nice calling, Clinton, but as usual there is little reason behind your statements.
Jeremy, UK

America owes Africa, no doubt. The CIA deprived us of our best leaders, Nkrumah, Keita, etc., and gave us Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Mobutu, Savimbi. If Uncle Sam was able to impose such men on us, it can help get rid of them.
K. Tamara, Holland

History is an ongoing story of one nation taking advantage of another. And, speaking of Africa, - almost everybody in the entire world has taken advantage of the people there. So, pointing fingers at the United States is not going to solve anybody's problem. The best thing that all of us can do is to make sure that African nations are given a fair chance to play their rightful roles in world affairs. And, the idea of doing anything beyond treating them as equals is non-productive for all.
Dave Adams, USA

It is not difficult to trace money looted from Africa...Let America return looted money.

Kolawole Raheem, Finland
African leaders should stop wasting Africans' money. Do we think the swindlers that are leading African countries will spend the money judiciously? Those leaders are even more guilty in the crimes they have committed by looting public accounts and investing the money in the West. Let America and the other Western countries return the looted money to Africa. By doing that in a sincere way, they would have paid the reparations needed. It is not difficult to trace looted money from Africa. We can easily calculate how much any African leader is or was entitled to as official salary and allowances.
Kolawole Raheem, Finland

Afro-American relations has never been a success story. It always seemed the relations have been one of "Horse and Riders"; Masters and Servants etc. Black Africa - the economic backbone of United States - has been demonised to be the "Parody of inhumanity". I support economic assistance that will not lead to "dependency".
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

If American wants a renewed relationship with Africaż I say God bless them. We Africans need America and Americans need Africaż The British or Europe are not in any better position to accuse American. Africa should not be forced to live in the past.
Kassa, Canada

America does owe a lot to Africa. However, the question now shouldn't be just how to pay back the debt. What we ask America to do is to quit interfering in Africans polices, because it distracts the continent more than ever.
Nebiyou, Ethiopia

I think America should be doing more to help. The reasons should not be totally centred on the slave trade which it was so slow in abolishing but for more modern reasons. The US has the ability through the current World Trade negotiations to help Africa trade its way out of poverty. The obstacles that the US has put up against them though is shameful especially on the subject of food exports. Any country can donate money to feed starving people but every country in the world should be helping to establish trade agreements to give Africa back its dignity.
Mike Thomas, UK.

In the l500's, ancient civilisations, built over millennia, flourished in Asia and Africa. Brutal and savage tribes from Europe, adopting the doctrine of manifest destiny, and the battle-cry of 'carrying the white man's burden of civilising the rest of the world', plundered, pillaged, murdered, massacred, ethnically cleansed the Americas, the Antipodes, and vast tracts of Asia and Africa. Africa and all the former colonies of Europe are right in demanding that reparations be paid to them just as the victorious powers extracted recompense from the Weimar Republic & just as the western powers are extracting every ounce of blood from Iraq and Yugoslavia today.
Mohan Singh, India

Africa only needs American businessmen to invest - not in American politicians visiting and ruining them with their volatile ideas. Help for Africa is investment and job opportunities not democratic propaganda.
Vijanth, Belfast UK (Malaysian)

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