We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yet another story which has received very little coverage in the US media about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's efforts to punish the urban poor for supporting the opposition candidate in the most recent election. In fact, the whole sad tale of the once-prosperous nation and its self-inflicted economic collapse has gone all but unreported in American news outlets, nor has the US government done anything other than issue its tepid disapproval of Mugabe's actions. We ignore Zimbabwe and the continent at our own risk.
Sadly, Zimbabwe's story is not unique among the nations of sub-Saharan Africa. As many of the former so-called "third world nations" advanced out of poverty in the years 1970-2000 - much of southeast Asia for example, and many countries in Latin America - African nations actually saw their per capita incomes decline during this period, as explosive population growth overwhelmed small gains in productivity. Five years into the new millenium, the trend has only continued to accelerate, as the old, post-WWII categories of first world (the West and Japan), second (the old Communist bloc) and third (all the rest) give way to a new order in which sub-Saharan Africa increasingly occupies a category of its own.
For example, of the 30 lowest-ranked nations in the world in terms of per capita income, sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for 20 (with many of the remaining ten being small, isolated island nations with tiny populations or Palestinian territories). Of those nations with the highest birth rates, often a good indicator of education, urbanization and women's rights, African nations are almost uniformly far above every other country in the world with the exception of Afghanistan and Yemen.
The population dynamics in particular are rarely considered in a geopolitical sense, yet what we are witnessing today is the greatest change in the distribution of human beings in history. From a population of roughly 100 million in 1900, Africa will grow to a projected 1.3 billion by 2020, while during the same time Europe's population will have less than doubled (from 400 million to under 700 million and shrinking). The future here is more or less set: already Nigeria has nearly as many 0-14 year olds as the entire European Union. The implications of such a massive population shift combined with increasing economic inequality is a recipe for unrest on a giant scale. The rapid spread of AIDS and the fact that Islam is gaining ground in southern Africa add additional explosive elements into the mix. The tension is already evident in the huge number of African emigrants desperate to enter Europe, yet what has happened thus far only represents the very beginning. The only question now is how Europe and the West will respond.