TFW NO VIBRANIUM
Senegal is one of the most interesting countries in Africa.
It is interesting because it is a counterpoint. It is exceptional in the sense that it has been far more stable than the vast majority of African countries. Uganda had Idi Amin. Zimbabwe had Robert Mugabe. The Central African Republic had Emperor Bokassa. Ethiopia had Mengistu Haile Mariam.
The story of post-colonial Africa is largely the story of colorful dictators, military coups, civil wars, famines, corruption, genocides, massacres, anarchy, collapse, etc. Senegal is remarkable in that has never experienced a coup d’état, a foreign invasion or a civil war. The closest thing it has experienced to this is the Casamance conflict which is a low level separatist movement.
In Senegal, the usual explanations for why Black Africa isn’t Wakanda breakdown. It is ethnically and linguistically diverse, but it is a stable country. It hasn’t suffered military coups, foreign invasions or civil war. It hasn’t groaned under the tyranny of a monster. It hasn’t failed due to any lack of democracy, muh constitution or chronic corruption. Senegal was represented in the French parliament from the late 19th century until the German invasion in the Second World War and afterwards. It has held democratic elections since independence in 1960.
DIS NIGGA HERE MARRIED A WHITE WOMAN
Léopold Sédar Senghor, the first president of Senegal, was the Senegalese equivalent of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. He dominated Senegal for 20 years. In some ways, Senghor was like Nkrumah. He was the philosopher of négritude and an African socialist who favored state intervention in the economy. In other ways, he was very different. Senghor was a Francophile and maintained a close relationship with France. He kept trained French civil servants in Senegal and married a French woman.
How is Senegal ranked #162 in the UN Human Development Index? In spite of its relative stability, it is a poorer country and thus a bigger shithole than Ghana. Perhaps this is due to the legacy of slavery in Senegal or the terrible legacy of French colonialism?
In 1960, the average GDP per capita in Ghana, Senegal, Malaysia and South Korea was $182.98, $247.24, $234.92 and $158.24. Senegal was richer than Ghana, Malaysia and South Korea in 1960. In 2016, the average GDP per capita in Ghana, Senegal, Malyasia and South Korea was $1,513, $952, $9,508 and $27,538. Senegal is now by far the poorest of the four countries.
In 1960, South Korea, Malaysia, Senegal and Ghana were on the same economic level. In 2016, South Korea is a First World country with advanced manufactured and the fastest internet in the world. Malaysia is a middle income country. Ghana and Senegal are Third World countries. The cause of this is that the rest of the world outside of Africa has grown richer since the 1960s while Ghana and Senegal have stagnated. There was never a rise in sub-Saharan Africa comparable to East Asia.
In Senegal, the economy stagnated while the population soared after independence, which is the reason why it has remained such a poor country. The same was true of Haiti after the Haitian Revolution. The case of Senegal suggests that even if none of these other disasters had happened in post-colonial Africa – the coups, civil wars, evil dictators, genocides, famines, terrorism and religious sectarian conflict – the outcome might have been the same in spite of Western ‘good governance’.
What if there had been religious tolerance in Sudan or Nigeria? In Senegal, Léopold Senghor was a Roman Catholic who governed a 90% Muslim country for 20 years. What if African countries were ethnically homogeneous? Contrast ethnically homogeneous Somalia with ethnically heterogeneous Senegal and Cameroon. What if African countries weren’t so corrupt? Senegal is perceived as less corrupt than Spain and Portugal. What if African countries weren’t cursed by their natural resources? Unlike Sierra Leone, Liberia or Ghana, Senegal is known for peanuts instead of gold and blood diamonds. What if African countries had avoided slavery and colonialism? Senegal is better off than Liberia and Ethiopia. What if African countries were democracies? Senegal is a stable democracy.
African countries could do everything right and become stable democracies like Senegal … and they would still stagnate and be left in the dust by the rest of the world. As the contrast between Senegal and Ghana and South Korea and Malaysia shows, global inequality is getting worse.