Africa repeats mistakes of the west

There is something equally endearing and depressing about the images of plans for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, shown in the Guardian.

There is something equally endearing and depressing about the images of plans for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, shown in the Guardian

The optimism is cheering and the desire to plan for the future is admirable. But the newspaper article, rightly, asks what impact this will have on the poor who are unlikely to be able to afford to live in the shiny new buildings. And, even for those who can afford to live there, what will the quality of life be like? The image used in the print edition of the paper showed not only sexily shaped towers but also broad spaces between them. Conceived as noble plazas these are likely to be either traffic choked or dispiriting spaces to trudge across – or both. 

The days of colonialisms and patronising cultural dissemination of knowledge are, thankfully, long gone – but is there no way that the countries that have experimented and seen the failings of their experiments can somehow pass on the lessons to those who, otherwise, appear condemned to repeat them? Why does a vision of future prosperity have to look the same now as it did half a century ago?

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