I have started reading Season of Rains - Africa in the World by Stephen Ellis. It is a slim volume and, it seems like it is going to be interesting commentary.
My Facebook status today was an excerpt from the first chapter:
"'The tragedy of Africa is that the African man has never really entered history,' France's newly elected president, Nicolas Sarkozy, told an audience in Dakar on 26 July 2007 during his first trip to Africa after his inauguration. His speech provoked fury among intellectuals both in Africa and France. He continued: 'The African peasant, who for centuries has lived according to the season, whose ideal is to be in harmony with nature, has known only the eternal renewal of time via the endless repitition of the same actions and the same words. In this mentality, where everything always starts over again, there is no place for human adventure, nor for any idea of progress.'"
President Sarkozy and his speechwriters are probably not the only people who believe that Africa south of the Sahara never made any progress until Europeans proclaimed their formal rule over most of that vast area in the later nineteenth century and that even now Africans are reluctant to contemplate change and self-improvement. It is quite likely that many Europeans and Americans still hold fairly similar views, although few historians today would support views like Sarkozy's."