Saturday, April 16, 2011

Do Things Fall Apart?

Note: When I wrote this blog over a week ago, while I was on holiday in Sabie. Since writing this, things are, thankfully, quite different in the Ivory Coast. Nonetheless, food for thought:

In regards to what is happening in the Ivory Coast:

It is so sad. Heartbreaking, really. And not just because so many people are dying but because it is another country that once again has failed; failed in government, failed in providing for its people, and failed in moving and progressing forward. Do you know what is going on there? Just click the Africa section of the New York Times online and you’ll see.

It is also saddening because it’s another country that only furthers the already discouraging image that most Americans (and I’m guess other non-Africans) hold of Africa. Why does Africa seem so torn by struggle, strife, civil war, revolution? This is not a profound or new question to me, to the world of academia, or to anyone who has watched international news for any length of time. But it just hits me again, as I sit in the bush of South Africa (quite a nice bush, I must admit), reading about the Ivory Coast on my phone…

People always ask me, “Do you feel safe there?”  Half of my major in college was focused on African studies, so I feel like I came to South Africa, already knowing a tad more than the average American about the country and the continent as a whole. I always answer people affirmatively and add that I have never really once felt in danger here. (I know that is also very much in thanks to the people here who have taken care of me and taught me where to go and when and where not to go and when. ) Nonetheless, I find myself questioning the stability and potential future of the country I am living in. South Africa is the anomaly to the trend of governments and history of African countries, but what if it’s not? What if it is just a matter of time till something comes out, till something bursts, till things fall apart? I’m sure those of you who are reading this that are South African may be offended or appalled at that suggestion. But I can’t help but wonder. Time has already spoken a good deal for South Africa, but there is still more to tell. There is still more to tell for the United States. We have only been a country for about 250 years, which is really nothing compared to historical kingdom, dynasties, to the overall frame of time.

So, what am I saying with all this? Nothing specific. I don't want to offend anyone. I’m just stating things that I’m thinking about and find interesting. I do think though, that the overall pattern of countries here in Africa and worldwide, especially those that have been considered failed or underdeveloped should be given full attention. Additionally, history should be headed when looking to the future. As Ecclesiastes says, "There is nothing new under the sun." I suppose through all of this though, no matter what happens to countries or what decisions governments make, we must be grateful that we have something greater to live for than this life. And while we are here, focus on how we can make the lives of other's, better.

What do you think?


  1. As one who is an outsider and more ignorant of South African history than I care to admit, you are in a great place to get answers to some very good questions. South Africa's resources and political development are quite unique from the rest of the continent. And a country that can deal with it's own history and change the way that is has is truly amazing. There are many lessons to be learned and imitated.

  2. I read this aloud to Ben as we travelled to teen prom :) We were talking about how ridiculous it is that Abidjan is rarely on US news. We catch a glimpse of it here & there but nothing much. And I am grateful for the Kingdom of God and HOPE because they let us know. In fact we had a day of fasting for them, and the people of Japan and Haiti. It is so great to feel connected through God. But yes, things are falling apart, fear not, Elizabeth, it's not just you or Africa (we almost had a government shut down a few weeks ago!! but I'm sure you know that my NY times savvy friend).
    I love you.


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