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May 2013

I wrote Dead Aid to contribute to a useful debate on why, over many decades, multi-billions of dollars of aid has consistently failed to deliver sustainable economic growth and meaningfully reduce poverty. I also sought to explicitly explain how decades of government to government aid actually undermined economic growth and contributed to worsening living conditions across Africa. More than this, I clearly detailed better ways for African leaders, and governments across the world, to finance economic development. I have been under the impression that Mr. Gates and I want the same thing – for the livelihood of Africans to be meaningfully improved in a sustainable way. Thus, I have always thought there is significant scope for a mature debate about the efficacy and limitations of aid. To say that my book ‘promotes evil’ or to allude to my corrupt value system is both inappropriate and disrespectful.

Mr. Gates’ claim that I ‘didn’t know much about aid and what it was doing’ is also unfortunate. I have dedicated many years to economic study up to the PhD level, to analyze and understand the inherent weaknesses of aid, and why aid policies have consistently failed to deliver on economic growth and poverty alleviation. To this, I add my experience working as a consultant at the World Bank, and being born and raised in Zambia, one of the poorest aid-recipients in the world. This first-hand knowledge and experience has highlighted for me the legacy of failures of aid, and provided me with a unique understanding of not only the failures of the aid system but also of the tools for what could bring African economic success.


Dambisa Moyo

She responded to insults from Bill Gates regarding her work and her intellect, on her blog. Bill Gates has taken the typical White liberal approach of paternalism and humanitarianism versus humanism. (In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire pointed out how humanitarianism and humanism are NOT the same.)  I read her book Dead Aid and she made some strong points and revealed how current aid systems for decades have failed, and why. Hint: It’s NOT because of inherent inferiority of Black Africans or the superiority but not enough cash from White Westerners.

Moyo was educated at Harvard and Oxford. Her actual bio reads: She completed a PhD in economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters degree from Harvard University. She completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry and an MBA in finance at American University in Washington, D.C. She is a Zambian Black woman with lived experience in Africa and knowledge of her country and continent. Despite all of this, simply being White, male and wealthy makes Gates an expert? He needs to stick to making subpar products compared to Apple and stop trying to usurp her via White male privilege, in discourses concerning Africa.

This is why I try to explain to fellow Black people and other people of colour, bootstrap theory is not your friend. Again, look at her resume. As you can see, clearly lived experience and an incredible amount of expertise is not enough when housed in a Black woman’s body. It mattered none to Bill Gates. This is the same thing that I address where Tim Wise is concerned. Whites (and sadly, some Black people) need to examine why he is their go to person about racism. Why is it that discourses from people who KNOW and LIVE a topic are considered sub-par once they are not a White male? White supremacy concerning their existence, racism conferring our “inferiority” and White privilege to pretend that this is not what is occurring.

Most of all, White Savior Industrial Complex is problematic. This “be glad we are helping you people in any way” thing angers. With disregard to the culture, nuances, the very lives of people somewhere, without regard to how capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism and colonialism, not racial inferiority, caused these problems in the first place, without regard to how things like Tom’s Shoes and Stop Kony are problematic as fuck? But nah, they’re liberal Whites so they are above critique from people of colour. Whatever….

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