Thursday, October 19, 2006

For Carless Kenyans, A Risky Way to Ride

For Carless Kenyans, A Risky Way to Ride - Washington Post

No one with a leading critical mind would argue that taxi cab travel in Kenya, or anywhere else in Africa, is less dangerous, and therefore less effective as a means of transportation, than in Europe or North America. We certainly might get an argument from the Kenyans that their way is better, but this national bias is to be expected.

Kenya, as a country and according to the United Nations Development Program, has a technology achievement index of .13, against a perfect score of 1, and a near-the-bottom rank of 64 among industrial countries. The US, on the other hand, has an index of .73 and a ranking of 2, behind Finland at .74. This index and rank describes the degree and rate at which a country has and continues advancing, over time, with the aid of technology, however it comes by that technology.

This disparity of outcomes conjures up many notions of what is influencing the behavior that clearly makes a particular location less desirable, and vulnerable, to events and those who are more advanced. By far the leading notion has always been, and continues to be, that Africans are somehow inferior as a people, and low-technology scenarios of behavior are the result.

Despite the assertions of those who say the disparities are rooted in genetics, science has yet to identify the resulting cognitive and brain physiology differences between Africans and Europeans, or anyone else, that would begin to account for the differences we see. On the other hand, the 7,000-year history of the landscape tells a vivid and logical story of the impact that a dearth of resources and an abundance of distractions can have for advancing a society on par with other societies around the globe.

To deny disparities, or worse yet, to blame them errantly on convenient factors, including the politically revised deeds of others, is abhorrent to the only truth that will ultimately set us free. That truth being that after only 150,000 years as a species, on a 6 billion year-old planet, we are all still Africans under the skin, even while fate has made us lesser equals.

James C. Collier


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