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Africa: Hopeful or Hopeless Continent?


with Dean Pavlakis

professor of history at Carroll College

Civil wars, the Ebola epidemic, famine, rebellions, and violence—this is what most people hear about Africa, because crisis generates news and memorable images. Yet many places in Africa are also generating improvements in living standards, democratization, and public health—so much so that the Economist weekly newsmagazine ran a cover story in 2014 called "The hopeful continent." Are Africa’s difficulties rooted in its past or its present? How are Africa’s success stories coming about? Dean Pavlakis presents a balanced view of the good news and difficulties faced by this large and diverse continent, with reference to the impact of these changes in the wider world. He discusses the progress and problems that affect the many different nations of sub-Saharan Africa, in the context of a colonial past, a post-colonial present, and the changing world economy. This talk also covers the sometimes counterproductive efforts the world has made to help Africa and the role that African individuals, societies, and institutions play in the prospects of African countries.