Week Four

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A “cheetah” or the “cheetah generation” refers to a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa and other emerging countries. This group of people focuses on replacing the old way that their country was led with innovation and accountability by redefining democracy, transparency, and fostering strong connections with other countries across the world. These people can be men or women, young or old, and are not limited to one geographic region or education level. Women are now more than ever especially able to become involved. The average number of children women give birth to has declined which allows for more independence and the ability to work and provide for themselves. While most of these jobs occur in an urban setting, some “cheetahs” can be found in small villages running locals NGOs that had provided help for them in the past.

One of my favorite quotes that was recently brought to my attention again by Jane Goodall is an ancient Indian proverb that says, “We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children”.  Although this quote refers to the physical Earth and environment, I think it can also be applied to past and future generations within the government. The “hippo” generation is viewed as leaving government and leadership for future generations in poor condition. When you think of a hippo, the first few things that come to mind are big, powerful, and slow. Much like an actual hippo, the hippo generation is a large group of people who had the power to be in control of a country but they are also stuck in the past and are moving slowly towards progress. As with real cheetahs, “cheetahs” in Africa are fast and moving forward to give a new direction for their country. In the video, George Ayittey talks about Africa’s future and how it relates to the “hippo” and “cheetah” generations.

The adage “You have to spend money to make money” is true and very unfortunate for developing countries. Developing and emerging countries need money for sustainable living but because most of them are living in extreme poverty, it is very hard for them to receive the proper funding to help them succeed. Malawi is a great example of this. Malawi is combating the harmful effects that AIDs has had on its population by trying to bring treatment to its people. As Jeffrey Sachs says, “Malawi actually put together one of the earliest and bed conceived strategies for bringing [HIV] treatment to its dying population, and gave an enormously thoughtful response to the challenges of managing a new system of drug delivery, patient counseling and education, community outreach, and the financial flows that would accompany the process of training doctors”. Unfortunately, other governments and donors saw this plan as too ambitious and cut back the plan so much that it was only able to provide enough medication for a fraction of the people who needed it.

AIDS awareness billboard in Malawi

Bangladesh, while higher on Sachs’ ladder than Malawi, still faces problems of its own. Known for its sweatshops and unfavorable working conditions, European and American companies have received a lot of protest for allowing their production to occur in places like sweatshops in Bangladesh. Protestors say that these working conditions, which include working for long hours for minimal pay and having to travel long distances, is not right. However, Sachs says that having these types of jobs might not be the end solution to solving poverty in Bangladesh, they are helping people and especially women become more independent.

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