WHAT is happening in Central and Eastern Europe - the far-reaching change in the relations between the superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union - is a good thing insofar as it means movement toward d'etente, understanding, cooperation, rapprochement between nations and peoples. And some of the consequences are already being seen: the events in southern Africa, Namibia's accession to independence, the retreat from apartheid, the winds of democracy and freedom that are blowing everywhere - all that is positive. But in more concrete terms, especially in terms of economic growth and development, will the countries of the third world really benefit? I would like to state very clearly that there is nothing to indicate that the countries of the third world in general or Africa in particular are going to benefit from this global geopolitical reorientation.
Are the terms of trade for raw materials going to improve? Is debt going to be reduced? Is interference in the internal affairs of small countries going to stop? Will the new relationship between the superpowers be consolidated at the expense of the small countries? These are critical questions, which Africa is asking, because an analysis of the overall trends unfortunately does not show that the third world or Africa will benefit from the new situation, in terms of peace or economic growth and development.
For example, because the drought is a very serious matter, will more attention be paid to the struggle that the countries of the Sahel are waging against it? The drought is not just confined to the Sahelian countries currently being ravaged: It is advancing. Can our countries hope for more aid to fight it now? There is nothing so far to indicate this will be the case.
There is a lot of talk today about the the new world order. There is a lot of talk about freedom and democracy. The peoples of the world love freedom and democracy. But all peoples have their own civilization, history, mores, customs, and attitudes. Each people must seek its destiny, its fulfillment - in other words, its own freedom and democracy - within a unique historical context. Outsiders should not try to impose their particular ideas, viewpoints, or concepts of freedom and democracy.
Today, one has the impression that certain powerful countries are saying to the others: copy us; take our model, and anyone who rejects our model is an enemy of freedom and democracy. There are those who claim they have a monopoly on truth, and I think those are dangerous tendencies. The rich and powerful should show at least a little bit of modesty and a minimum of respect for others.