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HomeEconomicsA Tribute to Prof. George Ayittey, One among Africa’s Biggest Economists

A Tribute to Prof. George Ayittey, One among Africa’s Biggest Economists

I used to be saddened to listen to of the passing of Professor George Ayittey, an excellent scholar, prolific author and fierce fighter for Africa’s freedom, prosperity, and dignity. Might heaven grant his soul peace and relaxation. 

Though I by no means met Professor Ayittey and only in the near past began consuming his work, I nonetheless contend that he deserves the title of Africa’s best economist and economics writer. No matter titles or recognition, given his unwavering free-market stance in a world dominated by statist economics, I see him as Africa’s best economist and economics writer. 

George Ayittey was born in Ghana in 1945 and handed away in January 2022 in the USA, the place he lived for many of his life. He earned a BS in economics from the College of Ghana, an MA in economics from the College of Western Ontario, and his PhD in economics from the College of Manitoba.

Dr. Ayittey held many outstanding roles and was related to quite a few universities and organizations. He was senior fellow on the Impartial Institute and an affiliate scholar on the Overseas Coverage Analysis Institute. Nonetheless, he’s finest referred to as a outstanding economist, writer, professor, the Distinguished Economist in Residence on the American College, and as president of the Free Africa Basis, a assume tank he based in 1993 to advertise financial reforms in Africa. 

He wrote many books, articles, and op-eds, lots of which have been featured in well-respected information shops, such because the Wall Avenue Journal, the New York Occasions, and the Washington Submit, together with famend African media homes. He appeared on prime tv reveals reminiscent of ABC’s Nightline and CNN’s Crossfire, on radio applications, and was invited to testify earlier than US congressional committees. 

His books embody the groundbreaking 585-page e-book Indigenous African Establishments (1991; 2nd ed., 2006), which arguably is his magnum opus. He additionally wrote Africa Betrayed (1992), which gained him the 1992 Mencken Award for Finest Ebook; Africa in Chaos (1998); Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future (2006); and Defeating Dictators: Combating Tyranny in Africa and across the World (2011).

Indigenous African Establishments is a trailblazing and illuminating e-book. It debunks the broadly held however mistaken view that free markets, free commerce, and free enterprise are Western ideas and thus “colonial” or “imperialist” imports. What are in truth international imports are the merciless and oppressive techniques (i.e., Marxism-Leninism and different types of socialism) applied throughout Africa within the wake of decolonization.

On this e-book, Dr. Ayittey demonstrates that Africa’s financial heritage is one in all decentralized and free-market techniques, not the centralized command-and-control statist/socialist techniques imposed on Africans since independence. For instance, he notes that

in indigenous Africa, all of the components of manufacturing have been owned by the natives or prolonged households, not by their rulers, the chiefs, or by tribal governments. Meaning, in standard language, that the technique of manufacturing have been privately owned. The looking spears, fishing nets, cattle, pots, huts, farm produce, fish, textile looms, gold jewellery outlets, and varied instruments and merchandise have been all privately owned. (p. 322)

Professor Ayittey additional notes: 

Land was broadly and erroneously regarded by the consultants as “communally owned.” This confusion arose … from … improper interpretation. Whereas the American might say, “This land belongs to me”— the person being the essential social and financial unit—the African would say, “This land belongs to us”—the “us” connoting the prolonged household. Sadly, early Europeans in Africa misinterpreted the “us” to imply the complete village or tribe…. A river “belonged to all,” however a dam throughout the river was personal property. As soon as somebody utilized his labor to one thing, it grew to become a private property. The identical angle was prolonged to land. As soon as a household settled on an unoccupied piece of land and farmed it, it grew to become theirs. (pp. 322–23)

Indigenous African Establishments is a groundbreaking e-book certainly. A complete presentation of precolonial and postcolonial Africa—its social techniques, financial techniques, authorized establishments, political establishments, native types of authorities, democratic processes, chiefdoms, kingdoms, cultural facets, in addition to its postcolonial betrayal and destruction. 

Equally, in Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future, Professor Ayittey produced a robust proposition for Africa’s future—a future the place African societies are free and affluent, a future, as he rightly defined, that may solely be achieved by embracing and constructing on Africa’s financial heritage of free markets, free commerce, and free enterprise. 

In his article “Indigenous African Free-Market Liberalism,” Professor Ayittey famous:

There’s nothing flawed with the normal financial system of free markets, free enterprise, and free commerce. All of the management needed to do after independence was to construct on it. Solely Botswana did this. However the overwhelming majority of African leaders—an assortment of black neocolonialists, Swiss-bank socialists, quack revolutionaries, and crocodile liberators—as an alternative went overseas and copied all types of alien practices to impose on their folks.

Have they realized? No. Black neocolonialists have been busy importing one other alien ideology, from China: On August 14, 2010, Xinhua reported: “A complete of 25 Confucius institutes have been opened in 18 African nations.”

Likewise, in “How Socialism Destroyed Africa,” he describes the abysmal failure, with damaging penalties, of dictatorial socialist regimes throughout Africa. He wrote: 

Equating capitalism with colonialism, Africa’s nationalist leaders rejected it and adopted socialism within the Nineteen Sixties. Overseas firms have been nationalized, a string of state-owned enterprises have been established and a plethora of state controls on hire, costs, imports, and international alternate have been imposed to seize the commanding heights of the financial system. However nowhere in Africa was the socialist experiment profitable.

Professor Ayittey typically stated, “Africa is poor as a result of she shouldn’t be free.” He devoted his life to advancing liberty in Africa and past and his scholarly work constitutes the best contribution by an African economist to this point. Though his passing is an irreparable loss, his work and legacy will reside on. His inspiring instance of mental honesty, integrity, and braveness to face up towards tyranny and injustice is outstanding and can be appreciated by many extra Africans as time passes.

Thanks, Professor Ayittey, on your trailblazing and illuminating work.



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