Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Africa's Growing Middle Class



In many ways, the genesis and emergence of a new middle class that occurred in Europe during the 19th century, is being recapitulated today in Africa. Consider this: Most nation-states in Africa have been independent for only half a century. During the immediate post colonial rule, the social structure of Africa was largely divided into two groups, the political and economic elite--which made only a tiny fraction of the population-- and the rest of the population, which mostly consisted of subsistence farmers, artisans, and tradesman. By Western standards, this large demographic could be considered as a large impoverished working class. There was little-to-no middle class. Throughout the last fifty years, Africa has--in its own right--experienced an industrial revolution. Much more could be said about the many analogs between this and the 19th century industrial revolution but suffice it to say, that we are no witnessing a new and growing African middle class (read here). What effect will this new demographic have on the political, social, religious, and cultural institutions of Africa? How will it influence the many challenges that the continent currently faces? what rolse will digital media play in this process? I suppose only time will tell...