Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

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“Africa needs a remodel, and America needs to be the constructor.”

Eric Stubben

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Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News. 

When I first caught wind of Nelson Mandela’s passing last month, my mind started racing a million miles an hour. His political views were to the left. Mine are to the right. But with Nelson Mandela, none of that matters.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mandela. His words, his actions and his intelligence traits put him among the greatest to ever walk this Earth. Throughout high school I read books, wrote essays and did reports all about Mandela. He was a leader I idolized and one I hope history never leaves behind.

Mandela’s death highlights the enormous odds he overcame and shines a spotlight on South Africa as a leader of democracy in such a dark continent. My hope is that the spotlight shines bright enough for our government to realize what can be done in Africa.

To say the least, things in Africa are bad … really bad. Central Africa still suffers from a long, disturbing trend of ethnic violence. France and Great Britain provide military aid to Central African Republic to suppress fighting. Nigeria and the Western Sahara region is rampant with radical Islamic attacks on Christians. Sudan and South Sudan recently split, but are marred with racial tensions and tribal warfare. Now that Mandela’s gone, we can only hope South Africa will be able to control their rampant crime without developing a militaristic state or losing democracy.

That’s why Africa needs our help all the more.

The United States currently gives roughly $8 billion per year in foreign aid to African countries. While the cost is fair, the recipients are somewhat shady. In 2014, we are scheduled to give $210 million to Somalia, a country with essentially no government and citizens plagued with piracy and radical Islam. Countries like Uganda and Zimbabwe may not have stable governments, but it doesn’t seem to matter; we’re scheduled to give Zimbabwe $152 million next year. And Egypt, the country in turmoil and a recent adopter of Sharia Law, is slated $1.7 billion in foreign aid next year.

Of the $8 billion being shipped to Africa next year, the real question is: Who will actually see it? How much will be gobbled up into the personal accounts of corrupt leaders while their citizens continue to starve and live in poverty? How much of the money will be funneled into the pockets of terrorists by governments fearing terrorism with no way to combat it but bribery?

Africa needs a remodel, and America needs to be the constructor. As a whole, Africa has more potential than most realize, but doors are closing fast.

Militarily, Africa contains a corridor to the Middle East and is crucial to the fight against terrorism. With proper military training for countries such as Egypt and Libya, we can gain crucial allies against terror. With the Arab Spring and new governments arising, there has never been a better time to build strong military ties between the United States, Egypt and Libya.

Politically, Africa provides both dangers and opportunities. Our promise and determination to quell terrorism can’t be successful without an attempt to contain its spread to Africa. Although military measures are unnecessary and would be very unpopular, a strong diplomatic surge through Africa can be beneficial. Due to the state of most African nations, it would be hard for any to turn down a stronger relationship with the United States. The more political allies we have in the fight against terror, the more successful we will be.

What we need to do is rethink and revamp our strategy in Africa. Instead of continuing our decades of neglect and minimal effort, we need to begin decades of building strong relationships with not only African governments, but with African people.

Instead of handing out aid to violent dictators and corrupt governments, let’s use that some money to help the countries dedicated to improvement. Strip most of the aid going to countries like Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Somalia while allotting more to the likes of Ghana and Kenya.  In reality, the money going to corrupt governments isn’t going to be seen by the people who need it anyway. We should allot some of the stripped money as grant money for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In most cases, the money going to NGOs goes straight to helping people in need. It’s a plan that doesn’t cost us any more money, but rewards countries and governments that deserve more.

We need to support leaders in Africa who rally around the principles of Nelson Mandela, ones who will not forget ethnic tensions, but will forgive for the sake of the future of their country. We can support Mandela’s idea of “sport diplomacy” and leaders modeling his calm, collected demeanor.

African nations need our support, and we should lend a helping hand. With the passing of Nelson Mandela, we need to create opportunities for many more leaders like him to arise. Not only was he positive for the South Africa, but for the world as a whole. Mandela’s presence will be missed, but his ideals should never be forgotten.

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