Mental Problem – a phrase to be clarified!

Fekadu Bekele, PhD (15 April 2009) Regarding my article which I wrote about the G-20 summit, some Ethiopians are not satisfied with the way how I have analysed certain things. Some attacked me for having racist outlook like the Europeans, because I wrote that the African problem is not a monetary one, but a mental problem which is the main cause for the low economic performance of the continent. I wrote it in such a way not to irritate my readers, but to tell them what is happening on the ground and not to blame other forces as we always do.

The phrase in question must be analysed carefully so that we have common understandings. Concepts and phrases which are not clarified and substantiated well lead us to misunderstandings, and unnecessary attacks. We have seen this in the past, and we have to avoid this kind of misunderstanding. I know that I wrote the article in long sentences and paragraphs, just to clarify things. It is common in philosophy and certain economic writings to use such kinds of approaches. It seems for some, this is unnecessary jargon, and cannot explain what some want to know and learn how the present global economic order is constructed and function.

To come to the point, since 3 000 years philosophers and clergy men have tried to find out the causes of war, hunger and underdevelopment. After they have researched and studied well they came to the conclusion that the human mind is responsible for all the miseries what they have heard and experienced. If one reads the writing of Homer, which is one of the ancient literary works, clearly shows how human beings engage themselves into slaughtering each other when they become irrational. The work of Homer shows the state of the mind which was prevailing that time. One learns from this masterpiece of work that, as long as the human mind is not governed and guided by reason, he will destruct himself. The work of Homer is an anti-war literature. Socrates and Plato who were emerged after the Great War between the Persians and the Greeks, they had invested too much time to investigate the human mind, and developed two essential concepts which help shape our minds or souls. Reasoning out and dialectical method are the two scientific methods which help us to understand our selves and nature. Only when our mind is governed by reason and use the true dialectical method to investigate things, we can change ourselves and our environment.

From the 5th century A.D on wards, some European intellectuals have found the literary and philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle, which were interpreted and smuggled to Europe by the Arabs and the Jews. Until the 10th century A.D, the minds of most European people were manipulated by the Catholic religion, and hindered them not to be the master of their fate. They had to suffer from hunger, disease and poverty. In addition to this, the unnecessary wars among the different feudal lords on one hand, between the feudal lords and the Popes on the other hand, had destroyed their livelihood, and made them the victim of natural catastrophes. Dante, in his well known book, The Comedy of Gods, had clearly demonstrated that the human mind was darkened by the circumstances which were prevailing that time, and which were accepted as norms. According to Dante, the way out of this darkness is to clear the human mind and to show him the right path which could lead him to paradise. The Renaissance of the 15th century is the result of this kind of masterpiece work, which had shaped the minds of those intellectuals who were emerged that period. Without the Greek philosophical and literary works, and without this master piece work which was written by Dante, the Renaissance of the 15th century was not possible. This is well documented and analysed by all those who had realized that the human mind is responsible for all good and evil things. If one reads the works of Leibnitz, Goethe and Schiller, we realize that if human beings shape their minds with true knowledge, they could live in harmony, and become the Master of Science and technology. As Schiller said, since Aristotle we have heard the concept of democracy, at the end we remained barbarians. According to him, our mind and heart must come together, so that we can understand ourselves better and change our environment.

As we have studied and observed, though the Europeans had access to everything and could control their minds, major wars had occurred on the European soils. The 100 year war, the 7 and the 30 year wars, which exterminated 2/3 of the population, demonstrate that mastering science alone is not sufficient to bring a just and a harmonious world. The First and the Second World Wars were originated in Europe. Hitler was born and grown up in a country of poems and thinkers, as the Germans say. As Schiller said, mind and heart must come or work together so that human beings feel, think and handle properly. Only so we have a better world, without war and hunger.

Coming to our continent, if we study the technological backwardness, and how things are organized, it is this lack of acquainting one self with the Greek philosophy which is responsible for our thinking. By the way, the Greek philosophy is originated in Africa; all known philosophers, starting from Thales to Plato had studied in Egypt. Anta Diop the greatest African scientist has proved in his work that Africa is the mother of European civilization. The fact that Africa is detached from this philosophical work and Greek science, the continent is compelled to live in technological backwardness. Slavery in the 15th century and colonialism in the 19th century have their shares in shaping the present day Africa. After decolonization, in many African countries, state systems are established to continue with the old system of exploitation, and the so-called international division of labour. Since all state systems are not organically developed like that of Europe, they become suppressive, and the political elite remains indifferent to his country and his people. The education system which is implanted in our continent has totally confused the African elite, and there is no any organic link between the elite and the masses. We observe today that, the African political elite is engaged in selling the continent’s wealth and destroying the social fabric of the society. The political elite in Africa cannot understand its role, and it is guided by mere self interest and emotion. Fertile lands are sold to the so-called European and Arab investors. Europeans and Asian companies are authorized to fish from sees and ocean of the continent. From Senegal to Ghana, the innocent fish men become helpless and are escaping to Europe to find other means in order to help themselves and their families. Which European country is doing such kinds of outrageous things? Only the African political elite which cannot think properly has the capacity to destroy its people and the continent. In Ethiopia too, we observe that our government is selling our land to the Jews and Arab investors. Now the CIA is on the way to establish one of the biggest war machines in Addis Ababa, and operating in the country to bring disorder and to engage Ethiopia into major wars. This is only possible when we have leaders who cannot think profoundly.

To make short my message, when we read such kinds of articles like of mine, we must not be irritated. We must try to read them by relating to many other things. The problem we have is that we see things isolated, and we never try to grasp them in their totality. From Plato to Cusanus warn us that if we see things isolated and try to analyse them separately, we come to the wrong conclusion. Let us not feel offended by such kinds of articles, and try to ask ourselves why things are not working in our continent in a way they should work? Why is not possible for us to organize well functioning cities? What are the reasons that Africa is lagging behind in so many things? Why we Ethiopians are condemned in permanent hunger and poverty, while we have everything to be self-sufficient? The lack of democratic institution is not the right answer for such kinds of questions. The main problem is the way we are brought up, and the education system which is planted into our minds. That hinders us to see things beyond our selves. When I write this, I am not saying that we do not have intellectuals who can think and could shape our country or our continent. Most of the African intellectuals are living and working in Europe and America. These highly qualified intellectuals are systematically blocked by foreign and internal forces not to participate in intellectual discourse, and nation building. Unless we solve this problem, and get rid of the present political setup of the continent, the future of the continent remains bleak for a long time to come. Especially, we Ethiopian intellectuals must think about the method of struggle we are using, and our approaches towards foreign forces. Unless we are not ready to change our way of thinking, and the method we are using to liberate Ethiopia, our country will remain poor for a long time; and at the end she will be disintegrated by forces which are working day and night.

The writer Fekadu Bekele can be reacher at

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Posted by on April 15, 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.