he popular story of Africa has always been one of poverty. By one measure, five of the 10 poorest countries in the world are in Africa. The continent’s poverty is not because of lack of natural resources or arable land; those are available in abundance. It can be traced to corruption, abuse of human rights, disregard for the rule of law, dictatorship, over-taxation, mismanagement of resources, and policies that raise barriers to trade.
Contrary to the belief that Africa is inherently socialist, traditional African societies practiced free trade and private ownership of property. Land was owned by families who decided what to produce and who to exchange barter with. The family in traditional Africa was regarded as the primary unit of society, comparable to the modern day individual.
Land ownership was transferred from one member of the family to another; there was no state intervention in this process. The council of elders or the monarchs did not control what families produced in their farms and who they traded with. Ancient trade routes sprouted modern cities developed from the spontaneous order of trade, not by the decree of traditional rulers.
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