The WSJ’s 5th Page One Series On Demography About Africa Suggests Rolling The Dice On Human Numbers: Very Bad Advice

Donald A. Collins | 28 November 2015
Church and State

Ahmed Musa, a 93-year-old nut trader, second row, center, sits for a portrait with a small portion of his extensive family. A seismic shift in demographic trends is transforming the world into an increasingly African place, creating new risks for political instability and extreme poverty, a United Nations agency says. (Photo: Monique Jaques for The Wall Street Journal)

The Wall Street Journal’s 5th in a series November 28th article on the effects of demography entitled “For a Growing Africa, Hope Mingles With Fear of the Future” features a story entitled “African Baby Boom Brings Hope And Fear” which begins with the story of 93 year old Mr. Musa, living in the small but burgeoning town of Lokoja, Nigeria where he has 4 living wives. He sired 21 children, one at age 70 and he is known as Mr. Cool.

Africa and the world are rolling the dice on the future of human life on our tiny planet. For example, the Journal tells us that Nigeria, now with 190 million and Boko Haram to deal with, will have nearly 400 million by 2050 and Africa 2.5 billion. When the century closes, 4 out of 10 people will be African.

As the Globe and Mail web site tells us:

While every other continent is seeing a slower rise in births, or even a decline, UNICEF projects that 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa over the next 35 years, and the total African population will nearly quadruple to about 4.2 billion by the end of the century.

Africa could reap a massive demographic dividend from its bigger labour force and relatively fewer dependents, the report says. The population boom could “transform the continent, breaking centuries-old cycles of poverty and inequality.”

But the opposite is also possible, and requires urgent discussion soon, UNICEF warns. “Unless investment in the continent’s children is prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion has the potential to undermine attempts to eradicate poverty through economic growth, and worse, could result in rising poverty and marginalization of many if growth were to falter.”

Seems to me that while investment in children is highly warranted, the failure to rein in the raw growth of human numbers can only insure the worse kind of chaos which will continue the migrations to Europe and elsewhere.

For example, on my last trip to Senegal, I learned that the fishermen were unable to earn a living there and many were leaving for the Canary Islands en route they hoped to Spain, which then several years ago, was trying absorb over 500 new migrants from Africa every year.

It is especially disheartening to read of Pope Francis who is now touring Africa spreading toxically bad theology on birth control. It has been this Vatican position which can account for much of the unbridled growth of human numbers ever since the ill advised propagation of Humane Vitae.

Just to refresh my memory on this infamous miscarriage of intention by the Vatican, I went to Wikipedia which stated,

Humanae vitae (Latin Of Human Life) is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and issued on 25 July 1968. Subtitled On the Regulation of Birth, it re-affirms the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church regarding married love, responsible parenthood, and the continued rejection of most forms of birth control. In formulating his teaching he did not accept (for reasons he gave in the encyclical) the conclusions arrived at by the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control established by his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, and which he himself had expanded.

Mainly because of its prohibition of all forms of “artificial” contraception, the encyclical was politically controversial, but it affirms traditional Church moral teaching on the sanctity of life and the procreative and unitive nature of conjugal relations. While Paul VI continued to teach through the medium of 122 Apostolic Constitutions, 8 Apostolic Exhortations, 121 Apostolic Letters, innumerable homilies, letters and reflections, he saw no need to issue any more encyclicals in the remaining ten years of his pontificate.

Between 1980 and 1984, Pope John Paul II delivered 129 addresses relating to the nature of marital love dubbed Catholic Theology of the Body, which fully vindicates Humanae vitae. Pope Benedict XVI called this topic “controversial, yet so crucial for humanity’s future”. Humanae vitae became “a sign of contradiction but also of continuity of the Church’s doctrine and tradition… What was true yesterday is true also today.”

The results of such rigidity are painfully obvious today.

A recent poll of American scientists suggests that a large majority of them (82 percent) regard population growth as a major challenge, almost as many as those who believe that climate change is mostly due to human activity (87 percent).

Of course the WSJ article’s pictures tell the story of present conditions and we can only remind our readers that the basis for improvement will begin with restraining dramatically the growth of human numbers which at this reading isn’t likely.

Even Mr. Musa, whose happiness seems incongruous in light of Africa’s future, has serious second thoughts.

In Musa’s Lokoja, a city likely to have a population of nearly half a million by 2050, the Journal article concludes, “‘Redemption from decay,’ reads a nearby billboard for a local politician.”

It continues:

And yet the social life of this small city on the river bank—baptisms, weddings, and graduation parties—continues apace. In September, Mr. Musa partied at the christening of his 16th great-granddaughter, Miriam.

Sitting in his living room, the old man had a word with Yuman Abbas, her father, his grandson.

It was time to break with family tradition, he said: To have fewer children, marry fewer wives, and move out from the crowded center of Lokoja.

To where, Mr. Musa, as by then the world will have so many fewer safe uninhabited places to move to, but then you won’t be there to reap the whirlwind. Neither will Pope Francis and all those who have unscrupulously, selfishly disobeyed the laws of nature in pursuit of their own indulgences. Recall it was the abuse of indulgences among many other factors that caused the Reformation. Can there be a humanistic reformation?

While Mr. Musa’s damage is already done, he voices the WSJ’s final paragraph:

“It isn’t easy to have this kind of family,” said the nonagenarian, jabbing a finger at his grandson. Cackling in Nigerian pidgin English, he teased: “If he get plenty children, plenty problems go come!”

After so much pro-natalist emphasis in the series so far, I compliment the article’s author, Drew Hinshaw, in getting the obvious vision of what will be, if unaddressed, such a dreary future for humans on this planet of now nearly 8 billion people.

The disruption predicted by many with the advent of modern life saving medicines is now coming true and only the more urgent address of the problem will hinder the worst of what the already exploded population bomb will bring us. The small explosions of the terrorists are clearly symbols of more to come.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

WSJ Page One Series: Other Articles by Don Collins

Back in 1991, the NGO Don Collins founded in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), co-produced a TV quality 22-minute film called “Whose Choice?” which Ted Turner arranged to broadcast on September 21, 1992 in prime time on his then independent Turner Broadcast System (TBS). Other outlets such as PBS and several of its affiliates Collins and his colleagues contacted then refused to run it because of its forthright treatment of the abortion issue, arguing for all women’s right to choose not to have a baby. ISAF has made a new edition of that DVD. The purpose for reissuing this 3rd version of “Whose Choice?” was simply to show the historical urgency that attended those times, still blocked and attacked over 40 years after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. This video is available for public viewing for the first time.

Al Bartlett – Is Birth Dearth a Real Problem?

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