What is happening in Africa?
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has infected over 1300 people. This has many worried that its economic effects could retard progress in an area that badly needs growth. Ebola is particularly virulent, spread through contact with any kind of body fluid, such as sweat or blood. And there’s no specific treatment or vaccine.
Shakespeare was well-acquainted with disease and death. The bubonic plague swept through London several times during his life, killing three of his sisters, his brother, and his son. His plays are filled with references to pestilence and plague. When characters are “shut up,” it recalls the early practice of quarantine, confining the sick in their houses to prevent contagion. Since bubonic plague was transmitted by fleas—often carried by rats—such isolation didn’t work too well.
Those infected with the plague seemed fated to sicken and die. “The stars pour down plagues,” exclaims one of the characters in Love’s Labor’s Lost. But fate is not the final word in Shakespeare. Our outcomes lie in our choices, not our stars. His heroes rise or fall because of the decisions they make, not due to external factors.
Ultimately, Africa’s future depends on its own actions. The virus plaguing Guinea and Liberia will hurt those countries, but it can’t halt their economic progress. 10 of the 15 fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa. Africa’s future lies not in its afflictions, but in what it adopts.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!