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[afro-nets] Demographic entrapment

Demographic entrapment
"...enjoy your surrogate lynchings..."

Here are three e-mails about demographic entrapment, minimally

(1) Me to Prof. Nelson Sewankambo, Dean of Makerere Medical
School, Kampala, Uganda.

(2) His magnificent reply.

(3) Comments by Professor Tony McMichael, Director, National
Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, Australian National
University, Canberra. Do read what he has to say about
"...enjoying my surrogate lynchings...".

My e-mail to Prof. Nelson Sewankambo

Dear Nelson,

In Kinshasa last August I lectured to a large gathering of the
Chefs du Zone on "Pieges demographique au Congo?" - "Demographic
traps in the Congo?"

There was no taboo, no aggro, and great interest in les Demons!
- see below.

After my lecture, an absolutely lovely man, Dr Kasonia Kizito,
more or less threw his arms round my neck, and implored me to
visit his zone, Butembo, in North

Kivu. This, I am about to do.

I return from Butembo on Monday April 5th.... I shall be de-
lighted to lecture to whoever, wherever.

A community is demographically trapped if it exceeds the carry-
ing capacity of its local ecosystem (too many people for the
land to support), and people have nowhere to migrate to (nowhere
to go), and there are too few exports to exchange for food and
other essentials.

The end results of entrapment are the direst poverty, stunting,
starvation, and violence, as in Rwanda, Malawi, and if we are to
believe Figure 'X' below, much of Africa.

It is also trapped, if because its population is increasing rap-
idly, it is expected to be in this unhappy condition before

I understand that the Government's attitude in Uganda is "Popu-
lation no problem". However, with a total fertility of about
six, Uganda's population would at least triple, even if every
female instantly had two children only from now onwards. The
population situation in western Uganda would seem to be grave -
part of the population problem in the Great Lakes region of Cen-
tral Africa as a whole.

The present "solution" to entrapment is to taboo it entirely -
demographers, development economists, and the UN agencies never
discuss it.

There are at least 25 reasons for this taboo - in the jargon its
25 'Demons'.

Demon 3 argues that, if the South has to reduce its fertility,
[if necessary to one child only], the North will be expected to
reduce its resource consumption, and live sustainable life-
styles, which indeed we should (my hands are numb with cold!),
to the great benefit of global warming.

Who is most worried by this? The United States! It would there-
fore make good political sense for the United States (Demon 21)
to try to keep entrapment taboo for as long as it can, so as to
minimise further criticism of its huge resource consumption.

There is massive evidence that it is doing exactly this - see:
The corruption of demography as an instrument of US policy on
the website below. The US is well able to do this, because it
dominates demography globally, and the UN agencies.

What it comes to is this: Does one, or does one or not, warn
one's friends in Africa, that, if they don't reduce fertility
radically, they are going to proceed to starvation and violence
- if they are not already there? I think one has to, and that
not to do so, is the gravest possible dereliction of duty in
public health. If one's friends in Africa want to lynch one,
they are more than welcome! I trust that I shall proceed to my
martyrdom with 'a good courage'! A much "nobler" end than, say,
carcinoma of the rectum!

1-child families are not nearly as impossible in Africa, as is
often thought. I have opened the dialogue on 1-child families in
Malawi and the Congo, as well as in Uganda. I am also told that
it can be opened in Kenya. After lecturing in Uganda in 1996 I
wrote an article for 'The Uganda Monitor' entitled the "Will
Uganda follow Rwanda?". Its Ugandan editor removed my title and
replaced it with his own "Go for one kid families or the [popu-
lation] Bomb will hit Uganda!"

I am eagerly looking for a government in Africa which will ask
the UN agencies "What is this entrapment we hear about? Can you
advise us?" This would lift the taboo on entrapment at a stroke.
If you have the ear of the Government, I do hope you will en-
courage them to do this.

There is another dimension to all this (actually many). Global
warming is terrifying. If the Arctic permafrost ever starts
thawing (its temperature is already rising) to the point at
which it releases its trapped methane (an excellent greenhouse
gas), this could initiate a positive feedback loop, in which, in
the words of Stephen Hawking, "Earth starts boiling like Venus"
- more warming, more methane, more warming.... The argument of
Demon 3 would be very useful in mitigating this. [it would in
effect become "Angel 3"] The activity of the US (Demon 21) in
keeping entrapment taboo and preventing the beneficial action of
Demon 3, is therefore a risk factor for disaster in the world as
a whole of "super - mega - colossal" proportions.

If Kinshasa can discuss entrapment, surely Makerere can also -
never mind that Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, and even Britain's
Royal Society cannot!!!

I greatly look forward to calling in, and trust that you will
start selling tickets for the lecture immediately! In default of
actual lynching, I suggest the audience bring its rotten toma-

Maurice King

Prof Sewankambo's magnificent reply:

I was delighted to learn of your very successful visit and lec-
ture in Kinshasa. I very much look forward to a similar one in
Makerere during your next visit. Please keep in touch in early
March when your travel plans to Kampala are confirmed so that we
can arrange for the lecture.


Nelson Sewankambo

Tony McMichael's comments:


Great to hear that you are entering 2004 indefatigably.

As the world gets warmer (certain), as infectious disease out-
breaks intensify (likely), as food yields wobble precariously
(apparent), and as economists (begin to) concede that hu-
man/social capital is ultimately more important than economic
capital (something that Colin Powell also recognises, I sense),
so we must hope that the debate on population, environment and
sustainability will mature.

[This is "the cloud-cuckoo-land argument" - considering the pre-
sent state of population in Africa in relation to its carrying
capacity, and particularly Figure 'X'. Since "AFRO-NETS" appears
not to allow illustrations, so you are going to have to look for
this on the website below.]

Enjoy your surrogate lynchings,

[They may not always be quite so "surrogate" - population meet-
ings can get very ugly - so I am told!
If remember correctly, I owe the possibility that I might be
lynched to Professor John Cleland of the London School of Hy-
giene, who was amazed that I had not been lynched when lecturing
on entrapment in Kinshasa]

Tony McM

Prof. A.J. McMichael
Director, National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
Australian National University, Canberra

[The most eminent demographer of Africa, Jack Caldwell, is on
the staff of the National Centre.

I once asked Jack "How much of Africa do you think is demog-
raphically trapped?"

"Most of it..." he replied. Figure 'X' - below - supports him
strongly. Why then will he not admit it...???

Answer, see the website:

Alternatively, ask Google to search for "disentrapment"!!!

Since the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
in Canberra contains the most eminent demographer of Africa, why
does not it hold a meeting to discuss Africa's demographic en-
trapment, and its disentrapment? I do hope that you will all
persuade Professor McMichael that it is now a point of honour
that it should do this with the greatest possible urgency, and
the minimum delay.

Again, I shall be delighted to discuss entrapment with any audi-
ence anywhere - just give me the time and place, and I will do
my best to be there.

Maurice King MD, FRCP, FRCS
Honorary Research Fellow
University of Leeds
5 Ashwood Villas
Leeds LS6 2EJ, UK
Phone and fax: +44-113-230-4441
Alternatively, ask Google to search for "disentrapment"

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