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What are the Lives of the People in Mali, Ethiopia, and South Africa like?

Introduction- Mali, Ethiopia, and South Africa are three countries on the continent of Africa. Location-wise they are about as far away from each other as they could possibly be and still be in Africa. However, they share many similarities in climate, physical land forms, culture and quality of life of their citizens. The South African citizen shows the highest life quality with the best chances of advancement. While many of those in Mali and Ethiopia are facing a poverty stricken life style as a hard working farmer for the foreseeable future.

A) Physical environment (landforms)- Mali, South Africa, and Ethiopia are all located in different parts of Africa containing a varying array of landforms. Below is a map of Africa with Ethiopia in light green, Mali in yellow, and South Africa is in dark green. Mali is located in the western region of Africa, Ethiopia in the east, and South Africa is in the south.

The three countries are each slightly less than twice the size of Texas. Both Mali and Ethiopia are landlocked while South Africa has about 2,798 kilometers of coastline. This coastline provides South Africa with a continental shelf 200 meters deep, an exclusive economic zone 200nm and a territorial sea 12nm. Ethiopia s terrain includes a high plateau with a central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley. Mali s terrain is mostly flat with some rolling plains in the North covered by sand. There is also savanna in the south and rugged hills in the northeast. South Africa terrain has a vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and a narrow coastal plain. Ethiopia has the lowest point of elevation of the three countries which is Denakil at 125 meters below sea level. South Africa s lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean, 0 meters. Mali s lowest point is at the Senegal River, 23 meters above sea level. Ethiopia has the highest elevation at Ras Dashen Terara, 4620 meters. South Africa s Njesuthi mountain is 3,408 meters high. Mali s highest point is the Hombori Tondo at 1,155 meters. Ethiopia has the most arable land at 12%, South Africa at 10%, then Mali at 2%. Ethiopia also has the most forest and woodland at 25%, while South Africa has 7%, and Mali 6%.

1. B) Physical Environment (climate)- Ethiopia s climate is temperate in the central highland plateau, hot along the borders, with some areas prone to extended droughts. Some regions of Ethiopia are prone to tropical monsoons and average rainfall is more than 40 inches in the plateaus, while the lowlands experience less than 20 inches of annual rainfall. Mali s climate ranges from subtropical to arid weather, hot and dry February to June, rainy, humid and mild June to November, and cool and dry from November to February. Mali averages about 10 inches of annual rainfall in the north and 35 inches in the south. South Africa s climate is mostly semiarid in the interiors, but is subtropical along the coast with sunny days and cool nights. South Africa receives about 40 inches of annual rainfall on the east coast, while the western 2/3 of the country receives about 23 inches. All three countries have Natural Hazards: Ethiopia has a geologically active Great Rift Valley and is susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and frequent drought. Mali has hot dust-laden harmattan haze during dry seasons and also has recurring droughts. South Africa has only prolonged droughts.

2. A) Family (structure)- Mali s family structure is 48% of the population under 14 years of age, 49% of the population 15 to 64, and 3% are 65 and over. In urban areas, Mali s family s are primarily nuclear while in rural areas families are normally extended. In Mali most people speak French, Bambara, or numerous African languages. The Ethnic groups of Mali are Mande-50%, Puel-17%, Voltaic-12%, Songhai-6%, Tuareg and Moor-10%, and 5% other. In Ethiopia, families are also primarily nuclear in urban areas and extended in rural areas. In Ethiopia, people speak Amharic (official), Tigrinya, Orominga, Guaraginga, Somali, Arabic, and English. The ethnic groups in Ethiopia include: Oromo-40%, Amhara and Tigrean-32%, Sidamo-9%, Shankella-6%, Somali-4%, Afar-4%, Gurage-2%, and others-1%. South Africa similarly has nuclear families in urban areas and extended families in the rural regions. Most people speak Africaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, North and South Sotho, and Bantu. The ethnic groups in South Africa are Black-75.2%, white-13.6%, colored-8.6%, and Indian 2.6%.

2. B) Family (number)- The population of Mali is 9.9 million. Families in Mali are generally large. When two random families were chosen, one consisted of four people and one consisted of 7 people. The growth rate in Mali is about 10,000 people so families should be larger than four on average. 27% of the people live in urban area while 73% of the people live in rural areas. The population of Ethiopia is 42. million. When a random family was chosen, it consisted of 8 people. 13% of the people live in urban areas while 87% live in rural areas. The population of South Africa is 42.7 million people. When a random family was chosen, it consisted of 7 people. 51% of the people live in urban areas and 49% of the people live in rural areas.

3. A) Life styles (homes)- In Mali, many people in rural areas inherit homes, while many people in urban areas rent homes. In rural areas, a person s house is normally about 40 to 50 square meters. In Ethiopia, many people also inherit their houses, but the government is now nationalizing property. People have to pay new high land taxes to hold their property. In rural areas a person s house is about 30 to 40 square meters. In South Africa, some people inherit and some people also rent homes. For a house about 420 square feet, it would cost about 140 dollars a month.

3. B) Life styles (possessions)- In Mali most farmers have few to no motorized farming equipment. A most valued possession could be something like an old bicycle. Few people in the rural areas own a source of motorized transportation. There are few items around the house and it is common to share beds. Ethiopia is slightly poorer than Mali. For transportation most people use animals. A most prized possession is either animals on the farm or jewelry. Also, most people only have one set of clothing. South Africa is the richest of the three countries, many people may even have radios or television sets.

3. C) Life styles (diet)- A typical breakfast in Mali consists of soup made with grain and rice. Lunch consists of rice with fish or meat sauce. Dinner usually consists of rice and fish every day because meat is too expensive. In Ethiopia, breakfast is usually roasted barley grain and coffee. They also sometimes have bread. Many Ethiopians can t afford lunch, but when they can it consists of fried barley wheat and coffee. Dinner consists of bread with a sauce, porridge or cooked cracked wheat. In South Africa, breakfast consists of soft porridge, tea, and bread. Lunch consists of pap and meat or pap and milk. Dinner consists of pap and soup.

3. D) Life styles (leisure time)- In Mali, leisure time consists of talking to friends, playing ball, or listening to music. They spend about 2 hours a week talking to friends, 1 hour a week listening to music, and in September they canoe race about twice a week. Most people from Mali don t have enough money to go on vacations. In Ethiopia, there is almost no leisure time, except when the children play at home. Several times a week a neighbors may visit each others houses to chat and drink coffee for twenty minutes. There is also a religious gathering once a month, called Mahber, one for women, one for men. South Africans have a little more leisure time. They are able to visit friends for about 6 hours a week, listen to music for about 8 hours, watch TV for about 15 hours, and read for about 18 hours. They also are able to go on vacations about once a year.

3. E) Life Styles (Religion)- In Mali the principal religions are Muslim-90%, indigenous beliefs-9%, and Christian 1%. In Mali, religion is very important. In the Muslim faith, people sacrifice lambs on celebration days. In Ethiopia, the principal religions are Muslim-40-45%, Ethiopian Orthodox-35-40%, Animist-15-20%, and other 5%. In Ethiopia, people try to attend religious gatherings on days they are supposed to and incorporate that in to their lives. In South Africa, the principal religions are Christian, Hindu, Islam, and Bantu. In South African, religion is also very important, most people frequently pray and attend religious gatherings. It appears that in all three African countries religion is more important than in the United Stated.

4. A) Life Chances (literacy)- In Mali the literacy rate is 24% female 41% male. In Ethiopia, the literacy rate is 62% combined. In South Africa, the literacy rate is 76% for both male and female. In the United Stated, the literacy rate is 95% females and 96% males.

4. B) Life Chances (income)- In Mali, the average income is 251 dollars a year. Of that 251 dollars, 57% is spent on food. In Ethiopia, the average income is 123 dollars a year, 50% is spent on food. In South Africa, the average income is 2,543 dollars a year with 34% spent on food.

4. C) Life Chances (mortality)- In Mali, the infant mortality rate is 159 out of 1,000 births. The life expectancy is 50 years old for a female, 47 years old for a male. In Ethiopia, the infant mortality rate is 130 for 1,000 births. The life expectancy is 50 for a female, 47 years old for a male. In South Africa, the infant mortality rate is by far the best at 53 per 1,000 births. The average life expectancy is significantly higher at 66 years old for a female 59 years old for a male.

4. D) Life Chances (health)- Most people who live in Mali have no form of Health care or birth control. There are some health care clinics, but they are very spread apart. In Ethiopia, the health care is about the same. They only have clinics to go to when they are very sick. South Africa has a more money and is able to afford public health care services and inform people about birth control.

4. E) Life Chances (Sanitation)- In Mali, garbage is usually disposed of by a compost. Most people do not have sewage treatment, and water is found in wells, rivers, and lakes. Most people don t have any waste in Ethiopia. Bushes are toilets, excess food is for the animals, and dung is used for fertilizer. Sewage and water are the same as Mali. In South Africa, most garbage is used in compost. The country is more advanced with many people having running water and sewage treatment.

5. What family was the most interesting? Why?

The Ethiopian family was the most interesting. They are all very generous people even though they are so poor. Another reason they are very interesting is that there are times when it is slack season, and the men do no work. The women have no slack season and continue to work hard even though they are treated like slaves. The Ethiopian father also said that he wishes for peace in such a war torn world. This statement alone is very interesting because usually, when a person is very poor, they wish for money or wealth. This particular man is more concerned about the rest of the world in spite of his poor fate. This family also considers animals their most prized possession. The last thing that I found very interesting about this family is that they explained how their lives were worse off than their parents and that their children will probably face a long life in poverty as farmers. This struck me because I can imagine how they are feeling, knowing that their life is doomed to poverty.

6. What aspect of family life was most shocking? Why?

There were two aspects of family life that shocked me greatly. The first aspect was the poverty and lack of wealth of the people, meager food, health and leisure. The second aspect was the theft in South Africa. People go in at 8pm and lock there doors to avoid robbers. This makes the house suffocatingly hot. Armed bandits rob restaurants and the newspapers are full of people killed in their homes by intruders. I could not begin to imagine leading a life like this. The other aspect was the poverty. In Ethiopia and Mali they don t even have ready access to any form of birth control. Everyone has one pair of used clothing and two if they are lucky. These farmers know they are destined to be poor like their parents.

7. Which family had the best opportunity to change their life? What would they change to? Would they desire to change?

I think the South African family have the best opportunity to change. The South African people seem to be the richest out of the three countries, they are making the most amount of money, and have the highest quality lifestyle amongst the three. Both the people from Mali and Ethiopia seem to be stuck as poverty stricken farmers. The South Africans could probably change to some kind of low class business men. They want to get an education, but would probably not get that good of an education by today s modern standards . I believe that people of all three families have a desire to change. They would all like to make more money, and buy better things for their families. The three families were all hard workers in spite of being so poor. That is the only reason I think they could move up in society.

Conclusion-. Mali, South Africa, and Ethiopia are three countries located in opposite sides of Africa, but are very similar in many ways. For example, the three families interviewed from Mali, Ethiopia, or, South Africa described themselves as poor or struggling. All three of the families interviewed had a annual income less than $3,000. By contrast, in the United Stated, the average annual income is $22,356. That means on average Americans make more than 7 times as much as an African in Mali, Ethiopia, or South Africa. These countries were so poor that they could not afford a new bicycle. Birth control is not readily available, which is the reason for the 7 person family. The parents of these 5 children cannot afford the children and moving up in society, so they are ultimately doomed to live in poverty. The second aspect that held these three countries together was their kindness. You would rarely find people in the United Stated that would share their already meager rations, allow a stranger to sleep in their already over-crowded homes, and share their earning when they are so poor. Also, the three families on the CD-ROM were actively a part of their religion. I have noticed that when societies are poor, they tend to rely more on religion. This helps them think about things other then their poverty-stricken lives.


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