Why are no public projects undertaken??*
[People that are idealist please stop reading now]. If I ask people who know this country much better than I do and who have been here for many year what the problem of this country is (why is it so poor), I hardly ever hear things like rebel groups, war, property destruction, etc; issues that I expected to be important before arriving here. People – both locals and ex-pats – say most of the time that the problem is ... the attitude of the Congolese themselves; I hear from many people that they are lazy and they are selfish.
Firstly, is this true?
Secondly, if it is, why is this so, and if it is not, what is it then?Is it the so-called learned helplessness? Do the people in the east of the Congo think "if we don’t do it, probably a few white people from an NGO will do it"? Do they expect the government to do it (something I really doubt)? Why don't people undertake these public projects? Is it the famous free-rider problem? Is it culture? Is it because of decades of repression by the Belgians, and after that by Mobutu?
I just can’t wrap my head around this. Being from a Dutch construction-building family and with a very strong mentality of getting one's act together and work one's ass off, this is really really frustrating. For a researcher, however, it is also really interesting. I see these poor people living in these horrible conditions. And they just sit there. Why?
* I should be a little bit careful, though. Once or twice I did see some people working on improving the "road". These are, however, just a few villagers out of many. And exceptions.