Bill Gates and David Lipschitz on the same page (Cape Times, July 18) pleases me.
Mr Gates has a lot of good to say, however, I have three problems with his approach:
1) He says "the good news is we have a growing suite of cost-effective interventions - things like cooking oil, sugar fortified with Vitamin A and like sugar and flour enriched with iron, zinc and B vitamins".
The only sugars that people need in their lives are natural sugars from fruit and vegetables. Sugar and starch are not a requirement.
Over the weekend, I met a personal assistant to an anaesthetist. She told me that toddlers as young as two years old are having major tooth surgery and that they need to come back at six years of age for more treatment.
This is because of the amount of sweets being eaten, and because of sugared drinks. Babies need mothers' milk, not sugared drinks.
I remember when I was a child we were allowed one chocolate on a Friday when my gran came to visit. Thanks to my parents, I have good teeth and don't visit the dentist very often.
And thanks to my wife, we now have home-made muesli, home-made yoghurt, home-made bread, and more, because we cannot rely on supermarket products, even those branded as the most healthy, and possibly the most expensive because of the sugar added, unnecessarily, in our opinion.
In the mornings I have one-third of a bowl of muesli and yoghurt, and I am full. If I have one of the "top healthy brands", I need to eat a full bowl before I am full.
If you eat a meal and you are still hungry, then it is because there is sugar in the food.
And if you eat a sweet desert, you are tormenting your body, spiking your sugar, and putting yourself to bed into a sleep where your body is overworking, processing sugared foods, rather than detoxing you and preparing you for the next day.
2) He says "African farmers need better tools to avoid disasters and grow a surplus - things like seeds that can tolerate droughts."
This is the last thing that any farmer needs! Farmers need their independence. A well-rounded organic field can grow much more food than a single crop like maize.
People are eating more global brand foods called staple commodity crops, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and maize.
In the meantime, the consumption of locally and regionally important crops, required for the maximum performance of the people living there, has declined. Consumption of rye, yam, sweet potato, cassava, coconut, sorghum and milled consumption has halved since 1961.
A particular threat is a single monoculture, even if genetically modified, that can be attacked by a new disease, or more likely by a disease that mankind has not identified yet.
For example, there are more than 80 types of carrot, and we eat orange ones!
"More than 80 percent of the world’s annual tonnage of agricultural crops is accounted for by just 12 species: the cereals wheat, maize, rice, barley, and sorghum; the tubers potato, manioc, and sweet potato; the sugar sources sugar cane and sugar beet; the fruit banana; and the pulse (as agronomists call beans and other legume seeds) soybean."
Africa does not have the time for Western-style education, which requires 12 years of schooling to socialise (brainwash) people, removing their latent and innate capabilities whilst preparing them for a slave-based industrial revolution that has long ended.
These "schooling" years are followed by four years of post school tertiary education, followed by 10 000 hours of learning on the job before someone can be productive. Africa needs to use its in-built education systems to further its own vision.
Note that your headline "Gates see health, education as key" is slightly misleading. In Bill Gates Annual Letter for 2016, published on his blog on February 22, Bill and his wife Melinda were each asked: "if you could have one superpower, what would it be?".
Mr and Mrs Gates replied "more energy" and "more time" respectively. These superpowers are available right here in Cape Town.
The key that Mr Gates needs that will open the gate of his mind is to come and experience the Africa that we Cape Times readers experience every day, then he will find the superpowers he dreams of, in the foothills of Table Mountain.
References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_diversity; http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/Mann.pdf; http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/; https://www.gatesnotes.com/2016-Annual-Letter