(FEE) -- Only 10 of the 54 African countries can be labeled economic success stories: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Uganda, and South Africa. This hardly comes as a surprise as Africa is the most economically unfree continent. No African country is classified by the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom as “free.” Mauritius is classified as “mostly free,” and listed as “moderately free” are Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, South Africa, Rwanda, Madagascar, Uganda, and Burkina Faso. (Some of the countries labeled economic success stories have undemocratic political systems: Angola, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Uganda.)
Ironically, traditional Africa, in contrast to modern Africa, was characterized by much economic freedom for centuries before the arrival of the European colonists. There the basic economic and social unit was the extended family, the lineage, or the clan. The means of production were owned by the lineage—a private entity separate from the tribal government—and thus privately owned, although individual ownership was common. Land, for example, was lineage-controlled, giving rise to the myth of communal ownership, while hunting gear, spears, and fishing canoes were individually owned.