The Myth of Africa’s Over-Population….

•January 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

I wrote this a couple years ago…though some of my opinions my have changed, the core rings true…check it!

There is a very popular myth that is floating in the air in many Afrikan cities…’you are overpopulated’ it whispers…’ Have less children’ it urges…’ STOP having sex, especially with HIV/AIDS everywhere…stop having SEX!’ it screams….

 

 

Afrika is poor, not overpopulated. ‘Oh realllllyyy’- some may say-, ‘poverty means that you guys don’t have enough resources to feed your people so the best way to ‘solve’ that problem is by reducing the population burden on your countries’. This is the typical line of logic that is presented to Afrikan, and this is the typical rationale given to Afrikans as to WHY we should ‘stop having so many goddarn children’. “I mean really’- some ‘community development experts’ patronizingly say ‘Africans can’t even feed themselves. They should figure out how to do that first before they have more kids’. So I am writing this to debunk this myth of Afrikan overpopulation that has been CRAMMED down our Afrikan throats for decades.

Afrika is NOT overpopulated because of ITS OWN population. We have been made to feel overpopulated because of OTHER PEOPLE’S population and THEIR needs. But before we get TOO deep, lets start at the bleeeeeddddddinnng beginning and define overpopulation:

From The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. 

Pronunciation: “O-v&r-“pä-py&-‘lA-sh&n : the condition of having a population so dense as to cause environmental deterioration, an impaired quality of life, or a population crash

OR

From Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. 

overpopulation  (o’v?r-pop’y?-la’sh?n) The population of an environment by a particular species in excess of the environment’s carrying capacity. The effects of overpopulation can include the depletion of resources, environmental deterioration, and the prevalence of famine and disease.

Are we clear on the definition? Ok now lets proceed and clear up this myth.

There are several factors that cause the depletion of natural resources, environmental deterioration, famine and disease. You don’t need to be a bloody rocket scientist to figure THAT out. Overpopulation is basically when you have too many people and too little resources AVAILABLE TO THE PEOPLE that things go haywire.

So let’s look at the resources Afrika DOES have and then look at its population and then try to marry the two.

 

As you can see Afrika rides high in terms of the sheer volume of the amount of valuable resources that the world uses.

OIL (3rd largest in oil reserves)

DIAMONDS

 

POPULATION

 

And as you can see we’re really not very many people ‘globally’ speaking.

 

Keep in mind that Africa is SO much bigger than the US, China and India…infact its larger than the three COMBINED.

 

As you can see, China, Europe and the USA can all fit into Afrika and yet Afrika has MUCH less than their combined population. I mean China’s population stands at 1.34 billion and India 1.17 billion compared to Afrika’s 1 billion for heavens sake. So what a gwaaaan man?! Well as you all know and should be well aware of, certain parts of the world consume FAR more than they have as nations or continents.

And don’t talk t o me about ‘Well Afrika should be making loads of cash since they’re exporting so much oil and raw minerals and so they SHOULD be able to feed their people’. Although there is some truth in this, REMEMBER that we’re busy servicing a debt over $200 BILLION. What that MEANS is that Afrika pays $14 billion ANNUALY in debt to rich countries.

 

So are we all now a little clearer on one important reason WHY Afrika is unable to feed its people? Afrika isn’t overpopulated, those countries that rapaciously gobble the resources of OTHER COUNRTIES are the ones that are overpopulated.  I mean China recognized this problem and enforced a one-child policy  (and this has had its own grotesque consequences  such as ‘the barren branch’—namely the man who has no children because now in China there aren’t enough women to go around.   The one-child policy caused many families to abort female pregnancies in  favor of male ones—now many Chinese men have no Chinese women to have children wit h…and THAT is some serious shiiiiit)

As for the US and Europe I personally do not know of any development expert going to these countries preaching the message of ‘the seriousness of overpopulation’. Luckily (or unluckily depending on where you stand) Europe is beginning to suffer a fall in population because  people just don’t wanna have kids maaan. They’d rather do their own thang and kids aren’t a part of that. So of course many    European governments are getting their panties tied in a knot as to the ‘economic repercussions of population decline’. But what is neary unfathomable is that DESPITE the fact that many European countries are barley replacing their population—the European energy and natural resource demand continues to RISE. Yeah…that’s right each person is consuming more and  more and more and more to the extent that one wonders just when this insane hyperconsumption will end!

 

As for the US…these figures say it all….daaaamm guys!

OIL IMPORT DEMANDS

 

 

The US either needs to stop using being so comfortable with using so much of OTHER PEOPLE’S resources or they have to stop having kids.

And we all know that China’s now experiencing a deep hunger for energy….

The competition for Afrika’s resources is getting intense and its clear we’re being fought over:

 

 

So as you can see…Afrika continues to be accused of creating a monster that has been and STILL IS being created by the idiocy of others. If anything, Afrika struggles from UNDERpopulation. We don’t have enough people to effectively exploit our own resources FOR OUR OWN GOOD. I mean keep in mind, that millions of Afrikans were taken away during slavery and many more are dying of what people like to call ‘diseases of poverty’- which are basically diseases that shouldn’t be killing Afrikans but ARE killing Afrikans because many Afrikans do not have access to basic medical care. Then of course we have the much publicized HIV/AIDS epidemic that has killed 2.9 million people of which 2.1 million are Afrikans-(as to WHY is a story for another day but I will ask this: Why is it that countries in the global north have higher STD infection rates than Afrika and YET have LOWER HIV transmission and infection rates?)

So now I hope you have a broader understanding as to just what overconsumption by one group of people does to another group of people. Afrikans starve not because of our own use of OUR natural resources but because of the manner in which OUR natural resources are being hoarded by others…

 

Malaria- DDT is NOT the answer

•September 12, 2007 • 6 Comments

Changing gear a bit here…been a while since I blogged…now looking a the way DDT is being pushed down Afrika’s throat…fuuucking hell…when will the insanity end!

DDT is NOT the ANSWER!

The enthusiasm with which DDT use is being touted as a ‘solution to end malaria’ in Africa is sickening. Oh kind-hearted people of the world (the mantra goes), ‘Help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment.” (Oh altruism, I thought you were lost, but alas DDT has brought you back…riiiggggght.) But what is completely flabbergasting is that many Africans are NOT concertedly challenging this mantra. Most people seem to be smiling and nodding…yes yes…we need this DDT to get rid of malaria. Oh yeah? At what cost?

Let’s just deal with this by looking at what those advocating DDT are saying, and then look at what they are NOT saying…you decide which arguments convince you more.

Pro DDT arguments:

1) Where DDT is used, malaria deaths plummet. Where it is not used, they skyrocket. For example, in South Africa, the most developed nation in Africa, the incidence of malaria had been kept very low (below 10,00

0 cases annually) by the careful use of DDT. When small amounts are sprayed on interior walls, DDT forms a residue that both repels mosquitoes — discouraging them from flying into the house — and kills those that rest on the walls.

2) No other chemical comes close to

DDT as an affordable, effective way to repel mosquitoes from homes, exterminate any that land on walls, and disorient any that are not killed or repelled, largely eliminating their urge to bite in homes that are treated once or twice a year with tiny amounts of this miracle insecticide. For impoverished countries, many of which are struggling to rebuild economies wracked by decades of disease and civil war, cost and effectiveness are critical considerations.

3) DDT is a pesticide used to control insects that carry diseases such as malaria. Numerous studies indicate that DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to humans. However, EPA lists DDT as a ‘probable human carcinogen.’ Studies conclude that there are no serious effects in people under normal use. According to ATSDR, there are no studies on the health effects of children exposed to DDT. There is no evidence that DDT causes birth defects in people.

The counter-arguments to these points are what is NOT being said. So let me do that, point to point.

Anti-DDT arguments

1) DDT use does not end malaria- especially in tropical climates?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has tried this before in its War on malaria in the1960s. It failed- for countries with tropical climates. For example, in Sri Lanka (which was cited as one of the successes of the project) they used DDT spraying as a technique to control malaria and it failed due to a number of factors the most important on being that, ‘Apart from operational and administrative shortcomings, the main reason for this second increase was the development of vector resistance to DDT, to such an extent that it was necessary to change to the more expensive malathion in 1977.’[1]

This leads us to the next problem with the DDT spraying argument. Its really hard to pull it off, ‘For effective control of mosquitoes, at least 80 per cent of all households must be covered every 6-12 months by well-coordinated spray teams. Is this possible in Africa? Imagine trying that across the Congo basin! It is not realistic to assume that this will happen. It will just leave the communities vulnerable again.’[2]

In the cases where DDT has DDT has been used effectively namely, South Africa, parts of Europe and the USA, they have TEMEPRATE climates so their weather is already waging half the battle against the mosquitoes. The survival of mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite (yes not ALL mosquitoes are malaria vectors) is dependent on three things: temperature, precipitation and humidity. By the far the factor on which most work has been done and which is very clearly affect the survival of malaria and the mosquitoes is temperature.

Temperature

The minimum temperatures for parasite development are between 14-19°C. The optimum temperature for mosquitoes is 25-27°C. Below 20°C, the life cycle of P. falciparum (the malaria parasite strain that is most dangerous and most difficult to treat) is limited. ‘ [3]

Most Sub-Saharan African temperatures range between 20°C- 27°C ALL YEAR round. So our temperature is always perfect if not optimal for malaria and mosquito reproduction We ar called malarious zones). S. Africa is at the tip and is therefore temperate, in fact a study on South Africa-malaria-temperature interaction showed that,’ (H)igher than average mean September temperatures were associated with an increase in the severity of malaria in the following year.’[4]

The reason why tropical climates get Since we have a TROPICAL climate where residues of the parasite and mosquitoes ALWAYS linger, DDT use in Africa for purposes of malaria control will have to me much more intense and concentrated than in those other areas of the world.

Another point to note on why South Africa go rid of malaria so easily is because, its NOT a malarious Zone. Malaria comes in seasons in South Africa. In African countries where the burden of malaria is greatest, the disease is endemic. Uganda (and other African countries with a high malaria burden), where it rains throughout the year, could not be more different from South Africa in terms of malaria, and it is a mistake to apply the same formula here. The use of DDT for indoor residual spraying will not produce the same results and will almost certainly have dire consequences. [5]

2) Will using DDT really be cheaper for Africa?

There is no evidence that this is the case, ‘Malaria control decision makers who use or want to use DDT to combat malaria say they want to use it because it is both effective and inexpensive, when compared to alternatives… However, none of the malaria control or insecticide control specialists in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya or South Africa could cite a formal cost-effectiveness study to assess whether using DDT was, in truth, the most effective and inexpensive method to be used. …” [6]

Even if DDT were more cost effective and even if it were going to produce the so-called MAGICAL effects and exterminate mosquito populations the truth is that , ‘Each time scientists find a way to fight the parasite (malaria), the parasite finds a way to fight back. It has become resistant to most treatments, for example. And some mosquitoes have already adapted to tolerate DDT.’ [7] Also, DDT won’t work in some places where mosquitoes already are resistant to a range of insecticides. [8]

So what we’re doing is putting Africans at risk, well aware of the fact that this parasite will probably become resistant to this supposedly fool proof chemical…so in 10 or so years not only will Africa be reeling from the effects of DDT (see below) we will also be living with killer- strong parasites and mosquitoes resistant to DDT.

We therefore would have spend money on doing the DDT operations in our country, then be hit again as Africans continue to die against a parasite that is even stronger. But by then the North (since the Northern institutions are the ones that are always ‘inspired’ to THINK on Africa’s behalf and find solutions for us) would have come up with another brilliant idea to end malaria forever-for real this time. Brilliant plan!


3) What are the effects of DDT?

 

Right now we are being told, in very rational and scientific language, that DDT is not a problem and that, ‘Regarding the possible dangers of DDT to humans, studies of (DDT) spray-men in India and Brazil and workers in DDT factories in the U.S.A. showed elevated levels of DDT in serum or body fat, but medical follow-up showed that this did not appear to have done them any harm.’ [9]

Statements such are these are dangerous and misleading because there IS evidence that DDT is harmful. For those interested in looking at the environmental effects look here (scroll down http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/carbaryl-dicrotophos/ddt-ext.html) and here (http://www.eco-usa.net/toxics/ddt.shtml ) . (Mind you, while reading the link I think we should keep in mind that humans ARE A PART OF THE ENVIRONMENT. It’s hilarious how science encourages us to distinguish the effects of chemicals into ‘human’ and ‘environment’ effects. Yeaaaahhh ooo-k. If we let toxins accumulate in the environment and adversely affect the ecosystem, of COURSE we’ll be adversely affected as well….no rocket science required to understand that- I hope. Anyway in this part we will focus on the effects on humans.

Effect on humans

DDT is an organochlorine that persists in the environment long after use, accumulating in the food chain and in fatty tissues of animals and humans.

On the mental functioning in children

A study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology found that the higher the concentration of DDT to the child in pregnancy to lower the child’s verbal, memory, quantitative, and perceptual-performance skills at age 4 years. It indicated that pre natal exposure to background, low-level concentrations of DDT was associated with a decrease in preschoolers’ cognitive skills. [10] Add to this the fact that DDT is concentrated in breast milk because it is lipophilic and the secretion of stored DDT into milk is the main route for excretion of DDT in lactating women.

 

On reproductive health

A study done by the Centre for Research on Women’s and Children’s Health at the Berkeley Public Health Institute found that, ‘(T)he higher the concentrations of DDT in their mother’s blood, the longer it took the daughters to become pregnant. The daughters’ probability of becoming pregnant fell by 32% for each 10 microgrammes of DDT per litre of blood.’ [11]

Research done by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the University of North Carolina and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, ‘DDT increases the risk of pregnant women having their babies before 37 weeks of gestation…DDT use increases pre-term birth, which is a major contributor to infant mortality.’[12]

A chemical derivative of DDT (DDE)·, mimics the effects of the oestrogen hormone, which plays an important role in controlling sexual development. A three year study in the US, 20 years ago, found that the children of pregnant mothers whose blood and breast milk contained high levels of DDT, reached sexual maturity earlier.[13]

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that ‘DDT may reasonably be anticipated to be a human carcinogen’. Work carried out by the US National Cancer Institute correlates breast cancer in women with increased levels of DDE in blood serum. From 14,290 women monitored in the New York University Women’s Health Study, researchers selected 58 women who had developed breast cancer and 171 matched controls without cancer. After adjusting for participants’ childbearing and breast feeding histories, and for family history of breast cancer, researchers found a four-fold increase in relative risk of breast cancer for women with elevated levels of DDE in the blood.

On the nervous system

Acute effects likely in humans due to low to moderate exposure may include nausea, diarrhea, increased liver enzyme activity, irritation (of the eyes, nose or throat), disturbed gait, malaise and excitability; at higher doses, tremors and convulsions are possible.

Other effects

In humans, blood cell cultures of men occupationally exposed to DDT showed an increase in chromosomal damage. In a separate study, significant increases in chromosomal damage were reported in workers who had direct and indirect occupational exposure to DDT. Thus it appears that DDT may have the potential to cause genotoxic effects (toxic effects to genes) in humans, but does not appear to be strongly mutagenic (cause mutations).

The way forward

There are other options to DDT that are effective and safer, ‘Deltamethrin and cyfluthrin were found to be much superior to DDT, HCH or malathion in vector control in trials in India.’[14]Can we PLEASE look into these other options before jumping on the DDT band wagon.

DDT is not the magic bullet that will eradicate malaria. We need to refocus resources and attention on something most Africans do not have: basic malaria education, and prevention with insecticide-treated bed nets while at the same time spending as much effort exploring other compounds that can be used for indoor-spraying.

If we are going to use DDT, then we MUST use it as PART of a larger malaria plan and NOT tout it as the answer to malaria. We must also KNOW that we may be putting ourselves in harms way in the process.


[1] http://timlambert.org/2005/02/malaria/

[2] http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/09/new_who_malaria_policy_is_oper.php

[3]http://www.brown.edu/Research/EnvStudies_Theses/full9900/creid/climate_and_malaria.htm

[4] http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=16028839

[5] http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/09/ddt_in_uganda.php

[6] http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/09/ddt_in_uganda.php

[7] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6083944

[8] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,214087,00.html

[9] http://timlambert.org/2005/10/curtis/

[10]http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/kwj299v1?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=ddt&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

[11] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3023416.stm

[12] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1434580.stm

· Note: DDT is degraded DDE and DDD when metabolised

[13] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1434580.stm

[14] http://timlambert.org/2005/10/curtis/

FUCK good intentions

•June 6, 2007 • 18 Comments

This is to all those confused people out there who actually believe that coming to Afrika with good intentions is worth a damn. News flash to all of you: Its NOT enough.

What we need in Afrika is appropriate action that is created, developed, and executed by AFRIKANS and those who LISTEN to the opinions of Afrikans so that we can develop relevant and effective solutions to our problems. What Afrika does NOT need is those who want to reinvent everything and do what they THINK is ‘good for Afrika’ according to their sterile academic models created in capitals in the global North- all in the name of good intention.

I mean just a look at Afrika now, which houses thousands upon thousands of Northern multinational NGOs that are working in Afrika with ‘good intentions’. Is their work really addressing the challenges Afrika faces? Do these guys even bother to work wih communities to find out what communities think of their proposed solutions? Do they even dare to admit failure when it’s clear their supposedly brilliant project ideas for the ‘Afrikan natives’ were irrelevant, poor conceived, didn’t lead to any sustained improvements and-in short- were actually a pile of SHIT? And why are they trying to create poverty reduction strategies in Afrika without implementing wealth reduction strategies in their own nations. The world has a FINITE amount of resources.

I swear the stupidity of some people is rather flabbergasting…truly, why? Because over the past week or so irate readers have told me how I should ‘just be happy’ because ‘at least people are coming to Afrika with good intentions’…to those people I have one thing to say:

FUCK GOOD INTENTIONS.

This is especially so when those intentions are held by people (white, black or brown) who have NO understanding of the issues that afflict Afrika or EVEN BETTER do not want to LISTEN to the opinions of Afrikans on how WE want to develop our continent. Instead they come to us with their white northern imperialist racist mindsets of ‘we know what’s good for Afrikans better than Afrikans themselves’. Sadly, even some Black non-Afrikans feel this way…they feel like that everyone BUT Afrikans know what’s good for Afrika. People who think like that need to be thrown out to sea…seriously.

We, and our brothers and sisters in South America, have been saying this for decades. We have been saying that we don’t need your fucking good intentions or any ‘well meaning help’ unless it’s actually helpful and PRODUCES RESULTS. But sadly, some confused individuals feel that:1) Afrika should be GRATEFUL to those who come to ‘do something’ in Afrika…even if its not effective. Why? Because at least they have the right intentions….riiiiigggght.

2) People should thank them for having good intentions and infact the fact that they have good intentions should give them the license to do WHATEVER they THINK is alright for Afrikans (even though they’re not Afrikans themselves). Why? Because at the least they have the right intention….fuuuuckkking hell. Such stupidity is truly unforgivable and it is precisely this sort of attitude that is wreaking havoc in Afrika.

AFRIKA IS NOT A TESTING GROUND FOR ALL YOUR DAMN IDEAS.

So to all you meddling self-proclaimed do gooders with your supposedly good intentions my message to you is simple

GET OUT OF AFRIKA UNTIL YOU HAVE SOMETHING MORE USEFUL TO OFFER US THAN YOUR PATHETIC GOOD INTENTIONS.

And now I present you Ivan Illich in his own words:

 

To Hell with Good Intentions
by Ivan Illich

An address by Monsignor Ivan Illich to the Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April 20, 1968. In his usual biting and sometimes sarcastic style, Illich goes to the heart of the deep dangers of paternalism inherent in any voluntary service activity, but especially in any international service “mission.” Parts of the speech are outdated and must be viewed in the historical context of 1968 when it was delivered, but the entire speech is retained for the full impact of his point and at Ivan Illich’s request.

IN THE CONVERSATIONS WHICH I HAVE HAD TODAY, I was impressed by two things, and I want to state them before I launch into my prepared talk.

I was impressed by your insight that the motivation of U.S. volunteers overseas springs mostly from very alienated feelings and concepts. I was equally impressed, by what I interpret as a step forward among would-be volunteers like you: openness to the idea that the only thing you can legitimately volunteer for in Latin America might be voluntary powerlessness, voluntary presence as receivers, as such, as hopefully beloved or adopted ones without any way of returning the gift.

I was equally impressed by the hypocrisy of most of you: by the hypocrisy of the atmosphere prevailing here. I say this as a brother speaking to brothers and sisters. I say it against many resistances within me; but it must be said. Your very insight, your very openness to evaluations of past programs make you hypocrites because you – or at least most of you – have decided to spend this next summer in Mexico, and therefore, you are unwilling to go far enough in your reappraisal of your program. You close your eyes because you want to go ahead and could not do so if you looked at some facts.

It is quite possible that this hypocrisy is unconscious in most of you. Intellectually, you are ready to see that the motivations which could legitimate volunteer action overseas in 1963 cannot be invoked for the same action in 1968. “Mission-vacations” among poor Mexicans were “the thing” to do for well-off U.S. students earlier in this decade: sentimental concern for newly-discovered. poverty south of the border combined with total blindness to much worse poverty at home justified such benevolent excursions. Intellectual insight into the difficulties of fruitful volunteer action had not sobered the spirit of Peace Corps Papal-and-Self-Styled Volunteers.

Today, the existence of organizations like yours is offensive to Mexico. I wanted to make this statement in order to explain why I feel sick about it all and in order to make you aware that good intentions have not much to do with what we are discussing here. To hell with good intentions. This is a theological statement. You will not help anybody by your good intentions. There is an Irish saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions; this sums up the same theological insight.

The very frustration which participation in CIASP programs might mean for you, could lead you to new awareness: the awareness that even North Americans can receive the gift of hospitality without the slightest ability to pay for it; the awareness that for some gifts one cannot even say “thank you.”

Now to my prepared statement.
For the past six years I have become known for my increasing opposition to the presence of any and all North American “dogooders” in Latin America. I am sure you know of my present efforts to obtain the voluntary withdrawal of all North American volunteer armies from Latin America – missionaries, Peace Corps members and groups like yours, a “division” organized for the benevolent invasion of Mexico. You were aware of these things when you invited me- of all people – to be the main speaker at your annual convention. This is amazing! I can only conclude that your invitation means one of at least three things:
Some among you might have reached the conclusion that CIASP should either dissolve altogether, or take the promotion of voluntary aid to the Mexican poor out of its institutional purpose. Therefore you might have invited me here to help others reach this same decision.

You might also have invited me because you want to learn how to deal with people who think the way I do – how to dispute them successfully. It has now become quite common to invite Black Power spokesmen to address Lions Clubs. A “dove” must always be included in a public dispute organized to increase U.S. belligerence.

And finally, you might have invited me here hoping that you would be able to agree with most of what I say, and then go ahead in good faith and work this summer in Mexican villages. This last possibility is only open to those who do not listen, or who cannot understand me.

I did not come here to argue. I am here to tell you, if possible to convince you, and hopefully, to stop you, from pretentiously imposing yourselves on Mexicans.

I do have deep faith in the enormous good will of the U.S. volunteer. However, his good faith can usually be explained only by an abysmal lack of intuitive delicacy. By definition, you cannot help being ultimately vacationing salesmen for the middle-class “American Way of Life,” since that is really the only life you know. A group like this could not have developed unless a mood in the United States had supported it – the belief that any true American must share God’s blessings with his poorer fellow men. The idea that every American has something to give, and at all times may, can and should give it, explains why it occurred to students that they could help Mexican peasants “develop” by spending a few months in their villages.

Of course, this surprising conviction was supported by members of a missionary order, who would have no reason to exist unless they had the same conviction – except a much stronger one. It is now high time to cure yourselves of this. You, like the values you carry, are the products of an American society of achievers and consumers, with its two-party system, its universal schooling, and its family-car affluence. You are ultimately-consciously or unconsciously – “salesmen” for a delusive ballet in the ideas of democracy, equal opportunity and free enterprise among people who haven’t the possibility of profiting from these.

Next to money and guns, the third largest North American export is the U.S. idealist, who turns up in every theater of the world: the teacher, the volunteer, the missionary, the community organizer, the economic developer, and the vacationing do-gooders. Ideally, these people define their role as service. Actually, they frequently wind up alleviating the damage done by money and weapons, or “seducing” the “underdeveloped” to the benefits of the world of affluence and achievement. Perhaps this is the moment to instead bring home to the people of the U.S. the knowledge that the way of life they have chosen simply is not alive enough to be shared.

By now it should be evident to all America that the U.S. is engaged in a tremendous struggle to survive. The U.S. cannot survive if the rest of the world is not convinced that here we have Heaven-on-Earth. The survival of the U.S. depends on the acceptance by all so-called “free” men that the U.S. middle class has “made it.” The U.S. way of life has become a religion which must be accepted by all those who do not want to die by the sword – or napalm. All over the globe the U.S. is fighting to protect and develop at least a minority who consume what the U.S. majority can afford. Such is the purpose of the Alliance for Progress of the middle-classes which the U.S. signed with Latin America some years ago. But increasingly this commercial alliance must be protected by weapons which allow the minority who can “make it” to protect their acquisitions and achievements.

But weapons are not enough to permit minority rule. The marginal masses become rambunctious unless they are given a “Creed,” or belief which explains the status quo. This task is given to the U.S. volunteer – whether he be a member of CLASP or a worker in the so-called “Pacification Programs” in Viet Nam.

The United States is currently engaged in a three-front struggle to affirm its ideals of acquisitive and achievement-oriented “Democracy.” I say “three” fronts, because three great areas of the world are challenging the validity of a political and social system which makes the rich ever richer, and the poor increasingly marginal to that system.

In Asia, the U.S. is threatened by an established power -China. The U.S. opposes China with three weapons: the tiny Asian elites who could not have it any better than in an alliance with the United States; a huge war machine to stop the Chinese from “taking over” as it is usually put in this country, and; forcible re-education of the so-called “Pacified” peoples. All three of these efforts seem to be failing.

In Chicago, poverty funds, the police force and preachers seem to be no more successful in their efforts to check the unwillingness of the black community to wait for graceful integration into the system.

And finally, in Latin America the Alliance for Progress has been quite successful in increasing the number of people who could not be better off – meaning the tiny, middle-class elites – and has created ideal conditions for military dictatorships. The dictators were formerly at the service of the plantation owners, but now they protect the new industrial complexes. And finally, you come to help the underdog accept his destiny within this process!

All you will do in a Mexican village is create disorder. At best, you can try to convince Mexican girls that they should marry a young man who is self-made, rich, a consumer, and as disrespectful of tradition as one of you. At worst, in your “community development” spirit you might create just enough problems to get someone shot after your vacation ends_ and you rush back to your middleclass neighborhoods where your friends make jokes about “spits” and “wetbacks.”

You start on your task without any training. Even the Peace Corps spends around $10,000 on each corps member to help him adapt to his new environment and to guard him against culture shock. How odd that nobody ever thought about spending money to educate poor Mexicans in order to prevent them from the culture shock of meeting you?
In fact, you cannot even meet the majority which you pretend to serve in Latin America – even if you could speak their language, which most of you cannot. You can only dialogue with those like you – Latin American imitations of the North American middle class. There is no way for you to really meet with the underprivileged, since there is no common ground whatsoever for you to meet on.

Let me explain this statement, and also let me explain why most Latin Americans with whom you might be able to communicate would disagree with me.

Suppose you went to a U.S. ghetto this summer and tried to help the poor there “help themselves.” Very soon you would be either spit upon or laughed at. People offended by your pretentiousness would hit or spit. People who understand that your own bad consciences push you to this gesture would laugh condescendingly. Soon you would be made aware of your irrelevance among the poor, of your status as middle-class college students on a summer assignment. You would be roundly rejected, no matter if your skin is white-as most of your faces here are-or brown or black, as a few exceptions who got in here somehow.

Your reports about your work in Mexico, which you so kindly sent me, exude self-complacency. Your reports on past summers prove that you are not even capable of understanding that your dogooding in a Mexican village is even less relevant than it would be in a U.S. ghetto. Not only is there a gulf between what you have and what others have which is much greater than the one existing between you and the poor in your own country, but there is also a gulf between what you feel and what the Mexican people feel that is incomparably greater. This gulf is so great that in a Mexican village you, as White Americans (or cultural white Americans) can imagine yourselves exactly the way a white preacher saw himself when he offered his life preaching to the black slaves on a plantation in Alabama. The fact that you live in huts and eat tortillas for a few weeks renders your well-intentioned group only a bit more picturesque.

The only people with whom you can hope to communicate with are some members of the middle class. And here please remember that I said “some” -by which I mean a tiny elite in Latin America

You come from a country which industrialized early and which succeeded in incorporating the great majority of its citizens into the middle classes. It is no social distinction in the U.S. to have graduated from the second year of college. Indeed, most Americans now do. Anybody in this country who did not finish high school is considered underprivileged.

In Latin America the situation is quite different: 75% of all people drop out of school before they reach the sixth grade. Thus, people who have finished high school are members of a tiny minority. Then, a minority of that minority goes on for university training. It is only among these people that you will find your educational equals.

At the same time, a middle class in the United States is the majority. In Mexico, it is a tiny elite. Seven years ago your country began and financed a so-called “Alliance for Progress.” This was an “Alliance” for the “Progress” of the middle class elites. Now. it is among the members of this middle class that you will find a few people who are willing to send their time with you_ And they are overwhelmingly those “nice kids” who would also like to soothe their troubled consciences by “doing something nice for the promotion of the poor Indians.” Of course, when you and your middleclass Mexican counterparts meet, you will be told that you are doing something valuable, that you are “sacrificing” to help others.
And it will be the foreign priest who will especially confirm your self-image for you. After all, his livelihood and sense of purpose depends on his firm belief in a year-round mission which is of the same type as your summer vacation-mission.

There exists the argument that some returned volunteers have gained insight into the damage they have done to others – and thus become more mature people. Yet it is less frequently stated that most of them are ridiculously proud of their “summer sacrifices.”

Perhaps there is also something to the argument that young men should be promiscuous for awhile in order to find out that sexual love is most beautiful in a monogamous relationship. Or that the best way to leave LSD alone is to try it for awhile -or even that the best way of understanding that your help in the ghetto is neither needed nor wanted is to try, and fail. I do not agree with this argument. The damage which volunteers do willy-nilly is too high a price for the belated insight that they shouldn’t have been volunteers in the first place.

If you have any sense of responsibility at all, stay with your riots here at home. Work for the coming elections: You will know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how to communicate with those to whom you speak. And you will know when you fail. If you insist on working with the poor, if this is your vocation, then at least work among the poor who can tell you to go to hell. It is incredibly unfair for you to impose yourselves on a village where you are so linguistically deaf and dumb that you don’t even understand what you are doing, or what people think of you. And it is profoundly damaging to yourselves when you define something that you want to do as “good,” a “sacrifice” and “help.”

I am here to suggest that you voluntarily renounce exercising the power which being an American gives you. I am here to entreat you to freely, consciously and humbly give up the legal right you have to impose your benevolence on Mexico. I am here to challenge you to recognize your inability, your powerlessness and your incapacity to do the “good” which you intended to do.

I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help.

Wanted: White liberals to save Afrika…NOT!

•May 21, 2007 • 25 Comments

I am SICK AND TIRED of the NGO sector in Afrika. Why? Because it’s a sector that’s supposedly around for the sake of all the forsaken and forgotten people in the continent and has been designed to ‘help them develop’ (whatever THAT means). The truth is that its dominated by people in Geneva, Washington or some other northern capital, who have no idea of what the needs are on the ground and are frankly more interested in being seen to be making a change rather than actually making a change.

Even worse is this new breed of neo-liberal white kids who come traipsing into our country to ‘help the poor starving Black people’ and maybe even ‘find themselves’ while they’re at it. The nauseating testimonies I hear from these white kids on how ‘coming Africa changed my life’ are too many to recall…with their stupid comments like ‘now I’m so thankful to have running water at home’…or even better, ‘African people just seem so happy all the time.’ And then these students in ‘international development’ come from universities to do some research work for their thesis and feel like they have a right to ask all the communities they meet any question they want because they think doing something significant. Let me tell you this…WE’RE TIRED OF YOU!

A report by Action Aid (click here to download the full report titled: Real Aid- An agenda for making aid work) showed that when countries in the global north give out what THEY call Aid, a lot of that money ends up back in their economies. The entire sector is structured to be inefficient and powerless, relying on funds from some of the very same institutions whose injustices we purport to be fighting…Does anyone bother to find out how the ‘big names’ in philanthropy and international aid invest their money? Is ethical investing a part of their vocab? As Graham Hancock so eloquently pointed out in his book Lords of Poverty, poverty is an industry that is far to lucrative for some to be done away with by them. That’s why its so nauseating see all these professionals and students from the global north arrive here by the bus load to ‘solve Africa’s problems’ when most of the bleeding trouble is generated by themselves, the hyper-consumerism of their nations, their insane financial and foreign policies and multinational corporate behaviour. They should bleeding well stay where they are and ‘help save the world’ from their own nations.

As Hancock explains:
At every level in the structure of almost all our most important aid-giving organisations, we have installed a tribe of highly paid men and women who are irredeemably out of touch with the day-to-day realities of the … underdevelopment which they are supposed to be working to alleviate. The over-compensated aid bureaucrats demand — and get — a standard of living often far better than that which they could aspire to if they were working, for example, in industry or commerce in the home countries. At the same time, however, their achievements and performance are in no way subjected to the same exacting and competitive processes of evaluation that are considered normal in business. Precisely because their professional field is ‘humanitarianism’ rather than, say, ‘sales’, or ‘production’ or ‘engineering’, they are rarely required to demonstrate and validate their worth in quantitative, measurable ways. Surrounding themselves with the mystifying jargon of their trade, these lords of poverty are the druids of the modern era wielding enormous power that is accountable to no one.” [pp.32-33]

 

It’s just so aggravating because its obvious that most of these white NGO professionals don’t give a shit and don’t even know the deal. They’re just delighted that they live in a mansion with 3 house servants and 2 nannies who take care of their children and make sure the house and compound are spotless. They could NEVER afford to live like that in the US, Britain, Sweden or wherever they come from. And these tend to be the same people to endlessly whine about ‘African corruption and incompetence’ and how ‘nothing works in Africa’ and how you ‘can’t find decent schools and hospitals here’…well if its so bloody awful why don’t you FUCK OFF!

Believe me I tried to have enlightened conversations with these white liberals (you know the ones who are beaten with clubs as they ‘peacefully protest’ outside WTO and G8 meetings) and frankly, they can’t even begin to see how even they way they think, how they spend their money, how they have been trained to perceive Afrika as a ‘desperately hopeless continent’ is all part of the way Africans are dehumanised. They don’t get that even though they as an individuals may ‘like African people’ on a conscious level, they are living with institutional privilege that degrades Black people, especially Africans….and as long as they do not fight this institutional privilege they’re part of the problem. These neo-liberals ‘committed to global equality’ need to devise ways to deliberately dismantle THEIR chains of PSYCHOLOGICAL SLAVERY that tells them its NORMAL for white people to be treated better on an individual and group level…and that they should generally expect to be treated better globally. Of course this isn’t a conscious thought that most of them have, but I can assure you that the sense of white entitlement is very much alive and kicking.

There was a time I and several other people are standing the line to check in for a flight airplane, and this group of white men just tried to push to front of everyone and be checked in first because they were ‘in a rush’. What?! And what were we doing there….standing there for decorative purposes?! But it didn’t occur to these white men that you know what, we Africans may also be in a rush but we’re WAITING IN LINE for our turn. But oh no…we Africans may be in a rush but white privilege dictates that its ok to barge in front of people, especially Africans who ‘can’t even run their countries’, right? Riiiiiiggght.

So unless these white liberals (bleeding heart varieties) make a point to re-train themselves on how they perceive Africans, they’re part of the damn problem. These white liberals who have actually convinced themselves that ‘they care’ don’t see that they have been trained to dehumanise Africa or -at best- view Africa as a little kid that desperately needs their help. It may not be their fault that they have been raised with this mentality but for FUCK’S sake, have the decency to study the culture you’re about to enter and make a bleeding effort to understand that YOU DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS. So don’t come here with your damn righteous and pious talk to ‘save the starving negroes’ which, in its effort to ‘culturally sensitive’, just insults everyone. You can’t be culturally sensitive unless you’ve made an effort to understand the culture you’re entering. And to be honest many of these white NGO workers and students come to Africa and feel like the community ‘should cooperate’ and be willing to spend hours talking about themselves so that this white person can write a ‘groundbreaking’ study about’ the X village in Y country in Africa’ and thus skyrocket his/her career to career bliss…and leave the communities, that gave him/her the material for their work, in desolation. He/she can’t even be bothered to do some fundraising or find creative ways to incorporate community members into his/her work so that THEY gain visibility and are exposed to opportunities that otherwise do not exist for them. But NO…that’s far too involving and tiring for the white NGO worker, committedly trudging through the mud to continue their ‘all important work’….Fuuuuucccck offfff!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I personally do not see what all these multinational NGOs (that’s what they are) and endless lines of development students and professionals are doing in Africa. My advise to them is to LEAVE US ALONE. Go back to your country and grapple with trying to end unfair trade agreements, hyper-consumerism and figure out how to stop THAT. But oh, that doesn’t seem quite as exciting and oddly ‘glamorous’ as working with ‘slum communities in Africa’ does it? I doesn’t make you look like you’re really a white person who ‘knows the deal’, does it? And that’s exactly the problem. All these people who don’t know or understand our country are coming here by the THOUSANDS to solve a problem that’s existed for decades. If it were that easy to solve, Africans would have solved it by now. Why don’t they stop the problem at one of the sources, namely, the hunger for resources and wealth by the global north? And don’t say ‘its not us, its our government that’s bad’…I mean what the fuuuck does that mean when it’s the PEOPLE who leave lights on in buildings, buy a new wardrobe full of clothes every year, eat too much, leave water running…is THAT all the government’s fault as well?

But no, its not ‘cutting edge’ to protest outside the WTO anymore…now its trendy to go to and ‘ mingle with the natives’ and really get your ‘hands dirty’. Only then can you, as a white liberal in your NIKE sneakers, ADIDAS backpack and clothes from THE GAP, stand on the podium and be given the medal of ‘authentic development worker’.

 

Fuck false validation.

Ignorance in the LA Times…

•March 26, 2007 • 8 Comments

Here is an ignorant LA Times article and my response to it. I swear, the level of ignorance evident in this piece should make it ILLEGAL….but instead its published.

LA Times: Independence? Try ‘aid-dependence’

Colonialism didn’t cause Africa’s problems, and aid alone won’t fix them.

Culled from LA Tmes (March 11)

EVER BEEN HAD? Last year, the United States Agency for International Development gave Ghana $22.5 million in food aid.

Last Monday, that same country began a 12-month celebration of its independence from British rule, which was granted 50 years ago, on March 5, 1957. The total budget for these festivities, which commenced with an all-night party in Accra, is said to be $20 million.
You might reasonably ask if this is a sensible way of spending $20 million at a time when the typical citizen of Ghana has a daily income of $1.33. You might also ask what exactly Ghana has to celebrate after 50 years of “freedom.”
Let us not pretend that Gold Coast, as the country was known before independence, was a flourishing economy. The average Briton was 39 times richer than the colony’s average inhabitant. But Gold Coast was seen as one of the most advanced of Britain’s African possessions, which was one reason it was the first to be granted independence.
Yet the economic consequences of independence gave the lie to the old leftist claim that Britain was exploiting its colonies. Between 1960 and today, the gap between Britain and Ghana has more than doubled, so that the average Briton is now 92 times richer than the average Ghanaian. Today, according to the World Bank, aid accounts for 16% of Ghana’s national income and covers fully 73% of government expenditures.
So what went wrong? The answer is more or less the same answer you would give for any sub-Saharan African country since 1957. Kwame Nkrumah, who led Ghana to independence, was in many ways typical of the first generation of post-colonial African leaders. The product of a Catholic mission school and an American university, (Nkrumah was wholly incapable of distinguishing the virtues from the vices of British rule.)
Though it was tight-fisted when it came to education and healthcare, the Colonial Office at least provided the foundations for economic and political stability: trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the rule of law and non-corrupt administration. Nkrumah lost little time in ditching all of these things. If you look at the photographs of the handover of power in 1957, the Duchess of Kent looks pained; the governor, Sir Charles Arden-Clarke, looks skeptical. Those facial expressions proved eminently justified.
As soon as he had been brought into government, Nkrumah increased government expenditures by a factor of 10 and expanded the senior civil service by a factor of five. It was a classic case of jobs for the boys, as members of Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party hit the political equivalent of the jackpot. “The government is in the hands of knaves,” lamented one outgoing British official. Too late. Ghana provided the first of many examples of African democracy in action: One man, one vote — once.
The government was also in the hands of dupes. A long-standing Communist Party member, Nkrumah was easily persuaded by the KGB that the CIA was plotting against him and readily acceded to Soviet offers of assistance. This took the form of a KGB-trained national security service with a huge network of paid informers and more than 1,000 Russian “advisors.” By the early 1960s, Ghanaian women were staging protests with placards reading “Bring Back the British.”
Instead, it was left to the Ghanaian army to overthrow Nkrumah in 1966 (while he was visiting Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi). Far from improving matters, this proved to be the first of umpteen coups, culminating in the bloody seizure of power by Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings in 1981. Although Rawlings formally restored democracy in 1992, he remained in power until 2001, and his party, the National Democratic Congress, continues to govern the country. Today, there are still people who fondly believe that all of Africa’s problems are a legacy of colonialism and the fault of the wicked British. Those people also cling to the notion that this legacy can be expunged only by the payment of reparations in the name of “aid.” Fifty years on, we can surely think more clearly.
In virtually every case (Botswana is the sole exception), former British colonies in sub-Saharan Africa have fared worse under independence than they did under British rule. In virtually every case, as New York University’s William Easterly has pointed out, the expenditure of billions in Western aid has failed to raise their rate of economic growth.
In his forthcoming book, “The Bottom Billion,” Oxford economist Paul Collier brilliantly anatomizes the true causes of Africa’s post-colonial failure. He identifies four traps into which a depressingly large number of sub-Saharan countries have fallen since the 1950s. Some are trapped by their dependence on natural resources, such as diamonds or oil; some by being landlocked; some by recurrent civil war. But the fourth trap is the one that applies to Ghana: the trap of bad governance.
To illustrate the folly of giving aid to chronically misruled countries, Collier cites a recent survey that tracked money released by Chad’s Ministry of Finance to fund rural health clinics. Just 1% reached its intended destination. The rest was raked off by one corrupt official after another.
So forgive me if I don’t join Ghanaians in partying all year. I really don’t see much to celebrate if independence is just a euphemism for aid-dependence.

AfrikanEye’s response

Ok.
This is piece is flagrant misinterpretation of facts and this types of writing happens when people who have no real understanding of Africa try and write about Africa. This crap just needs to stop because clearly people just simply do not know what they’re talking about. Sure Ghana perhaps should not spend so much money on their 50th anniversary celebration but then again perhaps the US should be willing to pay better prices for Ghanaian cocoa and perhaps they should be willing to pay Ghana the millions if not billions of dollar equivalent it lost when THOUSANDS of its people were ripped from her soil to go and work in the US during Slavery.

 

Nonsense like this article needs to end because it continues to distort the truth.

So in then name of truth and my sanity let me make a few points:

1. Contrary to what this article argues, colonial powers did NOT provide a sound foundation for economic and political stability for Africa…umm do we not remember how North and South Sudan were TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES until the Brits came up with the brilliant idea of joining them into ONE country and they’ve been at loggerheads ever since. They have been at WAR for over 50 years because of British colonial ‘brilliance.’ And oh yeah there’s the little matter of the problems in Nigeria’s political and economic system that stem from the manner in which Britain AGAIN screwed things up and created a situation where they preferentially trained Northern Nigerians to join and enter the military to the extent that most senior posts in the military are held by one part of the country which can then hold the country at ransom if need be…why do people think Nigerian has had so many coups and military governments?

And to say that the colonial powers were ‘tight fished ‘ when it came to education and healthcare must be the bleeding understatement of the century. For the ‘first three decades of colonialism hardly anything was done that could remotely be termed a service for the African people’.The Europeans established services to serve themselves with absolutely no regard for the welfare of the Africans whom they so heavily taxed, exploited and on whose land they were living. In terms of healthcare the discrepancy between the state of health between African and Caucasian populations spoke volumes. For example, the European population in Algeria recorded an infant mortality death of 39 per 1000 live births whereas the local Algerian population suffered 170 deaths per 1000 live births! What the hell is that and then the colonial powers made our traditional healthcare system ‘illegal and demonic’ and in Kenya they legislated the Witchcraft act that made it impossible for our health care system to flourish…I mean we’re talking the type of lunacy that banned drum-beating in parts of West Africa!

 

Then let’s not forget how European and North American powers flagrantly supported bloody dictatorship just for financial gain during the Cold War in particular. They used their economic greed and clout to undermine political freedom Africa and patted dictators such as Mobutu, who was openly slaughtering THOUSANDS, on the back for making them rich.

2. Economically again this writer fails to comprehend some really very basic truths to the extent that one wonders just which planet he/she is writing from. So let me clarfiy some issues otherwise we willa ll be grossly misled:

When loans and ‘development AID were initially given to African countries, they were given to political establishments that typically did not represent the interests of the people. Why? During the struggle for independence, African leaders were the leaders of the mass movements and they relied on the people for their survival. They, therefore, had to fight for something the most of their people believed in. They had to be ACCOUNTABLE to the people…the Mau Mau struggle in Kenya would not have survived without the support of the people.

This all changed once independence was gained because of the Cold War. Those African leaders who found themselves in power discovered that they had to choose which camp to side with- the Soviet East or Capitalist West. Once that decision had been made, the leaders discovered that they were NO LONGER accountable to their people, but rather to the ‘bosses’ of their respective camps. As a result Mengistu of Ethiopia could line up thousands of Ethiopians and kill them with NO incrimination because he had the support of the Soviets. And Mobutu could plunder Zaire’s riches, use the country treasury like his personal bank account and massacre thousands of Zairians with not ONE word of protest from the so-called ‘international community’ because he had the support of the Capitalist West.

So this supposed AID did no really AID most African and the Northern countries were very aware of this fact when they were being so ‘generous’ SO they should just shut up when it comes to governance in Africa because they played a critical role in creating of a culture of a lack of accountability of many Africa leaders to their people. It is only NOW that African people are really beginning to engage working towards making sure the political leadership is accountable to THEM!!! But AGAIN there are problems because ‘Aid’ and loans from the outsiders creates a situation where African governments still are NOT fully accountable to their people.

3. Economically again this writer is clearly in the dark…how can he/she ask ‘what happened’! Don’t we tire of hearing the example that ‘in the 60s South Korea and Ghana were at the same place economically…NOW look at Ghana its so poor and the underdeveloped (I hate that term)..’. What people, like this writer tend to forget or tend to have selective amnesia about is that during the Cold War the global North poured MILLIONS of dollars into countries like South Korea. In the context of the Cold War, USA had to finance its East Asian clients mostly with gratis grants, not loans – thus, they could enter the industrial stage without too big “backlog” of the foreign debt (debt accumulated afterwards)’. They did this to in order to ‘protect these countries from the villainous Communists’ who they were close to. They provided markets for these countries, bolstered their industries and now they have the f*%*ing audacity to sit their and patronisingly ‘ask Africans ‘what happened’?

 

 

4. And yet despite all this and CONTINUED particularly, economic exploitation of Africa’s natural resources and linked political interference and coercion, unfair trade agreements, unfair un-cancelled debt, creation of military inroads into Africa (case in point Somalia), the ‘war on terror’ which as affected many African tourism industries, but to mention a few problems…this writer has the nerve to ask ‘uuuuuhh,…what happened?’ Of course colonies fared worse alone than when under colonial power. Just in one example: the prices of raw materials such as tea, coffee, copper etc were MUCH higher during colonialism because the colonial powers were reaping SICK profits from them. Once we gained independence suddenly prices began to plummet because of ‘market forces’ and countries such as Zambia found that for a long time, the metal that had made the colonial powers so rich was actually becoming the bane of their existence as Africans because the colonial powers in all their stupidity at the time created situations where 1) African economies were dependent on mainly one raw material or crop, 2) had prevented Africans from industrialising to process that raw material/ crop and therefore add value to it and 3) made sure that Africans had NO SAY whatsoever in determining the prices of the raw materials on which their economies were based.

 

Let me stop there. All I can say is that if people are too ignorant to write balanced and reasoned papers on Africa they should just STOP…in the name of intellectual excellence and the preservation of truth just STOP!

DO NOT WRITE ABOUT AFRICA UNLESS YOU’RE GOING TO BOTHER TO ACTUALLY TRY AND UNDERSTAND THE CONTINENT.

 

 

Forget Blood Diamond

•March 8, 2007 • 96 Comments

I swear Hollywood just needs to STOP making these flicks on Africa…STOP!!

This put on we’re-so-socially-conscious mien is really crap and it needs to end now!

I went to see Blood Diamond yesterday in order to get an understanding of the way Africa was being portrayed to the masses. I left with such a bitter taste in my mouth I’m still gagging.

Yes the film movingly depicts the way children are broken into being child soldiers;

Yes the film revealingly shows the path that smuggled diamonds take;

Yes the film shows us just how brutal civil war is Africa;

Yes the film illustrates just how costly the corruption of some African leaders is…

BUT BLOOOOODYYY HELL!!!

As an Africanwoman I was disgusted at the way black women were portrayed as the prostitutes or fodder for the guns. There was not one depiction of the resilience of African women who EVERYDAY pick up the shattered pieces of society around them, mend them and find a way to heal and continue. Instead we were treated to endless amounts of bosom shots of an American reporter traipsing around the country looking for a story. Yeah sure she has a good heart and story to write but you know what, her story should have been counter-balanced with the story of the hope and resilience of an African woman. But NO…we are left with the image that African women are either hookers or helpless

victims to violence perpetrated by Black African men. If Hollywood is obsessed with showing how abused African women have been why don’t they go further back in history …but hmm I WONDER why Hollywood does not tell the stories of rape and torture African women have experienced at the hands of white slave traders, white colonial landlords and NOW white soldiers from military bases in various African countries? Why doesn’t Hollywood want to tell that story and depict THOSE acts with as much gory enthusiasm as they did in this case? This trend of repeatedly depicted African men as senselessly ruthless and brutal is dangerous because it creates the image that most African men are just ruthless and violent!

 

And as USUAL there is absolutely no historical context laid down that even seeks to explain WHY there are so many civil wars in Africa and in Sierra Leone in particular. There is NO mention of the devastation that 500 years of slavery then British colonial rule left on that country. No mention of how, at independence, power was turned over to a ruling minority. Moreover, people seem to have forgotten just what the Cold War did to African politics….so let me just give you an idea

During the struggle for independence, African leaders were the leaders of the mass movements and they relied on the people for their survival. They, therefore, had to fight for something the most of their people believed in. They had to be ACCOUNTABLE to the people…the Mau Mau struggle in Kenya would not have survived without the support of the people

This all changed once independence was gained because of the Cold War. Those African leaders who found themselves in power discovered that they had to choose which camp to side with- the Soviet East or Capitalist West. Once that decision had been made, the leaders discovered that they were NO LONGER accountable to their people, but rather to the ‘bosses’ of their respective camps. As a result Mengistu of Ethiopia could line up thousands of Ethiopians and kill them with NO incrimination because he had the support of the Soviets. And Mobutu could plunder Zaire’s riches, use the country treasury like his personal bank account and massacre thousands of Zairians with not ONE word of protest from the so-called ‘international comunity’ because he had the support of the Capitalist West.

What this resulted in is the creation of a culture of a lack of accountability of many Africa leaders to their people. It is only NOW that African people are really beginning to engage working towards making sure the political leadership is accountable to THEM!!! But AGAIN there are problems because ‘Aid’ and loans from the outsiders creates a situation where African governments still are NOT fully accountable t their people.

Also bear in mind that all of this was preceded by 500 years of the Slave trade when most Africans were constantly running and fleeing for their LIVES. FIVE HUNDRED YEARS of complete social chaos and disarray caused by an endless demand for black slave labor by the West. Can you even begin to imagine what 500 years of that is like and what that leads to? Where captured women are told to throw away their babies so that they can carry cargo to the slave ships?

CAN YOU EVEN BEGIN TO COMPREHEND WHAT LEGACY AFRICA IS DEALING WITH?

So when Hollywood presents recent events in Africa in a manner that PROMINENTLY displays the corruption of leaders, the ruthlessness of African men with no mention of our historical legacy, Hollywood is guilty of reinforcing the idea that Africans may be inherently inferior because why else would it be taking so long for Africans to get their shit together?

Why does the world think that despite the fact that Africa was and still is being directly and deeply fucked, Africans should ‘just get their act together’?

Lets see how well other continents would function after living through a series of horrific events mainly created, developed and coordinated by outsiders, to the extent that they have not had a coherent living memory of our truly indigenous social, judicial, educational etc systems for over 600 years! Go through that then you can comment and make movies about Africa that depict Africans in such a demeaning and inhumane manner.

I’m tired of this quasi-conscious-I-really-care-for-the Third-World bullshit that Hollywood is into right now. Its dangerous because its creating an incomplete and therefore INACCRUATE image of Africa and Africans.

But I’m sure Hollywood and the herd of Hollywood’s blind followers will go watch the flick, be deeply moved, then smile and fawn as Hollywood stars buy diamond rings and bracelets to congratulate themselves on a job well done.

 

Fuck Blood Diamond.

Previous comments on this post

 

Mona said…

Hi, your blog is really impressive, keep up the good writing. However, i can’t find a way to subscribe to your posts. Is that intentional?
Also, I hope it’s ok that I put a link to your blog on mine.
All the best
Mona

5:12 PM

Mona said…

[…]have not had a coherent living memory of our truly indigenous social, judicial, educational etc systems for over 600 years!”

You should read Harold Pinter.
“To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”

 

What colonialization did to Afrika

•March 8, 2007 • 6 Comments

 

Colonization adversely affected Afrikan development in all aspects of life. The ensuing discussion will be broad and will highlight the adverse effects of colonization on Afrikan development in social, political, cultural and economic spheres of life.

1. Underdevelopment in social services

Firstly, colonization led to social underdevelopment of Afrika in terms of the social services. In fact, for the ‘first three decades of colonialism hardly anything was done that could remotely be termed a service for the Afrikan people.’ It is only due to selfish reasons that he European colonizers came to provide health services for the ‘natives’. They realized that more blood and sweat could be squeezed out of a relatively health Afrikan than an unhealthy and malnourished Afrikan. As far as education is concerned, Afrika had developed an education system that reflected the needs and aspirations of a given society. This education entailed informal education where the young learnt values and behaviour from adults, as well as formal education where the youth would be trained medicine, carpentry, iron smelting, professional trading etc. The advent of colonization did not introduce education to Afrika. Rather it introduced a different set of formal education systems which encouraged the development of principles, values, and schools and methods of thought that partly replaced both the Afrikan formal and informal education systems. The western-type schools aimed at removing Afrikans from their culture and assimilating them to European culture thereby alienating the Afrikan. The speaking of Afrikan languages was prohibited in these schools The vast majority of Afrikans did not even have access to this ridiculous education system. They sadly, could not however, benefit as much from both the formal and informal Afrikan education systems as most of the adults were now engaged in various activities for the Europeans. What this led to was chronic underdevelopment in the sphere of education. On the one hand Afrikans were being denied access to western education and on the other hand, the indigenous system of education was being undermined due to the imposition of colonial rule and the inhuman conditions that went with it.

2. Political underdevelopment

The entire purpose of colonization for the Europeans was to politically dominate other nations. The aim was to take away the independence of the colony and make it an extension of the mother nation. This meant the destruction of Afrikan political institutions. Leaders who opposed the invading forces were dethroned and often killed, for examples King Lobengula of the Ndebele who was removed in July 1893. Once an area had been ‘pacified’ a term used by colonialists to refer to the destruction of local freedom and sovereignty, the colonial power established an administrative system. The colonizers use numerous methods to ensure the political subjugation of Afrika. (Check out the Pulitzer-winning prize book titled BRITAIN’S GULAG: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya by Caroline Elkins). Some used existing traditional leaders to administer their areas. These Afrikan leaders were always answerable to a white superior. Therefore, their previous political power and respect no longer existed. Colonization effectively prevented Afrika from flourishing politically. It also dramatically altered the path of Afrikan political development in that it caused Afrikans to fully embrace western political styles once independence was gained.

3. Cultural underdevelopment The cultural degradation that colonization ushered in truly compromised Afrikan development as a whole. The colonial set up did a fine job in convincing Afrikans that the values and principles that had guided Afrika for centuries were wrong. Colonization caused Afrikans to question and, sadly, often dismiss the Afrikan thought that had created the Afrikan way of life.

This dismissal dealt a very serious blow to the confidence of Afrikan people, to the point where Afrikans feel they must have the approval of a white man in order to ‘know’ that what they are doing is good. This is a very dangerous mind-set for Afrikans to have considering the fact that history PROVES that European powers do not have Afrikan well being at heart Colonization led to the demonization of Afrikan cultural expressions of spirituality, Afrikan dance, song and instrumentation, especially the drum. Afrikans were taught to worship a white God and hate the black Satan. The alienation of Afrikans from the religio-spiritual expression they were familiar with deeply affected the Afrikan. Colonization also led to the imposition of western languages into Afrikan culture. The use of western languages in Afrika led to the entrenchment of European systems of thought and the neglect of the study of Afrikan languages. Many Afrikans began to believe that western languages and culture was superior to theirs. This led to the wholehearted acceptance of western cultural practices both those that undermined Afrikan culture as well as those that were destructive to the well being of Afrika as a whole.

4. Economic Underdevelopment Colonization ushered in devastating economic underdevelopment, the effects of which are still haunting Afrika to this day.

Land

When the colonial powers entered a nation they established ownership over the most fertile and productive areas of the nation. In Kenya, the Europeans settled in the fertile highlands where they bought land for as little as a penny an acre and in doing so were able to acquire vats tracts of land. This acquisition of land by the Europeans led to the displacement of the Afrikan population and an end to the economic activities Afrikans had engaged in, on their land, for centuries.

Taxes

The introduction of taxes forced Afrikans to abandon their previous modes of production in order to seek employment. The wages Afrikans earned from these jobs was intentionally very low. These low wages ensured constant Afrikan labour for the European powers.

Agriculture

The introduction of monoculture agricultural styles led to the development of cash crop economies. Colonialism pushed certain colonies into an over dependence of the export of one or two crops. The profits made for the export of these crops were expatriated to the western metropoles therefore although the cultivation of the crops was growing, the colony did not benefit from this growth. Moreover, the prices of the crops were determined by Europeans who did what they could to buy the crops as cheaply as possible.

Prevention of industrialization

The colonialists specifically discouraged Afrikan industrialization. Europe was (is) determined for Afrika to remain a source of raw materials so as to stimulate European industrial growth. This utilitarian policy led to the effective suppression of any Afrikan industrialization thereby giving a tainted view of the industrial and technical potential of Europe and Afrika.

Denial of access to capital The colonialists further sabotaged Afrikan economic development through their policy of denying Afrikans access to capital. Thus, Afrikans had no capital with which to build their own businesses, farms and industry. This effective prevention of the accumulation of capital by Afrikans forced them into a state of pauperism. Afrikans were the exploited working class and the Europeans were the capitalists. It is therefore with irritation that one listens to the sniggering laughs of and snide comments concerning Afrikan economic underdevelopment.

AND YET AGAIN, STILL WE RISE!

MAU MAU!

(Muzungu arudi Unigereza, MuAfrika Apate Uhuru)