robbo sent this little nugget my way this morning from the ny times op-ed page. now i am by no stretch a fan of the times but this little nugget of op-ed (written by an african) reflects an opinion that seems to get drowned out by sympathetic rock stars who say that wealthy developed nations don't donate enough cash to said nation's plight. read on then i will continue:
All Rock, No Action
JEAN-CLAUDE SHANDA TONME
LIVE 8, that extraordinary media event that some people of good intentions in the West just orchestrated, would have left us Africans indifferent if we hadn't realized that it was an insult both to us and to common sense.
We have nothing against those who this month, in a stadium, a street, a park, in Berlin, London, Moscow, Philadelphia, gathered crowds and played guitar and talked about global poverty and aid for Africa. But we are troubled to think that they are so misguided about what Africa's real problem is, and dismayed by their willingness to propose solutions on our behalf.
We Africans know what the problem is, and no one else should speak in our name. Africa has men of letters and science, great thinkers and stifled geniuses who at the risk of torture rise up to declare the truth and demand liberty.
Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.
Don't the organizers of the concerts realize that Africa lives under the oppression of rulers like Yoweri Museveni (who just eliminated term limits in Uganda so he can be president indefinitely) and Omar Bongo (who has become immensely rich in his three decades of running Gabon)? Don't they know what is happening in Cameroon, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic? Don't they understand that fighting poverty is fruitless if dictatorships remain in place?
Even more puzzling is why Youssou N'Dour and other Africans participated in this charade. Like us, they can't help but know that Africa's real problem is the lack of freedom of expression, the usurpation of power, the brutal oppression.
Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself. When there is a problem in the United States, in Britain, in France, the citizens vote to change their leaders. And those times when it wasn't possible to freely vote to change those leaders, the people revolted.
In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.
What is at issue is an Africa where dictators kill, steal and usurp power yet are treated like heroes at meetings of the African Union. What is at issue is rulers like François Bozizé, the coup leader running the Central Africa Republic, and Faure Gnassingbé, who just succeeded his father as president of Togo, free to trample universal suffrage and muzzle their people with no danger that they'll lose their seats at the United Nations. Who here wants a concert against poverty when an African is born, lives and dies without ever being able to vote freely?
But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save, as if we don't realize ourselves what the source of our problems is.
Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme is a consultant on international law and a columnist for Le Messager, a Cameroonian daily, where a version of this article first appeared. This article was translated by The Times from the French.
now i first started reading up on africa on and off when i was reading about robert mugabe evicting long time land owners (actually raping and murdering), under the pretense of giving this land that was in the hands of oppressive bastards who didn't have the zimbabwean peoples best interest in mind. instead of giving the land to "the people", he gave it to his cronies who were loyal to him who knew alot about killing folks but not alot about farming and now, zimbabwe is starving. mugabe blames it on the west.
i followed up a year late in an article i read in the UK Spectator from a man from south africa attending a UN energy conference (i really wish i had the link because it was a good piece). greenpeace was protesting the opening of this nuclear power plant outside of jo-burg. this power plant was designed to be the cleanest running, most energy efficient nuclear power plant ever made (i'm that's what they say about all the nuclear power plants). meanwhile the impoverished denizens of shanty towns in jo-burg live in corrogated metal boxes with poor ventilation with nothing but parafin candles for light and the parafin is fumes are slowly killing them! anyway the author (and myself) found it outrageous that a big organization like greenpeace comes rolling in to tell these poor folks what to do when they have the option to go back to their western lives at any point and live in decent housing with decent electrical power that comes from where, they do not know (did you know france runs something like 75% of it's power of of nuclear reactors).
but i digress, my point is, no amount of money is going to fix africa's problems if the money is being pocketed by despots. you can't regulate the flow of that money once it arrives in said nation because the despotic government pockets it. you can't just send food. we saw after the first live aid that the food sent to ethiopia was pocketed by the government and distributed to the govt's buddies. sound very mugabe-esque? you can't just send condoms and AIDS pamphlets. tribal leaders don't trust anything that the west says and they believe more in their own home made mythology about having sex with a virgin stops AIDS. hell i even read that tribal peoples are getting ebola because they refuse to cease their own burial rituals. ebola is at it's most contageous when the victim is dead!
ahhhh, now my head hurts and i need more coffee. long story short, less despots=less suffering in africa and less dim witted guilty feeling, rubber wristband wearing rockstars to miseducate young people about geo politcal matters....well you know.