wondering about Africa’s situation

2 Feb

The Time magazine’s article Nigeria’s deadly days came at the right time to make me understand a bit more about Africa.

I started wondering about Africa since my first week in Cardiff. I happened to attend a talk given by Wahu Kaara, a Kenya Debt Relief activist and one of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominees. She said that Kenya was naturally entitled to a debt relief and that was not a begging; the West had taken so much out of Africa that it was only fair for it to return it. She argued that even with debt relief and humanitarian aids for Africa, the West was still the one profitting from the unfair trade practices. I did not understand the argument. I thought, “If you owe, naturally, you must pay back.”

Few months later, on another occasion, I went to a discussion on tied-aids from the West from Africa. The Oxfam’s worker who gave the talk argued that the West actually was largely benefitted from the relief efforts. The donor countries’ companies are entitled to deals to build infrastructures or providing aids. They can sell expensively to Africa and the donor-recipient countries cannot to challenge them. So the West is not as generous as it sounds. But it still doesn’t mean that the African countries are naturally entitled to debt cancellation, right?

Last month, I visited Tower of London and saw the Cullinan I – biggest diamond in the world – mounted on the British royal’s Spectre with the Cross. The diamond cut out from a bigger diamond from South Africa and is named after the diamond mine owner. I suspect it was taken away without profitting a single South African. That was only one of the million things taken away from Africa. Finally I understand Wahu Kaara’s argument on “the money from the West is rightfully African’s”.

Then another question creeped out after I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda last week. It is a movie about genocide in Rwanda in 1994 where Hutu ethnics killed more than 800,000 Tutsi ethnics in 100 days. I could not understand why it happened; was there any hatred strong enough to make so anyone had the desire to torture and kill so many people? I search for information to understand it, but still did not understand it fully.

Coincidentally, I didn’t have to wait for long to understand it. Three days ago there was a big news where a French judge accused Rwanda president Paul Kagame to be responsible to spark the genocide. But, French itself is not in the position to investigate this issue because they were backing Hutu government at that time. There were reports that French sent weapons for Hutu government before the genocide. According to Guardian newspaper, it is very likely that the French’s accusation toward Mr Kagame has political motive. But the point is, the issue is more complex than hatred. So insurgencies are very politically loaded and lives may have been lost because of motives of some people who were not even African. But I still did not get it.

Yesterday, Howard used the ‘playground bully’ case to explain how insurgencies initiated and developed. It allowed me to grasp how the violence developed, but I still did not understand the motive. What can make one kill another?

So, this Nigeria’s deadly days shed a new light to me. There are some insurgencies appearing at the oil-rich Niger Delta. The people are so frustrated because their plead for better lives has been ignored. They do not even have water and education though their land pumped out billions-dollar-worth of oil.  They believe the only way to be listened is through the language of violence.

Unfair distribution of economic gains…I guess that is why. 

[here for Guardian analysis on French involvement in Rwanda genocide]


3 Responses to “wondering about Africa’s situation”

  1. GJM February 2, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    Hi Mariani

    Excellent blog, as always… what really hits me about your writing is the deep thinking.

    You are challenging your long-held views which, in my mind, is an essential step toward enlightenment.

    And your writing style is very good.

    I hope you remember us all when you are a famous campaigning journalist…!


  2. mariani February 6, 2007 at 11:35 pm #

    I have felt disturbed to find how wrong I often was. So thanks for pointing out that it is part of learning and hopefully part of steps toward enlightenment.

  3. GJM February 7, 2007 at 6:28 pm #

    I know what you mean, Mariani.

    I sometimes think that I slept through my twenties… my critical mind didn’t awaken until I started paying attention to what is happening in the world… when I hit 30.

    In my twenties, all I was interested in was making money. And ever since then, I have been trying to catch up with that missing decade.

    Thankfully, you have plenty of years ahead of you and you have already started thinking. So I don’t think you will have the same problems that I had!

    A wise person once said that learning is pointless – the reason: the more you learn, the more you realise how much you DIDN’T know. Hence you feel MORE stupid.

    I agree with this argument – but I would change the word ‘pointless’ to ‘wonderful.’

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