Monday, July 04, 2005

Into Africa

We've just witnessed the biggest worldwide rock concert in history, with the aim of raising awareness to the plight of Africa. The situation in Africa is dire and it is getting worse. The focus of Sir Bob's awareness efforts is the leaders of the G-8. I suggest that they are probably the most aware of all of the world's leaders and the most sympathetic and responsive of all the world's leaders. Could the G-8 leaders and the people that they represent do more? Sure they could. Are they and we the root cause of what ails Africa? Absolutely not!

There are reams of data about the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been poured into Africa by the G-8 and others. Not much of it has actually gone to making life better for Africans, other than a collection of ruthless and murderous dictators. These tyrants are eventually overthrown and replaced by more ruthless and murderous dictators. Will more hundreds of billions of dollars make a difference by themselves? Absolutely not!

Much has been written over more than a century about the colonization of Africa by non-African countries. There were certainly abuses of the continent and its peoples. Despite that, living conditions were arguably better under colonial rule in many countries. Since independence, most of them have slipped into crippling poverty and disease under the leadership of the aforementioned dictators. Just because many of these people were educated in the West does not make the West responsible for their abuses.

The British, French, Dutch, Portugese and others established the rule of law, infrastructure, industry, a civil service, education, churches and many other institutions associated with freedom and democracy. There were abuses, to be sure, but I don't think that what we see now is an improvement. The nations of Africa rightly demanded and achieved their independence, sometimes peacefully and sometimes violently. The nations of Africa are free of colonial rule by foreigners, but they're not free of colonial rule by their own leaders.

The people that need some awareness training are the very people who are grinding their own populations into the dirt. Bush, Blair, Martin, etal may be household names, but how about Abacha, Ahidjo, Kabila, Kbaki and, my personal favourite, Robert Mugabe? While we're at it, how about people like the Sultan of Brunei? I've just seen pictures of the interior of his private jet, complete with sinks of solid gold and Lalique crystal. It makes Air Force One look like a C-47 left over from the Burma Hump.

The well-meaning folks who are gathering in Edinburgh by the hundreds of thousands are right to take the situation in Africa very seriously. Would that it was as simple as pouring more hundreds of billions at the problem and it would magically disappear. That is just not reality.

Until there is some accountability for all that money pouring into dictators' personal bank accounts, nothing will change. Until there is the establishment of the rule of law, infrastructure, sound economies, healthcare, birth control, and more, nothing will change.

Who is going to change it? If the West tries to change those things from the outside, we will be accused of trying to re-colonize Africa. They will have to be changed from the inside. Why didn't some of the people in Edinburgh make the trip to Libya, instead? At the same time as the G-8 is meeting in Scotland, the fifty-three members of the African Union are meeting closer to their problem. Albeit with our help, but they are the ones who hold the key to the solution.

Like any problem of such enormity, the solution will take decades to take effect, if it ever does. The West can help finance and provide guidance to the solution, but we can't run it. It would also be the height of foolishness to simply open our wallets to continually support a status quo that will never change without change from within.

In Canada's case, we are being pilloried by some for falling short of the 0.7% of GDP that Lester Pearson proposed many years ago as the foreign aid goal for developed countries. In simple donated dollar terms, they are right. What they fail to factor in is the money that we spend and have spent on the wide variety of foreign missions that we have undertaken in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Another regrettable, but inevitable, aspect of the Edinburgh spectacle will be the hijacking of the process by professional protestors. This small, but well-organized, group of thugs, punks and anarchists has no real interest in solving Africa's problems. That is because solving such problems will take the support of democratic governments in Africa by democratic governments in the West.

The key word here is government. Herewith, Oxford's definitions of three important words:

anarchism - n. the doctrine that all government should be abolished.
anarchist - n. an advocate of anarchism or political disorder.
anarchy - n. 1 disorder, esp. political or social. 2 lack of government in a society.

What Africa needs is good order and strong democratic governments, not more of the anarchy that has been, literally, killing them. Violent anarchists have nothing to contribute and have no place among the decent folks in Edinburgh and elsewhere. They do have a place, though, and that is behind bars.

The United Nations should be playing a key role in the process, in cooperation with the African Union, the G-8 countries, and others. Regrettably, the majority of the 192 members of the UN are ruled by the same type of folks who have been, at the same time, siphoning wealth from the West to their personal benefit and trashing the West for not giving them more. Kofi Annan does not help when he parrots the dictators' demands and demands little from the dictators in return.

The West does care and the G-8 leaders do care about the plight of Africa, but throwing endless money down a dark hole won't solve the problem. If it would, perhaps Sir Bob and his pals could contribute some of the proceeds of the Live 8 version of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which went on sale within an hour of the concert. We all need to do more, but let's do it with our eyes open, as well as our wallets.

If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

4 Comments:

Blogger Candace said...

While I wanted Ralph to make PMPM look bad (purely out of spite), aid desperately needs to be attached to reform. Without reform, aid $ is $ flushed down the toilet of corruption.

Mind you, it makes me gag watching Martin et al espouse "good governance" when they could be teaching the African despots a thing or two...

2:14 AM  
Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

You have taken the dictionary definition of anarchy, try reading Kropotkins definition from the Encyclopedia Britanica (1911) and while you are at it you might want to read an anarchist arguement on Africa at my blog: Africa needs a Free Market

Anarchy means without the state, in other words parliamentary representation, and is about people governing themselves through direct political involvement in their community.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hey, You've got a very nice Blog!

Very informative. Be sure to check out my blog on the Make Partition History Campaign.

See you soon :o)

7:10 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

The crisis in the Dufar region is due to weaponry sales from CIA agents. The crisis in Somalia is due to an estimated $60million in weaponry sales from the CIA, US government. Somalia has found oil, which in the past 6 months, has been providing social services for these citizens. Let's look at the dollars and the common sense here people.

3:12 PM  

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