© Femi Akomolafe

Poverty is not African
29 Sep 2006

A journalist said to the other:
“I just heard that all foreign help organisations have been thrown out of Africa...”
The other journalist said:
“And how will these foreign organisations now earn their living?"
source: www.afridad.org
 
There are about ten local television stations in the Netherlands. Apart from the thirty minutes soap, ‘Rayman is Laat,’ by the Surinam stand-up comedian, on Fridays, there is no other TV programme dedicated to the Black people of this country. About the only other time a black face appears on Dutch television is when pictures of starving Africans are shown. Ostensibly to promote appeals by one or the other of the numerous NGOs that had sprung up to build an obviously lucrative industry, which purported to cater for starving Africans. The pictures from these appeals seemed to have all been filmed from the same badly-scripted screenplay. There you have a cluster of emaciated Africans, their faces full of flies. Their eyes, bulging with hunger, earnestly beseeching succor from the white lady (always). She struts around their wretched compound with imperial arrogance, gesturing wildly whilst talking into a microphone. We are faced with two questions here:

i. Is White Dutch so racially insensitive to realize the damage it is doing to the psyche and the sensibilities of African person?

or,

ii. Does it know what it’s doing, but couldn’t care less?

Whichever way we throw it around, this is quite objectionable, as it is racism at its most vulgar.

Looking at these pictures, we get the image of a sub species of the human race: lazy, indolent, incapable of feeding itself, much less making any progress. Since the victims are always all black, whilst all the helpers are invariably all White, they only show Africans as perpetually waiting, with childlike helplessness, for a White Good Samaritan to come and feed them.

When you ask why it is never explained why Africans (note: Paradoxically, Africa is extremely well-endowed with resources, whilst many Africans are shockingly poor) remain poor despite all the talks, all the live aids, all the band aids, all the commissions (and omissions), all the red-nose days, all the uncountable NGOs trampling around the continent, and all the other jamborees that people in the West have organized (and continue to organize) to have fun in the name of charity, they say that it is too complicated. Is it now, really?

It is not rocket science, if only those who pretend to care will admit to themselves, that there is more to their deliberate obfuscations of the facts and the truth, than they dare admit. First, is it true that Europe is giving aid to Africa or is it the other way around? What exactly does being ‘poor’ means? And is it Africa alone that have among its midst poor people?

The sad but uncomfortable (at least to Westerners) truth is that Africa GIVE more to the West than it receives. This has been the case since the dawn of history. We need not go into archives of history however; two recent cases should suffice. First, when leaders of the G8 met in Gleneagles, Scotland in June 2005 what they, their spin-doctors and the fawning Western press, trumpeted to the world was the cancellation of the debt of world’s poor countries, many of them in Africa. Western media made so much noise about the forgiveness of US$40 billion debt spread over ten years. No mention was made of the fact one African country, Nigeria, alone, was forced to pay $12.4billion back to these countries within a year. Nigeria paid the first part of the money in January 2006, and has to pay the balance by March 2006. Britain, whose leader called the poverty of Africa, ‘a scar on the conscience of the world’ quietly received and pocketed about $1 billion of these money. And we should also point it out that in order to receive this so-called debt-forgiveness, these unfortunate countries have to go through the indignities of proclaiming themselves ‘HIPC,’ (Heavily Indebted and Poor Country).

Nigeria’s so-called debt, it should be pointed out, was contracted by unelected military dictators, who promptly deposited same money in Western banks. The kleptomaniac rulers were, according to the World Bank, said to have stolen US$400 billion from the Nigerian treasury. It is this same money that Western Banks are lending back to Africa at usurious rates. And when their bleeding hearts are pricked, they make so much song and dance about forgiving debt! The current democratic government in Nigeria is fighting tooth and nail to recover the stolen monies back with very limited success. British banks still stubbornly refused to send the stolen money back - so much for Tony Blair’s ‘Ethical Foreign Policy.’ We should also mention that the Nigeria’s debt relief came only after the country threatened to repudiate the unconscionable debt.

According to a leader on April 26, 2006 the Financial Times of London said: “The sum of aid and debt service results in an annual net transfer from Nigeria to rich governments of about $10 for every Nigerian. So much for the over-touted ‘help’ from the West!

The second case also involved Nigeria where a court ordered the oil giant, Shell, to pay US$1.5billion to the Ijaw community of Nigeria’s delta region. The Nigerian parliament has passed legislation asking Shell to pay the Ijaws. Shell refused and went to court and lost. Whilst Shell’s batteries of lawyers are busy choking the Nigeria legal system with paperwork, Shell was busy announcing a whopping profit of US$21+ billion to its Western stockholders! It should be noted that Shell has been lifting oil from that area for about half a century. The Ijaws have nothing to show for all the years of the exploration\exploitation of their resources. All that they have received are devastated environment, shocking poverty and wholesale violence. Little wonder that a former Nigerian minister once wondered whether Shell was a noun or a verb as the company has been literally and figuratively shelling the people!
 
© Femi Akomolafe
 



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Sites bij deze column:
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http://www.afridad.org


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