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2Jun

Africa On My Mind

lensThe world has a varied number of lens through which we can view it.  Hence, I am of the opinion that to write about Africa authoritatively and objectively, and of course, if I am honest, subjectively. I need to know her history, her now and gain an insight into her future. Yes, I am Nigerian but that does not mean I know Africa more than you do or anyone else out there. Every family, community/society, nation and country, and continent has its unique DNA. That is most certainly true of Africa and I would like to learn more about her. And no, the news media does not tell me all I need to know. There is good information out there, books, documentaries and much more but it is worth knowing your friends, foes and enemies. hence, it is also worth knowing what you are passionate about and know it passionately (excuse the pun.) While nothing in life is ever guaranteed, it is always worth knowing something for no knowledge is ever wasted.

I am always hungry to learn and I have always wanted to do an MA in theatre production. I refuse to give that dream up because it will happen. In the meantime, there is another MA that I currently find very attractive and the thought of it puts smile on my face. I am weird like that. I think I am one of the few people who find learning within the educational framework really sexy. Lately, I have been contemplating ways in which I can pay for my MA in African Studies. It is one MA, I know will be worth it. My mum has asked me if I have a death wish, considering university and my NCTJ really took a  lot of of me. But I know I can do it again. As always, her main concern is my health but I am a big girl and I believe I can handle this one too.

I have asked myself, why go down this route? Well, there is a lot to learn and gain from the writing point of view and of course, with journalism, it means I have an area of specialty I can call my own. I could always take International relations but the last few months have been helpful when it comes to the type of news that gets my baby kicking and my blood boiling. It would be wrong to say or even suggest I know it all because I don’t. However, Africa on mind means I am hungry to know her more, learn about her and embrace her, in spite of  her faults and weaknesses. And most certainly, never again do I want to be ashamed to say I am Nigerian or Africa. I have never been and there will never be a reason for me to be ashamed but I have heard of a few who are and I say, they don’t know this lady like I am getting to know her. As an aside, if you have any ideas on how to raise funds, get in touch. ( I cannot not help it. I need help and will not be afraid or ashamed to ask publicly 🙂

So, when I say Africa on my mind, what am I talking about? Let’s see about a few things I find interesting in the last few days and hours of reading news stories being the news junkie that I am, though I never cover as much ground as I would like to. If I read news stories all day, I will not do anything else and that will be a shame because plans without action is failure.

  • Raping and Looting in Africa

walkI would like to start with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama’s current’s national challenge/focus and the ironic factor it holds in relation to Africa, when you hold a mirror up to it and examine how it is being handled. It could also explain one of Africa’s many tragedies. As of yesterday, the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced that the US Justice department had started criminal and civil investigations in regards to the current situation though he did not specify the companies being investigated but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out. These were Holder’s words, “If we find evidence of illegal behaviour, we will be extremely forceful in our response. We will ensure that every cent, every cent of taxpayer money, will be repaid and that damage to the environment and wildlife will be reimbursed.” His boss, President Barack Obama would go on to add, the oil spill is “the greatest environmental disaster of its kind in our history,” and pledged to bring those responsible to justice.” May I then go on to say some of the companies involved in this mess are the rig operator Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron International, which are oil service companies. If my memory serves me right, Halliburton is the same oil service company that was involved in a corruption scandal in Nigeria a while back. However, that is not my focus. We all know the foreign companies have their ways of doing things where Africa is concerned, say no more. What I am interested in and I have written about this before is the very fact that for years, Nigeria and the people of the Niger Delta have been under siege from Shell. You can see oil flares from miles, their land is of no use neither is their water. Some of them have oil pipes running through their farms. You see images of women walking on oil pipes and you hear stories about ways in which it affects the quality of life in the region. I am sure Shell would like to do good. To a certain degree, I really do not have a  whole lot of issues with Shell. However, I have a lot of ‘ish,’ (issues and bones) to pick with the Nigerian government. If they were not so corrupt and bloody self-centred, maybe, just maybe the story would be different. If they had the courage to look within rather than point the fingers, maybe Shell would do right by the people of the region after all. But hell no, they cannot do that because they stand to get rich while the majority suffers. Take a good look at this, The Price of Oil, and then tell me if anyone in the US would have this happen to them and go unpunished. The US justice system is far from perfect and it is flawed like all modern day justice systems around the world. However, I bet you a foreign company would not come in, mess up the lives of people and the environment, and get away with it. Ask British Petroleum (BP) if you do not believe me.

Let’s take a look at another example, do not get me started on the Congo but I am sure some of us have heard of  Trafigura, the multi-national oil trading firm, which is accused of dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. An incident many Ivorians have said made them ill. Though Trafigura denies that to be the case, they paid a settlement fee to the people and it is a lot of money. I mean the type of money that would make you and I for life if we invested it properly. Let me add that in order for them to dump that shit in Ivory Coast, they had help from someone on the ground. You know what they say, it is the rat inside the house that goes out and tell the ones outside, the master has left some food in the bin. For his part, the joker got 20 years in jail back in 2008.

But Trafigura is not the only company to have done this. I remember as a child when another company dumped its shit in Warri, then it was part of Bendel State, before it was divided in to what we now have as Delta and Edo state respectively. If anything, these two toxic scenarios tells me the companies  must think African nations do mind them dumping their shit down there as long as they pay the corrupt punks a few dollars. Imagine the drama unfolding… they ask in an animated manner, where best to dump our shit? Oh! wait a minute, ‘dem poor, hungry, starving Africans will not mind.’ Well, guess what, we bloody mind, you frigging SOBs.

However, I stand by my thinking that the only reason these companies can come in and do as they please is because our governments allow it. Until they disallow this treatment of their citizens, these companies will always believe it is their God given right to do as they wish.

  • Africa And The Table of Crumbs

africaI read two news articles yesterday that made me livid and then I laughed at the ludicrous and somewhat patronising nature of it all. I am fully aware that Africa needs to be in touch with the rest of the world for the purpose of trade and development. However, I do not think the rest of the world, especially, Big Brother West has a right to make African nations feel opportune that they are being fed crumbs from the masters table. It is fair to say we are in a new age where the scramble for Africa has taken on a new meaning.  It is now about who is best positioned to trade with Africa, China or France or the US or the rest of the world? Who is the best person to mine our minerals? Who is the best person to give us A in exchange for B because they know the A they are giving us is worthless in value compared to the B they are getting. I know, that’s harsh but I am a little on the temperamental side today, like a woman who is currently having her monthly menstrual cycle. So, take it or leave it.

President Nicholas Sarkozy, of France, who has just finished a two-day French-Africa summit, states that Africa is the reservoir of the world for economic growth of the future. Well, I got news for you, we have always been the reservoir of the world. We built your countries with our resources. What a shame we do not know the power we hold and how best to use it. And at the same time build our countries. Instead we squander it by picking lame duck, illiterate, good-for-nothing, tribal chiefs, who are culturally minded and traditionally conditioned for leaders. By the way, there is nothing wrong with culture or traditional, that is one of the beautiful things I love about Africa, its many nations and their individual cultures but hell, you need tested leadership principles to lead a nation and its people.

As it stand, Africa and its many nations, and their various regional bodies are fighting for a greater say at the UN, which I believe should be the case. There should be equal representation and not one bulldog/bully or group of bulldogs/bullies making all the decisions. Hence, when  Sarkozy says Africa needs to be ‘given’ a greater say in world affairs. I object to the mentality that we need to be given. I believe we should not be ‘given’ for the simple fact that we have a right to have a say like every other continent and nation represented in the various ineffective UN councils. I know, that’s harsh but I forewarned you that I am like a woman on her menstrual cycle today.  It should not be given to us like we are the paupers at the table of a rich man. We are all equal right? That is what the UN’s charter on human rights is promoting right? Hence, why should Africa be given when the UK, US and others just take and take? Why should we have to beg for what we have a right to? Africa is not a nation. It is a continent but at the UN, individual nations make the decisions, hence, Africa should have the same number of representatives like other continents in the different councils. We have a right to come to the table, sit down and eat like everyone else. Then again, that may not be possible because over the years, our leaders have prostituted us for pennies.

And as for the Civil Liberties groups who keep pointing to Africa’s human rights record whenever African nations make a demand for equal representation, I understand you are funded by your western sugar daddies but do me a favour and shut the hell up. I don’t hear you complaining on the same forceful level that you do about some Western nations which I shall not waste my energy to type out because I may throw up at your level of  ignorance about the shit in your own backyard. I do not deny African nations need to work on their human rights record but clean your ass of the shit that really stinks before you help African nations wipe their ass. Now, take a deep breath; I feel better, don’t you?

Bottom-line, every nation on the face of the earth has a lot of work to do on itself, its human rights record and its promise to make the lives of its citizens better. It is a shame African nations are in the hands of a few hoodlums because we very well should be able to compete on the international stage with our wealth of resources but mismanagement means that is not possible.

  • International Criminal Court (ICC): Africa’s Best and Worst Chance for Justice

iccNow, I respect the work the ICC has done and I look forward to some people being brought to justice but I will not mention names. However, can I ask why all its current cases are in Africa –  Central African Republic, DR Congo, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda? There are a few Western nations, which should also be under investigation or am I naive to think they are equally as guilty of crimes against humanity like the African nations the ICC is investigating? This may offend but I am going to put it in context. When the foundation for the ICC was being laid, the US argued its soldiers might be the subject of politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions. In fact, they threw a temper tantrum according to a news report by the BBC, “The US threatened to pull its troops out of the UN force in Bosnia unless they were given immunity from prosecution by the ICC.” Talk about a political prima-donna. Erm…after Iraq, I guess it is easy to understand their fears but does that mean they are above international law? To date, they are still not members of this new justice drama.

If I have any questions, it would have to be; is it inconceivable for Africa and its many nations to come together, sit down and find a way to bring those who commit crimes against its children to justice? Why do we always have to look outside to find what will bring healing to us? Then again, that is wishful thinking because we consider our leaders or should I say, they consider themselves to be above the law. They can send all of them to the ICC where they can be fried properly with the right ingredients. I love the complexities of power. Makes you have grey hair before your time.

My final ‘ish’ of today, is the fact that Libya has executed 18 people, who probably did not have access to a good defense attorney. Libya is famed for the fact that foreigners, unless they are British, American, Swiss among the other nationalities, whose governments will go to war on their behalf do not stand a chance where trails are concerned. For starters, these proceedings are conducted in Arabic and I bet you the Nigerians among other African nationals they have in their cells do not understand a word.

When will the ICC indict Gaddafi or are they afraid he will declare a jihad on then like he did on Switzerland? Oh, I forgot, he is Africa’s very own neurotic prima-donna.

Images

Binoculars: Youth Blog

Womnan Walking on Pipelines: BBC News

A New Scramble For Africa: Book by Roger Southall and Henning Melber from Amazon

ICC Logo: ICC/Google

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One Response to “Africa On My Mind”

  1. Hans Schippers says:

    just think about the rhetoric in the West if the Israeli offensive against those ships who were trying to breach the Gaza blockage, had occured in Africa, by an African nation… How come Israel’s own is self defence and human rights so suddenly become a secondary concern??? Two weights, two measures…

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