SUDAN WATCH: W F Deedes: Not all African woes can be attributed to neglect by the West

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

W F Deedes: Not all African woes can be attributed to neglect by the West

An opinion piece in today's Telegraph by W F Deedes jumped out from my screen because it describes my views exactly. It was refreshing for me to finally hear another voice saying the things I have been banging on about in my blogs for the past year. Especially the penultimate paragraph, quote:
"It is my conviction that little will change in Africa until its women have a bigger say in running their own lives and Africa's affairs. The dominant male has much to answer for: the proneness to fight, the promiscuity that speeds Aids, the enslavement of so many women."
Here's saying a big warm thank you to Lord Deedes for writing what I have been thinking and saying here all along.

A copy of the piece is copied here for future reference [plus a ping to Carine and Bill, following our recent discussions on African leaders - to point out this line from the piece: "There is no sensible way forward for Africa until we recognise the extent to which African rulers rather than the West are so heavily responsible for its plight"]

Don't blame it all on the West

As Bob Geldof and his supporters seek to raise our feelings for Africa with a march on the G8 summit and a second Live Aid concert, it is relevant to recall how he sprang to fame.

He inspired the first concert 20 years ago on behalf of Ethiopians starving to death under the rule of a tyrant.

Ethiopia was an independent state, never a colony, which had been governed in feudal style by Emperor Haile Selassie. It was plundered by Mussolini in 1935-36 and recovered by British and Commonwealth forces early in the Second World War and restored to the emperor. He was deposed and murdered by a Marxist revolutionary, Col Haile Mengistu, under whose harsh rule the people starved.

Why is all this worth recording? Because it is a reminder that not all African woes can be attributed to neglect by the West. That claim raises the temperature, sets people marching to attack greedy nations that misruled Africans in the past and now turn a cold shoulder to their needs. It also falsifies history. I have always conceded that we granted independence to Africa on the tail of Harold Macmillan's "wind of change" too precipitately. No administrative framework was in place. The countries hastily granted independence were up for grabs.

By contrast, Southern Rhodesia was put on the road to freedom by Margaret Thatcher and with an orderly election. And who won? Mugabe, of whose misrule we still read most days of the week. There is no sensible way forward for Africa until we recognise the extent to which African rulers rather than the West are so heavily responsible for its plight.

Have Geldof and his friends any idea how much African nations spend on armies and arms? The total in any one year, if we ever knew it, would astound the world. Guilty men such as Mugabe and those who hold sway over Sudan from Khartoum spend a lot of money defending their backs, against enemies real and imaginary.

Is it any wonder that budgets for health and education suffer? What always distresses me most is that in countries such as Sudan, the Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia, all of them laid low by internal conflict, restoration will be in the hands of Africans who have been denied education.

Then look towards Kenya, a potentially prosperous country so racked by corruption that it yields a fraction of its potential.

I once asked a leading African why so many of his continent's rulers felt the need to acquire colossal wealth, spend much of it extravagantly and place the remainder in Swiss banks.

"In Africa," he replied, "great wealth is the measurement of a top man. And when he acquires power he is surprised by the number of relatives who expect to share the spoils. Then when he falls to a coup, it is expensive to go into exile with an entourage and guard."

I am as sympathetic as Geldof to the long-suffering African people who endure so much, expect so little and I accept that the West could give a helping hand over trade and debt.

But I also have a clear impression of our limitations and, when I hear President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa defending Mugabe and ticking us off for failing to understand him, I recognise what those limitations are.

It is my conviction that little will change in Africa until its women have a bigger say in running their own lives and Africa's affairs. The dominant male has much to answer for: the proneness to fight, the promiscuity that speeds Aids, the enslavement of so many women.

So have a good concert, Bob, but change that great lyric about Christmas: "Don't they know how much more they must do for themselves?"

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1 Comments:

Blogger Black River Eagle said...

This is one of your best postings yet Ingrid and I can agree with some of the points you raise here.

I believe that a number of African people may also agree that African government leaders and government managers and employees, the African business community, and citizens all across the African continent can and must do more to help Africa out of the senseless wars, poverty and disease, and suffering that we all see or read about on an almost daily basis.

Having said that we who have more econonmic and military power and other resources than citizens of developing countries must step up to the challenges NOW to help those in Africa (and elsewhere) who sincerely seek our help. As far as those who view "the West" as their enemy and are determined to make war and create mayhem, well I and others know how that will end up in both the short and long term. It ain't gonna be pretty and you are not gonna like it, but personally I and millions of others are tired of the crap.

We all must seek out the naked truth about the real history between the West, the East, and the African continent and face that truth squarely. African's need to do the same about their own histories as well as it is certainly one of the most researched and studied places on Earth. No excuses.

There are many, many people from around the world who over time have been equally responsible for Africa's suffering together with the African leaders that you refer to in this posting. We all must be vigilant in making sure that these criminals are brought to justice somehow and that what has been raped and stolen from Africa and that rightfully belongs to the peoples of Africa is returned to the people of Africa. Many countries both in the West and the East owe their prosperity today to the theft of resources and labor and expoitation of the people, flora and fauna, and the natural resources of this magnificent continent Africa.

This of course would unleash some incredible fighting, worldwide, wouldn't it? So I guess we must seek an alternative, a deal of some kind that works for everyone.

Make sure you stop by Booker Rising and check on two postings for June 1st that cover the same subject as your article. (Ref: Ike Nnedu Commentary on African Citizenship and Sudan, Bob Geldorf LiveAid 2005 article "White Man's Burden").

There is also an update to the comments at Carine's place re: AngloGold Ashanti and the new HRW report on the D.R.C. that you may find interesting. According to this new HRW report there are a number of "international players" involved in unbelieveable crimes and atrocities in Africa. People like you and I live right next door to some of them.

Cheers.

Thursday, June 02, 2005  

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