Make it so

uknae of Mischief to Data has uploaded loads of photos of the march in Edinburgh, which I was very sorry to miss, although I sent P as my representative. Since I have the digital camera, he had to use a disposable film snapper, which means he won’t be uploading those photos anytime soon. In the meantime, get a feel of the day at uknae’s Poverty march photoset.

Meanwhile, Chris of qwghlm has a very rational rant on the very reason I am currently hating Bob Geldof’s guts. The idiot (Geldof, not Applegate…) has given free publicity to lots of music acts that don’t need it, and given himself yet another chance to sing his one hit song. He has also insulted an entire generation of young people who care about affairs of the world, try to do their bit by volunteering or donating what little money they have, and don’t need bribery with banal pop concerts to get them interested or talking about how we, or rather our governments and theirs, have [bad word]ed over Africa. Instead of rational discussion and positive suggestions, he’s just given the media and official voices leeway first to gasp in horror at his ludicrous suggestions and now to repeat his banal soundbites.

Instead of patting themselves on the back for turning the world’s attention to Africa, they should be giving themselves a great big kick for taking the attention away from WHY talking about Africa and its debt is important. I don’t like over-simplification, but sometimes, an idiot’s guide is a good start. Have a look at the BBC’s attempt to give some background to the various obstacles to African success.

We cannot lump all of Africa together. There are nations rich in natural resources who will prosper, given time and better trade agreements. There are others with ridiculously corrupt governments, which must be encouraged (or forced) to give greater care to their own citizens before lining their pockets. And then there are some which don’t have much to call their own, yet owe the World Bank sums of money I cannot even comprehend in my tiny head. I think what I’m trying to say is that every country needs its own solution, and we’re probably doing the poorer nations a disservice by speaking of Africa as a homogeneous place.

So, if you enjoyed the concerts (live or on TV), and want to know more, ignore Bob and friends. Instead, why not read some opinions by people who know what they’re talking about?

“This is the right gesture – but certainly it is not enough. What Tony Blair is offering Africa is a leaking bucket. Such policies create the very poverty which they are now trying to address.”

–Trevor Ngwane (anti-privatisation campaigner from South Africa)

I like the imagery. It puts in mind a song, to which I know some of the lyrics, but not the title:

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, there’s a hole.

Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then mend it dear Henry, dear Henry, mend it.

It goes on for a bit, but essentially, it comes back to Henry requiring some water with which to wet a stone that he needs to sharpen an axe, which for some stupid reason he needs to cut a straw with. Why he didn’t just stick some gaffer tape over the hole, I could never understand. But there is some similarity to the situation at hand. To stop money leaking away via corrupt or inefficient channels (come on, not all the officials can be corrupt… law of probability and all), there needs to exist a certain level of affluence or financial security. For that to happen, there must be infrastructure (either government-provided or sold to the lowest bidder). For infrastructure to be put in place (or remain there for any length of time), there must be political stability and an absence of civil war. And for that to happen, yadda-yadda…

People are people all over the world. There is no such thing as an altruistic politician or CEO. The nature of our world dictates that only the strong rise to the top, and the strong have historically maintained their grip by using/abusing their power. All the belly-aching in the world by our well-meaning pop stars won’t change that. Live8 must have been fantastic for all the people who attended it. Good for them. Now let’s concentrate on the task at hand.

Edit: Silly me. The white band’s been right in front of me for months, and I don’t even remember to plug it. Go here and here.

Update:No point retracing the steps when someone else has done the legwork. See curious hamster for a round-up.


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