Interview with Hermanas Šulcas: Africa has been left alone

Rwanda – a small country in the middle of Sub-Saharan Africa, could be a heaven on the earth – amazing nature, incredible wildlife, and especially people, so natural, honest, hospitable and joyful – this is a treasure of this little country, three times smaller than Lithuania, however, home for three times more people. On the other hand, Rwanda is one of the poorest countries in the world. Average age is only 40 years, the mortality is terribly high. It is a country with sadly shocking history, but willing to revive and develop. One of the persons, decided to help there, is Lithuanian priest Hermanas Šulcas, already more than 30 years living and working in Rwanda. It would be hard to believe, that so modest and calm person has established a youth village and is significantly contributing to the local society.

Image

In the following part it is the interview about living and interacting with people in Rwanda from H. Šulcas point of view.

What do you think, is it true that Western cultures still behave unfair with the African countries? How can you say so?

Actually, that is true. Claiming contrarily would be equal to a lie. What do you think, how is it still possible to live like that in 21st century? You can see everything by yourselves, I don’t need to show the exmaples. All the food, water, deseases problems, wars and conflicts.. Colonialism has done a lot of damage. For example, the border between Kenya and Tanzania – the straight line separates the same nation – Masai. Have somebody asked the nation what it wanted? I don’t want to get deeper, however, I can claim that colonialism hasn’t gone anywhere – it continues, maybe in different form now. For example, analysing the documents after the Rwanda’s genocide, it’s very visible the influence of France. The situation in which Africa is now is a consequence of cruel global colonialism. African people are totally the same as us and everyone else. They also want to have a radio, computer, cell phone, they wish to travel and know the world. They are not sluggards nor criminal, the global attitude to them has made them like this.

In 1994 the land of Rwanda was painted in the colour of blood – the war between two nations, Tutsi and Hutu, had taken more than 500000 lifes of Rwandian people. More than half of the children in your Youth village had been killed as well. It is said, that the reason of that was the France interest in very expensive mineral resources needed to produce cell phones and computers…

Well, that’s true that it wasn’t Tutsi and Hutu fight. It had much more colours from the Western cultures. Just one of the facts, almost not known in the wider horizons – two years before the war, France sent a good psychologist to Rwanda, who started working in a special radio station to stir up the Tutsi and Hutu nations… It is still hard to talk about.

Please explain – how is it possible to survive all the time seeing so sad circumstances around?

It is nor easy, never was. When I started working in Lithuania [exp. – H. Šulcas has established a youth house in Lithuania too], I was afraid people will start laughing at me – is it possible to work in two continents at the same time? I can not stay in Rwanda for more than half a year. Sometimes it becomes impossibly hard, then I go to Lithuania, to check the life here and rest a bit.

Officially, Rwanda is a country with democracy. However, do you feel safe living there?

I’ll be honest – really no. There flourishes the self-will, people do whatever they want to, they look for the justice in their own ways. White-skinned people are even more unwanted. However, it’s only the small things, I don’t want to talk more. But the thing that you can not feel safe there is totally true. Unfortunately, thanks to us.

Then, who are we today, the Europeans, the shameless killers or Africa’s savers?.

That’s hard to frame people in these words. Those, who contributed directly to the crimes caused thousands of murders during the genocide, like the French psychologist, they are responsible for it, obviously. However, I’m trying not to separate and frame people. Luckily, where always are people prepared to help.

What is the future of this black continent?

I’m always saying this – if there happened a miracle and there wasn’t any part of government, any white – skinned person and the locals could peacefully live their lifes, I am sure, that there wouldn’t be any starving person, any thirsty child. You don’t need any theoretical consideration about the power and government in that country and all Africa, all you need is simply sincerity. It’s together funny and sad to know, that millions of dollars are paid for the guns instead of the welfare of the people. So, I believe that African future will be bright only then, when it won’t be shovelled, but Western cultures will be trying to help it. The mineral I have mentioned is twice more expensive than the gold, and of course, from it’s extraction benefit not Africa, but capitalistic countries. If the justice was established in this industry, Africa would definitely rise from the hole.

Image

Africa has been left alone in the world, says H. Šulcas. Even the Prime Minister of Great Britain once called Africa the „Black Hole on the world’s conscience“. Rwanda is the clearest example how the richest countries in the world used the resources and people of the small African country, this way disturbing the natural economical, social and political development of local societies. Finally, it led the global world to the chaos, which is not so easy to get out from.

By Evelina Simaskaite

Prejudice or Precipitation ?

Last week, two men have been arrested in connection with the murder of a day mother and a 5-month-old baby boy in Delmas on May 23. The victims were Margrietha De Goede, 66, and Wiehan baby, who was under the care of the woman. They were found due to the concern of the baby’s mother when she called several times for Margrietha and didn’t have an answer. Arriving at the home they heard a child crying, so they broke a window get into the house and founded an 18-month child, but couldn’t found Margrietha and the other baby,  and then they called police.

The police discovery Wiehan’s body under a bed, and Margrietha was later founded dead in a garden shed. According to Colonel Leonard Hlathi, the woman and the baby’s body were showing signs of being strangled to death. The motive of the murders was not known but the police still working on this case to find out the true.

Although, this case it’s been very polemic, and causing a lot of protest.  On Thursday protester burnt and trampled the national flag in Delmas, when the two suspects appeared in court, this movement had been organized by the members of the Volksraad Verkiesing Kommissie (VVK), who were protesting against violent crime against women and children.  Volksraad Verkiesing Kommissie is an administrative body that strives to organize an election for the people of the Boer Afrikaner people. They are politically neutral to compare his work with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). Your goal is to register voters in an election in order to manage a house of the South African government.

The protester was trying to communicate with the government in order to create a homogeneous ethnic state in South Africa for his nation. During the protest, the group reportedly hurled slurs at black people.  According to African Eye News Service (AENS), they sang racial slogans and displayed posters bearing the words: “Black cowards – leave our women and children alone”, “Besteel, verkrag, vermoor: Ons is klaar met swart Suid-Afrika” (Rob, rape, kill: we are finished with black South Africa) and “Barbare los ons kinders uit” (Barbarians leave our children alone).

We know that this country and also the continent have a big and sad history that involves prejudice and xenophobia, and past the years it might have improve and people became more aware that the color of a person’s skin does not determine its character. But there are always some people that doesn’t understand it and have a lot of prejudice in their minds.  We can’t tell for sure what were the causes of the murders because the investigation is not finished yet, but should they already make racist protest for the suspects?  People nowadays don’t know to wait for the real true, for the real facts so they can make up their minds, people of the XXI century always want to believe that there are the only one who might have the perfect reason and doesn’t matter the rest. Maybe we should stop a little and start to think more about our values, our thoughts and wait to give a real opinion about any subject.

Protecting the greatest treasure of the world

Works of art are protected day and night by security guards, safeguarding our collective human cultural achievements in most of the world’s museums, art galleries, and memorials and yet when it comes to other works of art – those formed by nature – there is seldom a guard in sight.

For the past couple of decades the population of chimps, gorillas and other apes has declined in areas of the world where there is no security force to protect them. Meanwhile, parks and wildlife reserves, which do have a security force, have seen populations stabilize. Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda are all examples of parks with security patrols that have not only stabilized the population of these animals but have also seen the population increase.

We, as human beings, need to train and deploy more security guards and patrols to protect animals from poachers. This need is greater today than it was ever before in history, last November the African Western Black Rhino was officially declared extinct. Half of Africa’s elephants have been killed since 1987 for the ivory trade. In South Africa, the number of rhinos poached since the start of the year is now at 210, with 127 rhinos lost in Kruger National Park.

The most basic and logical solution to poaching is constant patrols, and the involvement of the local community. Efforts to stop poaching in South Africa are showing some positive effects – the number of arrests is continuing to climb. However, the number is more of a reflection of increased poaching activity than more enforcement. More guards and more patrols cost more money and with many countries in Africa already struggling, their needs to me more international support. Currently, most support comes from nongovernmental organizations, private donors, and foreign state agencies such as the US Agency for International Development and the US Fish and Wildlife Service but even it is not enough. More governments need to increase their contributions to the global cause of protecting animals from poachers. One government in particular, the Spanish government, recently caught a lot of negative publicity for the accident that King Juan Carlos had while hunting elephants in Botswana.

60% of the rhino population was killed illegally between 2003 and 2005 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while 67% of the rhino population was killed in Zimbabwe. These rhinos were killed, and their horns made it to illegal markets in Asia and the Middle East where they are used to make traditional medicine.

South Africa has recently set up a wildlife crime unit to combat the rise of rhino poaching. This unit has the task of investigating the smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products but this is not the correct solution. This special unit is not protecting these animals, the unit only worries about catching smugglers.

We need to help provide the resources and money to secure the greatest works of art in the world. If we fail, countless more species will be extinguished from this world. The products of millions of years of evolution should not die off due to a lack of resources.

Interview with an immigrant from Nigeria

Recently in Spain, the Rajoy government has been busy cutting funding from as many programs as possible in order to meet strict budget deficit targets. One of the most recent changes has been the closing of the healthcare system to illegal immigrants in Spain. Under the new rules only children, pregnant women and emergency cases will qualify for free treatment. I decided to ask an immigrant who stands all day at the local grocery store, either helping people with their groceries, or asking for change. 
Who are you? How old are you, where are you from?

My name is Sam, Samsun.
And how old are you?

I’ll be 35 by September

Where are you from orignially?

I’m from Nigeria, Edo State, Benin City

Where is Benin City located in Nigeria?

Edo State is like midwest part of the country- Western part of the country

Is there anything you want to say, anything interesting about yourself? You say you’re 35 so you’ve lived some time.

Yeah, Yeah, I left the country about four years ago, came down here, to start easy for me, I thought coming here would be more better than when I was in my country. You understand me so. Coming here is difficult. Going back home now is a problem because, I feel maybe people will laugh at me – mock me. As a man, I try to make it.

Did you have problems with the government in Spain. With things like Visas or something similar.

I came through land, through Morocco.

Was it difficult?

It was difficult to come here because we had to cross the sea, the big river. So it was now easy. I came down in Cadiz the boundary between Spain and Morocco.

What do you do here now?

I’m here not to just ask for money or to beg, I came here to see some man and ask me for a job, I come here to clean a house, sweep. That is why I am here.

Going back to Nigeria

I believe it is more better here than where I am coming from because when I was in my country I was thinking maybe it is more better. As I am now, I believe it is even more better.

I thought it would be harder, because here in Spain with the crisis now, a lot of people are unemployed. 25%. I don’t think Spain is the place to go right now, maybe the UK would be better?

If I had the chance to go, I’ll go to the UK. For now, I live here. First of all I need a car, money. It is very important for this life.

Every country in this world, I mean, every citizen for example Spanish citizens, they are illegal in other countries, it’s like that. The only thing is when you are in someones country dont commit a crime, you respect their law, their constitution, dont, you know, do what they dont want. If you do crimes, if you mess up, if you are stealing, they can take you and do you whatever they like because you broke the law.

Are you scared of something like that happening to you? Some police action?

I dont blame it illegal, if I’m back I cannot ask to work again or something. I don’t do this.

Do you have problems with getting a work permit?

If I can get a working visa, I’ll work. I have strength, I’m still young, I can work.

Going back to Nigeria, You don’t want to go back to Nigeria

No.

You say you’ll be mocked and as a man you can’t –

As a man, I left home hoping, I’m coming outside my country to make it, going back home is not something, I don’t know how to explain it. In anything in life, for you to make it in life, you pass difficulties. Many problems come your way, you pass through them. One day God…

Do you have any family here?

No, no, no. No family

How long haven’t you seen your family or relatives?

Since I left home.

What do you think about Spanish people and the way they treat immigrants? Any thoughts about the new health care rules?

I don’t know. I believe they are good, because no man is perfect. In my country or your country or any country, the most important is to be good. For me, the Spanish people they are ok. 

Do you face any discrimination? How many people stop and talk to you and how many people just ignore you?

Sometimes it happens, when they have their own problems. I take it as no man, It happens to me sometimes.

What about the future?

If I have a chance to work and get money, I would save money for my future. For now, there is nothing. I’m just here to eat, and sleep. I don’t think of the problems I have.

Samsun was very reluctant to talk about his trip from Nigeria to Spain, and he was very careful not to admit to being in Spain illegally (although from some of his answers it is easy to assume, for example, coming to Spain by land through Morocco when their is no land border).

How does the lack of a manufacturing economy affect the growth of Ghana’s economy?

A nation’s economic development does not only derive from the reputable policies in regards to health, education, standard of living which effectively leads to the growth and the development of the people and effectively the nation, but also depends on the human capital, infrastructure, competitive development and having a manufacturing economy is important and it is the latter theme that will be addressed in this article. This piece will focus on Ghana a region in sub- Saharan Africa and their lack of a manufacturing sector in their country and how this affects the economy. Dr. Adjei Barwuah the former Ghanaian Ambassador to Japan will help shed more light on the matter.

J: Dr. Adjei thanks for joining me today.

DAB: Thank you for having me.

What prevents Ghana from becoming a manufacturing economy?

There is nothing preventing Ghana from becoming a manufacturing economy, after all in the 1960’s we had numerous industrial companies such as the Volta Aluminium Company, textile manufacturing, vehicle assembly plants, cement manufacturing, cocoa processing plants, oil refining etc. Our policies have either been wrong or poorly defined and managed.  We have not assiduously tried to develop a manufacturing base nor have we earnestly pursued a policy of infrastructural development aimed at industrialisation. Our earlier efforts were geared to setting up import substitution industries and they almost all failed due to poor product quality, uncompetitive pricing, ineffective marketing and poor management. Currently, lack of resources in terms of capital and the failure on the part of political leaders have tinted the image of Ghana leaving foreign investors uninterested.

What events in the past set the economy back?

In the 1960’s Ghana was identified as one of the richest nations in sub-Saharan Africa, with reforms such as abolishing price controls, privatization of state owned companies, however colonial policy of taking raw materials out to feed the factories of the colonial power and bringing in final consumption goods to our country, the development of cartels by colonial merchants to compromise the development of local entrepreneurship reduction in import tariffs etc. were setbacks. Despite the wealth generated through the numerous manufacturing companies, political events led to a decade of de-industrialization, crippling these businesses and reducing foreign exchange and the end of a successful era.

How is the government targeting importation levels?

There is not much evidence of the government making strenuous efforts to reduce the type and volume of importation.  There have been feeble efforts to stop importation of items like used clothing and some poultry items.  These attempts have been largely unsuccessful in reducing the volume of such commodities on the market. Even though we are supposed to be living in a global village there is so much protectionism in the industrialised countries that we have to institute enforceable bans on items that do not make any significant positive addition to our balance of payments.

 

What percentages of the countries goods are exported and how does this affect the economy?

It’s obvious that the balance between importation and exportation is vast. 9.6% and 3.4% of goods are imported and exported respectively. However the economy has only seen a 4.4% growth in the manufacturing industry which is lower in comparison to other sectors in the economy. 2008 figures will give you the following as proportions of the nation’s export products:                                      pearls, precious stones, metals, coins, 45%, cocoa and cocoa preparations, 27.4%, wood and wood charcoal 7.5%, edible fruits, nuts, peels of citrus and melons, 3.2% boiler, machinery, and nuclear reactors 1.9% Yet there is a low percentage of goods being exported, high costs of labour, utilities, machinery as well as raw materials pose as a setback. Evidently the country is dependent on imported goods and as a result the government is not doing much to target and reduce the level of importation into the country.

There is a huge boom of Ghanaians travelling to china to buy goods to sell in the country, what is your take on that?

The lack of supportive policies for local manufacturing has led to the development of a large wholesale and retail sector for consumer goods in the country.  And since China is perceived to be a source of less expensively priced goods, there has developed an army of itinerant importers of Chinese made goods.  This development is making the country a dumping ground for shoddy Chinese products and in the process Ghanaian ingenuity and manufacturing are being stifled.  The result is the rise of unemployment and under-employment which are detrimental to meaningful economic development and effective growth in the economy. The general lack of effort to engage in value-added activities to raise the world price of our natural produce has put the value of our natural resources to a discount.  This undermines our trade earnings and our balance of payments situation.

How are economies such as South Africa different from developing nations such as Ghana?

South Africa’s apartheid system gave her the kinds of advantages that Ghana never had:

–              Preferential treatment by most of the developed world, especially Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, France and the US.  This meant massive investment capital and preferential entry of South African goods into major world markets;

–              Control of the larger segment of the national population making the cost of labour significantly low;

–              Conscious development of infrastructure and manufacturing base.

Thank you Dr. Adgjei Barwuah for you time.

Ghana’s past political setbacks have resulted in their lack of development in the manufacturing sector; even though the economy is developing gradually they still have a long way to go as do their neighbours in the sub- Saharan Africa. Attaining a manufacturing economy will go a long way to contribute to the development in the sense that products produced are exported and wealth generated pumped into the economy alongside jobs for local active labour force resulting in a positive ripple effect which will enable the wealth attained through this economic sector of the economy to trickle down the wealth ladder to wider society.

 Image

Dr. Baffour Adjei Barwuah

Dr. Baffour Adjei Barwuah

Former Ambassador of Ghana to Japan.

Interview with Eloá Isique

by Veronica Assencio Guerrero

 

She’s a Brazilian woman, my mother’s friend who now live in Angola, working. She works with party promotion and party decoration and any kind of events. Before decide which career to follow she traveled around the world to get a huge knowledge of culture, behavior, traditions, to really know the places and left all stereotypes behind, to get her own conclusion and impressions.

During a period in her life, she decided to left his job aside for a while and engaged in law school, although after five years almost buried in books and laws, she tried a little to work as a lawyer but she didn’t like it, going back to promote parties and after some years she move to Luanda, Angola’s capital.

 

– How came the idea to go to Angola?

Actually I never really think about in let my job and go out to live abroad again, but someday some Angolan friends were travelling in Brazil and they invited me to decorate hers daughter wedding in Luanda, as I had never visited Angola before and I couldn’t say no to this request, and then after the wedding an opportunity to work there came out and I decided to take it.

 

–  So you liked so much that you decided to take a chance and start a new life?

Yes, first it was supposed to be just a travel, but when the opportunity came I really felt tempted to take it and I did, moreover I would love to really know this continent, that can be more interesting than what the other think.

 

– How was the first time you get in touch with the people in Luanda, when you started to work? Did you felt some kind of prejudice?

The contact was fantastic, the people are very polite, they care about the culture, they have joy and kindness, I really didn’t felt any kind of prejudice, totally different compared with the relationship that we have with the Black people in Brazil due to all the slavery in the past, here I have always been treated very well, from the humblest people to wealthy people.

 

-Which region of the country you live, and how long? There are many civil conflicts in this area ? How the people react to the government?

I live in Luanda, Angola’s capital, a city of 8 million people, and I came here in 2009 so I’m here for 4 years now. There is no longer war nowadays, the conflict ended in 2002 but it lasted 27 years, and before that was the conflict for the independence of Angola, today they really care to rebuild the country and move forward, the economy here is based in petroleum oil, diamonds and minerals. The actual president is 35 years in the power, and the people seem very comfortable with that, I’ve never saw confrontations or complaints about the government.

 

-As we all know Africa is a continent with many problems, have you notice any of these problems on your day-by-day? What are the impressions that most caught your attention?

In other countries there is a lot of problem that need to be solved, but here in Angola these conflict no longer exists, as I said they are concerned to rebuild the country, generate employment and the health care. What most struck me about these people is that despite all the war and suffering they had, they are very polite and kind and they really want no more conflicts, now only matters to enjoy the life, make friends, and they have great value to the family. I came here at the invitation of a good friend and I was received as daughter, cared as like as a sister and many, many times I was presented, very cheerful, as the white sister.

 

-How do you analyze the local culture and the life they have, and you found most different about Brazil?

The local culture is very rich, with customs, dances, music, clothes, food, everything has a story. The customs here are very similar with some we have in Brazil, the rhythms, the food, the only thing different here, is that they give great value and have more concerned to the elders and woman.