Colonialism: Western hypocrisy over Africa.

“Any colony tends to become one vast farmyard, one vast concentration camp where the only law is that of the knife.” Frantz Fanon on “The wretched of the earth.” (1961)

 

When we think about poverty the image of Africa immediately pops up in our minds, and there are good reasons for it. What is interesting about it, is that the Africa that represents poverty, hunger, and war to us, is the same Africa that gave birth to two of the most advanced empires of their time -the Egyptian and the Carthaginese-; the same whose natural resources are the largest in the world; the same with a privileged geographical position and the same that has such a huge population to pull the continent forward. Therefore, if it has the raw material to be a great continent, why it is nowadays the poorest one?

http://www.viajejet.com/tag/fotos-pobreza-en-africa/

In Africa, the lack of food, water and medicines is the major cause of death among kids.

There are many reasons why Africa has become the so-called “third world”: the climate does not help, the lack of water, and the conflictive nature of their population are some of them. But at the bottom of the list, there is another big reason that has being stopping Africa from reaching all its potential, a reason that has been present since the 18th century, and a reason that, in one way or another is still happening nowadays: the western countries colonialism.

http://www.africareview.com/Blogs/A-ruling-class-fixated-on-Western-luxury/-/979192/1439912/-/kruxbd/-/index.html

A colonist talking with the leader of a tribe while taking the local population to sell them as slaves.

Ever since the 18th century, western powers have invest time in resources on exploding the African continent by all means. Despite there are different kinds of colonialism, all of them have something in common: they are a form of oppression for the colonized land’s natives. Metropolis come, take out the natural resources, implant new boundaries and political systems, forcing them to convert to a different religion and erasing every piece of tradition that the natives could have.

After two centuries of conflicts in the African region, western countries have developed, and evolved, and now we wonder, why hasn’t Africa do the same. But then, do we want Africa to do the same? Nowadays that oppression is hidden under a paternalistic attitude, accompanied with cooperation for development programs, and multiple economical aids. And there is the name of the game: economic colonialism. This is a very controversial issue; while West wants to help Africa to develop, founding school programs and trying to fight against human rights violations, they yet want to increase their military influence  and are still benefiting from the cheap labor force, maintaining that way colonialism alive.

And then there is China, who has recently joined the race for the economic exploitation of Africa, but promoting a different approach focused on the exploitation of the natural resources without caring about the political regime, in a similar way of the old British empire.

All in all, it is well known that despite being in the 21st century, developed powers have not cease to explode Africa. What we, as citizens of the “first world” need to think now is: Are we  willing to sacrifice part of our economic welfare in order to actually help African countries to develop, or should we keep the things in the current state, knowing than sooner or later Africans will rise up against their exploitation? Are we fine with getting bigger and bigger at the expense of Africa? Just keep in mind Karl Marx’s words: ”Shame is a revolutionary sentiment”.

http://africanhistoryblog.wordpress.com/category/post-colonialindependence-period/

Western economy growing at Africa’s expense.

“What we don’t know about South Africa” – An interview to Willa Liebenberg

South Africa is located in the southern part of Africa with a coastline that stretches along two oceans, Indian and Atlantic. It is in the top 25 of largest countries by land and by population with close to 53 million people. South Africa is a very clear example of a multiethnic society even to the point that no other country in the world has more languages recognized in their constitutions, South Africa has 11.

South Africa was a British colony until the 31st May 1910 but when the Statute of Westminster was passed it became a full sovereign nation. From there South Africa has been always consider one of the most important countries in Africa and one to be consider as a future power. However South Africa has to deal with a lot of problems about racism and discrimination (Apartheid). Even in a report by the SAMP it has been said that South Africans really struggle with immigration.

In Observatorio de la Actualidad I had the chance to work looking for news and writing articles about Sub-Saharan Africa but incredibly I never had a chance to talk about South Africa even with the election and Mandela’s death. So taking into consideration all that I took the phone got in contact with Willa Liebenberg.

Willa Liebenberg. Own photo.

Willa Liebenberg. Own photo.

 

 

Willa is a South African citizen and was born in Johannesburg where he still living, I contacted him because I met him and he allowed me to interview him and answered all my questions with joy. He works for NewDaysSafaris, a company he founded because his love for the nature of his country. He organizes safaris both for photographers and hunters.

The first thing I wanted to ask him was about his childhood, what was the feeling of a white boy 40 years ago. He tried to explain the best he could to me how society was really divided back then. “I remember one time I was going to the school and one of my friends told me that we should only hang out with white people.” He defend his friend saying it was the way of behaving back them but even now he says that the lack of education for black people has really affect their access to jobs in the cities and that is one of the main reasons why racism still exists.

Yesterday the FIFA World Cup started in Brazil and it is impossible not to remember that the African nation host it 4 years ago and was the first in its continent to do it. Now in the news we can see every day the protest that are occurring in Brazil so we went 4 years back and try to see what has changed. “For South Africa it was huge in terms of publicity and new infrastructures but now the government doesn’t have money to maintain them and are thinking about destroying them. It doesn’t make sense they were supposed to think about what to do.

Despite all this it was great to see all the population hand by hand.”

After the first questions we had a little meal and after we continued with the actual news and the first topic we discussed about was the strike some miners have started because they asked or a raise in their salary because they think that with the money the companies make they should be able to raise up their salaries. And for now the strike has cost more than 2 billion Rand. “I understand the workers need to have good salaries but you should do it year by year and not to ask a raise that is more than 100% and now they hurting our economy. I think the Unions must think about the big picture and realize a lot of those workers are asking for a salary that not even a lot of workers with 6 years of university studies have. There is something that is not right.” Now the strike is almost over and both sides have been negotiation on a new deal.

In order to conclude we focus on the South African government and its future which direction will they take? We can think that South Africa is one of the best states in the continent but what do they do for other states? “This is always a problem, the government tries to help but I think sometimes they should think about the poor people here and implant some things to solve it. Also I think the most important thing we have to solve here is the corruption and we have to start with the president Zuma and his house.” Zuma has been accused of using public money for the improvement of his private house. “Another problems they should eliminate is the crimes because there are a lot of murders probably because inequality and unemployment”

Before finishing we had to talk about the elections, the first ones without Nelson Mandela. Willa Liebenberg really showed his disagreement with what the government and especially with the citizens. “I think the ANC needed a punishment from its population but it didn’t get it, I have big hope in this country and will take time for seeing the changes, theirs new people coming in government so let’s hope…”

As a result of the interview I was really shocked because I have made an image of South Africa that is different to what my interviewee told me. I thought South Africa was one of the premier countries in Africa and was bound to be the leader of the African country. Instead I found that the citizens are really angry with its government, the corruption, inequality and the mistakes that they have made with the World Cup.

I thank Willa for his time I really appreciate how he answered all of my questions and wasn’t shy about any question I asked him.

13.06.2014

Guillermo Morales Costas

 

“That was my dr…

“That was my dream”

I parked my car in front of the bar “El Rancho”. The bar was empty, at the end of the room sitting in a table looking to a football match, France- Jamaica.  There he was, the famous Anthony Osayande, known as the killer, the area killer. Anthony had the sport sweat of the Spanish national team, a present of his football coach. Actually his playing in a municipal league with other Spanish citizens. “I love football, it’s the cruel dream I had always in mind, it’s the dream that has take me everything from my hands.”
Anthony Osayande, 28 years old Niger man, borne at Agadez, a northern city of Niger. Finished school as one of the top student of his class, with the chance starting university and the capital, but the life to this young Nigeria changed a July of 2005. Anthony used to play football at his town, Agadez, everyday before and after school in the sand at the outskirts of his town.

Anthony never talks about his hard journey to Spain, who he gave everything for his dream, and he didn’t receive even a small part of what he had suffer and fought. “This doesn’t end here” he reclaim, “ God is always watching, if you don´t persists you don`t gain”

 

To hear this words from a person that haven’t receive a present, that had to walk throw part of morocco, that left all his family and friends back at home with the hope to reach Spain and effort to get an opportunity in a football team. Its a lecture for a person like me, someone to admire his effort. Sadly he continued with the story who brought him here, 10000 Km from home “I was cheated, cheated in a very cruel way, they putted my dream as a hope and I gave all my past earnings to fulfil my dream, I’ am here.”

Anthony is a young man that doesn’t take a NO for an answer, “Is something I been hearing nearly all my life, always is NO but they don’t give a reason.” At the age of 28 he doesn’t feel the “world has ended here, know I can have more opportunities, I can have a chance of living a better life.” When you talk to someone that sadly has passed a rough life, that has given all his effort to complete a dream, and the life kick you hard its easy to through you from the window. “When you don’t have nothing else, the only way to survive its to escape. My chance to become someone was to come here illegally.”

His face changed of expression; his eyes looked to the TV, images came to his mind. “ It was hard, many days without food and water, waiting the right moment to jump.” How I can explain to him that my government has put those terrific walls to stop people like Anthony not to come, because they are going to use all our resources and they are expensive. What type of humanity we are if we limit the development of a whole country.
The dream of Anthony was to be a professional soccer player, “I dreamed to be like Drogba, Costa de Marfil player.” He thought he got the opportunity back in his country, but a mafia tricked him. “ I gave all what I had, they guarantee me a football opportunity in Spain.” Sadly they trunked his dream to take all his money that years before he earned in his town collecting rubbish. “Since I was 10, I used to help the community, cleaning the streets. If we helped we got some earning, not much, but sufficient to survive and live normally. Know I can’t say that.”

Anthony is like other Spanish looking for job, although he is happy to have a house, and the possibility to go to a hospital due to his residence card. Few immigrants now a day have the opportunity to have the access to this card. Even Spanish have difficulties to have full access to these services.

“Although I haven’t been lucky at my past, a give thanks to God because of the life I can reach now. I’ve called several times home, and the things there aren`t better. I can have food everyday, back at Niger these it’s not possible. Things happened because they need to happen.”

We finished watching the match and talking about the coming world cup at Brazil, “That was my dream.” Anthony finished.”

 

Juan Ignacio Lejarraga

“That was my dream”

The power of publicity- An overview of the Central African Conflict

I have been informing myself the last two months about the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa. However, I had mostly took information from governmental sources, so for this interview I decided to take another approach and interview a person who has been on the ground and could give me a different point of view.

The one who accepted this difficult task was Narciso Rosa Berlanga, a UN official from the OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), who has been working on different African countries, especially on the Central African Republic. We decided to focus our conversation in Central African Republic, as it was the country that he was more familiar with.

Ignacio Rosa in the Central frican republic supervising international troops

Ignacio Rosa in the Central frican republic in a mission of evaluation of the territory

To start with I asked him for an introduction to the Central African Republic, as many people don’t know anything about the country. He laughed a little bit with this question, and although I found his reaction strange I totally understand him later on as we will see.

The Central African Republic is a country very rich in natural resources, which has provoked an interest from other countries, Mr. Berlanga told me. In the last years the country has increase its natural instability due to the existence of two different religious groups, Muslims and Christians, as the former dictator, backed by the French government was overthrown by Seleka, and Islamic guerrilla, and his leader Jotoria became the president. However, they were not able to keep peace and shortly after a civil war broke up between Seleka and the supporters of the previous dictator. The international community pressured Jotoria’s government, and a transition government under the presidency of Katherine Samba Panza was established. However when the situation seemed stable, the worst episode came. Anti-Balaka, a Christian civil movement started to kill the Muslim population, accusing them of supporting the Seleka government. This rapidly degenerated into a religious conflict, which has not been resolved at the current date. As in most of the religious conflicts, the civil population has been especially affected, provoking a huge movement of the Muslim population into neighboring countries such as Chad and Cameroon.

Trying to lower the intensity of the conflict, the government tried to demobilize Seleka, by cantoning them in the capital and asking for a disarmament. They were partially successful, as the Seleka guerrilla agreed to cantoned in the cities, but they refused to disarm themselves. This  however left the anti-balaka movement without opposition, so they started to kill all the Muslim population, as well as all the Christians who didn’t support them. Although a peacekeeping force was sent by the African union to keep order, they fled away to protect their home countries from the destabilization of the Central African refugees, creating a lack of institutional power. After this the French government has strongly intervened in the country theoretically to build up peace between the two religious groups.

After this overview of the conflict we decided to talk about the job of OCHA here. They are in charge of raising funds, coordinating humanitarian help and trying to lower the intensity of the conflict. However they don’t have military means, so this operation is very difficult and often unsuccessful. They are also in charge of getting out the child’s who are currently taking part in the conflict and teaching them a job to allow them to live in a peaceful way.

Mr. Berlanga told me that the extermination of the Muslim population is reaching the levels of the Rwandan genocide, but despite of this, raising funds to stop it have been nearly impossible. Surprised, I asked him why it was so difficult to achieve help, he answered me by explaining ‘’the power of publicity’’ : some countries such as Syria and South Sudan are well publicized in the media, and whenever a humanitarian crisis occurs, there are in the opening place of all the newspapers, so gaining help is relatively easy. However, countries such as the Central African Republic are much less ‘’sexy’’, so they are systematically ignored by the mainstream media, so making governments aware of the seriousness of the issue.

To end with I asked him about his perspectives of the country. The future is not encouraging, and unless a strong action is taken fast the country will probably live a religious cleansing.

In his propaganda model Chomsky stated that the first filter for a notice is the property and the orientation of the media. When the owners of the main sources of information have businesses in the Central African Republic, can we expect reliable and not-biased information of the topic? If we don’t make an effort to look for different sources of information we might never be able to learn about the true nature of the conflicts around the world.

By Fernando Martin

Another Africa is possible- Senegal.

 

“I have spent the last three months researching and compiling as much information about  Africa as I possibly could, in order to write an article weekly about something that was currently happening in the region. After a long time reading and investigating I can summarize my opinion about the continent in one sentence: Africa, a natural paradise where you can get raped, kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder, condemned to death for getting married with the one you love, or die of starvation and illness without anyone making a big deal out of it. In three months I have been unable to write a single positive article, mostly because all the misery and disgrace of those countries eclipsed the good things they can offer. I am starting to believe that maybe there is no light at the end of the tunnel…” This were my thoughts when I was on my way to my meeting with Monsieur Colonel Mamadou (militar attaché in Senegal’s embassy in Madrid), who just proved me how wrong I was.

Colonel Sy Mamadou studied International Relations in Senegal and served in the military afterwards. Nowadays he works as a diplomat in Madrid.

Sadly, the opinion I developed about Africa is shared by most of the people in western countries. But if we stop and think about it, how much do we actually know? And in such a big continent, are all the countries the same? The answer for those questions are the result of this interview. No, fortunately, not all the countries are the same. Senegal; a shiny exception in the African continent.

 

Let’s make a quick review about this country located in the west of the African continent. Senegal is a country with a population of around 13 million people. It got its independence from France in 1960, but it still has good relation with its former metropoli. It is a democratic country with presidential elections every five years. It is a member of the United Nations and it has signed and ratified most of the UN treaties. Education is public and compulsory until the age of 16.  Another really interesting fact is that in Senegal, the congress, composed by 100 deputies, counts with 50 women and 50 men.

senegal kids

Boys and girls learning how to write.

 

However, it is still a third-world country, and has uncountable issues to improve: It is known that the Senegalese society would rather work than study and this is reflected in its literacy rate, that does not go higher than 53% of the population. “Our economy, mainly based on the first sector (agriculture, fishing, mining, and textile), is not enough to feed the 13 million population, therefore malnutrition is a common problem among the Senegalese kids. But we are working on that. We have cooperation for development programs, like the PCE or PSE”- The Colonel explained me.

Despite all the shadows, after my interview with the colonel I started seeing Senegal as the Swiss of the African continent. One of the things that soon caught my attention is that Senegal is the only country in Africa that has never had a coup d’etat and we could say that it is one of the rare countries in Africa where democracy is actually working. When I asked the colonel what made Senegal different than the rest his answer was clear:

“In Senegal people do not seek for power. In Senegal people is not violent. Senegalese people want a good lifestyle. They want food and water, they want schools and hospitals, they want to have some spare money to spend. If their needs are satisfied, they are aswell. Moreover, Senegal has inherited from France their diplomatique system. Even when Senegal was still a french colony, it still had some deputies in the French assembly in Paris. We have being raised in a democracy, and after 1960, when we got the independence, we kept politics that way.Senegal is a country of tolerance, and educated people.”

These are just a few of the multiple reasons why democracy work in Senegal, as Colonel Mamadou said “Senegal is a country of muslim people, but not a muslim country.” Senegal is a country that makes a separation between religion and government. Despite 94% of the population practices the muslim religion, Senegal is known for its religious tolerance. For instance, is one of the few countries where Jihadism is forbidden. Following these beliefs, different religion marriages are allowed, and is not that weird to find members of the same family practicing different religions. Therefore, taking into account the education, the traditions, the tolerance of the people, their culture, and their economical situation, the colonel concludes by saying that “there are different powers that balance the system”. And this is what makes Senegal different from the rest of African countries.

 

Senegalese congress members in Dakar

Senegalese congress members in Dakar

After finishing my interview with Colonel Mamadou I realized about the potential Senegal has. In its 50 years as an independent country it has been fighting in order to become a model country for the rest of Africa. Therefore, if Senegal can make it, maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for Africa, maybe, and just maybe, another Africa is possible.

 

 

By Alba Martinez

“Ebola’s shadow submerges Africa under a deathly cloud.”

Ebola counts with around 330 (reported) victims at it’s back during the last months, becoming the  fourth most lethal plague in Africa.

 

 

 

“In total, it was nine members of my family who got infected. My wife and my cousin also survived, therefore just three out of nine. The youngest ones and the older ones were weaker and died first. We were really affected by the death of our family, but we were relieved to because not all of us died. It would have been a catastrophe if all the family had died.” says one of the few survivors to the press. The subject prefers to stay anonymous due to the stigma of having get infected with Ebola.

 

During the last months, an infectious wave has shake some zones of Africa, leaving 230 dead people behind it, and still counting.

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from   http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

 

This lethal virus was first recognized in Zaire and Sudan, in the east of Africa during the late 70’s. The infection that took place back then has one of the worst fatality rates when talking about lethal human virus. It is believed that a person can acquire it when coming into contact with an infected animal’s blood, urine or sweat, and this is as well how it spreads. Sometimes it just takes a fruit bat to get close to you.

 

This disease affects mainly little villages in West and Central Africa states as Guinea nowadays. It is thought that the virus fast spread is due to the lack of hygienic conditions and an almost non-existent medical system. Another problem is the illiteracy rate that makes the population unable to read or understand the recommendations by the doctors; however African people have figured a way to educate the people: using dances and songs to tell everybody about the virus, and about how staying clean and far from animals and ill people will make it more difficult to get it.

 

What makes Ebola a such a huge threat, is that it can not be prevented nor treated. No vaccine has been found. However, thousands of dollars have been designated to this search. The latest advances have been made by the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The team behind the discover found out how the deadly virus makes its way into the body cells, now that they have the “why”, scientist are working on the “how” to stop it.

 

Until this needed cure appears, all the world can do is wait, and hope for a brighter future.