Friday, November 03, 2006
WON'T YOU BUY ME A FERRARI ENZO?
WON'T YOU BUY ME A FERRARI ENZO?
There is so much America needs to know, the definition of failure for anyone is not being able to fend for yourself, whereas you are fit. You cannot have an enemy greater than one who deprives you of livelihood. The world sees America living in ‘lunatic’ obscenity; I do not mean it to be insulting or abusive but as a descriptive given. I mean, just think about it… here I am, cuddled up in my little Nigerian corner, watching some Gotti chick sweating it out in the kitchen to fetch Richard Quest some spaghetti. A meal fifteen people cannot consume is served for four; Richard, the Gotti chick and her two spoilt brats that call their mum crazy and mean it, on global TV (CNN).
“Crazy? You mean neurotic.”
That was mum being factual. The brat emphasizes with a prolonged nod of the head:
“Yeah! Crazy and neurotic.”
He’s the one not touching his meal, the other brat is playing twirl-a-top with his spaghetti and table sticks. Meal for four, now for two. And you think, where is all that food going to end up? Then you consider-so, what can America’s problem possibly be? Look how well a gangster’s daughter lives! Or if you are stupidly adventurous, you think, I’ve just got to get over there real soon.
America, in everything you read, watch and listen to, is advertised as the only land of the living. People, kids are dying everyday, everywhere from 500Ib bombs, sanctions, blockades and IMF-inspired starvation. And those that pull through, still die because America or Israel freaks out or has a dream or some fear. We all know the Iran war will happen because the American people have given up political control over their leaders (all thanks to TSP!). It’s so true for America, of our local parlance, “servant don become Massa”. Even from here, we can see something has gone terribly wrong with America.
In our penury and squalor, we are still reasonably happy. We can still take a joke and share a good, tall drink. Our sense of family and culture persist in spite of the culture-shock that is Western mercantilism. It is incomprehensible to us how America can be so blessed and yet so miserable. Homes to take in half my village belong to a family of three, two grown-ups and a toddler. Or a la Michael Jackson, for a family of one, living in juvenile splendor… it’s not about the money, it’s about losing yourself. It’s about what people have become.
Please don’t get me wrong, there are loads of beautiful American families. It is to the stench that emanates from its public face that I refer. And Hollywood has done a marvelous job of spreading that American stench to all nooks and crannies of the world, George Walker Bush has only enhanced it. It’s really so easy for some to conclude: they come to our country, rob us blind and return to theirs to live like the devil in heaven. Something just doesn’t seem right and America is not making it easy that she should be understood. A riddle encased in an enigma or an enigma wrapped in a riddle, who knows? Reasons why they hate us or reasons why we hate them, who knows, who cares?
It was labor obtained under ruthless duress from my continent that grew and tended the cotton fields and sugar cane plantations of the South. It is a historical fact that its best politicians, bankers and property owners, its moneyed class, owe the origins of their wealth to the trade in Africa’s humanity-as Europeans and lately Americans. Let me tell you what the price of an Enzo Ferrari can do for most African communities today. It can build ten rural clinics with free daily medication for a whole year. It will pay for thirty bore holes to deliver portable and safe drinking water for fifteen to twenty rural communities, depending on their various populations. It would provide antenatal care for five thousand pregnant mothers through the year and some change to build three maternity homes. It is enough funds for a hundred and five small scale industries or two hundred and twenty-five home-run ventures. Multiply this by three and the cost of a Formula One Ferrari will get as much. So, next time you see one cruise by, try and imagine what it looks and sounds like viewed with the African eye.
It cannot be so hard to believe the rest of the world starves because of America and her reckless indulgences, it may not be true but it’s easy to believe. What would you think and believe from the African perspective and situation? From the Middle-East point of view? The South American and Asian trajectory? What won’t you think? Can you then begin to imagine how very infuriating it must be, can you even start to visualize it? The anger that envelopes one when they see America attacking Iraq to steal her oil? Look at the things George Bush, that incredulous leader of the free world, has had to say. Now, messing with Iran’s mind in the hope of provoking her into doing something really stupid. It can never be about rapture, it is all about big business with a capital double B. Everything we do, eat and breathe today is it. We are simply wasted on consumerism, no productivity. Kids spend all day long playing computer games, music, chatting on-line, glued to the TV or smoking pot and what else? No time-tables, no schedules, no routine.
In Africa, kids are bent over in the sun tilling the earth from dawn to dusk, not for a dollar but for a dime. These are kids unlike their fathers and forebears, who did not have satellite and the internet, that could not afford TV and radio, who could not read and write, that were trapped in their illiteracy. Today, you don’t have to be literate to understand it, it’s visual and in panavision for everyone, who is not blind, to see. They see the limos and ask; how many people sit in that thing? You tell them between eight and ten, so why are there only two guys in it? You think… then emm… well, he’s a big shot. So? He has to sit in space for ten to show it? Are you serious? Yes. People just crack up and call America crazy. And I haven’t even told them yet that all that Gotti food and sweat are going into the trash can! Now, can you imagine the sheer horror it would cause if I found the courage to tell them that almost three billion dollars was spent on chewing gums in a given year by Americans?
So, won't you buy me a Ferrari Enzo?
A This Day Editorial
G8: Trade, Not Aid
What is the G8 really about? To the rich industrialised nations which form its membership, the Group of Eight is there to help manage the world. That view is seriously disputed by the mostly poor countries of Africa and the developing world. The poor would rather see the G8 as a mechanism for preserving the established interest of those who control the use to which the earth's resources are put.
The communique from the annual summit of the G8 held in St. Petersburg, Russia, has only served to add more ammunition to the arguments of the poor. As a token to Africa, leaders of the world's richest nations merely repeated their worn out promises of the past. As usual, they pledged to pursue efforts to promote democracy in the continent, support aid work, increase debt relief and help Africa to achieve a fair balance of trade.
This is a warm-over of the Gleneagles communique in Scotland last year, but with one distressful difference -- the cutting of fresh aid to Africa this year. To people like Patrick Watt, coordinator of the global aid group, ActionAid, the G8 leaders were "simply recycling last year's language."
None ought to be surprised at the welter of criticisms that this year's G8 summit has raised. What bothers us, however, is the gross misapprehension under which some of the critics seem to labour. What Africa needs is not more aid and sympathy. The question ought to trouble any fair-minded person why Africa, the richest continent in terms of natural resources, should also be the poorest one in the world. In this context, it is a bitter irony that from 1975 to now when the G6 metamorphosed into the G8, Africa has been treated as a kind of a dispossessed patient, worthy only of sympathetic aid.
What Africa needs is not aid but fair trade. And the rich West has made it virtually impossible for Africa to receive a fair recompense for her vast resources. Nothing illustrates this monstrosity more than the abrupt collapse on July 1 of the ministerial conference of the Doha round of talks on global free trade in Geneva, just in time for the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.
As usual, the latest round of Doha talks foundered on the refusal of the United States and Europe to agree to substantial reductions in farm subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. This year's Doha talks merely followed the pattern of earlier ones in 2003 and last year when poor countries scuttled both ministerial conferences, simply because they offered, for the first time, comprehensive plans for freeing farm trade. The argument of the poor nations as then and now is that the West is demanding too much liberalisation from them while offering too little itself by way of retaining the farm subsidies it gives to its farmers.
With the abrupt end of the talks in Geneva, and no progress report whatsoever to show for it, the natural expectation was that the G8 meeting coming immediately after will address the issues. Unfortunately, but not uncharacteristically, the Petersburg meeting did nothing of the sort, preferring instead to pander to the disappointing past of sympathetic but mainly tokenist support.
Since the founding of the group of rich nations in 1975, it has never managed to get an extra cent of investment flowing South, neither has it been able to persuade the protectionist lobbies in The North to dismantle barriers to open farm trade. This year's summit has proved to be no different from previous ones. No EU-U.S.-Japan consensus has emerged to cut down barriers to agricultural trade and increase north-south investment.
With the attitude of the G8, it is easy to see why Doha has failed in nearly five years to get to the root of Africa's economic woes, namely, the lack of free trade on the farm produce which forms the economic mainstay of a prepoderance of its countries.
On the long range, this is a short-sighted policy capable of undermining the rich nations themselves. The consequence of resource-rich, but impoverished Africa is the deluge of economic migrants and political refugees from the continent now assailing the United States of America and Europe. The effect of globalisation is to turn the world into a kennel in which there can be no peace where there are only four bones to six dogs -- especially when one dog alone has access to two of the bones.
Against the terrorist backdrop in which the birth of Doha was midwifed by the United States in November 2001 as an immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC, it is in the interest of all that the G8 should strive for economic equity, which to us constitutes the core of global peace, prosperity and stability. Anything short of this is tokenism which, in the final analysis, is only a measure to postpone the evil day.