Archive for July, 2009

What is the Purpose of the African Union?

Is the AU just an old boys club, whose only purpose is to look after the interests of the leaders, even a dictator who is responsible for the deaths of millions of his citizens?

Has the AU or its predecessor ever done anything that has significantly benefited ordinary Africans? For example, has it ever stopped a war; or sanctioned/suspended/expelled a leader/government/country for killing its own citizens; or confronted non AU nations, whose fishing boats illegally fish in African waters depriving African fishermen of their livelihood, and gotten compensation and/or some sort or a deal which prohibits/prevents future illegal fishing?

This is not meant as a rant against the AU, but as a serious question, which I am sure many Africans would like answered.

Comments off

Land Grab in the 21st Century

This has to be one of the most dangerous developments of the past 18 months. If these companies and countries continue to grab land from poor nations at this alarming rate, it is only a matter of time before riots break out everywhere and governments in these poor nations will be unable to control the rage of the hungry masses.

We have already seen unrests in several African countries in the past year as food prices sky rocketed. Just imagine the level of unrest and violence when people realize that while they can’t afford to feed their families because of sky rocketing food prices, large companies and other governments are shipping food grown in their country to feed their own population.

The level of greed, short sightedness and arrogance shown by these companies and countries is just incredible. To think that they can just buy millions of acres of fertile farm land in developing countries, especially in African countries where there is still a lot of lingering resentment left over from the colonial era, and not expect any backlash is just wishful thinking.

What is most pazzling about this report is that countries such as Sudan and Ethiopia, which currently receive large amounts of food aid because they are unable to feed their own populations, are selling fertile farm land to other nations and corporations. Food pricess in Ethiopia have gone up so much in the past 18 months that people are unable to feed their families and are resorting to food aid. How will the Ethiopian government justify selling prime farm land to other nations so that food can be exported in order for those nations to protect their citizens from wild price fluctuations while Ethiopians go hungry?

And as for Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions displaced from their homeland in Darfur primarily because the Janjaweed, backed by the government, wanted Darfur’s farmlands and water resources. If this doesn’t tell you how valuable and scarce land is in the Sudan then nothing will.

Who is being displaced from their land in the Sudan (or Ethiopia/Zambia/Cameroon,etc.) now, so China, India, Korea and a couple of Arab nations can feed their own populations; or companies such as Hyundai and Morgan Stanley can make millions or even billions of dollars? Does this also mean that the UN, USAid and other aid organizations will continue to feed the poor in Ethiopia and Sudan while those nations start exporting food? Where is the logic in that?

Are these nations and companies doing the land grab really this naive? Or has greed blinded them to such an extent that they are unable to see the obvious consequences of their actions? This practice has to end now, and the deals already finilized rescinded before violence breaks out in these poor nations and governments start falling. Otherwise we will see levels of violence unseen in Africa in decades, and the collapse of hard won peace, stability, democracy and development.

Comments (1)