Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Prayer for Africa

Africa, the cradle of civilization, the Dark Continent, where homo sapiens as we know today are supposed to have originated to occupy the far recesses of earth, is in dire straits today. Famines, riots, starvation, floods, droughts, locusts, ethnic cleansing has left her as the worlds begging bowl, wrought with death and depression. Yet the world doesn’t seem to either notice or care much. Despite a few aged Rock Stars trying to capture a slice of their glory days via the manic ‘Live Aid’ concerts, relatively very little is being done by the world community for the African quagmire. If the truth is told Africa can blame no one but herself and her avaricious and spineless leaders for her current state of affairs. Over decades there seems to be a ‘Groundhog Day’isque situation with African countries, be it famine, floods, starvation and droughts in Somalia, AIDS in South Africa, tribal killings and genocide in Sudan or Rwanda, corruption in Kenya and Nigeria, locusts in Niger or just plain dictatorial excesses in Uganda or Zimbabwe. Africa, at least in my mind, falls short on hope.

About 3.6 million are in danger of death because of starvation in Niger today, and most of them are supposedly children. Check out the article from CNN here. 3.6 million and not much tom-toming by the world media about this monumental tragedy. Ditto with Darfur.I wonder why? Maybe because Africa isn’t oil or plutonium rich? Maybe because we have resigned ourselves to the fact that this beautiful but bereft continent is doomed forever and there is no point even trying? Or maybe this has been a routine travesty with African countries? I don’t know why, but for decades its some force of nature or misdoings of man and lost lives in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, maybe.

Almost 1 million people died in Rwanda and the entire world stood in muted silence. Darfur is gathering attention only in universities and the amongst the elite activists in the West. Its true the aid to Sudan over the past years has steadily increased to the tune of almost a billion dollars now, but that has been a case of “protection money” payment for shutting out Al Qaeda, rather than real aid. World Bank has forfeited billions of dollars in loans to African countries for decades now, but the situation is far from improving. Non-profit organizations like Oxfam, Red Cross and Medicines Sans Frontiers do what they can, but that is hardly enough. What really ails Africa we don’t know. What we do know is that it doesn’t look too good for this continent at the present moment. Asia, Central America, the Balkan Republicans, heck even the Middle East show signs of progress and better quality of life for its citizens, but no such promise for Africa. Without helping this great continent out of its current state, the world cannot go to bed at night with a clean conscience. Its time that something radically different is done, a la CAFTA or NAFTA for African countries, but for this to happen Africa needs to get its act together. Cleaner administrations and clearer vision for the days to come. Will it really happen, one can certainly fervently hope so,

If possible please donate to a charity like Oxfam who are doing exemplary work in Niger and other afflicted areas in the world. Maybe it’s a donation equivalent to a dinner fare at a restaurant or a new pair of shoes, a box of candies, or something substantial. It will make a huge difference to starving children in Niger. Hopefully. Check out their relief activities in Niger here.

Changing tracks to an entirely different topic, check out this article by Anil Thakraney in Mid-Day on the Mumbai rains. Like Uma’s excellent piece ‘Celebrate. Grieve’ on her blog, this piece is evocative, thought provoking and is guaranteed to get your bile rising. At least it got mine rising, er bile i.e. Check it out here.

Tomorrow is when I lose three of my wisdom molars, yanked out by the oral surgeon, while I am knocked out under general anesthesia. So if after tomorrow , my blogs suddenly seem more appealing and attracts more than one visitor, and that visitor isn’t a blood relative of mine, then I know what to attribute the popularity to. Those rotting, ill-formed, hard to clean wisdom teeth.


Blogger Michael Higgins said...

Hi Sourin
It is a tragedy what is happing now in Niger. Anand of Locana posted about this and I left a comment on his blog here.

Also, I finally updated my blogroll.

6:53 AM  
Blogger uma said...

what a terrible thing to happen. thx for posting on this, sourin.

good luck with your dental work.

11:26 PM  
Blogger chappan said...

Thx Uma/Michael for you comments. What appals me is despite the magnitude of deaths in Niger, there isnt adequate coverage by the media not much being done by the UN. Why ? Really, beats me.

5:52 AM  
Anonymous Charu said...

excellent post, Sourin. even in Africa, there is selective coveage of news - certain "glamorous" things like AIDS make news while most other things about Africa don't - except in spurts like during the live aid concert and rare g8 summit meetings. I think it has to do with what you say about Africa not having oil or platinum or anything that makes it "valuable" to the world at large?

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:54 PM  

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