Sunday, November 29, 2009

“If you’re looking for mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”
Newsweek, November 9th.

With the war still raging in the east, and with claims of fraud and embezzlement in Afghanistan’s national elections, everyone is being realistic about Afghanistan’s chances at being, so called, ‘civilized’.

Some people say everyone should just let it be — if they want to fight, let them fight. Maybe the only way to resolve conflict in Afghanistan is through war; not an American vs Middle-East war, but rather a war that is settled by themselves, for their best interests. Because it seems to me like the more America and the rest of them fund the reconstruction of the country’s civil system, the more they unknowingly fund all these insurgent groups they’re fighting against.

Surely these funds can be put to better use, because this is a joke.

A while back, me and some of my friends were discussing in class the situation in Africa. We called it “invisible colonisation”, or in other words, globalisation.

Every fiscal year, trillions or dollars enter Africa, whether it be from businesses, government investments, charity, you name it. But what usually goes unseen is the trillions that come out of Africa as well.
To some, Africa might seem like the poorest and desolate place on the planet. It probably is, but to others, Africa is the best investment they’ve ever made.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with pouring money into Africa. But for what purpose?
Just like the case in the middle-east, money going in, which was initially meant for economic and social reconstruction, ends up in the hands of ‘smart’ businessmen who launder it and use it to fund wars and fuel social chaos. Africa is exactly the same, just one big playing field for corporations and billionaires with nothing better to do but to make profit from an already starving continent.

People often wonder why the literacy level in Africa is always at a low, even after all the effort UNICEF and the rest of the UN has put into it. We all know the answer to this question: money.

People in Africa hardly have time to worry about education when they don’t even know when their next meal is. Yes, Red Cross, UNICEF etc. put an awful lot of attention on Africa, but there’s always millions who are left out. Who’s to blame? No one, really. But can we at least ensure that we’re doing everything that can be done?

Someone told me once that chocolate companies in Belgium have their chocolates made and packed in Africa for US$2 by some factory workers off the east coast of Africa, where all the cocoa is, and then they have it shipped to Europe, where it’s made to look all pretty and later put on the shelf for US$100.
OK, look, there’s nothing wrong with being smart and knowing how to cut down on expenses, but how the heck can you sleep at night knowing that you’ve made US$98 off some poor Africans living off a fraction of what you earn in a day? It puzzles me, but we later come to realise that it is, funnily enough, the only chance Africa has of surviving. Because Africa is under-developed and is nowhere near technically strong enough to compete with the rest of the world, they have no choice but to rely on foreign investments. Companies that outsource their businesses can keep operating for next to nothing while the rest of Africa has no other option but to work for them because there are no other jobs.

So, someone needs to make sure all this money going into Africa is put to good use, and not used as a once off meal-ticket. We’re aiming for continuous development on all fronts, not just for the issues we can see today. Sure, saving one is better than saving none at all, but what’s happening now just doesn’t seem like a practical solution to the problems at hand. I think the focus has to shift from all these charity organisations to all these money-making business. Can something be done to ensure that the money they make has to go to Africa? At least partially. The sad thing is, all this is empty and blank, because at the end of the day, there’s no stopping globalisation; there’s no stopping outsourcing, and the same problem occurs over and over again. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. One day, Africa will run out of resources, then we’ll see.

I stand neutral when it comes to the war in the east. Perhaps a war is necessary, but a war against who is the real question. Actually, it’s not who, but rather what. I think we need a global war. A war against unnecessary expenditure. Without trying to sound cheesy, there really is only one shot at this. JSF.

The problems don't stop here. They start here.

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