Monday, July 04, 2005

Rubbish cleared from Hyde Park; remains thick at The Guardian

With Live 8 finally (and mercifully) history, The Guardian gives us this intro into its profiles of the G8 politicians and what to expect at Gleneagles this week.
With the rubbish cleared from Hyde Park and other venues around the world and the music fast becoming a mellow memory, the focus shifts to the eight men with the power to decide Africa's fate when they meet at the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire this week. Musicians and politicians called at the concert for justice for Africa. The leaders of eight of the world's wealthiest countries are capable of delivering. But do they all want to?
The power to decide Africa’s fate? The ability to deliver “justice” to Africa? Sorry, but I’m sensing the faint whiff of a 21st century White Man’s Burden. The west may be in a position to provide a few bucks in emergency aid and save some people from immediate starvation, but it is little more than neo-colonial arrogance and condescension to think that the fate of Africa lies with the west rather than with its own people and leaders. Which would be fine, I suppose, if they really meant it. But they don’t. The Guardian, no doubt, has little interest in the monumental undertaking (removal and replacing of governments, widespread cultural change, ie real imperialism) it would require of the west to truly sort out Africa’s problems. Better to demand the spending of a few billion (of other people’s money, of course) on some incoherent notion of “justice”, and revisit the issue again in 20 years while lamenting the poor job the west is doing when another aging rocker discovers that Africa still remains as poor and corrupt as it ever did.

UPDATE: The Guardian’s own Madeleine Bunting agrees with me…sort of.
Could Britain open a new page in its long engagement with Africa, finally drawing a line under the colonial themes of "saving" and "civilising" the continent?...

It would correct the media myth that the fate of millions of Africans is passively lying in the hands of eight men arriving in Gleneagles on Wednesday, and make clear that, given half a chance, Africans can shape the circumstances of their daily lives - and their often-precarious survival - far more powerfully and effectively than the G8…

What we are seeing now in this unprecedented media focus on Africa is a very old theme. In 1787 the slogan of the Quaker abolitionists was "Am I not a man and a brother?" But the radicalism of this rallying cry was belied by the image on the Anti-Slavery Society's seal of the African slave - he was on his knees. His liberty and dignity was ours for the giving, not his for the taking. The relationship at this G8, more than 200 years later, is similarly framed: African as supplicant to the (mostly) white men.
Of course, sensible thinking only goes so far at The Guardian, so a return to the same, tired, hysterical left-wing idiocy could only be expected.
The west, in its rapacious and impatient greed, destroys with contempt or indifference all that it can't appropriate for its own aggrandisement. Africa exposes - like no other continent - the hubristic arrogance of the western industrialised countries that dominate the globe and are forcing an entire species into one model of human development - a model with catastrophic shortcomings.

Now is precisely the point at which we need to learn about the genius of Africa's own history of development, which, Lonsdale suggests, lies in the extraordinary resilience and self-sufficiency to survive and adapt in habitats not always conducive to human life.

… We - Africans and westerners - might begin to reframe the debate and ask ourselves if it isn't the grossly polluting G8 which is a scar on the conscience of the world.
Hmmm. Yes. Perhaps Africa should be sending us some aid.


Anonymous tired & excitable said...

The Guardian predictably didn't linger long over this bit of concert rubbish: up-to-$12,000 Goodie Bags available to many of the aging rockers who got all that free publicity on the back of Africa's misery.

Some detail here, particularly at the end:

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Africa exposes - like no other continent - the hubristic arrogance of the western industrialised countries that dominate the globe

Hmmm...and how does Africa "expose" this? Perhaps The Guardian is guilt-tripping Europe for once for its past imperial sins. Or perhaps they're pointing the finger at such Western-oriented institutions as the World Bank and IMF.

I don't know how long ago this was, but at some point all African countries either won or were granted independence from European control. What they've done since then has been their own responsibility.

The situations in Rwanda and Sudan, genocides, have been done by Africans to Africans. Really don't see how this "exposes" anything on the West's part. Actually, looking at that paragraph, it looks more to me like some sloppy writer saw an opportunity to plug their own anti-Western culture, anti-democratic ideology.

11:10 AM  

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