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We've heard it all before.
It's the story of a big company that desperately wants you to know about something good it's doing -- and how you, too, can get in on a little of that karmic ju-ju through purchasing their product and, in this case, "use your period for good" (funny, I prefer to use my period for evil...).
If it happens in Africa it must just be the primal instinct based in tribalism. The mass media has been covering the situation in Kenya as a near exclusive tribal and ethnic conflict without accounting for the history of Kenya's political turmoil and where ethnicity is put into a colonial context. The crisis in Kenya is not solely ethnic and tribal. It is a crisis based on democracy and fueled by past divisions created by British colonial rule.
From the so called great scramble to the new scramble, I believe that there never really is any difference or change in scrambling. The imperialist tendencies and actions towards Africa have been concentrated in one continuous scramble - for resources: land, people, minerals, diamonds, timber, markets, etc. A continuous scramble and a systematic exploitation and looting of the African continent. Globalization and the global political economy are generally not looked at through the African perspective. While I can hardly offer that perspective, I work to understand.
A term first coined by the African activist, Marcus Garvey, the United States of Africa is far from a new idea. As a staunch Pan-Africanist, Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was a strong supporter of African unity. Now the push for "One Africa" is being lead by Liyba's coup empowered leader, Muammar Gaddafi. In July of 2007 the African Union (AU) met to discuss the idea of one union government for the continent. Gaddafi traveled by land to drum up the support of the people on his way to the summit in Ghana. Countries such as Ghana and Senegal, symbols of democracy and stability, are in support of the idea. Among the supporters is another African leader with a reputation, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
This year, 2007, there is some good news about the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The percentage of people living with AIDS has leveled off and the number of new cases has fallen. This is attributed to the prevention programs. However, risk remains high in sub-Saharan Africa. Eight sub-Saharan African countries represent one-third of all new cases and total deaths around the globe. This year there are still 33.2 million people living with AIDS, 2.5 million newly infected, and 2.1 million deaths. (Read the 2007 AIDS epidemic update) As with all good reports, "much good has been done, but more is needed." Events are happening all across the continent with dedication and promises. The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is leadership and "Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise!" While there is a lot of talk (read the statements) already this year about what will be done about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
I recently read a recommended article from New York Times about a young woman terribly wounded by the wanton gunfights that have encompassed her neighborhood in the Niger Delta. The violence of the region is usually aimed at international oil corporations, their workers, and the police and government soldiers. But now the violence is focused at the internal as opposed to the external. The very people who are at the heart of the oil issue and conflict are being hurt and killed in the sights of the unhappy gangs of militias. The young and old are forced to flee the fighting when gangs enter and occupy their relatively peaceful villages.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is the Zimbabwean political party focused on promoting democracy in a country where it has become very dangerous to associate with politics. Formed as an opposition party to the Zimbabwean African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which is led by current President Robert Mugabe, the MDC brings together a number of civil society groups. The MDC is now labeled as a terrorist organization by Mugabe's government, political activists are regularly beaten and arrested, and known members of the MDC disappear. The MDC front webpage tells of three recent deaths of people closely affiliated with the MDC. The site notes that this is becoming an all too common.
Privatizing water has taken the world by storm. How many people would rather pay for cases of bottled water than take it from their tap? How many communities are deprived of water because a corporation moves in to contain and sell their water? The situations are similar to what happens here in the US and what is happening across Africa. The greatest new commodity essential to life in the world is a bottle of water. This is no more evident in the US where we are so caught up in the corporate farce that we prefer the tastes of different waters - or so we think. Here is also comes with the idea that it is safer, cleaner, and healthier to drink bottled water as opposed to tap water. ABC news presented a special on the myths of bottled water. The leading expert, used by the bottled water companies, said that there was no reason to say either tap or bottled water was better than the other. The also conducted a taste test with NYC tap water and five other bottled waters, including the top selling, french Evian. Tap water ranked fairly high at #3 with a bottled water and Evian ranked at the very bottom as the least good tasting water sample.
Duk, Sudan - a place of terrible memory and a place of hope. Muwt's story began here, where will it end no one knows. By a extreme case of coincedience I met Muwt the other night at an African Culture Week student panel event. He talked about a group he was part of that was working to build a health clinic in their former home village. It sounded like a great opportunity for my own organization to get involved. After the event I talked to Muwt and found out that there was an art gallery event just nearby to benefit the health clinic. Since I had actually met the artist, who was putting on the show, a year earlier I decided to join him.
An interesting topic that I came to by way of my African Studies professor. In a meeting of the Michigan Action Network on Africa (MANA), he was listing off a number of woes for Africa and among that list was a quick comment about many South Africans working in the controversial security firm Blackwater USA. I could hardly believe it. Could the US security firms really be recruiting from South Africa? I then caught an article in glancing and noticed that foreign diplomats believed that the best security personnel were the South Africans. I had to look into it further. While I could not find the article again I have found a few others that were just as helpful in my knowledge search.