Jul 17, 2005

All Rock, No Action

Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, a columnist for Cameroonian daily Le Messager, writes this heartfelt appeal for what Africa really needs. Kudos to all the musicians that participated in Live 8, for they all did so with the best of intentions. What Tonme is saying though, is that we are so far away from truly understanding the plight of Africans.

In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

What is at issue is an Africa where dictators kill, steal and usurp power yet are treated like heroes at meetings of the African Union. What is at issue is rulers like François Bozizé, the coup leader running the Central Africa Republic, and Faure Gnassingbé, who just succeeded his father as president of Togo, free to trample universal suffrage and muzzle their people with no danger that they'll lose their seats at the United Nations. Who here wants a concert against poverty when an African is born, lives and dies without ever being able to vote freely?

But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save, as if we don't realize ourselves what the source of our problems is.

This piece really spoke to me, and I hope it does the same for you. I guess when most people think of "helping Africa," they think of the emaciated children with swollen bellies and flies on their eyelids. Obviously, we need to look past Africa a la Sally Struthers and get down to the real nitty gritty. That is, if we Americans are truly serious about spreading democracy around the world.

Read the article in its entirety here. For some extra reading, my friend Mike at Jones of the Nile has written a few posts on Africa as well - check out here and here and here.

Thanks to BYO for the link.

No comments: