Thursday, March 04, 2004
Of course, there are also some issues on which it's the Westerners who are backward. (Backwardness defined by Yours Truly, of course.) If you liked this post about eco-imperialism, you'll want to look here and here for more about the African-led push for DDT:
According to Richard Tren, director of the pressure group Africa Fighting Malaria, western donors, conscious of their domestic reputations, will not support malaria programmes based on DDT spraying.

"They did use DDT, and they got rid of malaria. Not a single donor agency will support the use of DDT or any other insecticide in indoor residual spraying, and that's a real problem because these agencies will only support the use of insecticide-treated nets."

The belief that western agencies will not support DDT-based malaria projects is widely held among people close to the issue in South Africa.

That's right and it's a shame. I've read that about 1,000,000 Africans die each year due to malaria and no telling how many more get sick. With that kind of problem, you'd think that people would be a little more serious about solving it.

I haven't posted anything yet about the Nigerian polio vaccine boycott:
A huge push to eradicate polio has begun in 10 West African countries.
The immunisation drive, billed as the final effort to wipe out polio, will cover some 60m children in three days.

However, the northern Nigerian states of Bauchi, Kano and Zamfara are refusing to cooperate until, they say, the vaccine has been confirmed as safe.

Why wouldn't the polio vaccine be safe, you ask? Well, it clearly could be part of a western plot to make Muslim women infertile.

Sounds ridiculous to my imperialist mind, but the ever open-minded BBC is treating the claim with all due seriousness. From Biased BBC:
"Down to Earth" is how the BBC describes Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State, Nigeria, who has made his name by blocking polio vaccination in his jurisdiction, on the grounds that the vaccine is a Western plot to make Nigerian Muslim women infertile. As Robert Hinkley, in whose "Sporadic Chronicle" I found this story, points out, the BBC story is written in a way that displays an astonishing degree of acceptance of and respect for an attitude that is already killing and crippling people in Kano and far beyond. I could get started on the contrast between the BBC's flattery of Muslim conspiracy mongers such as Mahathir (this blog, passim) or Governor Shekarau and its scorn for US Christian fundamentalists who are little lambs in comparison, but that comes second to asking what the hell the BBC thinks it is doing?

(And there's lots more here, too.)

It's pretty sad to see a leader make decisions like this that will almost certainly lead to more hardship for his people--and maybe other people as well. (Kind of reminds me of the whole GM-foods-in-Zambia debacle.) At the same time, Governor Shekarau has become a hero simply by posing as someone who's not afraid to oppose "the West."

Sheesh... and people wonder why Americans tend to carry around stereotypes about African and Islamic backwardness.

It would have been interesting if the BBC had interviewed some people from different parts of Nigeria. My guess is that he's not universally admired.

mostly AFRICA has the Nigerian WMD story covered.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004
And speaking of "elected" leaders who have overstayed their welcome, there's some news about Comrade Mugabe:
The US government has imposed a new series of sanctions on Zimbabwe because of what Washington says is the deteriorating situation there.
The state department said President Robert Mugabe seemed determined to hold on to power at any cost.

Amongst other things, the new sanctions target government-owned companies and [Dis-]Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

I don't know if these sanctions get Mugabe any closer to leaving office, but it's at least nice to know that someone in Washington is paying attention.

UPDATE: The sanctions are just a ruse. The real scheme to remove Mugabe apparently involves these neocolonial condoms.

An emailer notes the irony of Aristide's temporary stop in the CAR. As you might recall, CAR's current head-of-state seized power in a coup, ousting then-President Patasse. Patasse was elected democratically (somewhat), but certainly didn't govern democratically -- not unlike the situation that led to Aristide's ouster less than a year later.

The Beeb also has some interesting reaction from the African press. The situation in Haiti is strikingly similar to a couple of places in West Africa:
The Ivory Coast's Notre Voie reflects that Haiti can also learn lessons from Africa's experiences.

Though the rebels who ousted President Aristide might be expected to lay down their arms, "armed men have often been observed to seek political roles", the paper says.

"One cannot help noting that the cases of the Ivory Coast and Liberia (where rebels were appointed to government positions) are being emulated now."

"This manner of seizing power is reprehensible," it adds.

I don't think that anyone serious should be shedding tears over Aristide (or Patasse or Taylor, for that matter). In fact, they deserve much worse than exile. But that doesn't really answer the question of what to do next.

But for those who think that the US has betrayed democracy by not giving military support to Aristide, I ask: How could Aristide have ever been removed through the ballot?

Be sure to check out my Africa briefing over at Winds of Change.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
What's happening to France's influence in Africa? It doesn't look good. Even Senegal is looking toward the US.

Yes, I've been rather dismissive of my blogging responsibilities lately. It's a shame...

I've been reading a book about the 78-79 Uganda-Tanzania war. It's all pretty interesting. There's kind of a nice summary of Idi Amin here.

It's really amazing that Amin was able to hold onto power for as long as he did--and he might have lasted a lot longer if he hadn't invaded Tanzania. In some ways, Amin was a creature of the Cold War as he was a genius at playing the various rivals against each other--from Israel, the US, and UK to the PLO, Libya, and the USSR. At the same time, he was strongly supported by most African heads of state (except for Nyrere) up until the very end.

It's surprising, but it shouldn't be. Mugabe's playing the same game today.

Site Meter
< # Blogs & >