Sunday, May 20, 2007

wherein my education and experience collide

i started and finished the book Emma's War by Deborah Scroggins in just over 24 hours and i must recommend it (although getting to sleep in the wee hours of the night was a bit troublesome after reading about the war in southern sudan and the atrocities that have far too long been an element of the sudanese struggle/conflict/rebelmovement/war/genocide/history).

while turning the pages, constantly flipping back to the maps, endnotes, and glossary to absorb as much information as i could, i recalled my research on the Nuer and Dinka peoples for an anthropology paper during my undergrads at the university of calgary. i had unintentionally come across the reasons why calgarians, among many others, were (understatedly) displeased with the involvement of calgary company Talisman Energy in the sudanese oil fields. after rereading about the complexities of the war in sudan, i was reminded why i do not live in calgary at the moment. a rather simple argument, i realise, but the irony of the recollection of volunteering at the g8 summit in kananaskis, where Jean Chretién attempted to keep the made-in-africa New Parntership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) on the international agenda, with a friend whose day job was at Chevron is enough to make me simultaneously shake my head and laugh. because what else do you do when you know that a number of people from your hometown could potentially have done something to, at the very least, curb some of the violence in a country on the other side of the world?

read the book. and that whole expat attitude of seeking out danger, atoning for the west’s sins, and escaping from the world into which you are born? i get it. and i see it everyday in nairobi. i would be lying by omission if i didn’t admit that is part of why i am here.

Take up the White Man’s Burden
The savage wars of peace –
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease.
- Rudyard Kipling (1898)

i would argue the methods may have changed, but the motives of wazungu/kawajas in africa are much the same as they’ve always been.

1 comment:

Kizzie said...

hello,
I've read emma's war and it's actually one of my fav:)
It is very well-written and well-researched.

I always thought its interesting how they always discuss Africa's problems in the G8 summits where there are no African leaders or any Africans present.
I believe that Africa is not going to rise until Africans do something about it.
We need " African solutions to African problems". I know that Europeans, Americans and Asians can help too through development, trade , training and sharing valuable experiences.
I just wanted to talk a bit about the aid to Africa- :)
I believe that the aid Europe and the US keep giving Africa has alot of negative impact on Africa.
I'm sure it helped create alot of schools, health facilities and it gave many people food.
BUT "don't give a man a fish, teach him how to fish". The dependency created by the aid money is terrible. Plus, aid is a huge industry now, many people are actually working in the aid industry( getting the money/collecting the food aid/distribution etc..) such people don't want the european and american aid to stop because they will lose alot of money and jobs!
Íf the aid actually benefitied Africa and African's then it would have been great but when moostttt of the money is spent on absolutely nothing then it is such a waste.
China is doing alot of work in Sudan (investments, development projects etc..)and although the Chinese are not giving the sudanese money or anything, they are still benefiting many sudanese (jobs, affordable goods etc..).