Monday, July 04, 2005

Africans: Live 8 ? More aid money? Whatever.

Africa: Africans are not buying all this Live 8 save Africa nonsense. read the whole thing.

KOMOTHI KIRATINA, Kenya - Peter Kanans, a coffee farmer whose house has no running water and a leaking roof, said he had a message for the leaders of the world's richest countries who will meet at the G-8 summit next week: Unfair trade practices are enriching African officials and international coffee chains while village farmers grow steadily poorer. "Like many hardworking Africans, I have a serious bone to pick with the G-8," said Kanans, a slender man of 60 who has a college education but wears shredded flip-flops. This year, Kanans said, his crop netted about $300 -- less than his brother in Delaware spends in two months on takeout cappuccinos. "Even if they cancel the debt, even if they give our governments aid money, ordinary Africans will not benefit," he said. "That money will only make the corrupt people richer and Africans international beggars for decades to come." ....Ousmane Sembene, the prominent Senegalese-born filmmaker, shocked a crowd of earnest young people in London during a talk in early June when he condemned the G-8 and the Live 8 concerts as "fake," and added: "African heads of state who buy into that idea of aid are all liars. The only way for us to come out of poverty is to work hard." Sembene used the example of cotton, which African countries grow but none of the G-8 countries buy. Instead, he said, they subsidize their own cotton farmers and then dump used clothing on the African markets, crippling Africa's domestic clothing industries. "We make great cotton in Africa, but the West won't buy it. Instead they are selling us rags," he said. "Everywhere you go in Africa, in the big cities, you would think that you were in a Salvation Army store." Corruption is an issue that Africans raised repeatedly in discussions about aid and debt relief. In Kenya, many people said they felt betrayed by the new government, which was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2002. After taking office in early 2003, some said, cabinet officials voted themselves a 172 percent salary increase, putting them among the world's highest-paid ministers. "Anyone who has spent any real amount of time in Africa knows that corruption is the reality. It's a disservice to ordinary Africans to not be honest about that," said Rose Mucheke, 35, a Kenyan health care worker in Nairobi. While her salary is barely enough to meet her monthly bills, she said bitterly, "the aid money will go into the pockets of corrupt officials to buy their fully loaded Mercedes-Benzes."

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