Everywhere, in the most important aspects, of our lives recycling and conservation have become a byword. Most food packaging is recyclable, adverts advise energy conservation, legislation tackles pollution from cars and bicycles are encouraged……. However, the least important and most superfluous aspects of our life, seems not to have got the message and leapt on the merry bandwagon. In my view, the beauty and entertainment industry should be at the most targeted by legislation, to curb waste and promote sustainability. Sadly, not so.
This is the final part article on the sham /scam, of international development aid. In my 3 previous articles on the danger of aid and inherent racism, within the aid agenda. Here, I explore ethnically sensitive solutions to DFID’s neo- colonial policies on the African continent. Earlier I, outlined the insidious nature of international development. I took a journey of my personal experiences of the racism I repeatedly faced from DFID contractors (Department for International Development. UK) and traced the cruel history of Europe’s agenda in Africa , which remains unchanged. Today I focus on how Black /ethnic international development practitioners and local NGOs, in their respective countries, can effectively tackle the problem. using links to 2 minute videos & short articles.f Of course, sustainable solutions should be government led, however, since governance remains abysmal in many African countries, individual action and advocacy, must be the catalyst for change.
The first and crucial step for change, is the need for a new narrative, however this can only happen when practitioners free themselves, from the tyranny of the abuse enforced on the African people, through denigrating myths. The rebirth of mind, is the bases from which a new approach to economic and geopolitical empowerment, will come. One is dependent on the other.
A New Narrative – An African Perspective.
Education: This doesn’t refer solely to academic achievement; in fact advanced formal education is not a requisite. When I say education, I mean a mind that’s flexible, able to accommodate changing thoughts and opinions, willing to learn and accepting of opposing positions, primed to find the facts, able to sift information and listen before arriving or concluding, with a stance. This is crucial because the African education system has not changed significantly, since the colonial era, leaving those that are the victims of it, easy prey to the deceit, of Western hegemony.
For example. @Professor Sir Collier of #Oxford University, runs a free On- line course; Understanding Economic Development, through EdX. Taught to a global audience, fooled into believing the reputation of the university and the august professor, will impart some rigorous teaching. However, this course is clearly designed within the context of an Eurocentric economic agenda. In the course, probably funded by a government source, unsuspecting youths can learn that the World Bank, with it’s crippling loans & intrusive agenda, is an “aid organization”. Outrageous. Currently, the region erroneously referred to as Sub Sahara Africa, spends $21 billion annually (2014) servicing ‘aid’ debts!!
The course, uses out of date data to proffer that Europe’s resources exceeds Africa’s, advances that foreigners should be employed to harness the continent’s resources, asserts that because Nigeria is an inclusive society because it’s a “democracy”, ignoring the fact that the country has one of the highest gaps between rich & poor and is in the midst of ethnic insurgencies, for autonomy. More mature and capable of critical thinking, I saw through the haze of these & other fallacies.
This is a typical example, of what I call information (or info for short) ‘Kettling’, described in Wikipedia as “a police tactic for controlling large crowds during demonstrations or protests. It involves the formation of large cordons of police officers who then move to contain a crowd within a limited area”. Similarly, with info kettling, a subject matter is forced down a line of reasoning by controlling the subject, from all sides of the discourse. Hence the media, charities, government, and think tanks, envelope the populace with a narrative, leaving no room for “thinking outside the box”.
Once the thought process is duly engrained, participants become willing accomplices. It’s equivalent to the magician’s misdirection, fooling an amenable audience. To change Europe’s narrative of Africa, international development professionals and local NGOs, need to be fully aware of the facts, in context. Relaying on Western narrative and norms is killing the African continent, through the power of misdirection.
For the uninformed, the impression is that ‘Africa’ actually relies on aid, from generous European countries, for survival. The imagery is constant, from Yannis, in Ethiopia, looking for dirty water (Water Aid), to horrific child wedding nights, with scant regard for the privacy of the girls involved (Action Aid) to Oxfam and water buckets, to famine & starvation in Liberia (UNESCO) the misery message is unrelenting. Its humiliation, denigration and hopelessness, masquerading, as cry for ‘help’. The damage this aid message, along with its constant negativity, indoctrinates, is that of worthless, incapable ‘Africa’ and it cannot be underestimated. Worse it is deliberate and calculated. Never mind that Oxfam takes 40%, of all donations, as overheads and Save the Children’s CEO, earns more than the UK Prime Minister.
It’s calculated that all the aid combined, from every source, from every part of the world to the African continent, constitutes a ‘whopping’ 2% of GDP. When you take into account that most of this funding is through awarding contracts to in – country ‘donor’ contractors, it’s even less. For example, awarding a contract in £Stirling, to UK companies, in UK, to deliver in, say Burundi. Very little leaves the UK. Most inflows to the African continent, comes from Africans in diaspora, $63 billion (African Development Bank 2017) compared to $30 billion (OECD countries). USA ‘gives’ less to the whole of the continent, than it does to Israel, to commit mass murder. Half of the of the sum USA ‘generously gives’ to “Africa”, goes to Egypt, an ally of Israel for, yes… weapons.
For years, 4 – 7 of the fastest growing economies in the world, have been in Africa, obviously growth not from aid, as Bono has suggested, given the above reality. This is the truth and the generous aid givers, know it. It simply suits them to demean and exaggerate and in their megalomanic delusions, insinuate and interject themselves, into governing the continent, to their benefit. Sadly, current and past generations of African leaders, have not managed to shake off their colonial mentality, which leaves them open to deference and acquiescence, at the expense of their populace.
This basket of ignorant misconceptions, is what needs aggressive change, particularly at the grassroots, since I allege, the leadership of the continent, is too influenced by Western puppet masters. To accomplish this, developing a culture of alternative information sources, understanding the undercurrents of a globalised economy and developing new points of reference is crucial, to break the shackles, for economic emancipation.
Reconfiguring the Norm
Once international development, or NGO practitioners, are subject to the facts, not the myth, the clarion call to advocacy and agitation can begin for change in the approach and method of international, sustainable development. The type of change and method of agitation will vary from one ‘donor recipient’, to another. Once it’s understood, that the very nature of aid is geopolitical, economically profitable to donor countries and their contractors, concerted mass movement, for an inclusive agenda becomes obvious and necessary. Once it is understood Western governments are plutocracies, not democracies, one understands the role of the Western, corporate media. Once one understands both, one understands the malicious intent of the West, in Africa.
Advocating for change should include but not be limited to, insisting that any support (other than in emergency situations) be informed by local NGOs, not bureaucrats in UK, eons of miles away. This way any ‘development’ policy is determined by individuals requiring aid and those on the ground supporting it. Aid will become more targeted and less reliant on UK paid ‘experts, whom exclude ethnically affiliated practitioners, more sensitised to the recipient community. Less of the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’, ‘Making Markets Work for the Poor’; Western devised schemes, to simply ease poverty and whatever conscience they have, as they mercilessly plunder. More “Bottom Up’ and ‘Making Markets Work, Full Stop’. Less racist exclusions of their own citizens, by donor countries, more practising what you preach.
Few people in Africa, are consciously aware that most charity and giving, is provided by locals and those in diaspora. Local religious organizations, clubs, hospitals and socially responsible individuals, run year- long programmes, supporting the needy. Supporting those in need, is part of the social fabric, casually provided without the formality of Comic Relief or a Charity Commission. It is contrary to the singular narrative, advanced by Westerners, of poverty and corruption. Recognising the reality reconfigures the value of the aid landscape, which tends to be overestimated in benefit and underestimated in loss. Facts and figures speak for themselves, begin to request change to international development delivery.
The Nature of Agitation
Stimulate a discourse at conferences, seminars, articles and gatherings.
Question more, suspect the obvious. What isn’t being said?
Petition for change and report abuse.
Inform the populace
Remember South Korea, Libya (until it was bombed) China, Brazil, have not developed because of aid.
Stop racism in international development recruitment by calling them out. Question, why equality and diversity not a metric, when DFID iawards contracts.
I wrote to @Lord Bates, a government minister at DFID, via my MP outlining my allegations of racial discrimination. I received this reply, 6 months later, only after constant follow – up. I have formally reported my experiences as he advised and I’m waiting for an outcome. Do you have complaints, racist or otherwise? Please leave a comment or private message, if you live in UK. I will compile all as part of my campaign and cry for desperately needed change at DFID and their contractors.
In the past, I have written about the dis and misinformation of the Western media, particularly when it comes to “ #Africa”. Unfortunately, this article, Lagos: The Hope and Warning, City Journal, July 2018, is yet another example where a writer approaches, quote “the 3rd world” with a negative agenda. It is symptomatic of approaching people and cultures, outside the comfort zone of the West. Normally one ignores it, so pervasive is this agenda, that it has become a stereotype, of in Trump’s word “s*ithole,” a less graceful euphemism, for the perceived hopelessness and misery of ‘Africa’. Others, like this writer, pretend to some academic/ professional opinion, under the guise of the same stereotype.
You may remember my blog The Fun of Learning and Zero Cost series: De-stressing Your Workplace, I shared my experiences of a short floristry course and extolled the virtues of plants and their effects on the psyche. Today it’s quick rundown on what’s happened to a single plant that has had me thinking about life and birth.
As we approach Christmas & the New Year, I thought a quick rundown of my blogs for the year, with accompanying updates to round off & prepare for 2018 appropriate. To be concise I have chosen my favourites but in no particular order. Wishing you all a Happy Christmas & Prosperous New Year.
Picture from our very first event.
People especially business owners tend to be a cynical lot – nothing goes for nothing. I remember as part of the support I provide through @Enterprising Female, signposting a lady business owner, to where she could get further help with her fledgling business free. Her answer why?, why would they do that, Funmi? I went on to explain about funding.
This is the 2nd part of my article on the danger of Western international development agenda to Africa. I frequently wonder why, as a British person of Yoruba origin, living & working in the UK, people from the African continent/diaspora don’t see through the international agenda and understand it, for what it is. I narrate my personal experiences of international development industry, to highlight the stupidity, of believing the West, is providing aid or that they are capable, of anything of at the very least bias but more frequently pure racism. In the 1st instalment of the article presented methodology of breeding an inferiority complex in Africans, this is linked to the ability of the West to “tell them what to do” and as I’ll show in the next instalment, steer the economy of the continent, to their advantage, by a mixture of bullying, outright violence, threats, cajoling & flattery. I start with a couple of experience outside international development, focused entirely my consulting experiences working on regeneration & enterprise support projects in UK. I stress these instances, are those for which I had won or my clients had been awarded grants/ match funding, for my services, not those for which the outcome had been unsuccessful.
Recently I posted on how I have destressed my work space to produce a more relaxed atmosphere with plants & other displays. I didn’t mention that as my desk is placed against a window (winter’s coming!!) I have the view of a large tree in the middle of the road, placing the building opposite well back. When I stand, I also have the view of the park. In the mornings I people watch, men & women with their dogs, or children. It was particularly delightful during summer. Even now as we approach, or are in autumn; depending on how you see mid -September, the evening lights of the park, against the trees, provides a nice ambiance. The park is also well kept. I have the pleasure of seeing street sweepers, doing their work diligently, probably to keep up the nice environment (unlike other sweepers in the vicinity).
While much has been made of the floods in USA & because of this, the devastation in the Caribbean from the hurricane, I have heard little of the far greater devastation of the floods across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, where over 1, 000 have lost their lives & 8.5 million affected. A similar devastation across 5 countries in Africa has seen about 1240 dead, including the mudslide in Sierra Leone. Is it that we’ve put a premium on life, depending on nationality, race, creed?. It would appear so.
A reminder for those (me also) lost in this world; so money centric, we’ve forgotten what life is about. 9 months gestation, mother pushes; breath in & out; eat, defecate; sleep, wake; die = maggot food. The value there is to our lives, is in our ability to form relationships & hold values that make our consciousness meaningful, as we briefly pass through.
While some sort of skewed rationale, in some, may put a greater premium on those dead in USA, it is a false perception. The value of each of us is 1. simply being human, 2. the intrinsic value placed on our life, by those around us, none of which has to do with financial status, nationality or creed. So, as we remember the losses in USA & Caribbean with sadness; let’s not forget the many more mourning in Asia & Africa, along with the losses they’ve suffered.
It’s seems clear environmental factors can no longer be denied, in these extreme weather patterns, we are witnessing. So, we are not only damaging ourselves but the earth on which we rely to survive, at all.
Hindustan Times photo, no copyright