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February 01, 2004

Blair's African Commission

Today's UK Telegraph talks about Blair's upcoming African commission.

Tony Blair is planning to chair a commission into the causes of poverty in Africa following a personal appeal by Bob Geldof.

Geldof is deeply concerned, as this much older Telegraph article relates, where he says Bob Geldof says Bush is doing great things in Africa, and the EU sucks. Worth reading, because it's got gems like "Former president Bill Clinton had not helped Africa much, despite his high-profile visits and apparent empathy with the downtrodden, the organiser of Live Aid, claimed. "Clinton was a good guy, but he did fuck all." Hard to beat that, but back to Blair's new commission.

The Prime Minister will announce that the commission, styled on the Brandt commission of the 1970s into the global economic divide between north and south, will be set up by Britain to coincide with its chairmanship of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations in 2005.
Now why model it on the Brandt commission if the Brandt commission didn't alleviate the problem it set out to address? Isn't that like modelling D-Day on Gallipoli?
Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will chair the economic side of the commission, but Mr Blair plans to act as the overall co-coordinator for the team of politicians, aid agencies and business chiefs who will investigate ways of dealing with poverty and stemming economic migration from Africa.
Just what Africa needs, another committee meeting where the consumption of crumpets exceeds the production of worthwhile thoughts.
MPs believe that Mr Blair will use the commission to establish a lasting legacy of his terms in office. Richard Ottaway, a Conservative member of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said: "It looks like he is preparing his exit strategy." Another senior politician said Mr Blair might be preparing to become the next president of the World Bank, which could fall vacant in 2005, when the next general election is expected. The world bank was responsible for setting up the Brandt commission.
This probably came from the Idiot's Guide to Socialist Politics, Chapter IV, "How to use endemic third world poverty as a stepping stone to higher political office."
A Cabinet minister said Whitehall officials were working on details of the new commission. "We have not finalized it yet, but Tony has made it clear through the G8 that Africa is a priority."
I hope nobody in Africa is holding their breath on the forthcoming details.
Aid agencies are lobbying for places on the commission. It will cover aid, trade, international finance and the integration of poor countries into the global economy.
Aid agencies make their money from donations, and solving poverty would kind of ruin the racket. Even many US aid agencies are nothing more than hotbeds of socialist discontent, not to mention what the European ones are like.
Tony Baldry, the Tory chairman of the international development select committee, said: "I welcome the initiative on Africa, but the idea that Mr Blair will save Africa is risible."
Exactly! Even the African economists say that major cultural changes are required. But never fear, Euro NGOs are here! So let me delve a bit into what some of these organizations promote. I'll take as an example ActionAid, dedicated to alleviating third world poverty by opposing things like GM crops. Their headquarters are in Belgium and they say their main goal is
“To form a European movement committed to working towards eradicating poverty, promoting education and development in the developing world.”
Yet seem far more concerned with building membership and solidarity than ever getting near any actual dirt. They seem to think the solution to poverty is to get the farmers to go on strike while studying power relations and social discourse. Action Aid UK says
We bring to the table an embedded established social process based on the challenging of social power relations.
Obviously, ass twits like this aren’t going to get many fields plowed. They’d be to busy trying to analyze the social power relation between the pig and the chicken.
The initial focus of Reflect programmes was on linking adult literacy with empowerment, using participatory approaches to visualisation (construction of different maps, matrices, calendars and diagrams helping people to systematise and analyse their existing knowledge / experience).
They’d do better if they drop all the B.S. and focus on literacy. Hey, maybe instead of preaching the joys of socialist farming, they should raise money for rural schools.
“Recently many Reflect programmes have moved beyond literacy to focus on developing a variety of community-based communication practices. The emphasis is on strengthening people’s capacity to communicate orally (e.g. in multi-lingual contexts / with different discourses), visually or audio-visually (e.g. using traditional media) as well as through literacy. A narrow conception of ‘empowerment’ has given way to focusing on improving livelihoods and local governance.”
Obviously in return for learning to communicate in a multi-lingual context in different discourses, the farmers should allow these ActionAid fucknozzles to set fence, hoe, and plow.
“The challenge now for Reflect programmes to find effective ways to introduce access to diverse ICTs in order for people to communicate beyond a local level. This may involve access to PCs, the internet, printing technology, FM radio, digital cameras, tape-recorders, video cameras, Mobile phones, other wireless technologies etc.”
Obviously what a hungry farm family in a primitive environment needs isn’t a John Deere, extensive knowledge of farming, market prices, shipping costs, or maybe even just a decent set of hand tools, it’s a video camera and a wireless network.
“The existing processes within Reflect offer the opportunity for poor people themselves to make strategic choices about the media / technology of communication most relevant for them. In most contexts where ICTs are introduced in rural areas they are technology-led and appropriated by the powerful. Those most in need of ICTs are unaware of their potential.”
We get conflicting answers from highly paid IT consultants. It’s no surprise that rural farmers in undeveloped countries would be unsure whether they should use a Linux based server from Cisco, or just stay with IBM. Perhaps because they’re spending their time trying to keep their water buffalo plowing a straight furrow.
“There is a high dependence on Intermediaries who often come to manipulate or dominate rather than facilitate. Through consultation with Reflect practitioners in countries as diverse as Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, Ghana, Nepal, India and Nicaragua, a strategy has been developed which will place process and power issues at the centre of the development of ICTs.”
I guess efficiency, cost, and utility are right out the window. Better to have everyone sit around and blame each other for exploitation of power relations.
The proposal involves establishing ‘Communication Centres’ closely linked to Reflect programmes, to serve perhaps 20 or 30 communities. The Reflect facilitators will play a key role in the strategic development and management of these centres. Together with learners, they will determine what technologies will best help to enhance the capacity of people to communicate both in terms of documenting / producing materials based on local knowledge / culture, and in terms of accessing new information and knowledge to improve livelihoods. Particular attention is likely to be paid to using ICTs for communication and networking with other communities, organisations, small businesses, markets, government agencies, etc.
Notice how the Reflect facilitators have to manage the centers! Whereas the farmers would normally start pulling up farm, weather, and health data, we’ll have “facilitators” there to make sure they stick to studying Marx and Chomsky. For a service that’s of dubious use, and is consuming aid donations for some of the world’s poorest people, they’ve somehow figured out how to turn it into an IT socialist job program for people who don’t want to get near actual dirt. Note to the farmers. These people are just empty mouths to feed. Their poop makes good fertilizer, and is worth far more than their work.

Euro NGO's, for when you want to turn your circle jerk into a cluster fuck. And I'm sure they'll get a prominent role on the next commission to address African poverty. Come what may, I'm sure they'll all get a promotion.

February 1, 2004 in Politics | Permalink


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dear sir/madam,

thanks for being part of the initiative of helping africa deal with its endless list of problems[self inflicted and to a greater extent foreign inflicted],hope it won't[as many initiatives before have been]remain on paper.

my name is kayanja julius mawejje,a ugandan by nationality aged twentyfive,i finished a diploma in business administration.i am currently with three wonderful entreprenuerial projects i intend to set-up.

my humble enquiry is to provide me with the contact details of the mr blair's african commission to liase with them how i can[in whatever way]be helped to directly enjoy the commission's benefits[instead of our corrupt officials who recieve the development funds on our behalf.

i will be very grateful if i am helped.

yours faithfully
kayanja julius mawejje

Posted by: kayanja julius mawejje at May 5, 2004 2:03:28 PM

hi i want to know why the develop world and their financial institution is a safe hiding place for africa loter weath and why dont u the develop world stop this trend and give africac back theire money for development and stop this neo collonazation isaac

Posted by: isaac at Apr 9, 2005 1:06:41 PM

I don't know what Blair is about. He doesn't like Africans look at the way he treats them in his own country. My partner is Angolan, we had a daughter, I said had because Blair took her. His principle reason was to deport her mother, the baby was stopping that. Keep Blair out of Africa! Look how Africans are portrayed in the press, kindoki, what is that

Posted by: John Fowler at Jun 22, 2005 5:45:02 AM