Wednesday, December 27, 2006

African Great Lakes, and "Darwins Nightmare"


Probably the most alarming thing I have seen in a long time, is this documentary called "Darwins Nightmare" Devilstower at the Daily Kos wrote a great summary here. It is about the typical exploitation that occurs every day in Africa, especially the Great Lakes region, where much of Africa's wealth lies. It explores the current exploitation of fish, in Lake Victoria. From the website:
Said to be the birthplace of mankind, "The Great Lakes Region" is the green, fertile and mineral rich center of Africa. The region is also known for its unique wild life, snowy volcanoes and famous National Parks. At the same time, it is truly the "Heart of Darkness" of our world. Massive epidemics, food shortages and of course civil wars rage in this area, taking place in a kind of moral oblivion. These armed conflicts are the deadliest ones in history since the second World War. In the Eastern Congo alone, the casualties of war on each single day equal the number of deaths on September 11th in New York. If not totally ignored, the uncountable wars are often qualified as "tribal conflicts", like those of Rwanda, Burundi or Sudan. The hidden causes of such troubles are, in most cases, imperialistic interests in natural resources.



In this case we are talking about fish, Nile perch to be specific (above)

So what is happening there? Basically the Nile Perch fish are being flown out to 1st world countries because in the "free market" we are willing to pay more than Africans can for the fish. It used to be there main staple, but now they can't afford to BUY the fish that used to be free, however, never fear, they are allowed to eat the rotting guts, and fish heads. Sauper points out:
The idea of this film was born during my research on another documentary, KISANGANI DIARY that follows Rwandese refugees in the midst of the Congolese rebellion. In 1997, I witnessed for the first time the bizarre juxtaposition of two gigantic airplanes, both bursting with food. The first cargo jet brought 45 tons of yellow peas from America to feed the refugees in the nearby UN camps. The second plane took off for the European Union, weight with 50 tons of fresh fish. I met the Russian pilots and we became "kamarads". But soon it turned out that the rescue planes with yellow peas also carried arms to the same destinations, so that the same refugees that were benefiting from the yellow peas could be shot at later during the nights. In the mornings, my trembling camera saw in this stinking jungle destroyed camps and bodies.



Everywhere you go in Africa, if there is a valuable resource to extract, it is being extracted, and the results are always the same:
In DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE I tried to transform the bizarre success story of a fish and the ephemeral boom around this "fittest" animal into an ironic, frightening allegory for what is called the New World Order. I could make the same kind of movie in Sierra Leone, only the fish would be diamonds, in Honduras, bananas, and in Libya, Nigeria or Angola, crude oil. Most of us I guess, know about the destructive mechanisms of our time, but we cannot fully picture them. We are unable to "get it", unable to actually believe what we know. It is, for example, incredible that wherever prime raw material is discovered, the locals die in misery, their sons become soldiers, and their daughters are turned into servants and whores. Hearing and seeing the same stories over and over makes me feel sick. After hundreds of years of slavery and colonisation of Africa, globalisation of african markets is the third and deadliest humiliation for the people of this continent. The arrogance of rich countries towards the third world (that's three quarters of humanity) is creating immeasurable future dangers for all peoples.

I often use that very concept to try and convey to people why these things continue. We don't really SEE the machinations of modern capitalism, we may hear about them, but they are not broadcast on the nightly news, so we really don't understand the problem. In these times of electronic media, 100's of television channels, and the collective narcosis that compromises are better judgement, when we don't see the horror, we don't believe it. If it is not on CNN, or printed in USA today, it didn't happen.

The absolutely most heart wrenching thing about it is, the documentary is told through the eyes of a little girl, Devilstower writes:
As part of his documentary, Sauper focuses on the life of one young girl. Beautiful and educated, the girl can speak enough English to communicate with the visiting pilots. This opens to her the only job available, that of prostitute. When the girl is then killed by one of her drunken clients, a quick bribe is enough to see that the guilty party escapes the country without prosecution. That's Africa. That girl tells the story of the whole tropical world in her short, tragic life. We're working hard to see that it stays that way

And as long as the citizens of western nations continue to ignore the actions of their governments, and their multi-national corporate overlords, it will continue to stay that way. As Keith Snow pointed out, at Cyntia McKinney's forum:
And all this is hidden by the US media. Even the village idiot, if he opens his eyes, can see that the directors of the media corporations are the same directors of those corporations raping Africa. But too many people have a paycheck to worry about. And that includes humanitarian organizations and the United Nations and the OAU and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda. Special torture centers and death squads and massive repression of the population are the rule in Togo, Cameroon, Kenya, Gabon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and were so in Zaire. And these people--Eyadema, Biya, Bongo, Obasanjo, Abacha, Babangida, Mobutu, Compaore, Rawlings, Banda, Kaunda, Moi, Habyarimana, Kagame, Museveni, Garang, Ratsiraka--they provide the environment for pillage, and they are duly rewarded, with power, with all the perks.

Snow explains how the complexity issue of our modern culture helps to maintain the violence and chaos:
And then you have the whole misery industry, which profits from the wars and repression and population displacement which their affiliated institutions and their funding banks and materials-providing multinationals create. Again, you don't need a Ph.D. to figure out that thousands of highly paid western AID workers would be out of a job if there were peace in Sudan. And Toyota wouldn't sell all those shiny 4-WD SUVs. And who would buy the US made weapons? And all that business of feeding and clothing and interning the refugees would be lost by these multinationals who get huge tax write-offs and subsidies and whose products are purchased by USAID or other government agencies. And some of these relief organizations also have close ties to the corporate media executives. So I see it as a policy of depopulation in Africa. Because what I am talking about is access. That's all. Access to the animals. Access to the game parks and trophy fishing. Access to the minerals. Access to the cheap and replenishable labor pool. Access to uninformed populations to dump inferior and toxic and outdated products on. Access for military adventurism and special forces training and psyops operations. Access to biological and pharmaceutical testing grounds. Access to markets. And while at times it seems contradictory, at times it is, but it's all completely unethical, entirely arrogant and racist. It is driven purely by greed. And the profound human suffering is totally unnecessary.

While this activity has escalated in recent decades due to the dramatic drawdowns of resources required for a perpetual growth world economy, it is by no means a new tactic. In the second decade of the 20th century, General Smedley Butler, the most decorated marine in US history wrote:

"I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. I was a high class muscle man for Big Business, Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." -Brigadeer General Smedley Butler, US Marine Corp.

1 comment:

Saran said...

The best thing i have read on this issue; it is nicely said and real!