Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!



Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

    See the list of episodes.

    AU MONITOR

    This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

    Perspectives on Emerging Powers in Africa: December 2011 newsletter

    Deborah Brautigam provides an overview and description of China's development finance to Africa. "Looking at the nature of Chinese development aid - and non-aid - to Africa provides insights into China's strategic approach to outward investment and economic diplomacy, even if exact figures and strategies are not easily ascertained", she states as she describes China's provision of grants, zero-interest loans and concessional loans. Pambazuka Press recently released a publication titled India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power, and Oliver Stuenkel provides his review of the book.
    The December edition available here.

    The 2010 issues: September, October, November, December, and the 2011 issues: January, February, March , April, May , June , July , August , September, October and November issues are all available for download.

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    Blogging Africa

    35 seconds that changed everything

    Sokari Ekine

    2010-01-28, Issue 467

    http://pambazuka.org/en/category/blog/61819

    Bookmark and Share

    Printer friendly version

    In this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, Sokari Ekine is disappointed to find little commentary from Africa on the recent Haiti earthquake. She looks to bloggers in the diaspora instead, to shed light on events and to investigate the historical connections between Haiti and Africa.

    Given the severity of the earthquake in Haiti and the criticisms of the delivery of humanitarian aid and massive deployment of US and UN troops in the country, it is disappointing that there has been so little commentary from African bloggers. I did some research over the weekend to try to find out more on the historical connections between Haiti and Africa. It was just a cursory exploration but I found that the majority of enslaved people in the country came from what is now Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal/Gambia and Sierra Leone. These are important connections, which we need to acknowledge and further investigate. I am therefore moving beyond the continent itself into the diaspora and including a few posts from Haitians in this round up.

    Shailja Patel, Kenyan performance poet and activist, has published a number of excellent posts. The first one ‘Haiti: 10 Point Action Plan’, published two days after the earthquake, calls for the following (so far numbers one and nine have been implemented, with the IMF claiming the US$100 million originally given as a loan is to be a grant to Haiti):

    1) Grants, not loans
    2) Keep corporations and corporatist policies OUT. Stop disaster capitalism in its tracks
    3) Cancel ALL Haiti's debt to the Inter-American Development Bank
    4) Let Aristide return to Haiti
    5) Lift the ban on Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party
    6) Rip up the neoliberal pre-earthquake Clinton-Obama program for Haiti: tourism, sweatshops, privatisation, deregulation
    7) Do not allow US military or UN ‘peacekeepers’ to point guns at desperate Haitians.
    8) Allow all Haitians in the US to work, and remit money home
    9) Release all 30,000 Haitians held in US jails for deportation, and grant them Temporary Protected Status
    10) Demand that France start repaying the US$21 billion it extorted from Haiti in 1825, to ‘compensate’ France for loss of Haiti as a slave colony.

    The second of her posts I want to highlight speaks to the increased militarisation of Haiti:

    ‘When you store your brains in your weaponry, then every situation is a security threat. US military in Haiti, hyper-vigilant about securing emergency relief, obviously missed the central purpose – get the supplies out to save lives.’

    She goes on to make similarities between the response to Katrina and what she describes as the ‘paranoia, incompetence and criminalisation of disaster victims’ – and the ‘Superdrome Solution’.

    ‘And if you happen to be too injured to move, have infants or immobile elders you can't carry, if you just can't bring yourself to leave the bodies – bad luck. We've all got to make difficult decisions in disasters. Were you really expecting the relief to come to you? We've only got 10,000 troops here, lady! You want us to whip out maps and highlighters, mark off neighbourhoods and just send our guys out with supplies? Whaddaya think we are – Cubans? It's dangerous out there. We may have assault rifles, but we've heard about your Voodoo.’

    Nigerian Curiosity comments on the need for Nigeria to follow the response from other African countries in responding to the earthquake:

    ‘Currently, the African governments of Gabon, Ghana, Benin, Liberia Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa have pledged/donated money ranging from US$50,000 to US$1 million. Senegal's government has gone a step further of offering free land parcels and/or accommodation to Haitians who opt to repatriate and settle there. As more African countries will undoubtedly join in the global chorus to assist the Haitian people, the Nigerian government must use this opportunity to show kindness to Haiti.’

    African Loft reports on the comment made by US evangelical church leader Pat Robinson that Haiti had made a pact with the devil. Importantly AL also acknowledges the close relationship between continental Africa and the African Diaspora:

    ‘The people of Haiti are predominately descendants of Africa – ‘a key part of the African diaspora’, using the language of the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. They were the sons and daughters of slaves that rebelled against the harsh slave-trade dependent society of their time. They fought for freedom; from the brutality of being a slave – a bought human being seen and treated like animals.

    ‘The forebearers of the present-day Haitians fought for liberty, and are catalysts that gave meaning to civil-rights as we know it today.

    ‘The conditions those men and women endured under the French rule in the 18th century couldn’t be described as godly, it was hellish! Then how could a good thing like seeking freedom from bondage and oppression of slavery be made possible by the devil? Yet, this is what Pat Robinson asserts!’

    Haitian blogger Ezili Danto asks whether mining and oil drilling contributed in any way to the earthquake:

    ‘Since the earthquake, I've had occasion to ponder, like many others, about what may have caused this heretofore-unknown natural disaster in Haiti? Was it a natural occurrence or man-made? Port-au-Prince, Haiti has not had an earthquake in 239 years. Why now? The nation of Haiti is only 206 years old, so Haitians in Port-au-Prince have no experience with earthquakes whatsoever. Did not know that for an earthquake you run away from the house. So, when the trembling started they did the worst possible thing – ran into their houses as they are used to, for protection, with hurricanes. The houses all collapsed on them.’

    The Haitian Blogger, written by Chantal Laurent, reports on the decision (after considerable pressure from activists across the world) by the IMF to change its loan of US$100 million to a grant:

    ‘Talk about shock and awe. In what is being termed a "breakthrough," yesterday, the IMF announced that Haiti would not be forced to take a loan out for rebuilding. The new $100 million dollar debt the IMF gave to Haiti for reconstruction will be cancelled.’

    She also comments on the media hype around ‘security’ stating that people on the ground see no reason for concern. I also spoke to people in Haiti last week who echoed the same feelings. So the question which still remains to be answered by the US government is – why the deployment of thousands of additional troops some of who are sand banked with automatic weapons on the ready. Repeat over and over, ‘There is no war in Haiti’.

    Black Looks has a number of posts including ‘So, Send in the Marines, OK?’ in which she discusses the increased militarisation of Haiti and the commercialisation of humanitarian aid.

    ‘From the very beginning it was clear that the tragedy of the earthquake would be used as an opportunity for the US to further militarise the country and control the political process. The silence of the puppet President, René Préval and the resulting absence of any leadership could also be seen as part of the justification for US intervention and involvement. It is not extreme to question whether the US had any influence in maintaining his silence. And then President Obama’s shameful act of calling President Bush and Clinton to oversee the military process – described by the London Daily Mail as the ‘American Invasion’.

    Finally Painful Thoughts by a young Haitian blogger has a series of moving and beautifully written personal thoughts on her much changed life. She begins with a moving account of her own earthquake experience.

    ‘You might not wanna know what happened to me. You might only be interested to what happened to you aunt or your grandpa that are in haiti and that you can’t reach by phone. I can’t blame you for that, though you can’t blame me for wanting to write all this, since there’s no one else but my blog that can sit and listen to it.

    ‘I was at school in PE class when all this happened going to get water with a friend. We felt the ground shaking, but we didn’t pay attention, because none of us had experienced that before, so we continued walking. but then it started shaking a lot more and we could hear the PE teacher screaming for us to lay on the ground. Then everyone got up and ran to go get their phones and try to call their parents… I tried to call my dad; the only thing i could hear was the ‘beep beep’ it does when it’s busy. and disconnected.. i got extremely worried about him. worried. Then i heard someone scream that phones weren’t working… and a few seconds after that first shaking, i saw my school three stories building become a 2 meters high pile of debris.’

    For her the earthquake and its aftermath is a wake up call to the realities of life and what really matters:

    ‘it’s good cause then you realize, none of all these stupidities everyone here wants, really mattered. partying never mattered, fancy clothes, making a big deal about how your hair is done, huge & expensive armored cars, summers at the beach in Miami, having a beautiful body, nice hair… you realize all this was BULLSHIT; that all this was going nowhere, a big nasty pile of POINTLESS time-wasting crap! Now you have to open up your eyes and face reality with all it’s details and find a way to compress years of growing up into these 35 seconds, that changed everything.’

    BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

    * Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
    * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.


    Readers' Comments

    Let your voice be heard. Comment on this article.




    ↑ back to top

    ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition http://www.pambazuka.org/en/

    ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français http://www.pambazuka.org/fr/

    ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português http://www.pambazuka.org/pt/

    © 2009 Fahamu - http://www.fahamu.org/