I’m involved in the Occupy movement, so I absolutely agree that capitalism is the system perpetuating these problems. My question is, what, if anything, can American activists do that will be to Africa’s greatest benefit? Sorry if this question is vague, naïve, or frustrating - it seems your article is suggesting that what the western world needs to do is in fact to stop meddling with Africa - but one thing activists can do is to agitate to stop such meddling, both in the form of exploitation and in the form of creating dependence.
(These comments are in response to The guise of growth: The paradox of generosity by Luam Kidane.)
It seems to me that the majority of Americans and Africans have a common enemy: multi-national corporations and the capitalist system and military might that keep their power in place. Of course, even average Americans hold the dual role of victim and victimizer: although we must contend with the unequal powers of the corporations and the wealthy ourselves, we also buy the products made possible through the exploitation of Africa’s resources and fund the maintenance of American hegemony through taxes. The solution to both of these roles appears to be to attempt to dismantle the power of the corporations such that they are unable to continue their exploitation.
This, of course, will be a long, protracted struggle (one that, arguably, people have been fighting for at least a century, and which Occupy has merely rejuvenated), and so far, the initial battles have been to improve the lives of already middle-class Americans. This is, unfortunately, important in order to get the majority of the American populace on board (especially since most of them still favour capitalism), but it would be ideal, in my opinion, if our efforts could also be to the more immediate benefit to Africans. It just seems more fair to me. My heart really isn’t into protecting homeowners from foreclosures while millions around the world are starving.
Occupy has been pushing a boycott of Shell Oil due to its environmental destruction in Nigeria, but is that really the sort of action Africans want? Or should I not even be asking these questions because they smack too much of white privilege? Would it be better if I just ‘know my place’ and help my fellow Americans defend their houses from banks, and forget about Africa?
I’d love to hear your perspective on this. :) Sorry if the answer is fully evident. If it is, I haven’t come across it in my readings yet.