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‘Humanitarian intervention’ in Haiti, South African attitudes to HIV/AIDS and condom use, police killings in Lagos and everyday life in the aftermath of an earthquake are among the stories covered by Sokari Ekine in this week’s overview of the African blogosphere.

More than three months has passed since the Haitian earthquake, dignitaries have come, had their photo shots with a few chosen survivors, held babies in their arms, given speeches on the resilience of the Haitian people and lots of promises then returned to their mansions and lives of excess. I wonder if they get the irony of the costs incurred by their ‘do-gooder’ visits. What exactly is the point? It changes nothing for the Haitian people; instead the NGOs, aid agencies, missionaries and rabble of ‘do-gooders’ who descended on Haiti under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’ have profited on the backs of the people and their pain.

As Ezili Danto writes in the ‘The Plantation called Haiti: Feudal Pillage Masking as Aid’ like buzzards hungry for food they wait to devour Port-au-Prince and rebuild in their own image ‘tourist enclaves and waterfront casinos’ along with garment factories for cheap T-shirts and mango farms to fill the grocery baskets back home in the USA. Commenting on the 31 March UN donor meeting in New York she writes:

‘The colonial marketplace called Haiti - which the World Superpower amuses itself with, by apportioning off, at will, to various nations and commercial allies - needs no more to be a Bush-Clinton dream place except to get rid of the recalcitrant African population and import a more submissive workforce. Maybe China has been approached to help in this next step?

‘Boiling down and bringing to focus the big picture, the US has had a hand in fifty solid years of US-supported dictatorship in Haiti. Starting from 1957 to 2010 with (2006 to 2010) 4-years of sham election-for-exclusion-of-the-masses and some brave but brief glimpses of opposition to US “neoliberalism” for 7-months in 1991 and then barely 3 years from 2001 to 2004. February 29, 2004 was the last time Haiti’s masses were included in Haiti’s political life. This US rule in Haiti is nothing if not a rousing success of the US’s crushing might over the defenseless Black Haitian majority's wishes for a better life, for use of the resources of their own country to elevate their circumstances. But at the March 31st UN Donor Meeting, the US-led in the continued “rescue” of Haiti from, presumably, the “evil and corrupt Haitian government” unable to rule their own people, too weak to prevent the catastrophe wrought on by a 7.0 earthquake.’

Project Jacmel personalises the impact of the earthquake and the aftermath pillage through the story of film student and artist, Claudel ‘Zaka’ Chery. The earthquake destroyed the school but the students managed to salvage some equipment which they are using to document the lives of the people on the streets. Claudel, who lost his best friend and mentor, has taken the camera and turned it on himself:

‘I feel I’ve lived some really bad times, but I found something good in those bad times,’ he said. ‘I want to show the world what happens when people live such hard times.’

The Haitian Blogger asks the whereabouts of the American Red Cross who collected more than US$409 million in donations. The ARC claim they are working on the ground but no one is seeing evidence of this. Haitian Blogger’s comments are based on an investigative video report by ‘teslakontrol's’ to try to find out where the millions the ARC claimed to have spent in a recent report e.g. ’75% of the homeless received emergency shelter materials’ ‘$55 millions in food’:
‘Haitians who have been on the ground in Haiti don't see the evidence for these assertions made by the Red Cross. Nadine Renazile, a Haitian-American and Lead Librarian at Columbia University says, "I saw two 'local' Haitian Red Cross buildings while in Haiti. They were a disgrace to the organization. What money and aid are being provided to the local chapters were not evident.’

A camp inhabitant interviewed in the video above present "cookies" that they were given by the World Food Programme. One resident says the water provided by the Red Cross was giving her a stomach ache. Another said that besides coming around to give water and vaccinations, they have not gotten food aid from the Red Cross. From the makeshift blankets on stilts behind her, the Red Cross is not providing water-proof tents either. The camp is just yards away from Red Cross headquarters in Port-au-Prince. The video was made in March and uploaded to YouTube on April 1st of this year.’

Africa is a Country reports on his recent visit to the Apartheid Museum just outside Soweto, which he says is struggling to attract South Africans especially younger people. As part of a campaign to attract younger people, interviewers went into the streets and randomly asked young people what they knew about South Africa with some interesting results:

‘We simply asked them to identify a series of famous people. First popular culture icons and lastly a famous anti-apartheid leader. The result, as you can get a sense from the videos below, “…Over 86% of the people interviewed easily recognised the popular figures and failed to identify the South African anti-apartheid leader.” I was less surprise that the young people in the videos could not could identify Albert Luthuli, the first South African to win a Nobel Prize. What was more disturbing when one of them thought Joe Slovo, leader of the ANC’s armed wing, Communist leader and later the first Housing Minister in a democratic government, was Hendrik Verwoerd, Apartheid prime minister during the 1960s until he was murdered by a coloured parliamentary worker.’

Fungai Neni has a worrying story about the failure of young men in using condoms. She decided to interview some young people in Johannesburg following an AIDS gala featuring clothes made out of condoms:

‘I admit my sample was very small, but here’s what a few people had to say:

“I don’t use condoms because they are the very cause of HIV, particularly those government condoms you get for free. The HIV is actually in those condoms because the white man wants to kill us.”
Pierre (mid-20s) from Congo

“Hey, after a while, I just forget about it (using condoms). I only get scared of HIV and stuff when I see it on TV, but otherwise, it’s not so big a deal to me.”
Katlego (27)

‘I won’t go into the rest of the comments because they are pretty similar. It would seem more people than we realise aren’t getting tested for HIV and aren’t using condoms. Maybe I am making a gross generalisation here, which is why I want to know what you think.’

Black Looks comments on yet again more police killings in Nigeria, this time in the Lagos working class district of Ajegunle:

‘Ajegunle is Lagos’s largest working class neighbourhood and home to millions of people with no water and no sanitation. Since there is no electricity and people cannot always afford to buy a generator the “viewing centers” become community hubs where people can watch films and other forms of entertainment with their families and friends. The question is, do the poor have a right to entertainment or is that something just for the rich who can afford to visit the fancy air conditioned and licensed cinemas in exclusive enclaves? The gap between rich and poor in Nigeria is not just a huge gaping hole but one where the disdain and dismissal of the poor is disturbing. The Nigerian Police, as the video below shows, treat the poor like criminals to be harassed and bribed at will. Since the end of military rule in Nigeria, the police have become the face of the army. They are run as a military institution, armed as a military institution and have the mindset of the military rather than a civilian police force whose primary role is to protect not brutalise the public.’


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