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AFRIK-IT  July 1995

AFRIK-IT July 1995

Subject:

Re: Africa's Distortions

From:

VALERIE BRUCE <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sun, 9 Jul 1995 19:28:49 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

On Thu, 6 Jul 1995, G.W. Ssendiwala wrote:
 
> It was quite interesting to read from someone else who shares the view
> that the less ink we use on the state boundaries on the map of Africa the
> less ink and time we shall waste redrafting constitutions. Our
> politicians need to take the porousity of these boundaries seriously,
> allow the people to flow to areas of the continent that best need their
> services and eventually we shall develop a truly African culture, one
> that will help subdue our tribal sentiments thereby focusing our energies
> on positive development.
 
 
Can you explain, please, how allowing people to flow across borders at
their will will lead to the development of "a truly African culture"?
YOu seem to imply that at present there is no "truly African culture",
because of the articial borders imposed by Europeans.
 
I think you are saying that, if Africans were free to move freely about
the continent,and live where they could best survive, the emotional
connections to one's own tribal ancestry would lessen, and, eventually,
the population could focus on economic development, rather than on tribal
differences and animosities.  This would happen, I believe, if fairly
large numbers of the various tribal communities did, in fact, move to
other parts of the continent.  However, I don't think this is realistic.
People, in large part, prefer to stay in their communities, where they're
known and where they're comfortable.
 
I think it's also unrealistic to expect governments to open their borders
to everyone.  It just isn't feasible.
 
> It really makes one wonder why the Zairean authorities, for instance,
> could deny women and children from Rwanda entry into the country during
> the recent turmoil in the region.
 
From what I've heard in the media, thousands of women and children from
Rwanda have been admitted into Zaire, into refugee camps.  (I realize
that some of what we hear/see in the media is not, in fact, true, or is
misleading.)
 
 I believe that tribal warfare is not a
> new development that came with colonialism. We used to batter each other
> long before the colonialist set foot on the continent. The only
> difference between then and now is that we now beat up each other inside
> 'rings' i.e. boundaries.
 
You're one of the few people in the world, it seems, who doesn't blame
the colonial powers for all the problems in Africa.
 
 I stand to be
> corrected, but I believe that if the Rwandese had been left to mingle with
> the Zaireans even the relief agencies would have had a much lighter task
> and I do not think they would still be out there feeding thousands.
 
 
It's hard to say.  One has to be there to truly understand the
situation.  Do I understand you to mean that if the Rwandese refugees
were free to go wherever in Zaire (or elsewhere?) they would establish a
new home, find a way to make a living, and live contentedly ?  And there
would be no need for refugee camps?  Sounds like that may be feasible,
except that when there are large numbers of people involved this is probably
considered to be a threat -- to the gov't of Zaire (or wherever), and to
the population already there.  I don't know of any gov't anywhere that
doesn't want to control the influx of other peoples.  Think of all the
stresses this places on resources.
 
> Could someone help me understand the basis upon which a state/ country is
> termed as being "soverein"? To me 80% of Africa falls short of this status.
>
A political scientist could give you an academic definition of the term
"soverign", but I'll give you Websters.  It's an independent state.
Today there's no such thing.  (Was there ever?)
I think the definition of "soverign" state is changing, with the growth
of globalization -- increased international trade, the establishment of
world organizations and trade agreements, such as WTO, GATT, etc., the
movement of corporations around the world.
 
Countries are more and more being held accountable in the global community,
for instance, in the area of human rights abuses, quality standards
regarding the production of materials.  There are even efforts,
through the UN, to change cultural values worldwide, especially with
regard to the status/roles of women.That is, there's a movement afoot to
impose Western values on all cultures.  This isn't news to most people,
of course.  Our economic system is becoming more and more prevalent
throughout the world.  As far as women are concerned, however, men the
world over will continue to fight to maintain the status quo.
 
 
I have a respect for the African people, and their cultures.  Not that I
agree with all aspects (for example, female circumsion), but I respect their
relative detachment from the rest of the world.  Now, don't view this as
a condescending statement.  It isn't meant as such at all.  I don't
think the West, or anyone else, should impose their economics or values
on African societies.  I say, let them develop as they may.  Within the
world community, of course, since no one, as an individual or as a
country, can be totally isolated.
 
I don't think that the internet is the answer to Africa's problems. Not
by a long shot.  It's relevant, more or less, to a tiny minority of "haves".
 
Valerie Bruce
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada

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