Friday, March 06, 2015

No regrets? There are many!

Africa should have no hunger because we have the capability, the land and the people. 60 per cent of uncultivated arable land is untapped in Africa. Small-scale farmers produce over 70 per cent of the food consumed in Africa, on less than 15 per cent of the agricultural land available on the continent.

 Despite this huge resources and potential, this continent together with other developing countries are host to 852 million hungry residents who require constant support. Money is not everything because we have spent more than $150 billion in the last three decades and we are still where we are and by the way we are spending $50 billion to borrow foods. The current rules that govern our global food system are rigged in favour of corporate controlled agriculture.

Africa is seeing a new wave of colonialism as multinational corporations, aided by rich governments and financial institutions, vie to increase their control of land, seeds, water and other resources. The continent has been described as the ‘last frontier in global food and agricultural markets’ by the World Bank, and private sector and corporate investment is seen as both a good investment opportunity as well as the only way of boosting agricultural production and helping to lift people out of poverty.

Donors and  development agencies, like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (New Alliance) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, continue to push a one-size-fits-all industrial model of agriculture and make exorbitant claims about their aims yet is likely to facilitate the appropriation of land and the displacement of small-scale farmers.

The UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) is currently channelling £600 million of aid money through the New Alliance to support agricultural development and improve food security in Africa. Initiatives like the New Alliance are in fact aimed at multinational companies resources and bring about policy changes which will help them expand in Africa at the expense of small-scale food producers. This is nothing to do with helping Africa feed itself; it is about further empowering an already very powerful and bloated agribusiness sector.

Agroecology can feed Africa by increasing food yields. But a food system is about much more than just food production. For a food system to work in the long-term and benefit all the people involved in the food chain – from the farmers to the consumers – as well as the environment, it needs to be democratically controlled and based on sustainable and equitable principles. This is what agroecology is all about and the evidence in favour of it is now overwhelming. Not only can agroecology increase yields, but it has multiple positive knock-on effects.

It is 58 years since Ghana became the inaugural independent country in Africa, marking the beginning of the monumental fall of colonial empires in the 20th century, and it is 21 years since the tyrannical system of apartheid was brought down in South Africa, marking the end of colonial domination in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today the only reminder of colonialism on the continent is the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, still under the political domination of Morocco.

The liberation fighters of the past would be confronted by the reality that among the top ten donors providing this assistance are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the EU–a stark reminder of how post -colonial Africa has dearly maintained the umbilical cord to the former slave and colonial master. They would be confronted by a West Africa battling with the menace of the Ebola disease, eagerly invitingly not only foreign aid workers but foreign armies to come in to rescue them.

 The liberation fighters would also be confronted today by boatloads of drowning Africans heading for European countries. No longer is the African kicking and screaming as the slave master pushed him into a boat against his will. That was the ancient enslaved African. Today’s African risks his own life scrambling for a slot in leaky boats so he can force himself into European slavery, with the slave master repeatedly urging the swarming slaves to go back home. Our people are dying to go to Europe so they can do any menial jobs for any form of slave wages, and that is the Africa that confronts us today. Post colonialism Europe has become to us the Promised Land. Manchester United or Barcelona have become the football teams of choice to follow.

Millions of skilled and talented Africans are domiciled in Europe or North America today, and there are many more brilliant young Africans desperate to enrol into Western Universities and resettle to never to return. This is the reality that would confront the liberation fighters of yester-year today. They would be confronted with graduate engineers who cannot even make a water filter and the reality that there is still no such thing as a car made in Africa, not even a bicycle.

They would be confronted with the reality that the heads of states are marvelous pretenders , greedy, reckless, selfish and crooked charlatans whose only ideology is self-aggrandisement, who shout revolutionary slogans when all they care about is their little personal worlds. 

Democratic Republic of Congo with only one election to its name since 1961, and with hardly any infrastructure, smitten by a vicious demon of corruption. Or see a post- apartheid South Africa ravaged by the Aids pandemic, with the vast majority of blacks languishing in poverty no different from the awful days of apartheid. The liberation fighters from our past would today witness a South Sudan at war, with the Dinka and the Neur killing each other freely over nothing but power politics. They would be confronted by the reality of over 10 000 killed in the senseless civil war, 413 000 internally displaced, 66 500 seeking UN refugee, and 74 300 who have fled the three year old country. They would be confronted by a Nigeria battling murderous religious radicals who have killed 13 000 people in a senseless war aimed at creating an Islamic Caliphate. The reality of Boko Haram makes terrible reading when read in the context of the equally murderous and barbaric Al-Shabab in Somalia–an outfit that believes it can achieve its vainglorious political goals by indiscriminately shooting shoppers in shopping malls in neighboring Kenya.

 The liberation fighters, those many founding fathers of an "independent" Africa, would be turning in their graves

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