I read this article about Bill Gates at Organic Authroity, and alarm bells started ringing.
This is very difficult. To begin with we want to hear of business investment in organic produce, but cynically (realistically?) my first reaction was “What is Bill Gates up to?” I particularly have a problem with the business foundations in education – Bill Gates is no exception, for their PR read wikipedia “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”. With regards to food my concern is that they have been pioneering GM products in Africa under the guise of fighting poverty, here is their PR on that. I found discussion revolving around AID as donation between Bill Gates and Dambiso Moyo. It reminds me of a book “Aid, Rhetoric and Reality” by Teresa Hayter and Catharine Watson, and an underlying theme for me concerning this supposed AID is that it is business investment for their own aims of profiteering.
Here Natural News discusses the devastating impact of vaccination in Africa – remember the sale of vaccine is a business whatever the arguments about vaccination are. Here is an article from the Guardian about the inappropriate investment in GM through Monsanto and Cargill, and this opinion from the Seattle Times is similar. Some will argue that I am nit-picking about aid and investment, and that every little helps in Africa. The point is this. Africa needs self-sufficiency, and it needs to turn its economic startegies in that direction rather than continuing the financial cycle that sees more money leave Africa than going in, and that is still the case even with all the Foundation investements in so-called poverty relief. This is not a new approach, and has been the practice throughout the neo-colonial eraand Africa’s poverty continues. Leave us alone is the response of responsible Africans such as Dambiso Moyo, but that won’t happen becaus eof the neo-colonial need for resources, markets and cheap labour.
And finally there is the dubious question as to whether vegan meat is actually a healthy option. Over time I have come to a strategy concerning soy products. My main concern with food (I follow a plant-based diet) is the processing, preserving and additions that occur to our foods, a healthy rule of thumb being if it’s not fresh there is a risk. In this category I include processed soy. I use fermented soy products but avoid the use of processed soy – “vegan meat”, I have read of reactions to soy discussed here and here. Whilst I am of the view that this processed soy in whatever guise is better than meat where the animals have been pumped full of chemicals, I do not accept that such foods are healthy. For me investment in such is not beneficial to the poor. In these Gates Notes he discusses an approach concerning these meat substitutes. I was horrifed to see Michael Pollan’s name there, but when you look at his answers they are not very supportive of the Gates’ project.
In my mind I even questioned “Organic Authority”, are they a Gates’ front? I don’t know but I think not. Will promoting Bill Gates and his investement in vegan meat come back to haunt them?
Posts Tagged ‘africa’
Today is grey and dismal at the beach.With the wind there is a slanting drizzle that is continually giving the occasional spatter on my face. Kleun yaai – the waves are a bit high, unless there is a change I suspect there will be no exercise. But things can quickly change for the better – or worse. Should I pay attention to this? Of course not, it is still good to be here, but the realisation of the mindful ignorance is quite disturbing. But then with the dog problem and health issues my meditation has not been good, and I am letting this get to me. How weak!!
I am not therefore feeling particularly spiritual so I looked at a book which I have referred to Howard Zinn’s A Peoples’ History of the United States. It is a significant book in the jigsaw of history, I suspect I will be too ill-disciplined to finish it. The first book I read which taught me to understand history is Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”. This might well best be understood if read in conjunction with Basil Davidson’s Africa (Basil’s Guardian Obituary). “Africa” is a wonderful series talking about the history of Africa, an Africa which contemporaneously compared with Europe was civilised. Here is the series:-
Walter Rodney gave a much more economic analysis of the process including bringing it up-to-date (Second World War) with the exploitations of the then multinationals of the corporatocracy explaining the division of the cake that was the first world war. Now this book describes Africa and its development as a European colony (derivation of colony is farm). At the time I studied this book and the series Africa, I wanted to understand UK race relations. Primarily the race issues in the UK in the 70s revolved around British racism and the Afro-Caribbean communities who were encouraged to migrate to the UK post-second world war to do the lesser paid jobs that could not be filled because of the decimation of the white population in the second world war.
The First World War was primarily fought between Britain and France and Germany. France had its colonies known as Francophone Africa – basically West Africa except for Ghana and Nigeria. Britain fundamentally colonised the rest of black Africa (Bantu) except for the Arab colonies of North Africa, excluding the German and Belgian colonies. This is an over-simplistic analysis.
The weather is miserable, the heavens have opened, the horizon is grey; if I were to go home now I would be soaked – I will probably be soaked anyway.
But this British history is effectively the second colonial stage because it misses out an important historical process – finance. The book that brings finance into the picture before British colonial history is Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America”. He introduces key figures of colonial history – the conquistadores. These often-lauded figures of history, Cortes, Pizarro, Columbus and others were sponsored to go “East” to find gold. After the decimation of Latin American civilisations of the Incas and Aztecs who contemporaneously had historically been far in advance of their European counterparts, this gold was brought back to Spain. From my school history along comes the hero Francis Drake to fight the nasty Spanish who had nasty people like the Spanish Inquisition. This belies the real history where the English wanted Spanish gold. Then there were the heroes and legends that were pirates in the Caribbean. Basically the Spanish were killing the indigenous people for their gold and the British were stealing that gold from the Spanish. It was this gold that sponsored the underdevelopment of Africa, once Spain had been overthrown.
Once the finance had been sourced the historical picture fits together more clearly, but no history can leave out the current hegemony – the US, and this is where Howard Zinn’s book comes in. Columbus so-called discovery of America was the murder of Arawak Indians to loot the gold his sponsors had desired. Columbus began the stream of exploiters who were US heritage. A leopard cannot change its spots – the US started as and continues to be the harbinger of exploitation that became the global hegemony towards the end of the Second World War (as described at Bretton Woods and in the Marshall plan). Some of this US history is discussed here. For a more detailed understanding of the rise of the US read Howard Zinn’s book.
The accumulation of the gold in Europe primarily Britain gave rise to the banking dynasties, for a description of their place in history check the Money Masters.
Between the banking institutions, the Military Industrial Complex and the owners of the Transnationals we have the basis of the corporatocracy. These people maintain political control through their satrapies. These satrapies are sham democracies manipulated as a dual choice between democrat and republican, labour and conservative etc as clearly explained in the movie, Lifting the Veil. There is no choice for the people only the better shade of puppetry.
Placing The Orient in the context of this history is difficult for me – I am not knowledgeable enough. Chinese history is long. Perhaps China’s civilisations predated those of Africa and Latin America. China is the key player in Oriental history but that is not to dismiss the developments in other countries. China was significant in European history as it was from China the Europeans got the gun. The Orient was primarily a trading partner rather than colonially exploited. This could be understood through the Silk Route and others. There were various European colonies such as Indonesia and Malaysia, there was an attempt to colonise China – that failed in the Boxer revolution. I have no coherent picture of the East, and nowhere to point you – sorry.
This movie, Harvest of Empire brings up-to-date the effects of contemporary US foreign policy. Starting with the murder and enslavement of the Native Americans (Indians) as described by Howard Zinn’s “Peoples-history-of-the-united-states-1492-present”, the movie shows how dependent the US is on Latino workers to maintain their standard of living. I was amused when Juan Gonzalez (from Democracy Now said that by the end of this century more US citizens will have Latino origins than European. And yet now all the government does is maintain a legal regime that prevents citizenship, allowing legal exile and continued impoverishing wage-slavery.
I was rather disappointed with the position on Nicaragua. It was clearly stated that the Sandinista revolution was a Peoples’ revolution – people from diverse backgrounds, and it was equally clearly stated that Reagan, and not Carter, chose to finance the Contras. But then the movie focussed on Luis Enrique, a famous Nicaraguan singer – apparently, who fled to the US because his family could not choose sides. At that point it came across that at that stage of the Nicaraguan struggle both sides were equally to blame. Now the theme of the movie is to present the situation that the US economy depends on Latino labour, that that labour is in the US because of US foreign policy that had created and supported puppet dictators who murdered their own people, but to place the Sandinistas and Contras as equally at fault at the time of Luis Enrique is almost traitorous. The Sandinista revolution to me was the clearest example of a democratic overthrow of a dictatorship, on a par with the people supporting Castro; Juan, tell me what could the Sandinistas have done at the time of Luis Enrique? Didn’t the Sandinistas have a democratic mandate far higher than any ballot box, a mandate where the majority of Nicaraguan peoples of all classes supported the sandinistas led by Daniel Ortega?
The movie finished with the figures that there will be 130 million Latinos, 1/3 of the US population, by 2050. “Ït is an immigrant nation”. The movie does not discuss policy, a means for change. With the global inequality of wealth what is going to happen? Does this notion of immigrant nation mean that existing Americans, however that is defined nationality-wise, must accept that there is to be an ever-increasing influx of Latino peoples? Where is the practicality in such an approach? During the movie there were several quotes from bigots from all status in US society. If the choice is between bigotry and continuous influx, then more and more have to accept bigotry; the approach must be practical. US foreign policy that brought the immigrants, but this reality cannot give a “human right” for all of the world’s Latinos. The situation of illegality is inhuman, advantages only big business, and is no solution. But what is?
I saw signs for the Dream Act, what is it?
This is taken from wiki “Dream Act”, and here is the Dream Act portal. But this looks like a bog-standard buying off of the intellectuals who are the leaders of immigration rights, and does nothing for workers who are not educated.
After my millenial history it felt important to point out a number of cultural consequences. Whilst profit was the driving force changes in culture were the recognisable impositions on society. And none was more significant than white’s appropriation of culture from black people. I am not presenting this in any academic way, so exact dates are not clear. This would obviously be a get-out clause for academic sticklers and those who don’t wish to see the truth. But such people would not believe a hammer hit them on the head.
Early recorded civilisations were in that area of Africa around Egypt, Sudan etc., but earliest recognition of creativity were cave paintings. In the 80s Basil Davison presented an excellent series, Africa, and in this first episode he debunked many of the racist myths that have grown up since. Cave paintings of clear black African origin were found in Algeria – Arabic Africa now, and this showed a cultivated black African society in a green Sahara. Where were white people at that time? Egyptian civilisation was clearly rooted in black Africa with many leaders depicted in black stone. This has to be understood as a feat because black stone is not found in the regions of modern Egypt, and had to be transported from far away. At the time I became interested in this some 30 years ago, I read, probably in a book by Cheikh Ante Diop interviewed by Basil (17.58mins), as to how Arabs once they had invaded Egypt desecrated these statues by removing negroid features. I was in London at the time and a trip to the British Museum saw numerous statues with the negro lips and flat noses obviously damaged. Here is a page, black and proud, about the British Museum of which this image is just one:-
Without going into more detail (not the purpose here) African civilisation was flourishing long before white civilisation had got off the ground. (More on Africa by W E B Dubois). But then slowly but surely white (& Arab) people have destroyed these civilisations. It began with the Greeks but their involvement was not to appropriate. People like Herodotus and Hippocrates travelled in Africa to learn, a bit like young nowadays ought when travelling the world, respectfully bringing the knowledge back to Greece. Much of that knowledge is now attributed to the Greeks as part of contemporary appropriation, but the Greeks never proclaimed this. For the Greeks they provided a valuable historical service, at the library of Alexandria they wrote this knowledge down. Pythagoras was a philosopher more famed for his theorem, and this had African roots in agriculture. African farmers used a 12 metre piece of rope with knots each a meter apart and one at each end. To square off their fields they used this rope in the form of a 3,4,5 triangle. That aside the Greeks began the appropriation of African knowledge, but it is white history that ascribed this knowledge as Greek, not the Greeks themselves.
In the first millenium the Arabs expanded out of what is now known as the Middle East. Their expansionism took them into North Africa where they looted wealth and slaves. These slaves were assimilated into Arab society. Some of the rich Arabs in Oman I taught were of obvious black African origin – although more likely to be Tanzanian if in Oman; yet at the same time there was a significant Sudanese diaspora there. In the millenium history I spoke of the Crusades taking Arab wealth, I think you can now see that part of that wealth had to be considered African.
But whilst Arabs looted and enslaved they did not significantly destroy the cultures. It was up to the white man to do that. As European society developed so the merchants sought goods further and further afield, significant was trips to China where they appropriated gunpowder. It was this gunpowder which fuelled the muskets of the Spanish that decimated Mayan and Aztec culture in order to fill the coffers of the Queen of Spain. But once the British had gained this loot as the spoils of their war with Spain, that money was invested in sailing ships that set for the shores of Africa, but with one purpose – slavery. What is rarely described is that Africans were skilled farmers, and this knowledge was needed in the plantations that were being established in the Caribbean. Once established tobacco and other crops were returned to England where profits from their sales funded the next ships that went to Africa – the famed slave triangle. And why didn’t the Africans prevent this? Gunpowder. The British butchered the Africans in much the same way as the Spanish had butchered the Mayans and Aztecs. The process of destruction of Africa by the Europeans was described in Walter Rodney’s book “How Europe underdeveloped Africa”, and the Spanish connection is discussed in Eduardo Galeano’s book “Open Veins of Latin America”.
Whilst Walter Rodney attributes the death of African civilisation to the Europeans, I believe that is not the total truth. A British colony was also significant in the destruction. Once the US had established independence from the British, the ex-British began their internal expansion and appropriation of land from the indigenous peoples. Once they had the land they needed workers to develop the land. Their British cousins in the Caribbean knew the value of the African farmer, and soon the US South were sending slave ships over to Africa, aptly covered in the US TV series “Roots”. But what was not discussed greatly was the destruction of African civilisations, civilisations that had started in advance of their white counterparts, but by the time the lifeblood of youth had been drained out of them there was little left.
Then enters guilt. Europeans and Americans considered themselves civilised, it would not be right to enslave equals. Slowly over these centuries 17th -19th there grew the myth of the inferiority of the black man, until eventually little could be gained from further enslavement as slave revolts were costing too much to suppress. Abolition movements in the US and the UK were allowed to develop to salve the respective consciences – after the damage had been done.
Whilst slavery had been abolished and the civilisations destroyed, the job was not complete. Towards the end of the 19th century mineral wealth was discovered in many African countries – particularly of the South. As with the Crusades a religious masquerade hid the real intent, and a missionary movement was at the forefront of the exploitation of sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa gold and diamonds needed a workforce, and the virtual enslavement by the Aparthied regime had the superiority of the white man at its core. Throughout the rest of sub-Saharan Africa European colonies gave way to divide-and-rule puppet governments that survived beyond independence struggles. And then as described in Millenium history, the Second World War was manipulated to leave a global US neo-colonial hegemony.
And the process was complete. The advanced civilisations of Egypt, Nubia, Meroe and Kush had become Arab colonies, and become cash-crop land that feeds western children before the starving of their own countries. A.D. white appropriated from black.
My understanding of Sudan is very limited. I remember a good Sudanese guy I met in Oman in 2000. He explained to me what was happening there, describing it as an Arab incursion. Now the southern part of Sudan is black African – Kush. At the time, 2000, there were not two countries, and the black African Christian South were oppressed by the Arab government in Khartoum. Since 2000 there have been developments that I have not followed closely, eventually leading to the vote which led to the formation of South Sudan.
At the time of its formation I felt good, but I read that the borderlands were arbitrary, and that there was potential for violence. This Amnesty action alert, together with the actions of George Clooney and others reminded me of my recollection of this guy in Oman, no small recollection.
So here are three Al Jazeera clips which present an analysis of Sudan:-
When I was watching I was very conscious that Al Jazeera is an Islamic TV company, and that the oppressors in Sudan are Islamic. They talked of Arab slavers, and yet blamed the British for promoting Christianity. Now I will never defend British colonial involvement but that could well be an excuse to reduce the blame on Islam, although Christianity was a tried and tested colonial vehicle in Africa and elsewhere. Next, in the first part – Broken Land – they blamed one man, Hassan-al-Jarubi, for harsh Sharia Law applied to Christians, this is a standard systemic excuse – blame an individual when the system is at fault. But overall the presentation came across as reasonable to me, presenting the people of South Sudan in continued struggle against an Islamic dictator.
Now I am not discussing the kind of Islamaphobia that has been created since 9/11. Arab expansionism and incursions in the Black continent, Arab colonialism using the banner of Islam, has been occurring since the first millenia. The whole of North Africa has Arab rulers and peoples yet it is originally a black continent, in North Africa black people have been displaced. In other areas of Africa black people have accepted Islam, for example in Nigeria the struggle between Christian and Muslim, often violent, has no contemporaneous Arab element (at least from where I was in Lagos), although Islam was originally spread to Nigeria from the Middle East. But throughout Africa there are many Christians yet Christianity was not originally an African religion even though now there are many devout African Christians. Despite this devotion I have no doubts that Christianity was used by the colonialists to help their expropriation, I suspect although I don’t have sufficient knowledge that Islam was used in the same way.
But bearing all of this in mind I found the Al Jazeera presentation acceptable but as always would welcome comments – and would be prepared to remove the blog.
I am writing this blog because of the Amnesty alert over the arrest of George Clooney. Here is what Clooney says about South Sudan:-
He is against the current leadership who was responsible for Darfur and who he is now concerned will create further devestation in South Sudan.
John Garang was a revolutionary my friend supported, here is his vision of a “New Sudan” – again from Al Jazeera!!