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An Open Letter to Kim du Toit.

February 4, 2008

I’ve written this in response to Mr. du Toit’s comment here I’d rather not post it verbatim because of it’s tone.

Hi Kim,
Thanks for commenting.
About the blood debt (alternatively let’s call it a moral debt) part.

You say:  Nonsense. That’s like saying that Germany owes France a blood debt because of the slaughter they inflicted during WWI (proportionately, a higher percentage of the population than the ravages of slavery on the African continent).

There is a distinct difference between France vs. Germany and European powers vs. Africa.  Germany did not extract millions of French citizens as coerced labor for centuries.  Germany did not divide up groups (in world war one) ethnically saying some were better than others (leading to things like Tutsis vs. Hutus in Rwanda).  The difference though is not as big a one as you’d think.  One thing I’ve just learned in history was that the reparations France and the victorious powers imposed on Germany After World War One Germany would have been paying up until the 1980s,  If Germany hadn’t responded by military force.  Something Africans can’t do because the West holds them in their lower status through things like debt.  Lord help them if they decided to just stop paying.  So that argument is doubly flawed because France did try to extract revenge, and the situations are completely different.

Let’s look at the two countries you’ve used to help make your case in your comment.  The first is Tanzania.

You say: You decry my lack of attributions and sources. Fine: try this one: Tanzania. Twenty years after independence, over $6 billion in aid; seventy-seven miles of tarred roads.

First of all thanks for providing the sources of your information.  I’m assuming either the links didn’t come through or you don’t know that a source is a reference to an external authority, I’ll even look at Wikipedia if you send me there.

Let me give you an authority and reference on that case.  According to the CIA’s world fact book.

The World Bank, the IMF, and bilateral donors have provided funds to rehabilitate Tanzania’s out-of-date economic infrastructure and to alleviate poverty. Long-term growth through 2005 featured a pickup in industrial production and a substantial increase in output of minerals led by gold. Recent banking reforms have helped increase private-sector growth and investment. Continued donor assistance and solid macroeconomic policies supported real GDP growth of nearly 7% in 2007.

Foreign aid making a difference in a country.

Let’s look at Zimbabwe.

You say: For every decent society (eg. Botswana), I can give you four hell-holes, eg. Zimbabwe; which, by the way, never suffered from the ravages of slavery, and for only twenty years, a mild form of apartheid.

Ignoring the comment about there being such a thing as a “mild” form of apartheid let’s go to:

World Factbook:

Badly needed support from the IMF has been suspended because of the government’s arrears on past loans, which it began repaying in 2005, and the government’s unwillingness to enact reforms that would stabilize the economy.

By all accounts Zimbabwe is a mess but money is not being given due to it’s inability to work things out.  However:

In December 2007, ZANU-PF harmonized presidential and parliamentary elections, shortening the length of the presidential term to five years and moving up the date for parliamentary elections. General elections are expected in March 2008.

Perhaps because of the pressure being put on Zimbabwe by other countries and groups.  Perhaps because we are finally demanding accountability from governments that was never there before, general elections will be held.  Will they be rigged? Maybe, heck even most likely, but change is more likely with the promise of reward than if we abandon them.

You paint a consistently negative picture of Africa, doing in fact what many people in North America have done, the reality is that Africa is not a country, it is a continent.  If we were to point to Mexico and paint a picture of North America it would be distorted, this is even more the case with Africa.

You misread me saying you claim expertise.  I do no such thing, I say you paint yourself as an authority.  It is this that I would last like to target.  You make a claim to authority based on you having lived in Africa for 18 years.  Now I know you didn’t intend for it to come out this way, but I’ve now twice heard you referred to as an indigenous African.  You are a creole African, an Afrikaner and yet you claim to speak to how the continent as a whole views things like death.  So let me ask you a few questions as to the basis of your authority.

When, and why did you leave Africa?  Was it before or after 1994?

How much contact did you have with indigenous Africans (Zulus for example) while you were there?  Were they friends or were they cooks and cleaners?

One last thing:  Which part of tongue in Cheek did I not get?  I’m not sure I missed anything seeing as I quoted it verbatim.  I quoted it because of the attitude it represents.

Let me be honest, the reality is I would rather not respond to your comment at all.  I doubt that any of this will change the way you think.  The problem with the internet though is that anyone can say or do anything and get away with it.  My hope is that people (like my friend) who read “Let Africa Sink” will investigate it for themselves instead of passing it on as a factual basis for ending aid in Africa to people like me.  If they stumble across the answers provided on my little island in the ocean of the internet I hope they’ll find some balance to the hopeless picture you paint.

Regards,

Liam

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2 comments

  1. “The problem with the internet is that anyone can say…anything and get away with it.”

    Well that must be a problem with America as well. It might be my problem as well because I consider freedom of speech very important.

    As for letting Africa sink we shouldn’t help it along the way, but if you want aid get it from private sources. I’m sick of hundreds of millions of American tax payers being forced to throw yet more money down the bottomless pit that is the African continent for people that won’t save themselves. You want to help…fine. But do it on your own time and with your own money.


  2. Fairly Seriously excellent ! I would declare.



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