It is the end of one year and the beginning of another. It is customary to look back on the outgoing year, recalling the high and low points while looking forward to the New year with hope and expectations and sometimes trepidation about things foretold or just expected. Many people also engage in ritual New Year resolutions that habitually do not survive the New Year celebrations!
This column will not review the whole year. I am also engaging the good sense gear not to make any predictions for 2006 so as to save myself the trouble of explaining why they did not happen, this time next year. For New Year’s resolutions, I save myself embarrassment and disappointment by not making any. This makes everything that may happen a surprise whether welcome or unwelcome.
Instead of a review of the whole 2005, I will just look at one issue that became almost an obsession for me.
The year 2005 went down as one in which so much was promised to Africa, so little was achieved but the subterfuge helped clear any lingering scales on our eyes that foreign-do-gooders will help fix Africa. We were told several times by all kinds of do-gooders that 2005 was Africa\'s year. These expectations were based on a dubious coincidence outside Africa. The British Prime Minister, Tory Blair, assumed both the Presidency of the European Union and Chairmanship of the G8 in the year and promised to make Africa his priority. Prophet Blair, who did not officially visit Africa (except for an obligatory photo call on Mandela on his way to the holiday paradise Island of Mauritius and another holiday in Egypt) throughout his first term as Prime Minister decided that, to cleanse himself of the blood of innocent Iraqis that he helped his buddy, Bush, to exterminate, Africa was his salvation.
Leading British NGOs led by OXFAM who even had one of their former top ranking officials ensconced in Downing Street as an Adviser saw Blair\'s missionary view of Africa as a wonderful opportunity for funding opportunism and willingly went to bed with Blair.
Their embrace of Blair is only comparable to the grotesque scandal of Western journalists becoming embedded with the Anglo-American imperialists in their illegal occupation of Iraq. These NGOs now have to search their souls during 2006 and ask if their collusion with power was worth it. But since they are not accountable to the people they serve they continue to talk up their treachery as success. What kind of success is this for Debt relief that sees Nigeria paying back over 3 billion Dollars to Britain alone, a figure more than the total Aid budget of Britain in the same year?
What kind of opportunity for Africa was 2005 when pressures had to be dissipated on making the USA through its UN ambassador, the UN –hating Bolton, to accept not to eliminate the acronym, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set 5 years before. If it took so much effort to defend the acronym alone how much will it take to achieve the goals? If you are still in doubt how bad things are, the recent WTO meetings in Hong Kong put, paid to any illusions. There was no movement on the big issues and decisions are delayed for yet another round of negotiations between cats and mouse of the global economy. The cats will not give up their right to eat the mice while the mice `have to do everything to escape being gobbled up.
It\'s a clear frontier but many Western NGOs confuse their domestic audience and their conniving Southern activists in facilitating the illusion that some cats are less greedy than others. Many Southern activists know this not to be true but carry on with their northern patrons because their jobs and careers depend on it. The campaigns offer individual poverty alleviation mechanisms without making a dent on the global and national structure of power that impoverishes the masses of their peoples. Whatever Bob Geldof, Bono and other busy body new missionaries in the west may do to poverty can neither be danced out of town nor be talked out of existence with Prime Ministers and Presidents. It is history to think and act as though a few rock concerts will change the situation, no matter how many billions watch the concerts.
So grim are things that Bob Geldof has now become an adviser to the new Conservative leader, newly cloned Blairite, David Cameron, on Global poverty. Having tried Blair and New `Labour the patron saint of Western NGOs have gone for the conservatives! I guess after trying the fake Tory why not go for the real thing? Are Oxfam and their assorted fellow travelers in Africa now going to persuade us that Cameron is the new face of the war on poverty?
It is clear that the British and other Western NGOs make adjustments to their own political environment and find relevance in whoever is in power but because our own NGOs are Donor-driven, lacking a social base in our own societies they have proven themselves incapable of doing the same. Therefore they declare themselves only independent of African governments and are not accountable to African people but dance to the tunes of their funders. I hope that in the New Year these NGOs will start looking more to Africa and Africans rather than false prophets, saviours and messiahs from outside. The fact that majority of our peoples survived to see the dawn breaking on 2006 has nothing to do with what Blair, Brown, Bob and Bono (the B’s) did for them or to them but the direct result of our will to live and overcome. In saying bye bye to 2005 let’s say bye bye to the B stars in the global pornography of poverty that dominated the multimedia during the year.