The Electric Commentary

Friday, July 15, 2005

Africans understand the problems of Africans. Rock stars do not.

There is an excellent column in today's NYT by Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, consultant on international law and a columnist for Le Messager, a Cameroonian daily. You should read the whole thing, but here's a clip:

Don't the organizers of the concerts realize that Africa lives under the oppression of rulers like Yoweri Museveni (who just eliminated term limits in Uganda so he can be president indefinitely) and Omar Bongo (who has become immensely rich in his three decades of running Gabon)? Don't they know what is happening in Cameroon, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic? Don't they understand that fighting poverty is fruitless if dictatorships remain in place?

Even more puzzling is why Youssou N'Dour and other Africans participated in this charade. Like us, they can't help but know that Africa's real problem is the lack of freedom of expression, the usurpation of power, the brutal oppression.

Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself. When there is a problem in the United States, in Britain, in France, the citizens vote to change their leaders. And those times when it wasn't possible to freely vote to change those leaders, the people revolted.

In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

(Hat tip, MDS)


  • I don't really follow the politics of rock stars closely enough to know, but my understanding is that a lot of them support both Live 8 and Farm Aid. But aren't the aims of the two mutually exclusive? Farm Aid wants us to give money to American farmers. But one of the main reasons Africans are struggling is that their farmers can't compete on the global market, and the reason for that is that we subsidize our farmers, allowing them to sell their food at low costs. How can anyone support both of these things?

    By Blogger MDS, at 1:45 PM  

  • Simple. Farmers are poor, so we should give them money. And Africans are poor, so we should give them money.

    Clearly the two have nothing to do with each other.

    Such is the politics of a rock star.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:18 PM  

  • as a rock star, i take offense at your insinuation that people like myself, roger waters, madonna, and bono (and make no mistake-- we are all pretty much the same) might not have the deepest insights into global economics.

    not only do we know that:
    1) american farmers are poor
    2) africans are poor
    3) we should give them both money

    we also know that:
    4) global warming is scary
    5) nuclear energy is scary
    6) we should obviously avoid both

    so don't sell us short, damnit.

    By Blogger ahren, at 5:42 PM  

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