Thursday, 25 August 2011

African land for $1.50 per hectare per year

The Guardian’s webpage uncovered an article that I found particularly disturbing. At a time when as a nation we have been forced to examine some of our core values by out of touch politicians (including a deputy Prime Minister with an arson conviction), we are once more fed a moral high ground from a UK Government. A Government regardless of political party, and whether it’s the current one or one in office two years ago, because whoever they are, they are still sustaining a type of governance and a general view of how the world should be run.

Now I’m not a proponent of any political form, nor saying how people should vote or think. My beef is actually with the overall message that is not said because our parties are too similar, that message being that having a democratic capitalist society really is the only way to run a “progressive” country… regardless of how that system is at the expense of others.

The Guardian article didn’t actually refer to actions by the United Kingdom, but no doubt global finance being what it is, and our general view of obtaining wealth from others regardless of the human cost, I find it hard to believe our involvement in the world economy doesn’t make us complicit.  

The article reports on how there is a huge land grab in Africa for cheap land, either as an investment, or to grow foods for non-African markets. One hectare of land in East Africa can be leased for $1.50 per year. Do I really need to elaborate on the way of the world that can find that not to be considered stealing.

At the same time Hilary Clinton was warning African nations to ensure they dealt with nations that had their best interests at heart (ie. The US and not China), the US and the West grows bio fuels there for the insatiable appetite for car fuel, at the expense of arable land.

Also this week, we have seen a hurricane narrowly miss Haiti where some 600,000 people still live in tents over 18 months after the earthquake, and after many millions donated. I don’t advocate anyone not giving to charity (and the events such as those in the famine in East Africa were never more pressing for help), but I do have concerns that we may donate and think we are then unaccountable.  Like many people who donated to Haiti, I found great concern at how long aid took to get off the runway in the weeks after the earthquake, and this weeks hurricane should have made every aid organisation and world government question themselves as to how they have allowed tent cities to remain for so long in a hurricane zone (let alone the risks of cholera and rape that are documented).

How do we go that extra step to make sure that those we have voted for, or donated to, or even bought products from, carry our trust. Do we simply let them carry on and reactively or even passively feel we’ve done enough, or do we say that we have to be proactive and ensure that those that are accountable… be held to account. Whether that’s household names exploiting agriculture not a million miles from a famine, world aid, raw materials for our smart phones at the expense of rape and murder, or closer to home, the deaths of young men by uniformed officers on our streets.

I’m not preaching what should be done, nor saying I do my part, but I’m simply left wondering at what point I and we decide we can no longer continue to be complicit by our inactivity, and move to a point where we say …. Not in my name.

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