Wednesday, October 25, 2006

 

Ask and You Shall Receive

It's amazing how the universe aligns to answer the questions I have. I wondered where the good news was about Africa, or, at least, a more balanced view and I got just what I wanted. The Travel Channel premiered Bob Geldof in Africa on Monday. It was a 2-hour show that was fabulous in its wide-ranging view of the various people of the continent. Yes, there were stories of war and famine and the slave trade, but there were also stories of people living creatively, living happily, from the Maasai to the people of Somaliland. And, oh! those glorious fabrics! Why aren't these more widely available as an export? As a fabric artist, I'd snap these up in a heartbeat. (Geldof discussed how countries in Africa could be exporting more finished products, but they've been sorely outmatched by the rest of the world in making trade agreements, so they get the short end of the stick.)

What I appreciated about the program was Geldof's explanation of why it has been so difficult to build civilization on portions of the continent. A lot of it has to do with the inhospitable terrain and the lack of population in large areas. His discussion of the fighting in Somalia (which led to Somaliland seceding from the country in 1991), led me to realize how important the guarantee of safety and security is in building a town or a country. There are dozens of tribes fighting each other for control of Somalia, and those with the most guns win.

In honor of elucidating the African story, here are more articles I found on the web:

From The Independent: Bob Geldof: Aid isn't the answer. Africa must be allowed to trade its way out of poverty

From The New York Times: African Grandmothers Rally for AIDS Orphans

From The New York Times: Neglected Poor in Africa Make Their Own Safety Nets

From Akuko: Top 10 Attractions in Africa

Child of Afrika Contemporary Fine Art Gallery

Play pumps used in South Africa

From Damn Cool Pics: Kings of Africa

From CNN: An article on the inauguration of Africa's first elected female head of state - and another on the same topic from BBC News - (Tell me who's the third-world country now.)

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