Week 10

By Breeanna Campbell

Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre, is a novel by a collection of activists and scholars. Marikana is the 3rd largest platinum mine in the world. As the title suggests, the book explores the events that unfolding during the Marikana worker protests in August 2012. The majority of people working for the mining company were uneducated, poor and black. Pay was the driving force that led to the protests. This book is used to expose the true working conditions of these miners (dangerous, long hours, no lunch breaks, poor air quality, falling rocks, low light, etc).

Unfortunately, the union for this mining company works for the employer, rather than the employees. For this reason, the workers formed a collective in order to organize themselves and demand a raise directly from their employer, rather than working through the union. Before the protests they were making R 4,000 per month (roughly the equivalent to 500 US dollars). They now demanded for R 12,500 in order to better support their families, and compensate them for the danger work they endured. This request was refused, and therefore the workers began to strike.

Throughout the duration of the strike, the owners of the mine had complete influence over the media and it was therefore illustrated that the miners were behaving irrationally. The National Union Mineworkers (NUM) began to open fire on the protestors and thus transforming this peaceful protest for justice, into a violent conflict. In other words, the maximum amount of force was used against unarmed workers, many of whom were shot in the back. The massacre could have likely been prevented, had the owners of the company agreed to meet with the appointed representative for the miners and discuss their wage.

I found Chapter five to be the most interesting piece of the book. I appreciated the authors’ choice to include these workers experiences and accounts, adding a human perspective to narrative. Oral stories are an incredibly useful tool, allowing readers access to real accounts and encouraging them to build their own perceptions. Using these stories cultivates a good relationship between academic and activist literature.

Advertisements

Week 10

GS 405 Week 11 Blog Post

Jordan Petruska

110173680

 

 

 

 

This week’s reading focused on the book Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre by Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope and Luke Sinwell. These researchers provided a legitimate voice for the workers who were on strike and were originally blamed for the killings in the official discourse. Lonmin workers were making R 4,000 per month equivalent to $500 U.S.

The majority of the protesters were Rock drill operators who led the strike. These men would work 12-hour days in very harsh conditions without any benefits and in the article it was said that many of the workers suffered serious injuries while working in the mountain. The Lonmin Mine is the 3rd largest Platinum mine in the world as South Africa holds 77% of the World’s Platinum reserves. The massacre was not only preventable it was also planned. The Lonmin Mine is a British mining company that have been extracting platinum in South Africa for over 30 years and the executives carry heavy influence within the South African economy that they could not afford for production to stall so they had to take matters in their own hands with cooperation of the police. In addition the media played a vital role in oppressing the group on strike. The South African media government, and the National Union of Mineworkers kept portraying the protest workers as dangerous savages to the public to display a negative image. However in contrast, the researchers witnessed a consistent peaceful, disciplined and organized group of people. The Marikana Mining massacre was not just a human tragedy but a sober undertaking by powerful agents of the state organized to kill protest workers who temporarily stopped going underground to extract the world’s most precious metal, platinum. The article was not all filled with gloom and sad events it also include aspiring accounts as the workers did not fall back in silence after their 34 colleagues were murdered, instead they became determined and inspired to close the Lonmin mine down completely and eventually the mine bosses agreed to their salary demands. The purpose of the research was to provide a explicit understand of what happened during the massacre for the next generation to acknowledge and learn from. This was a very important purpose in my eyes as young people should become educated on how their government tries and continues to take advantage of the underprivileged and minority.

 

Week 10

This week’s reading covered chapters 1,2 and 5 of the book Merikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre . A different type of reading this week it was an easier read as it left out a lot of academic jargon and focused more on the raw experience of the miner’s involved in the strike. Chapter one covered some of the preliminaries, difficulties of getting interviews, and covered some of the basic information regarding the events of the strike and massacre. Chapter two gave us a more detailed outline of the events from August 9th to August 16th and explained the reasoning behind the strike (they wanted to be paid more; miners in Australia and the UK are paid ten time the amount the miners are paid at Lonmin) and the poor working conditions for the miners (having contracts that say 8 hour work days but wold stay until the job is done which some workers reported to staying 12-15 hours). Something that really struck a cord with me in this chapter was when the author had stated  “For the Merikana strikers, the fear of death, present on August 16th, was not a new experience.” I thought this was very important because the working conditions in the mines were so poor that death and accidents were not uncommon and if they did not ask to be paid more things would not change, even if the conditions did not change they would be paid more fairly than what they were currently being paid. The third (or rather 5th) chapter contained the stories from the miners/strikers. When reading this chapter I really took the time to understand and process the information and stories of the miners. It was difficult to process at times as a result of how it was being told and the stories that were being shared, they brought up a lot of emotion and tales of trauma; but it was precisely this that made this reading stand out. Often when reading academic literature on similar topics they do not evoke too much emotion, I think that might be because when it comes to academic literature there is so much emphasis on keeping it professional and “academic” and that strips away some of the emotion which when discussing an event like this one, is crucial, in some ways it dehumanizes it when the emotions are removed and events are reduced to facts and numbers. But with this piece of writing the authors gave you the raw, unrefined stories of the miners, it gave it a different sense of legitimacy.

So my question is, how can issues of unfair pay and dangerous working conditions be addressed? Are scenarios like this a product of bigger problems (poverty, inequality) and should you address those bigger issues in hopes of a trickle down effect or do they need to be addressed more directly?

Jennifer D

Week 10: Workers Protests and State Violence

This week we are focussing on worker’s protests and state violence and focussing specifically on the Marikana Massacre through the book Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre. The massacre that occurred in Marikana, South Africa took place on August 16th, 2012 after miners from the local Lonmin mine went on strike in protest for wage increases. On this day, 44 people were killed and 78 were injured. This incident is largely criticized due to the records of men being shot from behind as they were running away, contradicting the legitimate use of force argued by police forces. According to the authors, this event has been reported at the most lethal use of force by South African security forces since the apartheid ended in the 1960s. The book Marikana: Voices from South Africa’s Mining Massacre is an attempt to examine the history of events that led to the massacre and the role of the South African government, the Lonmin mining company and the National Union of Mineworkers in creating the conditions that led to the massacre. According to the authors, “As we learned more about this merciless and bloody massacre through the worker’s voices and eye-witness accounts, we came to the realisation that this was not only preventable, it had been planned in advance.” (16) During the strike, the media portrayed the men on strike as savage and ruthless, however, this book exposes the truth behind the individual fathers and husbands that were killed fighting for a better life for their families. “In contrast to the dominant view put forth by the media, government and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which suggests that the workers were an unruly and dangerous mob who needed to be controlled and contained, we learned that the workers were, and remain, disciplined, peaceful and very well organized.” (16) As a result, this book is an attempt to understand the massacre that occurred on August 16 through interviews with the workers involved and people who witnessed it first hand, along with the family members of those who were killed. Through their researchers, the authors also attempted to build relationships with those that they interviewed and in the end came to feel a sense of solidarity with them.

Overall, I think that this book largely forces its readers to call into question the continuing injustices that are being faced throughout the world. It exposes not only the mal treatment and horrible working conditions of miners in South Africa, but also the repercussions that they face by their government and security forces when they try to stand up for themselves. This book provides an extremely personal account of those who suffer the most from these injustices, as well as the lack of consideration that is given to them in a country that considers itself to be ‘democratic’.

How can these examples of state violence be related within a Canadian context? What does this say about systemic oppression? What is the point of a Union that works to oppress you?

– M. Thwaites

Week 9

Breeanna Campbell

This week we focused on Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development. The book by Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman (2013) discusses the Cohora Bassa dam project and the consequences of the first dam build in Mozambique.

Chapter three begins to explore the involvement of the Portuguese government. The Portuguese claimed to have the best intentions when developing this dam, explaining the construction as modernizing and providing development improvements for the countries. By using these concepts (suggesting they will be helping to “close the economic gap – between the rich and the poor”) there was little to no opposition. However, as the authors explain in this novel, these fantasizes where not the reality. There was instead tons of segregation, abuse (including beating and whipping) and erasure of indigenous culture/narrative. The construction of the dam ended up being very racialized and colonial.

Chapter four discussed the displacement of local people (see pages 101 and 102). It also explained how the agricultural and sacred land was taken from them. Chapter five explores this further by discusses the environmental and human impacts from the dam. For example, they greatly impact the crops as they cannot grow without water and yet on the other hand, if there is too much water (flooding) they will rot. They also impact fisherman and other water reliant livelihoods and the heath of communities, as there is an increase in diseases associated with mosquitoes.

Chapter six discusses how the energy, and ownership, is displaced. Is explains how local people do not gain any benefits from this dam, however they are the ones who suffer greatly from it. Chapter seven also highlights how in certain ways colonialism has been sustained through the dam. This also contributes to the lack of ownership and benefits.

All of these chapters entice to be feeling a great deal of concern for future foreign investment. If the IMF was so supportive of this initially, is there really a critical overseeing council that will be able to foresee these types of dangers? When should NGO’s be included, if at all? How can countries build trust between each other… or is there such thing as true trust and loyalty in regards to inter-country investment and aid?

Further discussion questions:

Do the risks out way the benefits, or do the benefits out way the risks? Does providing this amount of electricity to the receiving country, out way the destruction of land and livelihoods? Who is entitled to make these decisions, and who should be included in this process?

Who is accountable? Should the local people be… in addition to the foreign investors?

How can locals be part of a solution?

Week 9 Blog Post

GS 405 Week 9 Blog

Jordan Petruska

For this week’s lecture we analyzed Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman’s book Dam, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development. Allen and Barbara examine the legacy and the history of one of the largest dams in Africa, the Cahora Bassa in Mozambique in the early 1970s. From chapters 3-7 Allen and Barbara made it clear that the overall theme was the oppression of the citizens of Mozambique. Throughout the construction of the dam, local African workers were constantly being exploited, as work was long, hard, and very dangerous. Workers were underpaid and many reported being beaten and intimidated as part of the Dam’s labour regime. The Dam faced an abundant of obstacles, as funding and an inconsistent workforce were common throughout the construction process. Portuguese colonial leadership were being protested against by local workers as they were fed up with the low wages and malnourishment provided by the strict overseers.

 

The Cahora Bassa Dam was initially proposed to enhance the economic opportunities for local communities in Mozambique by connecting farmers to markets in surrounding towns. However, the reality was that the Cahora Bassa Dam only benefitted a few while hundreds of families became displaced from their homes in order to be closer to the construction site for a quicker commute. The Cahora Bassa Dam represents the last major construction project in Africa during the decolonization era. It also reminds me of the duration of white colonialists exploiting poor uneducated locals to enhance the development of a region in which would only benefit the colonists as locals could not have access to the Dam and did not receive any of the shares from the revenue that was generated from the completion of the project. In my opinion the Cahora Bassa Dam represents the lasting impression that colonization had on Mozambique involving the country to undergo struggles of economic weakness and underdevelopment while having political obstacles to overcome from translating from a group of ethnic colonies into a united nation.

 

Discussion Questions:

  • How can local communities find an effective way to resist against Western influence?
  • How can local governments offer stronger protection against exploitation for their citizens?

Week 8

Post by Breeanna Campbell

110671150

India’s Rise in Africa

This article discusses India’s presence in Africa. It explains how India’s presence is commercially driven (motivated by economic and political considerations) and consisting largely of private investments -unlike China’s investors (which are largely state-to-state investments). I wonder if the varying type of investments is due to the differences in governments of the two countries, as India is “the worlds largest democracy” and China is not. Nonetheless, the article is explaining how India is trying to use its relationship with Africa to be taken more seriously on a global scale, and to be considered as an important actor in international trade.

Throughout this article I was clouded with the questions: Is India following in China’s footsteps? Are they competing with China? Or is a mix of both?

It is interesting how India has a no disruption policy and is not trying to push democracy onto African states, unlike Western countries and their involvement. Perhaps India’s relationship with Africa is more of a partnership?

Offshore Healthcare Management: Medical Tourism Between Kenya, Tanzania, and India

This article focuses heavily on the idea of India becoming a global healthcare provider. Is explains how India is able to offer world-class health care at developing world costs. This invites people from all around the world (including people from Kenya and Tanzania) to India in order to access important life saving and life changing procedures. Due to cuts in the health care sector, many other countries are suffering and therefore the population has limited contact with health services. Many of the cuts to the health care sector may be caused by “brain drain”. Some of the critiques to this service argue that even though the healthcare is more widely available, it is still a business. Does this make it morally wrong? It would be interesting to explore this in greater detail. Do the risks out way the benefits?

Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil Venture Into War-Torn Sudan

This article discusses the Indian National Oil Company (OVL) and its position in Sudan. More specifically it discusses the risk associated with India being present in Sudan during an armed conflict. Due to the conflict currently unfolding, the oil companies are being targeted by SPLA and therefore the OVL has many obstacles. One concept that could arguably show a progression of their relationship is the signing of agreements between Sudan and India to keep UN peacekeepers in the areas around the oil companies.

It is hard to understand why India would choose to ‘partner’ with Sudan given its current conflict. One possibility is perhaps that due to Sudan’s situation, India would have to follow less regulations and policies. This could, maybe, be argued to be a better choice for the company.

***

The three articles spoke heavily on the relationship between India and African countries. Overall, I feel as though India’s presence in Africa is more positive than negative. In order for Africa to continue to benefit from the partnership, Africa must understand that it does have a voice and it must utilize this voice in order to decide what it finds acceptable and not. Subsequently, it must also take accountability for the choices it makes.

Week 8 Post

GS 405 Week 8 Blog Post

Jordan Petruska

110173680

 

 

For this week’s article we examined the vibrant relationship between Africa and India. This partnership is very interesting to me as India is the largest democracy in the world and offers many resources and potential to develop into a global giant. India is poised to pass China as the fastest growing economy fuelled by domestic investment and prime demographics. In the reading we looked at Ian Taylor’s India’s Rise in Africa that centers on the increasing investment made by India in Africa’s private and commercial industries. It is amazing to see how many people migrated to Africa from India, as they are heavily involved in the rapid economic activity in the continent. India’s relationship proves to be quite similar to the relationship between China and Africa however, the biggest difference that I saw was that India emphasizes on the individual and commercial level as opposed to the state-to-state involvement that China currently has. One of the most alarming facts in Taylor’s article is the amount of aid that India is giving to Africa, traditionally India was the spotlight for receiving aid from the West and now their donations should greatly improve their economic and political stability.

 

Renu Modi’s Offshore Healthcare Management: Medical Treatment between Kenya, Tanzania and India was the second article that examined the ongoing trend of medical tourism from citizens of Tanzania and Kenya travelling to India for medical treatment. Modi explains that India is the desired port of call for Africans to seek medical attention because the majority of the medical facilities in Kenya and Tanzania are insufficient. African states depend on imported medical equipment and pharmaceuticals so medical treatment is very expensive and scarce for citizens and I found it quite interesting that India advertises their hospitals and clinics in Kenya and Tanzania to acquire more patients in those states, which should raise a few alarms in these countries to help try to make health care more cost-effective and affordable.

 

The third reading was Fragile Fortunes: India’s Oil ventures into War-Torn Sudan by Luke Patey which takes views the ONGC-Videsh (OVL) India’s national Oil company and their difficulties in Sudan. Sudan has faced its share of civil conflict over the past 50 years and Oil has been in the middle of it as it has fuelled Guerrilla groups and corrupted political regimes. Patey noted that Sudan officials continue to ignore human rights and have caused a major concern for OVL and other oil companies in the region. This genre of activities are still ongoing and it is interesting to me that India along with OVL have dodged negative attention as their involvement in the Sudan has not been heard or covered by the media especially with all of these human rights violations that continue to go on.

 

Discussion Questions:

Should there be any interference or monitoring from the International Community in regards to India’s involvement in the Sudan?

What is the current status of India’s hopes on gaining permanent placement in the UN Security Council?

 

 

Emerging Powers: India in Africa

This week’s articles largely focussed on India and its emerging role as an investor and aid donor to African countries. Our first article, by Ian Taylor examines the rise of India’s economy and its transition from being an aid receiver to an aid donor in hope of gaining recognition on the world stage as an independent world power. In the article, the author builds on the idea of India’s partnership with African states as being ones of South-South solidarity, and draws comparisons between India’s investment and aid strategies to those of China. The author demonstrates how a key motive behind India’s involvement with African countries is to seek out legitimacy from international actors in order to attain a position on the UN Security Council and to advance itself in political and economic terms. In my opinion it is concerning that India is giving aid to African countries when its population continues to face extreme levels of poverty and malnutrition. Therefore, this article largely demonstrates how India is using development assistance primarily for political objectives and to increase its economic activity.

The second article we had to read by Renu Modi, discusses the concept of medical tourism, which is when people seek healthcare in a different country than their own because it may have better equipment or be less expensive that the healthcare sources in their home country. The author states how India is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for medical tourists because of its ability to provide high quality healthcare at a low costs. As a result, this has contributed to India’s relationships with other countries, including those in East Africa, due to the frequency of medical tourists from these countries, as well as India’s growing role in providing support for healthcare initiatives in Africa countries. In the article the author also discusses the issue of how many people in African countries are still not able to afford travelling to another country such as India for healthcare, and therefore argues that there is a need for local governments to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for their citizens.

Unfortunately I was not able to access the last article by Luke Patey, so instead I read the article by Padraig Carmody called India and the ‘Asian Drivers’ in Africa, which was also in the book India in Africa: Changing Geographies of Power. This article focused largely on what motives lay behind India’s involvement in Africa as well as the various resources sought after by Indian investors in African countries and the role of migration and geopolitics. I found this article really interesting in the way that it built on Ian Taylor’s article by furthering the comparison between Indian and Chinese investment and how India’s need to compete with China is a significant motive behind its involvement in Africa. In the article, the author discusses the irony behind how India gives aid to Africa despite the fact that India has a higher proportion of malnutrition that the Africa countries that it gives aid to. This demonstrates how India’s motives are primarily political and economic, not humanitarian. The author expands by discussing how India’s investment in Africa is a result for their want to be recognized as a world power and a competitive player in the international economy, as well as the fact that it needs Africa votes to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The article highlights India’s sense of competition with China by the geopolitical significance of how India denied China participation in the IBSA (India, Brazil, and South Africa) dialogue and how it is establishing naval defence agreements with Mozambique, Madagascar and Kenya in fear of Chinese expansion. This makes me wonder if there is a possibility of India experiencing a backlash from China as a result of the defensiveness and competition that India has established towards China.

Questions:

  • In the article by Carmody, the author states that, “The difference between the first and the second ‘scrambles’ for Africa is the difference between colonialism or globalization.” – Do you agree or disagree, and why?
    • Building on this is the question posed by Taylor, “is India a scrambler or a development partner, a self-interested actor bent on exploitation, or one that aspires to some level of mutual benefit?” (pg. 795)
  • Do you think India will face any economic (or social) challenges in the future as a result giving financial aid to African countries when India currently suffers from high levels of poverty itself?

– M. Thwaites

Week 7

This week’s focus was China’s role in the development in Africa and the relationship between the two. I thought the readings complimented each other well and managed to give a well-rounded view of both the pros and cons of China’s involvement in Africa, while also touching on the African diaspora in parts of China.

I would like to begin with the Chris Alden and Ana Cristina Alves, History and Identity in the Construction of China’s Africa Policy which I felt gave a great background to the development of China and Africa’s relationship. I had learned in a previous class about China’s investment in African countries but I had been under the impression it was something new, with this article I learned that their relationship has been developing for many years and that a unique characteristic that brings them together is how they had both fallen victim to Western colonization and imperialism.

The next article by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza titled The Africa-China relationship: Challenges and Opportunities, examines some of the pros and cons to the relationship. An interesting point that seemed to be repeated throughout the article is that China, identifying as a developing country (along with countries in Africa), has managed to be so successful in its reforms and climb towards becoming a “developed” nation through what some might consider alternative methods/reforms to what had previously been prescribed (Washington vs. Beijing Consensus) and because of this they may have advice or a better idea of what countries within Africa may want to adjust within their reforms. In the conclusion Zeleza included some prescriptions for African countries to keep in mind so that this relationship does not become one sided and I thought these were interesting and a nice addition.

And lastly, From Guangzhou to Yiwu: Emerging facets of the African Diaspora in China by Adams B. Bodomo discusses the other aspect of the China-Africa relationship where there is a substantial population of African migrants moving to China. In this article he specifically talks about Yiwu and Guangzhou, where he explains how in two cities you have certain African backgrounds moving to either and how differently they are treated.

While it had been mentioned, I thought it was interesting how the relationship that is being examined is between one country and an entire continent. I have noticed that in a lot of literature Africa is generally reduced down to one big single entity, when in reality the diversity is incredibly vast. Also, it was discussed that China’s relationship with Africa is to be a well-rounded one (not purely economic), as to relieve any hesitations countries in Africa may have in being exploited once again as they had been (still are) by the West, I am curious to see how it evolves in the future on both ends and how the US responds to this.

– Jennifer