Week 10: Mining Massacre

The massacre of mine workers was said to be due to unruly workers, and the need to control a populations, however, after researchers have spoken to locals affected by the massacre it seems that the event was coldly calculated by the government. The massacre of August 16th, 2012 affected the families of the men working in the mines and the workers who are no striking in hopes of positive changes for mine workers.

The researchers writing this text hope to share the voices of local families affected by those who died, and of the mine workers now striking for better pay and safer conditions. Families have shared that they are no longer able to support their children. The government has provided minimal groceries for three months after the deaths but this does not compare to the food which was available when their husbands were working. In addition to support financially, the families are also seeking answers as to what happened to these men. Children were told that their fathers won’t be returning home, but they haven’t been told of the deaths. Women wonder whether these deaths were planned in advance by governments, and why.

The ongoing protesters are much more careful about their actions in hopes of not recreating the events of August 16th. As designated speakers negotiate with officials the crowd kneels. Each protester is visible but they remain calm, less likely to rally while knelt. Their weapons are placed facing down as not to provoke the government officials. Everything is planned to resemble what happened on August 16th, but to ensure that violence is avoided. The researchers not the air of violence and unsafety, there is a feeling on tension between those negotiating. Something which I found to be interesting but also extremely intelligent was the protestors recognizing that not everyone could be heard when speaking. Having designated speakers helped keep the protest concise and ensured important messages were conveyed. Rather than allowing each person to make a speech agreed demands were coming from one voice. This allowed for negotiations to run smoothly and for officials (government, or those opposing the protestors) to have someone to speak directly to.

The researchers focus on this as an uprising and means of the working class coming together to present their demands and to ensure a better future. Chapter 5 focuses on the direct voices of mine workers and the interviews conducted with them. The workers spoke of their positions in the mine, the tools they operate, the conditions they work under, and their thoughts on the protest. One worker specifically spoke about the union which they are represented by. He says that although the union is meant to ensure their well-being in reality it does not focus on the workers, providing no security.

Discussion Questions

  1. Is there a way in which the mine workers could successfully present their case to a government agency and receive the changes they desire? Is it likely they will be recognized by these officials, or will their treatment continue to as it?
  2. How does the presentation of the voices in this text, and others over the past few weeks, change global perception of development projects? Is it important that these voices are heard? In what ways do they create change, and what are the lasting outcomes?

Week 9: Dams and Displacement

This week focused on the Cahora Bassa dam which was built in Mozambique across the Zambezi River. The text offered a summary of the project introducing it as a physical project and expanding as to how it affected those living near the dam. The text offered first-hand accounts of experiences from locals who had been promised new homes for their families.

Before being relocated families were promised new villages with schools, hospitals, houses, and other necessary amenities. However, when they arrived many locations were simply empty plots of land on which families were forced to build homes. These villages were also surrounded by barbed wire fences and the residents were required to ask for permission to leave the compound. This was interesting to me as it spoke less to the need to protect the residents from animals or people outside and more to keeping residents within the compound. It was explained that when leaving the compound villagers were supervised to ensure that they were not interacting with Frelimo vigilantes, or supplying them with food or weapons. Even in connection to the ongoing attacks though it seems as though these villages were established as means of supervising villagers and controlling their movement, rather than securing their safety and providing a place to live. To me was one of the most suspicious aspects of the dam project.

                 The number of lasting effects on the environment and people surrounding the dam brings into question the legitimacy of it as a development project. Although the dam did create energy for South Africa it provided little to no positive incentives for those effected. The effects felt by those living downstream were most surprising for me. Before reading this text I had understood that those living above the dam would be affected by the flooding, however, I had not realized the extensive drought and flooding patters that would be created for those living downstream from the dam. It makes sense due to the changes in water flow potential, however this is not something I had previously considered.

                One aspect of loss which I found especially interesting was the spiritual loss experienced by those living on the land. For many villages this land was connected to past generations and the spirits of past Chiefs. They were protecting sacred burial grounds and performing traditional rituals on the land. In these cases not only did they lose their homes but they also lost their connection to their spiritual history and their ancestors. With this some people believe the unpredictable flood patterns and negative outcomes they are experiencing due to the dam are also connected to a punishment from their ancestors. As a repercussion for abandoning their sacred burial grounds their ancestors are no longer protecting their crop yields.

Before working with my group to create our presentation I had also not considered the importance specifically of “development rhetoric” to promote this project and ones like it. I understood that the locals had been misled in terms of outcomes of the project but I had not realized the importance specifically of using the word development and the promise of becoming more developed to promote the project. I think this was an extremely important point which was raised by Naomi, and one which is important to consider when discussion projects like this in Global Studies.

Discussion Questions

  1. Was the security established as the displacement compounds focusing on protecting those in the compound, or is the focus on preventing the villagers from leaving the compound?
  2. If those displaced were not properly compensated for the land they lost, what would have been enough? Is there an amount that was equal to their loss?

Indian Influence in Africa

     The article focusing more generally on India’s influence in Africa was extremely interesting to me. I had not realized India had such wide ranging economic influence in Africa. As this course continues I continue to understand that I know nothing about Africa, or its relationship with the world. Having understood China’s increasing global influence economically I appreciated the comparison between China and India. This gave the article a perspective with which I was comfortable.

     India’s long history with Africa, both positive and negative was interesting to read. I hadn’t realized there was a large Indian diaspora community living in Africa. I understand that diaspora communities are groups of people living in a country different than their home country to form a community. Typically though this had been phrased in a Western and “other” dichotomy, examples like China Town in Toronto, or Mexicans living in the Southern USA are ones I am most familiar with. It was interesting though to read that African countries were experiencing overwhelming diaspora populations.

Last spring I was on vacation in Jamaica, the resort there was owned by Indian business men who operated the hotel and funneled the profits back to India. The workers complained about the strict rules the men enforced and the lack of benefits provided. Being naïve about the resort business structure I had assumed resorts were often owned by people in that country and benefitting their tourism industry as much as possible. Before arriving I thought the employees would have received fair wages with some benefits as the owners understood the country and were helping their own people. Now knowing the money is minimally invested in the country with the workers receiving little to no support has entirely changed my perception of beach vacations. It was interesting to me that India had such a wide scale influence within the world with business owners in Jamaica and now knowing they are also in Africa.

Discussion Questions:

1. What about India makes it such a powerful global power economically?

2. What steps has India taken to ensure success in Africa?
3. What push or pull factors did Indian citizens feel when immigrating to Africa?

Week 6: Terrorism

Ashley Stratton

Banana Theory of Terrorism

     The beginning of this article focused on the kidnapping of German tourists, and the events surrounding this event. The author promised to explain the truths of these terrorist events, and the lies which had been created to overshadow other events. The abstract of the paper was interesting, however I was unable to thoroughly engage with the paper.

Kenya, the United States and Counterterrorism

      This article describes the relationship between Kenyan terrorism and American aid. The paper discusses US involvement in Kenya; specifically the restrictions attached to American aid being donated to the country. With this they are attempting to reduce or eliminate terrorist attacks occurring within the country. The promise of funding has allotted the US access to important documentation and  invitations to meetings with relevant leaders within Kenya. The article critiques this connection

     The first section of the article discusses the long standing separation between Muslims in Kenya and the rest of the population. This disconnect has created tension between the groups leading to racialized violence. Historically there has been a disconnect between people born in Kenya and those who immigrate. This creates separation between locals and others.

      Following terrorist attacks in 2002, Kenya was forced to meet American demands in defining and capturing terrorists. With this the terrorist attacks in Kenya were attributed to the Muslim population. Specifically, that residing in a coastal community. The US-Kenya relationship on counterterrorism later expanded to include surrounding countries. Kenya security services have grown under the support of the US to be able to assist surrounding countries experiencing difficulty with terrorism. It was interesting though that Kenya did not blindly follow the US demands, Kenya did not pass the terrorism bill but were still granted continued funding. This demonstrated Kenya’s ability to make its own decisions within the restraints of the American funding.

This article spoke to my ignorance on important African issues. I knew that there was a growing Muslim population in African countries but I did not know to what extent this had affected the population. I understood that there were civil wars, and wars between African countries but I was unaware of the terrorist attacks occurring in the continent. In my mind “The War on Terror” was entirely located in the Middle East with the US focusing their efforts entirely in those countries. The reach of terrorist organizations extending to other continents and being a prominent issue is not something I had been aware of. I found the relationship which blossomed between the US and Kenya to be fascinating. They seem to have achieved many successes within the Kenyan borders and into surrounding countries. The ability of the Kenyan security services to assist surrounding countries in their counterterrorism efforts I think speaks to the success Kenya has had an an independent entity and with the financial support of the US.

 Discussion Questions

  1. Does the US have the right to use the offer of funding  to make demands in other countries, specifically Kenya?
  2. Has the US-Kenya relationship been mutually beneficial, or has one side benefitted more than the other?