Week 10

The book Marikana was an attempt to show the massacres that took place in The North of South Africa’ Platinum belt in August, 2012. The book’s aim is to portray the atrocious acts taken by the Police, Mining Company and Government and to present them through the lens of the victims and their mourning families using accounts of oral re-telling and in depth interview processes shortly after the events would take place. The Platinum mine workers for the Lonmin company began to protest for higher wages. When non-violently confronting their Union NUM they were openly fired upon, days later retreating into the mountains they requested once again peacefully that they have an opportunity to meet with their employer to discuss negotiations for higher monthly wages in order to increase sending capacities to their families and to assist in instalments including work supplies, clothing and groceries. The number 1. employer (Mr. Zokwana) at first not agreeing to meet, would later show up in a HIPPO armoured vehicle to simply made it known that these employees of the mine should return to their duties or the government and police forces would act accordingly and clear them from the land. The five Madoda was the selected representation for the workers trying to achieve their wage increase as they were the best negotiators and most mild tempered, unfortunately the NUM and the employers truly did not care for any form of organized voice and after the police deceivingly saying they “just wanted to build a relationship” with the Madoda and the workers there would be no progressive ground throughout the week. The President of AMCU after failing to bring forth an employer would attempt to appeal to the workers one last time pleading them to return to the mines or else the now arrived government soldiers and police forces surrounding protest grounds would “spill their blood”. The Madoda and the workers declined to move if negotiations would not go on, from that point on HIPPO vehicles would lay barbed wire around the perimeter of their mountain haven and proceed without warning to open fire with machine guns. Many lives were lost and personal accounts reflected upon this day as one of mourning and great sadness, workers who were non-violently protesting for an equitable share of company wages with the recent increase in company stock share value were killed in the mountains running away from bullets and being shot in the back and run down by militarized vehicles and beaten senselessly if caught hiding or left amongst the carnage. This was a traumatizing day and a significant set back for the country of South Africa. It was also reported on some accounts that the NUM were attacking the workers homes in accordance to cracking down on worker non-compliance. Children would now grow up without incomes to properly feed and educate them and worst of all fathers and husbands were lost at the hand of a greedy corporation who saw these people as disposable, unequal and not-deserving of a better life in the mines when they would try to take a stand for working class empowerment. There was a great continuity to the stories told by miners, working conditions were awful (working with chemical, falling debris and commonly contracting TB from dust), over-time work was common with little to no compensation and the onsite medical facilities were not concerned with proper diagnosing and mine foremen would often hide injuries or minors and coerce workers to blame them-self for the accident. Women were also widely marginalized as having lesser rights than males in the mines and could not be seen protesting or rallying union support because they were held to a lesser regard and were more likely to be terminated on a whim by an onlooking worker who sought to display loyalty to the employers by reporting them. Through these tellings you understand that the cycle of poverty in Africa repeats as children are left with no father and will one day most likely have to seek out similar work because they are leveraged socially and economically to do so, while single parents rely on assistance from the sate to subsidize feeding and educating children creating an interdependence which will constrain them from opportunity. It can be understood that in mining life, South Africa’s post apartheid progression has resonated little with foreign mining companies and that mining culture still has a perpetual narrative of segregation, absence of justice and unequalness to it that is demanded by the global capitalistic paradigm that’s sole purpose is to generate wealth and growth at the expense of essentially enslaving people and stripping them of their rights. These violent crimes acted out by the State are an indication that South Africa still has immense progress to make recognizing the rights and capital of their citizens, the ones who work harder than anyone and are the reason some people can enjoy a luxurious lifestyles while others must go without basic necessities, I truly could not believe this was in 2012 during a peaceful protest that’s only act of aggression was taking a brave stance and collectively chanting and singing. Unions are a front, as they serve the employers not the employed and government cooperation with unions also serves as a front as they only serve truly intend to serve the economic interests of the country while corporations have military and police forces in their pocket. This reading was very common in its themes to previous weeks of examining Dam building and Ore mining in the Continent as that post colonial narrative driven by commerce continues to implicate those native to the regions.

Would the mining industry collapse without abusing humans?

Are there any grass roots movements paired with social programs and outside NGO’s possessing capital that could make a voice for these injustices?

How could turning a profit also turn into empowering workers globally? Also, could an intiative be sought using journalism, political connections and media connections to host a transparency campaign?

Also, to plextremely ay devil’s advocate how accurate are these re-tellings right after extremely traumatic events?

Week 9

The book for this week, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development was a very well cited and historically rich book that delved into the stories of the individual- on the ground level experiencing the migration processes and the intensive labour demands that accompanied the constructing of the Cahora Bassa Dam. These were locals indigenous to the Zambezi Valley who’d been displaced and implicated by the construction of the Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. The book is a fascinating read for anyone who has a strong inclination towards ecology and sociology and what the energy sector can impose on to this almost symbiotic relationship that exists between the two disciplines. The many oral accounts of colonial cruelty imposed on to the displaced indigenous groups by the Portuguese not excluding out-sourced engineers and South African foremen indicates a history of violence that would accompany the grandeur of development that was perceived to be the Cahora Bassa Dam. People native to the highlands where soil remained highly fertile and fresh water access was immediately available were told to leave there homes with less than a month’s notice, trucks came and people were coerced under great duress to pile in to be relocated while there homes and crops were burned and their ancient burial grounds flooded. Their new homes (aldeamentos) were nothing but coarse, stone ridden dirt land with huts no more than 3m apart. They were confined in these areas by barbed wire and the Portuguese military prohibited an outside travel or escape. This was in large part to the Frelimo counter movement that were becoming a growing threat to the Colonizers just before the time of construction, this control of the displaced people would ensure they would not sympathize with the guerrilla forces and become unmanageable as subjects. The camps were described literally as death camps, the people were subject to malnutrition because of agricultural restraint policies and they suffered poor hygiene from lack of water and malaria and cholera running ramped. The Construction process of the dam was no better, few displaced people’s were used for important roles and jobs that would stem economic wealth in place of the restricted market places between camps and the outside world and the Mining company would purposefully censor the area and all inquiring media personnel so that unsafe working conditions and inhumane treating of workers (beatings and sometimes tortured to death if a Frelimo sympathizer) could continue as a main practice to maximize expenditure allocating on the project. Often workers would fall, be crushed, blown up and would collapse from such poor sustenance being offered to the workers. Within this development process, racial dimensions inclusive of a radicalized system of oppression were greatly utilized to establish a hierarchy of abuse which would ultimately subscribe to (if not further perpetuate) a de-humanizing narrative. The promises of a better life and a road to development in the rural provinces with access to amenities had all been propaganda to quicken the process of this project so that it would benefit the colonial oppressors and consequentially completely disregard any locals who would come to stand in its way, the dam was an indication of power consolidation and a bridge to economic prosper. The violence that would ensue in the country from the opposition deemed “guerrilla terrorists” and the oppressive induced hate from these workers, displaced people’s and their families would be an indication to the lasting effects of a colonialist stronghold on a country years after it becomes liberated and how this trauma creates little opportunity for a countries institutions to be stable following these watershed moments of development. Once the damn was built, South Africa would black ball Mozambique’s ambitions even once liberated by disabling it economically specifically through its energy capabilities that may have sufficed for the entire country. Now coming into the neo-liberal age the political coercion continues, though narratives of violence dull new ways of exploitation and deception pour its way into the country as Post-apartheid South Africa capitalizes on the output provided by the colonial project and Mozambique direly attempts to attract FDI. I enjoy these chapters because they had real (orally shared) stories in them, I did not know the names of those telling them but they seemed all too real not to believe and try to imagine simultaneously. This development process had a heinous, unacceptable aspect to it as it affected so many groups and identities in its wake including the marginalization of women as prostitutes for out-sourced European employees. Development it would seem is a word, derived from practices that produce as a part of their bi-product such injustices and lasting effects on areas who may only recycle the colonial narrative and inherent structures (evident in Frelimo’s villagization and the second dam proposal). This was colonial recklessness and ruthlessness at its finest and very much interconnected with past weeks readings of mining exploitation underlining racially driven labour initiatives and schematics of power and a still present colonial after-ripple in the continent that refuses to allow time and space for autonomy or mutual benefitting relationships.

Could those dislocated in the future at the very least become shareholders of the Dam?

Could an overseeing body of governance in the future with numerous commerce ties allow for a democratic process to take place as whether or not an area should be condemned for implementing a Dam?

What are other ways Mozambique could diversify to compete globally?

What does a de-damming process look like if possible? Could a fruitful business ever be spawned from reviving ecological systems in the area?

Week 8

Covered this week is the AU’s recent relationship with the emerging power of India, a nation of which is currently trying to break free from its labelling as developing and an aid recipient. Taylor’s paper aims to not romanticize the relationship between the two but unfortunately the way he goes about describing the uniqueness of the relationship dynamic while also pairing it with the South-South rhetoric we discussed last week leaves the reader with little else to conclude on the matter. It is clear that India is making moves to power, whether it’s by joining in alliance with Brazil and South Africa or emulating China-Africa’s trade talk via a summit gathering the nation it would appear is well on its way to becoming a global powerhouse since it adopted neo-liberal economic policies when President Clinton reached out to the country two decades ago. India it is expressed- takes a soft handed approach that some believe to be polar opposite to that of real politik or China’s policy approach conducting business in the continent. There are claims that India does not just permeate African countries with a top down approach, using revolving door models through state owned privatized businesses but has a large regard for how they enter into the local settings and how their business presence can improve African life instead of buying leverage against it. India’s foreign policy reiterates sentiments of cooperation, pursuit of mutual interests and capacity building while including cost deductions on India’s behalf to compete with China . This stems from said Nehruvian values that promote multilateralism that can facilitate political space between developing nations who wish to see a global rise to power and a reassurance of global justice. It is stated the India-Africa relations are greatly pivoted on achieving a global presence together within permanent status on the UN Security Council perpetuating these economic and political ties even further. India has also offered to fund projects directly in African Nations such as Ghana, Uganda, Botswana and Burundi by financing education and tech support institutions as well as agricultural sector and export processing zones which benefit the flow of commerce between the two and also allow a more promising future for Africa’s students through scholarships and incentives to combat brain drain. All this must be assimilated with a grain of salt of course because when it comes to the energy business (being such a prominent issue for India), the dirtiest and most desirable resource is sought after in a manor that is less critical of its approach because of its pressing demand. In addition, we read that although India does exercise corporate responsibility amongst localities in regards to implementing health care and education while fostering training facilities it still abuses domestic laws by straining FDI out through Mauritius and not incorporating democracy in correspondence to its foreign policy while working with oppressive government regimes, all the while holding the worst rating before corporate watch dogs as the country most likely to bribe state officials and political heads. In the medical tourism article, it is also made aware that there are corruptive practices within domestic health institutions between Indian domestic Hospitals/privatized clinics and African nations who acting in correspondence to Indian profits pay medical personnel to refer patients to Indian clinics instead of effectively diagnosing and devising a plan for the patient domestically (defeating any narrative of autonomy and creating greater dependence and vulnerability). What is learned this week is that India is playing the role of the golden child to catalyze emerging and expanding markets while in the shadow of China’s pursuits, much similar in part to how last week China was conceivably in the shadow of Western pursuits. Although colonialist ties also exist between their shared pasts, I am in favour of the critical conclusions made by the articles being skeptics of India’s current foreign policy designed for a plotted trajectory towards a spot in the global order, that India has designed these frameworks for such policy and political diplomacy to contingently exist based on where they stand and interdependent of who they may surpass in coming decades once such a collaborative and humanistic approach lands them such opportunity. Once again, such heavyset economic pursuits by privatized business is the reason to call for skepticism in this case, sometimes a top down approach disregarding the quality of human life is the only way to cut costs and maximize profit and if there exists enough leverage to do so, what or who is actually preventing an organization or nation from doing so. Africa must utilize these reciprocal relationships which inspire a doubled ended development mandate so such leverage can drift further from being a reality in the continent when it comes to foreign investors and global partners.
Oil seems to be a commodity of economic exchange which summons exploitation, bad governance and a dis-regard for human life, once alternative energies are more widely used and cultivated following innovation will this lessen in any effect?

Does India have the political stability as a democracy to keep the relationship ties between their own private business sector and African nationals sounds ones which maintain a plain of mutual respect and drive towards global empowerment in the South in time coming?

Week 7

Alden and Alves spin China off as a lesser evil when it comes to investment and diplomacy ties in Africa since its ascendency to a communist state in 1949, this maintains until pretty much the last sentence of the article, to follow is a semi- self aware conclusion section that does not provide nearly enough critique simply settling on the notion of bi-lateral amnesia between actors to progress if all else fails. The author stresses how Foreign Policy can shape a national identity almost trying to make the leap that sound foreign policy is directly related to a stable nation who have risen under the drive and conscious construction of the”national myth”. It was hard to understand where this point remained relevant because it could be so easily contested. China’s presence in Africa seemed to be pre-dominantly trade oriented, while also influenced by past regimes granting or denying mobility to reach the continents shores. The article’s main theme is that Chinese foreign policy as of recent, has harnessed the commonality of sharing a common history of colonial oppression and economic ties to further develop sound economic and diplomatic relations with different nations throughout the continent. Mostly those of which have great resource potential (funnelling loan grants and aid incentives into these destination) as well as those who have had long standing political relations and who have recognized Beijing since the Bandung conference or following the successive recruitment strategies during the Cold War timeline. The article although trying to indicate that Chinese imperialist efforts have been modest at most (informal formal policy instruments), creates the notion that China’s history and connectedness has almost been fait oriented or purposefully less intrusive and more sympathetic of African states and this is geared to bring the South-South idea into the conversation which has supposedly fastened China and Africa together. When I read this article I see convenience not shared struggle, I see a history that just so happened to always been undermined by an even worse history and that China if they had had the foresight, innovativeness or global presence may have not sought the peaceful stability approaches of foreign policy when addressing Africa. It seems almost out of sheer luck that the country has been able to call upon favourable instances of history to permeate the nations who together comprise of one third of UN votes and have the best mineral resource potential on the planet. As we have learned, China was alongside the other competing world ideologies in the Cold War arming and training guerrillas and taking over communicative outlets in Ghana, Niger, the DRC and Mozambique. Perhaps China has realized this strike of luck (without doubt they have) having always been the shadow of a far worse oppressive force and has utilized this to their advantage and while perhaps some genuine sentiments do exist at the diplomatic level, as a industrial country on the rise why would their approach to hegemonic power not include the most important initiative of securing resources. In addition it seems in Africa as we learn of China’s influence in states across the continent, messing up and losing political or popular favouritism in one country does not echo over to the next country who might have an even more lucrative mineral deposit or crude oil field, this idea shows a divide of communicative and cultural statuses as well as a continent that does not hinge it’s relations in unison to its neighbour state. Bodomo & Ma indicate in their article that the exchanges of migration between Africa and China is that of a two way channel, which has been beneficial for commerce and has allowed China to experience further growth trading internationally while offering prosperous jobs to African migrants. Although new city centres and trade capitals are emerging in central China these destinations particularly Guangzhou have created difficulty by reign of corruption and cultural profiling for African immigrants who are not Arab Africans to live comfortably and confidently in the areas. It is suggested this signifies how Chinese expats are treated abroad in Africa and also that there is not complete saliency between shared histories bringing identities together to mutually benefit. It is also mentioned that African’s do not concentrate in Diasporas as Chinese do when migratory patterns settle and that for the most part flows of migration between China and Africa have largely been accepted.

The dialogue, economic exchanges and transparency initiatives seem applaudable at this point but could this be because China has not gotten their hands as dirty as the West’s yet? Are they ascending to power through means of good diplomacy only to one day be presented with the opportunity of taking the hot seat to consolidate world power and reverse these current policies?

Why does the city at large of Guangzhou feel threatened or pressured to profile Black Africans in the trading sector? What has lead to this, is it perhaps South East Asian culture not to immediately accept or naturalize immigrants?

Week 6

The readings of week six have shed light on the short comings of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism prerogative which is a facet of “the war on terror” deployed by USAID and the United States intelligence agency throughout Africa. These discussions have most of their implicit in the notion of securing and accessing resources specifically throughout Africa. What is demonstrated throughout Hills’ article is much uncertainty revolving around the relationships of poor policing, under-development and extremism and the specifics of interconnectedness from one to the other. It is stated though that there is no concrete evidence supporting militant like police training, crime aiding technologies and counter terrorism measures lead to a decline in terrorist activity as well as violence domestic to the nation such as in Kenya. Kenya is used as an example, data retrieval (all though trivial at best) indicates Kenya still has crime that plagues the nation despite joint efforts with the United States to create an effective, legitimate police force that can eliminate terrorism and deal with arising supporters and extremists in a fair but extinguishing manor. Many problems have arisen with this continent wide mandate of counter-terrorism following 9/11, each being unique to the area it is immersed in as they have proven little effectiveness and are often received as intrusive, corrupt and not fulfilling immediate needs of citizens and governments essentially stripping these areas of autonomy and undermining legitimate authority. It is stated that the intervening efforts of troops and humanitarians have become blurred and sometimes NGO’s lend themselves vulnerable to political influence which has resulted on local strikes on NGO camps and personnel. Accompanying the narrative of terror employed by Bush’s admin after the events of 9/11 it becomes commonly acknowledged in these readings that security took great precedence over development initiatives by both aid agencies and the bodies servicing foreign policy for the state department and this is inclusive of Britain’s DFID by recent reforms emphasizing a securitizing efforts be taken in states of Africa. These policies were instituted in the name of global terror and threats pertaining to democracy but they were without deep speculation motives to secure resources and monitor populations as proxy surveillance wouldn’t suffice, while these goals in no way could be conceptualized as enhancements made to the millennium goals. Algeria is a nation that was also brought under the microscope to indicate collusion and deception stemming from the Bush government and Algerian officials who fabricated instances of terror in the region creating a fate for the country that as it was mentioned ironically allowed for terror in the region to become self-fulfilling prophecy creating instability which was already in continuance of the violence and catastrophe endured in the nation the decade prior. These examples and poor correlational attempts to link in isolation the implementation of counter-terrorism training with effective policing dissolving global terror induces the thought of a post colonial hegemonic presence contributing to animosity and corruption in African states with no true regard for citizens of the state under a primary legislative focus. The United States tends to extend its figurative tentacles wherever it may be tactical in securing resources and a military advantage and can unfortunately compromise genuine efforts and institutional stability as a bi-product. The coined “age of terror” has without doubt created new incentives for exploitation but does so in a manor that cloaks itself well with a seemingly convincing alibi in conjuncture with development and aid efforts. Unfortunately these are people’s lives that are being waged and left in the balance as these intervening tendencies perpetuate violence and create histories of catastrophe that might have been able to avoided if not contrived as the deceiving measures taken to secure the regions encompassed in the banana theory provide evidence of.
Although the public police seem accessible and willing are there any other levels of approach which might better address terror and crime that doesn’t leave middle actors subject to corruption and acting outside of the law? (Perhaps frameworks within transparency and education)

Would it be beneficial to Africa’s autonomy and unification to establish a body of oversight which examines foreign actors wishing to collaborate with specific states, would a democratic legislation prevent the mis-represented agendas of the foreign agent and even the domestic acting state as well?

Week 5

This week we take a closer look into the progression of ICTs and media presence in the continent of Africa. It appears media forms such as newspapers frantically increased during the early 90s when democracy was striving to initiate it’s political spread coinciding with the perpetuation of free markets. Media appears to be a pretty neutral technology but its merits and censorship are dependent on those who wield the diverse forms of communication and knowledge sharing technologies. During the pod cast we hear that nations such as Nigeria and Ghana have harnessed the power of free press and use it to represent native languages as well as political initiatives but these efforts can often be used to represent more wide-spread leadership and electoral practices and mute the localized representations in a sensational oriented manor. It is also noted that within South Africa news outlets such as local newsprints have contributed to an erosion of a radical and vital black voice present in articulative reports and critical reflections which may be a result of the emergence of heavy visual based news or the privateers who provide funding while also a narrative for the directionality of the news outlet. It appears though that democracy and media have greatly shaped one-another since the dismantling of Marxist ideologies indicated throughout the pod cast and readings as the more innovative forms of media that have been advocated and adopted in passing decades have complimented the growth of these two impacting forces . Obviously democracy and freedom of press have traditionally been grouped as going hand in hand but the biggest issues can also ensue from harnessing media power in a democracy, as stated in the pod cast “is the media then a watch dog or a lap dog of democratic preservation”? There are many issues that mass media and interpersonal media platforms pose to African nations, spanning from instances of conflict and censorship to privatization initiatives shaping and dictating the content and future of the information that is spread and assimilated into culture and civil society as well as the fate of the entrepreneurs who rely on the industries growth. A most prominent issue is that democratized free press leaves room for covert manipulation and the spread of disinformation which can compromise the entire democratic process itself and can become the anti-political reform for human rights. There is a clear lack of national and international oversight and lawful jurisdiction observing the development of these technologies and where the proprietary development lends its use to. Laws are slow to be implemented, business ventures remain gainful and boundary-less and voices of change can be compromised while ironically more communicative space is being amassed in lesser time with these advancements. While privatization of these industries allows these technologies to progress and remain competitive within a global perspective and voices of oppression and critical questioning have an opportunity to ascend, there are many vulnerabilities that accompany this progress. These vulnerabilities align with the absence of effective and stable governments who may be at the mercy of foreign investment or might be experiencing internal turmoil or there might exist great disconnects between identifiable groups as well as nationalities at large all contributing to the notion that with growth it will become increasingly difficult to appropriately lend the necessary support for these advancements and their demands.
Questions

1.Will popular media platforms mobilize social movements with an active, manageable focus or will they fall prey to the recent observable phenomenon of cyberlogical short-termed attention?

2.Is there enough competency at national levels of governance to support these communications and technologies with regards to the preservation of democracy especially pertaining to those who have immediate relationships with media heads and sponsorships?

3.Will media innovations fruitfully represent civil societies or become facets of specific agendas, will other voices become compromised at the expense of others being uplifted?