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    1. #1
      IfasehunReincarnated's Avatar
      IfasehunReincarnated is offline Never Let Them Disrespect the Ancestors

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      Unhappy Spirituality, Land and Land Reform in South Africa


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      Spirituality, Land and Land Reform in South Africa

      by Mr Z. Nkosi, South Africa


      Land ownership in South Africa is still racially skewed. About 80% of land is still in the hands of the white minority. Africans used to occupy, not own, only 3% of South African land before I994. Since 1994 an ambitious Land Reform Programme is attempting to address the land question. The reason the Black South Africans continue to suffer is that all three components of this programme continue to have serious limitations. For example, the Land Restitution Component, meant to help the previously evicted communities to reclaim their ancestral land, get an alternative piece of land and/or get compensated, is seen as a disaster. Out of about 25,000 claims, six have been finalized and only about 20 are in the Land Claims Court for further negotiation, settlement or ratification. In land redistribution only about 50,000 people have benefited. The Tenure Security Reform element has had dismal failures because the farm dwellers and other tenants continue to be evicted from the land of their ancestors in big numbers despite the government’s attempts to secure the rights of the victims.

      History of Land Acquisition and Spirituality

      While land is a birthright of every African Indigenous person, it has a communal dimension whereby all members of the community are expec-ted to share its resources, especially in the rural areas, under some form of traditional authority. Traditional authority from an African point of view is very central and important because, despite the fact that it is a uniting force, the community leader is seen as a steward with divine authority over land.

      The colonizers acquired land in an insensitive manner, driven by greed, and the process was intended to vanquish and dehumanize the original owners. This was achieved through military subjugation. The Zulu-Anglo War of I879 and the Anglo-Boer War of the early I9th Century can be traced back to the struggles for land. A number of massacres of Black South Africans were nothing other than an insensitive, greedy and cruel method for dispossessing Blacks of the land. Land was acquired with total disregard of traditional beliefs and cultures underpining our spirituality as Black Africans. Indigenous communities were stripped of their dignity, many lost their identity, languages, cultures and spiritualities. In this sense, land was acquired and used as a political tool.

      After acquiring land, the colonizers commercialized it and later inflated its price. That left us with no land we could call our own. We soon found ourselves in exile in our own country. It is painful to note that churches, especially those that own land, were involved in the process which left Africans with nothing except ‘ubuntu’, a confused culture and a hope that God and their ancestors were still with them in their pain and happiness.

      Belief and the Importance of Land in the African Context

      Our belief that land is a gift from God and from our ancestors has not left us. We continue to see ourselves as stewards of God’s resources, especially of communally owned land. Even though land ownership has been men’s domain, it is interesting that many women, with support from our constitution, beginning to access or acquire land in spite of traditional prejudices.

      In many African families the umbilical cord of a new born baby is buried. In other communities when a boy is circumcized, the foreskin and blood is also buried. The sacredness of land in Africa is further linked to the fact that our ancestors are buried in it. Without land, we would not have a home for a dead body. That is why we kneel barefooted next to the grave when we want to communicate anything to our ancestors, showing a lot of respect for the land on which they lie. When death strikes in a family, no one is allowed to till the land. We mourn until that person is buried. After a funeral, in some cultures, we do not touch the soil with a hoe, do not plough or till the land until a ritual of cleansing the family is performed. Some communities like the AmaZulu, do not till the land for a year when a member of a royal family has passed away. The Zulu tribe believes that the elders and young men must go to hunt so that a sacrifice can be made to the ancestors before the land where a leader is to be buried is touched.

      Land is valued as a resource of livelihood. The land produces food and water, which give life to all living things. When people go hunting or looking for herbs in the bush especially in KwaZulu, they burn incense and request their ancestors to give blessings to their foray and pray for the land to be dug. The custom of asking for rain or making rain through the help of the ancestors and God still features strongly in some communities. People either go to the mountain as a community, or a rainmaker coordinates the process. Climbing the mountain to pray also happens when a certain disaster has befallen a community and there is a feeling that God has left or turned against them. The mountain on which they pray is always valued, respected and reserved as a sacred or a holy place. A few communities continue to make sacrifices before they eat from the year’s harvest to thank God and their ancestors. Every time the South African Council of Churches (SACC) meets with communities which struggle for ancestral land, we start with prayer under a shelter or in ancestral graveyards.

      Factional fighting and political violence can often be traced back to the struggle for land. Many South Africans are still in exile in their own country or outside because they were pushed into homelands or ‘reserves’ where most of them were impoverished, overcrowded and unemployed. People were evicted and replaced by trees and animals. It is shameful that, in some cases, the churches that own vast tracts of land were among those who dispossessed people of their ancestral land. The barriers to free movement imposed by the previous regime met with a lot of resistance because territorial borders were an important factor in peoples beliefs regarding land. For example, the BaTswana believe that God gave them the North West while the AmaZulu believe that the KwaZulu Natal Province is theirs and the place where their cultural beliefs should be maintained.

      Challenges and Lessons Learnt

      Policy changes, legislative and constitutional reforms are not solutions without the commitment of decision-makers to the process. Resistance to change by directly affected stakeholders, especially the present owners of land, poses a serious challenge and threat to peace. The continued evictions and deaths of farm-dwellers/tenants, and the deaths of many white farmers -- which is seen as retaliation on one hand, and a way of deliberately getting the white farmers off the land on the other -- creates uncertainty about the future of the Land Reform. Loss of a sense of community and further destruction of moral fibre in our society raises more questions than answers about land and our spirituality as Africans. A growing tendency towards greed and commercialization of land, even by Africans and especially in urban areas, gradually destroys the sense of ‘Ubuntu’ which is the basis of our spirituality. Failure to provide answers to the land question through Land Reform has led to a number of invasions by frustra-ted and desperate communities who desperately want to return to their land.
      All is Well. Workin' Hard - Tryin' to Save Time for Fam. Check in Periodically.

    2. #2
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      Very timely post my brutha; this is informative and tragic; we must learn from our folk's experiences and include such reasons why as some of us strive to get Land. From where I sit, some "revolutionaries" strives for land differ little from traditional Europeans land grabbing... Yes there is land as a power base; a place to grow your own food and animals if need be and other "uses." Methinks there's a need to be precise and clear on the historical differences between European views on land and traditional Afrikan views.

      Articles like this can help to complete Malcolm's view: that revolution is about land. Also there is a "spirituality" surrounding traditional Afrikans view of God given lands. Maybe it'll change, and I see traces of change, i.e., Afrikans born here get'n deeply into Afrikan "Spirituality." Its inseparable from Afrikan revolutions...

      Medaase pa
      Kwame
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      Thank you you brothers are educating me and making me stronger everyday. now teach me how to say thank you or something of that nature Peace Your Brother Kwaku Bendele aka chosen1975
      Osunkoya-Ifayomi
      formerly known as Kwaku

      Aiye loja Orun Nile O
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    4. #4
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      Quote Originally Posted by chosen1975
      Thank you you brothers are educating me and making me stronger everyday. now teach me how to say thank you or something of that nature Peace Your Brother Kwaku Bendele aka chosen1975
      twi (Ghanaian) one way is: medaase: thank u
      songhai (songhoi; songhay, etc): foonda goy - thank u
      asante sana (swahili): thank u
      shukran (arabic): thank u

      good looking out (our speak): thank u


      EDIT: u may see variations of the twi and songhai english spellings; afrikan languages, imo, are not easily transliterated or translated into this bastard called english. I've found the few Afrikan languages I'm struggling with and Arabic to be very expressive; pregnant with shades of meanings. And the incorrect placement of even a letter in its original can make shambles of the original meaning or it can be meaningless. Can't be played with like this dead ass english speak.

      Hold tight now, there're many other members here to offer more Afrikan forms of thank u.
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    5. #5

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      medaase my brother medaase
      Osunkoya-Ifayomi
      formerly known as Kwaku

      Aiye loja Orun Nile O
      Earth is a marketplace Heaven is home
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    6. #6
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
      Baba Ahmed is offline Honorable Ancestor

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      wa baani kubay (you're welcome in Songahi language)

      Af-wan (in arabic)

      u got dat (in our speak)
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    7. #7
      IfasehunReincarnated's Avatar
      IfasehunReincarnated is offline Never Let Them Disrespect the Ancestors

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      chosen1975 , your thank you makes us stronger everyday. it reminds us that we are not alone in the struggle.

    8. #8
      Baba Ahmed's Avatar
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      got that right... and I need it... so medaase pa chosen1975
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      Much love to you Brothers Much Much love
      Osunkoya-Ifayomi
      formerly known as Kwaku

      Aiye loja Orun Nile O
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    10. #10
      IfasehunReincarnated's Avatar
      IfasehunReincarnated is offline Never Let Them Disrespect the Ancestors

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      bump that.
      All is Well. Workin' Hard - Tryin' to Save Time for Fam. Check in Periodically.

    11. #11
      Afushe's Avatar
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      The Profits of Famine


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      This is an important read. Read carefully, if you do not understand this article just think about it on a personal level..... DEBT(creditcards,loans,ect) AID(welfare,ect)Structural Adjustment(debt consolidation),Malnutrition(resulting in disease) It's all the same thing, what is happening on a local personal level is what happens on a GLobal level...........same game different name. We MUST learn to peep the game. Can you believe their solution to AFrika's problem is something call NEPAD!?!??
      We've become so dumb and ass backwards that we don't see what is right in front of us. They have not become smarter, they are not and never were smarter, WE have done lost our AFRIKAN MIND!!!! But we fighting mad and fighting back and so is nature!(negative birthrate,disease,mental illness,genetic mishaps,) and once we ALL awaken the Afrikan that's sleeping.....what goes around WILL come the F@#$ around and when she(mother nature), does watch out!!! ....feel me??Learn to know when to move the F#@@ out the way or prepare. Read on Warrior Kings and Queens

      Afushe


      The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger
      Fall 2002


      The Profits of Famine: Southern Africa's Long Decade of Hunger
      Raj Patel with Alexa Delwiche


      Also available in PDF format.


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


      At the end of September, Colin Powell requested an altogether earthly intercession from Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican foreign minister. The Secretary of State wanted the Vatican to persuade the Zambian government to accept U.S.-supplied genetically modified (GM) food aid. With a population under 10 million and with the vast majority of people earning under $1,000 a year, (1) Zambia is a mouse that has roared. In refusing to accept U.S. GM corn, and by dealing with its famine by sourcing grain from within the region, the Zambian government has sent a clear signal that it understands both why famines happen and that U.S. aid is part of the problem, not the solution.

      By the end of 2002, a little under 15 million people will have faced starvation in Southern Africa. (2) Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among the most severely affected. Thus, while the U.S. State Department blames the Zimbabwean government for the famine there, that explanation is clearly inadequate to account for a famine that has affected the entire region. For a meaningful explanation, we need to understand what a famine means, and put it into the context of a phenomenon that has affected the entire region--structural adjustment.

      How to Define a Famine

      Definitions of famine run a gamut. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, declares a famine when "the severity of critical malnutrition levels exceed 15 percent of children aged 6 to 59.9 months."(3) The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines famine as "an extreme collapse in local availability [of] and access to food that causes [a] widespread rise in mortality from outright starvation or hunger-related illnesses."(4)

      These definitions focus on the threshold a situation crosses in order for chronic hunger to be officially declared acute. But this threshold is essentially arbitrary. For example, because rates of acute malnutrition have remained stable in most Southern African countries, the WHO has not yet declared a state of famine in every country.

      Mike Davis, who has written on famine in recent history, points us away from this sort of threshold thinking: "We must acknowledge that famine is part of a continuum with the silent violence of malnutrition that precedes and conditions it, and with the mortality of the shadow of debilitation and disease that follows it."(5) Famine does not arise spontaneously with the failure of a harvest season; rather it is the outcome of a system that places greater importance upon the market than upon those going hungry.

      The Silent Violence of Malnutrition

      It's no wonder the people of Southern Africa are starving in 2002--they have been starving for over a decade. The Southern African Development Community reports that in Zambia in 1991, the chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate of children between the ages of 6 and 59 months was 39 percent.(6) Since then it has increased to (and leveled off at) about 55 percent. At the same time, acute malnutrition (wasting) rates have thus far remained stable at 4.4 percent in Zambia. In Malawi, the rate of chronic malnutrition has remained at 49 percent since 1990.(7) It is only acute malnutrition that has slightly increased over the same period, by 1 percent for a total rate of 6 percent. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimated in 2000 that 35 percent of the people in the famine region were undernourished, with 54 percent of Mozambique's population undernourished.(8) Among those most vulnerable to chronic hunger are women, children, and the elderly. The UNDP reported in 2000 that 20 percent of children in the region under the age of five were underweight.(9)

      In 2002, rampant Southern African hunger was tipped over the official "famine" threshold by two years of bad harvests. That's one reason we're now hearing news of it. Another likely reason is that some Southern African countries aren't behaving as the U.S. would want them to, and the word "famine," with the desperate urgency it conveys, helps put pressure on those governments. That sense of emergency also masks the question we must ask: why, even before the current food crisis, have so many people suffered for so long from chronic malnutrition?

      The Ingredients for Hunger

      Man-made famine isn't new in world history. For example, an 1878 study published in the prestigious Journal of the Statistical Society found thirty-one serious famines in 120 years of British rule in India and only seventeen recorded famines in the entire previous two millennia.(10) The reason for the change? According to Mike Davis' recent commentary, it happened because the British integrated the Indian food system into the world economy while simultaneously removing the traditional supports that had existed to feed the hungry in times of crisis--supports that were rejected as the trappings of a hopelessly backward and indolent society. And so, by the end of the 1800s, "Millions died, not outside the `modern world system,' but in the very process of being dynamically conscripted into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism."(11)

      This lesson was not lost on the first generation of African governments. At the beginning of the 1980s, African states had a very clear idea of what their economies and societies needed in order to flourish. In the Lagos Plan of Action,(12) heads of state called for a type of economic growth disconnected from the vicissitudes of the world market, relying on import-substitution policies, food sovereignty and trade within Africa, and, critically, a reduction in the level of external indebtedness that was systematically siphoning value out of Africa.

      The World Bank disagreed, insisting in its Berg Report(13) that state interference in the smooth functioning of the market was precisely the cause of low levels of growth.(14) As most African governments were buried in debt, their futures mortgaged on declining commodity prices, the Bank's plan prevailed.(15) Under the Bank's regime, African nations are forced to produce foreign exchange-earning (i.e., cash) crops to pay off increasing debt, and find themselves importing more and more food. In a perfect, stable market, this ought not pose a problem: the farmer will grow an export crop in which she or he has a comparative advantage, and will use the cash to buy imported food, goods, and services. But in the real world, this model increases farming communities' vulnerability to a number of risks:

      1. Commodity price fluctuations and decline: Primary commodity prices have been falling consistently for thirty years, and have been exceptionally variable within this time frame. In part, the World Bank is to blame; its structural adjustment programs enforced the export of a few key commodities in high demand in the North, putting Southern countries on the receiving end of volatile and decreasing prices for their exports.(16)

      2. Currency fluctuations: Southern countries have also suffered fluctuations in the currency market. Even the most efficient farmers are unable to buy food on the world market if their currency is undervalued. Yet this is what every economic model suggests will happen when countries follow World Bank recommendations to liberalize exchange markets: the currency will depreciate and require stabilization, which these countries, because of their debt burden and structural adjustment obligations, cannot provide.(17)

      3. Loss of food sovereignty: The World Bank and the international aid community tend to use the term "food security" to talk about the availability of food and people's access to it.(18) Since the 1996 World Food Summit, Via Campesina, the international farmers' movement, has pushed for an alternative concept: food sovereignty, which it defines as "the right of countries and peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies which are ecologically, socially, economically, and culturally appropriate for them."(19) The difference between these approaches lies in the issue of who controls access to food, seed, land, and the market. Movement towards a free trade economy takes control away from the majority of rural people. This is a fundamental issue of justice, dignity, and democracy.

      Debt: The Tie that Binds

      Vast debt was instrumental in forcing Third World governments to accept World Bank control. The level of debt is staggering. The Bank itself suggests that debt is "unsustainable" if it is above 5 percent of the total gross national product of a country.(20) Meanwhile, Zambia, for example, is paying three times as much in debt service as on health care.(21)

      But the debt level isn't the whole story. Debt is also a discipline wielded over Southern economies. High levels of external debt mean foreign creditors call the shots. And when countries with limited foreign cash decide which creditor gets paid and which has to wait, they always put the World Bank first. This special position gives the Bank considerable power. On behalf of itself and other creditors--and in return for an increased line of credit--it imposes conditions on the governments that owe it money. These conditions, though clothed in the language of impartial economics, are nevertheless political decisions. Ideas about interest rates, exchange rates, and the "appropriate" level of unemployment are always politically motivated,(22) and always justified by talking about untouchable, mysterious phenomena like "investor confidence."(23) Governments transform their economies to make them "credible" places for investors to come, and to pull back capital that has flown the country in the wake of structural adjustment policies.(24) Investors who want to be "confident" about Southern economies essentially control those economies, overseeing outflows of resources and wealth that invariably make the lives of the people in those countries less democratic and less secure.

      Trade: The Gift That Keeps on Taking

      Within Southern Africa--where, for example, tobacco production has expanded by 50 percent per year over the past three years in communal, small-scale, and resettlement areas(25)--the most desirable land is continually used for export agriculture, and food production is sacrificed to boost agricultural production. After each year's harvest the soil is often left unprotected, accelerating erosion.(26) And small farmers are pushed ever farther into marginal land. This marginalization is not trivial: it affects the African majority, who remain wage laborers and small-scale farmers without savings or capital to devote to expansion.

      Export and foreign exchange-oriented trade has consigned most African farmers to shrinking returns. The declining real price of all primary commodities forces many farmers to sell what land they have to pay the debts their crop income can no longer sustain. Still, even until the 1990s in Southern Africa, government-run marketing boards protected farmers by assuring a fixed price for their crops, published in advance. Structural adjustment decreed the effective elimination of marketing boards in favor of private buyers. Now, in addition to enduring direct exposure to international market fluctuations, farmers are often unsure when private buyers will next appear, and are thus forced to sell cheap to the first trader.(27) Finally, many remote areas remain unserviced by private traders, who prefer to buy from a few large farmers near better roads.

      The World Bank's policies of increased trade, lower government spending on health and education, and increased debt have made poverty blossom. As Giovanni Arrighi, a scholar of the world economy, has noted: "In 1975, the regional GNP per capita of Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 17.6 percent of `world' per capita GNP; by 1999 it had dropped to 10.5 percent." (28) And in these countries, the removal of social supports to redistribute what little there is has rendered the poorest destitute.

      Between 1996 and 2001, population living below the poverty line in Zambia rose from 69 percent to 86 percent. Twenty eight million people, or 51 percent of those living in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, live below the national poverty lines.(29) And we know that the face of the poorest 10 percent is likely to be black and female30) since women are responsible for 70 percent of food production in Africa, the shift away from food production toward export production has been extremely detrimental to them.(31) Men's leaving the farm for wage labor makes women responsible for all domestic responsibilities as well.

      A Shortage of Food?

      Famine is not caused by a lack of food, but by poverty.(32) For example, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) there are no shortages of food products in the markets in Lesotho. However, two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line and half are classified as destitute. Purchased cereals comprise 75 percent of annual food needs for Lesotho's poor,(33) and over 70 percent of the households classified "very poor" in Lesotho have no cereal in reserve.(34) Rapidly escalating prices and vanishing incomes are a lethal combination. The people of Lesotho cannot afford to buy the food that is available.(35)

      The situation is similar in Malawi where, in 2001, the IMF told the government to slash its strategic grain reserve from 165,000 metric tons (MT) to between 30,000 and 60,000 MT. The IMF advocated this on cost grounds, and because erroneous data persuaded them that the coming year's harvest would increase stocks. A year later, when people were already beginning to die of starvation, the IMF denied disbursement of a $47 million tranche of loans to the Malawian government amid accusations of impropriety in the government's efforts to mitigate the famine.(36) The government accused the IMF of causing the famine, while the IMF blamed the government for corruption before admitting that it had, perhaps, behaved insensitively. Horst Koehler, managing director of the IMF, said at a British parliamentary hearing:

      [I]n the past we (the IMF) have not given enough attention to poverty and social safety nets when proposing structural changes. But structural changes are always accompanied by dislocation. We must live with permanent change in order to achieve economic growth in developing countries...[developing countries] should be able to produce food for themselves--and we should help them strengthen capacity to produce food.(37)


      Meanwhile, thousands were starving, and grain was being stockpiled by speculators betting that the famine would drive up maize prices--behaving, in short, precisely as they ought in a free market with high demand and a tight supply.

      Who Benefits from Famine?

      It's a continuing tragedy that still today, when we know what causes famine, we continue to witness it. Why does it persist? To answer this, we need to ask a still more painful question: Who benefits from famine?

      Consumers in the U.S. and E.U. do well by having food and agricultural products that are cheap compared to the true cost of production. But the greatest beneficiaries are the transnational food corporations that market the food and control our food systems. Altria, the Philip Morris group of companies, which includes Kraft and Miller, made over $8 billion in profits last year.(38) In the past six months, Switzerland-based Nestle' S.A. posted profits of a little under $4 billion on sales of $29 billion.(39) To put this in perspective, the entire gross domestic product for all six countries in the famine region was a little over $20 billion in 2001.(40)

      These corporations depend on cheap inputs, such as the agricultural products grown in the Third World, to make their food processing profitable. In fact, with the decline of every currency in Southern Africa against the U.S. dollar and the oversupply (and hence falling prices) of primary commodities, food industry inputs have never been cheaper. And profits never higher.

      The Role of U.S. Policy

      Such profits would never be possible without the constant mentorship of the U.S. government. It has a twenty-year history of first generating hunger through macroeconomic policy that, while selling itself as "austere," systematically enriches large corporations and impoverishes working families. Then the government hen-feeds the hungry with the surplus food this policy produces.(41) This two-step trick was perfected within the U.S. In 1981, Congress told the USDA to reduce the storage costs associated with its dairy support program. Simultaneous cuts in welfare provisions for the poor and the incipient recession provided a ready market for the surplus.(42) Now this discipline is being applied in Southern Africa as a way to force open markets for U.S.-produced GM grain.

      The U.S. GM grain stockpile, created through the vast, ongoing subsidy of U.S. agriculture,(43) needs a home. This grain cannot be sold to the E.U. or Japan because of their embargoes on genetically modified food for human consumption. The figures for U.S. farm exports tell the story: U.S. corn exports to the European Union shrank from $426 million in 1995 to $1 million in 1999.(44)

      Particularly while E.U. and U.S. negotiators are bickering over U.S. farm support in the run-up to the World Trade Organization ministerial in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003, explicit subsidies for agribusiness aren't in vogue.(45) But food aid serves as a de facto means of product support and has an unimpeachable veneer of humanitarianism, and USAID spends over $1 billion a year buying American crops from agricultural corporations and shipping them to the starving. By insisting that this food aid be purchased from U.S. companies, Congress is able to support U.S. industry while appearing to help the Third World.(46) United Nations agencies (the WHO, the WFP, and the UNDP) have all lauded the safety of GM food. However, no independent scientific human trials of GM food have yet taken place. And scientists in Africa remain concerned at their inability to limit the sort of genetic pollution that resulted from GM contamination of corn in Mexico.(47)

      In recent months, many countries in the region have protested a food aid arrangement that they see as a cynical ploy by the U.S. to dump its GM corn on a captive and starving market. However, discreet threats to slash nonfood aid budgets and suspend funding for other projects soon brought these countries into line. Except Zambia.

      Glimmers of an Alternative in Zambia

      The Zambian government has recognized that the problem is the lack of food available within the means of the poor. Their short-term solution is to reject the output of U.S. agribusinesses (which are subsidized at a rate of $1 million in taxpayer dollars per hour). Instead, they have purchased grain from domestic and regional suppliers and made it available to the hungry. This approach directly threatens U.S. business interests. But it has begun to feed the hungry in Africa. Of course, it needs to be supplemented by more enduring social change for the poor--investment in education and health, serious measures to tackle HIV/AIDS, and land reform are key issues, and ones that cannot be resolved with the vast debt that currently shackles the region. Yet bypassing the U.S. aid industry is a heaven-sent idea, because it gives governments of poor countries some control of their economies and their farming systems.

      NEPAD: A Siren, Not A Savior

      Zambia is something of an exception in Southern Africa. Its independent clarion call has been drowned out by the clamor about the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a plan for completing the integration of African economies begun by structural adjustment policies. Proposed by South African president Thabo Mbeki, NEPAD has been heralded as the solution to Africa's ongoing marginalization from globalization.(48) It calls for the privatization of social services, a further shift towards export oriented economic growth, and public private partnerships to increase the efficiency with which scarce resources are used. The thinking is that Africa's integration into the global economy will alleviate widespread poverty, because Africans will be able to work in export industries, and thus buy food.

      At the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 50,000 protesters chanted "phansi NEPAD"--"down with NEPAD." This is a conclusion that has been reached by hundreds of groups in Africa.(49) Patrick Bond, professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, attacks the lack of democracy in the NEPAD process: "During the formulation of NEPAD, no civil society, church, politicalparty, parliamentary, or other potentially democratic or progressive forces were consulted."(50) Several groups, including the Economic Justice Network, Third World Network-Africa, the Secretariat of the Gender & Trade Network in Africa, and the Alternative Information and Development Centre, say this: "In essence, the document is an attempt to negotiate with Northern powers the terms of Africa's integration into the world economy without challenging the systemic and structural dynamics by which globalization has further marginalized and created polarization within Africa, both within individual African countries and between them." In short, NEPAD seems to be a plan for elites in Africa and elsewhere to mine the resources of the continent and its people. In fact, the reason many African countries are in such a parlous state is because they've been following NEPAD-like policies for the past twenty years. It is hardly likely that more of the same toxin will cure the continent.

      Hope Eternal

      This is a bleak picture. But there are spaces of hope, such as the recent development of soil fertility replenishment programs in the region.(51) These new methods rejuvenate the soil with leguminous tree fallows rather than with fertilizers that cost between two and six times more in Africa than in Europe and the U.S. Tens of thousands of farmers have adopted this practice with rapid success and increased productivity in their fields. This method far outshines the Green Revolution technology and high-tech innovations that have continuously failed in Africa.

      Agroecology is only a small component in turning the tables for Africa. The grassroots spread of soil fertility programs is an example of how the active participation of local communities creates genuine change. Local communities in the U.S. can effect change, too. The WTO, IMF, and World Bank are controlled by the U.S. government, in the name of U.S. citizens. Yet these institutions hurt the poor around the world. Closing these three organizations, redistributing resources from rich to poor, and repaying debt to the global South - these are policies we could adopt today, if there were political will.

      What You Can Do

      Write to your elected representatives, challenge the myths in the mainstream media, and become involved in this struggle--because despite the World Bank, the IMF, and local elites, there is always hope for real social transformation. The answer will come from the relentless work and resistance of those oppressed. The African people have been left out of the solution to their problems for far too long and their anger will be heard. It is our responsibility to join that chorus.


      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Notes

      1. World Bank, World Development Indicators 1999 (CD-ROM), Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002, www.worldbank.org/data/wdi2002.

      2. United Nations, "14.4 Million Face Starvation," United Nations News Centre, September 19, 2002.

      3. World Health Organization (WHO), "First Needs Assessment Situation Report," WHO, July 2002, www.who.int/disasters.sitrep/ref-val.htm.

      4. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), "FEWS Net Glossary," FEWS Net, www.fews.net.

      5. M. Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, London: Verso, 2000.

      6. SADC-FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, "Zambia Emergency Food Security Assessment Report," August 2002, sadc-fanr.org.zw/vac/Zambi%20Emergency%20Assessment%20Report.pdf.

      7. SADC-FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, "Malawi Emergency Food Security Assessment Report," August 2002, 8. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), "Human Development Report 2002," UNDP, 2002.

      9. UNDP, "Human Development Report 2002."

      10. M. Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World.

      11. M. Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World.

      12. Organisation of African Unity, "The Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa 1980-2000," Geneva: Organisation of African Unity, 1981.

      13. World Bank, "Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action," Washington D.C.: World Bank 1981.

      14. G. Arrighi, "The African Crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects," New Left Review 15, May-June 2002: 5-35.

      15. K. Danaher and A. Riak, "Myths of African Hunger," Food First Backgrounder, Spring 1995.

      16. B. Peters, "The Third World Debt Crisis--Why a Radical Approach Is Essential," Round Table 354, April 2000: 195-204.

      17. See R. Greenhill and A. Pettifor, "The United States as a HIPC*--How the Poor Are Financing the Rich," a report from Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation, London, April 2002, http://www.jubilee2000uk.org/analysi.../usa190402.htm.

      18. For a compendium of definitions, see the USAID policy determination of food security PD-19, April 13, 1992, at www.usaid.gov/pubs/ads/200/pd19.pdf.

      19. See http://www.voiceoftheturtle.org/libr...acampesina.php.

      20. G. Arrighi, "The African Crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects."

      21. UNDP, "Human Development Report 2002."

      22. World Bank, World Bank Development Indicators 1999.

      23. I. Grabel, "Creating 'Credible' Economic Policy in Developing and Transitional Economics," Review of Radical Political Economics 29 (3),1997: 70-78.

      24. Capital flight, the phenomenon of money leaving one country in search of higher returns in another, prevents at least 25 African countries from being net creditors, instead of net debtors. This is an example of the sort of disciplining that financial markets can dole out to poorer countries. See Greenhill and Pettifor for more.

      25. UNDP, "Human Development Report 2002."

      26. SADC-FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, "Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Assessment Report," SADC, August 2002, http://www.sadc-fanr.orgzw/vac/Zimba...t%20Report.pdf.

      27. P. Rosset and A. DeGrassi, A New Green Revolution for Africa? Not yet published.

      28. G. Arrighi, "The African Crisis: World Systemic and Regional Aspects."

      29. UNDP, "Human Development Report 2002."

      30. World Bank, World Development Indicators 1999.

      31. World Bank, World Development Indicators 1999.

      32. K. Danaher and A. Riak, "Myths of African Hunger."

      33. SADC-FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, "Lesotho Emergency Food Security Assessment Report," SADC, August 2002, http://www.sadc-fanr.orgzw/vac/Lesot...t%20Report.pdf.

      34. SADC-FANR, "Lesotho Emergency Food Security Assessment Report."

      35. World Food Programme (WFP), "Food Shortages in Lesotho: The Facts," WFP, September 2002, http://www.wfp.org/newsroom/in_depth...otho020705.htm.

      36. S. Devereux, "State of Disaster: Causes, Consequences and Policy Lessons from Malawi," Actionaid, http://www.actionaid.org/resources/p...aw-ifamine.pdf.

      37. S. Devereux, "State of Disaster: Causes, Consequences and Policy Lessons from Malawi."

      38. Fortune Magazine Online, http://www.fortune.com/lists/F500/sn...l?ref=articles.

      39. Nestle' S. A., "2002 Half Yearly Report," http://www.ir.nestle.com/4_publicati....asp?bold=2002.

      40. World Bank, World Development Indicators 1999.

      41. F. Lappe', R. Schurman, and K. Danaher, Betraying the National Interest, New York: Grove, 1987.

      42. M. Lipsky and M. Thibodeau, "Feeding the Hungry with Surplus Commodities," Political Science Quarterly 108 (2), 1988: 223-244.

      43. A. Mittal, "Giving Away the Farm: The U.S. Farm Bill," Food First Backgrounder, Summer 2002.

      44. USDA economic research service. See especially www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Corn/.

      45. Of course, this doesn't stop the OECD countries' subsidizing their agriculture to the tune of just under $1 billion a day. It just means that they'redoing it more discreetly. See www.oecd.org/pdf/M00030000/M00030609.pdf.

      46. Food First, "Food Aid in the New Millennium--Genetically Engineered Food and Foreign Assistance," fact sheet, December 2000, and "New FoodAid: Same as the Old Food Aid?" Food First Backgrounder, Winter 1995.

      47. ETC Group, "Genetic Pollution in Mexico's Center of Maize Diversity," Food First Backgrounder, Spring 2002.

      48. For original sources, see "New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD): Increasing food supply and reducing hunger: strengthening nationaland regional food security," extracts from the NEPAD document Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP),August 2002, http://www.sarpn.org.za/documents/d0...D_Chapter4.pdf.

      49. http://www.aidc.org.za/NEPAD/African...n%20Nepad.html.

      50. A. Juhasz, "NEPAD: Foothold for Corporate Globalization in Africa," www.ifg.org/wssd/nepad_juhasz.htm. For more, see P. Bond's 2002 edited volume Fanon's Warning: A Civil Society Reader on the New Partnership For Africa's Development.

      51. "Environment: Seeds of Change," The Guardian (London), July 10, 2002, and P. Sanchez, "Soil Fertility and Hunger in Africa," Science 295, March 2002.

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