Saturday, January 20, 2007 enigma wrapped up inside a puzzle?

5 weeks from today we'll be in Tanzania and ready to get up close and personal with Mount Kilimanjaro. Very close, and very personal.
Unfortunately we won't have time to experience much of the country as we're heading straight back after the climb. If we're still alive. But I've seen a couple of films recently that have made me wonder about the conundrum of Africa, and question whether it will ever really change.
Angola, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Somalia. Even in my very-nearly-50-year lifetime these are just a few African countries that have experienced war, famine, genocide, revolution, AIDS epidemics, drought....and constant abject poverty for most of its people. And there are other perennial challenges confronting the troubled continent.
In The Constant Gardener, the slums of Nairobi turn out to be the centre of a mystery about a large global company exploiting the hapless diseased occupants for commercial gain. And The Last King of Scotland depicts the story of a naive young British doctor getting caught up in the initial glamour of Idi Amin's 1970s Ugandan regime, before realising that Idi is a corrupt despotic pyscopath who is murdering hundreds of thousands of his countrymen.
Both movies are very entertaining, but make me despair that in reality large parts of Africa will always be corrupt, and that its people will forever be victims spending their short lives in poverty,and abuse of one sort or another.
Bob Geldof has long championed campaigns to alleviate poverty throughout the world, and Africa in particular. But will anything really ever change in Africa? Our hearts are in the right place in trying to raise a few pounds for World Vision to go to the Kisiriri community in Tanzania. Hopefully we'll be able to help them with a fresh drinking water supply, or some education facilities, or something that might allow them to be a little more independent. But I fear that all we can ever do is just scratch the African surface.
I don't have any answers...just despair that people will always be flying in to do business with corrupt governments, or for safaris or to climb a mountain, dispensing a few dollars and buggering off again while poverty, natural and man-made disasters continue to blight large swathes of this puzzling continent.


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