Here I Come
To Save the Day!
Yesterday, in an article entitled, “All Rock, No Action”, the New York Times published a dissident voice on the Live 8 effort to help Africa — the oped was written by an African, Jean-Claude Shanda Tonme, from Cameroon.
Tonme argues that Live 8 was “an insult both to us and to common sense.” He says that Africans are the ones who know what the problems of their continent are and that “no one else should speak in our name.”
After I spent a week with Live 8 activists, hearing that Africa needs more money, more trade . . . and “more mosquito nets,” I thought Tonme’s central argument was breathtaking:
Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn’t hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa.
No. He didn’t. The one person I heard who kept raising the issue of corruption in Africa was . . . Djimon Hounsou — who is himself originally from Africa. He knows whereof he speaks.
And this is the central problem at the heart of the good intentions of the Live 8/One Campaign efforts — it is a movement infused with the “Here I come to save the day” ethos:
But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships. They still believe us to be like children that they must save. . .
Africa is strategically important; we can’t ignore its problems. Not to mention the moral imperatives of genocide and disease. But our efforts to help must be based on more than good intentions, and Tonme offers a cautionary tale:
We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.
Read the whole article after the jump . . .