TARGET AFRICA

target africaTARGET AFRICA  ideological neo-colonialism in the twenty first century  Obianuju Ekeocha

I am in Haiti with Mission International trying to help our partners in the local church in Ouanaminthe set up a new school for this community. And in the long waiting times reading again this astounding book.

As a trustee and, for the moment, chairman of Mission International, which also works with partners in more than  40 different countries, the Oxfam scandal  left me with a sick feeling in my stomach. It was especially disturbing as this was happening in Haiti where we, at this moment, are in the process of helping with a new school.    I couldn’t, however, take any comfort in the thought  “but .. Of course, we are not like them…”  Somehow we are part of the whole and in the minds of the public and prospective donors tainted with the scandal. It is understandable that people who give freely and generously to a cause are disgusted and quite turned off when they learn that their money has been used to buy prostitutes and abuse the people it was meant to help.

For a long time now there has been serious questions over whether aid does actually work, that it was a means where rich countries could keep poor countries in poverty, and given with less than altruist motives.  These discussions have been around for a long time, but what Obianuju Ekeocha brings to the debate in “Target Africa” is a devastating critique  on how western nations  have adopted a new and sinister  colonisation, tying aid to western post Christian ideologies. With breath-taking arrogance and hypocrisy they are  imposing a destructive agenda that African leaders, seduced by the offer of money, are complicit in accepting.

Obianuju Ekeocha is a specialist biomedical scientists with particular expertise in pathogens, a Nigerian and founder of “Culture of Life Africa” an organisation dedicated to defending the sanctity and dignity of human life through research, information and education. She is a courageous woman and in this book with intelligence, compassion and unflinching dedication makes the point crystal clear. She is willing to take on and challenge governments, UN organisations and powerful philanthropists in the cause of defending the most vulnerable.

It is a shocking read.  She clearly sets out from a historical perspectives as well as her own personal experience of growing up in Africa and shows that while the old colonial order was ushered to a close with the Atlantic Charter in 1941, a new form of colonialism has subtly taken its place which, she believes, will bring an even more disastrous blight on the continent.

It is refreshing to hear her speak so movingly and lovingly of her Africa ” endowed with treasures” telling  a different story from the jaundiced one told by the western media. Taking just one example, on the emancipation of women: the perceived narrative is that African women are oppressed and enslaved by the chains of patriarchy. But  in her own country there have been seven female presidents, and twelve female vice presidents. She points out that Rwanda has the highest proportion of female parliamentarians in the world. (64 % when the UK has only 29%).

She describes the beauty of the land the wealth of its resources and the treasure of its people.

” What I have just described is the real but unrecognisable Africa. It is unrecognisable because the western media rarely shows any good news out of Africa. Instead they show every parameter of failure: low life expectancy, much poverty, poor healthcare quality, high maternal and infant mortality, low food security, little government transparency and so on.  ……….. Yet such images make us vulnerable to the wiles of those who seek to colonise us and to the many African leaders who will readily let them do so in exchange for funds from the west……….In many ways it seems as if African nations have gone into a mental condition of “protected dependency” and have thereby put themselves at risk of becoming once again protectorate states of western stake holders. This is the path to the past and the path to perdition.”

The case she posits is scrupulously researched, detailed and hard to refute. She examines the issues of Population control, the hyper sexualisation of the youth, radical feminism, abortion rights, the normalisation of homosexuality and the curse of aid addiction. All of which bear the same marks of Western Nations using aid to impose a morality alien to African  culture. It’s as if the west  don’t see what they are doing

“They undermine African life to reduce African fertility, yet they (the donors themselves) became prosperous and powerful when their laws and policies encouraged the formation of stable traditional families: Their economic booms coincided with population growth.”

She castigated the supremacist  attitude of the west taking the high moral ground;  defending the poor of the world while destroying their culture and beliefs. She instances Sweden’s reaction to the reinstatement of the US “Mexico City Policy” in 2017. They wanted it withdrawn and “ Yet” she asks ” by what means do they defend the poor?  By helping them to kill their children.”

She doesn’t pull her punishes and it is so refreshing to hear this level of honesty and straight talking in a subject so often clouded in nuances and  double speak. She doesn’t mince her words and calls a spade a spade. If you are shy of controversy and squeamish about the bare truth, you should avoid reading this book or any more of this review, for that matter.

On Population control: “The insistence on reducing the population of Africa, no matter what the cost to Africans themselves, is racism, imperialism, and colonialism disguised as philanthropy”

On the hyper sexualisation of youth: “In spite of the failure rate of condom programs for teenagers, the UNFPA continues to promote its multimillion dollar campaign across Africa known as CONDOMIZE !”

On the legalisation of prostitution: “Given the unspeakable abuse that women and girls endure in the sex industry, given the level of drug abuse to keep them silent and compliant, it is disconcerting that anyone would try and legitimise prostitution in the name of public health.”

On radical feminism: “..Instead of authentic feminism, a selfish and radical strain of feminism has risen in the west and has gained an international platform and a pace of prominence in this century.”

On the push for abortion rights, over which reserves her strongest words: “At the core of my people’s value system is the profound recognition that human life is precious, paramount, and supreme. For us, abortion, which is the deliberate killing of little ones in the womb, is a direct attack on innocent human life. It is a serious injustice, which no one should have the right to commit……I agree with pro-abortion activists that illegal abortion is a real problem in Africa, but I completely disagree with their proffered solution – to legalise abortion on demand….If the solution to all of Africa’s illegal practices was legalise them, then we are a doomed continent.”

On the normalisation of Homosexuality: “To convince Africans that marriage and sex are even possible between two women or two men, would require destroying their language and their culture. Such an undertaking is exactly what homosexual activists are attempting in Africa.”  And this activism is sponsored by western governments. “In 2011 President Obama threatened to cut off foreign aid to Nigeria because its senate passed a law unfavourable towards homosexuality

On Aid addiction where she recognises that the wound is in many ways self-inflicted:       ” Africans cannot take charge of their own future until aid, as we know it, is brought to an end, and the African leaders unleash the economic potential of their people……..For Africa to have a promising future, it needs to push back on this flawed paradigm and on the western influence that is spreading it.”

With President Obama she pleads: ” No child (in any part of the world) deserves to be raised in a motherless or fatherless home, because it is almost always a vicious vortex of emotional trauma and turmoil. Africans know and understand this and as such will stand in defiance of your new design of marriage and family. For us to comply with the draconian demands of your “Modern” design will entail completely demolishing our society, which is already inflicted with so many problems.

With Melinda Gates:“I see this $4.6 billion dollars buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.”

For anyone who is at all interested in Africa, and in the future for health, peace and prosperity, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Crawford Mackenzie

 

Bartlett and the Bible

Glynn Harrison has written an extraordinary article in the new edition of “Solas”  “The long shadow” http://www.solas-cpc.org/wp/solas-resources/solas-magazine-launch/ with a very telling insight into the impact of the sexual revolution on our society, from a Christian world view. It is a challenging critique of how the church has failed to respond to this revolution, been caught napping and generally been unable to speak the good news into it. “Our culture has a good sense of what we are against, but what are we for?”  With some noble and notable exceptions, the church has, in the heat of the debate, been found wanting. There has been a deficit in intellectual integrity, a deficit in creativity, a deficit in articulation and a deficit in humour. In contrast the sexual revolution, which was a revolution of ideas, held all the cards and knew how to present the case: the use of the media, being one of the principal planks of that presentation.

For me, nothing exemplifies this more than “Bartlett and the Bible” a scene from the television series “The West Wing”. Jed Bartlett is the president of the USA and throughout the series he exudes a quality of humanity that somehow you do not expect in a politician, far less in the leader of the “free world”. You cannot but warm to him and take to the way he acts, how he responds to his aids and his family, how he seems to genuinely care for the people and takes the responsibility of his office so seriously and even how he shows his failings. It is very endearing. He comes over as such a genuinely good man that people often say they would vote for him if his name was on the ticket. Many have even tried to persuade Martin Sheen, who is a real person, to do just that to stand for president.

The scene in question can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CPjWd4MUXs but there is hardly any need to supply the link as you would have to be a stranger to YouTube or social media not to have come across it.  It is a very clever, funny and accomplished display by the president of the United States of America where he wipes the floor with the priggish upstart of a radio presenter, in what has become an iconic put down. At a stroke he exposes the inconsistency, hypocrisy, sheer stupidity, and the censorious and unloving attitude of the conservative biblical right. It’s a great laugh and so often as I have engaged with a facebook discussion on the subject it has been brought in to the thread to prove a point and it does just that. It is the killer punch which finally finishes off the argument. There is no more that can be said. The argument is won and lost.

But take a moment to look at the clip, for it is a perfect example of how the media can be used, not simply to make a point but, to close an argument. Ged Bartlett is a fictional character and the scene has been invented in someone’s mind. The dialogue has been written. It is not a real discussion. In fact it is not a discussion at all more of a monologue in which the president berates the limp presenter with a series of quick fire questions.  He does not allow her space or even the opportunity to answer the questions. The implication is clear. There are no answers. Any fool would see that.  He roundly castigates, viscously mocks and abuses her verbally, in way that would make any misogynist proud. It is a blatant display of merciless bullying by a powerful man, while his staff and advisors stand pathetically bye, sheepishly silent, unwilling or unable to take him to task. It ends when he completes the ritual humiliation by forcing her to stand, as everyone must do, in his presence. It is from every angle an appalling display yet I have heard nothing but applause for it and the way people continue to share the clip shows that they see nothing wrong with that aspect of it.

Leaving the bullying and the abuse to the side, the fact that there is no space for a response, a challenge or even offering answers to the questions, shows how propagandist the piece really is. Given the space and the opportunity, which any fair minded person would, there are very obvious responses that could be made. There are answers to the questions too. Timothy Keller at http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/making-sense-of-scriptures-inconsistency gives a perfectly reasoned and convincing response to the charge of inconsistency and others have done so too. But in the media world, these voices are hardly ever heard and it is left to a few to speak out, to challenge the omnidirectional flood of thought, to stick a head above the parapet and face the torrents of abuse and even death threats that come with the territory.

Glynn Harrison’s challenge to the church is simply to tell the good news into this long shadow. “The good news that God has not left us alone. In scripture he not only reveals who he is, but he shows us who we are: he speaks our identity to us.”. That will need resourcefulness, intellectual integrity commitment, creativity and courage, but more than anything, belief in it.

Crawford Mackenzie

Political Will

tollcross

I have never been political. I have never joined a party, made a donation or been on a march. My political experience has been limited to a venture in a local action group agitating for an environmental improvement in a bleak district in the east end of Glasgow more than 40 years ago. I joined the group, took on a committee role, initiated public meetings, but after serial infighting, walkouts and continual constitutional crises, I realised that it wasn’t for me. So, politics has always been little more than a spectator sport and generally a pretty dull one at that. I never got around to cheering the home team or shouting at the opposition. It is not that I was, or am, indifferent to the issues it is just that I could never connect with the mechanism or saw that particular route as being a realistic way of effecting change or making a difference.  Deep down I always felt that real power and real influence lay somewhere else. The forces to change things were not with politicians.

It was not that I despised politicians. Rather, I  held them in high regard. My sympathies were more likely to be with the government in power at any given time, because I recognised they were effectively public servants and as such, deserved some measure of respect.  It was not a position I ever envied and the job seemed an almost impossible one. I hated when people so easily rubbished, castigated and abused these civil servants.  They could be called names and insulted like no other group. I remember the abuse heaped upon Harold Wilson and upon Ted Heath in their respective terms and I felt the abuse that Margaret Thatcher suffered was sometimes nothing short of shameful. In many cases, I felt the ire was directed against her especially because she was a woman.  The fact that people held parties, sung “the witches dead” and danced on her grave,  long after she had relinquished power and had any influence, showed how low it had all become. I was astonished, too, how quickly Tony Blair took on her mantle, and became the villain almost overnight. The people who cheered him in, cursed him out in a very short time. I am almost certain that, had Alex Salmond won independence for Scotland and stayed to be the country’s leader, it would not be long before he too would have suffered the same fate. Knocking the person in power is the easiest game in the book, and we keep playing it.

So it is inevitable that I am pretty sceptical about the new body politic, the new grass root engagement, the rainbow coalition, the enthusiasm for on-line activism and the involvement of the young.  I am sure it is a good thing, maybe good will come of it, I hope so, but I have this sneaky feeling that in the long run it won’t actually make much difference. I hope I am wrong. I also wonder how long this extraordinary energy and mobilisation will last when it comes to the hard graft of working things out in practice and the nitty gritty of concessions and compromises. You only have to take a look at the diverse and contradictory interests represented by the 45 to see the mountains of concession and compromises that will be needed, to get even the most basic of changes through. Even Bevin had to make deals with the BMA to bring the NHS to birth. He had to “stuff their mouths with gold” to bring them on board. All of that takes skill and patience, determination, persistence and hard work and I am not sure if the wave of optimism will carry it through. Again I hope I am wrong.

Now, I know that making any sceptical noise or expressing any doubt or for a moment challenging  the credibility of the cause will be seen as outright disloyalty if not heresy and treason but the thing is, time alone will tell.  Time will tell if, what we have witnessed is the birth of a new body politic, when nothing will be the same again and great changes will be made that will affect the lives of our all our citizens and be a catalyst for similar changes throughout the world or, whether, it will simply be a riotous explosion of optimism that will fizzle out just as quickly as it has begun.

Crawford Mackenzie