Monthly Archives: September 2009

Klondike Bar Policies in Developing Countries

Justin Hook ponders important ethical dilemmas involving Klondike bars, many of which can be  applied to aid workers and the serious moral decisions made in developing countries. So, what would you do if:

You operate an orphanage and your funding has just been slashed. Kids are now going without dessert. Your friend owns a grocery store and is willing to donate 500 Klondike bars to the orphans if you lie and tell the government that he donated 1,000.  What would you do-o-o?

or

In the midst of a heat wave, the power goes out throughout town. Yours is the only house in town with a working generator, which you can use to power either your air conditioner or your freezer. A number of townspeople bring their Klondike bars to store in your freezer. To save their ice cream, you must endure the heat for an unknown length of time. What would you do-o-o?

Don’t ask what your developing country can do to assure Klondike bars for its people, but ask what you can do for your developing country to assure Klondike bars for its people. Particularly if they are orphans.


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Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Great Lakes in 14 Paragraphs

Over at the NewYork Review of Books, Howard French captures the history of everything you need to know about contemporary Great Lakes politics  in a review of recent books by heavyweight Central African scholars Gerard Prunier, Rene Lemarchard and Thomas Turner. French’s article, ‘Kagame’s Hidden War in the Congo,’ is, well, not so keen on the current Rwandan regime. Apparently, the scholars concur:

In all three (books), the Kagame regime, and its allies in Central Africa, are portrayed not as heroes but rather as opportunists who use moral arguments to advance economic interests. And their supporters in the United States and Western Europe emerge as alternately complicit, gullible, or simply confused. For their part in bringing intractable conflict to a region that had known very little armed violence for nearly thirty years, all the parties—so these books argue—deserve blame, including the United States.

Wait, wait, wait. What about all of those awesome youtube videos of gacaca courts and starbucks producing coffee bean farms framed byepic African orchestral music in Rwanda? Where is the post-genocidal love?

In a recent interview, Prunier dismissed the recently much-touted reconciliation efforts, calling post-genocide Rwanda “a very well-managed ethnic, social, and economic dictatorship.” True reconciliation, he said, “hinges on cash, social benefits, jobs, property rights, equality in front of the courts, and educational opportunities,” all of which are heavily stacked against the roughly 85 percent of the population that is Hutu, a problem that in Prunier’s view presages more conflict in the future.

Okay, hold on. All of those old genocidaires who live in the DRC and threaten Rwandan stability – don’t they constitute grounds for some robust security policies?

The threat the Hutu group poses to Rwanda’s own security is “vastly exaggerated,” noting that its fighters “are no match” for Rwandan and Rwanda-backed forces amounting to “70,000 men under arms and a sophisticated military arsenal, consisting of armored personnel carriers (APCs), tanks, and helicopters.”

Security spectacle? Ineffective reconciliation? Ethnicized monopolies over resources? More befuddled Americans? Essentially, this excellent article is exciting reading over a cup of Rwandan starbucks coffee.

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Friday Afternoon Africana

Because it has been a crazy week with light posting and all anybody needs on a Friday Afternoon is to have Nigerian pop-star Djanb to call you his sweet potato:

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Random Probability Kills 3 in the DRC

If that whole structural violence and severe conflict weren’t enough,  apparently random probability is taking its toll on citizens of the DRC. According to the Independent Online, 3 women were struck by lightening and killed yesterday in the DRC:

Separate lightning strikes killed three women in the same region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after torrential rains began, a local chief said on Tuesday.

Fortunately, randomness is not one of those things that really exists in Congolese cultural cosmology:

Local superstition holds that death by lightning is sometimes supernatural vengeance to settle old scores.

Phew, wouldn’t want those Congolese that they are ever unintentionally screwed!

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Friday Afternoon Africana

Because King Sunny Ade does early 1980s juju and awesomely cheesy synthesizers like nobody else:

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This Week in the Great Lakes

1. New rebel leaders emerge in the Eastern DRC; just as horrible, but nowhere near as hip and fashionable as Laurent Nkunda.

2. Rwandan genocidaire sentenced to a long time in jail; prosecutors and defense fight over how long.

3. 50,000th refugee repatriated into Burundi; 49,999th unhappy that they didn’t get a news article written about them.

4. Data shows 44% increase in attacks on humanitarian workers in Eastern DRC; 90% occur at dubious clubs in Goma.

5. Rwanda and China promote culture sharing; sweet and sour cassava becomes new state food.

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I am Because We Are (Adoptable!)

Apparently, Madonna has produced and narrated a new film about Africa, I am Because We Are, in which she takes on the Ubuntu and AIDS:

We learn that when people ask Madonna, why did you choose Malawi, she answers (insert epic African music here), “I didn’t chose it. It chose me”

Subtext: “And I chose it because they havethey have really, really cute brown babies and the lax international adoption laws!.”

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