THROWING UP THE HANDS
By Fred Onions
--First a message to Jack Person: Thanks for the check, but I can’t find your email address on my list. Please contact me so I can credit your account.
-- We are now entering the Era of Old Men Falling off Motorcycles. It may not happen this year, but you can see it coming, fellas – the last ride.
-- Baseball update. The White Sox have 60 wins, great pitching, great base-running and lousy hitting. This is a classic
-- Karl Rove doesn’t matter. He’s over-rated, he’s not an evil genius, he’s just another scalawag from
-- Now the essay begins.
Throwing up the Hands
Throwing up the hands – it’s a gesture. It does not indicate surrender or despair. It does not mean bewilderment. It just means – well, it’s a gesture, so if you could just visualize this writer throwing up his hands. The topic is
It’s too easy to find bad news about
Female Circumcision. Ninety-eight percent of the women in the African country of
Quaint. What am I supposed to say? “Whatever floats your boat?” or “Who am I to judge the customs of another people?” Am I supposed to be non-judgmental?
56 killed in tribal raid -- 22 of them were children who died in their school uniforms. It was an old-fashioned cattle raid. The Boranas invaded and attacked a Gabra village. This was in northern
Another quaint custom, only now they have semi-automatic weapons.
Also 56 killed – it’s the same number, only a coincidence – but 56 killed and 30 seriously injured when a bus plunged over an embankment in the
I’m shocked – an overloaded bus in
And to that list of shortages add chlorine to purify the municipal water supply – the water is becoming dangerous to drink in the cities that once had plentiful, cheap potable water for everybody. And now, no soap, and this among the cleanest people I have ever known. Africans are cleaner than Europeans. They smell better, they dress better and they look better. It is pitiful to think they are scarce of bathing supplies.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is going begging to
Mugabe goes hat in hand to Iran and China. This is nuts. If colonialism was the problem, then independence is clearly not the solution. It would be better to bring back the British – they have mastered the worst of their racism and they are actually good at doing things. The saddest thing about Robert Mugabe is that he hates something that no longer exists – the virulent racism of the 19th century European.
Bono Moves the World with LiveAid concerts for
But it is not condescension, it’s the truth. Africans are not good at government or economy. Wishing they had this competence will not make it so. What are Africans good at – music, athletics, sculpture, and adornment. By adornment I mean what Europeans and Americans call fashion, except that fashion is not a minor art in Africa, it is the equal to any important European art form, and so I call it adornment – meaning clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, and hair style, including that for both women and men, including the past and the present day. Africans are better at this.
Or athletics. It is not condescending for an African to say, “White Men Can’t Jump,” because it’s the truth. That was in the movie of that name, but Woody Harrelson who played the white character opposite Wellesley Snipes in that movie quickly shot back, “You’d rather look good than win.”
“Looking good” is African mastery. “Winning” is European competence. Everybody is good at something. Sexuality, for instance. The lurid fascination that Europeans have for African sexuality indicates European inferiority. Africans do it better, do it more often, and do it more kinds of ways. Africans know what they are doing, and it is natural to take pride in what they are good at. That is not condescension.
It is a cruel twist of fate that
But it’s different with the economy and the government. Bring back the British, please. They can’t cook and they sure can’t dance, but they’re good at lawmaking and administration, diesel mechanics, and computer software. I would not double aid to Africa as Bono urges, I would bring in people from Europe and Asia, and in several millions, middle class people with modest amounts of capital, with skills and education. I would only require that these new immigrants must learn to speak the local language – this would screen out those few looking for cheap household servants.
But it will never happen. These were the very people, the 4,000 white farmers in
But it was good water, and it flowed 365 days of year, because the rich, white bastard knew how to maintain the pump.
Now the squatters have invaded the farm. They ran off the rich, white bastard. Someone stole the pump. Instead of walking one-fourth a mile to get clean water, the village women walk a half-mile to a sometimes muddy stream.
Throwing up the Hands
The hardest thing to read was this report by Cathy Buckle about the environmental destruction across these farms. The fences torn down, the forest burned, and the game slaughtered by poachers – all gone. Read her account at
You would think I have no hope, that I am become hard-hearted and bitter, immune to suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do fear that most of Bono’s LiveAid will go to the kleptocrats in African government – the descendants of the chiefs who sold their own people into slavery. In a subsequent essay I will describe some small-scale, low overhead operations in southern
I close with a note from a friend, a man with a lifetime of experience in southern
I don’t agree, but just like I started this essay “somewhere between blue, gay
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