September 2, 2009
The Land of Unintended Consequences
FROM- Stewardship Community
Africa's Famine: Case of Drought or Malware?
When one talks about famine in Africa, it is also crucial to take a moment to evaluate the hostile and intrusive programs operating in the background of food aid and aid in general.
There is a time in Africa, elders used to “talk” to drought and negotiate their way to receiving rainfall. Courtesy of their understanding of causation, elders would either sacrifice a black sheep or ask a virgin girl to bathe in a lake in order to draw the attention of the rain gods. If “African drought” was to answer back to modern leaders begging for food aid, its reply would read: “You earthlings that purport to be leaders of the hungry, I am not to blame for the famine; blame it on the malware!”
Computer experts are aware of malware – short form for “malicious software” that is designed to infiltrate a computer without the owners’ informed consent. Computer users are familiar with viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and spyware among other programs that cause harm to the operating system. When one talks about famine in Africa, it is also crucial to take a moment to evaluate the hostile and intrusive programs operating in the background of food aid and aid in general. What led to majority of Africans changing their diets?
Over 50 years of food aid targeting Africa and the resultant increased famine episodes point at a possibility of a food “malware” – a malicious system that changes people’s dietary habits in favor for imported foods. The same malware has penetrated agricultural schools that prepare graduates to promote the new foods as opposed to upgrading local varieties. The worst bit is on the political leadership – their minds have been corrupted so much with the quest for kickbacks to such an extent that they do not invest in local solutions. Foreign solutions come loaded with a possibility of a quick “10%;” and in the absence of a working “anti-virus” it logs its intentions on to the African nations’ operating system forcing the continent to be perpetual beggars.
To reduce famine incidents on the continent, Africans must develop a system of detecting the “malicious background operating system” from donors that has not only denied them a chance to promote their local cuisines but has also exposed their land up for grabbing. It is time we invested in our indigenous crops, turned our rural populations into celebrated food suppliers through incentives and invested in technology to free our continent from perennial famine. Contrary to common beliefs, money is not the solution to Africa’s famine problem; food aid is not the solution either … getting rid of the “malware” is!