Today is Angolan Heroes Day, so the Embassy was closed. Looks like I’m going to be here for the weekend…
Not that I’m complaining. I need a few days of R&R after last week’s shenanigans. So today I watched a disgraceful number of DVDs and then went for a stroll around Kinshasa. I found a little old brick church and sat for a while, enjoying the cool silence.
I’m so fed up of Africa, it’s almost funny. I’m fed up of the smell, the litter, the hassle, the open sewers, the poverty, the horrific state of the roads, the awful, over-amplified music, the terrible food and (most of all) the constant state of paranoia that I’ll get arrested again for no reason. It’s no fun.
Later on, Michael and I went for a beer. DR Congo is jaw-droppingly expensive – you’d be lucky to get a meal for less than a tenner, and if it wasn’t for couch-surfing, I’d be staying in a grotty, health & safety-baiting room for which I’d be paying fifty quid a night.
As DR Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world, you may well find this surprising, but this pattern is repeated in many, many African countries. It would be hard enough living on a dollar a day in South-East Asia, but at least you could afford a beer. Here, I just can’t conceive how people manage. Well, in truth, they don’t. The kids on the city streets in Kinshasa are skinnier and more malnourished than I’ve seen anywhere else in Africa so far.
But then there is no manufacturing here. Or farming industry for that matter. At all. Everything is imported. And is there a good road or a decent rail line linking the capital (or the country for that matter) to the port? Ha!! No chance. They have to fly everything in. Let me make this quite clear – this is not a landlocked country, they are incredibly poor and have a ‘growth’ rate of around 1% in a good year. And they fly everything in.
The madness of the situation makes my head spin.
But you’ve got to see things from the Vogons point of view. They’re in charge, right? There’s no road? You can fly. There are no television transmitters? Buy a satellite dish. There’s no electricty? You’ve got a generator. There’s no post? You can courier. There’s no phone lines? Get a satphone. There’s no streetlights? Don’t travel at night. There’s no decent shops? Hmm… fancy a trip to Paris? We could charter Concorde if you like. They have been lining their greasy pockets for years with their country’s money. Money that was meant to help develop your nation. Money that could have saved millions of lives.
Vogons have no shame. They have no compassion. They are in charge of the lives of nearly a billion incredibly impoverished people and yet they buy luxury yachts, fleets of German cars and golden chandeliers to adorn their palaces.
You remember the drop the debt campaign? A noble cause, I agree, but where exactly are those untold billions that western banks lent to the horrible corrupt? I’ll tell you where they are: in bank accounts in Switzerland.
Now, explain this to me. Since 9/11, if a bank account is thought to be used to fund terrorism, the international community can shut it down and confiscate the money.
The Act of Terrorising Civilians.
If causing the deaths of MILLIONS of your fellow countrymen through poverty, disease and ignorance is not terrorism, I don’t know what is. Can we just do what we should have done back in the 1970s and freeze these scumbag’s accounts?
Here’s the situation: we can smash and grab the ill-gotten thousands that British drug dealers squirrel away in the bank, but we can’t touch the BILLIONS stolen by African dinosaur leaders (and their grotesque yuppie offspring). Just to remind you: Gabon. Population 1.4 million. One of the Poorest Countries in the World. The Late President Bongo. 42 years in office. One of the Richest People in the World.
Do the maths.
And the horrible thing is that every bribe I pay is propping up the status quo – helping to maintain this revolting system in which everybody but the powerful (i.e. the scumbags with guns) is prone to live a life that is brutish, nasty and short. The Leviathan is not here to protect the people – it is here to consume them entire.
Here’s an idea: take the money out of Switzerland and build a Pan-African highway, hospitals, vaccinate the people and set up a good secondary school in every village and a university in every city.
Give the people of Africa their damn money back. They need it MUCH more than the nasty, heartless Nazi-gold hoarding gnomes of Zurich.
Actually – if we declared war on Switzerland, would it remain neutral? Hmm…