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…
This Post Has 5 Comments
Care ! You are, understandably, angry with the corrupt African states – who isn’t?
But you’ve got to get through Asia before you finish this Odyssey. If they become aware of how you criticise some states they won’t let you in ; or worse out ! e.g. Burma ! Keep going, but save your adverse comments till you finish !!
Best wishes, Doug and Anne.
Hugo Chavez and his familly and ministers had Billions of dollars in Andorra and those accounts have now been frozen.
A very good point you made when money for the poor is taken from them.
Good articles !! Good luck…I´m sure we will all be happy to see you out of Africa !!!
Let me get this straight. You want the western governments who in many cases supported and created the corrupt leaders you are talking about to do something about them? You want change i needs to start in the west.
Yes, yes I do. This is something the international community could do. We can’t climb into a time machine and change the ridiculous things we have done in the past nor should that stop us acting now. If nothing else, freezing these accounts and re-distributing the money amongst the people will ensure that any more money these cowboys steal (and, believe me, they will) will HAVE to be spent in their own country (or, at the very least, continent) as international banks will be banned from touching these blood dollars.
This isn’t a magic fix-all solution and I’m not the first person to propose it, but just think where Nigeria could be today if the government there hadn’t stolen (by their own figures!) a quarter of a trillion dollars rom 1967 to 2005 and taken it out of the country.
“Vaccinate the people”
Graham, please do your research first before promoting these murderous toxins. Medicine is ruled by Vogons too!