Posts Tagged ‘Africa’
Is it a preposterous idea to maintain a dairy farm where no blade of grass grows? It is indeed height of tomfoolery to keep some 40,000 Friesian cows in one of the driest places on the planet, with temperatures regularly reaching 110°F (43°C). It is stuck in a desert more than three times the size of Texas. Down the road is the Almarai dairy farm, almost as big, the creation of a racehorse-breeding Saudi prince and his friend, dairy magnate Alastair McGuickan.
Drive about a hundred miles (160 kilometers) through the Arabian Desert southeast from Riyadh, and you will come across the dairy farm Al Safi, one of the world’s largest was the creation of the late prince, Abdullah al Faisal, eldest son of Faisal, the Saudi king from 1964 to 1975. The cows live in six giant air-conditioned sheds, shrouded in a mist that keeps them cool. They churn out 53 million gallons (200 million liters) of milk a year, which heads off down the highway in a constant stream of tankers. Those who have limited funds will think the idea as sheer nonsense. If you have the wealth of a Saudi prince well, you might want to think it over. Al Safi is a fitting example of the gungo ho spirit to daring the impossible.
The sheikhs of Saudi Arabia have been farming the desert in this way for 30 years, spending hundreds of billions of dollars of oil revenues to pursue their dream of self-sufficiency in food. The Saudi government has been paying farmers five times the international price for wheat, while charging nothing for the water, and providing virtually free electricity to pump that water to the surface. Fortunes have been made as the giant pivots green the desert, and cows graze in their mist-filled sheds.
But now many of the pumps are being silenced and the spigots turned off. The Saudi government says wheat-growing must cease by 2016, and the water-cooled cow sheds may be abandoned soon after. A mirage in the desert must work in more than one way for those who think their petrodollars will solve anything.
Well the water is running out. So what can the Saudis do but look around whom they can buy out?
The mirage of water in the desert can be solved if poor neighbors send their water running to them. For instance take Gambela, the most impoverished corner of Ethiopia, at the headwaters of the Nile River, the world’s longest. One of Ethiopia’s nine kililoch (divisions), Gambela is a horn-shaped region that protrudes into South Sudan.
Here, amid the wet pastures and forests, unrest is brewing. Locals say the Saudis want their water.
The lush forests and marshlands where they had as their ancestors hunted for generations were being taken by Saudi Star, a company owned by one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali al Amoudi.
Yards from his hut, the company was digging a canal that they fear would drain the nearby wetland, where they fished. And nearby, al Amoudi’s 24,711-acre (10,000-hectare) farm had taken over a reservoir built by Soviet engineers in the 1980s.
Government officials orderedmany of them to move out of the forest and into government villages. Ostensibly the purpose was to provide better services, but the real intent is not lost on the villagers. al Amoudi is a friend and sometime campaign financier of Ethiopia’s prime minister at the time, Menes Zenawi.
The villagers went into action. On April 2012, unnamed local gunmen invaded Saudi Star’s company camp near the town of Abobo. They killed at least five workers. In an effort to root out the culprits, government soldiers allegedly went on a rampage in local villages, rounding up and torturing men and raping women.
The group Human Rights Watch interviewed some of those who fled to neighboring South Sudan afterward. The people said that their original raid was in retaliation for the company grabbing their land and water.
A 2012 report from one of Africa’s biggest banks, Standard Bank in South Africa, suggests that Saudi investments may be bad value for the continent. “For African countries courted by Saudi agribusiness firms, a clear appreciation of the value of the asset on which they rest is necessary,” it said. “Under-selling of agricultural assets (both land and, perhaps more critically, water) remains a profound threat.”
Man cannot eat oil. but those who have stuffed their head with mirages of grandeur need to learn some hard truths. (ack: Fred Pearce/ water grabbers-global rush on fresh water, in National Geographic News of Nov.2012)
If we are made of atoms that have inherent quirks and quiddities it must also show in some unmistakable manner when made as complex as human beings. What is the nature of atoms? You smash atoms into fundamental particles but you try dividing them further you get more of the same. Can it be a moral quotient to give us a place in the scheme of things? We are connected to all things at the level of atoms where quiddity of nature has written its moral imperative consistently throughout. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle where we must fit with all mankind. In terms of a physical dimension it may not be possible. Yet in terms of moral sense we are painted with the same brush. You destroy one area and you are breaking the moral order of universe in some manner of speaking. Its consequences, (I deliberately avoid the term ‘sin’ for its theological connotations) must leave its impact in some manner. For example, you exploit nations and the lawlessness of it, call it imperialism, leaves its mark on you. Africa was formerly the white man’s burden and Africa has still not recovered from it. While the west exploited the Arab merchants were carrying on slave trade in the heartland of the continent ,converting the natives and throwing down the genuine and natural form of their culture to suit their form of religious requirements. If Africa is reeling under the fresh onslaught of these Arab imperialism the west paved the way. Moral sense when outraged as Africa has experienced it must express itself in some manner. It may be that in not so distant future Arab fundamentalism will be pitted against the west from this part of the globe.
David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Perhaps one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century in Victorian Britain, Livingstone had a mythic status, which operated on a number of interconnected levels: that of Protestant missionary martyr, that of working-class “rags to riches” inspirational story, that of scientific investigator and explorer, that of imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial empire.
His fame as an explorer helped drive forward the obsession with discovering the sources of the River Nile that formed the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of the African continent. At the same time his missionary travels, “disappearance” and death in Africa, and subsequent glorification as posthumous national hero in 1874 led to the founding of several major central African Christian missionary initiatives carried forward in the era of the European “Scramble for Africa”.
He was the second of seven children born to Neil and Agnes Livingstone., David was at the age of ten employed in the cotton mill of H. Monteith & Co. in the village of Blantyre Works on the banks of River Clyde. David and his brother John worked twelve-hour days as “piecers,” tying broken cotton threads on the spinning machines.
Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but the First Opium War broke out in September 1839 and the London Mission Society suggested the West Indies instead. In 1840, while continuing his medical studies in London, Livingstone met LMS missionary Robert Moffat, on leave from Kuruman, a missionary outpost in South Africa, north of the Orange River. Excited by Moffat’s vision of expanding missionary work northwards, and influenced by abolitionist T.F. Buxton’s arguments that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of “legitimate trade” and the spread of Christianity, Livingstone focused his ambitions on Southern Africa. He was deeply influenced by Moffat’s judgment that he was the right person to go to the vast plains to the north of Bechuanaland, where he had glimpsed “the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been.”
Dr.Livingstone’s exploration in the African heartland is too well known to be repeated here.
Livingstone was an inept leader incapable of managing a large-scale project. He was also said to be secretive, self righteous, moody and could not tolerate criticism which severely strained the expedition and which led to his physician, John Kirk, writing in 1862, “I can come to no other conclusion than that Dr. Livingstone is out of his mind and a most unsafe leader”.
Livingstone and slavery
“And if my disclosures regarding the terrible Ujijian slavery should lead to the suppression of the East Coast slave trade, I shall regard that as a greater matter by far than the discovery of all the Nile sources together.” – Livingstone in a letter to the editor of the New York Herald.
“We passed a slave woman shot or stabbed through the body and lying on the path. [Onlookers] said an Arab who passed early that morning had done it in anger at losing the price he had given for her, because she was unable to walk any longer”.1.
Livingstone’s letters, books, and journals did stir up public support for the abolition of slavery-2; however, he became humiliatingly dependent for assistance on the very slave-traders whom he wanted to put out of business. Because he was a poor leader of his peers, he ended up on his last expedition as an individualist explorer with servants and porters but no expert support around him. (ack:wikipedia)
1.Stanley Henry M., How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa, including an account of four months’ residence with Dr. Livingstone. 1871.
2.David Livingstone (2006). “The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to His Death-Echo Library-p.46