dominates the news. Those tasked with keeping the
public informed somehow manage to structure news
reporting so that what we receive comes in serious
tones but may not in fact constitute what is the
most serious problems besetting the world at any
given point. True, the situation in Iraq is dreadful
and perhaps our ethnocentricity leads us to focus
in on, to the exclusion of much else, hostages taken
by the various militias that infest the land once
oppressed by Saddam Hussein and now under the heel
of somebody different. The estimated 100,000 Iraqis
killed since the US-led invasion seem to register
as a footnote. More instances of American Marine
dead litter the memory than do the circumstances
in which Iraqis met their end. The latter seem to
assume the character of an amorphous mass, one blurred
collective face which discloses nothing about the
detailed personal narrative of each individual.
even with that there is at least something tangible
- a car bomb here, a self-destruct bomber somewhere
else. The Congo, by contrast, where four million
have died since 1998 and the particular circumstances
of those deaths elude many of us. That is only two
million less than is said to have taken place during
the 1940s Holocaust. Of our time yet we know not
of it. Nor do the atrocities being carried out by
the Janjaweed in Dafur loom any larger in our minds.
The official attitude - it is Africa and has its
own unique and impenetrable Heart of Darkness.
a recent newsletter from Tools of Solidarity it
was reported that:
Brian Garvey suggested during the West Belfast festival
that the Other View might find it worthwhile
to do a follow-up piece on the Rwandan genocide,
which featured in an earlier edition, it seemed
a useful idea. The more 'other' a view, the more
natural a home it should find in the pages of The
Other View. If the magazine could generate interest
in something far removed from the self-obsessed
place we inhabit, it augured well for future discourse.
Not everyone would agree. Many, afflicted with a
'poor me' mentality, continue to believe that the
North since the Good Friday Agreement is in need
of an injection of international attention which
the Congo, for example, can do without. We are not
racists, but just dare any enemy of the peace process
suggest that extra large portions of the collective
time of US Presidents, British Prime Ministers and
Irish Taoisaigh should go anywhere other than our
little white against white problem.
few weeks later Brian visited my home accompanied
by three others. One of them, a black woman, Eki,
went out to play football in the street with the
local kids. One mother informed me later that she
had told her child in advance not to stare. She
was aware of her son's lack of exposure to people
from other races, and feared that innocent curiosity
might translate itself into something uncomfortable.
She need not have worried. The youngsters loved
it. Experience of my own three year old suggests
to me that children attach no significance to the
colour of other people unless taught to. In West
Belfast's Springhill, where I live, parents seem
to do their utmost to ensure their kids pick up
no racist traits.
other woman, Judith, sat in our living room alongside
Explo Nani-Kofi of the African Liberation Support
Campaign Network (ALISC Network). This body seeks
to highlight the 'struggles of grassroots Pan African
communities of resistance' and is guided by 'the
principles of self-determination and social justice.'
As we drank coffee, Explo outlined the activity
of the network. There appeared to be three primary
objectives. Within an overall context of promoting
Africa, more specifically ALISC want to establish
a European wide movement which would campaign against
western banks, governments and multinational companies
which are involved in recolonising Africa, leading
to expropriation of African natural resources and
property leaving millions destitute or dead; in
addition, it seeks to raise the level of public
awareness about resistance in Africa against the
policies that home grown despots inflict on their
own people as proxies for the West; ALISC further
aims to secure what it refers to as the 'emancipation
of African women and men.'
London, where Explo is based, ALISC organises cultural
events and workshops. Amongst the type of activities
it has promoted have been a commemoration of the
30th anniversary of the death of the first president
of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and celebrations of
the birthday of Abu Jamal. In addition it has sought
to raise awareness about reparations owed Africa
from the West, and the African Diaspora.
of the campaigns managed by the ALISC Network is
the 'IMF and World Bank Wanted For Fraud Campaign.'
Despite the World Bank insider, Joe Stiglitz's blistering
critique of the institution, both it and the IMF
continue to promote themselves as the harbingers
of 'economic growth.' But such growth has benefited
the financial bully who has pushed public services
such as health and education of the sidewalk and
into the path of rampaging privatization.
fears that with the set backs in both Afghanistan
and Iraq reinforcing a need on the part of the West
to ideologically mask military subjugation in the
discourse of military humanism, it might be inclined
to 'Pentagonise' some African conflict spots. When
I suggested to Explo that military intervention
early enough in 1994 could have prevented the Rwandan
genocide, he countered that the murderous rage that
consumed Rwanda ten years ago was a result of 'proxy'
battles being fought out by Western powers; the
US were arming the Tutsis with the French doing
likewise for the Hutus. While feeling that explanations
of this type ignore the local dynamics at play,
self-serving Western calculated cynicism is not
something to be dismissed lightly.
believe that where the West does intervene it should
not be in military terms. Western governments should
monitor and halt arms sales from their countries
to the genocidists; they should also throw their
weigh behind an African Peace Initiative to stop
the militias and bring the perpetrators to justice.
edits Kilombo, a magazine described as the
'continuing voice of pan Afrikan communities of
resistance.' It has been in production since 1997.
During his visit to Belfast, he shared a public
platform alongside Carmel Hanna of the SDLP, the
Green Party's John Barry and Paul Braithwaite of
Trocaire. Not everyone here is obsessed with ourselves.
The exchange between his group and The Other
View was informative. But even at that, the
range of the problems are so staggering, it was
only possible to conclude that every journey can
only begin with the first step. And our engagement
was a very small but worthwhile step indeed.
details: (ALISC), PO Box 21266, London W9-3YR; e-mail: