It’s odd how we look at the problems of the world and just continue to live our daily lives. Like driving past a car crash and thanking God it wasn’t us.

Zimbabwe is a car crash of we witness in our world. And we all slow down to stare, shake our heads and say, “Oh shame, I wonder what happened”. But no one stops to help. At most we will phone 911-AU or 1-800-UN and hope they will sort it out. But we drive on. Not stopping to help. Because we don’t want to “get involved” or get our hands dirty. And, in any case, we have an important meeting to go to and just didn’t do that bloody first aid course. We drive on because we have good reasons. Sorry, excuses.

But there are different types of car crashes in this world. We never stop to look at the reason. We assume we know. And behind every assumption is an idiot waiting to crash.

There is the drunk idiot driver that thinks he can just do whatever the hell he wants. Mugabe for example… They drive the way they want and crash where they want because alcohol makes you feel invincible. Just like power politics. Nothing can touch you. And you go ahead and do stupid things and drive as if you own the road, but we know you are going to crash. And take a few people out with you. Innocent bystanders and passengers. But like real people we watch you get drunk and never actually ask you to leave the keys and take a cab. No, we are to scared you might be offended…

But you are an idiot. An idiot for getting drunk on the power the steering wheel of life gives you. And an idiot for the false sense of safety the cacoon car gives you. I would stop and applaud your crash if it wasn’t for the innocent passengers and bystanders.

And then there are those who crash and they had nothing to do with it. A tyre blew and the car is hanging on a cliff – ready to crash down and take everyone on board with them. These drivers drive old cars with worn tyres and clunky bodies. It’s not that they want to have a crap car but they can’t afford a new one. And they have to take the commute of life to stay alive. They drive their crappy cars to work each day hoping that they will make it there and back safely. They don’t want to but they can’t help it. It’s life. And they are at the bottom of the piles of bodies. The janitors of life. Zambia…

My beautiful Zambia. The most amazing people in the world. Never been in a war. More Swiss than the Swiss. But they have a land-locked country with little to sell to the world. But they survive most of the time. And the crash we see is in slow motion. Like a bad dream. We can see it happening and we can rush out to help but like in those dreams… we are always just a little bit too late. It’s the hand they got dealt living on the wrong side of the track. But they continue to move along and try and make it to work for another day. Maybe that crash won’t come today. Maybe not tomorrow or even next week. But we know those tyres can’t last forever…

And sometimes everyone crashes while we drive by in our luxury vehicle of money and ownership. The roads are wet or full of sleet. People go off the road and crash into each other left, right and centre. But we are comfy in our luxury vehicle. We slow down a bit to stop us from sliding off the road and swerve to miss the others crashing around us. We just slow down enough not to get involved or harmed. The slippery dreadful roads are the economy. Making it dangerous for everyone. But those with money will slow down a bit. But they will survive while the others crash without reason. Those others didn’t speed or blow a tyre. It was just that there were no warning signs when they came around that economic bend. It’s a dead-end road. It’s their end of the road.

And even if the luxury vehicle slips and slides off the road they know they will be fine. Their cars have automatic recovery and crash warning systems, the latest safety devices to cushion the blow – and insurance to cover their costs if anything unforeseen happens. It’s life. It’s a hiccup for them. Lose a car or a million but they know they will be okay. Except if they got insured by Madoff & Co. Then daddy will have to bail them out. He always does. For them.

Of course it all is very different when someone crashes through our front door or wall. Then we get all worked up and want to beat the bloody guy up and want the police and insurance to deal with it right now! Because then it happened to us.

It happened to us…

Those people crashing everywhere around us? They are not us. It only happens to other people. Not to us. It’s never us.

Car crashes… That’s life in our little world. One car crash after the other. Thank god we have a few people who stop and help. And a handful of firemen and paramedics. Not enough to save the world. But enough to save a few while we drive past and shake our heads…

Maybe we all just suffer from road rage.

You know what? I don’t have a licence…



And that is generally followed by “but more needs to be done”. Google Greenpeace and ‘a step in the right direction’ and you get over 6,500 hits. Oxfam gives you more than 13,000. Would it hurt you to try and find a few new phrases? And what does it mean in any case?

The world is one continuous movement of “a step in the right direction”. Ending World War II – “a step in the right direction”. Ending slavery – “a step in the right direction”. Ending the ice age – “a step in the right direction”. Our earth is “a step in the right direction”. We solve problems one after the other. One by one. We have never done it with one clean sweep. We just can’t. We prioritise and tackle them one at a time. And it doesn’t solve the problem. It only makes the next one a bit clearer. Ending slavery – did that end racial problems and create equality? No it did not. But without “a step in the right direction” we would not be where we are today – fighting the next levels of discrimination and equality. So our development as a specie is based on the principle of continuously taking “a step in the right direction”.

You think we will solve poverty in Africa by throwing more aid in the pool? Or end global warming by switching off the lights? No we won’t. We need to go one step at a time first. Is bio-fuels a solution? No it isn’t. But it takes us one step closer to the solution. And we wouldn’t be able to get to the next “solution level” if we don’t make the incremental improvements first. Each time we improve a little bit on the previous time. (And then find out that is has other consequences, and now we have two problems to solve).

I mean really, the world will end the day activists actually start applauding some action by a “standard” company. Or just saying ‘well done’ would be way too much to ask. No, it is always the same – “a step in the right direction”. Really guys, you have to find a new way of saying this. Nothing is good enough. No, always a reminder that we need to do more. Okay, I get it. You will never be happy. And I don’t want you to be happy. It is your role to always put pressure on everyone to keep it moving forward. Just like a teenager – never happy, always complaining, and telling us we don’t know what we are talking about.

Thank god we don’t ask them to run the show. No wait. That might be “a step in the right direction”.

Okay, maybe genius is a bit of a strong statement. Overkill. But I got a bit hot under the collar when I read another bad review of his latest movie – You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Surprise, surprise. The critics didn’t like his movie. Apparently his humor is silly and lacks class. Excuse me, it is Adam Sandler. What did you expect? Tsotsi or Juno? Get off your bloody high horse. He doesn’t make movies for you Mister Critic. Ask his audience if they like it. Isn’t that what counts? Or are you saying that all those people who go and watch his movies are as stupid as him?

Maybe he makes movies because he actually enjoys just entertaining people? And maybe people watch his movies because they just want a silly laugh as something really ridiculous? Maybe they want some downtime from $4 gas and deeper debt? Maybe working two or three jobs at a time makes them a bit tired and they just need to escape a bit? Maybe they don’t have an air conditioned office and free passes to all the movies like you? Maybe they have to do some real work to pay the rent and buy some food?

Who the hell gives you the right to say that their entertainment is somehow of less value than yours? Being in the minority does not give you some superior insight into this world of ours. The Klan is in a minority. Are you going to say that they must have something right just because not everyone isn’t running off to join them?

I am just sick and tired of these people, who can’t act or write a script or direct a movie to save their lives, who somehow end up being critics. Pompous, stuck-up, pretentious bastards. You are no better. No better than anyone who doesn’t “get” Memento. Or who doesn’t think that Clint Eastwood is a gifted director or George Clooney is God’s gift to serious acting. We don’t think they are bad. But really, with the world in darkness around us some people watch movies to get away from it all for a little bit. Maybe people don’t want to watch Monster’s Ball because they live it. And a documentary of your own life is no fun at all.

And they climb into Kung Fu Panda. Jeeze. Puh-lease. They climb into it because it is so childish. Jack Black plays the same character he always play – just in animation this time. And it is so for young kids and parents won’t find it entertaining. Excuse me! Maybe that was the target audience? Not some slob stuffing his face with free popcorn and soda and watching a movie they weren’t going to like in any case. Not even if the voice was that of Daniel Day-Lewis and the movie was directed by Robert Altman. Nothing will satisfy you bunch. Would it?

What criteria do you use? How sad the movie makes you? How “real” the movie might be even though you would never actually live that life? Little Miss Sunshine is just so “edgy”. You wouldn’t know edgy if you walked into it my friend. Momento is so “complex”. No, you have a complex.

Sorry buddy. I want to be entertained. I want to escape. I want to forget about the troubles of the world and life at work for a few minutes. I want to hear my kids laugh at silly jokes. I want to see my wife wipe away the tears of laughter. I don’t want them to go home and feel even more depressed about this world of ours. Life is real enough. More real than your pseudo life and “deep” insights. Go stuff yourself. Get a life. A real life. Not one that you can somehow “connect” to on the big screen.

You remind me of those sport writers. Oh so insightful. But they are the same guys who didn’t get picked by anyone at school during break because their sporting abilities sucked. And now they take their revenge on those who actually play the sport.

You the critic. So important. So at the edge of art. So. So.

Oh, I like some of the movies and people I mentioned. I liked Gosford Park. I like George Clooney. Okay, sometimes. Memento is one of my favourite movies. But most of the time I just want to sit back and laugh. I don’t need much of a storyline. Just a few jokes – mostly stupid jokes. Anything goes. Anything to take me away for a few minutes. Take me away from this “real” life of the critics. Who can “feel the pain” and “live the moment”. Bah! Get a life.

Is this relevant to Africa? Yep. It is. Because it is the same type of people who will tell me all about Africa. And what the people of Africa need. And how they can “help” them. And how they feel the pain of the people of Africa. And that we should all do our bit. And volunteer our time. And… And…

Damnit man. Just stop it.

Africa doesn’t need your pity. Africans don’t need you to tell them how difficult their lives are. Africa doesn’t need more good advice. We can see where that got us in the last century or so. You campaign and you speak on behalf of us at conferences and lobbying meetings because you somehow believe that you have a deep insight into our people. Like you know what we need and want. The knight in shining armour. Where’s the white horse? Or is that just a white face?

That your deep and serious answers are so much better than our little silly childish solutions. Eish! No Country For Old Men is so much better than Mr Bean. Not when the men don’t grow old in our countries to start off with. We would rather watch Mr Bean being silly and just enjoy our moment together instead of suffering with you because that is what you need to make yourself feel worthwhile.

We don’t suffer to make you feel good. We don’t die to make you feel superior. We suffer because you feel good. And we die because you feel superior.

So sorry. I’ll take Adam Sandler anytime. I know what I get. A stupid man making stupid silly jokes, but being honest about himself and who he is. Just an entertainer. As simple as that. Not a special one who will save my world. We need you to be simple. We need you to be one of us. Be Adam Sandler. Be stupid and silly. But be honest. With yourself and then with us.

Be yourself. A flawed, but funny human being just like all of us. I am not going to give you a slap on the back and tell you I am proud of you because you are so serious. Just be. And just do. Do it because you do it. As simple as that. Don’t give me nice camera angles of poverty or deep and serious scripts for advocacy. Shut up and do it. Be funny. Be true.

Hey, you never know. Spielberg might make a movie of your life some day. Just hope to God it isn’t Oliver Stone and some conspiracy movie…

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These are the good old days. The good old days the way our parents remembered the days of old. The good things in life. Children playing in the streets and the fruits growing in abundance. Of days working in the fields with the sun shining on your back. The days of rockets to the moon. When families ate together and lived together. The days of peace, love and happiness. Those were the good old days.

But for my children today and tomorrow are the good old days. These are the days they will remember. The days when they were young and free. The days when they were happy and not a problem in the world. These are their good old days.

The days when they come home to another great supper made lovingly by their mum. The days when they come home and can play with their toys and tell their story on the Internet. These days when they celebrate their birthdays with the toys they hoped and prayed to get and they got. These days when they can fall asleep in their warm cosy beds and dream dreams of another beautiful tomorrow. These are their good old days.

These days when so many children do not have a home. Or warm bed and meal. These days when the toys they have are the lives they live. These days when they pray for another tomorrow. These days when they go to sleep and cry themselves asleep. The cries of fear and hunger. These are their bad old days.

These are the days when I can have my flu injection and hope it works. These are the days when my family can have their vitamin pills in the morning and know they are strong enough to play another day. These are the days where I can drive down the road and by some more at the pharmacy. These are the days when medicine is for me to have and for me to enjoy another day. These are their good old days.

These are the days when people die from Aids, TB and malaria. These are the days when you can get a Coke to reach far off places, but not the family down the road on the wrong side of the tracks. These are the days when we have medicine to solve so many diseases, but people die in the continent next to us from little things like diarrhea. These are their bad olf days.

These are the days I can love my wife. And respect her for who she is. Strong and a woman. These are the days when my daughters can be proud to be girls. These are the days when I can hear them laugh and giggle as they play. These are the days I can see the love in their eyes and the future in my heart. These are their good old days.

These are the days when a woman or child gets raped every 17 second in the country of my birth. These are the days when our mothers and sisters work the streets. These are the days when the love of our lives walk around with hurt on their bodies and hurt in their eyes. These are the days when woman and girls are hurt. In pictures and in health. These are their bad old days.

These are the days when my children are healthy and play outside. These are the days when they are strong and eat their food. These are the days when we keep them warm and their bodies and healthy. These are the days when they laugh so much and have the fever we can handle. These are the days when they are children with bodies strong. Strong enough to be the kids they should be. These are their good old days.

These are the days when every 3 second another child dies. These are the days when kids die from little things like a cold or the cold. These are the days when the milk dries up and another child cries. These are the days when so little food is good to eat and the water brings more disease. These are the days when children die. These are their bad old days.

These are the days when we have two kids. These are the days when my wife was strong and the doctor even stronger. These are the days when the hospital helps and the beds are good. These are the days when I smile and saw her bravery, knowing she will be fine. These are their good old days.

These are the days when mothers die. When mothers die from anything at birth. These are the days when the doctor is far or not to be seen. These are the days when the water is bad and the mothers suffer. These are the days when the water is gone and the milk followed. These are the days when the mothers suffer and die. These are their bad old days.

These are the days when my oldest girl is the brainbox at school. These are the days when she makes me proud and brings home straight A’s. These are the days when her sister learns to read and write and is having fun. These are the foundation for their days to come. These are their good old days.

These are the days when the children work the fields for the chocolate we eat. These are the days when the children walk the streets because the school is gone or never came. These are the days when the children work the machine for the shirt on my back. These are the days when a child works the job of a man. These are the days when a child is no child anymore. These are their bad old days.

These are the days when we play in the snow and sled and ski. These are the days when we wait for spring and the flowers it bring. These are the days we can go pick some apples and tap the maple. These are the days when we smile at the sun and catch the snowflake. These are the days of fun outside and mother nature oblige. These are their good old days.

These are the days when the rain has stopped and the crops don’t grow. These are the days when the polar bear starts to drown – the bergs starts melting. These are the days of tornado’s and floods. These are the days when the sun don’t smile but just starts to burn. These are the days when the heat it gives is to much to take. These are not the days of old.

These are the days when we play in packs. These are the days when we gather in groups and join hands in fun. These are the days when we help each other. Friends and foe. These are the days we stand together and face the world. These are the good old days.

These are the days we fight and look for wars. These are the days we break the bonds that makes us human. These are the days when we live in packs instead of communities. These are the days we take to anger and strike before we hug. These are the bad old days.

Yes, these are the days we make. We can decide what we want from this world. The good old days, or the days of yesterday? We have a choice. We decide what days these will be. No one but us. I made my choice. I know what I want to answer when my kids look at me and ask, “dad, what did you do in the good old days?”

Note: For those who didn’t pick it up – this piece is based on the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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Children sweating in the fields on the farms in the Ivory Coast or in the factories in Bangladesh. Children are working up a sweat – whether it is cocoa or soccer balls. Now it is in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan. Yes, we found another place where these pesky little people work when they shouldn’t be working so hard – or not work at all. I mean really, kids should be going to school and playing in the parks. Right? Maybe not as clear-cut as that. What’s wrong with a bit of child labor?

What’s wrong with kids working. Hey, my kid better clean her room before the all new tough dad comes a knocking (hear the laughter in the background – we had kids so I can have mates of my mental age to play with). But seriously, kids should do some work. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. The streets ain’t what they used to be. Just look at the yobs out in the streets in the UK. Oh, our bleeding bloody hearts. These poor little kids, poor little Peter, have nothing to do but sit around and drink and smoke. And we should support them a bit more if they get into some mischief (like stealing from and/or mugging people). Just today the UK moaned and bitched about disciplining the kids that are in detention centres. Oh shame, those poor little kids. All they did was rob, mug and assault people. What is a stab-wound between friends?

And then we look back and talk about the good old days. Remember the good old days? What did you do in the good old days as a kid? Backchat your folks? You get a piece of that leather on your backside for that. We didn’t have time to rob or assault people – we had to earn our meager little money (if any) the hard way. In the fields and in the roads and in the house.

For those privileged enough to have grown up in nice neighbourhoods. Remember what the kids had to do? They had to deliver newspapers. Come rain or susnshine – ride that bike and deliver them newspapers. Mr Wilson didn’t care if precious little Tommy was going to rain wet or not. He wanted his newspapers and Tommy took the responsibility of delivering them. Now? It’s a guy in his 30’s driving his car and flinging the newspapers out his window. Yes – that’s what happens in my street. Why? Because Tommy’s mom is a bit scared he might get a cold and he is still sleeping you know. He was up till late last night playing World of Warcraft. Tiring, I know. Maybe I am completely wrong and that 30-year old guy actually started delivering the newspaper about 20 years ago and just refuses to give it up. He’s got a nice little racket going there.

And for those who grew up on the farms? You think Chuck had the luxury of lying in a bit before school? And get his breakfast in bed over weekends – at about 10 in the morning at the earliest? Don’t think so. You want some cereal this morning Chuck? Good – go cut some corn and milk the cows first. Cornflakes and milk don’t grow in containers you know. Get up at 4:30 and do your work before getting ready for school – and cycle to school. No soccer moms back then. You want to play soccer? Then run to school to warm up. I’ll show you what to do with that ball. Those Bangladesh kids worked hard to make those soccer balls you know.

But for the majority of kids there were no good old days. You see many of them did grow up on the farm. But it wasn’t their farm. They were just the workers on the farm. Little Sipho also got up early in the morning with young Willem (South African names). They were good friends back then. They milked the cows together and had their morning chat about what mischief they were going to get into later that day. When Willem gets back from school. Sipho didn’t go to school. Didn’t make sense. His folks earned next to nothing on the farm and to make ends meet Sipho had to work. And even if the farmer treated his workers like his children – these children didn’t go to school. No. They had to work. What else were they going to do?

And the other kids in the township? Some of them went to school. Where they were taught in a foreign language by a teacher with little or no qualifications. But it was better than nothing. Because those with nothing ended up working. But not in the “nice” places like the factory or the farms. No. They ended up working on the rubbish dump. Joseph is picking through the rubbish that the “rich” threw away. Collecting the empty bottles and paper to sell to the recyclers. And picking the copper out of wires to melt and sell. And sometimes you find a few nice toys or clothes or sport equipment that you can wash off and clean up nicely. And then sell it at the market on Saturday. Some “easy” cash those toys and clothes.

And what about Kwame? Kwame would think Joseph has it easy. But he doesn’t know about Joseph. Because Kwame doesn’t know much outside his world – his world where he travels between the mine and the hostel. Hostage of the mines. The chemical mines. Those chemicals we need for our medicine. But it’s medicine little Kwame won’t get. He’ll die to young and the medicine is to deal with obesity and hair-loss – things he will never suffer from. No. Those would be the least of his worries. And then there is Abhra doing the stitching of those soccer balls. But stitching the soccer balls is better than the alternative – selling your body for a little bit of food and money.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Those in the cocoa fields are lucky. More than 80% of them are actually members of the family who owns the farm. Like Willem. They work on the farms because it is their farm. School would be great. But it doesn’t put food on the table today. And learn about what? Maths and science and geography? All you need to know is the maths of running a (small) profit on the farm to feed everyone – know how much it costs you to grow your crops and how much you get when you sell you crops. And the science you need is knowing how to grow your crops and use the right fertiliser to make sure they grow well. And the geography of how you use the lay of the land – and plan for good weather and bad weather. They don’t teach those maths and science and geography in the school. No. That’s what you get from working on the farm and listening to the old and wise men who have been doing it since – since their father told them. This is the schooling you need because this farm will be your farm one day. And you have no time to waste on theories when the reality of climate change is coming your way.

We need more child labour in this world. More children knowing how the crops grow. Because they need to feed us tomorrow. They are our future. If they don’t grow it no one will. And we need more child labour to keep those yobs off the streets. Give them something meaningful to do. Something that will keep them busy. Work is a natural restraint – we won’t need those detention centres then.

But of course it isn’t that easy. No. We know the world isn’t black and white. Because what do we do with Joseph? What do we do with Kwame and Abhra? That is where we fail. Those kids on the rubbish dumps and the mines and the prostitutes. They are still there. Picking through what we threw away. Digging for those ingredients we need to make us feel better. Stitching the soccer balls little Tommy needs. And for those pictures we find on the internet – sorry, I can’t even go there. That’s just too hard. This is too hard.

I have kids. I don’t mind them working. In fact, they should be working. But there is a line. A line that crosses all cultures. A line no culture has the right to cross. But we needed to give people choices. We need a little less of Kwame and Peter – a little bit less working on the rubbish dump and living on the streets and a little less of being a rubbish yob in the streets. Let the children work. But remember who they are. They are children. They are our children. I have two daughters. And this is too hard. I need some hot cocoa now.

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‘…Starbucks in Beijing’s Forbidden City is brewing a storm in China, with outraged local media reporting that 70 percent of people would rather not sip the American chain’s frappuccinos in the footsteps of the Son of Heaven.’ Sounds like an article of just a few months back and a recent issue – Starbucks and the controversy in the Forbidden City that led them closing that store a few months back. But in fact, this article is from CNN report of 2000 ‘Starbucks brews storm in China’s Forbidden City’. Seven years later the issue blew up again and forced Starbucks to close the store. In the intervening seven years, Starbucks remained in the Forbidden City and had a very low-key approach in this location. There was no branding on the outside of the store, but once you got inside, you knew you are in Starbucks.

The easy way out was for Starbucks to close the store and expand to other locations. One store won’t damage their business – not with over 12,000 stores globally. But what did they do wrong? The mere presence of Starbucks in the Forbidden City was seen as an insult to Chinese culture and history. It was not about what they were doing or not doing. Everyone agreed that they were a good company, doing good things. But they are not Chinese. Similarly, in many places in Africa, people are starting to complain that Chinese companies are exploiting them and not respecting their culture and history. But don’t think that this just occurs in the developing world or in emerging markets. Remember the US stopping a certain Middle East company investing in the ports in the US a few months ago? This is one of the key challenges facing companies in a globalized world. How do you become local and global while expanding your market?

Are you a multinational or a US/UK/Chinese (fill in whatever country might be disliked in the marketplace) company that operates globally? Too often companies claim to be multinational, but they are driven by the culture of their origin. Very, very few companies are actually MULTInational in the way they operate and are managed. To become multinational they need to ensure that both the ‘numbers’ and the people make sense. It is fine to say that 90% of the people in their African/Asian/etc. offices are from the host country, but this still leaves two questions: (1) the 10% left – are they mostly senior management, and how senior are they? (2) Is the head office comprised of mainly western (mostly white males) or do they reflect where they operate?

How do you bring these cultural influences together to make your company truly MULTInational? It may require melding the Western model, which is largely focused on the individual with say an African or Confucianism culture of East Asia. What is the best way to manage the company, and interact with employees, communities and customers? At the moment, companies are not asking these questions as they think ‘diversity’ is a numbers game about ethnicity and not the way you do business. Until we start seeing ourselves as global AND local in the way we run our business, the idea of being a Chinese company, an American company, or an Arab company will continue to divide businesses and customers.

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Yes, this whole week I was stuck in conferences telling me the world is going to burn in the next 50 to 100 years. And the rising oceans will act as a temporary cool-down – but then we will drown as they rise a bit too much. Bye-bye Manhattan. Bye-bye Cape Town. Bye-bye London. Depressing. Not really. As you all know I am a natural optimist. I know that we will find a solution. We’ll just first go through all the other bad options before we do the right thing. But I am still stuck on what we can do in Africa. And I can’t find a solution. I think we are stuck in a Catch 22 situation on dealing with climate change in Africa. We are stuck – each time we find a solution it forces us back to our starting point.

I know I have argued that people will first look at the things that will kill them immediately – health, food and war. But the climate change will affect Africa and the impact will be felt way more than in any other region. The impact will be disproportionate. Why? Because we live such a marginal life – always on the edge. And the only way we can survive is through ubuntu – supporting each other with the little we have. This social safety net is build with little chain links that helps us stay connected to each other and connected to life. We only have each other to depend on and our social safety net is each other. When this break we are pretty… hum… stuffed (sorry, wanted to use a harder word). We have seen it when these safety nets break – Ethiopia in the 80’s, Somalia in the 90’s,  Sudan today. The impact is so much worse than anywhere else. Because people can’t share anymore. There is just nothing to share. And people die. Climate change will have a huge impact as we will see consistent crop failures and the breaking of the social safety net. We will help each other until there is nothing left to share. And then we die. So climate change is important. But I just can’t see a way out of it. I just can’t see a way of dealing with it in Africa. How to get beyond where we are.

The first problem is dealing with the money that would be needed to fight climate change in Africa. It isn’t as easy as we think. More aid? Maybe. But from where? One of the proposals is that some of the money that comes from carbon trading should be diverted to Africa’s fight on climate change. I have a problem with that (no surprise there). There will not be enough money generated from carbon trading to deal with Africa and all the other areas that needs to be dealt with. So where will the money come from? More aid from the US and Europe? That could work. Couldn’t it? No.

Aid money is needed for the first fight – HIV/Aids, TB, malaria, food, water, etc. All these areas are already underfunded. So any aid going to fight climate change will be money that should go to the first group of priorities – things that are killing people today. Even if we include the funding in projects aimed at sustainability – farming, manufacturing, trade, investment – the money will still be a diversion from the main aim of improving Africa. And we just don’t have enough money going around at the moment. Look after the first things first. Once that is done you can look at climate change – but not a minute earlier. And we know that adequate aid (and trade) ain’t gonna happen soon.

So what do we do if we get the money from somewhere (and somehow)? How would we spend it? We struggle with basic capacity in Africa already. We struggle to get the medicine to people even if we get medicine for free. We can’t help all the farmers become more efficient even if we get the funding that is needed. We have a lack of capacity to do some of the basics – where do we get the capacity to deal with climate change? Do they want us to hire some more of those western consultants to help us out? Divert some more money away? And what do they know? They can’t even solve it in their own country where they have all the solutions already – how are they going to solve it in Africa?

And what about the infrastructure? We are so behind in providing the infrastructure needed to run our countries – how are we going to build infrastructure for climate change? We have coal – not wind-farms or geothermal. I can picture it now – a huge wind-farm right next the coffee farmer in Ethiopia. That ain’t gonna happen soon either. We have to build the roads before we can build the wind-farm. Shouldn’t we?

Even if we get all that sorted (how I don’t know) – should this be the priority for governments? Can we just get them to govern a bit more efficiently first? Their priority should be to start governing and not to talk about things that removes them even further from the people. They should get their priorities straight. Govern first. Plan for tomorrow next. And then plan for the long term. But first things first, thank you.

Sounds pretty awful doesn’t it? Each solution offers a new challenge that brings us back to our starting point. How to deal with climate change in Africa. Catch 22? More money needed… but elsewhere. More capacity needed… but elsewhere. More infrastructure needed… but elsewhere. More governing… but elsewhere. I just don’t know what the answer is. And, in all honesty, I haven’t seen or found a solution that seems to do the work. Nothing has convinced me yet. But I am convinced of one thing though. That in the end the African people will find a way through this. They will find a solution. They always somehow manages to find solutions when they face the most impossible situations. Throw a war our way – we’ll get through to the other side. Colonize us – we’ll survive. Crops fail – we’ll share the little we have. HIV/Aids killing people – we’ll look after the kids. Somehow we find a way forward.

Catch 22? Not really. That book was written by an American. More like A Long Walk To Freedom if you ask me. But please, just not Things Fall Apart.

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