By Hama Tuma 

This article is provoked by a recent article in the German Der Spiegel under the title of “Ethiopian Kids using Tablets to Teach Themselves”. This is how the magazine article told the story: 

“A US aid organization has handed children in the remote Ethiopian village of Wenchi tablet computers in an experiment aimed at enabling them to teach themselves. They are now speaking their first words of English — without ever having encountered a teacher”. 

The Charity business is funny in a cruel way. Giving a handful of Ethiopian rural kids Tablets is as bad and ridiculous as the used soaps sent to Uganda, the spiced ham sent to Muslim Asian Tsunami survivors, dog food to Kenya, and the knickers for Africa and bras for Haiti programs.  Just give Tablets to Ethiopian kids and they will have no need for teachers and to hell with the already reduced budget for education. It is a novel idea and the Tablet/computer idea for Ethiopian kids, which will make teachers irrelevant, belongs to the new America Messiah called Matt Keller who works for the “One Laptop Per Child” NGO and states that this way the kids can just leap into the information age. The harshly criticized Chinese Great Leap Foreword was more realistic and to the point. 

Recently, African singers made a sort of “We are the world song “to collect fund” to buy heaters for the poor in Norway (oh yes, there are poor people in Norway!). It was a well aimed spoof much like the late Idi Amin collecting goats, sheep and food aid for the malnourished British in England. Such spoofs are vendetta par excellence on the White so called do gooders who consider Africans are like babies who need white caretakers through out their lives. Some of these nannies are called Bob Geldof, Bono, World Vision, Oxfam and even belong to the UN itself… They are like worms festering in places and mess of misery, using images of children surrounded by flies, with bloated stomachs and weeping to the cameras their publicity stunts. Save a child, sponsor a child, buy one of our goods and we will send another free to the starving shoeless Third World—we have heard it all actually. In some African countries, some UN agencies and NGOs are effective cover for the CIA and western intelligence agencies. Just check Darfur, South Sudan, and Eastern Congo. All such places have their celebrity adopters.  Kony 2012 was a sad joke of an initiative. George Clooney cries for Darfur. Ben Affleck is for Zaire or the DRC.  Bill Clinton is for Haiti.  Even the fellow called 50 Cents who voted for Romney went to Dolow, Somalia, for the World Food Program. For some of these people the whole thing is called a “hug vacation “. You go with your expensive safari suit, hug a few people, look sad, and talk to the press and presto you figure as a messiah for the impoverished Africans. The victims are rats and guinea pigs in the whole experiment and operation anyway. 

It is a business and millions are made from the charity business. Most of the money often goes back to the donor countries. Western youths get employment, are well paid and act as Masters over us all. Some of the NGOs are filled with conmen, inept and fakes. There are of course others who really feel and think that they are really doing well.  Much as we respect their fine sentiments, they are on the wrong path. Swedow who wanted to send Africa a million T-shirts, Keller who wants to send more and more PCs to Ethiopian rural kids so that they can learn without a teacher at all, those who want to send us used shoes,  those who send us expired medicines,  those  who send us used clothes (the used clothes business has caused a 40% decline in apparel production in Africa) are all suffering from what one critic called “ white savior industrial complex” as exhibited so blatantly by the likes of Geldof, Bono, Jolie or Clooney. Some of these are people with huge mansions bought at a price that passes the health and education budget of quite a few African countries. Some of them buy some of our children and they think they own us. Imagine the problem of Africans being having T shirts, used shoes, old pants, Tablets, used soaps and other such nonsense! 

The Der Spiegel report states “Keller, 48, is a thoughtful American in safari pants. The villagers refer to him as the “ferenji,” or white man. Everything has changed in Wenchi since he began making his occasional visits to the village”. 

It is always the white Messiah who saves the African. Colonialism reborn, the thieving white missionary, the cruel Bwana with the colonial hat and boots and, never forget, the whip and the gun. The so called saviors of Africa have their own interest be it personal, financial or colonial. Some are naïve enough to believe that without confronting the basic problems of Africans they can bandage minor wounds and solve it all. Unfortunately some foolish Africans also imagine that without fundamental change they can defeat the malaise that has gripped and debilitated Africa. Corruption, bad governance, the absence of rule of law, gross violation of human rights, sale of fertile land to foreigners, displacement of the poor people, subservience to western and Chinese imperialism, the disaster of neo liberalism and capitalism—now these are the main problems. Millions of children sleep on the streets, denied education and their childhood, This is one  gross problem Keller should have considered inn relation to the why of it all instead of going to a small rural village, handing out Tablets and claiming a miracle and projecting himself as a pioneer and liberator. By the way, how many days a week does the small village of Wenchi get electricity? 

Oh yes, charity is a business. It is also a fame machine for actors and singers who are actually doing their thing within the framework of official American or Western politics. Why the silence on the repression in Ethiopia? Why the little concern for Eastern Congo (more than 5 million killed as western companies hungry for coltan and other minerals finance murderers and rapists) and the hue and cry against Beshir of the Sudan whom the ICC wants to arrest? Who said we Africans need used underwear, shoes and soaps? Did we ask them to come and buy our children thereby making the regimes who sell our children richer? 

But then again there is another way of seeing the whole thing. 47 Tablets in the hands of Ethiopians may bring about a revolution. No teachers needed at all- the kids are said to be speaking English. And of you speak English you are educated and way up on the ladder of “civilization “. Haiti is still waiting for the promised aid but they are being sent bras. The problem of African women is not the lack of knickers at all. As things stand there are presently more than 300 NGOs in Juba, South Sudan–our condolences to the citizens. They should demand for more Tablets and not for help to get more schools and power for their development. Alas, aid is political as we all know. The Yemeni ambassador to the UN who voted against the war in Iraq was told by the US ambassador, Thomas Pickering, that the “no” will cost Yemen a lot –US aid consequently stopped its operations in Yemen. NGOs are mostly political; even human rights organizations are under the heel of or infiltrated to their noses by western intelligence agencies.  The world is complicated and charity a cruel business, and pity the naïve ones who believe otherwise.

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