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Monthly Archives: December 2012

 

Partying in Dar es Salaam’s Runway Club

“I’m all dressed up and nowhere to go” It was night. A black M-class Mercedes. Hot Tanzanian air comes in through the open windows. We are drunk. Drunk of the Friday night excitement and sing along to Jay-Z’s Watch the throne album. Murder to Excellence. A night with everywhere to go. “Success never smelled so sweet, I stink of success, The new black elite, they say my black card bear the mark of the beast…”

Admittedly Jay-Z mostly sings about Chicago, but my Tanzanian friends could identify with the songs and apparently so can the rest of the world. Not troubled by the paradox of a multimillionaire singing about war in the streets – en contraire money and war always intrigue. And the former, Africa’s black credit cards and its business, seem to dominate the current “Africa-Debate” more than the latter.

Vogue is trying to “Rebrand Africa”, so does Bloomberg and The Economist and even Oxfam needs to point out in a commissioned study that there is another story apart from drought, disease and civil war. All those are full of hopeful praise for investment and entertain with success stories about opportunities on a continent in motion. The lion. The rise.

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“Buy Land. They are not making it anymore.” This statement by Mark Twain uttered more than one hundred years ago still holds a sad and powerful truth and makes a telling start for Fred Pearce ‘s account about the fight over the Earth’s most precious resources, land and water. On 356 pages the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour around the globe and witnesses through Pearce’s eyes and pen a new colonialism driven not by countries but by the most powerful private capitalists, which constitutes a final enclosure of the planet’s last wild places. We encounter illustrious figures such as George Soros and Richard Branson, learn about the conflicts in the DRC and Liberia and why the Land Take of Mugabe in Zimbabwe wasn’t too bad after all for small scale farmers and how the global financial crisis and the intricate mechanisms of stock market speculations in commodities exacerbate the round-up on the global commons. Pearce’s passion and his outrage about this sell-out of communal resources shines through the lines. Each chapter is dedicated to a certain country, where protagonists change, yet the storyline stays the same: Governments around the globe grant large concessions to Machiavellian investors to advance their economies whilst displacing and disadvantaging large part of their own population. The classical land-based development conundrum.

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