Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Aid vs Sovereignty


You may find this post in another blog as well, I don't know (at the time of writing this,) whether I want to submit it as an article for a political communal blog 'cartel' I'm in, or not.

I submitted my dissertation topic form two weeks ago, on the deadline, about 3 mins before it was due to close. It was an idea I had been toying with for weeks, but fundamentally it is the basis for my studying politics in the first place - Africa.

Africa is my beginning and end I guess and so writing about it, giving myself the opportunity to understand it better is key. I didn't expect though that confirmation of this topic would come in the way it did...

The week before I submitted my topic form it was announced that the UK will slash aid to African nations who refuse to embrace homosexuality as a part of their society. At the recent Commonwealth Summit the British Prime Minister reasserted this policy. David Cameron argues that the right to be gay, and gay rights form an integral part of Human Rights and therefore, any country that does not uphold gay rights or even goes as far as to oppose it and introduce punishments upon the LGBT community is infringing upon International Human Rights and therefore unworthy of Western aid.

Those sympathetic to the gay rights movement won't really find a problem with what the British Prime Minister is proposing. That is not to say that I am not sympathetic with gay rights, but that I am more sympathetic with the more basic Human Rights being sidelined for this issue. The right to eat, for one. The right to an education, and the right to quality healthcare (although the American republicans may disagree with these two). The three sectors of infrastructure I have just named are heavily funded by Western aid. This means that any cut to the amount of help given at the beginning of the process will ultimately result in a cut to the quality of service found at the end. Can David Cameron really boast of moral high grounds when he is willing to see a young 5 year old girl go hungry week-in week out at the request of Western gay rights organisations (who enjoy 3 square meals a day)? Where is the moral high ground when that girl - lesbian or straight - grows up to work in a farm her entire life against her every desire, but as her only option, because the quality education wasn't there for her?

I am not a Utilitarian but in some cases the pleasure of the majority and the superiority of the greater good for the greater number must take precedence. There are some things that we cannot gamble with.

Cameron's declaration also confirms all that Kwame Nkrumah and his peers feared and warned against. The Prime Minister claimed that Britiain's position is one in which they can tell the African countries what they "expect" from them. He is unashamedly claiming to have the power to change the mindset of a people over whom he should have no control. My apologies for playing this card but it reminds me to much of the impetus behind colonialism - to civilise the barbarians, who in this case are barbarians because they believe that every man's relations should be with a woman and every woman's with a man. Today it is gay rights, tomorrow it is trade with British businesses, (or maybe that was yesterday actually!) When will Africans decide when Africans are ready?

I just hope African Heads of States make the decision to comply or resist based on what their people want. I am frustrated by what David Cameron has put forward, and one may argue that the best thing to do for the young girl is comply and move on, but Africans need identity and pride in their identity as the only ones who can shape and dictate what that identity is. If Africans choose aid over their principles then so be it, but if they choose their religion, culture and traditions over £36million (the amount the UK give to Ghana) then I would respect that decision too, because the most important contributor to national development isn't foreign aid, but pride in the national identity decided by Africans.

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