Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Cursed Continent ?

While setting foot on this land (Sudan), the only exposure I had to Africa was through movies like Born Free, God's Must be Crazy and Out of Africa, apart from some news articles and official presentations. Four months later I am not much wiser but have realised that it is almost impossible for an outsider to comprehend the complexities of this strife-torn continent. The good part however is that one does not require to "know all" to make a difference.

There are around fourteen countries in Africa which are experiencing internal conflict today. Ironically it is the abundance in resources, be it human resources, ivory, oil or diamonds that has turned out to be a curse as the developed and aspiring nations compete to get a foothold and stuff their already over-stuffed wallets at the cost of African "expendables". Every country that is involved here (peacekeeping / aid) and every single foreigner (whatever he/she may claim ) has a venal motive. However, it will not be prudent to place the complete blame on former colonialists or the contemporary hypocratic fortune- suckers (pardon the pun). The inherent tribal traits of the native populace and the unfavourable bias displayed by history bear a major share of the responsibility. Even though the situation in every country or rather every county is unique there are many common factors, the most prominent one being the history of this continent which has been largely deprived of civilisations and dominated by numerous stories of slavery and exploitation. The borders between countries had been drawn by european imperialists to divide their areas of influence without taking into consideration the ethnicity / tribal affiliations (the reason why most borders are in straight lines).

The energy level of children is one of the most striking aspects that I noticed here (in the midst of ruins and hostile faces). Generally, the child population (as a percentage of overall population) is much higher than one expects and thankfully their spirit is intact unlike the grown-ups. Even as the situation looks hopeless, there are a few instances which give room for hope. Let me narrate one such incident which occurred last week. There was this little boy, around thirteen years old who was standing by the main gate of our military camp. He was all in rags and looked harrassed, but there was a look of determination in his eyes which one couldn't miss. He didn't know any english and spoke a strange language (swahili perhaps), but managed to convey all that was required. He was from Somalia, another war torn country and was one of the millions of kids orphaned in the civil war. At a refugee camp, he heard from someone that Juba, the capital city of South Sudan offered good opportunities and may offer a route to Uganda or Kenya and decided to set forth. He travelled through Ethiopia and Sudan along the Blue Nile to reach Khartoum, ,obtained a "refugee certificate" from UNICEF and proceeded towards Juba. It was when all the money he possessed dried up that he stopped at the first gate he saw and asked for help. The distances invoved were great, the terrain perhaps the worst suited for travel and weather punishing. This little fellow had the spunk to travel hundreds of kilometers alone, without any sort of certainity regarding his future and hardly any resources, but just on the basis of hope .... for a better life. People like him make one feel grateful for all that one has been blessed with and ashamed of whining at the minor road blocks in life. He provides a silver lining in the midst of apparent chaos.


11 comments:

Prasanth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nanditha Prabhu said...

great post!
it was an eye opener ....was very touching and thought provoking!
its true, that we need to count our blessings! and stop whining over trifle things!

Keshi said...

Those kids' innocent smiles r PRICELESS.

keshi.

Srijith Unni said...

A wonderfully written post, Naveen..! It is very sad that such a naturally rich and amazing place like Africa has been thus deprived. Slavery, Racial Discrimination etc, have left permanent scars upon it`s children. Truly a sad state of affairs.!

The incident you cited about the small boy, however raises hope. It is the will and spirit to survive against all odds which delivers results.! Let us hope that silver lining keeps widening...

Have Fun, Take Care and God Bless!

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

sudha said...

great, very touching, still can see determination & smile on those faces....

Nanditha Prabhu said...

You are Tagged!

Shruti said...

Hope makes the world going..
Very lovely and touching story..
Hope we all should stop whinning for the things which we dont have..

Take care

Prashant said...

Great post vinnannu.... the movie "Blood Diamond" was the last movie i saw on africa and it is sad to see something like this happening...
and very true how v whine over little things rather than appreciate the good things that has happened to us..

Naveen said...

Thanks all...

MyVision said...

Its a well written post vinnu. I read it couple of times and feel like reading it again and again. Can never forget the innocent smiles on faces of those children. As you said, for many countries in Africa, their resources has becomes a bane than boon...

Keep writing and posting...

mathew said...

nice post..stories which doesnt come out in the mainstream media..
was quite touched by the will of that kid...