By AndrÃ©s Vallejo, submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 03/07/2005 - 16:22
On the colonial imagining of Africa We all just witnessed the â€œhistoricalâ€? Live8 concerts and the huge coverage that they have received in the news; even more than the g8 summit in Edinburgh and much more than the protests organised around it. Apart from diverting attention from the latter (exactly the opposite effect to the one supposedly intended by the concert), some other reflections seem in order. First, how the traditionally confronting style of the protests of the alter-globalisation movement has been wiped off the picture. In Edinburgh, the news showed us huge numbers of disciplined people in rosy marches, with banners bearing the same bourgeois slogans that the concerts have popularised: fair trade, make poverty history, care for Africa (the far away land where the problems are supposed to be). In short, a completely apolitical framing of the problem of inequality in the world; instead of criticising the expansion of imperial plundering, the call is for more of it: more integration of the third world (and its resources) to the wealthy one, and more dependency on it. It also stroke me the ubiquity of the faces of the presidents and of the names of the g8 countries in the images of the concert. If the media and image creators would be naive, this wouldnâ€™t be a big deal, but they arenâ€™t. The sophistication of marketing techniques, and their careful and pervasive use, doesnâ€™t allow thinking that this isnâ€™t significant. What I saw was an exercise, more or less conscious, of making the g8 responsible for the fate of Africa, and in doing so, willingly or not, of making this band of crooks the legitimate embodiment of an as yet budding global government. This was complemented by the representation of Africa as kids or women. The partnership on the stage at the end of the concert, quite patronisingly, was of mainly White singers, and African children. The concert also speaks to another aspect of European society and its future: the effects of an ageing population. All the transgressive power and rebel attitude that rockâ€™n roll used to have when these same people were young have been erased by their wealth and wrinkles. What we saw on stage and in the interviews that followed â€“no interviewee had an account smaller than a million quitâ€“ were some conservative folks struggling to look young through face lifts and affected slangism. They seemed to be trying to redeem, through appeals for prodigality, their lost years of profligacy. John Lennon must be thankful he was shot; he wouldnâ€™t have been if he wouldâ€™ve shared his table with super-power presidents. Imagine! What a bizarre spectacle. It would be only that if it wouldnâ€™t resemble too closely the images and messages that followed the â€œboxing dayâ€? tsunami, as itâ€™s called in England â€“whether parochially or colonially, I donâ€™t know. In fact, put together parochialism, pity and a messianic drive, and you have a good recipe for colonialism. This is precisely what was cooked at the concerts.