Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An American in Africa

I have a friend in Sudan and I recently sent him a fantastic book called The Unheard, along with a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition (you have to read the book to understand this one). The book is about a young, deaf American's two years of Peace Corps service in Zambia. Upon finishing the book here are my friend's thoughts. Comments please.

i finished The Unheard on Tuesday. i liked it a lot! the people of Mununga in Zambia are SO
much like the Sudanese in a lot of ways. probably it’s because of the level of poverty in the two places. Sudan is a bit more impoverished than what Mununga sounds like but a lot of the same things happen. a lack of a reliable justice system leads to Mob Justice. women are still considered assets, second class citizens and are still sold off for marriage. People are VERY tribally biased...the Sudanese are just terrible with that. the infant mortality and maternal mortality rates are astronomical.

reading the book i felt a noticeable level of despair creep in. i mean, it affirmed a lot of the frustrations i have with Africa. it seems like no matter what you try
to do on this continent there are evil and corrupt men who simply won’t accept good things. we work with a lot of subcontractors and individuals in church leadership and i can’t implicitly trust a single one of them. not because of gut feelings or anything, but because we’re constantly burned whenever we try to trust people. i was talking to a guy who grew up in East Africa and works with us. we agreed that it seems like nobody has any hope that a better Africa can be built, so every opportunity they have to cheat the system, to cheat other people they take. they are interested only in making sure that at least their family is taken care of. it’s tough to consider that many people in the international community believe Africa will never be any better than it is right now.

take Mauritania for instance, a West African country north of Senegal. i read on BBC yesterday that after one year in office, the first popularly elected President in a free and fair election since the country’s independence from France in 1960 was ousted in a military coup this week. i mean, as soon as Justice plays out and things look like they’ll be OK some power hungry, greedy, irresponsible sons of bitches decide they want it for themselves. but hey, it’s job security for us in International Relief. i know, not cool. i’d much rather live in Africa promoting a booming tourist economy than propping up the innocent citizens of failed states who are spat on by their governments and ignored by most of the rest of the world. what’s their hope? only the love of Christ. i guess that’s ultimately why i’m here.

anyway, such a good read! i now see how the swimsuit magazine fits in. funny stuff. it’s so true though about the amount of sexual energy there is out here. it seems like sex and poverty are the two unifying themes that run throughout Africa.

1 comment:

Chris Waluk said...

Just to clarify, the SI swimsuit edition was not mine. My old roommate has a subscription, so I simply took it and shipped it to Africa in hopes of my friend getting fired from his job(jk...but seriously). I'm pretty sure it got thrown out within minutes of him opening the package.