Friends with benefits

To me, having friends with benefits, is a bit like being on benefits and having no friends.

Perhaps this comparison also works when we think of the relationship Africa has with the West.

This week 192 leaders of nations gathered in UN Headquarters to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Brief history for those who aren’t familiar with this agenda – In 2000, every member of the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the most broadly supported, comprehensive and specific development goals the world has ever agreed upon. There are eight measurable goals to be achieved by 2015: (you can read the sub-goals for each one here)

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rate

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Good work is being achieved thanks to the MDGs. No doubt. Still, there are huge challenges ahead particularly in reaching the goals in the areas of hunger, maternal health, child mortality, education and gender equality. Furthermore, despite the goal for economically advanced countries to donate 0.7% of GDP to the poorest countries yearly, only five have actually done this; Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway. The UK has contributed a lousy 0.48%  and the US an even more shameful 0.22%.

If you’d like to read a full summary of the summit, you can download one created by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.

To mark International Peace Day, I attended a Voices of African Women seminar on Tuesday, where we discussed the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020 (which was part of the inspiration for launching the MsAfropolitan Boutique) and the likelihood of the MDGs being met in regards to African Women.

Several noteworthy topics were raised. Watch out for those in a future post, but as a quick note, each one of these eight goals directly affect African women.

When you follow in the path of your father you learn to walk like him ~ Ghanaian Proverb

. . .perhaps we should consider this proverb when pondering whether the West will ever stop treating Africa like a friend who comes with benefits and get into a real relationship?

Maolasi Masilo , writes in Pambazuka Press:

“The Millennium Development Goals initiative is yet to fail Africa.

Africans must focus on their own agenda and leave out the Western propaganda that is bent on infiltration by their media mediation of our social issues.

They are once more blaming our governments by what is purported as lack of transparency and human rights abuse by our leaders, while actually is their lack of commitment to have our interests at heart.

In fact the West should be considering reparations for the continent they robbed of its wealth, land and people for centuries.

As for you Africa, you must know, you’re on your own.”

Indeed, one or both persons tends to get hurt from casual sex and the only remedy is to stop having it. Africans need to really understand that we are on our own, we need to erase that number from our speed-dial, and to stop selling our soul with one hand and blaming with the other.

To blame or to shame? Sound off!

& don’t forget to sign the petition for the African Women’s Decade!

  • MBA

    You hit the nail right bang smack on the head with this post. The past is the past, forget reparations they will never happen. In the end the only people for whom it is in their best interests for the motherland to succeed is we Africans. People are not continually interested and wanting to dictate our affairs for nothing. We have so much value in both human and mineral capital. We have an abundance of land and sunshine. The most educated immigrant population in the USA is African. We need to use our brain power to protect and harness our potential.

    I was watching a Hugh Masekela special today and one of the songs lyrics was about owning being brown and thinking of it as a shining suit of armour to wear proudly. We as Africans need to realise that we are armed and ready and just get on with it. Sometimes you have to selfish to be generous and it is high time we started giving to ourselves and not others.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks MBA! We really ought to realise it’s in our interest to develop and in ‘their’ interest for us not to develop, so we cannot re;y on ‘them’ to develop ‘us’ at the same time.
      It’s not even a matter of prejudice is it, just good ol’ economics! I just read today that Nigeria is increasing it’s supply of crude oil to the US to 2.3million barrels a day, and who is benefiting from this export? the ‘friends with benefits’

  • Alligator Legs

    one of my friends just started working for millennium promise. apparently they’ve reached the MDG goals in dozens of millennium villages on the continent. i hadn’t even heard of these villages and i used to do communications work for the gates foundation. none of my politically-engaged friends in naija have heard of them either. (also cautiously excited about the new un women’s organization for gender equity. although i sometimes feel that all the un does is make new organizations. 😉

    • MsAfropolitan

      I totally hear you ref UN organisations. thanks for sharing the info about millennium promise, great stuff.

  • chomy

    OMG. OMG OMG i wish i went to this event, but thanks for sharing this sis.
    the friends with benefits metaphor bit is brilliant and helps to put things in perspective.literally and figuratively.

    i am often skeptical about intiatives and programs geared towards saving Africa. if we can have an honest conversation about it, alot of the shit that continues to happen to my beloved continent continues to happen because we let it.
    Accountability must start at home if we are to see any real change. If you keep waiting on handouts, you will keep getting treated like a panhandler. True some faults of her own, Africa has stayed in immense poverty while also helping to source and fund the wealth of other nations. In order to help itself, Africa has to realize its own potential , not the potential the west tells her she is worth. the potential that is not just based in the amount of oil , diamond , gold and other natural resources. culturally and economically,Africa has allowed herself to be raped time and time again , but the only thing is that all we took away from the whole ordeal is victimhood. we didn’t take away the resolve to use it as a source of empowerment. Victims get written off as weak and incapable of defending themselves. the issue comes up every now and then and dies just as quietly as it came up.

    All Africa got was promises and for some reason her people have accepted that on her behalf. Africans continue to sell out everyday to the highest bidder based on the illusion that the west cares. Africa needs to realize that the West is not coming to save her? and why should they? Africa has allowed herself to be dependent and these intitatives only reaffirm that she can’t take care of her problems.
    do you know how much the Iraq war costs moneywise per day?

    the superpowers of the western world simply cannot allow Africa to succeed or even rise to a position where they can compete in anyway. The west needs Africa to depend on them , because they can use it as a bargaining chip whenever needed. Africa is so natural resource heavy that they can flip the script if they became empowered and have the West beg for the resources. If Africa rises,imagine what that would mean to the relationship with the west.

    it is no longer about what happened , it is more about what we allow to continue to happen. we continue to let ourselves keep that mentality of victimhood without trying to channel it to anything. it is sort of like having an abused victim who stays in a bad relationship because the abuser constantly reminds her everyday that she is nothing without him, overtime she comes to believe it. this mentality weakens any resolve to get out from a fucked up situation and you can’t save someone until they are ready to help themselves.

    lets not talk about our leaders. that’s another post entirely but Africa can’t rise if most of these leaders remain. but think about the war against terrorism that the West has raged against every other country under the guise of preventing human rights violations and protecting the people of that nation. Yet , the West manages to remain mum at all the human rights viloations that happen everyday in Africa.Genocides, poverty, hunger you name it, it is widespread but yet the US has spent billions on just the Iraq war. Billions…enough money to probably feed one african nation for ummmmmm what i don’t know how many years but my guess is ALOT.Where was the SuperAmerica when African leaders are terrorizing their own people . where were they to protect the human rights of African people?

    The west has to protect their interests and investments so every couple of years, they throw up yet another fucking pledge. To the West, we are mostly what the Discovery Channel says we are. so every now and then they throw us a bone (promise) to deflect any real action further making Africa more dependent. what the fuck is Africa supposed to do with a pledge. Can she take it to the bank and get money or credit? i guess it only affirms that bullshit analogy that ‘it is the effort that counts’.

    so first things first. Africa has to take responsibility for the shit we can change ourselves. start with that.If the West and UN wants to help, let them roll in their knight garbs and arrest 90 percent of African leaders for their human rights abuse,because we certainly aren’t going to do it ourselves. i suggest we muster up some confidence of our own and be bold enough to say to the West “thank you but no thanks’ if they insist on wanting to help, we can give them a list of shit to pick from, they simply can’t pick and choose which ones to tackle while leaving the fundamental ones untouched. Also it might help if the West figures out that Africa is a continent not a nation, so what may work for Nigeria may not work for Gambia, the one size fits all approach doesn’t change shit. some countries problems are more dire than others. gotta start somewhere, can’t start them all at once or nothing will ever be completed.

    • MsAfropolitan

      Amen. Africa(ns) should understand that the west does not really care about our progress. We have to take courageous responsibility and debate and action. We cannot skip from apartheid/colonialism to suddenly playing fair game! there is a whole era in between where we need to tell a few ppl to piss off.

  • Cry me an Onion

    That’s a good point.
    Africa should take its responsibility. Africa has been waiting for 50 years to do so
    Africa is loaded with corrupt leaders. Forcing an educated Diaspora to immigrates. When will it get rid of them?
    The same African leaders are not distributing the mineral wealth. Again, when will they do it?
    Will Africans still follow the path of their fathers and walk like them? I hope not!
    Africa is lagging on the MDG. So where is the good work by whom, from whom?

    • MsAfropolitan

      hey, thanks for the comment!
      Africa has been systematically impoverished by the west primarily but also by our own leaders, and by ourselves.
      Things are changing though aren’t they, we can feel it… newer generations are taking over and not having it anymore. that’s how it starts

  • cry me an onion

    I am sorry but let me more specific. I have been living in Africa for over 16 years. The topic is MDG to be achieved by 2015. I have lived in Souther Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and now Kenya. I have been to Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Congo and other places within the continent and not as a tourist.
    It is impossible for Africa to reach any of the MDG goals by 2015.
    Africa situation is more complex than MDG Utopia.
    Africa problems are MASSIVE corruptions, lack of human rights,no freedom of expressions, lack of effective leadership, lack of cultural unification,wars, internal conflicts, tribalism and so forth and so on.
    Hello world! wake up and star smelling the coffee.
    MDG for Africa is impossible to achieve by 2015.
    Verifiable, transparent and accountable governments would need to be established first. The UN cannot do that because it proposes and cannot imposes.
    Blame it on the West. Ok but China is taking African resources now. They need them to develop their country. No questions ask they tell the corrupt afrcan leaders; “here’s the money and give me,the goods and I don’t care what you do to your people.”
    Do you see China as a large donor country! NO!. It makes direct “donation”
    by 2015, the divide between the rich and poor in Africa will widen.
    The new African generation fled to the diaspora. I would too when there is not opportunities and safety!


    • MsAfropolitan

      I agree mate, that’s what this post was about if you read it

      My point is that Africa needs to wake up and smell the coffee, not ‘world’, because ‘world’ does not give a shit

  • Vusi Sindane

    For me, the greatest leader in Africa who demonstrated that Africa is better off with African solutions was 14 years old when he told his story to the world.

    His name is William Kwamkwamba. He is probably around 25 years old today. you can read more about him here