6 March 2006

What I learned last week

Most of the times you can learn things without particularly trying to. Sometimes they make you happy, sometimes they anger you but hopefully they will not depress you. Most often they are just small things which may interest you. These are some facts I have learned during this week.


In Britain women earn 87 p for every Pound a man earns. This has many reasons first being that women end up in the jobs that pay less, which is something that needs to change. Second reason is that women are just paid less than men even doing the same jobs. It goes without saying that this is wrong. Estimation is that the country loses £23 billion (€33,5 billion) every year as a wasted talent.


When Americans sang We are the world in the eighties to raise funds for Africa, they may have meant that the world is actually consisted of them alone. British people would not agree with this. They feel that they are part of the world as well but rest… who cares. My American lecturer on Music Industries course, which completely ignores anything that is not from these two countries said to a whole lecture theatre, that “I am sure that no person here talks Spanish..”. I have to admit that I was slightly shocked. I cannot speak Spanish but surely you should not be able to assume that there is no person amongst 30 to 40 who have the skills. Sad part of the story is that she was probably right so I do not know whether the comment was more or less messed up than the situation.


More about that course. We try to understand how the music industries work and to me it has become clear that “we” do not want to waste our time with anything that is not either British or American. One could say that it is rather arrogant to see German, French, Scandinavian, Brazilian or Japanese or any music to have nothing but a novelty value but no real economical potential. If there is 50 million people living in France would it not be great to be star there? It would definitely pay your rent. How about Germany? 80 million people there and then you have Austria and Switzerland and a huge potential in eastern Europe where German is often spoken as a second language. How could that only be a novelty value? Why is the definition of selling records, to sell records in English speaking countries? In my life I have noticed that even concentrating to the dominant, does not mean, that ignoring the other sides of the story would be a wise practise.


I also learned that 24 000 Iraqis have died since the war ended. If that many people die in the circumstances which quite clearly looks like a war then why do we not call it a war? I would at least call it one and even then falling into semantics when people die like flies is cruel and un-necessary. If you do not believe me go and make a poll in Darfur.


Economist magazine, which by the way is not nearly as uptight as it sounds, writes that South African government has failed to deliver. It is not very brave statement without looking at the circumstances, that in short, goes as follows. Although having the democratic equality South Africa is far away from the economical, educational or even social equality. Twelve years is just not enough for that miracle. We all would like to see it but I am sure we all would like to see it rain in Kenya as well. Very small minority, even within the white minority that generally controls the wealth in the country, controls the largest companies which keep the economy stable. They are not going to give anything away to previously unprivileged majority. I could not tell if this is because they do not care but at least they do not care quite enough. If the government decides to take this property away by laws or by force these few families leave the country faster than Tony Blair would condemn Robert Mugabe. Then country would not have much left. White people who own things in South Africa feel that they have earned it and that they are entitled to have the farm that was stolen from a black farmer a hundred of years ago. They see no trouble there. That is how very often were raised. And that right there is a main problem in my eyes. If you were raised up looking down on group of people, twelve years will not change that.

When I talk about white people I wish everyone understands that I talk about culture and way of upbringing and not any genetic evil.


The only way forward to South Africa is to create a middle class and start campaign to educate people more equally. I am not specialist in the matter and most things I write here have been told to me be South Africans themselves but I can safely say that Economist, just like most of the "western" media, fail to find the core problem, while they are pointing their fingers at the things that are easy to condemn. After I have been shown a country that raised from one of the most oppressive legislations to all smiles and happiness in twelve years then we can start, not necessarily criticising, but at least analysing what could have been done better. Of course the government has not been as effective as it could havebeen, and the country needs only the best at this stage, but what would be better than them. Nothing but them working slightly better and getting rid of the corruption and the obvious things. I think South African government could get a bit more support from the opposition and the “west” and our media and little less bashing.


When it comes to African situation I also learned whole lot about the coup that took place in Ghana forty years ago. The Father of Pan-Africanism Kwame Nkrumah had been the president of country, that had gained its independence in 1957 from the Colonial rule of the usual suspect Great Britain, had to leave the most promising nation on the continent so that the western powers could return it back to the stone age. In nine years of independence Ghana had become the example of how Africa can improve its conditions and unite much like Europe now but even to an further extend. United States was not too fond of this idea so under the acceptance of Lyndon B Johnson and in co-operation with British and some rather small local groups they organised a coup while Nkrumah was participating in the peace talks in Vietnam. Johnson had himself promised to stop the bombings so that Nkrumah can safely land in his plane mainly to confirm that he leaves the country and is far enough so that he cannot get back in time. Sounds sick? I think it does. Is it not sad that the “west” always is the first one to say that Africa is filled with corruption when they have learned from the best? Actually when one thinks, if Africa did not have an element of corruption it would be a major miracle considering the history of colonialism, slave trade and the way the media has told that it is what they do. I am not justifying it but I can definitely see its roots.


In the name of common sense (RIP) I must also disagree with the British media attacking Tony Blair for making his decisions on war or in general by following his Christian beliefs. Firstly the show, Parkinson, where these comments were made, is not current affairs but human interest. He did not really say that “God sent me to war” as even BBC leads us to believe but he said that he has struggled a lot with what is right and what is wrong. I do not like him much but there is so many things he has done wrong, in my opinion at least, that why would we even want to crucify him for something that has no factual support.


Looking back what I have written, there are mainly the same things that I have been writing for a long time. Gender equality, poor state of the music industry and “western” governments and media undermining Africa. But these are things that I have been learning and thinking this week. It is rather likely that these are the things I think about next week as well. Next week I try to write about something else though.

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