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Question 3: What are the profound and internal factors which explain the dependency between Western and developing countries?

Since the analysis of the Western approach to the developing countries has changed during the sixties, seventies and even eighties, so have the relationships of these countries to the industrialized nations. Any further going appraisal would verify that the dependency between Western and developing countries has been reinforced, strengthened and changed due to several factors, the cultural deprivation and consequent impoverishment perhaps the most crucial one of all.

For instance, nothing could bring about reconciliation due to AIDS and other problems putting Africa on the world map in but a negative way, yet what part of that striking reality is being really reflected in the West? If it is not the dispute with the pharmaceutical industry about making available the kind of medicine needed at a reasonable prize and in such quantity that exceeds strict market rule of making business out of scarcity, there are religious campaigns by Western organizations influencing development and aid policy by being against family planning which they equate with abortion and other birth control measures perceived as allowing for promiscuity and other offensive sexual behavior. That propagates a conflict of values at the expense of resolving hard issues on the ground.

Hence development options are subjugated to a perverse form of morality which wishes to give all Rights to the unborn but already conceived child while once born they are not bothered by the fact that these children have neither the food to survive nor to survive since they are born with already marks of lack of nutrition. The world into which children are born into has to be looked at more carefully. Equally arguments for and against birth control has to be put into cultural context. There has to be expressed much more concern for the potential mother and include the responsibility of the men who made the women pregnant. In reality, war and hunger have driven away the men and therefore it leaves the women to cope on their own. They and their daughters are most vulnerable. They know that repeatedly any venturing outside the safety zone of the refugee camp to fetch much needed wood risks being raped.

Thus while creating a friendly environment in which children can be born and raised remains an issue, it means specifically health conditions linked to nutrition and ways of managing resources cannot be resolved, if high stakes of morality overshadow and silence needed debates and inquiries about possible ways to refine development aid. It should not mean incapacitating but giving confidence and freedom so as to come to terms with AIDS. The epidemic is an enormous killer of the most productive persons of society. Once robbed of its young farmers and producers they end up after years of draught not to have sufficient food to sustain its population. So impediment through artificial moral conflicts is definitely one of the main factors contributing to a growing dependency.

Clearly one condition for future development aid and specifically propagation of good training methods is that they are not sanctioned or curtailed (by withdrawal of financial aid), if deemed (by sheer projection and judged without any substantial justice being done to method, problems on the ground and possibilities to find solutions) not to be in accordance with the highly Neo-Conservative and indeed fundamental values held in the West and imposed upon developing countries through such institutions as the World Bank and countless other institutions, including foundations funding projects which comply to their specific programs. Most often the programs and projects are judged by people who are not living in any concrete environment but depend solely on virtual networks supporting their actions in a global sense and under the condition that they use the leverage of money to curtail even activities undertaken by the United Nations. This international institutions has been systematically undermined to the point that powerful nations like the United States pride themselves in going it alone by claiming in an one sided fashion that they are not bound by international obligations mediated by the United Nations. The controversy about the Human Rights International Committee is an example with positions of values colliding with positions of pragmatic realism e.g. when it came to letting Libya on board or not. A lot of diplomacy and international aid giving actions are limited and influenced by such lists issued by the United States when considering who is according to them a ‘terrorist organization’. Always it is in the final end also about the power to define and more so to brand those who do not go conform with the value system of the West as interpreted especially by the United States. Such tendency towards conformity tends to identify the others as the ones without any values (and which can fulfill in a similar way the category of ‘non-believer’ by those adhering to the Islam religion).

Nelson Mandela did manage to give South Africa an escape into freedom and this not under any condition. Whatever the opinion about South Africa of today, it is important that the country goes through the painstaking of the Truth Commission to confront the past. If it helps to make possible reconciliation and thereby avoids taking revenge, then this alone would be quite an achievement. Nevertheless the social process of clarification has to be worked through carefully, with and by the former suppressed people together with the former suppressors. Both sides have to learn to step out of their past roles if new models of behavior and governance are to be developed. There is no telling how long it takes to overcome resentments of the past. Crucial would be if the West helped in this process, namely to overcome one sided dependencies and equally suppressive regimes. The colonial models of the past have been perpetuated in many and variety of perverse forms of corrupt rulerships. African societies especially must depart from the master-slave models and seek a way to rule with a sense of justice prevailing for all. That can only be brought about by learning to be just and fair both in the process and in the end. People must know to what efforts to realize such a goal they must and can give their support to. A just society is not merely a matter of legalization and living according to the ‘rule of law’; it involves a much wider interpretation of the relationship between theory and practice for it requires ‘innovation and creativity’ to take things forward in a positive way. Indeed, it is a matter of implementation.

The crucial question is can people develop in the process such practical judgment that will allow for a clear correspondence at all times between means and end? Here the concept of just society cannot be encouraged enough by the West but it becomes nearly impossible if countries like the United States or political entities like the European Union practice and demonstrate daily double standards with a continuation of tolerating corrupt dictators just for the sake of having spheres of influence in the same region and thereby unhindered access to resources such as oil.

Efforts to shake off the cultural influences of the West have been tried ever since Ghandi started the movement of independence in India or else after Second World War the Suez crisis sparked of a nationalist revolt in Egypt but turned then into a regime of repression under Nasser. Equally the war in Algiers was a brutal reminder that such a system of colonization along with an elongated penal system of France provoked violent reactions once the law of 1955 was introduced. People of Algiers even of today are rightly so shocked since such methods invoked memories of the worst kind of dictatorships leading to the most brutal regimes. It seems, for example, that France has learned little out of the Algiers crisis. As a matter of fact Right Wing politicians like LePen gained their military reputation there by being ruthlessly tough all in the pretense to represent a ‘law and order’ system. He used that experience to make his political career once back in France, something many other military leaders did after having served in the First and Second World Wars, Charles DeGaulle an outstanding example. The problems of nationalist viewpoints leading further to Racism and intolerance have not been resolved in France and elsewhere; the outbursts of the youths in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities underline that integration policies have failed while their failures necessitate by wrong conclusions the use of still more repressive means e.g. more police presence, harder immigration laws, stricter screening procedures etc.

Already before the full brutality of the Algiers war erupted, developments leading up to that crisis were silencing many crucial voices, including that of Albert Camus. It was a surprise to everyone. He had wanted to uphold a peaceful way out of the crisis and searched for possible mediation between colonizers and those in Algiers who did not tend towards extreme positions. However, Sartre could rightly so criticize Camus for remaining silent about one crucial point: in his silence he failed to tell his people the full truth, namely it was not about individuals, but about the entire colonial system. According to Sartre the colonial system was not willing to negotiate and thereby translated all too easily every further measure of repression into a propagation of still further violence.

As this exemplifies the saying by Klaus Heinrich and other thinkers such as Juergen Habermas, namely where there is no mediation, there is violence, any immediate clamp down of power means that civil liberties are no longer respected and instead of negotiation only violence will pave the way. This then is the other, equally most ugly side of the relationship between Western and developing countries. That relationship will be cemented by this continual show of naked force when soft persuasion does not work. The brutal unleashing of sheer power, and in Algiers the French foreign legion made a special name for itself due to the methods it applied, including most horrific forms of torture, when attempting to squash any sign of resistance, that no sense of justice prevailed. It has affected not only France’s position towards Algiers but as shown by the many other eruptions of violence throughout Africa that such inhuman ways of clinging to the old system of domination has affected the entire continent of Africa.

The degrading of others by calling them offensively ‘scums of the earth’ if the official and non official representatives of the Western system see no other way out but to get their way by incriminating the others, then the turn to violence becomes like an addiction based on self justification and pure insanity. It is power gone mad over those who do not comply fully. It leads to such entanglement that a downward spiral adds to the loss of mutual respect needed for negotiations and international diplomacy to work positively. The loss of ‘human dignity’ is indeed a part of the aims the Western world pursues in developing countries and therefore expresses clearly that the old colonial system has not really changed in this basic disposition. By criminalizing the ‘others’ if not as ‘scums’, then as ‘terrorists’, the West feels legitimized to deploy the harshest methods, including torture, and to go to war under the pretext to safeguard security and peace in the world.

At home, the way France has been treating all along, for example, immigrants from Algiers and elsewhere, and this despite the fact that it may be the third generation of immigrants who are trying to make France into their home, fortifies merely the bad or negative relationship between France and the Third World. Algiers itself has shown many difficulties reside within its own realms of reality marked by that terrible path the Algiers war took. It left behind the deep scar of human decency having found as of yet no way to preserve itself by standing above violent conflicts and abuse of law. Subsequent developments have proven that more than enough.

Naturally there are rebuttals of Western Civilization, Franz Fanon’s “Wretched of this Earth” perhaps the most literary one. Franz Fanon links Western Civilization to what it praises as beings its roots of democracy, namely Ancient Greece with its symbolic edifice being the Parthenon. He questions what Europe has been idealizing over centuries by now and by which it claims power over other nations and continents. Even the British Museum makes use of the existence of some parts of the Parthenon Marbles within its buildings to prove Western Civilization as being ‘culturally superior’ over other civilizations.

In Africa, there was made the attempt according to ethnologist Diallo to bridge these cultural differences between the West and the developing countries by such movements as Negritude. It was an attempt to get out of the false dependency but not by means of a national and equal isolationist position but rather to combine the best of European with African cultures. Unfortunately this effort to humanize African traditions did not go very far. Here some of the profound reasons for the dependency may also be found in what are again possible failures of African cultures to get out of what appears to be at times ‘incest like conflicts’. By not resolving this internal and often very bitter strife between various tribes leading to a majority being without power and therefore with no resources while a minority rules with brutal force (here the story of Nigeria reminds of Iraq). It has given a bad name to Africa. It leads directly to the failure to prevent itself own forms of Racism and which has lead on to genocide as in Rwanda. Such developments have unleashed forces that have set back Africa in more than one way and increased in turn the dependency upon the West as the only hope for stability and as a possible way out of the vicious cycle of poverty and violence.

The loss of an authentic cultural dimension deprives African countries of an own identity, one which cannot be trampled upon by corrupt regimes. Out of this follows the stories told require a new interpretation as to why governance in Africa proves to be so difficult and why it defines itself so differently from other continents in terms of dependencies upon the West.

Europe itself seems to be hardly aware of the consequences of the colonial past while today any setting the developing world seems to be a dangerous mixture of odd contradictions and uneven development. Side by side there exist absolute richness and absolute poverty. Along with AIDS many are tensions created by unresolved disputes over resources make it ever harder to cope and to find solutions. There seems nothing in sight which could provide some solution. Young people in Africa write how hard it is to cope if you meet every day in the street hungry people wandering about and who do not know where to go. They have no money and look into the abyss of AIDS. Mwiika describes his feelings despite attempting to engage himself in the training of journalists as to how they report about AIDS:

Dear all,

I read with much interest the article ‘Africa ravaged by AIDS”. It indeed presents the AIDS scenario here very well. Southern Africa, in which region I live, has had quite some substantial effects of HIV/AIDS especially on social economic development. My heart bleeds when I helplessly see just how true those words by our leaders here are as it is a holocaust extermination or annihilation of our people.

The other day, I was walking on the street near our biggest hospital UTH in Lusaka. I met a woman in her early 30’s crying. I asked her what was wrong and where she was going, he told in her bossing that her baby had just died in the children’s wing so she had to go and inform her mother who was tending her ill father in the adults ward in the same hospital. The interpretation of this befits when we say the burden of caring for the sick is more on women over here. You see she was alone with the baby when he died, her mother looking after her sick father, where was the rest of the family in this needful time, where was her husband and uncles in our extended family system? This touched me so much that I had to give her what ever little money that I had to help her get home, she had no money and she had to travel about 10 – 12 kilometers to inform others at home by walking there! I couldn’t let this happen. This gives a picture of just what is happening.

In the article there is a mention of women saying they buy coffins from the money they get out of their cabbage selling venture. This also shows the rate at which the HIV/AIDS is maturing in AIDS. Many, many people are dying every day overshooting our capacities to even bury them honorably. We have now gotten used to death, we cry and forget but the pain goes on. That AIDS is claiming people in their productive ages, mostly those from 15 – 40 years here has serious impediments on our social economic development, now with the drought and erratic rainfall, we really don’t know what is going to become of us.

These are issues so close to my heart and I could really go on and on giving real examples, but lets keep talking and certainly we shall share more on these problems.


As to being informed by such personal letters as to what is going on in the developing world, it means more than sharing problems since by talking about them, some further understanding may help overcome isolation and frustration, in order to find together practical solutions. Your people like Mwiika are perceptive and want to help wherever possible but they cannot do it alone. Mwiika Malindima is journalist and writer who reports about the AIDS situation on a regular basis. His contribution is also a way to overcome the one sided dependency existing in Africa with regards to the media. A lot more needs to be done to educate and to train journalists and in general those running the media on how coverage of AIDS should be linked to campaigns seeking to help in Africa. The aim should be to solicit such support that obvious set backs can be countered immediately while avoiding what Europe has experienced during the Holocaust. Nevertheless what he describes as part of a daily street encounter conveys a sense how would oneself cope if to be found in such a situation.

As to the global media here even CNN follows obvious trends and produces special programs about Africa in order to demonstrate that the global media and can and does give attention to problems in need of being resolved. However, a second look at most of the programs produced reveal more an image creating process counts than bringing about a linkage between people in the West and the problems to be faced on the ground in Africa.

In order to step outside this general discourse affected by such media images, here then some examples taken from debates about sustainable development and more specifically about rural development as organized by the World Bank in 2004 can provide further interesting insights. The examples illuminate and high light some of the dilemmas to be faced in the process of emancipation from false dependencies of the developing countries from the Western world. The latter is a sphere of diverse and very different kinds of influences exerting all kinds of pressures upon localities; they pose as well luring temptations to go down the wrong path of development. Lessons are not learned well if the developing countries argue that they have the Right to make mistakes while wishing to enjoy the same kind of standard of living. There needs to be developed another model, one not the equivalent of industrial societies which have transformed themselves into global societies and now in need of extensive resources. This goes with a desire for extensive travel done in search of authentic experiences. It has triggered off efforts how to preserve and to promote cultural heritage in a globalized world. A part of the reaction to this trend has been the reaffirmation of national cultures although deemed to be highly unsatisfactory. Once similar positions are adopted by developing countries, it leads to ever more international isolation. Such a position is reinforced by the ideology stance the United States took under the Presidency of Bush junior who opted for defiance of international bodies like the United Nations. The only difference between the USA and developing countries is that the former is a global player while many of the others are merely emerging out of the colonial past and have not yet passed the need for reconciliation and redemption so as to give civil society a chance to stabilize the country.

National tendencies take an one sided approach to cultural identity. Hereby is meant as well Poland which is going through a period of transition. It has stepped in 1989 out of the system of tutelage during the times of Communist rule and has joined the European Union as of 1st of May 2003. The general elections in October 2005 brought to power an extreme nationalist party with the name “Freedom and Justice” party. Some of its basic principles are anti European and a key orientation the claim of ‘national’ opposed to ‘cultural heritage’. National heritage is an obvious contradiction to cultural heritage as something common to all mankind. As explained by one painter who believes he can be a neutral observer as to what is going on in Poland, he explained that Poland entered the war in Iraq besides the United States and Great Britain ‘out of a need to identify itself with something’. Apparently Poland felt at that time as not having anywhere else to go in search of partners but to the United States of America. Nevertheless it perplexes anyone knowing Poland to see such a political move made in a country with a long history of suffrage under occupation, repression and dictatorship and despite join the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Whether it is done out of a need for partnership with the United States or out of an old, equally odd romantic spirit of freedom fighters who can be immediately against any kind of dictatorship, including that of Saddam Hussein, some further questions have to be asked about the real reasons and what impact this has upon the developing world.

Above all if one reason to go to war is out of boredom, as a way to escape the way of life of the West, then this search for a new kind of adventure (Thomas Mann claims that people went willingly into First World War out of boredom for they were eager to leave finally their desks) entails many more hidden and troublesome dimensions. The French Foreign Legion has been replaced in Iraq by private security companies doing jobs otherwise a normal army would have done, but outsourcing does not stop where it is no longer a matter of economic efficiency to secure access to and efficient use of resources. The fact that it reinforces by dubious means the one sided dependency as if the people of Iraq cannot emancipate themselves from dictatorship, such violent overthrow of a government has more implications for the understanding of democracy back home than what people wish to acknowledge right away. There were many Solidarnosc people who supported at first the Polish participation in Iraq and only once the full scale of lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction, but more so destruction in Iraq became known, people in Poland had second thoughts but then too late. Military invasion is obviously the very opposite to what should be a sound development policy interested in empowering the local people to design their own future and to take up political responsibilities not as puppets of the invaders and occupiers, but out of their own legitimacy by being close to the people themselves. If Poland has suffered under the Soviet and Communist tutelage, it does not make sense to impose very much of the same upon other countries such as Iraq.

To come back to the contributions made to the open discussion forum organized by the World Bank, one of them made very clear what the dependency of developing countries upon the West entails. Empowerment of people would mean gaining independency by transforming existing dependencies into open relationships based on mutual respect. However, as long as the Western foreign policy is designed to retain that dependency in various forms in order to ensure markets for Western products, and this can include over expensive infrastructural projects, there will be no change in these international relationships heavily burdened by this particular one sideness. It is even conceivable that only such training methods will be enhanced which will be in the long run to the disadvantage of the developing countries.

Contribution by Cike Anyaegbunam

Dear Participants,

Thanks to everybody for their contributions so far. One thing has become clear in this second week of the e-forum: the need for dialogue and people participation not just in the implementation of decisions made by outside experts, but more importantly in the decision-making process itself.

Now the big question: how do we achieve this? The planning process is essentially a decision-making procedure. How do we evolve the people in the process, in determining what the problems are and what the objectives and solutions should be?

Three interrelated concepts came to my mind as I think about the questions above: empowerment, appreciative inquiry, and emergent design.

Empowerment: as explicated by Rappaport, et al (1984) insists on the primacy of the target population’s participation in any intervention affecting its welfare. In Third World development, the empowerment model is the antithesis to the paternalistic model that has dominated agricultural extension. The top-down approach of experts needs assessment and intervention has not ameliorated the devastating conditions of those experiencing poverty and powerlessness, especially in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Any program with empowerment as the driving force thus seeks to orient an intervention toward the indigenous strengths of the community, in order to strengthen the existing assets and resources within communities. According to Rappaport (1985), community empowerment ideology demands that we look to the local settings where people are already handling their own problems in living and find ways to improve what we learn in order to help the people gain more control over the lives.

Appreciative inquiry: can be used to identify local people’s current strengths, and then plan an improved future, based on an understanding of the ‘positive present’. It posits that rural people’s livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with stresses and shocks such as floods or droughts, when it can maintain and enhance the people’s capabilities and assets, and when it can preserve the adaptive strategies and indigenous knowledge base of the community for future generations. This calls for techniques and methodologies that help the community to understand what makes it strong and give the people the confidence to participate effectively in decisions that affect local livelihoods. Appreciative inquiry creates a development pathway based on what is right rather than what is wrong (Elliot, 1999).

Emergent design: an alternative to what has been called the technocratic approach to planning. According to Cavallo of MIT this alternative approach consists of probing for skills and knowledge resident in a community and using these as bridges to new content. This is important because the more traditional top-down, pre-planned approaches to agricultural extension have not produced desired results in situations where community empowerment and an understanding of the people’s indigenous knowledge are prerequisites for success and sustainability. In such situations, an emergent approach is required not a blueprint. Emergent design basically lets the plan emerge from interactions with the people.

The SADC Communication for Development Center (FAO) has a methodology that encompasses all the concepts identified above. Known as Participatory Rural Communication appraisal (PRCA), the methodology is designed for development field workers and extension staff to enable them to conduct multidisciplinary and participatory communication research as the first step to prepare a communication program. The methodology is used to involve rural people in the identification of the essential elements for the design of effective communication strategies and programs for development. It utilizes field-based visualization techniques, interviews and group work to generate information for the design of communication strategies, materials, media and messages to ensure relevance and ownership by the people involved. PRCA facilitates dialogue among rural people themselves and between them and development workers in order that all stakeholders reach a mutual understanding of what needs to be done and plan for action (Anyaegbunam et al, 1999). PRCA belongs to the same family as the other participatory methods. However, it is unique because it focuses specifically on the study of both traditional and modern communication systems in a community and assists in the development of strategies and materials to improve information and knowledge sharing among the various stakeholders.

PRCA not only reveals alternative ways of designing messages for the grassroots but also uncovers strategies and materials, some of them native to the community, that enable people to create and to disseminate their own messages.”

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