#Article (Archive)

Justified Criticism Must Lead to Action

Apr 28, 2008, 6:23 AM

The Imam of Kanifing Estate Mosques Imam Baba Leigh has hit upon a very important point in his recent Juma sermon. He criticised the west for failing to fulfill the promise that they made to Africa in connection with poverty eradication. He also blamed the west for contributing to the worldwide food crises. He has identified the fallacy at the heart of the poverty eradication and "drop the debt" campaigns that we have seen become commonplace in the west in recent years. We have had endless promises with regard to poverty eradication but not very much action. There is no doubt that some debt has been dropped but with what conditions attached? What the west gives with one hand it takes away with the other.

How many times have we seen money come from The IMF or the World Bank with demands that African nations privatise their water and give the contracts to western companies? It is this kind of tactic that Imam Baba Leigh was no doubt referring.

With regard to the issue of the global food crisis he could not have been more correct. The West is undoubtedly responsible for the crisis currently gripping the world. They are responsible in a number of ways. Firstly there is the issue of biofuel. Growing these crops means there is less land to grow the food we all so desperately need to feed our ever-increasing global population. Another very serious issue is that of farm subsidies. The United States and Europe pay massive subsidies to their farmers with the result that farmers in developing countries are put at a severe disadvantage.

For all these reasons the Imam is right. But what we must do is find a way to change this situation. We all realise what the problems are but we must take positive steps to face the problem head-on and take control of our own destiny.

The West is an easy and valid target for criticism but change is what we need. Nothing will change if we simply sit back and criticise. We must take action.

This action can take many forms. We can take action as a continent. A unified stance from all African nations is a strong starting point in terms of improving our situation. We can take action as a nation. The government of The Gambia could waive the duty on imported rice so as to make the price affordable for the people of this nation.

All these options are available to us in our efforts to tackle crises of the kind we are facing now.

The problem has been identified. Now we must go about tackling it.