21 January 2006

Digging Deeper

Our trip down SZR to the Ibn Battuta Mall this evening was the usual dance with the crazies – avoiding buses, trucks and especially the 4WDs who really should not be allowed to leave the Emirate of origin that is displayed on their registration plates.

Our reason for risking our lives was to go to the movies to see The Constant Gardener.

It’s about an English diplomat and his wife who are sent to Kenya, where she works with some others to uncover a drug company’s misuse of the African people as guinea pigs for their drug testing. She’s murdered, and her husband then goes on a self-destructive mission to find out why and who is behind it.

The movie is an extremely powerful drama with top quality actors. The cinematography is styled like a documentary which lends well to the investigative nature of the plot.

Above all, there is the sense of futility at the level of corruption that comes to light. No one really knows the full story – all of them are bit players who do what they think is right, but the info they give to others results in tragedy that comes back to haunt them.

It would take a lot of momentum to stop what is happening in Africa, but who could possibly be powerful enough and stay incorruptible to change it? How many people at the top of African politics would need to be removed? And how many other people just as corrupt as those there now would be there to take their places?

My heart goes out to the aid workers, the medical teams and the relief agencies that work in these areas and try to make a difference. It takes special people to endure the politics, the constant danger and the appalling conditions – just to have someone unravel all their good work so they have to start again.

Relief work is certainly at the mercy of big business. Those relief workers on the ground are at the mercy of their bosses and organizations whose motives would have to be questioned – if anyone could stay alive long enough to blow the whistle.


Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. You are spot on regarding corrupt African leaders. They are shameless, despicable leaders. Yet, the West is also largely responsible for these despots who plague the continent, helping them line their pockets with aid funds and bribes.

nzm said...


The west is very largely responsible. In a lot of cases, they are the ones doing the bribery for whatever reasons - medical research, natural resources, money laundering etc.

We get to travel a lot in and out of Dubai, and we're often in the airline lounges waiting for our flights to depart.

We wonder how many of the African people that we see in the First and Business class lounges are the vultures living the high life at the expense and misery of their fellow poor countrymen.

I'm sure that some have made their own way up in life through hard work, but it does make us think.

One of our friends at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel tells us of a woman (politician's wife) who was from his African homeland who used to come in and stay at the hotel. She would rent out an entire floor, charging everything to her room, shopping, partying with a few of her pals.

It would hurt our friend so much to see this, especially knowing that the money was being channelled away from doing good for his country, or worse, whatever the money had been paid for was actually damaging his country.

On one particular visit, she had some cosmetic surgery done. There were complications with the surgery, and she died.

Our friend said that it was the only time in his life that he's felt happy that someone died like that.