As is the norm for Africa, this story is getting NO play in the American press.He's right that the story isn't getting much play, just as the much larger Rwandan massacres of the 1990s (supervised by Kofi Annan, who is now the UN Secretary General) didn't. Why is that?
There are a lot of reasons. As I've written before, Africa is all screwed up and atrocities like this are pretty normal. We've tried sending money, but most of it gets stuck in Swiss bank accounts held by oppressive tyrants rather than spent on improving the lives of the African people. Africa has no democratic institutions and no cultural foundation for concensus-based majority rule.
Much of the economic problem stems from the fact that the average African has no way to make money. Just about all they can do is farm, but there's no one to buy their products because both Europe and America heavily subsidize their farmers and impose large tariffs on the foods Africans could grow, like sugar. Norman Borlaug -- father of the Green Revolution and savior of more than a billion lives -- is convinced that Africa could grow food for the world if its people were politically free to do so.
Aside from the lack of democratic institutions, much of Africa lacks the critical infrastructure required to support a thriving agricultural economy -- much less an industrial one. You probably know that many Africans don't have electricity or clean running water, but many Africans don't even have roads, the most basic and primitive form of infrastructure. Why not? According to Normal Borlaug, again, environmentalist groups routinely object to road construction on the grounds that roads destroy the natural environment.
Borlaug: Supplying food to sub-Saharan African countries is made very complex because of a lack of infrastructure. For example, you bring fertilizer into a country like Ethiopia, and the cost of transporting the fertilizer up the mountain a few hundred miles to Addis Ababa doubles its cost. All through sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of roads is one of the biggest obstacles to development--and not just from the standpoint of moving agricultural inputs in and moving increased grain production to the cities. That's part of it, but I think roads also have great indirect value. If a road is built going across tribal groups and some beat-up old bus starts moving, in seven or eight years you'll hear people say, "You know, that tribe over there, they aren't so different from us after all, are they?"Without roads there's no possiblity for schools, hospitals, electricity, or democracy.
And once there's a road and some vehicles moving along it, then you can build schools near a road. You go into the bush and you can get parents to build a school from local materials, but you can't get a teacher to come in because she or he will say, "Look, I spent six, eight years preparing myself to be a teacher. Now you want me to go back there in the bush? I won't be able to come out and see my family or friends for eight, nine months. No, I'm not going." The lack of roads in Africa greatly hinders agriculture, education, and development.
In addition to the lack of democratic institutions, near economic warfare by developed nations in the form of farm subsidies, and little critical infrastructure, Africa also has to deal with political manuvering by its former European colonial masters (and some from America). Europe doesn't like genetically modified crops? Too bad for Africa! Despite the fact that GM products could greatly increase the food supply, Europe refuses to buy any GM food and encourages Africa to avoid the "controversial" technology.
Similarly, Europe and America banned DDT because it tends to soften raptors' egg shells; developed nations can afford more expensive and less effective mosquito poisons and we've all-but-eliminated malaria. Meanwhile in Africa (and Asia) three million people die from malaria each year, and they could be saved cheaply through a judicious use of DDT.
None of these stories are particularly glamorous, but they're the foundation that props up the murderous dictators and warlords who perpetrate the continual rape of Africa. That's the real story that isn't being reported.