With the much vaunted G8 meeting at Gleneagles in Scotland only a day away, one wonders if the leaders are listening. On the other hand, are we, the world activist community not being naive in thinking that even if they were listening that they would act. The agendas for such meeting are complex and varied. Every one of the Group of Eight members go into these meetings loaded with issues. Are we to expect that they will put the African issues on the table. There are always hidden agendas, secret meetings, offers, counter-offers, secret deals and negotiations. The G8 is primarily about power and who wields it. It is about protecting the status quo, not about upsetting it. If itserves the G8 than it gets discussed.
We may see Africa on the agenda, not because of the important work of Live8, Bob Geldof, the “Make Poverty History” campaign, or any of that! It will get on the agenda primarily because it will serve the purpose of the G8 and its beneficiaries. The instruments in the G8 arsenal, The World Bank, the IMF and the WTO wield much power, and if this arsenal is unleashed on Africa than the uninformed may erroneously reason that Africa is at last receiving attention from the G8. Quite on the contrary, this much needed attention will come at great cost. So called calls for action against corruption, good governance, all these are noble and worthy, but are they the real reasons, or is the G8 setting Africa up for a fall. Are they dictating what sort of leaders Africa will have to install. Or are they suggesting weak and effective leaders that will pander to the agenda of the G8 in future. Gleneagles is not about Africa today, it is about Africa for the next decade or two. Are the seeds of progress being sowed now, are are we the sowing the seeds that will reap a harvest of devastationin the next twenty to thirty years.
If by some stroke of magic the G8 leaders arrive at Gleneagles tomorrow with a a genuine desire to help Africa to pull it self out of the part of self annihilation, than what they have to do is level the playing fields with regard to fair trade. Open their markets to African products, spend money in Africa on developing African businesses, open avenues to pass along skills and assist African governments to educate its people. Stop selling weapons to despotic leaders, stop making secret deals with corrupt officials, stop pilfering Africa’s best talent and above all, treat Africa as an equal!