Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pirates or Citizen's Coast Guard

I have been reading about the "pirates" off the coast of Somalia. I have to admit that at first I bought the story that was being promoted by the western media.

It goes something like this, "innocent commercial boats are attacked by wild machine gun totting Somali's looking for a few million to finance the extremists that have destroyed the country".

I am sure there is a modicum of truth to this. But, what is the back story? Why would these guys go out and hijack these boats? Why now? Why would they be willing to do this and what is motivating them? But, in classic western media style Africa is again portrayed as all messed up and just another case of the "failed state". So, lets send out some of our big military ships to protect the ability to do business. Yes, because oil and other goods are more important and worth the investment.

Well, I was sent this article written by Johan Hari of the London Independent which was posted on the Huffington Post recently and it really opened my eyes to a background story that I had not heard anywhere in mainstream media.

The story goes that foreign ships have been fishing the waters off Somalia devastating the ability for small local fishermen to catch enough food to survive. The really shocking element is that there are reports of dumping of barrels of nuclear waste off the coast. Many of these barrels washed up after the Tsunami in 2004. This resulted in many people dying of strange cancers and diseases.

Could it be that the Somali's are actually defending the territorial integrity of their waters? Could it be that the Europeans and others have ignored requests for compensation or protection of the Somali's coastal waters? Perhaps this is how you have to do it - take matters into your own hands when your interests are ignored by the west!!

I am shocked and disgusted and once again convinced that Africa is always framed in the dark ways that benefit the Africanist perspective that dominates western media (it smacks of the famous Edward Said's famous "Orientalism").

Read the article and tell me what you think:

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