Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thoughts on the rights of people

What follows is from an e-mail message I sent to a friend in the U.S. He has been living a life of awareness since he was young. I'm just a beginner by comparison.

When I see the results of what British Colonization did to generations after generations of wonderful people, I get sad. And by being a person who stands out in Africa because I'm white, I begin to feel in just a very small way what black people, Mexicans and other "outsiders" must have felt for a lifetime -- and still feel. I came to a frightening realization the other day. For a while, I was feeling a bit proud that the, in the U.S., we don't have the great-grandchildren of the original inhabitants calling white people "Master." But then I realized why that's not the case.

In what would become the U.S., the white man either killed or isolated the natives so that there are very few reminders of their proud existance. Giving them their "own" separate nations was just a nice name for locking them up and locking them out.

In Malawi, I realized that the city of Blantyre was never an African village -- it was built by the British for the British. And the local population was there only to serve. What's sad to me is that decades after the British pretty much cleared out of what was once a colony, the old (and new) buildings and businesses are in the hands of foreigners. In downtown Blantyre, the poor people tell me that they wish that they could own businesses, but the businesses all belong to the Indians (the South Asian Indians), to people from the Middle East and to Eurapeans.

Indeed, the Malawians have the legal right to prosper. They are a democracy. But much of their democracy relies on the international support from a variety of nations and non-government organizations. Yes, the trick is to empower the Malawians and other Africans to prosper in the light of self-sufficiency.

But that's a slow process.

And in the meantime, the people on the streets still refer to me as "boss" or "mahsah".

And I hate it.

Don Ray

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