quick hits

The BBC reports that the Kimberley process, designed to rid the global diamond market of blood diamonds, is failing. This is largely because of second country exporters of diamond like the Ivory Coast. Made famous by the movie Blood Diamond which included among others the Beninois Djimon Hounsou and Leonardo DiCaprio, the attempts to stop the illicit trade in diamonds that was fueling wars across the Continent had so far been seen by many as a success. Many had hoped that the same success could be replicated in other commodities, especially in the DRC where mineral wealth in the eastern part of the country has been funding wars since the mid 1990s.

And in other news, William Easterly wrote a rather pointed critique of the Millenium Villages project and the tourism business surrounding it. This piece reminded me of the plight of the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania whose lifestyle has long been “preserved” by the two governments as tourist attractions reserves – even as thousands of Maasai children remain out of school and without proper healthcare or diet because of the incompatibility of the centuries old traditional Maasai way of life with 21st century living (and this is not exclusive to the Maasai). I think it is about time governments and development experts got honest with themselves. Development means having a good education system, having access to healthcare so that people do not die of treatable illnesses, having a diet of at least 2500 calories a day, being well clothed and housed, among other things. If a lifestyle, however cherished, denies the people practising it these essentials for a comfortable human existent it belongs in the rubbish bin of history, regardless of whether such a lifestyle is considered authentic African or not.

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