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What is absent from the Niger situation
Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2005

By Linda Edwards

"What is absent" (From the Niger situation) is the profits the French mining company is getting from Niger's rich uranium mines. No one sees that as remotely related to "starving to death in plain sight". What is absent is any sense of their caring about what is happening to the people.

The King of Morocco, a fellow Muslim nation, has sent a field hospital staffed with military personnel, who are performing surgeries and saving lives to support the work of the regular hospitals. This is the kind of practical solution that saves lives. Others wring their hands and in the case of CNN bring up close the babies, who will die, and they did die, and Anderson Cooper came back to his sanitary offices, washed clean and blonde and pretty and life goes on. Africa has been returned to the back burner until some other reporter or politician is in need of a junket.

How many died in Niger since he left, no one knows or seem to care.

One of my sociology teachers used to say that "in South-east Asia man is a weed." (There were more there than were wanted). In many parts of Africa, it seems, man is a pest. His living conditions interrupt the search for the valuable minerals that keep the western world functioning - Uranium, diamonds, gold, oil, chrome, copper and a few new others that computers and other modern technology require. There is also endless lumber, and all these poor people dying in Darfur, Rwanda, and now Niger.

While modern man did not send the plague of locusts, modern man could have assisted earlier in doing something about it. Africans dying in millions is not news. Africans surviving and forging forward is not news either, I'm afraid. It's only Africa, the cradle of civilization. Mugabe forcefully taking back his people's land is news because it affects white settlers. If all of Africa dies, the people that is, no problem. The land will still be pretty after the people are gone. I can imagine that three thousand years from now, some anthropologist- the future Leakeys- would unearth these child bodies in the sands of Niger and conclude that there was a civilization there. They buried their children with cloth wrappings, which survived. They will speculate on what killed them. They will test for diseases. Neglect from a developed world would not show up on the CAT scans of the future.

These are preventable tragedies that would, perhaps, have been prevented if they were happening somewhere else.

Please do not think I am bitter, only observant.

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