Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The rape of Africa's natural resources continues unabated

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)



The rape of Africa's natural resources continues unabated

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
11/29/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Among Africa's most shameful secrets were the Africans who worked hand-in-hand with European colonialists who seized tribesmen to work as slaves in the new world. A different version of this heinous practice continues to this day, with corrupt African natives working without outside nations in illegal operations that strip the countryside's vital resources without thought to future generations.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In particular, the western African nation of Sierra Leone has fallen prey time and again to others who wish to strip the land of its natural bounty. Nine years ago, when the nation was in the midst of a civil war, interlopers sought to pillage Sierra Leone's diamond mines.

Now at peace, a possible new agent of war has emerged. "Gbenie" a unique type of wood that is second only to ebony in richness, is now being ruthlessly pillaged from the country few remaining forests.

Timber has taken the place of diamonds throughout much of Africa. The country's forests are now at risk of being completely wiped out.

Chinese companies working in Sierra Leone lead the pack in deforestation. Logging companies have been destroying the country's forests, plundering natural resources and causing environmental problems. Worst of all, it is mostly being done illegally with local Sierra Leoneans operating as the front men for the foreigners.

A 2006 European Union report identified logging as "the leading cause of environmental degradation in Sierra Leone." The nation's Forestry Ministry says that unless immediate action is taken, all of the country's forests could disappear by 2018. There is currently no legal, registered company in Sierra Leone with permission to cut down trees and environmentalists have warned that less than five percent of forested areas are now left in this West African country.

"For me though, I can not help but think about those days of slavery when a few Africans used to team up with outsiders to exploit their own people and force them into slavery - today it is not our people their selling it's our mineral resources," Al Jazeera columnist Sorious Samura writes.

"When are we African's going be free from the 'resource curse?' When are we going to realzse that only with the proper use of and respect of our minerals and natural resources would we be able to compete as a proud people rather than being the number one beggars of the world? Africa belongs to Africans and only Africans can save the continent.

"The aim is for African journalists to try and tell African stories in a way no outsider would, doing away with all the 'political correctness' that seems to be holding back western journalists from actually challenging the stereotypes and calling things by their proper names," Samura writes.

Samura led an investigation into Sierra Leone's illegal timber collection, and was shocked and dismayed to find cooperation from the highest levels of government there.

"My biggest disappointment is that our investigation revealed that there are many powerful people in government who are willing to put their personal ambitions over the needs of their nation. Unless we can put an end to this corruption now, Sierra Leone will lose its remaining forests forever, and this could lead to poverty and conflict in the future. I wonder when the ordinary people in my country will ever be able benefit from our natural resources, instead of being cursed by them."

© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)