Footnotes from the British Underground

This blog began as venue for my stories as I traveled in Africa. 18 months later, I return to it as I travel to study as a Marshall Scholar in the United Kingdom. My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...

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Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

After graduating from Notre Dame, I'm off to England for graduate study. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies. When not studying, I'm continuing to coordinate Uganda-CAN's efforts to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda!

11.3.05

Opening Our Eyes to our Destructive Thinking

So week six in Uganda is coming to an end. It is wild to think I have been here that long. Luckily I have learned a lot of the language and the city, which has opened my eyes to this place so much. I am sure the coming days will bring more and more eye-opening. Really, is that not what our lives are meant to be about - constantly opening our eyes more and more to the Truth of ourselves, our relationships, our world?

This Sunday, our group heads to the east to live in rural villages and conduct research. It will be a challenging experience, but definitely an eye-opening one. I will probably be out of contact for the week, but will report in once we return to Kampala on the weekend.

Two quick reflections - 1.) In the newspaper, one columnist wrote a phenomenal article on how foreign aid is actually doing more harm than good by supporting corrupt, dictatorial regimes in many nations. Aid, whether consciously or not, is so easily manipulated by existing leaders to maintain their power and control. In many poor countries, aid makes up more than half of the government's revenue. Without that revenue, many governments would fall apart. The question then is whether it is better to work within a stable status quo or allow natural events of uncertainty to prevai. Of course, the whole debate is complexified when we look at the world of power politics, and how aid often is in the interest of powerful countries because they promote structures of political and economic dependency. For example, the United States will give countries aid and trade as long as they use it to be part of U.S. trade agreements with U.S. partners. Aid often creates greater inequality and exploitation in poor countries. So, one has to wonder whether aid could be used in a more effective way to promote real, sustainable development for the poorest of the poor?

2.) There has been some writing in conservative circles of Europe, especially Britain, that Africa should be recolonized to fight the poverty, wars and suffering that currently exist. This is unbelievable and horrifying. Obviously these commentators completely ignore the harsh realities that happened and still happen as a result of colonialism. We are talking about genocide, slavery, brutal massacres, exploitation, etc? How can we be so historically ignorant to even discuss such things? Really such debate stems from a failure to seriously evaluate and read history. Further, voices from poor countries are suppressed from the debates. BBC did a special on the future of Africa, and only had one African on a forum of four. Why are the rich pool of scholars and commentators from Africa ignored? Our very way of analyzing and thinking can be destructive.

Well, cheers to all and best wishes from Kampala. Some food for thought today.

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