Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We Come As Friends

Don't touch that mouse! Now tell me ten things you know about South Sudan.

I knew that South Sudan is the world's newest country, it was the Christian part of Sudan and Juba is the capital. I am 7 things short.

Hubert Sauper (who also made Darwin's Nightmare) brings us a look at South Sudan and its foreign "friends". He travelled around in a home built plane and got access to a whole range of people from Chinese oil workers, Texan missionaries, UN officials, an ex-British Army mine clearance expert, investors, and plenty of locals from poor villagers and school kids, to soldiers and politicians.

Without exception all the foreigners said they were doing good, and the mine clearer probably was. Meanwhile the Chinese oil workers casually said that the environmental impact (piles of rubbish and oil tainted drinking water) was the responsibility of the locals to solve. The rehousing and providing farms for those locals displaced by mines, oil wells, foreign owned farms was also not the responsibility of the foreign investors to solve.

If you wanted to know what the term neo-colonialism means, then We Come As Friends would be a good place to start. (neo-colonialism, dependency theory and semi-colony are considered Marxist theory, as a lay person and knowing Marxism is out of favour, I had a quick look a non-Marxist theory about this subject but couldn't find one).

In one of the stand out interviews an old man (presumably a local chief) complained that he was falsely accused by his people of signing away the local land. Though he had a document (which he seemed unable to read) that was a signed lease contract for 600,000 hectares for 60 years for a one off payment $25,000 giving the lease holder the right to chop down all the trees, use the land for agriculture, own all the minerals and petrochemicals that they can extract. That is a one-off payment of 4 cents per hectare!

We Come As Friends makes the situations in Big Men seem like paradise.

Ian's rating 3/5

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