Ready to be rounded up
I like Windhoek.
It’s a small and tidy city (some say it’s the cleanest in Africa though I know the people in Kigali would beg to differ) and life moves along at an easy-going pace that makes Johannesburg look like a warzone.
A colleague of mine has another reason for liking Windhoek: he steadfastly believes that it is the only city in the world named after a lager.
Needless to say, he is a firm admirer of Windhoek Lager and arguing with him that the beer came after the city is quite pointless.
I thought of him and his chicken-and-egg, lager-and-city claim the other day when I came across a quote by American singer and composer Frank Zappa, who once remarked: “You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”
Namibia must be the realest country in the world. It has a passable soccer team, does not have nuclear weapons though it has the uranium that makes them and has – to avoid an argument with my colleague – a whole capital city named after a beer.</p>
And in the finest tradition of any country that has any remote association with Germany, beer is a drink of choice in Namibia.
As someone from a mildly conservative society such as Zimbabwe, it is a bit of a culture shock (though not difficult to get used to!) to first see how beer-drinking is prevalent from a young age and at all times of day.
Windhoek, that wonderfully-named city, alone has more than 1 500 shebeens – not counting clubs, liquor stores and other merchants of the brew ‑ for just 300 000 men, women and children. I would not be overstating if I said beer is highly appreciated here.
As it is in many countries and societies across the world. Probably only water and food have greater importance to the human being than beer.
We have been told by former World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin in a 1995 interview with Newsweek that, “If the wars of (the 20th) century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water.”
Forget about oil: beer, water and food – those are the three things that make the world go round. And the importance of food cannot be overemphasised. Consider the following quote attributed to Henry Kissinger back in the 1970s: “Control the oil and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people.”
For better or for worse – mostly for the latter – Kissinger is among an elite group of men who have shaped the world into what it is today. His word is not to be taken lightly.
This is why the matter of food security should be thoroughly looked at if Africa holds any hope of achieving the dreams of the liberation struggles.
A new book by F William Engdahl titled “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation” is a must-read for any policy-maker on this continent worth his/her salt.
Engdahl goes beyond the usual scientific evidence that proves how harmful the activities of Monsanto (why do we celebrate Bill Gates by the way?), Bayer and Syngenta are to our food security.
He delves into the politics that inform the thinking of the population and natural resource control megalomaniacs in the US and why we should all be wary of most GM crops.
He quotes George Kennan, a senior official in the US State Department, saying far back in 1948 that America must “maintain this position of disparity” where it controls 50 percent of the world’s wealth at all costs.
To achieve this, control of food supply is critical. Resource-rich countries must have less food than is needed to feed their populations and that makes it easier, as Kissinger said, to control the people of these nations.
Engdahl says, “In actual fact, the story of GMO is that of the evolution of power in the hands of an elite, determined at all costs to bring the entire world under their sway.”
He goes on to say, “George Kennan, Henry Luce, Averell Harriman and, above all, the four Rockefeller brothers (David, Nelson, Laurance and John D III), created the very concept of multinational ‘agribusiness’.
“They financed the ‘Green Revolution’ in the agriculture sector of developing countries in order, among other things, to create new markets for petro-chemical fertilisers and petroleum products, as well as to expand dependency on energy products.
“Their actions are an inseparable part of the story of genetically modified crops today.” He says the largest seed and fertiliser companies have “decades-long ties to Pentagon chemical warfare research”.
And since 2003, genetic modification has been an issue of strategic importance for the White House.
“Their aim is … the ultimate control over future life on this planet, a supremacy earlier dictators and despots only ever dreamt of. Left unchecked, the present group behind the GMO Project is between one and two decades away from total dominance of the planet’s food capacities.”
At present we are being bombarded with campaign messages financed by the Gates Foundation to be part of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa which is the vehicle for bringing Monsanto to our continent.
In May of this year, Monsanto spin doctor Jay Byrne was in Tanzania for a meeting of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, which is a collaboration between two of the key lobby groups promoting GM in Africa – the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.
Europe is rejecting GM, but we hear some Africans (stupid Africans as Kenneth Kaunda would call them) saying we need Monsanto to ensure food security.
What Africa needs to achieve food security is better planning by Africans for Africa. The continent holds much of the world’s unused arable land and we have the mineral resources to open up all that space to produce food for our own citizens.
Too often we think with our bellies and that is why the West can seduce us with GM products.
As long as we are slaves of quick gratification we shall remain a third class continent that Monsanto will literally “roundup”.