Southern Africa 

TV host is the kind of development partner Africa wants, needs, and welcomes

By Janet Karim

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8

Article 17:1 — Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

Article 17:2 — No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. – UDHR

Article 26:3 — Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. UDHR, Article 26:3

American talk show host, MSNBC’s The Last Word Lawrence O’Donnell, has a powerful blossoming project in Malawi, one that aims to put every learner in schools in Malawi to sit on a desk, aptly called Kids in Need of Desks. This is a grand project that Mr. O’Donnell has sprang into other areas of learning: scholarships for girls and lately the project has added shoes. O’Donnell has come to Malawi to help the country solve the shortage or lack of desks for school children; and lately beyond this, for the benefit of Malawian children. Such a project with its healthy growing tentacles, is a far cry from what the European Union and other international organizations are aiming to accomplish in Africa.

A case in point is the European Union’s former trade agreement, which has not only dived into the human rights arena, but has unilaterally added protocol components into the agreements, forcing 79 member states from Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific islanders to lose their vote as the 20-year agreement compels the members to vote according to directions from the EU. Ironically, the items the EU is pushing as human rights are silent in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus the EU’s push for it is a form of imperial domination of the ACP, but more importantly, it goes against the grains of their own previous dogmas/doctrines, eloquently etched in the Bible and other religious and legal documents. This is a discussion for another day.

O’Donnell’s projects that are in partnership with UNICEF, involves him raising funds for the project, get on a plane to Malawi; he engages Malawian carpenters to make the desks, using Malawi timber, and to be distributed in the districts the donations are made. O’Donnell then works with school officials, teachers, and students to carry their new furniture into their classrooms.

When the famous MSNBC late show host found that girls had a money problem (since families still preferred educating boy children), he added a scholarship for girls drive in his campaign. One of the beneficiaries of the scholarships, was a scholar called Mercy, whose desire was to become a medical doctor. Mr. O’Donnell brought her to the US, and while there, she spoke at Harvard University, and appeared on The Last Word. Currently, Mercy is in an advanced stage at the Malawi College of Medicine in Malawi’s commercial city Blantyre. Another beneficiary is studying to be a pharmacist.

Enter project 3! Once removed from the ground, tuition for girls being allotted, Mr. O’Donnell found that a large number of the students do not wear shoes; his pictures even show one student wearing two different types of shoes! The country is facing one of the biggest forced devaluations of its currency that a $5 pair of shoes cost MKw13,800.00. The shoes for needy learners have now been added to the desks for every learner, and scholarships for girls list. What an impressive accolade! As this article is being penned, collections are piling up on the shoes for Malawi learners fundraising drive!

Regrettably this is not what analysts, observers, and indeed delegates at the negotiations for the new 20-year ACP-EU Agreement. At the November 15, 2023 meeting many countries showed reluctance to sign the agreement in its present form, that is complete with the protocol segment, which would mean the 79 ACP countries (47 from Africa, 16 from Caribbean, and 15 from Pacific countries) losing their autonomy of voting at all international forums, the added human rights call (LGBTQ, abortion, sexuality education for school children), plus a segment that gives sweeping approval of previous international documents of the United nations. The EU, rather than go home to lick its wounds, perchance to redraft the agreement, has resorted to using coercion, blackmail (sending warning letters to countries that have not signed), and the typical divide and rule games. Five countries (Niger, Burundi, DRC, Grenada, Saints Kitts and Nevis) have signed. The 35 that have not signed are being threatened in the most inhumane manner.

Some analysts have argued that there is the paradox in the fact that the West, intent on reducing human capital in Africa and other non-white areas of the world, is ironically being confronted with a serious demographic disaster. For instance, Europe has transitioned from the peak of its baby boom to the depths of a baby bust. The UK is gradually being populated by Asians, Nigerians, and other immigrants. In fact, it is forecasted that the UK’s population will irreversibly shrink below replacement level by 2030. If the populations of these Western countries are dwindling to their detriment, advocating for Africa to suffer the same fate, speaks to its double intended end. Therefore, Nigeria and the 34 ACP countries should maintain their resolve not to sign the Agreement.

Regrettably, the negotiations for the new agreement has entered Malawi space in the face of Hurricane Freddie earlier this year, the 44 percent devaluation of the local currency during planting season (as opposed to the harvest season), upload on this the Ukraine/Russia and Israeli/Hamas conflicts, it is a messy environment. Of course it is easily visible to see EU strategists gleefully rubbing their greedy imperialistic hands, when the name Malawi pops up: a shaken presidency, Freddie, devaluation…

In earlier times when debating the matter of human rights, childishly we talked of it as a very necessary and attainable beast. How the beast changes its colors like those of the chameleon!

Back to the KIND project and passion of Lawerence O’Donnell, who calls upon the kindness of ordinary humans worldwide to uplift the lives of Malawian students, I can never thank him enough! Every time I listen to his pitch for donations, I quickly shift to the EU corridors where negotiations aim to take over not one or two, but 79 countries, rob them of their sovereignty, right to vote, right to discuss with their own people and reach agreements on matters that concern them. I quickly wonder and ask which human rights provisions the EU are pushing?

On the matter of access to abortion, Malawi permits this to save the lives of mother or child, and possibly both. Anything more than this, the nation of Malawi is firm, as it is on the other agendas being pushed by the EU. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni defended his country’s position by pointing to biblical verses from the religion “brought” to the continent by the Europeans: “we are simply following the chapters in their own book, that we have embraced.” Museveni (sic) said.

Whose report will you believe, we shall believe the report of the LORD!

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