Black AND White…

When the shit hits the fan, what’s Black & White got to do with anything?

A regular (black) columnist in Botswana’s Sunday Standard, who scribes under the aptly chosen nom de plume ‘Loose Canon’, recently commented (24.01.2010) on the Haiti situation. (A friend, who works in media and radio, brought the wit, sarcastic lampooning and humour of this particular wordsmith to my attention).

I hope black people will learn a lesson from the earthquake that hit Haiti. If they don’t learn anything from it, then I throw up my hands in despair and give up. (Loose Canon)

After reading a couple of pieces, I quickly realised the ‘Canon’ could do with some regular attention, a reason confirmed by a correspondent to the paper under the heading ‘Hail the King Loose Canon’ …

My Sundays would be empty without the wicked humour, sharp insight into the human condition and the delightful prose of Loose Canon. By Abe Mothibi 09.11.2006

In his piece on Haiti he started with a few basic facts such as… Until the earthquake, I never knew there was a place called Haiti… Despite a relatively good knowledge of geography he recalls… It must have been one of those insignificant countries that we had no reason to know about.

As he quiet rightly says… “Now the whole world, including myself, knows about Haiti… It’s an island out in the Caribbean, populated by black people”.

So in addition and, solely due to the power of the Internet and modern-day television broadcasting techniques, we have all received the full geographical, social and economic history of this once ‘insignificant’ place.

Apart from the history, it would seem that throughout its existence Haiti has suffered a series of natural calamities and, during the process sunk even deeper into poverty and deprivation.

Like all places populated by black people, Haiti is poor. As I watched the television images, I felt very sorry for that forsaken place. Then I was hit by a thunderbolt.  I wondered what if there were no white people. You see, when the earthquake hit Haiti somebody had to come to its assistance. There had to be a rescue effort. (Loose Canon)

Canon went on to describe how the Haitians may have tried to do their own bit to help themselves however, due to limited resources, poor national infrastructure and the real scale of the devastation, a bigger effort was needed. As usual, the advanced and comprehensive rescue effort of the western world kicked into action.

  • Sniffer dogs with white handlers from all over the world.
  • Aeroplanes that set off carrying water and food were from white countries.
  • Teams of volunteer doctors comprising predominantly white people from across the world.
  • Rescue teams that carried the stretchers were made up of white people.
  • Mobile hospital facilities from a white country.
  • In the aftermath of the earthquake, Haiti was literally swarming with white people. They had all arrived to save the poor blacks.

Canon was illustrating the fact that; ever since the earthquake hit Haiti, he hadn’t seen any evidence of action from fellow blacks in Africa? He said…

Haiti is a land of black people. I would have expected the place to be swarming with black people helping their own. They were nowhere to be seen. I never saw any ships from black countries pulling into the harbour.

The best the black nations could manage was to issue “tepid statements of condolence to the people of Haiti” but why is this?  Canon believes that, black countries tend to be “insolent to the point of being abusive” and, they also have a preconceived penchant for “insulting the white man and telling him to keep out of their countries”.

In short, black people believe it when they tell white people “they can survive perfectly on their own”. It would appear not…

Canon expected the black countries to be consistent and behave true to form. He wondered why; “they (black countries) didn’t tell the white countries to stay away from Haiti because we were quite capable of leading the rescue effort?” Shouldn’t they have insulted the whites like they often do in international forums?

I was extremely disappointed when our countries failed to accuse white people of practicing imperialism and neo colonialism by coming to rescue the blacks of Haiti… (Loose Canon)

Like many I suspect, Canon was ‘disappointed by the black leaders’, surely the earthquake in Haiti was the most opportune time to show how whites and blacks can and should pull together as equals?

The world is black, the world is white, it turns by day and it turns by night… It turns so each and everyone, can take their station in the sun!

PS. I make no apologies for paraphrasing the work of Loose Canon as I passionately believe in the point being raised.

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