Monday, June 04, 2007

G8 Summit & Tanzania: While they riot in Rostock, Africa gets down to business in Arusha

Dateline Berlin 06/04/07
As Germans ‘rumble in the jungle’ before the G8 Summit 2007, the TED Global 2007 Conference in Arusha, Tanzania gets down to business

After Europe’s ‘autonomen’ (anarchists) set the city of Rostock on fire in an ‘anti-G8 dress rehearsal’ for the G8 Summit 2007 in Heiligendamm, mainstream Germans and the demonstration organizers (Attac and anti-G8 Alliance) are debating what went wrong and pointing fingers at one another. The German media has shifted from coverage of the issues to be discussed at this year’s summit to the violence in their streets. Rostock of course and the former East German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, and Thüringen are no strangers to street violence as was demonstrated in week long siege of Vietnamese and Gypsies (the Romani people) in Rostock back in 1992. The big difference this past weekend is that it was not acts of extreme violence against Ausländer (foreigners) but instead a bloody and fiery battle between the Schwarze Block (Black Bloc) vs. the lean, mean Green Machine (German police and federal security forces).

Definition of the German term ‘autonomen’ (courtesy Spiegel Online)

The label "autonomen" refers to radical libertarian and anarchist groups in Germany, though it doesn't refer to a specific, organized group. Like many on Germany's well-established, left-wing fringe, the autonomen grew out of the leftist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. They often take part in demonstrations against atomic energy and also frequently join peace marches. They are not always welcome participants in such demonstrations due to their willingness to participate in violence. Indeed, they have also been called the "black block" because of their tendency to wear all black and to cover their faces with black masks during demonstrations to avoid being identified by the authorities. While autonomen generally recognize that complete independence of social networks is not possible, they reject outside influence as much as possible. The autonomen are considered potentially the most violent of the anti-G-8 activists and were likely behind the rioting on Saturday afternoon in Rostock.

The 2007 Rostock G8 Riots by the numbers

Approximately 1000 people have been injured, many seriously including 433 police officers and 520+ demonstrators. 130 people were arrested, 10 people were still being held in custody as of this writing, all others were released. No deaths have been reported… yet. The German government’s hard work to make the G8 Summit at Heiligendamm a success has been torpedoed by its own citizens at a cost of more than 100 million Euros and lots of injured people before the gates even open on the main event Wednesday, June 6th.

Meanwhile, down toward the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley in Arusha, Tanzania a kinder, gentler type of world event is taking place - Africa: The Next Chapter.

People who have a deep interest in really providing needed assistance to Africans are getting down to business in Tanzania. The TED Global 2007 Conference – Africa: The Next Chapter opens in Arusha today and the international media will pay little attention to this event that holds more promise for Africa’s future than that silly circus east of the Elbe River here in Germany.

In attendance at this conference are some of the world’s foremost thinkers and visionaries working alongside Africa’s future generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. At the end of this post are links to TED / TED Global online resources but first have a look at this TED TALK video featuring the former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. This is the type of image of Africa that the world needs to see more often. This is what we mean, blog authors and citizen journalists and professional writers, when we say Africa is Open for Business:

"Negative images of Africa dominate the news: famine and disease, conflict and corruption. But Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Finance Minister of Nigeria, says there's a less-told story unfolding in many African nations: one of reform, economic growth and business opportunity. Cracking down on corruption -- and the perception of corruption -- will be the key to its success She tells how high-ranking Nigerian officials taking money illicitly have been jailed, and how citizens and prospective business partners are getting at least a partial picture now of where money flows. "

TED Talk video featuring Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

(March 2007, 20:18 minutes)

Wasn’t that nice and informative? I do have lots of questions regarding that fine presentation by Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, especially since she left the government of former Nigerian President Obasanjo BEFORE the historic elections went down in Nigeria last month that has received the scorn and outrage of so many groups and governments. But that is a matter for another day.

The TED Blog’s Hot Topic of the Day is a scheduled talk to be given by the renowned economist and educator Dr. George Ayittey. ‘Looking back to look forward’ is the title of his presentation to the TED Global 2007 Arusha audience today and should be available at TED Talks by mid-summer 2007. In a TED questionnaire sent out to Dr. George Ayittey months before the opening of the Arusha Conference he responded in a 6-page document opening with the following:

George Ayittey's critique of 'coconut republics' (TED Global Q&A)

What are you best known for?

CONTROVERSY. But my admirers refer to me as “unorthodox,” “unscripted” or “The Cutlass (machete),” who slashes through the thicket of suffocating platitudes and excuses to deliver the bitter truth about post colonial Africa.” Personally, I regard myself as an intellectual “rebel,” kicking against the old “colonialism-imperialism paradigm” which has landed Africa in a conundrum. By this paradigm, everything wrong with Africa is the fault of somebody else -- hostile external forces (Western colonialism, imperialism, the World Bank, etc.) and never the fault of misguided leadership. Witness Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

I am known for pushing the view that the old paradigm is now obsolete. It is kaput. We need a new way of thinking or a new paradigm that stresses the importance of internal factors as well. For example, brutal political tyranny, arrant economic mismanage, rampant corruption and senseless civil wars have nothing to do with artificial colonial borders or Western imperialism. Rebel leaders do not seek to redraw boundaries; they head straight to the capital city because that’s where power lies.

What are you working on now?

To save Zimbabwe from implosion. We hope to achieve peaceful change in Zimbabwe through the convocation of a “Sovereign National Conference.” It is the same mechanism (the Convention for a Democratic South Africa -- CODESA) which was used to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. If it worked in South Africa, then it will work in Zimbabwe.

End excerpt from TED Blog post

Throughout the week of the G8 Summit 2007 here in Germany I will be reporting on what is being discussed and blogged about at the TED Global Conference in Tanzania and comparing that with the international media coverage of the Africa Agenda at the G8 Summit 2007. Please do explore the TED and TED Conferences websites to learn more about this important foundation and their work with people in Africa and around the world.

Resources on the TED Global Conference 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design)
TED Global Conferences
TED Themes – Africa: The Next Chapter (videos and discussion forums)
TED Talks – Nogozi Okonjo-Iweala ‘How to help Africa? Do business there.’

TED Blog homepage and blog posts’s new discussion space Africa: The Next Chapter, 05/30/07
Three powerful talks from TED Conference 2007 (Monterey, California), 05/30/07
Dr. George Ayittey critique of ‘coconut republics’ in Africa, 06/04/07

Global Voices & Africa bloggers coverage of the TED Conference in Arusha
(Note: There are about 50 bloggers attending and writing from this conference)
Emeka Okafor – Africa Unchained, Timbuktu Chronicles
Ethan Zuckerman – My Heart’s in AccraTED Africa: Introducing Africa 2.0
Jennifer Brea – AfricabeatTED Global Africa: The Next Chapter

Hash - White African - Dropping the bombshell on development aid

Global Voices Online - Blogging the G8 Summit

Technorati tags – TEDGlobal2007, tedglobal07

Businessweek March 12, 2007:
The Talk of TED by Jessi Hempel
The California conference of entrepreneurs, scientists, celebs, and politicians highlights the environment, Rwanda, and war photos, among other topics

Additional information about the 1992 Rostock Riots

TIME Magazine
Germany for Germans? 09/02/07

Human Rights Watch
Germany for Germans – Xenophobia and Racist Violence in Germany, April 1995
Foreigners Out! – Xenophobia and Right-Wing Violence in Germany, Oct 1992 (PDF)

German Anthropology Online
Die soziale Konstruktion von Fremdenfeidlischkeit by Martina Althoff (1998)

Pro Asyl - History (a leading NGO in Germany fighting for the rights of refugees)

Aspects of society and identity in the new Germany by Mary Fullbrook, Winter 1994

JSTOR – International Migration Review
Socialism, Unification Policy and the Rise of Racism in Eastern Germany, 1997

U.S. Department of State – Human Rights Report for Germany, January 1994
(Section 5: Discrimination based upon race…national/racial/ethnic minorities)

International Herald Tribune

Speak Up for the German Mainstream, 09/03/02

Technorati tags:


jke said...

Great summary, and the links are superb. Thx!

E-Nyce said...

This is the best summary of the TED Arusha events I've read yet.

I especially like the lack of gushing and backslapping babble-politico-speak that the conference is in Africa, and the highlighted focus on actual, practical, can-be-done-right-now solutions for Africa.

I will be following your future postings with much interest.

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks to both of you (Kiku and e-nyce) for stopping by for a visit. Keep following the discussions and presentations and workshops at TED Global 2007 via their website and their blog. My post on the conference dated June 6th has a direct link to the aggregated posts of all bloggers in attendance down in Arusha.

BTW: Kiku, I tried to leave a comment at your blog today to invite you for a Beck's or two and der Weser next week. Unfortunately your spam filter blocked my message due to IP settings or some other parameter. Fix it so that I may leave comments at your place.

Get in touch with me by email so that we may hookup when we both have some spare time. Welcome to Eagle Country and der Nordsee.

Sam said...

What a GREAT summary. A growing number of people in the TED community have become passionate about Africa, a continent that appears to be at an important tipping point.