Localism, Borders and Globalization: A Case of Chinese thieves, Ghanaian fishermen, Ivorian authorities, Burkinabe tourism workers and me

I did not encounter the following in the traditional journalistic method of going to the source, interviewing "in the field", weighing authoritative voices and those of "yahoos", fresh in the post-event, before another matter engrosses them, but rather, simply being there, I saw a big red boat while surfing and thought hummm, but as many times did not follow the instinct; then when bringing an Obama hat to a friend (M2 in previous post); I was told she was probably "au bord" (on the side of the ocean) where I had noticed some commotion; then a small boy asked his mom about soldiers running back and forth; but again, alloco in hand I just walked back to eat; to surf, read some more; sleepily pass the day.

But in nearby Assouinde, Ivory Coast, it was anything but a sleepy day.

Chinese fishermen approached traditional waters and apparently when they ply nearer to shore waters (reserved for traditional pirogues) their system, whatever it is, cuts into other nets, and ruins them.

As the boat was sighted closer and closer, the local fishermen, most of them from Ghana, since the borders are artificial and there is peace here and the Ivorians are the landowners, concocted a plan with Ivorian naval authorities whereby they would board a motorized fisherman's pirogue, guns at the ready, at daybreak, and seize the Chinese boat, which was sailing without a flag.

The operation succeeded flawlessly. The fish the Chinese had collected over a six month period, barracuda, shark, calamari, capitaine, neatly packaged and frozen, was taken out and plopped on the beach.

At first, the Chinese were given plastic chairs to sit on the beach. But then, one of the naval authorities barked at them to sit on the ground. It was a tactic to scare them to pay more, said one astute villager.

A local Burkinabe hotelier said if the fishermen would have been Russians they would have gunned down the approaching pirogue, leaving dead bodies, with the cut up nets in the ocean.

But these Chinese had been trapped; and asked to pay 50-thousand dollars; while their six months of work was being quickly divided by fishermen and the maritime authorities.

"Gros bras" or big arms of the village were being asked to carry huge fish on their backs to and fro; pocketing smaller ones for their services. Naval authorities filled themselves up with fish, walking back and forth from their service car to the mound of fish.

But the Burkinabe tourism workers were staying away from the fish, saying it seemed too much like theft.

Market women quickly cut up fish in squares, smoking them up to sell them a few days later on the road to Abidjan.

There were rumors state television was on the scene. One villager said they would report about the seizure but not about the fish jamboree redistribution. Another said the Chinese fled but others said they had been driven to Abidjan where one of their bosses was based for negotiations; their boat now sitting idle near shore, emptied out of its valuable and nutritious cargo.

These fish which were to have been exported to foreign markets were now to be sold and eaten locally for cheap.

One Burkinabe argued the fish should be taken to Abidjan as well, and all legal channels preserved. But it was too late. And what was right about that? Isn't decentralized, from the ground up, corruption or illegality better than the centralized, top-down variety?

Again, how does globalization, when it works and does not break down like in this case, benefit local communities? The foreign fishermen, if they do their job legally, pay licenses to central governments who do not redistribute the money. The European Union gives tons of money to African governments to fish in waters such as the ones off Assouinde.

Assouinde never gets a dime of it back, even if fish are getting pilfered out, and local fishermen find it harder and harder. The school in Assouinde is paid for with local money, there are no roads and no hospitals for its residents.

The strong central government which takes property and what's on it without providing any services seems like a short change.

Yes, I ramble, and yet again, my theories lack formulation when written down, my writing lacks brevity and appeal. I have yet to formulate how and why the world would be a better place without any visas or borders, which unfortunately is real in the virtual but not in the real.

Another one I have about publicly listing people seems to interest much more; and by this interest I am surprised since it seems obvious to me.

Remembering the names of different fish does not.

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