What If? My African sopabox ...

Foreign journalists post fake pictures of child labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms.

They have no idea who or what they are taking pictures of. A reporter follows through with a distorted article, force feeding readers a theory, based on creating scandal over overall fairness and actual context, not one seen through distant lenses of tinted windows of a four by four vehicle, and the words of activists trying to sell a story.

Human rights groups harp on the article.

It's an outrage. One more advocacy issue to fill their coffers, to pay their salaries, to justify their existence.

U.S. Congressmen go on a fact-finding mission paid for by the U.S. chocolate industry trying to save its image in a clever campaign.

The Congressmen express their outrage at a conference in between laps in a muggy pool in a hotel that was extremely fancy in the 70s.

They come up with meetings, boards, committee members, honorary presidents of this and that, a new wing within a ministry, memorandums of understanding, workshops, new trainers, new labor programs, they cooperate with seven different agencies of the United Nations, several embassies, creating a slew of administrative positions, plans for new schools in remote areas, creating more opportunities for globe-trotting do gooders, whose only good is usually their own conscience, making themselves look better on their resume and the thrill of a temporary experience.

The Congressmen come back to Ivory Coast dozens of times, since war has broken out, and all the agreements are being ignored even though money is being spent on these projects, and positions are being filled, certainly satisfying to the foreign-trained elite. The chocolate industry is sending out dozens and dozens of press releases saying everything is going well. Everyone else makes a statement on Valentine's Day. Your chocolate is being made by little hands. (That's like your cell phone is killing in Congo. It's not about the cellphone, chocolate or even diamonds, it's about the business structure!)

Getting back to the matter directly at hand ... who are these minors working on cocoa farms? Usually relatives, or farmers' own children, working to survive, learning a trade that can carry them through their lives, taking care of their parents, in a loose, loving, family environment.

Should these underage workers be in big cities, ostracized, being beaten up by a distant uncle who drinks his days away, going to run-down schools, closed down more often than not, by strikes because of unpaid salaries, learn occasionally about French philosophy and French thought since post-colonial books have yet to be written, while being at a heightened risk of prostitution, drugs, rape, and enlistment in neighborhood gangs or worse rebellions?

I haven't read her book yet, but I've been impressed by the presence and penetrating thought of Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, here on the Charlie Rose show, and the author of "Dead Aid".

She says celebrities like Bono perpetuate negative stereotypes ... "taking a picture with a starving African child, that doesn't help me raise an African child to believe (s)he can be an engineer or a doctor."

Bonoites were themselves outraged ... always this outrage, it makes you wonder. Jammie Drumond who founded the advocacy group One with Bono is quoted as saying the book is "a poor polemic, with nothing new of substance, filled with anecdotal microexamples which ignores mountains of evidence."

Moyo is also not impressed by mission work... "People like to pity Africans," she says.

The president of World Vision retorted, "I always think, what if they were my children? I refuse to turn my back on people who need help."

I tend to agree with Moyo. I believe it's only help if you treat the person you are helping both as an equal, and as a natural part of your own life, and not as a special project, or work, or mission, you feel compelled to do, in which case, it feels off, perverted, distorted, and consequentially wrong.

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