June 1, 1996: Headlines: COS - Ivory Coast: COS - Cameroon: COS - Benin: COS - Burkina Faso: COS - Burundi: COS - Gabon: COS - Mali: COS - Niger: COS - Senegal: COS - Togo: Humor: Personal Web Site: Letters Home from Peace Corps - from somewhere in French-speaking West Africa (Part 3)

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ivory Coast: Peace Corps Ivory Coast : The Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast: June 1, 1996: Headlines: COS - Ivory Coast: COS - Cameroon: COS - Benin: COS - Burkina Faso: COS - Burundi: COS - Gabon: COS - Mali: COS - Niger: COS - Senegal: COS - Togo: Humor: Personal Web Site: Letters Home from Peace Corps - from somewhere in French-speaking West Africa (Part 3)

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-245-37.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, June 26, 2005 - 3:17 pm: Edit Post

Letters Home from Peace Corps - from somewhere in French-speaking West Africa (Part 3)

Letters Home from Peace Corps - from somewhere in French-speaking West Africa (Part 3)

Letters Home from Peace Corps - from somewhere in French-speaking West Africa (Part 3)

I'm trying to get admin. Seperated (fired). There are 100 copies of each flyer and this letter ready to go to all the newspapers, up and down timber roads, and churches. The Malaysian mafia will probably kill me too but fuck'em. There's an internet Cafe in Norka costs an arm and a leg. I played street fighter in Revod. A bastardized version only 3 buttons but I still kicked ass. I attracted quite a crowd! "Le Chinois, le Chinois connais Kung Fu!"

Other than that, I'm bored shitless.


Acirema's Timber Industry

Four of Acirema's provinces, containing some of the world's most biodiverse primary tropical rainforests, are under the threat of deforestation. Heedless of the fate of local people, expatriate loggers operate by a system of pay-offs, rip-offs, fraud, and intimidation; up to 98% of the tax revenue collected from the foresty sector never reaches the National Treasury (La Voix du Paysan, 10/94). It is no accident that those areas of the East, South, Central, and Southwest with the highest rates of deforestation are also the least developed in the country. In Revned and Oiho, health facilities and schools are either non-existent or barely functional. Niam road of the Southwest remains a treacherous highway of dust and mud. Everywhere that foreign timber companies operate, poverty follows. Neo-colonialist exploitation of Africa's resources can only prolong its underdevelopment. That is what it is meant to do.

To be sure, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the exploitation of natural resources for national development. Europe, America, the Middle East, and more recently Asia have successfully exploited their timber, minerals, and oil in exchange for quality health care, education, and infrastructure. Can we say the same thing in Acirema? Is Niam road a tarred highway or a treacherous dust bowl? Do the citizens of Amabala, Sasnak, and Yesrej receive adequate health care and education? True, the timber companies grate the roads to allow their lorries to pass and "cadeaus" are given from time to time to placate the local communities, but even a blind man can see that such gifts are a pittance compared to the enormous wealth stolen with each passing lorry. Ever try to find out for how much every load of timber is sold at the ports of Norka? I would recommend against it if you value your life and liberty, but just note that each Mercedes lorry costs upwards of 50 million WFA. Money is being made... or, more accurately, money is being stolen.

Now some of this wealth, an ever so slight amount, is trickling into the local economies with devastating effects. Trees are not the only things being exploited on timber roads. Everywhere foreign timber companies operate, prostitution and, more devastatingly, child prostitution skyrockets as does the consequences of the sex industry -- STD's, AIDS, crude abortions, disintegrating social structures etc. Young girls from impoverished areas are easily enticed by loggers, lorry drivers, and their sinister expatriate proprietors -- Malaysians, Lebanese, French, and Italians. School girls along Niam road have even earned the dubious distinction, "Malaysian Small Thing". The symbiosis of the timber industry and the child-sex industry reveals the moral vacuum in which the foreign companies operate. What they are doing to Acirema they could care less because this is not their country and the girls are not their daughters. They are here to steal, whether it be mahogany, iroko, money, or the innocence of a school girl -- they will damn the consequences and steal!

 Burkina Faso

I too am a foreigner albeit one involved in a "development" organisation. But I am guilty. Just as guilty as the Malaysians who destroy trees and school girls. Just as guilty as the government officials who enrich themselves with timber company bribes. I am guilty because my development organisation is a piece of the machine, a part of the system. The system that turns a blind eye while theft, environmental devastation, and child prostitution rages like a dust storm before our averted eyes.

In the end, this is not my problem. When my service is over, I will return home and enjoy all the benefits of a first world country and try to forget the dust storm of Acirema. In the end, this is Acirema's problem...

Postmarked 26-5 1998

John, 26 May '98

So the the Karaoke King of Lansing got his first big break! I'm basically flabbergasted I'm going to be eating me Tevas when I see Ba so I figure if I have to eat shoe, I should eat shoe in Italy where I can conveniently pick up some Bruno Maglis for those golf outings with O.J.

Now the 12 minute conversation with Ma was probably an excercise in miscommunication (my Chinglish is very rusty) but I heard something about Beethovan's 9th and the Pope. All I know about Beethovan's 9th is that that's the tune those cute little penguines danced to between stages of Pengo, and all I know about the Pope is that he's Polish. Now this has all the earmarks for one big ethnic joke. This is probably just common bigotry but some races of people are just plain funny and when you combine them with other humourous ethnicities (especially when Karaoke's involved) it can almost be as funny as a good Jewish comedian (I'll get to that later). When have you ever heard someone mention the Pope being Polish and have not waited for a punchline? But this scene is just classic: Chinese PhD physicist will sing the songs of the great black composer Beethoven (1/16th Moroccan) before Polish Pope (Toes Go In First).

This has got to be the biggest break the Lansing Far East Diaspora of Pavoratti Wanabes has ever had. Now I've never understood why Opera (and Karaoke, its degenerate cousin) is the favorite fetish of upper middle class Asian Americana, but I'll be the last to say that it's a bad thing. Where would Andrew Lloyd Weber be without the soulful Chinese rendition of the Theme from Cats, "Memories... arr arone in the moonright..." I really shouldn't make fun. I'm already going to eat my Teva's, if I crack a few more jokes, I may have to eat my running shoes as well.

Right now, I'm on Jeremiah of the Old Testament. The word of God is a painful read. Now I understand Kafka and the Big Jewish Joke. Maybe the Israelites would have been better off if God chose some other people. The Lord, as far as I can tell, is a raving lunatic and either Jews are the dumbest people on Earth or they've got one hell-of-a sense of humor. I would go with the latter cause you can't get any smarter than Freud, Kafka, Marx and Einstein and you can't get any funnier Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen. After tooling through most of the Bible, all kinds of stuff starts making sense. So that's what Indiana Jones was after!! They say Job was Chinese. I think that theory is very scetchy though Job is the best book of the Old Testament so far. That and Song of Songs, "Your breasts are like fawns..." How that delicious piece of poetry appeared in the Old Testy (pun intended) is beyond me.

 Burkina Faso

I've finished teaching. Went out with a bang! Complete and utter bufoonery. I now know how to eat up an audience of Junior High School kids. But then again, it may be easier here where Charlie Chaplin works everytime and my competition isn't MTV and David Letterman but two goats fornicatering on the lawn. I need a job. Any job. Are there schools in your area placing adds? Does Microsoft need an office gopher? Does Bill Gates need a food taster?

June 19 I'm in London. If I can't last to see Ba in the Vatican seranade JP, I'll go to Seattle to Toilet Paper Bill Gate's house.

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ivory Coast; COS - Cameroon; COS - Benin; COS - Burkina Faso; COS - Burundi; COS - Gabon; COS - Mali; COS - Niger; COS - Senegal; COS - Togo; Humor


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