Prayer for Africa

What are the headlines in your country?

I bet one of today’s biggest headlines in your country is the same as in my country: about the implosion of a small vessel somewhere off the coast of Canada. It had a handful of passengers, it is true, and to their families, we of course offer our condolences. I’m sure that being imploded is a disagreeable way of dying.

Mind you, I watched Titanic, too – the film, that is – and I admit I was impressed by the luxurious tableware and the music and the grandeur of the disaster. Goodness, yes!

But frankly, looking back now, I realise that Titanic was nothing – even visually nothing – compared to the grandeur that meets the eye if you run a Google images search for climate+disaster+Africa. Try it.

I wonder, I honestly do, how it is that while few Europeans, and maybe even US Americans, remain dry-eyed at the edge of any one of the innumerable and endless French fields decked with plain white crosses over nameless humans who fell there in WWI, we turn our backs to what is going on in Africa. There are doubtless many and complex reasons, but I will mention two, for rhetorical purposes:

1) Could it be that we feel guilty, that we suspect that – although we never meant to hurt them, oh no! – that we suspect that our welfare (let’s be honest and admit that anyone who is reading this enjoys conditions of life far superior to the average African living in Africa) somehow, to some degree, for obscure reasons beyond us, has contributed to their plight? Through no fault of our own, of course.

2) Could it be that in spite of all our activism for Black rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights and whatnot rights, we are just a wee bit, you know – just a tiny bit – um, I hardly dare use the word – racist?

Those who fell in WWI are unknown to most of us, but they were white. Those who are dying in the Mediterranean are also unknown to us, but they are not white. I hear there is much talk of anti-Semitism again. I resent such talk, not – I repeat NOT – because I condone what is real anti-Semitism in any way, shape or form, but because the term “anti-Semitism” is being abused with impunity to commit horrendous racist crimes against Palestinians, whose skin is just a touch darker than the former Europeans who moved to Israel after WWII.

So how, I wonder, do Africans feel about all this? Most of them are much darker, even, than Palestinians. Are we all, in the West (and Israel undoubtedly belongs to the West) a bunch of closet racists?

A good photographer can take stunningly beautiful photos of despair, while hinting at even more stunningly precarious human existence shrouded in mist or sand, somehow alive under unbelievably difficult conditions. David Attenborough has shown us that there are tiny animals that survive miraculously in the Sahara. Maybe we shall see him in a final scene, telling us about how the unbelievably brave and resistant sapiens sapiens is miraculously surviving in, yes, a spreading-like-wildfire-desert, in Africa. That would be his crowning masterpiece.

Many don’t survive of course. Another 39 just drowned, trying to cross the Mediterranean. But we don’t want to hear about starving Africans. It’s their own fault, isn’t it? They’re corrupt, aren’t they, and they’re ignorant. We, of course, in the West, are neither corrupt nor ignorant.

Sci-fi authors regularly write about how the entire planet has been destroyed by weapons of mass destruction, greed and climate disasters. I put to the community of sci-fi authors: Let Africans survive. The rest of us are useless.


I check the news from the Norwegian National Broadcasting company every single day without fail. So I can assure you that we do hear about Africa from time to time. Listening to or reading the news from the Norwegian National Broadcasting Company, you will get the impression that the only problem in Africa is a few warlords. There are, indeed, a few horrible warlords in Africa, in Sudan, for instance, and in Congo. There is one fundamental difference, however, between a warlord from the global south and a warlord from the filthy-rich “West”: Warlords from the Global South would not be able to start WWIII. Our warlords, however, in the filthy-rich West, seem determined to do just that. After all, their kids will not be the ones to serve and die on the battle fields.

Warlords are an irresponsible psychopathic lot, agreed, be they white, black or green. Hegemon warlords, however, are the very, very worst.