Friday, November 30, 2007

Gordon loses Khartoum

This business about the teddy. A few weeks ago there was the Zoe's Ark affair next door in Chad. A French NGO developing a freelance adoption business in which children who are allegedly orphans from Darfur but may in fact have been from poor families in eastern Chad are shipped to France -- the NGO is probably breaking multiple laws in Chad and France and now they sit in jail awaiting trial. Regular protests outside the jail demanding justice and in principle one could see the point of the protestors since the activities of Zoe's Ark touch so many sore points in African history -- Europeans coming in and doing what they think is best, even if it includes moving people thousands of miles from their homes.

But there was something slightly fishy about the protests. They looked organized. There was always a well-dressed protestor available to speak fluent French to the assembled hacks. Meanwhile when the TV crews would head to one of the villages where the children came from, the attitude of the families who had been misled into providing children for the scheme was much more shrug of the shoulder and measured. And like most people in Chad, they didn't speak much French.

So now in Khartoum another protest. And protestors available with fluent English for the assembled hacks. If they can get that worked up about a teddy, maybe the Zoe's Ark thing is not such a big deal. Something that the French might keep in mind if they contemplated springing the NGO people out of jail and bringing them home. Especially since they are the ones that keep the government of Chad in power anyway.

Anyway, the point of this rambling post is a hypothesis: that the protests over whatever the latest outrage is aren't benighted villagers. It's the local elite.

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