Posts Tagged ‘world bank’

And I don’t even know her name (a poem on AIDS Day)

December 1, 2010

***This poem is a true story***

Did you know I used to be a conspiracy theorist?
I’m still a conspiracy theorist
I’ve conspired about everything
From Klan contraceptive pills in
Kentucky Fried “Chickens”
To why so many poor children I’ve taught
Are now on Ridlin

I believe in almost every conspiracy
Designed to assassinate black leaders
From Shaka Zulu to Patrice Lumumba to Dr. King
And up to the present

I also used to opine
About AIDS being a disease,
Created in Western labs
To dispose of Black people around the world
But then I had to realize
That my theories on conspiracies
Won’t change the fact
That my cousin in Zambia is dying of AIDS
…And I don’t even know her name

Thoughts of AIDS
Coming from gays, junkies,
Or Vietnamese Rhesus monkeys
In Western laboratories
Won’t help my cousin see her next birthday
Or the birthday of her child

It’s insane when I think of those slain in vain
By this disease with “unknown origins”
But of course it’s worse now
Because it’s closer to home

I often think about my cousin
And how she lost her husband
To the AIDS Grim Reaper
But then I dug deeper
And found out that he died
Because he had to choose
Between money for expensive AIDS drugs
And financial aid to feed his children

So now that they are going hungry,
He must have died in vain
…And I don’t even know her name

US drug companies
Won’t lower the prices of their medicine
And so now she too waits to die
Impoverished and ashamed
… And I don’t even know her name

No more school for her sons
…And I don’t even know her name

Her daughter might be raped
By a gang of infected men
In a futile search to cure their pain
… And I don’t even know her name

Will her children die too
Because of this damn Western drug game?
… And I don’t even know her name
My cousin is dying of AIDS
…And I don’t even know her name!

And I know this sounds repetitive
But for my entire life
Her existence in my mind was negative

And so now that she’s HIV positive
I feel like I have to make up for lost time
Because there’s too much time lost
Before she’s tossed
Into that statistical group of Africans
That die from AIDS, malaria, TB,
And probably common colds

But since we don’t know their names,
And most Americans believe
That all Africans are the same,
Then unless they died from war or famine
Then they must have died from AIDS!

Not old age, not rabies,
Even the babies,
Let them all die
From that disease we call AIDS,

You know that “AIDS”
Some say it means
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
But it might as well mean
“Africans Impoverished Death Syndrome”
Because no one cares for their names right?
Well wrong!

Because from now on,
I’m gonna sing my cousin’s song
And the songs of the throngs
Of those who are dying
In numbers so large
That rivers form from tears of the crying
And mounting AIDS deaths
Keep these rivers from ever drying

But I’m gonna stand strong for my cousin
And fight the fight for her and her husband

Because inability to pay exorbitant prices
For name-brand drugs
Means my cousin might die in shame
But at least for this one soul
It won’t be in vain
Because by the time you read this testimony
I will have known her name

Her name is not “African statistic #10,000,001”
Or whatever figure
Will get these drug companies more money
And by the way I gotta inform my friends
That joking about AIDS
Never was and still isn’t funny

And if they or you ask why,
I will tell them you that my cousin,
She is dying of AIDS
And though some of you may not give a damn,
For those of you who care,
Please join me for a moment of silence
For Kuishi ‘s prayer…

*Kuishi: “to live” in Swahili

What Does Development Aid Really Mean?* (a poem)

September 23, 2010

What does development aid really mean?

Does it mean managing money to mobilize against HIV

Or driving through southern Sudan in an SUV?

Does it mean the improvement of life,

Since many join the development enterprise to improve their lifestyle?

Does it mean giving 1/10 of 1% of your GNP

And having 1/3 of that funnel its way to those in need,

Since most of the aid goes to pay aid agency staff salary?

What does it mean?

Development aid is well-intentioned

But in this new millennium we have to learn our lesson

Because I’d rather have no aid than slow aid or low aid

If it means that development agencies will give funds

To governments for pipelines and pesticides

But indirectly support a genocide

Or have we forgotten the extreme case of Rwanda,

Where 80% of development aid went to the pre-genocide government

Even though all of the signs of the genocide were in place

But agencies for aid

Paid it no mind as long as that well-water became potable

…or that fertilizer ferry became floatable

… or that minimal rise in literacy became notable

Just noticeable enough to give uplifting quotable statistics on report backs to donors


Misguided, top-down development enforces the politics of exclusion

Because in collusion with repressive governments,

The poorest of the poor never receive assistance in fields like subsistence farming

And it’s quite alarming

Because aid agencies never realize their agency in societal conflicts

Because they claim to take an “apolitical” approach

But they fail to see how misdirected, top-down aid can encroach

On a politically fragmented society

And exacerbate it by further disempowering the disempowered

Primarily by working with government-appointed elites

So we have to rethink development

Because many of us don’t understand what to “develop” meant in the first place

I’m calling for a structural adjustment program of Structural Adjustment Programs

And other policies that claim or claimed to assist developing homelands

Because development doesn’t mean that we can have Afrikan Growth & Opportunity

When the resources we use don’t come from our own community

It doesn’t mean fancy dinners in classy hotels

With money given to decrease mortality rates for newborn children

And if aid can’t be given to a government

Without a care for ensuring the rights of every child, woman and man

Then I’ll be damned before I say that everything is “ok” with development aid

It’s time to ensure that our dollars are being spent on education and public health

As opposed to Safari vacations and private wealth

For foreign experts and host government hierarchies

And if we can have vouchers at home

Why not have developing country vouchers

So good governments can choose the best development projects for their land

Instead of generic plans from those claiming to know what’s best for the destitute?

Development aid can’t be looked at as a Wall Street business transaction

Where investors are only worried about the comeback

We need to come back and revise our strategy

Because we’ll all be glad to see the day

When development aid is not only concerned

With promising statistics on cocoa revenues, crop distribution,

And more village midwives

Because few lives will be improved or saved

Unless the poorest of the poor truly receive the majority of the aid

So until the day when underdeveloped development dreams

Are redeveloped for developing countries

Development aid will never be what is seems

And if we continue to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to this preventable predicament

Then the poorest of the world’s poor will continue to ask:

“What does development aid really mean?”

*Partially inspired by Dr. Peter Uvin’s Aiding Violence