Monday, April 16, 2012

Intriguing Chart: African Dependence on Official Foreign Aid

From here
Note that despite Kagame's frequent protestations against foreign aid, his is the largest recipient by this measure on the continent

What if anything Can VOA and HRW Learn from #Kony2012?

Human Rights Watch posted a six-minute video on the urgent need to arrest Bosco Ntaganda three days ago; so far it's gotten 2,500 hits. The Voice of America posted its latest video on rape in eastern Congo, part of a series it's been working on for over a year. So far, it's been seen 74 times.

How depressing. It's numbers like these that remind me of just how remote the Congo is for most Americans; how distant from our concerns. I wonder if there's something to be learned from #Kony2012 after all, in spite of everything that we found objectionable about it.

World Bank Says Congo's Transition from Conflict Exemplary, Government Now Democratic and Legitimate

You may have heard that the World Bank just published a new report on #DRC predicting that growth will average seven percent for the next couple of years. The Bank says it is the first comprehensive economic analysis for the country in more than twenty-five years; it is certainly an impressive-looking document. I am keen to read the entire manuscript, but the first sentence brought me up short. In fact, I thought at first I must have clicked on the wrong country document. Take a look for yourself:

This book pulls together an impressive body of research on the exemplary transition of a country from a state of conflict to a postconflict situation, and from there toward becoming a country with legitimate institutions created by free, democratic, and transparent elections.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Twittersphere Panties in Bunch over Latest JM Coetzee Provocation

(N.B., any similarity to the current scandale-du-jour is purely coincidental.)

The "Twittter-verse" erupted in a cacophony of outrage and indignation last week over the latest JM Coetzee essay in the New York Review of Books. The essay, a colloquy on some of the more obscure incidents in the life of the poet John Clare, including his alcohol-addled attack on the actor playing Shylock during a North London production of Merchant of Venice in 1835, has some in the blogosphere crying foul. "Coetzee is clearly bullying his way onto the public stage with this recycling of Clare's well-known struggles with mental stability--and at a time when Clare himself is no longer here to defend himself.. I expect Coetzee will soon be holding forth on the hegemonic blah blah of something" declared Wendy Bazimu in the online version--gated, subscription required--of Marxism Today. Se added that the reader should feel free to finish the sentence with her own favored expression of ritual indignation.

Coetzee is well known for his provocative, sometimes histrionic presence, lighting up journals such as Mind and the Times Literary Supplement with provocative--some say needlessly self-promoting--takes on  Turgenev's original publishing house or the dilemmas posed by artificial fertilization usage for Australian rutabaga yields. The question, this time, is whether his contentious style has crossed a heretofore invisible line, now heavily policed by a growing community of online skeptics ready to pounce on what they believe to be instances of poor taste and "badliterocracy."

As a white, South African male, Coetzee has long probed the moral corruptions of and by pity and shame, in works of withering, sometimes baffling spareness. His millions of online devotees have responded to his words in the traditional style of literary fans everywhere--by bracelet buying and postering. Some credit the massive online petition drive of 2003 for Coetzee winning the Nobel Literature Prize later that year.

Still, no one--not even Coetzee himself, it seems fair to say--expected the shitstorm that erupted last week when he first posted his thoughts on Clare's peculiar unraveling. The day after the essay was posted it had earned a respectable 20,000 "hits"--the number of independent viewers "clicking" on the web site. Days two and three saw those numbers climb somewhere north of the hundred thousand mark. Then came the deluge: twitters on accounts maintained by the PR companies on behalf of P. Diddy and Justin Bieber linked to the essay, causing the New York Review's web site to crash; gap-jawed editors at the venerable publication watched in awe as thousands turned into tens of millions. As of this publication, Coetzee's essay has been read by over 80 million people.