Hometown Baghdad » Blog Archive » Episode 37 0f 38 - “One of Thousands”

I just watched episode 37, on the death of a beloved uncle at a U.S. Army roadblock. I don't know if I'm ready to suffer the pain of watching the whole series, on the impossible lives of a middle-class Baghdadi family -- several of whose members are fluent in English -- just trying to go about their business and studies in their U.S.-occupied, multiterrorized city. Hometown Baghdad » Blog Archive » Episode 37 0f 38 - “One of Thousands”


Frustrating development

I just read an essay that helps put into perspective the failure of Ghana and other countries to fulfill the great promises that independence seemed to open up (see my note below on Ghana). The articulate Jamaican-born cultural theorist Stuart Hall puts it this way:
The decolonization that occurred at the end of World War II, often hailed as 'setting the colonial world free', was in fact marked by three broad stages redefining relations between the developed West and the rest. In the first phase, fundamental relations of neocolonial dependency were established between the developed and underdeveloped worlds in the context of the Cold War. ...the Cold War was fought out largely by proxy on post-colonial terrain. In the second phase, 'structural adjustment' regimes were imposed by the West on the developing world, via international organizations coupled with massive indebtedness through the banking system. More recently, with the collapse of the Soviet empire and the rise of the US to single super-power hegemony, an unholy alliance of global corporate forces, collusive indigenous elites, and legal and illegal armies on the loose has been able to treat the world's poor and the societies of the South as open marketplaces, repositories of scarce resources, and reservoirs of cheap labour.
(Pp. 27-28 in Hall, Stuart. "Cosmopolitan Promises, Multicultural Realities." Divided Cities: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2003. Ed. Richard Scholar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 20-51.)

Photo of Hall from The Chronicle - Stuart Hall

Ghana and Guinea (Conakry) were among the countries that resisted being sucked into the Cold War, but Ghanaian cocoa farmers and others, backed by the C.I.A., readily enlisted and overthrew Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. Sékou Touré, who had led the République de Guinée to independence (and became the exiled Nkrumah's host) hung on to power until his death in 1984, but the international agencies mentioned by Hall (initially, the aggressive economic and diplomatic actions of France) made serious economic development impossible.