who has it? who doesn't?
what is it and who says?
and how much does one person need, for godsakes?
the world has gone crazy.
my friend michor in amsterdam, said that the biggest bank in holland has just crashed and has been nationalised. in the mean time the boss man just walked away with 23 million euros in his back pocket. how come? if the bank ran out of money how come he got it all then? who gave it to him? why didn't they put that money back into the bank to save it? and how come he got SO MUCH? what FOR? he clearly mis managed the entire frigging bank. why didn't get he get fired, with 500 bucks in his back pocket?
and then i read of children dying of malaria and other easily curable diseases in the DRC because there are simply no clinics and no drugs. there are doctors. who are desperate.
call me stupid but i just don't get it. i don't understand it at all. feel free to rise to the challenge and explain it to me in simple terms.
i don't buy the "oh its all relative". what's relative to 23 million euros in the back pocket of some failed dutch banker?
i have understood that people borrowed too much money from the banks (people who shouldn't have been leant the money in the first place), to buy their houses, and then couldn't repay the banks back. why is it that we need to drive ridiculously expensive cars, why do we need ridiculously expensive and overlarge ostentatious houses? or even worse, why is it that for the tiniest of concrete living spaces, so tiny you couldn't swing a cat in it never mind keep a cat in it, in some of the biggest cities of the world, we would pay about the same as we would for a luxury sailing yacht??? my very clever friend johnnie b tried explaining it to me on sunday by the pool. i glazed over, nodding distantly, like i do when i look into a car engine, or when someone tries explaining the art of car mechanics to me.
actually, i think all these big bank people and hedge fund people (hedge funds???? wot ees theez - money under the hedgerow?) have just been too goddamn greedy and wicked. i might be walking on very thin ice by saying this, but that's how i understand it, from my lowly, african perspective. GREED.
someone should write a book: Beginners Guide To The Great Depression Of The Twenty First Century: What Went Wrong.
Or rather The Idiots Guide To.....
i understand wealth, almost like a maasai. the maasai think they own all the cattle on the entire planet. (that's why craig and i never went into cattle farming. it wouldn't work around these parts...our cows would be theirs automatically, of course. maasai do not understand fences.) the maasai herds wander the great dusty northern maasailand plains and mean everything to them, second to their children. they kill for their cattle. their homes (bomas) and their children and their cattle mean everything. a man without children or cattle, is not a man. a woman who does not bear children is not a woman. a warrior who winces during circumcision will be forever derided. rules are clear and tradition is strong. there is still connection to ancestral spirits and the earth. of course the weather means everything. if the rains fail, so do the herds.
i remember speaking to a manager at a zanzibar resort, who is maasai. he said there is a real problem with boys leaving school at the age of 14 /15, when they become moran. warriors. when you become a warrior, no-one can tell you what to do anymore. all you have to do is look good, for the women to admire. you wander after the herds and you go walk about - to see the world - before you have to take on all the responsibilities of an adult. so he said, who on earth would want to miss out on this opportunity? on this freedom? indeed. who on earth?
from an early age, the children play games with stones or clay figurines representing cows. once they are old enough to walk and talk, the small kids are given the goat herds to tend to...and of course, once you become a warrior, its the herds you are responsible for. my friend lieve, who is a vet, said that the maasai are about the only people around these parts who pay her cash up front for all the work she does for them. beating the posh horse owners to it.
the maasai nomadic way of life is changing. all cultures change. nothing is static. the grazing lands are shrinking. maasai are becoming less nomadic. the missionaries are trying to make christians out of them. hideous three eyed missionaries with barely an education in hand, only a misguided fear of some puritanical god. don't get me started. i am permanently outraged by missionaries thinking they know better than a maasai warrior who owns over a thousand head of cattle....do me a favour. convincing them that unless they convert they are doomed to some, say, islamic hell???
i wrote a song once, which has a vicious little verse in it....
"keep your gods in all your temples
your missionaries at home
keep your guilt on the genocides
and your fears of the unkown."
dangerous subject. missionaries have also done some incredible work in africa. saving lives, starting schools, clinics, and dedicating their own lives to the alleviation of poverty. living in remote places. i remember doctor cairns from katete mission hospital in zambia. he was at one stage regularly beaten up by renamo fighters, coming across the mozambique border into zambia. he never gave up. he stayed on, saving life after life, as many as he could. he is an unsung hero. a good man. my mother died in his mission hospital, after her car accident. he was so kind and supportive to my dad and the other casualties, my father wanted to repay him for his kindness. he and his wife loved music so my father wanted to buy him a stereo and some classical records. when he asked him which was his favourite music, doctor cairns simply gave my father a list of drugs they were desperate for at the hospital. he was a very good man. he gave almost 50 of the best years of his life to the zambian people. and died poor in possessions but rich in heart, i should imagine.
perhaps its the right winged missionaries i'm thinking of.
it's the self righteous notion that someone else's foreign god is more important than yours, or rather the one in existence...more important and right than belief systems which have been in place, and changing naturally, for thousands of years.
for the most part, the maasai are still rich.
mess with their cows and they'll kick your arse (and your gods) to outer mongolia, whilst nicking all the cattle from there (and some of your women) and bringing them home in one victorious, whooping, wealthy dust cloud.
if i'm not mistaken.