See Belmont Club's January 14 post for aerial footage ( more extensive than shown on TV) of Haiti before and after the earthquake and a video that was shot in the seconds immediately before and after the quake hit. The video is terrifying. Basically, a nation was devastated within 16 seconds.
This entry picks up from the one I posted last night, in which I examined how Haiti's crisis is revealing the generosity and stinginess of governments around the world. Some governments of even poor countries acted from the heart; they made a donation even if it was no more than blankets and canned food. And some rich ones sent nothing, not even a letter of condolence.
Realize that the capital city of Port au Prince was not the epicenter of the earthquake. A town called Leogane, 12 miles west of the capital, was ground zero; it was destroyed. That's not saying anything about damage to other parts of the country. In short an earthquake devastated a nation.
So what I found particularly upsetting was the attitude of the majority of African governments.
Just a reminder: Haiti is the only nation whose independence was won as part of a slave rebellion. They paid a very high price for going up against the colonizers and slave traders, including the United States, and they've been paying right up to this day. But for any African official to shrug and say that's the problem of the ex-colonizers and ex-slave trading nations to solve -- uh, there were a lot of African slave traders in Africa. Africans were trading in slaves while the peoples who became known as European colonizers were still living in caves.
Haiti is a very special nation because of the slave rebellion that founded it. Now it's up to the world to show appreciation for this by coughing up something in the way of a donation or at least a letter of condolence. African governments are not exempted.
What had me really upset while I wrote the last post is that the African continent is surely the all-time largest recipient of foreign aid. Yet of Africa's 53 countries, Wikipedia's list showed that the governments of only three African countries -- Ghana, Morocco, and Rwanda -- had made a response to Haiti's crisis. A fourth country, South Africa, had responded through a private charity but not a peep from the government.
I should also mention that Kenya had been on an earlier publication of Wikipedia's list and then dropped; I assume this was just an oversight, which I'd forgotten about then corrected in my earlier post. However, there's been no response yet from Kenya's government that I'm aware of, although the country's Red Cross has made an appeal to Kenyans for donations to Haiti.
As of this morning I see that four more African governments have been added to Wikipedia's list, bringing the grand total to seven African governments displaying the milk of human kindness toward Haiti. Whoopee.
-- Benin's government is "organizing aid" for Haiti.
-- Gabon's government has pledged US$1m in aid.
-- Liberia's president has pledged an initial US$50,000 in aid.
-- Senegal's president, Abdoulaye Wade, has a made a promise of free land and "repatriation" for Haitian refugees on account of Haitian ancestors being originally from Africa.
I'm sure the last offer is made in sympathy even if the logic informing it is obscure: why should Haitians willingly abandon a land their ancestors purchased with labor and blood and much treasure?
But while President Wade is waiting for Haitian refugees to show up in Senegal, could he scrounge a few bottles of penicillin tablets and ship them, marked, "For field hospitals tending Haitian refugees," to the Dominican Republic?
If that's too much bother, how about texting or writing a check in the amount of US$20 to a charity helping Haiti? Or would that break Senegal's treasury?
For readers who're counting on their fingers and toes in the effort to remember all of Africa's countries, here's a list; I'll highlight the ones that have responded to Haiti's crisis. To show how even-tempered I am, I'll even highlight South Africa and Kenya.
Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of Algeria)
Angola (Republic of Angola)
Benin (Republic of Benin)
Botswana (Republic of Botswana)
Burundi (Republic of Burundi)
Cameroon (Republic of Cameroon)
Cape Verde (Republic of Cape Verde)
Central African Republic (Central African Republic)
Chad (Republic of Chad)
Comoros (Union of the Comoros)
Côte d'Ivoire (Republic of Côte d'Ivoire)
Djibouti (Republic of Djibouti)
Egypt (Arab Republic of Egypt)
Equatorial Guinea (Republic of Equatorial Guinea)
Eritrea (State of Eritrea)
Ethiopia (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia)
Gabon (Gabonese Republic)
Gambia (Republic of The Gambia)
Ghana (Republic of Ghana)
Guinea (Republic of Guinea)
Guinea-Bissau (Republic of Guinea-Bissau)
Kenya (Republic of Kenya)
Lesotho (Kingdom of Lesotho)
Liberia (Republic of Liberia)
Libya (Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)
Madagascar (Republic of Madagascar)
Malawi (Republic of Malawi)
Mali (Republic of Mali)
Mauritania (Islamic Republic of Mauritania)
Mauritius (Republic of Mauritius)
Morocco (Kingdom of Morocco)
Mozambique (Republic of Mozambique)
Namibia (Republic of Namibia)
Niger (Republic of Niger)
Nigeria (Federal Republic of Nigeria)
Republic of the Congo (Republic of the Congo)
Rwanda (Republic of Rwanda)
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal (Republic of Senegal)
Seychelles (Republic of Seychelles)
Sierra Leone (Republic of Sierra Leone)
Somalia (Somali Republic)
South Africa (Republic of South Africa)
Sudan (Republic of Sudan)
Swaziland (Kingdom of Swaziland)
Tanzania (United Republic of Tanzania)
Togo (Togolese Republic)
Tunisia (Tunisian Republic)
Uganda (Republic of Uganda)
Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic)
Zambia (Republic of Zambia)
Zimbabwe (Republic of Zimbabwe)