Sunday, 27 February 2011

Black Star, wandering in the desert

A Black Star, a woman from Ghana, is wandering in the desert that is war-torn Libya. She cared for the child of a couple of Irish teachers who have now fled from the turmoil. No state plane took this Black Star out. No ship sailed from Accra to rescue her and other Ghanaians. She is not likely to get a seat on a British Petroleum plane. She is an expatriate worker, as are the Americans and the Europeans, but an African care and domestic worker will have to fend for herself. There are many other Africans working in Libya and they will seek each other out for solace and protection, as Libyan state forces wreak havoc and anti-state forces press for regime change.
A cursory glance at a map of Africa shows that the shape of Libya is wrong. Straight line borders with Egypt and Chad, slight squiggles in the borders with Niger and Algeria reveal the colonial cartographers' straight edge pressed on top of Berber cultures, Islamic overlaying, Ottoman and Italian imperial impositions, World War 2 occupation, an independent kingdom followed by the left-posturing despotism of the Gaddafi family. 
Now the Black Star finds herself seeking shelter in a violent flux, from which, once it settles, she will re-emerge, if she survives, to offer her care and expertise to the families of the American and European expatriate workers who will return. Will the Irish teachers and their child find her? Will they re-employ her or find another Black Star to meet their domestic needs?
Votes are being counted in the general election in the Republic of Ireland. A Fine Gael-Labour coalition is the likely outcome, with the historically largest party, Fianna Fáil, getting a thorough hammering. Irish people held their anger, didn't take to the streets in the way the Greeks did, and have now vented that anger in the polling booths. A form of regime change is under-way, though there is not a whisker of difference in the economic policies promulgated by out-going Fianna Fáil and incoming Fine Gael. Irish people want change but not too much. Libyan people want massive change. And to what?
Oil interests want the status quo. And if they can't have that, they want to maintain control, even as the outward political appearances of power change across North Africa and The Middle East.  Meanwhile profiteering is rife, as oil prices for industrial, domestic and vehicle users rise, even though supply is unaffected by the war in Libya. Saudi Arabia released some of its oil reserves onto the market. The UN makes noises about sanctions against Libya. Governments say they'll freeze Gaddafi family assets and remove their diplomatic immunity. Hypocrisy abounds as arms trading continued. The Black Star wanders in the desert of war. The questions remain: is she less worthy than the votes in the Republic? They count. Does she?  

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