New Internationalist

And Picking The Bones

Issue 167

new internationalist
issue 167 - January 1987

Chewing the fat
- and picking the bones

Does imperialism belong in the graveyard of history
or is it alive and kicking? Opinions differ. The NI asked people
from Africa, Asia and South America their views


BOLIVIA

'I don't think imperialism affects Bolivia at all, or other countries either, for that matter. Each country is autonomous. Here, it's the Bolivian government which decides what happens.'

Maria Ester Quiroga, secretary, 26 years old.

 

'There's direct intervention from the imperialist countries in Bolivia. You can see this from the commercial propaganda and from the TV and radio programmes. They have nothing to do with the Bolivian people, they won't reflect our world.'

Franklin Quisbert, accountant, 30 years old.

 

'Bolivia has all different kinds of minerals, but we don't have the machinery to get them out. The imperialist countries are interested in Bolivia because they want the gold and silver we're sitting on and they know how to exploit them. What can we do? We just do what we're told like sheep.'

Domiga Calle, housewife and miner's widow, 50 years old.

 

'Lots of our problems come from outside the country. Take the foreign debt - it's a pressure which we suffer daily. We'd be better off not having children, because each one is born already owing a thousand dollars.'

Gregoria Callisaya, market seller, 40 years old

 

'For me, imperialism is shown in our university courses. Most of the text books are in English and many of us don't know the language well enough to use them. Also, there's a lot of technological information we don't have access to. We're just being trained to service equipment which is brought here from the US.'

Teodosio Mamani, student of electronic engineering, 23 years old.

 

KENYA

'You can't feed your family, you're a prisoner in your own country. Because you're a squatter, you have no land of your own and no money to buy any - so hat independence do you have? In that way, things haven't changed. But other parts of the country are different.'

Nicholas Diawara, journalist, 40 years old.

 

'In some ways, yes, our country is still colonized. Like now, if you're not from a certain tribe, you won't get a job. These days it's good to be a Kikuyu. And this is just like colonialism. It's discrimination because of what you are, your tribe or colour.'

Sarah Paulme, unemployed, 19 years old.

 

'This country's in the hands of the nationals now, so it's not colonized. But the foreigners still have a lot of influence on the government. This influence works through aid: we have to toe the line. Also this country is not as democratic as it should be, it's more like a dictatorship. You can't just say what you think or you'll be inside. The foreigners aren't always there to be seen; but they are there in the background.'

Wanjiku Kariuki, secretary, 43 years old.

 

INDIA

'Despite political independence, colonial trends and imperialistic tendencies continue to rule the roost in this country. The educational system, an ugly legacy of British administration, needs to be completely reorganised to give the country a new direction.'

Prabha Ras, housewife, 28 years old.

 

'I am confused. I don't know if the country is really free. The educated elite and political leaders revere the nineteenth century colonial laws made by the British administrators.'

Pulla Satish, sales executive, 30 years old.

 

'I am quite bitter that the present political leadership of the country, though superficially steeped in British colonial tradition, is utterly devoid of the discipline, honesty, commitment and hardworking spirit which belonged to the old British administration.'

Kuttumba Vittal, an industrialist, 58 years old.

 

'I am not sure whether India has attained independence in its true sense. The ruling class is still obsessed with colonial paraphernalia.'

Uttar Bhat, retired Government employee, 60 years old.

 

'It is untrue to say that the country is still colonised. For colonialism would not allow political freedom, social independence and the secular spirit now found in India.'

Kalaben Jayanayagi, a stenographer, 48 years old.

 

THE PHILIPPINES

'For me, imperialism means not being able to eat the pineapples and bananas grown in your land because they're too expensive. It's living in the slum areas while a few yards away from you is a big posh well guarded house.'

Clara Baz, nurse, 22 years old.

 

'US interests in my country mean that we have to run away from police truncheons if we go on demonstrations. Fighting to take control means finding a safe place to think of another action to take on the following day.'

Gabriela Torcelino, factory worker, 38 years old.

 

NAMIBIA

'There are over 90,000 South African troops in Namibia. There is at least one soldier for every two Namibians. South Africa's imperialism is keeping us hostage in our own country.'

Mack Hengari, Namibian Student Leader, 21 years old.

The comments were collected with the help of Susanna Rance, Reba Linden and Radhakrishna Rao.

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