Thursday, 11 October 2007

Out of Africa: Good News and Bad News

Stephen Lewis was in town on Tuesday, talking about what is going on in the eastern part of what is called currently the Democratic Republic of Congo, a name which appears to be ironic to say the least. Lewis charges that sexual aggression against women is being used as a tool of genocide there, and gave the figure of four million as the number of people who have been killed there in the last ten years. What he recounted was so horrific that Radio Canada news said it wouldn’t include details on the morning news round up. This is a speech that Lewis apparently has been giving frequently lately: I found reference to it on a couple of other blogs, but nothing in the newspapers. As it happens a conference on genocide is opening in Montreal this morning: once again we are faced with the huge problem of how to stop massive inhumanity to people because of their ethnicity or religion.

But there is a bit of good news: the New York Times on Tuesday has a lengthy report about the use of pesticide-treated mosquito nets in Africa, while on Saturday Stephanie Nolen reported in The Globe and Mail on success in bringing down infant mortality through use of the nets and other low cost measures.

Sometimes small things make an enormous difference.

NB: as I was checking on the URLs for the New York Times and Globe stories I found the interesting news that Doris Lessing has won this year's Nobel prize. Her Martha Quested books--about coming of age in Africa--are particularly good, I think, although they have been somewhat forgotten in her more recent feminist and speculative fiction.

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