Monday, September 18, 2006

"Basket-case" Somalia

There is an excellent article which I found on the Somaliland Times site, but which had first been published in the Economist magazine, which talks about some of the problems facing Somalia, and the Horn of Africa, in particular.

It talks, of course, about the tensions between the Islamists and the Transitional National Government and between Somalia and Ethiopia, the introduction of the Shari'a law and so n.

It also spends a lot of time talking about birth control, family planning and environmental collapse. Our trip to Africa left us in little doubt that one of the biggest problems facing Africans is over-population, as a result of little attention to family planning and birth control. the Economist article mentions that, unbelievably, Tony Blair's report on Africa last year, hardly mentioned population growth. Yet it is clear for anyone to see if one goes to many places in Africa.

The article also mentions a book which I am reading at the moment - Collapse - : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”, a study of environmentally ruined societies by Jared Diamond (the one of Guns, Germs and Steel). This book looks at past societies which have collapsed in the past, and so often the reason has been environmentla degradation, often caused by over-exploitation of the natural resources, notably trees. I had been reading this book in the context of the West's over-dependence on oil and other raw materials, but, I am afraid to say, I think Collapse looks to be a lot nearer for the people of the Horn of Africa. The natural conditions and weather are harsher and are getting worse.

In the meantime, we hear more horror stories coming from Somalia, like the bomb which went off earlier today with the aim of assassinating the Interim President, but which killed 11 others instead. And there is also the story of the 65 year old Italian nun who was murdered in the capital, Mogadishu, maybe as a response to the Pope's unwise address in Germany last week. And, this coming after the murder, under Shari'a Law of a young man who had converted from Islam to Christianity and so become 'apostate'.

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