My Camera is healed! Spontanius fantastic surprise! But OMG, I just waited an hour to load a bunch of pictures and it crashed. I WILL TRY AGAIN> YOU WILL HAVE PICTURES.
If you didnt have enough reasons to hate the impact of china on the world, here are a few more.
So, today, I was sitting drinking tea with Sada and Baba, and Baba through a broken steel “creze” (the thing you melt the bronze into) under a tarp. Afer a couple fires, they are unusable and break. I noticed a pile of others under the same tarp. I asked him what they do with those after they are done. He said the chinese buy steel for fifty CFA a kilo. That is 11 cents. My curiosity perked up. I couldnt really inagine a “pick up day” where China comes knocking and weighs out the steel you have for them. He told me there is a factory in Ghana so people collect it all together, weigh it out and send the steel to Ghana in a truck. This is all got going in the last ten years, and since then, you cant leave anything steel out as kids will steel it. Kids also strip electric lines to get the steel and sell. The Chinese buy bronze as well. 6 years ago bronze was 400CFA a kilo. Now it is 1750. It has more then quadrupled in the last 6 years. This is because it is getting really rare. China bought most of it and keeps buying it all. Everyone lauged at how upset I was. Yeah, China’s not good, but they are good because they have cheap things.
The cities in Africa, at least all of West Africa, and I can only image its the same everywhere, are choked with plastic. You buy water, food, and everything else in plastic bags. You can buy rice, they will put it in a plastic bag and you can slurp your whole meal out a corner after you bite a hole in the bag. People do this all the time. People burn plastic all over the place, for the fire they cook their food in, or on a fire indoors. I once saw a place where they roasted goats by tying them to big broken plastic things and catching the whole thing on fire like that. Plastic chairs, buckets, and teapots are fundemental parts of everybodies life, and they all come from China and they are broken in two months, and then people buy them again. Its not like when you or I buy a plastic chair again, for an amout that we can make with 2 hours of work. It takes a weeks wages to buy a plastic chair. When I was making 8 dollars an hour, after tax, I would take home something like 450 dollars a week. So its like a chair costs 450 dollars, and then breaks after 2 months.
All the broken plastic crap comes in and all the steel and bronze go out, and there is not really a way to stop it. I try to explain the idea of a strike or a boycott to people here at least every other day. Its my favorite subject. I brought it up in a dolo house once, drinking my millet beer in a calabash, and people just laughed at me. “If you think I should have more money, you should just give me some!” they said. And then my rant turned corners to my other favorite subject. “I am not a millioner, and I cant fix Africas financial problems.” But about striking: People are just hanging on by to thin of a thread. They cant refuse what they are given. Its also just culturally impossible to talk people into the idea that sometimes the guy on the top is bad and you have power to change things. Its a pretty hard core pecking order society, and people still stand by their own dictator presidents, evan as they are abused. (Also if people talk bad about the president they can be poisoned or killed. It happens here. Maybe people are just too scared to stick up for themselves.)
Maybe the era for strikers is over. If all of Burkina Faso refused to sell its steel to China, China would have plenty of other places to get it, and Burkina would be just a tiny bit poorer, and a tiny bit further away from having the resources to create their own factories for their own goods. But it is a tragic thing to watch while I am sitting in my bronze forge, and buying bronze is too expensive for the other artists here to make anything to sell. Everyones hands are tied together.
Sorry to fill this blog up with talking about money, and the lack of it here, but it is whats one everybodies mind all day. Unfailingly every single time I have watched a movie or a music video with someone here and people in the scene have a pile of money, or a fancy car, people go “ooooooh,” get really excited, and want to watch it over and over.
Sada wants to go to Las Vegas. If all I want to talk about is how people should boycott China, all he really wants to talk about is Las Vegas. He shoes me pictures on his phone, of blingy rappers. There are people with computers who you can pay and put Jpeg files on your phone. “Look” he sais “This is like Las Vegas.”