Hafiz Juma



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Is the Gates Foundation really out there to engage in development in effective ways?

The Gates Foundation models themselves as the alternative development organization- going against the grain of the traditional briefcase NGO and using scalable models to facilitate development. However, anyone who has worked in development knows that the community is quite an incestuous circle of the NGO's, Donors, Diplomats and Big Business, all of which the Gates Foundation engages with.

Additionally, although they state that none of the projects they fund can be for profit, they nonetheless still fund large corporate projects (Vodafone) that are not explicitly for profit but grow their businesses and can be leveraged to enhance their bottom line.

Finally and most abhorrent, is it not the most devastating thing the the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has signed a JV with Monsanto?!! Monsanto is probably one of the companies that has done the worst for our world, society and development at large, yet BMG still sign a pact with them to impose the SOY and GM schemes in Africa?

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    Feb 28 2011: @tms ruge, thank you for joining the conversation. It is deeply alarming that Africa, one of the safe havens for non-industrialized, non-mechanized unprocessed foods is throwing this away to join the 'modern' world and the 'new' way of growing food. Yes, our own governments should be criticized for perpetuating this, in fact the deal with Tanzania was signed behind closed doors in Davos. However, those that are complicit, those that encourage this move towards what is perceived by some as development should be also recognize their responsibility. This continued victimization, dependency and sense of supremacy and knowledge that the Big Boys espouse should be called what it is. Nothing more than the tendency that stems from capital exploitation during colonialism and self-help structural readjustment in the post-independence period.

    Foucault, who I tend to agree with, has shown that the state of life, local and global, is defined by deeply structural relationships. For organizations like BMGF and the like to act as if they don't know this and pretend that they are actually working for the greater good simply reflects on their perceptions of the people they are 'helping'. The status quo helps these organizations exist and any attempt to refute this or demonstrate otherwise is insulting. There is a conflict of interest at play. We can see this. Please don't treat us as though we are ignorant.

    Also, it should be known, good intentions don't necessarily yield positive results. Quite often the contrary as it turns recipients of aid into victims and providers into saviors. One form of bondage replacing another.
  • Feb 25 2011: Not to mention that Monsanto itself is a for-profit initiative. I lost a ton of respect for Bill Gates in this measure. Monsanto aims to make every African farmer dependent on them. We've taken to engineering quick solutions around our inability to discipline ourselves in how we deal with Mother Nature. Our actions are the cause these erratic weather patterns that affecting our crop yields. GM seeds are just a lazy way of getting around doing the right thing.

    Africa survived for centuries without GM seeds. Now we are going to have to pay a premium to ONE organization just to survive. Way to look out for our future there Mr. Gates. If this is what philanthropy is all about, I'd rather do without your charity.
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    Feb 17 2011: Someone finally said something that was on my mind, very interested to see what others think?