Aktualisiert: Mai 18
Do we want to go "back to normal" or is there time and space for change?
At GlobalMatch we aim at bringing people together and we believe that it is even more important to do so in times of a global crisis. While the world is at lock down and social distancing is key we invited people from Global South and Global North to come together in online meeting rooms and to talk about more than the everyday-corona-talk.
Originally, this series of Postcolonial Meetings started in Kampala, Uganda, offline. When we planned to start these discussion groups in Germany, we didn't know yet how much a pandemic would alter our everyday lives and global relations so quickly.
However, the crisis shows how deeply connected everything is, how much connected we are. And it brings up a lot of questions!
So we came together in our very 1st Postcolonial Meeting online to exchange experiences and to share thoughts about how the current situation is affecting the relationship between Global South and Global North.
Why do we meet separatly first? Each topic will be discussed on two following Wednesday evenings. On the first Wednesday, two meetings take place simultaneously, one for Global South (8 pm EAT) and one for Global North (7 pm CET), each in their own online meeting room. At GlobalMatch we aim to connect people and to provide a safe and open space for discussion. Reflecting about postcolonial topics can become quite sensitive at times. For the sake of more openness and comfort we will first have the discussion separately to get familiar with each topic. On the following Wednesday we come together for a combined discussion. Everyone is welcome to join!
1st combined online meeting of Global North and Global South on 22nd April 2020 “Covid19 and its impacts on the relationship
between Global North and Global South”
Participants- Svenja, Opolot, Himadri, Saikat, Katharina, Charles, Madani, Judith, John, Bright, Fortunate Moderator- Svenja
Protocol Writer- Himadri
We started with the quote
"The coronavirus is globalist in character, knowing no distinctions based on color or nationality, but reinforcing class inequalities across and within these characteristics all the same."
(William Shoki on www.africaiscountry.de)
Participants from Global North and Global South came having read the results of discussions of the separate meeting of Global North and Global South which had happened the week before, and they were asked to express their views on it. Whereas participants in the Global North meeting had focussed more on economic effects of the pandemic, the discussion in the Global South meeting room inclined more towards the process of decolonization in Africa that this pandemic could bring. The pandemic is being seen as an essential time in Global South to review agreements between countries and at the same time, it calls for solidarity between governments in Africa. But this is also a challenging time to bring a change as protests have been called off in Global South as well as in Global North and critical voices are being suppressed.
Situation in Germany at the time of the meeting- Participants report that the pandemic has now been accepted as a normal situation and people have established a new “normal life”. Some pessimistic views are expressed that after the pandemic, there is going to be the same exploitation of resources in Global South by Global North. Whereas the crisis could bring a change in the regulating system and policies, the governments and companies are trying their best to keep the current system in place, for example Germany pushed through economic rescue packages (worth billions) to support big companies. We are witnessing an ideologically undermined system on the whole as even opposition parties are all standing in solidarity with ruling party, and it is their priority to protect the economy more than the people. Another participants remarks that the government is trying to protect livelyhoods of people in a crisis, which is also positive. Nevertheless, a study of Oxfam shows that more money is going to economic rescue than healthcare. An estimated 160 billion dollars is still required in healthcare. In fact, we are seeing some reverse moves such as US president Trump has declared withdrawing US contribution from WHO. In another instance, economically stronger counties in EU e.g. Germany and Netherlands are opposing the issuing of the so called ´Euro bonds´ or ‘Corona bonds’ as financial aid, in the recent time, which would enable poorer countries in Global North to take loans at lesser interests. Instead, they the richer countries want to give loans with higher interests and more control over the conditions. It further shows the North- South divide within Europe. Some express the fear that restrictions in the right to demonstrate for example could be the new rules in the time after crisis.
Situation in Uganda at the time of the meeting- Society: People have become more relaxed and many are no longer using face masks and sanitizers. The cases that have been confirmed at the borders have been put into isolation centres and many patients have recovered. Travellers at airports were heavily controlled and symptomatic as well as asymptomatic cases were dealt with efficiently. Recovery rate is 52 % which has made people more relaxed. In villages, people are leading a normal life like before, working in their farms and homes but people in city are going out in spite of lockdown and meeting people. There were also instances of stocking up in early days of the lock down situation. It is exceedingly difficult to maintain social distance in Uganda and although the country is still in lockdown, people, especially daily wage earners are going out to work as people in Uganda have no social security and insurance. Hygiene is costly for many people and crime rate has also seen an increase in this time. There has been a price increase in medical equipment, too, but since the cases have not been so bad, the crisis is not of a bigger scale. People are also finding substitutes to masks in case they are not able to buy the masks. Politics and Corruption- Political leaders are exploiting the crisis situation and are making money. They are giving out food at inflated prices from taxpayers’ money to steal money for themselves. Government is selling protective gears for a lot of money. In spite of low cases, government is extending lockdown to take advantage of situation, it is to assume that they are hoping to receive financial support from the EU or richer countries as well as goods. Members of parliament are getting salaries in millions and an aid in billions from EU, but this money is not used in healthcare. The greediness of cabinet ministers has its source in interference of various powerful governments in the politics and finance in Uganda. There are lots of instances of embezzlement by China and UK in infrastructure projects and governmental decisions in Uganda which has corrupted the government officials in Uganda.
Summary- We realized that participants asked many questions about the situation in Global South. It seems and many particpants agreed that there is not much reporting on the Global South situation in Global North's media coverage and that is why people in Global North do not have many perspectives on African countries. Contrary, the participants from Uganda get news about the situation in European countries, USA and China. Upcoming topic will be "Media and Covid19".
Download the protocol as PDF