'Why is 5,000 units of our money worth only 1 of yours?'

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2020 - 12:00am

That question has nagged Mallence Bart Williams of Sierra Leone since youth. No answers were in her college textbooks on economics and finance. Nor in reports of international development agencies. Yet it's true: it takes tens, hundreds, thousands of units of currency of poor lands to match just one unit in rich states.

The Philippine peso has long devalued at around 50 units to a United States dollar. Meaning, a Filipino has to work 50 times harder than an American to make the same amount. Yet they have the same needs and knowhow. They may even be siblings raised by the same parents.

As an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mallence shares insights. Part German, her businesses span continents. Most notable of her charities is sheltering and educating children of war. Travels and encounters enable her to see the great social divide from both sides.

In a 2015 TEDx Talk in Berlin (excerpted here) Mallence showed photos of how endowed Sierra Leone is in natural resources. It teems with oil, precious stones, rare metals. People can dig hundred-carat diamonds and gold in backyards! Those power Western airplanes, cell phones, engines; symbolize status; and bolster reserves. And yet...

"...Why is it that 5,000 units of our currency is worth one unit of your currency, when we are the ones with the actual gold reserves?

"Evidently aid is not coming from the West to Africa, but from Africa to the Western world.

"How does the West ensure that free aid keeps coming? By systematically destabilizing the wealthiest African nations. Backed by huge PR campaigns. Leaving the world under the impression that Africa is poor and dying, and merely surviving on the mercy of the West. Well done, Oxfam, UNICEF, Red Cross, Life Aid, and all other organizations that run multimillion-dollar ad campaigns depicting charity porn, to sustain that image of Africa globally. Ads paid for by innocent people under the impression to help with their donations.

"While one hand gives under the flashing lights of cameras, the other takes, in the shadows. We all know the dollar is worthless, while the euro is merely charged with German intellect and technology, and maybe some Italian pasta.

"The perception is that a healthy, striving Africa will not disperse its resources as freely and cheaply, which is logical. It would instead sell its resources at world market prices, which in turn would destabilize and weaken Western economies so used to a post-colonial free-meal system.

"Last year, IMF reports, six in ten of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa, measured by GDP. The French treasury is receiving 500 billion dollars every year in foreign exchange reserves from African countries based on colonial debt it forced them to pay.

"Former French president Jacques Chirac stated in an interview recently that we have to be honest and acknowledge that a big part of the money in our banks comes precisely from the exploitation of the African continent. In 2008 he stated that without Africa, France will slide down in rank to a Third World power. This is what happens in the human world, in the world we have created.

"How do things work in nature? One would assume that in evolution the fittest survives.

"But in nature any species that is overhunting, overexploiting the resources they depend on for nourishment, natural selection would sooner or later take the predator out, because it offsets the balance.

"As a Sierra Leonean, I am a diamond expert. I find them in the rough. What nature created from the darkest substance, under heat and pressure, transforms into the strongest, most brilliant rocks.

"These rocks have the consistency to sustain an entire nation. These will be our future leaders. Please meet the Folorunsho Creative Collective I formed with 21 street kids. They were orphaned and displaced by the Sierra Leonean civil war, and ended up living in the street as early as age 3, growing up as outlaws of society.

"(In video clip the 21 introduce themselves and tell their stories...) '...In the streets they call me DMX. I lost my mother and father during the war. I was brought up by my grandmother in the village. At 5, my stepmother maltreated me, she even put poison into my food. In Jesus name I pray, amen. This is the story of my life. We were the ones that formed Lion Base. You have the hard way and the soft way. The soft way is to steal. The hard way is to carry load for people at Dorfcourt or to collect people’s rubbish. If you are not strong in the streets, you die young or end up bad. 2001, when I came into the streets I used to do a lot of bad stuff. I stole people’s phones. In 2010 I met Mallence. From the streets she took me and put me into a school. I live good now. I want to study law.' (Video ends).

"These guys are my biggest inspiration. Destiny brought us together. I met them by chance in 2010. In 2011 they all started living with me, 21 in number. Wonderful things happen when creatives meet with mutual respect.

"Most of them could not read and write when I met them. Now some of them are studying law, engineering, filmmaking.

"I recognized the diamonds in the rough."

(Full video: https://youtu.be/AfnruW7yERA )

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

My book "Exposés: Investigative Reporting for Clean Government" is available on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/Amazon-Exposes

Paperback: https://tinyurl.com/Anvil-Exposes or at National Bookstores.

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Gotcha archives: https://tinyurl.com/Gotcha-Archives

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