Re: Dr. Schweitzer
- When I visited the Schweitzer Hospital, in 2002, I was surprised to
have seen the great growth of the complex. The number one disease
being treated was malaria. According to WHO, Gabon has one of if not
the highest rates of malaria in all of Africa.
While Gabon is no Nigeria, Congo or Zimbabwe, the vast majority of
its citizens have not benefited from its resources. The partnerships
of foreign companies and political elites continue to rape the
country. It's too bad that more countries in Africa did not follow
the Botswana path.
On the positive side, Gabon is a very young nation with tremendous
human and natural resources. With future enlightened leaders such as
Francois in the wings, there is great hope for all Gabonese.
- --- In email@example.com, "Francois Gouahinga"
> Dear Mr. Duncan,-------------------------
> I'm not sure I understood your point.
Sorry if I was not clear. My point is this; I percieved that you felt
racially slurred by the doctor. That he felt that black peoples were
naturally inferior in unspecified ways compared with Europeans. I may
have misinterpreted your comment. A reference by you to Nazi like
human experiments by him made me think of the conspiracy advocates.
It seems that every event in history has an alternate version and
every person of note had deep personal problems. All this gossip
clutters the mind.
What really prompted me to respond was the film that you referred to.
I have schooling in film making and work experience in Hollywood, my
sister was in the movie business in New York. I feel competent to
comment on this film.
We have seen a trend in the U.S. toward conspiracy topics and
personal attack stories in the press and in film/TV/video. This used
to be the provence of books. A relatively small audience with books
but with video a film like Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 can gross
over $100,000.00 with a one million investment. Blockbuster status.
Objectivity is suspect.
If you access the web site to this film you find it has a
motto. "Film and Video for Social Change since 1968". Again,
objectivity is suspect.
The description of this film says it is a "revisionist perspective".
This kind of film starts with a point of view then makes an effort to
convince by the appearance of reality.
The only sources for the truth that I would trust are his writings
and writings of those who worked with him and knew him well. I am not
one of those however.
I am sure he was human and not super human. I remember thinking at
the time I visited him at the hospital; "..what a life. Follow your
dreams, do some good, live an active life!". I learned 20 years later
from the teacher Joseph Campbell that this is called "following your
- Some say that Schweitzer outlived his time since he could not come to
grips with a non-colonial Africa. How different was Schweitzer's
mentality towards the Gabonese than the typical Frenchman living in
I well remember, when we first came to Gabon in 1963, that the
Gabonese called us "the whites who work". Never had they seen a white
man work shoulder to shoulder with a Gabonese performing manual and
semi-skilled labor until the arrival of the US Peace Corps.
When questioned by the Gabonese on why we performed manual labor, we
sometimes answered, "America is the strongest nation in the world
because everyone works hard and helps each other. We work with you to
build schools to show you the American way." Of course this was a
stretch of the truth since America had and still has huge race and
economic class issues. With Bush, I fear that the problems are
getting worse with only the underclass of the US fighting our wars
and our nation growing into serious debt status all to support the
additional wealth of the ultra rich. We are losing our Constitutional
liberties and ability to disagree with the necons in power since our
citizens are daily threatened through the political arena and media
by images of "terrorism".
We Americans have a lot to do to set our country back on track and
become a full member of the international community and not a rogue
imperialist state. On the same hand, its only the Africans,
themselves, who can pull the continent out of its sorry state to the
point where, some day, Gabon sends its own Peace Corps to the US!
I realize this is a radical post and will probably delete it within a
week. Sometimes I just need to vent....
- Inter Press Service (Johannesburg) August 11, 2004 Julio Godoy
France and the United States have begun a new race to compete for
favours with undemocratic regimes in Africa. The competition is
growing particularly in the oil-rich North and West Africa...
France has been building diplomatic relations across oil-rich West
Africa. This includes Gabon ruled by Omar Bongo since 1966, Congo
Brazzaville ruled by Denis Sassou-Nguesso who came to power in 1997
following a civil war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives, and
Angola where former independence hero José Eduardo dos Santos has
been in power since 1979. In a recent instance of new 'cooperation'
the French government dealt with dos Santos to protect French citizen
Pierre Falcone charged with transfer of weapons to Angola. Dos Santos
named Falcone Angolan ambassador to the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) headquartered in Paris.
The appointment would provide him diplomatic immunity.
It is no coincidence that the United States has been following a
similar strategy of supporting military dictators in Africa while
seeking access to natural resources in their countries. U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Angola and Gabon in 2002 in
the first trip ever by such a high-ranking U.S. official to these
countries. Last year U.S. President George W. Bush visited Senegal,
Nigeria, Botswana, Uganda and South Africa.
In March this year the U.S. government invited top ranking military
officials of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and
Tunisia to the U.S. European command headquarters in Stuttgart,
Germany. The command centre also covers 48 African countries. The
Stuttgart summit covered representation from the Middle East through
the Maghreb (Arabic North Africa) to the Gulf of Guinea. This is a
region sitting above a giant sea of underground oil. Two weeks before
the March meeting Gen. Charles F. Wald, deputy commander at Stuttgart
had toured Angola, Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Ghana, South Africa and
Gabon among other African countries.
"Every place I go in Africa, where we talk about the war on
terrorism, there is a resonance and an agreement that we have
something in common," Wald said during the visit. The threat
extremists pose to democratically elected governments is "universally
understood," he said. But of the countries he visited, only South
Africa has a democratically elected government.
Earlier this week the U.S. government indicated its interest in the
oil-rich Gulf of Guinea in announcing a military cooperation
programme with Nigeria. Gen. Robert Fogleson, commander of the U.S.
air force in Europe said at the announcement: "This region is
important to the stability of the United States because of the
petroleum and so it's no surprise to me that if the U.S. Navy, the
U.S. government wanted to exercise, that they will take the areas
that are of great importance to them."
Analysts believe that over the next five years a quarter of non-Gulf
oil on the world market will come from sub-Saharan Africa.