LIVING THE PROGRESS
LIVING THE PROGRESS - A PHOTO BOOK
The African continent is booming. It is attracting investors from all over the world who are taking over vast areas of what they claim is “untouched” land to exploit minerals and other commodities such as gold, diamonds, uranium, coal, oil and gas. They say they bring development to the countries. They bring electricity and running water, but mostly only for their own projects. They build roads and they say they create new employment opportunities.However not everyone benefits from this idea of development.
In fact, many people's lives have changed for the worse. In order to make way for the mines people are resettled or forcefully evicted from their homes. Many more have lost their sources of income without being adequately compensated. Others pay with their health, some even with their lives. Vast areas, whole rivers, wetlands and deserts are irretrievably contaminated.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, multinational extraction industry giants do not follow any international standards of environmental or human rights protection. Regardless of the amount of development and wealth those companies claim to bring to African
countries, their impact is at the expense of human life and the environment. All this is financed by western banks; Deutsche Bank and Allianz have major shares in the mines we investigated.
This book is a compilation of stories about the people of Tanzania, Mozambique and Namibia, who are left behind while, and because, others are making billions. Three journalists, Ilham Rawoot, Victoria Schneider and I, set out for the areas around 8 mines and gas fields in Sub-Saharan Africa. We wanted to give a voice to those who are affected by these postcolonial ventures but do not have the power to speak up. To reveal their suffering that is usually invisible in the complex worldwide system of commodity trade. We met people whose lives are affected by the extractive industries and they were eager to tell us their stories and show us around.
What we heard and saw was often beyond belief; a manifestation of the horror of what people can do to each other if they are guided by greed. But it is also the horror of alienation and capitalism that makes you and I putting our money in our bank accounts not being conscious of the fact that this money will be used to open up a gold mine which will have such a tremendous negative effect on the living conditions of the local population on the other side of the world. The people represented in this book shared their stories because they wanted us to tell others about what is happening to them. They were sure that if we would write about the injustice they experience that things would change and justice would be restored. It was unimaginable to them that if people would know about it they could stand aside. I hope that through this book and our work we can support these people and shine the light on the responsible companies and their invisibility until now.