Made in Africa?

Monrovia is awash in $1 apples. Apples aren’t grown here; word on the street is the fruit were American grown, shipped to China, delivered to the Chinese troops peacekeeping in Liberia, and finally sold on the black market.

This is globalization gone terribly, terribly awry. I mean, can’t the Chinese peacekeepers eat (locally-grown) mangos and pineapples?

I would blame the UN procurement beast, but the private sector breeds mutant markets as well.

Two years ago, I bought my sister-in-law a sisal purse in Uganda. Christmas day in Ottawa, she opens the present with delight. “Where’s this from?” she asks, as she peeks inside. No sooner than I have replied “Uganda”, she spots the tag sewn inside the bag: “Made in Canada”.

We live in a world where it is economically feasible to sew purses in Canada, ship them to Uganda, to be sold to Canadians who will fly them back to their home as gifts. If there was ever a sadder statement on the African private sector, I don’t know it.

5 thoughts on “Made in Africa?

  1. The tag might have been Ugandan marketing: I knew a popular Bolivian tailor who always added "Made in Paris" tags to his clothes.

  2. You trying to tell me that you've never eaten $20 sushi at Mamba Point flown in daily from Brussels?

  3. Most of the eggs in Monrovia come from India. On a boat. Smell your eggs before you eat them. Apparently there are brown eggs in town that come from Europe: progress!!

  4. I was amazed to see that Chinese construction firms bring in their own manual laborers to Namibia. It's really not cheaper to even hire African manual laborers?

  5. Here in Berlin they sell *organic* avocados from Peru… presumably the boat runs on wild palm oil? In Chinese health beliefs or knowledge, mangos and pineapples give you anger, pimples and constipation, especially in warm weather, while apples produce a cooling effect… Watermelons would be even better. Shipping apples to a Chinese bataillon is like shipping aspirin to a US one, a public health measure. (I miss the South African MONUC troops in Maniema, DRC, who used to sell Savannah Dry.)
    Hm. I guess as long as we get flown across continents to develop other people's societies it's legitimate to ship about apples.