Hoaxes Harm. Agbogbloshie Land Grab Reportedly Underway


IMG-20150620-WA0005Look, it's hard for a westerner to establish a credible campaign about urban land reform in Africa.   The use of land in central Accra, 9 minutes from the city's most prestigious hotels and government buildings, has been a powderkeg for some time.

But Interpol and CWIT and UNEP's role in the "Agbogbloshie Sodom and Gomorrah" hyperbole should be investigated.   Posing as concerned about the Dagbani speakers who were Accra's Recycling Caste, they set up this cruel display of heartless eviction-by-bulldozer, which started yesterday.

Agbobloshie Demolishing Underway (citifmonline.com) has photos

Best way to get the news at this point is on Twitter.   @RecyHub, @AdamMinter, @Rubbishmaker, @Heatha_a, @RestartProject, @AfricanSolarLLP, @Kwiens, have been there and know what they are talking about, and new voices, like Abhassan Ibn Abdalla are reporting from the scene.
  1. Forced eviction is not a method of slum redevelopment. Demolishing homes and livelihoods is not good governance.
 2 hours ago2 hours ago2 hours agoAgbogbloshie children centre which was sheltering displaced people is being demolished now
  1. agreed. My sense is 'we' flatter ourselves to think our names relevant to those doing the clearing or those being cleared.
The imprisonment of Joe Benson in the UK for "wastecrime" (secondhand computer sales in Africa) was just a part of the story of #ewastegate. The Blacksmith Institute, GAHP, and Green Cross meant well but the use of the $1.2M was tone deaf to the underlying issues. Kevin McElvaney and other photojournalists have reaped their share of "sponsorship". But the worst part is putting Basel Action and Mike Anane on an expense paid promotional tour that makes destruction of recycling yards and arrests of Tech Sector workers pass as "environmental justice" or "remediation".
It just hurts to have a campaign of connected Accra developers take advantage of an environmental story completely misunderstood by Western NGOs, and label Dagbani neighborhood "Sodom and Gomorrah", as if recycling Accra's scrap was doing something wrong. I don't know if it's as bad as Egypts "cleaning of the Zabaleen" (something I was incensed about a decade ago, now forgotten), or China's flattening of "informal recycling" sites during it's rapid urban development phase. As Josh Lepawsky says, we flatter ourselves to think the Accra AMA powers that be will listen to our Western tweets. But the news editors who printed the "Agbogbloshie E-Waste Tragedy" Propaganda need their clocks cleaned. This cannot keep happening to recyclers and refurbishers.

This was not really about recycling. This was about forced relocation.
The story is still developing, and the flooding of the area was real, and the photos on twitter don't really show the extent of the evictions. Reportedly classrooms and homes have been demolished, but the story still needs a chance to develop.
Meanwhile, the story of environmental malpractice has been well established. This is Act 6 or the real "E-waste Tragedy". Hoaxes Harm.
Thanks to everyone who gave me advice over the years, that being nice will win hearts. Those closest understand... I decided to leave the nuance track to others, I had people who needed serious advocacy and needed it now. Benson goes to jail, Hamdy gets his life savings seized by Mubarak, SKD factories in Malaysia and Indonesia were shuttered, and now thousands of Dagbani speakers are being forcibly evicted - during the rain, and during Ramadan. All I can do is hope that a journalist (like Jacopo Ottaviana or Juan Solera) thinks twice before running a headline that "millions of tons of Western ewaste" are dumped in an area that doesn't even have a driveway.
The technical repair and reuse jobs which brought double-digit and triple-digit growth to Africa teledensity was the best, the best, the best success story in Africa, and do-gooders mistook it for dumping. Photojournalists went to the zoo, and posed by a visitor's poodle, never seeing the giraffes, elephants, and zebras in Africa's tech sector.
This was a "recycling story" that went crazy, and became environmental injustice on a grand scale. Agbogbloshie workers just collected microwave and motor and other metal scrap with hand carts, and separated aluminum, steel, and copper by hand. It wasn't the "biggest ewaste dump on earth", the Tech Sector never dumped a single sea containerload there, ever.
Europeans are here to help Africa with "Project Eden". The sad thing is that they have recently discovered the story is full of shit, and rather than cop to it or turn the boat around, they are trying to keep their million dollar grant budgets afloat by claiming to care excessively about the 7 percent of imported electronics that fail or "fallout". Perhaps they do care about the Dagbani speakers in Agbogbloshie. But they should have listened, this was not about fancier wire strippers, and not about "Guidelines" telling African geeks that Europeans will repair the goods for them.

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