Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Empire in Africa

Recently watched the deeply unsettling documentary The Empire in Africa. It was released the same day last year as Blood Diamond, the Hollywood drama/thriller about civil war-torn 90s/early 00s Sierra Leone, in an attempt to bring attention to the tragedies that had befallen this resource-rich West African country. See my previous post about Blood Diamond here.

I knew that this was going to be some hard viewing, but I was amazed and horrified at the footage of Sierra Leone as the struggle between the rebels and army forces went back and forth, catching civilians in the middle in graphic, awful ways. Its difficult to keep track of who the guilty parties are, and in the end it becomes clear that everybody who was there has to take some responsibility for the atrocities to varying degrees. Ultimately the film implicates the UN and Western interests. Though confusing in the staggering amount and nature of victims, rebels, army, and political figures' testimonials, The Empire in Africa is a sobering, difficult, and important documentary.

And then I open the BBC on-line news and the top headline reads: "World failing Darfur, says Rice." Sad and true.

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