Saturday, March 04, 2006
BBC 'Thought for the Day'
Here's the script in full...
...It was getting late and the sun was beginning giving up her fight on another ridiculously hot day in West Africa. Our guide led us through some thick savannah bush, and there in the clearing we met them – the cocoa farmers of Bipoa, Ghana. Introductions were made, but with fewer smiles than we had previously experienced. What followed has haunted me ever since. “Why does cocoa have no value anymore?” asked a weary, hungry and disillusioned farmer through our translator. I suddenly felt sick, the reality of the abusive policies of multinationals in the West was suddenly all too vivid and real, and there was nowhere to hide. How do you explain to a humble farmer that cocoa still has remarkable value…it’s just that he, and too many like him, sadly do not? Some irritations need to be refreshed…and this was one of them.
Our small group of Christian Aid volunteers visiting partners and projects were witnessing something journalist John Pilger describes as, ‘the rise of rapacious imperial power, a terrorism that never speaks its name because it is “our” terrorism.’ Chocolate in the West is big business, but the majority of Ghanaian cocoa farmers live in shocking poverty. The industry in the U.K. alone is worth around £3.6 billion a year; the terror though is that those who farm the cocoa in countries like Ghana see barely a fraction of this because the present structures of international trade are continuing to disable the poor. Fair-trade is one way of ensuring that producers get properly paid for their hard work, so enabling them a quality of life that should be the norm in this world. Both Fair-trade Foundation and Christian Aid are part of Trade Justice, a movement of organisations campaigning for a change to the current trading system. So as to create rules that are weighted in favour of more of the world’s poor.
Are we prepared to begin serious dialogue concerning how a more equitable and sustainable global economy might look? Or are we going to stand by and watch the new rulers of the world subject the poor to abusive trade rules to protect our way of life? Propaganda is very much alive, maybe we could try another way – the way of the Nazarene – where at last liberation and equal opportunities for the small people of this world allow the truth to sting; where at last refreshing the irritation of fair-trade liberates the downtrodden. My prayer is that during this fair-trade fortnight we embrace this crisis together and bring some grace and equality to the lives of those who have so little. Is that really a water too wide to cross over?