Many of us come from localities in which we have embedded family roots. From these roots we have our language, pronunciations, cultural traditions and ties to the familiar environments. How have you felt when uprooted from the familiar environs?
If family evictions from their traditional locales have occurred through economic losses, urban renewals, natural disasters or war, how do you imagine their thoughts and feelings about themselves? Despairing? Lost? Helpless? Hopeless?
Throughout Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, and South Africa to name a few areas) loss of land with its accompanying livelihood and way of life is occurring to leave the former residents internally displaced and seeking to settle in other places – perhaps temporarily squatting with relatives. The process of this dispossession is called “land grabbing”: large scale land acquisitions by multinational corporate entities to be utilized for industrial or commercial agriculture, resource extraction (minerals, timber, water) or investment purposes in development. Deals are made with local leaders or state government entities with promises of schools and better economic opportunities, buying or leasing for 99 years the land for $1 to $5 per hectare (1 hectare = 2.47 acres) per year. African land grabbing deals have covered over 42.2 million hectares of land so far (the hectares total of New York, Ohio, Illinois is 40.7 million). The farmers never see any money; the schools are never built; the people are usually physically driven off their land. The consequences? Families separated, youth without a future; instability economically, politically, and socially.
Can we act in support of African women and religious who are galvanizing for collective action to stop the land grabbing and end corruption? One immediate way is to oppose the proposed policy change of the present administration to rescind parts of the Cardin-Lugar Anti-Corruption Law which mandates disclosure of natural resource sales or investments between companies, governments or individuals. It is an anti-corruption measure which is in need of enforcement, not elimination in order to counteract the hidden deals which deprive families, youth and women of their human rights, dignity and community.