Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Starbucks and development

Starbucks has just signed a deal to buy coffee directly from Kenyan farmers. I’m glad for the deal but also skeptical. I’ve been boycotting Starbucks for years now because of the way they have historically traded coffee. My father was a small scale coffee farmer. Much of my family is. Its amazing the prices they get for their coffee compared with what multinationals like Starbucks make. So this deal is interesting. I think these are the kind of investments that Sachs talks about as being necessary to get countries up the next rung on the development ladder.

Rungs of development. A ladder where India is one step above Bangladesh which is one step above Malawi….I’m wrestling with this one. This teleology of what human eventuality is about.

I used to think that the whole idea of development was a sham. I went through a phase of questioning the whole value system inherent in the ‘development’ project. The superiority complex that comes along with labeling some developed and others developing. I’m past that now. No mother wants to watch her child die for lack of medicine for an easily preventable disease. If development is easing that mother’s access to the medicine, then heck, develop away!!

I’m still not down with the superiority complex that many ‘development’ workers come with though. I’ve been exposed to one too many of them who think that because I’ve lived in the States I’ll join in roundly condemning the state of everything in Kenya. Eeeh No! There are a lot of things that we need to improve but at the end of the day, this is still my country. And there is much that I’m proud of.

I watched the police commissioner on T.V. in a call-in show on KTN last night. He was completely open and vulnerable to the public. He took the criticism, explained the police approach to the current ‘wave’ of crime that is sweeping the country, and was the best ambassador the police could ever hope to have. I was so impressed by how articulate he was and totally bought into the vision that he was selling. I can’t believe it! Not only would this kind of public interview and scrutiny not have happened in the Moi days, its amazing for any democracy! Again I’m so impressed by the changes and improvements that the transition has brought. For example, Today I got interviewed by the CID (equivalent of FBI) about Akili Dada. This is part of the registration process for the organization. They have to make sure that we are not making Impressively, it was a really good experience. Hassan and I talked for hours and afterwards we talked about how he can help Akili Dada reach out to women in his home district. I hope something comes out of it.

No comments: