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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 3 May 1999

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bulletIntercultural Dialogue
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As I am writing this editorial, no one is able to ignore the rumour that has seized the city of Dehradun for the last fifteen days, following a series of earthquakes which shook us in the Garhwal region. The rumour declares "tomorrow the 8th of May 1999, as the end of the world, the day when a gigantic rift is supposed to open and destroy the planet". Rumours sometimes have their merits. This encouraged us to work relentlessly to complete this third issue of Caravan before the apocalypse that had been predicted, occurred.

We would have been upset had we not been able to send you this issue prepared by Sarfaraz Khan, Michael O’Chieng and myself from Kenya. For we bring you good news: the artwork voluntarily made by John Kariru shows us that in the current chaos of a world that is collapsing, there are still men and women willing to reconstruct a world which is more responsible and united. Despite destruction, wars, loss of cultural identity, climatic changes, etc., a future of dignity has begun to take root in an upsurge of willpower in the five continents.

It can not be otherwise. This has lasted much too long. It is no longer acceptable that the USA uses tension areas on the planet to test their death machines from a distance, with tragic consequences for millions of people, while, following the example, the american youth is giving in to violence. We can no longer accept that the 256 world’s richest individuals hold a fortune equivalent to the annual income of 2.5 billion human beings1, as we can no longer accept that in a number of countries corrupted leaders serve their own interests and compromise the future of their people for generations.

Can we accept any longer that developing countries remain burdened by debt, painfully exposed to financial instability, deprived in fact of funds necessary to satisfy their health and nutrition needs (15 billion euros, equivalent to the annual consumption of perfumes in western countries2), while a handful of multinationals, driven only by financial considerations, appropriate the best tourist sites, genetic resources, communication networks and majority of the media on the planet, thereby alienating local populations, workers, consumers and citizens in total disregard of human liberty?

The pot is too full, opine young Kenyan artists with whom we had the pleasure of spending two days in the outskirts of Nairobi. Our unforgettable meeting resulted in the collective painting called "A pot on Fire", that we are happy to enclose as a poster in this issue.

We visited the Rift Valley in Kenya with a lot of emotion. It was here that human beings rose for the first time! And it is the image of an Africa, standing despite adverse conditions, that we brought back with us:

  • Africa which is finding the way to its cultural origins as endorsed by journals such as Wajibu and Africanews (see articles) or ongoing efforts of enculturation of the African catholic church in which John Kariru is actively participating;

  • Africa visualising a united future and determined as David Gakunzi (Rwanda), who proposes an ambitious plan for the Alliance in Africa in 1999 (see article);

  • Africa having considerable assets in terms of its vast areas and natural wealth, which would be prosperous if it hadn’t been deprived of controlling the production and trading of its natural resources (uranium, diamonds, petroleum, wood, fruits, coffee, cocoa, tea, etc.) which are so important to the west for its well being that the latter would be well advised to consider quickly the increasing demand for a fair trade and ethical consumption (see article).

This issue of Caravan is dedicated to diversity, a key word which links both the sections on biodiversity and intercultural dialogue, respectively prepared by Carine Pionetti and Agusti Nicolau Coll. A common message emerges: biological and cultural diversity, essential for the survival of humanity, can not be conserved unless the West ceases to impose its views and practices on the rest of the world – and its essential corollary without which this denunciation would be hollow – other peoples of Earth should come out of a supposed inferiority complex and fascination vis-à-vis the west and assert themselves as to participate in the construction of a planetary civilisation3.

Here we are ! It is high time that, from wherever we are, we voice our opinions clearly and state strongly what we can no longer accept.

Philippe Guirlet

1 Report on human development, UNDP, 1998.
2 Figure quoted by Pascal Boniface, Le Monde Diplomatique, February, 1999, p. 2.
3 The great Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop wrote in 1967, in Antériorité des Civilisations nègres – Mythes ou vérité historique?, that "cultural richness will make people capable of contributing to the general progress of humanity and to go closer to other peoples with full knowledge of the facts" and he appealed for the advent of an era when all the nations of the world will join hands "to build a planetary civilisation instead of sinking into barbary" (Civilisation ou barbarie, 1981)

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© 2000 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated January 30, 2000.