Sunday, October 30, 2005
Darwin's Nightmare: The Horrors of Globalization
"Harrowing" and "indispensable" The New York Times
Hubert Sauper's 2004 documentary Darwin's Nightmare is a journey into the dark heart of Tanzania and the effects of market globalization on the ecology, economy and lives of Tanzanians living around Lake Victoria, the largest tropical fresh-water lake in Africa. Lake Victoria, once home to an extraordinary diversity of fish species has been devastated by the introduction of Nile Perch into the lake. This cannibalistic fish has since the 1960's destroyed all competitors in the lake, slowly choking it of oxygen, and perversely becoming in the that same period the number one export from Tanzania to the EU. At the time of the filming, Tanzanian fisheries were producing hundreds of ton of Nile Perch for export every day. And the most inhuman irony of all is that Tanzanians starve on the carcasses and heads of the fish while the filets are shipped to Europe.
Into this already horrific stew international arms dealers dump literally tons of weapons and ammunition every day, which arrives on the very same transport planes that carry off the food to Europe. As one character, a Russian transport pilot ruefully notes in the film, "The children of African receive ammunition for Christmas while European children receive grapes." The shameful and terrifying links between international arms marketing, global "free" trade policies, famine, international aid to Africa and the fate of millions of African children left to live feral lives racked by hunger, violence, survival sex and the ravages of HIV/AIDS are all brought to light in this courageous and singularly important film. If its playing in your town or if you can get on DVD, do so immediately, Better yet, let this morally outraging film spur you to take action. Do something: buy fair trade products, buy local, become aware, and for Goddess' sake, wear a condom! It’s heartening to think film can still feel this important.