Thursday, 2 December 2010

Breaking News: Ethiopia to hold charity concerts for Ireland

Vladimir Putin recently hosted a summit where a gradually dwindling number of countries where tigers are still to be found discussed a plan to save the endangered species from extinction.
Well, Mr Putin is several weeks, or some would say, a couple of years too late to save at least one erstwhile prominent Tiger – that of the Celtic variety.
I am no economist (Ireland’s new ‘celebrities’) and I wont even attempt to chronicle how Ireland’s previously much touted ‘Celtic Tiger’ boom years (aka property bubble) have dissipated to the extent that the country is at the mercy of the dreaded IMF and EU technocrats. I would leave that to this almost concise summary of how Ireland came to be where it finds itself now.
This spectacular fall of a country that only up until two years ago was held up as poster boy of free market neo-liberalism is manifesting itself in many ways – record unemployment levels, increase in mortgage defaults and home repossessions, drastic cuts in public and social spending, the dreaded return of mass emigration and as yet an unleashed fury at the political and the banking elites.
However, as someone who grow up in a developing country and worked as a journalist and saw first hand real poverty, despair and hopelessness, some sense of perspective is certainly needed right now.
There comes a time when all the hand wringing in the world will only result in painfully dislocated wrists and nothing else.
Indeed, it is absolutely disheartening and heartbreaking to see families lose their homes, see bright young graduates and the economically active being forced to emigrate or poverty levels rising.
However, this could be the chance for Ireland to reform its shambolic political system, clean up its financial regulation systems and perhaps even recover some of that community camaraderie that pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland was better known for and emerge with a more equal society.
I would like to think that we are not yet at that stage where Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke will feel obliged, after seeing harrowing images from Ireland, to arrange a series of charity concerts in Addis Ababa.
Although judging by the headlines, you would be forgiven for thinking that Mulatu is, as I write, currently rounding up Africa’s A-list musicians to produce a charity single, √Čire Aid just in time for Christmas.