Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Darwin's Nightmare


This documentary, made in 2004, looks at the perch fishery in Lake Victoria. Perch is not native to the lake and caused massive changes in the lake's biodiversity which contributed to its eutrophication. Its all pretty depressing stuff.
But I'm not sure I totally buy the moral story that the filmmakers were pushing. As usual, the Africans are portrayed as victims of an uncaring global economic and political system. The Russians are importing weapons as they export fish. The Indians are making all the real money. And the Europeans don't give a damn as long as the fish meet their health and safety standards.
Certainly there is some truth to this narrative. But that's the thing about stereotypes; they are never entirely false.
They are however always lazy and misleading.
I'm certainly not an expert on Lake Victoria so I don't have an alternative narrative, but I'm pretty sure it exists.
The story of Africa-as-victim has been told too many times. It hasn't helped anyone. And frankly, by now, its boring.


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