Saturday 29 December 2007

Zoe's wrecked ark

A zoo is not that safe at times

I have always enjoyed visiting zoos but never been under the illusion that those animals behind fencing, walls, enclosures or cages are not wild, dangerous and when let lose could wreak untold havoc.

When on Wednesday I heard of the tiger mauling in the San Francisco Zoo where there was one fatality and several injured, it brought home the fact that all is not that as tame as it seems in the zoo.

The thickening plot indicates the enclosure wall was a metre lower than the recommended height; tigers we forget are climbing animals and it only takes a moment of animal inspiration for those enclosures to dissolve into nothing and people to become victims like another episode in the Netherlands where a gorilla broke out to attack the unwelcome amorous glances from a lady visitor.

The new adopt-a-kit

And so the angels of mercy and saviours of little Africa have returned from Chad to France to serve the remainder of their 8 year sentence for kidnapping Chadian children ready to selling onto foster parents in France who would lavish love and care on helpless, hopeless children.

There are many who would have thought after Madonna and Angelina Jolie took their gift-wrapped African pseudo-orphans out of the deepest darkest Africa, anyone with a Western bleeding heart can traipse into Africa and forklift a child from the foreboding oblivion of starvation and deprivation into the grand opulence of Western excess.

Whilst, every little helps from people who selflessly commit themselves to helping Africa where untold governments have failed in their basic duty of governance and the care of the children of Africa, there isn’t enough in place to ensure that the desire to adopt is properly channelled though the requisite legal means.

Zoe´s Beached Ark

The workers of Zoe’s Ark might have either exploited the absence of checks and balances to ensure that children are not extricated by enticement or duress from their families, labelled as orphans, exported to Europe, robbed of their heritage and their identity.

In another light, they might have been naïve, situations are tough in Africa and just as the slave trade of old, it took locals who knew the lay of the land to get the slaves and then sell them to merchants who took them to the new world.

There might have been unscrupulous people who for the money to be made, seized Chadian children, presented them as Darfuri orphans and cajoled the Zoe’s Ark people into thinking their mission of mercy for the children and benevolence for the foster parents was as humanitarian as it could get.

Hard African Lessons

I think it is now clear that Africa is no playground for naïve Good Samaritans, you can get caught up in a very serious situation as these people found themselves and were sadly almost cut adrift by their government.

Naivety, however, is no excuse for such debacles and whilst these people would not suffer the hard labour conditions of a Chadian gaol, having been returned to France , it might just have become ever so clear that people with a humanitarian inclination should approach Africa with smart caution.

Extra steps should and must be taken to ensure that any activity undertaken regarding the adoption of children in Africa is above board, stands the scrutiny of Western standards and are properly signed-off by the competent authorities in the countries, failing which a clear set of UN guidelines must by applied and reviewed by independent personnel.

Beyond this and the media frenzy that surrounded this case, one wonders if the children would all be returned to their families and the government that fought to keep them in Africa would now step up to provide the promise that leaving to France was supposed to offer them – a future, a life and the possibility of being able to change their world – this must be the attainable aspiration of every child born in Africa.

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