Eventually the Central African Republic (CAR), a blank spot on the map, gets some attention or at least people now know that it is a country. When I was going there in August people would ask me things like “But what’s the name of the COUNTRY?” That’s the name I said whereas the person would ask “Ohh, but what was the name of it before?” Well, before independence the French used to call it Oubangui-Chari and the person would look puzzled. It is a blank spot, even for many Africans. Its geographic location is quite obvious from the name but for those who still don’t know where it is click here.
The Kony 2012 campaign put CAR on the map and now the Danish documentary the Ambassador, which I mentioned in an earlier post in September last year, is getting some attention. The film is discussed in an article in Foreign Policy and can now be streamed on Swedish National TV until 12 of April. The film was released in the beginning of October last year and was shown at the Sundance film festival earlier this year and has been on the cinemas in Denmark and Norway (and elsewhere).
The Danish journalist Mads Brügger goes to CAR with a diplomatic passport (Liberian) and a hidden camera to uncover the endemic corruption that allows some people to profit on Africa’s resources. The film shows how diplomats are involved in shady business, including diamond smuggling. Brügger is a witty man with tons of sense of humour, which provokes many since the film is not one where Africans are victimised and needs to be saved by the “white man”. Rather it shows the dirty reality of how many white men contribute to CAR’s continuing dysfunction (as in many other countries).
It is definitely worth to watch. When I was in Bangui I often was disgusted by the behaviour of some people, which I have mentioned in earlier posts. Comments like “We just keep them floating”, “We are just helping them from falling into complete anarchy” and “They need someone from the outside, like the UN or France (!), to get this country back in its feet”, were common place. CAR is to a large extent still France’s playground where anything is possible, for those with diplomatic status and money that is…
So, the documentary the Ambassador can be streamed here (I hope it works outside Europe, I am not sure about that though.) Have a look, have a laugh because somehow what to do about it? When all is crap you need to laugh at the misery, very much in line with the Central African sense of humour I learned to love when I was there..