Saturday, August 9, 2008

Yeah Beijing!

Every morning I drink my tea from a tea cup written “Beijing 2008- Candidate City”. This cup, like all of our dishes, came to us through school prizegivings. In Botswana, where books are prohibitively expensive, teachers find themselves in a quandary when it comes time for school prizegivings. What to give the top performing students? Books would be best, but no school can afford that. So in most schools, to be practical, they give out household utensils. Since our two giant teenagers have excelled at school since they started, we don’t buy dishes in this house. Instead we have an eclectic collection of plates, glasses and tea sets, all courtesy of one school or another. This is how my tea cup came into our home. But this morning my tea cup had much more significance.

What a fantastic, wonderful, inspiring show the Chinese put on yesterday. I still cannot get over it. Somehow though it makes me sad. It makes me sad that these people have been working so hard, for so long to put on an Olympics that would be unforgettable and yet at every step of the way all they got was criticism. Okay fine, they have their problems, but my take on it is which country doesn’t? Why does the world feel so compelled to hold China up as a pariah when in actual fact they have made extraordinary strides in almost all areas?

In Africa, China is stepping in, mostly to quench their thirst for natural resources. They are setting up joint ventures where governments are sensible enough to keep control of their assets. They are engaging the continent at all corners. And yet everybody is looking on with judging eyes. They are not perfect, the Zimbabwe arms shipment is a case in point, but, I at least think, they are a far sight better than the original colonisers. They are trying to trade with Africa, if anything the problem is in the governance void in so many African countries. If you only have Mugabe to deal with, you deal with Mugabe on Mugabe’s terms. It puts China between a rock and hard place.

I thought the opening ceremony yesterday was absolutely extraordinary. I think these Olympics are going to be fantastic. I’m so happy for China and the Chinese people. And I feel very different now drinking my tea in the morning.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Some of my more politically conscious friends have spent the last few days bagging the Olympics but I think :'Keep your bagging to yourselves.' I am enjoying them very much.

What a charming insight into your world with crockery being given out as prizes at school instead of books. I had no idea. That has really made me think about how we take our wealth for granted in Australia.

Lauri said...

I read some of the comments on your blog. I feel that we don't need to stop happiness because unhappiness is happening somewhere- we'll be forever sad. We can actually look at two things at once.

I did feel a bit like I saw the puppets strings today, though, when they said they had to let the toothless good singer hide and the cute little girl lip sync for the Chinese national anthem. That's not nice.