Africa Day

Knowledge brokering25 Apr 2010Thea Hilhorst

Yesterday was the yearly Africa day – a colourful and interesting event that brings together thousands of people that are based in the Netherlands and feel connected to Africa. Organized by the Evert Vermeer Stichting, it is a gathering of Africans living in the Netherlands, Dutch people living in Africa, representatives of development organizations and all other kinds of people. Lovemore Matombo, trade union leader from Zimbabwe was there as well as George Weah, who is the African soccer player of the century as well as a candidate for the presidency of Liberia. The day was opened with speeches by Max van de Berg and the former Minister of development cooperation Bert Koenders.

Van de Berg and Koenders were both in the mood for political campaigning that is now hitting the Netherlands with the upcoming elections. They both advocated to maintain the 0,8% for development cooperation. Especially in times of crisis, van de Berg proclaimed, we need to maintain unity and solidarity not only within the country but internationally as well. The budget for development cooperation will reduce anyway because the total budget shrinks and hence 0,8%. But let’s not make this worse. Bert Koenders noted that the bonuses of bankers worldwide, despite the crisis, mounted to a total of 145 Billion US dollars, much larger than the total budget of development cooperation. All the more reason not to cut the budget for those who suffer the effects of the crisis. Let’s hope the political parties were listening. This weekend most of them have their congress to establish the party programme. Let’s hope they dare to withstand the populist resentment against development cooperation and stand up to maintain a decent budget for development.