Darwin’s Nightmare can be described as an allegory presenting a world of super powers and their greed to steal, destroy and kill. It is not only the story of Eastern Congo alone, but an eye opener to the imperialistic interest of some “war lords” in the natural resources of some endowed nations that are considered lesser power. Examples of such are nations like Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, or Sierra- Leone. The endless conflicts are often described as tribal or religious, but the underlying factors are always there but ignored.
Crude oil, fish, diamonds, bananas, the natural resources of the land have become a central theme attracting various characters, which knowingly or unknowingly have played their roles towards achieving a goal. These characters are real people, doing their jobs and duties, as a cargo pilot, orphaned street children, teenage Tanzanian prostitutes, local fishermen. They are contributors to an interwoven complexity of a plot with an ultimate goal.
That goal is exploitation and corruption. The intents of Hubert Sauper the director of Darwin’s Nightmare may not be totally clear or explicit enough but yet they have brewed up a controversy, and a discourse concerning important issues, that need global attention. This documentary as seen from the perspective of Tanzanians who live and work in Mwanza City is inaccurate, sensational and lacking objectivity. A discussion on Darwin’s Nightmare in Absolute Astronomy. om went further to inform us that, in 2006, the Zanzibar film and cultural film festival declined to screen Darwin’s Nightmare, it was also reported that Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete spoke against the film in public and has also ordered an inquiry on the impact of the film, (if any) on Tanzanians fishing trade and tourism. Les Kaufman, Professor of Biology in the Marine Program at Boston University was one of the chief scientific advisors for the film.
He has also researched the biology and fisheries of Lake Victoria since 1989. This scientist’s effort to present the veracity of the facts presented in Darwin’s Nightmare is commendable. The picture Les Kaufman presented in his letter is that of the good, the bad and the ugly. Though the Nile perch and the Victoria Basin or Tanzanian as a nation have experienced some positive impacts from the globalization of the fish trade, the misery, poverty, and chaos, far out weighed the benefits.
In fact, Les Kaufman considered the situation as worse than Darwin’s Nightmare presented. He highlighted other problems, like regional droughts, compounded by irrational water management decisions, electric power crisis and political friction with Egypt, down stream along the Nile River. Maybe the intention for the projects on the Lake Victoria was initially good but as the professor said “they have not gone according to plan”.
Coming from a Country like Nigeria, whose situation can be compared to Tanzania, Sierra Leone and others, it is evident that Hubert Saupers, not only succeeded in presenting an artistic work, especially in terms of characterization and his narrative method, but went a step further to open a can of worms, that an activist and journalist Ken Tsaro Wiwa tried to open in Nigeria, and lost his life. The crude oil problem of the poverty stricken, River- Rhine areas of Nigeria is comparable to the issues presented in Darwin’s Dream and Blood Diamond. Sauper has used gruesome images, i. . rotten fish heads sticking out of the ground, little children turning garbage into make shift toys to depict decadence, rottenness and a corrupt world system. This film is about using a powerful yet subtle weapon, the art to bring focus on global issues. The intention of the author is to show abject poverty in the midst of great opulence, sorrow and hardship in the middle of great beauty depicted by handsome high cheek boned faces of many Tanzanians and the natural beauty of Lake Victoria and surrounding hills in contrast to hunger, and lack that is prevalent in the region.
The people eat rotten left over fish heads and carcasses, they are jobless, and only few people benefit from the reward of the looting of the land. Hubert Sauper’s work, in my opinion has succeeded in igniting a volcanic eruption which will definitely continue to attract the discussions, controversy and change that the world needs. WEBLINKS: • http://www. darwinsnightmare. com/reviews. htm • http://www. absoluteastronomy. com/topics/Darwin%27s_Nightmare • http://www. darwinsnightmare. com/darwin/html/startset. htm