Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 26, 2020

The Last Tree, Madagasikara

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 2:30 pm

COUNTERPUNCH, JUNE 26, 2020

Two new films debut as Virtual Cinema today. Both address the hopes and the suffering of Africans, both in diaspora and on the continent.

“The Last Tree” is a coming-of-age story about Femi, a Nigerian boy growing up in a British housing estate. Despite the word “estate”, these buildings have much in common with housing projects in the USA and Paris’s banlieues. Grenfell Tower, where 72 people died in a fire as a result of negligence, was part of a housing estate. Coming-of-age films are not my favorite genre. “The Last Tree” soars above any I have seen since the sixties and is sure to be one of my picks for best films of 2020.

“Madagasikara,” the Malagasy name for Madagascar, documents the struggle for survival in an island nation just 250 miles off the east coast of Africa. This is a country of 26 million people with a per capita GDP of $471 per year, about half of Haiti’s. Although most people are aware of how Haiti became so poor, very little is known about Madagascar’s steep decline. Real income is only a third of what it was fifty years ago and imperialism is to blame.

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1 Comment »

  1. Feedback from a Malagasy.

    Dear Louis Proyect,

    I have read the article that you have written for Counterpunch on the 26th June 2020. I am Malagasy, and lived in Madagascar for the first 23 years of my life. I am currently a mathematician that resides in South Africa.

    Counterpunch is at the very top of the list of online newspapers that I regularly read and I was quite happy to see that someone was interested in this small country.

    I tend to agree with most of what you have written about Madagascar: the political context since 2000 and especially how you portray M. Ravalomanana and A. Rajoelina. They’re both proponents of neoliberalism. However, Madagascar has a peculiar historical context that makes the small difference between the two quite important in terms of educational and health policies. (For example, M. Ravalomanana, under IMF pressure, planned to privatise the public university in the capital; this plan was shelved after 2009. I, like many young people in Madagascar, could never have attended universities unless they were free.) There was a failed revolution (1972-1991) that still influences societal structures in Madagascar, although the IMF has imposed a total liberalisation already since 1991.

    I do not mean to criticise the article. I think it’s nice. I just wanted to say that there is a rich nuance in the Malagasy political landscape and certain things (especially through the eyes of the media alone) can be misleading.

    With best regards,
    Ando

    Comment by louisproyect — June 28, 2020 @ 2:19 pm


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