It’s been a while, but today I’m sharing a series with you again. ‘Dominee of Koopman’, a Dutch series. In English it would say ‘Reverend or merchant’. It’s a series which dives a little deeper in the world of Dutch development aid. Something I’m very much interested in, because I feel like countries which are rich have a duty to help countries which are not that resourceful and are struggling with issues that can easily be solved. Hunger and a lack of access to clean water for example. And so, I’m recommending the series Dominee of Koopman to you. Let’s learn more about development aid.
Dominee of Koopman
Now that I’m writing this, the series Dominee of Koopman is already three years old: it aired in 2020 on Dutch television. Dominee of Koopman consists of 6 episodes. In the series, a Dutch person called Patrick Lodiers dives deeper in the matter of Dutch development aid. The past 70 years the Netherlands has been sending development aid to all sorts of countries in the African continent. Lodiers travels to some of these countries to find out whether development aid actually works. Has it helpen? And has it reached the right people? In each episode Lodiers visits another country and I’ll tell you about the biggest lessons I learned.
Episode 1 – Senegal
For me this first episode is spot on. It makes the thing that I think is most important about these series apparent. It shows how we in western countries are destroying African economies with our capitalistic system. And then, as a blister for the bleeding, send development aid to solve all the problems we created ourselves. And the most messed up thing about it is that we praise ourselves for sending that development aid. This first episodes shows this phenomenon very clearly with the example of fisheries. First, western countries fish the oceans near Senegal completely empty. Leaving people there to starve, as that fish is their food and income. Then, these people in Senegal flee to western countries because they are starving. And in return, we get mad at them for doing so, and built walls around Europe to prevent these people from coming here. It’s so messed up.
Episode 2 – Ghana
This episode tells us more about the cacao industry in Ghana. Cacao is the biggest export product in Ghana, but western countries refuse to pay a fair price for that cacao. It’s an industry that pays people the bare minimum, just to stay barely alive. All that while western companies which import the cacao make huge profits from the end product: chocolate. And again: we mess up their biggest industry first and then, because a lot of people in Ghana are poor, we send development aid. Another patch for the bleeding, while we do not fix the core problem. And that development does not even reach the right people either. We should pay people a fair price for their products.
Episode 3 – Uganda
Episode 3 is not so much about a product; it’s about culture. It tells the history of development aid. Britain colonized Uganda and along with that, it spread Christianity in Uganda. Luckily, decades later Uganda gained independence. However, Christianity, and its morals, stayed. But then, halfway the 80’s , there was a big wave of AIDS in Uganda. And since the morals from politicians in the country are still very conservative, the fight against AIDS is difficult. Sex education and contraceptives are taboo. Queer people are discriminated against and their lives are not safe. That’s just one of the horrible things that colonization has left behind in Uganda. And development aid alone is not fixing that problem.
Episode 4 – Kenya
To me, episode 4 shows the phenomenon of white saviorism. The phenomenon of white people wanting to feel good. And so, they go to a country in Africa and volunteer there. They built schools, toilet buildings or hand out electronics. They don’t consider the local people but fix what they think the problem is. Instead of sending money to Kenya, directly to local people and not through charities (which is very well possible), they spend money on a flight to for example Kenya to go volunteering. That money they spend on tickets and housing, they could give to the local people. But no, that type of good-doing is not so visible. And so, they want to feed their ego and be visible, and so they go to that country theirselves. But of course there are good examples too. This episode shows the charity GiveDirectly; a charity that transfers donations directly to local people. It’s one of the charities I personally support.
Episode 5 – Ethiopia
One part of the development aid that The Netherlands is giving to Ethiopia is through agricultural companies. Dutch farmers get a huge amount of money to start an agricultural company in Ethiopia. And the stupidity of that model is just mind-blowing. The Netherlands is totally destroying the world with our agricultural system that is based on animal agriculture. It destroys nature and creates hunger. With this aid, we’re doing the same in Ethiopia and setting them up for disaster. It also shows that foreign people starting a business in Ethiopia, totally displaces local people because they don’t have official ownership of the land. The government sells the land that was used by local people to foreign companies. People from the western world think they have all the solutions, but they only make matters worse.
Episode 6 – Rwanda
Episode 6 is about an African country that wants to get rid of the development aid it has received for a long time: Rwanda. Rwanda is a country that is wants to be independent, which makes a lot of sense. Rwanda want to do what is good for Rwanda, regardless of what western countries want. It’s a very hopeful episode if you’d ask me!
I’ve said a lot about the 6 episode in the series Dominee of Koopman. However, this is not the whole story. There is so much more to learn in each episode. I’ve just summed up my own lessons. Therefore, I would really recommend you to watch the series yourself. This is a part of development aid that you rarely hear about, but it’s very helpful to see things for what they really are.
The biggest lesson that I learned from the series Dominee of Koopman is that we in the western world are very hypocrite. We think of ourselves as very good people because we are rich and send development aid. However, we are the ones that colonized African countries in the first place, which made their starting position terrible. And we’re still destroying their economies and making it very hard for African countries to recover from us. It’s mind-blowing that we think of ourselves as noble.