Book: Parables of Milk and Might

By RAN | Sun 11 May 2008

Development Political Satire by Author RAN

Following four years of development politics, after the official end of colonialism in most countries in Africa, South America, and Asia, it is difficult for the industrial countries to forgo their economic interests in the developing countries, which are said to be independent. Their continued presence in these countries, controlling or dictating the trend of economic and political developments, is proof of the protection of their interests. Parables of Milk and Might is a satire on the international development sector, in particular, the relationship between the countries of the Global North and South. The book uses a wonderful combination of worldplay, metaphor, and humorous storytelling to get its message across.

Parables of Milk and Might

To truly understand the reality of developmental politics and its continuing detrimental influence on the quality of life for the affected it is necessary to listen to the voice of the Affected. This is the position author RAN takes in what is a brilliant satirical take on the decades of colonialism and neo-colonialism that immediately followed the centuries of trans-Saharan and trans-Atlantic enslavement if African people. It is difficult to find a reference point from which to compare the works as there isn’t one. This is a good thing and despite its bumpy translation into English from its publication in various languages (German, Japanese to name a few) the central tenant of what is clearly a brilliant genre-defying piece of work succeeds in painting a picture of so called ‘development aid’ and linking it without compromise to the continued oppression of the Affected not only in Africa but across the world in the Caribbean, South America and Asia.

That we can laugh at the same time as we ponder phrases such as ‘colonialwater’ for Tea and ‘devilswater’ for alcohol is indicative of the creative imagination of the author. In one poignant section a character is asked what is the difference between a highjacker and a colonialist? The response reveals that the whilst both have something to do with the ‘robbery of freedom’ the highjacker usually only takes a hostage or two, perhaps a ship or plane and dictates conditions for perhaps a few million dollars before releasing the hostages. The colonialist on the other hand takes hostage whole nations, not for a few days, weeks or months but hundreds of years continuously exploiting all resources whilst never granting freedom to the hostages.

This is not a book for lazy readers, to get the most out of Parables of Milk and Might requires the reader to invest in learning the language and terminology of the author. But once this commitment has been made the book becomes not only essential reading for all those studying or interested in developmental politics but also to those Affected and the leaders in denial about their own culpability in maintaining the status quo.

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