Palm Oil. Economic miracle, or environmental disaster? This panorama was taken on the road west from Abidjan. Twenty years ago this area was covered with dense tropical forest. Now it has been planted with palm oil. The owners of the companies have done extremely well from this crop and it has also provided employment to people in the area. The environmental cost is disastrous. Indigenous wildlife can no longer exist within these plantations. Animals are unable to migrate along traditional routes, as such large areas of jungle have been cleared. In Indonesia there are massive plantations. Palm oil has been used in West Africa for 5,000 years and was traded throughout the continent. Since the early 1960s palm oil plantations have exploded in South East Asia. Traditional forests in Indonesia, the home of the orangutan and Sumatran tiger have been under threat.
Welcome to Africa, AKA the motherland! Check out African Internet Radio while you're scoping the panoramas.The earliest fossil of the homo sapiens family (human beings) was found in Ethiopia, dating back more than 200,000 years. Compared to this length of time, even the "ancient Sumerians" from 6000 B.C. are drooling toddlers.Let's mention a few African heroes you may have heard of, for inspiration in the face of the continued economic inequality and violence which plague Africa today: Nelson Mandela, first democratically elected President of South Africa, who fought against apartheid and served 27 years in prison while advocating freedom and peace. Haile Salassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, who resisted Mussolini and the fascist Italian invasion of WWII, and who is worshipped as an incarnation of God by the Rastafari movement. Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister of Ghana, advocate of uniting Africa in Pan-Africanism. Fela Kuti, inventor of Afrobeat music, who declared his home to be an independent state, ran for president of Nigeria, and to whose funeral ONE MILLION PEOPLE came to pay their respects.In June 2001 the African Union was formed, consisting of 53 African States organized, like in the EU, around common economic and political development.Text by Steve Smith.