This week, two talks about "moving Africa out of poverty". The first with the rather beguiling, measured Dambisa Moyo et al and the second, at "Business Fights Poverty" with, amongst others, Simon Maxwell of the ODI, Baroness Chalker, Sunil Sinha and Edward Bickham (Anglo-American).
Two very interesting debates - which outlined the absolute breadth and difficulty of the discussion. At least the IRC event with Dambisa speaking attracted a smattering of African attendees, who were able to put their viewpoints. The latter event had barely anyone there who was able to talk fro the perspective of what might work for Africa.
The first event exhorted the donor community to give up aid and let the free market prevail, the second event seemed to be casting around to find ways of meaningful engagement for business. There was a definite gap in the middle.
And then yesterday, a quick coffee with Mike and much discussion about film and how it's used. We are approaching a second round of a funding application for some of our young girls to make vox pops and two shorts on FGM; he was kind enough to be open to the opportunity of mentoring us through this process.
But to my horror, he places in front of me an article in the Observer Film Monthly about von Triers' new film AntiChrist. There is a discussion about the shocking moment when Charlotte Gainsbourg cuts off her own clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors.
This has been playing on my mind ever since. I wonder about whether to comment more widely than this - along the lines of: "whilst we appreciate that film plays a role in entertainment, this issue is a real-life horror story for the 3 million girls at risk each year from FGM" - does engaging at this level undermine the reality of the debate?
Does a Danish-based film director, making a comment on the grief-stricken horror of one character that leads her to do this to herself, have any resonance with the real fight against FGM? And if not, is it even right to make the connection?
The communications person in me says that if the media is writing, even obliquely about FGM, (and even self-FGM??!!! which I need to find out more about) then it is an opportunity.