Katrina Evokes Questions in Africa

Images of poor, black Americans homeless and in despair in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina resonatedg in Africa, evoking pointed questions about racism and surprise that disasters can wreak havoc and leave refugees even in the prosperous United States.

"So much for the land of liberty," read one unsigned commentary Sunday in Nigeria's This Day newspaper, adding that some televised images of Katrina's victims in Louisiana "could actually be mistaken for Rwanda."

In hurricane-hit New Orleans, U.S. soldiers cradling M-16s flanked out across the swamped, disease-infested city as officials readied thousands of body bags. Indeed, the scene was reminiscent of any African tragedy of recent times.

"Who would have thought that over a million American citizens would become 'refugees' in their own country and flay their government for its failure to come to their aid" quickly enough, read an editorial Tuesday in South Africa's The Star newspaper.

Some Africans say the U.S. government's allegedly bungled response to Katrina revealed a society more divided by race and money than most Africans had previously thought.

"We share in the grief of the victims," a Liberian teacher said. "But at times these things happen for people to know what hardship really means, what it means to be a refugee in your own country."

[From article by Todd Pitman, Associated Press Writer]

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