In relation to Black Gold, a documentary about the world coffee market and an Ethiopian fair trade cooperative, please discuss the dependent development of Ethiopia and its coffee market and...

In relation to Black Gold, a documentary about the world coffee market and an Ethiopian fair trade cooperative, please discuss the dependent development of Ethiopia and its coffee market and connect it to the concept of dependency theory. 

Asked on by timcap

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

While the entirety of the dependency theory might not be fully accepted, its basic premise is evident in the film, Black Gold.  The film reflects the basic premise of the dependency theory in its assertion that the products of a "poor" nation are enriching elements for the wealthier ones.  Products like diamonds, chocolate, and in the film's case, coffee are staples that come from nations that lack economic empowerment.  The dependency theory asserts that these nations can only participate in the modernized and globalized setting by essentially being cannibalized by wealthier nations.  Wealthier nations that possess economic power set the prices for these goods, ensuring that peripheral nations remain on the fringes of economic development. Such a condition makes them "dependent," and prevents poorer nations from establishing economic autonomy and power to move them from margin to center.

This aspect of the development theory is evident in the film in a couple of ways.  The first is the sheer contrast of how the coffee bean emerges from poverty and intensely harsh conditions of competitive labor to posh cafes and coffee houses in the wealthier parts of the world.  The plight of the Ethiopian farmers is one that makes them dependent on Western nations for economic sustenance.  The film shows that such a condition is always going to keep wealthier nations in Europe and America in the position of economic control. Conversely, it depicts how nations like Ethiopia will be in a position of being controlled economically unless there is a change to this system.  The need for the Tadesse Meskela to travel around the world in order to eliminate the middle carrier who would cut into already paltry profit projections is another aspect of the dependency theory that is evident.  The money generated from the sale of coffee beans is not enough to prop nations like Ethiopia into economic independence.  It is also not enough to offset the condition of poverty in which many of the farmers live.  The peripheral condition of nations like Ethiopia, making them dependent on wealthier nations, lies in how established markets determine the price of products.  The commodity trading floor in New York has a tangible impact on the lives of coffee bean farmers in Ethiopia. The answer to their prayers lie in the speculators in New York.  

The film's depiction of this reality is the embodiment of the dependency theory. Meskela's hope of seeking to "develop a cooperative union system to help Ethiopian coffee farmers attain a fairer recompense for their work" is one way in which the film suggests that there can be some level of remedy to this condition.  In this argument, the film depicts that there can be some level of transformation from a purely dependency theory of economic reality for people such as the coffee bean growers in Ethiopia.  

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,928 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question