Monday, October 09, 2006

CANADA OR USA?

Dear friends,
I hope you are all fine. North America has not changed much and therefore I am in the same situation that I was last time I wrote. Drastically changes are rare nowadays. Sometimes I wonder whether it is because courageous men are all dead or it’s just that we are too busy to even think about changes. However, people claims that things are changing because every dawn there is a new tech tool arrival into the market. I may agree on those changes, but what about social changes?

Politics have remained number one in terms of what excites people out here. Information leakages, coming out of the closet in a forceful pull, war of words are quite the norm. It is hard to imagine North American without rough politics. Well, they call it democracy out here. They spend millions of dollars trying to teach our African leaders same democracy they practice. Don’t you think such money could be used in humanity operations instead?

Well, the news that most of you do not know whether I live in Canada or United States of America came as sad news even though they did not shock me. I have personally been struggling with the same issue all the time I have been here. Sometimes I have asked myself whether I live in the 51st state of USA or 52nd after Israel?

My realization came the first time I tried to visit friends who live in USA cities. The conditions were put to me that I require a visa to visit USA. That came as a shock to me. Funny enough, my friends who decided to dwell in US instead of Canada do not require visa to visit me out here. Why should they require visa to visit one of the their states? Am I wrong to assume so? It’s hard for Canadians to even know about this unfair treatment of its permanent residents like me compared to their American counter-parts. It is never in the agenda when immigration issues are brought unto the table. May be they will be in 2010 when all Canadians will be required to carry their passport and who knows, may be have visas too.

It is very difficult to differentiate between Canada and USA nowadays, at least to foreigners like me. As I am writing this letter, I am looking outside my window, facing the biggest shopping mall in the province of Ontario. Do I see anything Canadian from here? Without being critical, I see none. From the names of stores hanging outside the mall to the corporations surrounding my neighborhood, everything is American.

With full understanding of what the economists calls globalization, I think it is ridiculous to imagine the seemingly biased platform of globalization that Canada and USA practices. My disappointment comes when I imagine, just imagine how many Canadian stores are there in American shopping malls? None?

Yesterday I was watching TV in search of Canadian programs. I am ashamed to tell you that I found none. From movies to just simple talk shows, they are all from America. However, I came across some few programs claiming to be Canadian. These are the likes of Canadian Idol, Canadian Best Top Models; I cannot bring to mind the third one. I am asking myself, aren’t these the same American shows with just a silly twist of the names from USA to Canadian? Can’t Canada come up with television themes/shows that are not copycat from USA? I believe Canadians are not lazy people in terms of thinking and creating hit tv shows, movies, drama, short plays etc. What is wrong then?

Another disappointment comes when I imagine, how many Canadian TV programs, soap operas; talk shows are aired in American stations? What kind of dominance are we witnessing here? Then is it fair to blame our PM for naturally becoming pro-American to the extent of being seen as a just an ambassador of US in Canada?

In Canada you have mostly two choices to make if you want to purchase a car. It’s either American or Japanese. There is nothing like Canadian car! Have you heard of any? Of course there are so many plants in Canada. These are all foreign investments. Is Canada among the G8 countries just by chance?

I love Canada; I love its history, its culture, its people and all that can be called Canadian.

Therefore, friends, I live in Canada and not the USA. I am very sorry about the confusion. As you can see, I have nothing to do with all these. What I have is just wishes, wishes that Canada could stand out on its own. Wishes that Canada could have its own Hollywood. I would love to send you Canadian made movies, everything Canadian, not just a set. I wish to be able to watch Canadian news channels when I am in the US. I wish to see more Americans tuning to Canadian reality shows programs.

I will write again soon. Please support Canadian growth whenever possible.

Jeff






16 comments:

Reel Fanatic said...

It is indeed a shame that, along with war-mongering, we Americans feel the need to impose our crappy reality TV on Canada and the rest of the world .. Please accept the sincere apology from this one of us

Scout said...

jeff, a very good letter and insight. t'is true, t'is true , and the americanization of canada , as the saying goes, 'crept up on us like cheap underwear'.

i still feel the introduction of cable t.v. was a major downfall, then of course, mulroney signing nafta in the 80's. out went trudeau policies like foreign investment guidelines.

there seems to be a closet of a few things left, some traditions, our history, the varying cultures, but most of all a thing called canadian values. while the minority government doesn't seem to hold to these, i'd say the polls are reflecting they are still alive.

you can always buy yourself some 'stanfiedls' underwear....a company one of our former conservative prime ministers owned :) .....careful, they're cheap and could sneak up on you !!!

Canadian said...

You know what Jeff, prior to 9/11 ALL Canadian landed immigrants could visit the US without visas but after 9/11 things changed, some landed immigrants were required to obtain visas while others were not. This depended on the the visitor's country of citizenship.

As for TV and movies, we do have some of the best actors, producers, writers and directors but unfortunately the grass looks greener south of the 49th parallel. We do have "hollywood north"(Toronto, Vancouver etc) but the ever-increasing taxes haven't been helping either. At least we got the CBC and other local/multicultural channels that don't look American to me.

From where I am, looking out the window everything is in Chinese, heck even the Royal Bank sign is in Chinese, I wonder if that makes us a province of China!!

luihamu said...

JEFF MSANGI,WHY DONT YOU MAKE AFRICA STAND ON ITS ON?NOW YOU ARE CRYING FOR THEM,WHEN WILL THEY CRY FOR AFRICA?LONG LIVE AFRICA.

Jeff Msangi said...

@ Real Fanatic,
Thanks for stopping by.Karibu is a swahili word which means welcome.My first time visitors(I mean first time to leave a comment) gets the word KARIBU.About the apology,well..lets ask Canadians themselves.What do you guys think?
@ Scout
Thanks for the advise about the underwears.Just like how I only wear made in africa by africans clothing,I would be more than happy to lead same campaign in canada,for canada.
@Canadian
I understand the 9/11 factor.My only shock is when its a double standard kinda of treatment.
I still long for the home made movies.
@Luihamu,
You deserve a KARIBU too.
I believe Africa will stand on its own only if it is left alone by "them".Refuse to be what they want us to be..we are who we are and that is the way its going to be.You know that song..JIJIGA.

Scout said...

ultimatley, we are the 51st state.

Trio Kaka said...

I thought you were an extension of London!

Jeff, in one of my nguini - Development studies class, one of the student wondered as to why Tanzania does not become a real province of UK. Meaning Tanzanians and UKans become citizen of both countries and move about those countries freely just like Hawaiins and Mainlander USAans. The student thought That will help advance Tanzania development exponentialy. He also argued the way the system is right now UKans benefit more than we do.

In a way I agreed with him but with lots of reservations!

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

My self from Tanzania, living in Toronto, Canada. To read such a kind of article from you, it's a shame. You are one of the people who goes around, publish things things about Canada which are not true at all. Canada is not 51st state of United States, and will never be. We don't need free entry to US. You said support Canada, in fact you are supporting United States. Why advocating legalization of immigration to the United States. The US green Card holders are allowed to come in for sake of bringing money to this Country regardless they don't have criminal record.I remember last september, i was in Dules, washington DC Airport, connecting a flight to Toronto, I made clear to the Immigration Officer, I had no intention of staying in US, and she tried to be nice with me. As to the TV programs, it depends on what package of TV you have. If you have a bigger package, you should have access to more canadian news and broadcast.But, what i can tell you, people around the world are increasing understand the difference between Canada and the United States. Who cares about TV programs? It's a free world. It is like some muslims who came to live to the western world, and trying to impose the sharia law. That will never happen. The important thing here, is to make sure that Canadians become more active in the world. This will only be possible if the Government encourges them to participates more in economic deals in Africa, Asia and South America.

Jeff Msangi said...

Dear anonymous,
First of all thanks for visiting my blog and leave your comments.

What did you find to be not true about what I wrote? I am sorry my learned brother or sister but it seems you could not clearly explain what you wanted to say.

Your story of Washington, cable tv,money from travellers etc.I just couldn't get it.Please help me understand.

canadian said...

Jeff, seems the anonymous poster probably took some of your words literally rather than figuratively, like Canada being the 51st state. Your double speak is also not helping.

Here are my thoughts: Canada was much closer to Great Britain and Europe for quite sometime, heck we even abandoned the imperial system and went with the metric system, we didn't check with the US before doing that, did we?(the US hasn't done so todate, except of course for NASA).

Now with this NAFTA thing coming into the picture things have changed, I guess since we couldn't join the EEC, we figured we need to form some kind of a partnership this side of the world so we don't get left in the dust as it were.

As it is now, we do more business with the States than with any other country, probably China comes in second.

Whether we like it or not, Americans are our neighbours and many Canadians have family across the border(the same is true for Americans) and we've got to learn how to live with them, and live with them profitably while we are at it. Imposing visas on US permanent residents would be nothing short of a knee-jerk reaction on the part of Canada.

The overall gist of your post suggests that we(Canada) should resist undue US influence and I agree, but then turning around and suggesting we should impose visas to US permanent residents as the US does to some landed immigrants(ie. copy what the US is doing) simply defies logic, wouldn't you agree?

Peter Mtui said...

Dear Jeff,I like your sense of commitment in whatever you write,but then again you seem not to know what you want or stand for.You go deep in African issues and still claim Canadian PM as "our PM".All this TV channel stuff you talk about is in my mind a share waste of time,because you have to first understand how the whole American system works in order to grasp just a pinch of whats going on.There is a lot of confusion in the west on this regard you better stick to African issues.Let me also enlight you that I'm not in any way anti- west,but out of so much good there is also plenty of ills.Watch TV,read different books about Canada,gather all informations about Canada but do yourself a favor..Never try to be Patriotic!!.You will be disapointed!.By keeping a low profile you will excercize love for that country even longer.Patriotism will only feel you with grudge in the end.Jeff,its all brotherly love ,dont take it personal.Canada has everything it needs dont waste your time,Africa needs your emotional energy.

Jeff Msangi said...

Peter,
I love Africa,I am an African and will cherish dying an African.I wish I could just do what you suggests;forget everything about Western World like Canada and focus only on Africa.However,that remains a wish only because whether I agree or not,I live here,I work here and on top of all my kids are Canadian first before they are africans.They are born here and however bitter it may be to me,they are Canadian.So when I speak in a tone that reflects deep concerns towards Canada,I have lots of reasons and causes to do so.However,I remain a commited advocate of Africa,its people(including myself).I will never tire of exploring and presenting the truth about Africa in a way that will benefit both side.Thanks Peter

peter mtui said...

Hi Jeff,Its funny but somehow I begin to understand you.The point about your children made me feel not only guilty for what I said but also see the sense for your article.Thanks for taking time to explain in such a way that I could understand with my heart.Thanks Jeff,I guess you must be a deep hearted person.I'm really impressed with your whole approach.God Bless and greet your family for me.

Jeff Msangi said...

Thanks Peter.I will convey your greetings to my family.
Please drop me an email at jeffmsangi@sympatico.ca so that we can keep in touch.As you mentioned,you and I shares same vision towards Africa and what can be done after so many decades of wrongs.

nsonso said...

Jeff Msangi ya got good point, i live here in usa and i can say you are definitely right that it is hard to hear anything about canada here in usa, i have never been to canada but i heard the same story that canada is all americanized. sasa kaka msangi it all about canadians to start teaching their kids from kindergaten about their culture and stuff instead of letting them be like american kids, may be that is going to work out in a long run.

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