Conclusion - Black Gold a Call to Fair Trade

Grant YDecember 2nd, 2008
By: Grant Y

(Page 4 of 4)

Black Gold emerges as a powerful film that dives deep into the little understood world of the coffee industry. The hero of the film is Tadesse Meskela, a solitary man on a mission to change not only the lives of his own co-op farmers, but farmers world-wide. On the other side, is raw greed, demonstrated through buyers, roasters, retailers and entire nations.

The film sends the message that changes can be made just with one cup of coffee. Every coffee drinker is a not only an active participant in the massive supply chain, but a responsible element. Meskela's hope is that if people can see and hear the plight of his farmers and farmers like them from around the world, viewers will be motivated to act. To remain willfully ignorant, is to become an actively contribute to the ongoing struggles not only in Ethiopia, but in the world.

Though the film doesn't come out outright in support for Fair Trade coffee, the message is unequivocal that it's a step in the right direction. Fair Trade is standard that sets a hard minimum price for commodities such as coffee. By doing so, farmers are able to guarantee that their crop is sold for a minimum price that enables them to not lose money, while receiving a better share for the crop they produce. The organization in charge of Fair Trade is TransFair, which not only certifies coffee, but other commodities like chocolate, sugar, rice, flowers, honey and spices.

Besides coffee, the other message that the film imparts is the wholesale effect of greed and the actions of the Western world; through vessels like the WTO and World Bank. In a poignant message at the end of the film, the directors tell us that over the last twenty years, Africa's share of world trade has fallen to 1%, but that if that figure doubled, it would generate $70 billion per year - five times the amount the continent receives in emergency aid.

The lasting message is that this isn't a film about where our coffee comes from or that Starbucks is evil. It's a poignant warning that hard working people, caring for their families and striving for an education, are completely at the mercy of intangible forces around them. If we do not recognize their peril, when our own purpose in life is so closely aligned, then we risk casting our own humanity aside like an empty cup of coffee.

PreviousPage 4 of 4
Tadesse Meskela explaining the price of coffee to his union farmers.
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