tacks of polo shirts, Dock-ers pants and enough Gapcastoffs to start a storestuff the stalls of theKimironko Market on the out-skirts of Kigali.“Lacoste. Nike. Sean John,”a vendor calls out to no one inparticular. These are some ofthe only English words heknows.It’s a common scenethroughout sub-Saharan Africa,the world’s largest destinationfor used clothing — most ofwhich goes to brokers to besold in markets and streetstalls.In Rwanda, the poorestspend more than half theirclothing budgets on used itemsfrom the West, according to arecent Oxfam study. The rich-est spend about 20 per cent.Across all socio-economicgroups, there is a major shiftaway from traditional dress towestern fashions.What started as charitablehandouts to clothe the desper-ately poor in the 1960s hasturned into a billion-dollar-a-year industry.“We call the clothes ‘Viety’because the Americans gave tocharity after the Vietnam War,”says Thierry Shakya, 27, a fab-ric vendor at the market. “It’sshameful that people donatethese things [and] then we tryto sell them. … I guess every-body needs to make somemoney.”It works like this: People inrich countries, such as the U.S.,Germany, Canada and Bel-gium, donate used clothing tocharitable groups.From there, it is sold to tex-tile recycling plants, sorted,graded and put into 45- to 80-kilogram bales. Ones for Africaare generally sold for about$1.10 to $1.45 per kilogram.They then go to a develop-ing-country importer, who sellsthem to a local trader.“The biggest beneficiariesare the western charities, sincethey collect the clothing forfree, and then sell them. Every-one else along the chain mustpay for the clothing,” saysPietra Rivoli, author of
TheTravels of a T-shirt in the GlobalEconomy: An Economist Exam-ines the Markets, Power andPolitics of World Trade
.Mike Valente, a Universityof Victoria business professorwho studies globalization andsustainability, says there issome benefit to Africans buy-ing the cheap clothes.“Of course, those citizensthat lack the basic needs to sur-vive (while living on less than$2 a day) would likely benefitfrom purchasing apparel forsuch a low price,” he says.However, the cheap second-hand clothes sell for a fractionof the cost of locally madeclothing.And because of that, as wellas lower trade barriers,African textile and clothingindustries have been all butdestroyed, Valente says.“They end up being cheaplabour making clothes for theWest — similar to China — butcan’t produce for their owncountries,” he says.In the mid-’90s, 41 textileand clothing industries existedin the West African Economicand Monetary Union. By 2004,there were six.Oxfam says 80,000 jobs havebeen lost in the domestic tex-tile industry in the past 10years, citing an influx of cheapused and Asian clothing as amajor contributing cause.
TC reporter Sarah Petrescu wasin Africa as part of the Seeing theWorld through New Eyes fellow-ship for young journalists sup-ported by the Jack WebsterFoundation and CIDA.Find outwhat else she discovered atAfrican second-hand clothing mar-kets,on page C1.
Away From Her
Sarah Polley is queen of Genie Awards
Nutritious fast food
Make dinner now,serve it later
Alberta Tories score a big win
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New fleet of boats for UVic Sailing Club
DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST
Arel English and Erica Virtue work yesterday on one of six sailboats purchased by the University of Victoria Sailing Club and docked at the UVic Vikes Recreation Sailing Compound in Cadboro/GyroPark. The club bought the sailboats and a safety boat last month from the University of Washington. Club members have been raising money for the purchase since 2006. With their new fleet, theywill hold the inaugural Western Canada Cup, to be hosted in conjunction with the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. The regatta will take place May 10-11 in Cadboro Bay.
Homeless camping case makes it to court
Can a group of homelessactivists argue they have a con-stitutional right to sleep on thestreets? That was the questionfacing a B.C. Supreme Courtjudge as a legal challenge to theCity of Victoria’s anti-campingbylaw finally made it to courtyesterday.It’s been more than twoyears since the challenge waslaunched after a number ofpeople were arrested in Octo-ber 2005 for erecting tents inCridge Park, at the corner ofBlanshard and Bellevillestreets.Last September, the casebriefly made it to court whenthe city lost its bid to dismissthe challenge, but it won anadjournment to allow the Min-istry of Attorney General tojoin the case.Yesterday, Justice VictoriaGray heard arguments fromthe city, the province and thehomeless as part of a two-dayhearing on the ministry’s appli-cation to deny the constitu-tional challenge.Ministry lawyer VeronicaJackson argued that the casedoesn’t have a reasonablechance of success on constitu-tional grounds, pointing outthat the bylaw is meant toensure that parks and otherareas “are available for allmembers of the public toenjoy.”“The bylaw has generalapplications that apply toeverybody,” she said.She added that the casewould ultimately focus on whatsociety should do in terms offunding and programs for thehomeless, instead of just thecontent of the bylaw.Lawyer Guy McDannold,acting for the city, also arguedthat people aren’t banned fromsleeping outdoors.He said an amendment tothe bylaw in August — to omitthe word “loitering” — effec-tively removes the provisionagainst sleeping in publicplaces.But there are rules against“temporary abodes” such astents, large tarpaulins, boxesand other items, as well as theblocking of sidewalks orstreets, McDannold said.Catherine Boies Parker, oneof two lawyers representingthe homeless in the case, coun-tered that the bylaw “has adisproportionate impact onthe homeless and demeanstheir dignity.”Her case claims that thebylaw — even with the amend-ment from August — interfereswith homeless people’s securityof person, a right guaranteedunder the Charter of Rightsand Freedoms.“Our argument is that if youhave no place to go, you have aright to sleep in a public space… with some shelter from theelements.”She said constitutional argu-ments are key to the case sheis putting together with col-league Irene Faulkner.Arguments in the case con-tinue today in court. At issuefor the judge is whether thehomeless activists’ case hasmerit as a constitutional chal-lenge — she will not cast judg-ment on the bylaw, only onwhether the challenge can pro-ceed.Yesterday’s proceedingsattracted a handful of home-less people, including DavidJohnston.A baker by trade but home-less by conviction, Johnstonhas been arrested repeatedly,and even jailed, for his refusalto stop camping on public park-land, particularly the groundsof St. Ann’s Academy.His actions were the impe-tus for the group that campedat Cridge Park.
Judge must decide if constitutionalchallenge to city bylaw will proceed
BlackBerrys blossomdespite house rules
Now that the Victoria FlowerCount is officially over, it’s onwith another great capital citytradition — the annual Black-Berry Festival.We refer, of course, to thatspecial time of year whenreporters keep a running tallyof MLAs breaking the legisla-ture’s rules and using theirhand-held e-mail devices dur-ing question period.Normally, Speaker BillBarisoff tries to keep track ofthe rule-breakers, but he has aless-than-strategic post, seatedat the end of the chamber.Not so the press gallery,which peers down from aboveand yesterday observed fivegovernment MLAs — PremierGordon Campbell among them— checking their BlackBerrysduring QP. To be fair, SolicitorGeneral John Les just gave hisa quick peek, as opposed to,say, backbencher Val Roddick,who appeared mesmerized byhers for much of the 30-minutesession.The other offenders?Liberal backbenchers DaveHayer and Bill Bennett. Thelatter you’d think would steerclear of e-mails altogetherafter getting bumped fromcabinet last year for flaming aconstituent with a profanity-laced message.None of the BlackBerryFive was involved in answer-ing questions yesterday. Therule exists largely to preventpolitical staff outside the housefrom feeding answers to min-isters or questions to Opposi-tion members stuck inside.But Barisoff later con-firmed that nobody should beusing the devices during QP.In 2005, he reprimandedEnvironment Minister BarryPenner and Forests MinisterRich Coleman after the NDPspotted them using a Black-Berry.NDP house leader MikeFarnworth said yesterday thatit’s time for a refresher.“It’s clearly a violation ofthe rules of this chamber andthe Speaker needs to startenforcing it,” he said. “Inessence, the government cab-inet is cheating.”But Bennett is no longer incabinet and therefore notcalled upon during questionperiod. If he was using hisBlackBerry yesterday — andhe didn’t recall doing so — itwould only have been to getsome work done during thepartisan theatrics, he said.“Honestly, sometimes itgets a little tedious.”
Old clothes get new life in Third World
SARAH PETRESCU, TIMES COLONIST
The Kimironko Market on theoutskirts of Kigali is wherelocals go to buy fresh fruit, meatand “Viety” — their word forused clothing from the westernworld. Clothing donated tocharities in Canada and otherdeveloped countries is sold bythe kilogram for resale in mar-kets such as this.
Castoffs from developed nations provide cheapclothing for Africans.But charity has a downside:African manufacturers can’t compete,TC reporter
writes from Kigali,Rwanda.