• The idea that Africans are not fully human or even human is seen in the way aid is dispersed to the poor.
• Relevant and current studies report the dumping of substandard products in the global south by foreign industries.
A line in the novel A man of the People by Chinua Achebe reads “… has taken enough for the owner to notice”. It means while people would tolerate a little dishonesty, when one crosses the line they will not be forgiven.
Since February, Kenyan women have taken to social media to protest the quality of sanitary towels manufactured by Proctor and Gamble, through the hashtag #MyAlwaysExperience.
Many have described their experiences with the sanitary towels as unsavoury, suffering burns, rashes, itchiness, bad smell and discomfort, mostly owing to the products' plastic overlay.
It would seem the manufacturer makes quality affordable pads for Western countries and low quality pricier ones for the African market. On its part, Always Kenya has been adamant that it produces similar products across the globe.
Relevant and current studies report the dumping of substandard products in the global south by foreign industries. Products used by Africans are manufactured in the European Union as long as they are exported.
In most cases, these products are not approved for human use in their country of origin. To put it succinctly, “African quality/standard” products are not fit for the global north humans.
The atrocious practice of exporting highly substandard and poisonous products to Africa is symbolic of big business the world over: where profit is god and human life is rendered incidental.
Vitriolic denouncements of Africans as incorrigibly inferior continues to persist in the sanctioning of exploitation. The idea that Africans are not fully human or even human is even seen in the way aid is dispersed to the poor who, when blighted with hunger, will not turn up their nose to dog food.
This racist hyperbole has led to the impoverishment of third world countries by corporations in a hurtle to increase capital, raising serious ethical implications.
How else can one rationalise the sale of low quality, poisonous, substandard products to a particular race? There is enough research showing that Western-based pharmaceutical companies use third world countries as off-shore production and distribution sites.
Article 46 (1) of the Constitution clearly stipulates that consumers have the right to goods and services of reasonably quality and to get information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services. They have a right to the protection of their health, safety and economic interests and services; to compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services
The relevant oversight bodies need to be more vigilant to protect consumers by implementing the law. Consumers have a right to quality goods and redress where their rights have been violated.
Government policies, regulation and enforcement play a critical role in ensuring that only quality products reach consumers. This is done by preventing poor quality and falsified products from reaching the market, and prosecuting those responsible for manufacturing and selling substandard and counterfeit products.
There are several key elements to good government policy. First, there must be clear, efficient processes in place to approve products before they reach the market, from dossier evaluations to the inspection of manufacturing facilities.
Post-marketing surveillance is equally important to ensure that products maintain good quality throughout the supply chain. Secondly, there must be consistent and appropriate prosecution for violations.
For a start, all manufacturers of sanitary towels need to list the materials used in production as they do with other products. If we don’t enforce checks and measures to ensure consumer protection, do not be surprised when the owner finally notices that someone has taken enough.