Monday, January 08, 2007

Are We Cursed?

I like being logical. That, however, has not precluded me from being spiritual. As matter of fact, I believe that you cannot be logical and miss the essence of spirituality or spiritual realities. When science hits a wall and fails to provide answers to some burning questions of our generation, a light bulb has to come on in your head. There must be a higher being somewhere. I call that higher being God. Getting to understand and connecting with God is the highest level of enlightenment, trust me.

One of the burning questions in our generation, that is the African generation, is why the continent is still poor. The majority of human kinds out there understand the concept of progress and socio-economic development. Learned individuals have come up with the theories of development. Some societies have actually gone as far as implementing those theories. Given that Africans are not living in isolation, why can’t we learn and change? Why can’t Tanzania, for instance, make any meaningful progress?

I like to share ideas. Believe it or not, opening up and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the best way to learn. My thinking is not 100% superb all the time, but I understand my shortcomings when I hear what other people have to say.

I happened to have a dinner table conversation with a friend and a brother. Being Tanzanians, one of the topics that came up was a “comparative analysis” of Tanzania v. USA. The conversation entailed the six million dollar question – why is Tanzania still poor? Obviously, my brother; who recently moved to the US from Tanzania, believes that Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa is still poor because of the Europe and North America’s neo-colonialism tactics. Such tactics, he contended, include manipulation of the world market, investing in Africa under unfavorable terms, etc.

But then my brother dropped a bomb. He came up with the conclusion that the core issue facing people of the Negroid decent is purely spiritual. Briefly, the African problem is not mental, technical, scientific, but plainly a spiritual curse. He went to justify his argument by citing African-Americans in the United States who, generally speaking, are not doing any better than their relatives in the African continent.

For all y’all who are not Biblical scholars, the curse theory comes from a Biblical account. Briefly, the Bible tells us that of the Noah’s three sons; Ham, failed to cover his father’s nakedness and a result, got cursed. See Genesis 9: 20-27 .

Personally, I have trouble with this theory. For one, Ham was not particularly and specifically cursed, it was his son Canaan (see Genesis 9:25). The belief that the Negroid Africans are cursed is largely due to the belief that Africans are largely Hamitic, because Cushites (see Genesis 10:6) are thought to have lived where Ethiopia is today. This is my argument, and I believe most Biblical scholars will agree with me: even if the Cushites are truly Negroid Africans, the Bible tells us that Canaan and not Cush was cursed!

I truly believe that African problems are more attitudinal and cultural than spiritual. I am ruling out mental and intellectual reasons because it has not been proven that Caucasians, Latinos or Asians are more intelligent than Negroes. Let me speak to Tanzanians who claim to be Christians for a minute. Assuming the curse is truly there, Africans are not bound by the old covenant. If we have to make an assessment of the African situation from a Biblical perspective, Africans (gentiles) are under the New Testament (covenant)– the covenant of the blood of the Jesus. Besides, nowhere in the copy of my Bible it is written to conclusively contend that Africans are cursed. As such, Tanzanians must simply wake up from their deep slumber and take a very hard look at their own faces.

Tanzanians and other African countries must grow. The reason Europeans and North Americans treat us like kids is because we are act like kids (you can’t deny that, given that our presidents would rather boast of meeting a British president and not solving domestic issues). We come to the major league with minor league mentalities. If Tanzania is doing better than Malawi, for instance, it does not mean that we have mastered the game. The major league countries will still whoop us. Wearing a European suit does not give you a European thinking capability.

Citing a spiritual curse as the reason for the African poverty and pathetic social situation is a clear indication that we are missing the point. Just looking around the world today. One cannot fail to observe the fact that most materially prosperous societies are falling into a spiritual emptiness and a “curse” that is astounding. Values in the United State of America for instance, are becoming a foreign notion. One prominent American preacher once made this observation: Americans may look at African as a third world economically, but the reality is that Africa is the first world spiritually.

I guess it is all a matter of perspective.

My personal conviction is that Sub-Saharan African is not cursed. The continent has simply failed to define where it wants to go and how it wants to get there. The continent, in my point of view, has decided to resign in a corner and throw a pity party. At some point, we have to be hard on ourselves and institute accountability as part of our vocabulary. Curse or no curse, nobody progresses without being accountable. At some point, we have to separate imaginary curses from our own stupidity. The faster we realize that, the better we will become.

You are as big as your mental outlook.


Gillian said...

I agree totally that poverty in Africa has nothing at all to do with being cursed. God is just and loving and is goodness itself.

Poverty has many practical causes (lack of resources, poor health, etc) and it can be lifted by knowledge and loving support. Each of us has the power to contribute.

See my blog about the School of St Jude in Arusha that aims to Fight Poverty through Education. Keep it in your prayers as it provides a vehicle for God's love in the world.

Maiki said...

There is a relationship between the physical and the spiritual! What we see with our physical eyes are a manifestation of what is taking place in the spiritual realm. Our lives are determined, are shaped, are formed, by our thoughts. What’s on the outside is a manifestation of what’s on the inside. People who think about becoming lawyers become lawyers. People who think about becoming writers become writers. And people who think they can’t succeed, don’t. It’s a truth that’s been stated in the bible:
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

You can evaluate the quality of your thoughts simply by evaluating the quality of your life. If your life is bad, your thoughts are bad. Your thinking is too negative. Similarly, if your life is good, it’s because your thoughts are positive. Going back to our question: Are We Cursed? We escape by changing our thoughts. This must occur first. We must change our thinking, because remember, our thoughts are the reasons we’re in the position where we are to begin with. Once we change our thinking, our actions and behavior will reflect our thinking, as will our lives. Is there any way to change our way of thinking than through SALVATION? In this context, I take the definition of salvation to be - Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Eastern religions tend to stress self-help through individual discipline and practice, sometimes over the course of many lifetimes, though in Mahayana Buddhism bodhisattvas and certain buddhas may act as intervening divine agents. In Christianity, Jesus is the source of salvation and faith in his saving power is stressed. Islam emphasizes submission to God. Judaism posits collective salvation for the people of Israel. pointed out that you truly believed that one of Africa's problems was cultural. Here's my take - We have today what is often called “Cultural Blindness,” which indicates something that is done regularly within our culture, which may be almost universally endorsed as “good,” and yet which goes against the will of God. Cultural blindnesses occur because we believe that we have no jurisdiction over a specific area of life, such as abortion or equal rights for homo-sexuals, or witch-craft, or corruption. We may never encounter directly either of these evils but that does not mean that we can ignore that they occur in our society with alarming frequency. I believe that we will be judged for the things which we were able to do but did not do.

Jaduong Metty said...

@ Gillian,
Thanks for visiting and dropping your thoughts. Thanks for dedicating yourself to poverty eradication in Tanzania. May God continue blessing you.

Thanks for providing a deeper perspective. I agree with you that there is a connection between the physical and the spiritual. Thank you also for providing a verse that highlights the connection between our thought life and our physical life.

I must concur with you on the fact that in order for Tanzania and the African continent to move forward, we must change our thought process. I highlighted this fact in my previous blog post. A personal spiritual status has a significant part to play in one's prosperity, but the thought status also plays a greater role.

See, even the Bible talks about this concept of the "renewal of the mind". Apostle Paul must have seen that even salvation - which is a spiritual event - must be accompanied by a transformation in our mental outlook. Curse or no curse, your life is a reflection of your thought process. That is partly because our thought process leads to many choices that we make. And our choices lead to our failures or successes.

There are plenty of examples that shows that even folks who are "exempted" from this so-called curse who are acting even worse. Take the Lutheran Church in Tanzania, for instance. Why is this denomination plagued by chaos, despite being "Christians'? What about a heavily "spiritual" denomination such as the Assembly of God in Tanzania, which is also not spared? Some of the issues they fight about are not spiritual, but tied to their mental outlook.

I recently heard a story about a certain church in Zambia. There was this church in Zambia that was struggling. Their pastor happened to make a connection with a certain church in Columbus, Ohio. The Church in Columbus, out of their love, contributed about $100,000 to assist this church in Zambia. You can guess what happened. These poor souls in Zambia started fighting over the money, forgetting why they asked for the money in the first place!

If the spiritually "transformed" folks still act in a way that is no different from the rest of the world, then there must be something that is terribly wrong in their mental outlook.

Obviously, the Zambian church highlights the fact that despite "spiritual freedom", some folks are mentally good for nothing.

Patrick GK said...

Metty et al.,

I resoundingly echo your observations and conclusions on the question of whether we are cursed or not.

I'm inclined to believe that those who subscribe to such an excuse are not being sincere. I mean it is no different from the "what will be, will be" attitude which smacks of ignorance at best and irresponsibility at worst.

Before we can even think of moving forward we have got to change our mental outlook, we have got to stop shirking responsibility, we've got to start being accountable.

What irks me most is the fact that we, and by "we" I mean most Africans in general and Tanzanians in particular, know what we should be doing, but we are not doing it for whatever reason(s). Instead we are constantly looking for lame excuses and cheap blames to pin on wakoloni, mabeberu, curses and whatever else...

One example, if you've worked in Tanzania, you'll know what I mean. Skipping work, not pulling your weight, doing shoddy work and getting away with it, in most circles used to be considered(I hope this has changed) ujanja, you do that you actually become some hero(sic!). But if you're dilligent, put in hours, work hard, are punctual, you are considered mnoko, unataka sifa...

The amazing thing, well not so amazing actually, is that the same people when they come to the western world work their tails off and actually have something to show for it.

The bottomline is, until we decide to change our attitudes, we are going nowhere fast!

Anonymous said...

Please leave that "chakubanga" thinking aside, there is no curse, physical or spiritually. Africa is a large continent with different cultures and different religions. So that argument is highly selfish.

The point is yes, we have some issues left over from colonial period. No healing(deprogramming) has taken place, since we were tortured, raped, invalidated, stripped of every aspect of our dignity. We've been divided and conquerred, that has lead to self doubt and lack of confidence in our own endeavours. This fact can also be observed from all our people-brothers and sisters in Carribean, Latin America and the USA.

There is deep pyscholgical pain that has existed in our community, that went uncured. Like most of the soldiers that come back from the battle, have to go through a mandatory counselling and deprogramming in order to be able to function normal in a society, our community did not go through that after colonial period.

It is simple overlooked fact, but every victim of perpetrated violence only heals when they are pyschologically treated.

So what? one might ask, the Indians where colonized as well. True, but they were never slaved and it took them years to get off the block.

I know we have over played this hand.

Then there goes your answer, its a just matter of time, our generation and our kids generation, (that never went through what our parents and grand parents went through), will save the day.

After all, time heels all of us. That's one.

Two, is mostly what every one knows, corruption, incompetence, poor education, planning and organization skills, etc etc.

Yeah, there could be some cultural issues to, we still believe in uchawi for example, and my favourite one...a question of respect, I mean you can can't argue with your elder even though say in the middle of the sea and they are steering the ship in the wrong direction? Here in USA you can tell your elder boss to f*** off....

Yes, also your brother is right, westerners by and large control the market, so we have to play by their rules, which by most part we don't understand. Chinese and Indians have figure out the game, now see the white man crying.USA has debt in trillions of dollars owing to China, Japan and Taiwan.


Jaduong Metty said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

I agree that some of the issues that we're facing are due to the effects of colonialism. Nonetheless, I am convinced that our fathers fought the "mkoloni" off because they believed in their dignity and equality to the westerners.

I am sure we have failed to make progress over the years because we have failed to identify our own destiny. When I see folks still fighting in Ethiopia and Somalia today, I can't just help but wonder: what's wrong with us?

You pointed out healing, which comes with time. Man, it has been over 40 years since the British left Tanzania. How long do we need to "heal"? Does that explain our own irresponsibility despite billions of aid money that has flown to Tanzania alone?

I believe we should kick our own butts and stop shifting the blame. You know what? Every irresponsible person tries to witch-hunt. I strongly believe we got Tanzania where it is today ourselves, world trade manipulations or not.

Life is a game. We ought to come up with a game plan and thus far, it seems we have none. I am glad you mentioned India, China and Taiwan. Certainly, these folks came up with a game plan and it is working.

Guess what? China is next in exploiting Africa. Their tactis is less politically charged, but the take-over is eminent.

The question is: is anyone awake in Africa? Probably not, because our country could not even solve a little problems as power issues.

We are still a little league continent, unless we wake up and realize that it is time to apply our brains. No scientific evidence is there to prove that Africans are stupid. As such, our roadblock is our attitude, which stinks.

luihamu said...

Metty,good topic.You see most of us Africans believe that we are cursed why i dont know,most of us blame God for anything bad which may happen.If we want to go forward and be like the america and others we need to change the way we are living,and how are we going to dO that
1.Getting all the youths out of urban areas to rural areas.
2.Making sure that all the Leasure places like disco are closed down,all the bars are closed down.
3.Selling of all luxury vehicles.
4.Controling import trade and export trade.
5.Men must work for hours for the better of Africa,no time for stories.
6.Every individual should pay taxes to the goverment.
7.Education,better education.
We must have a goal,no making merry until Africa is Free and can depend on herself.

Anonymous said...

Why should every individual pay taxes to the government which misappropriates tax payers money?

Anonymous said...

The plan to wake up Africa sounds like a deal but the way you outlined makes it appear too vague. Let us be specific, the plan to wake up Tanzania sounds like a viable plan, but I doubt if you get all the youths from urban areas to rural areas what would they do in the rural areas? What kind of success would be achieved in the rural area that has no infrastructure to attract youths to strive for a better life?

You have a good idea but have not yet tried to convince people with the plan, come up with the plan please. Just focus on that first.

You can not close the disco clubs and bars as an effort to reduce poverty. Entertainment industry plays an important role in the social well being the people and it could motivate people by increasing their happiness and productivity. Some people find jobs through associating with others in clubs and bars. By closing out bars, you would be making grave mistakes, look at Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and tell me which stocks are actively traded and why? The SAB breweries stock dominates DSE right now. In Tanzania it is important for many people to continue driking and smoking if they choose to do so. If consumer spending in those things is eliminated, two major industries would be affected, many people would lose jobs and the economy would continue to sag.

On education, I give you thumbs up but what is your proposal for it?

Anonymous said...

Metty, there is no curse, a better plan, a better strategy, and better
implementation is what that is lacking among ourselves and our people, and our government. Once we all get started in coming up with those plans and take actions to implement our ideas things would not be the same. If we collectively become responsible for our own lives and establish some competencies or benchmarks we would be wherever we wanna be. There is no curse, we can not have a perfect achievement quickly in everything but eventually we will become a prosperous nation full of hopes and imaginations. It takes hard work, not just for one person, one leader, or one clan.
We can not develop by letting just very few people like Mengis, Bakhressas, Dewjis participate in wealth building. Get some confidence and go back to compete or beat those people in whatever they have done in the economy. If they played politics with the system to get wealth or worked harder just do the same and spread the wealth to others. You don`t wanna retire in a nursing home, so if you want to put Tanzania in better perspectives reach out to the communities and show them your plan, take actions instead of hiding in America or Europe for the sake of economic security, you have the security in your own hands and brains. Many have thought a lot about being servants in overseas for the rest of their lives. Apparently, it became a fallacy or a myth or false hopes that being in America or Europe is like a paradise, that is very untrue, Africa could be a better place to start and raise a family better than Europe or America. All media fiction you see in Africa is poverty and sickness let me tell you brother, poverty and sickness is everywhere and if there is a curse it is every where. There are too many homeless people in developed countries than in developing countries.

We need to thank God that Africa is not cursed.

luihamu said...

Africa is not cursed,africa is rich,africa is the black mans paradise,Africa for Africans.Now that we know Africa is poor,by the way who said Africa is poor? what are we going to do to eredicate poverty,hunger,war,aids and many others.We should know who support war,hunger in Africa coz this things are man made war,poverty hunger and many others.

We can not blame our leaders for our laziness,you just cant wake up in the morning and just sit under a tree the whole day(VIJIWE).How are we going to eradicate povery in Africa and still we have this VIJIWE everyday?we have to stop this vijiwe from existing.We need to make the youths realise that they have to work.The first step to take make all youths who are idles in town to pack and go back to the villages.The first step is AGRICULURE.AGRICULTURE is the only way out,if we sit and blame our leaders we will not go anyway,we need to work,kamata jembe sawasaw hamna mchezo.

Baadhi ya vitu ambavyo si vya lazima katika maisha ya mwafrika kama vile TELEVISION,DISCO,ALCOHOL,na kadhalika viwe na muda maalumu na siku maalumu Watu wote wawe shambani masaa zaidi ya kumi na mbili.Kama tuna siku maalumu ya kwenda kuabudu,kwanini tusiwe na siku maalamu ya kwenda katika starehe au bar?

Afrika isikubali kupokea misaada kutoka nje.Let us feel the pain so that we wake up and work.Let me ask you a simple question,will you give someone money or you will show him or her how to get money?Je utampa ndugu yako chakula kila siku au utamwonyesha jinsi ya kupata chakula kwa njia inayofaa?

Let us stop this habit of blaming God for everything.God has given us everything and he has even fovoured us.Look at the climate in Africa.we have no WINTER,SPRING and etc,so then why say that we are cursed?Africa is the richest place in the world but it has the poorest race in the world WHY?Tumekosea wapi?Nini cha kufanya?Tusiwalaumu tu viongozi,tubadilike na kuwa na mawazo tofauti.Metty what do you say?

Let us do a very simple experiment,if Africans Unite and we dont receive any more donation for five years and we work hard,si tutakuwa mbali.Tukiamuwa kuacha ulafi,ufisadi,vita,chuki tupendane Afrika itakuwa mbali sana.

We africans can not blame the rulling part for our own laziness,we can not blame God for our own laziness,we can not say we are cursed for our own laziness.

Mila na Desturi zetu zikowapi leo,matambiko yameishia wapi?babu zetu walikaa kwa amani,hakuna magonjwa,vita na kadhalika kwasababu walikuwa wameegemea katika MILA NA DESTURI ZA MTU MWEUSI.

Its funny when you hear someone telling you that iam civilised and globolised.Talk to youths and they will tell you,mimi ni mtandawazi na ninaishi maisha ya kileo,maisha gani?ya kuwa na redio kubwa,tv,suruali mlegezo na binti.

Africa we have to wake up now,we have no time to make merry and celebrate.

just take a good look,maandalizi ya harusi,wanakusanya milioni 6-10 kwa ajili ya kula na kunywa.

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Anonymous said...

SHAMBA hamna lolote bila mtaji mkubwa na soko la kueleweka, Africa haitasonga mbele kwa kilimo cha kizamani. Ninasema hivyo nikiwa na maana kwamba kilimo kinaweza kuinua hali za watu, lakini kilimo hicho hakina budi kuendeshwa kitaaluma,kibiashara, na kiteknolojia. Kila dala 100 inayowekezwa katika kilimo hicho izalishe si chini ya dala 400. Kwa mtaji huo wakulima watakuwa na hali nafuu. Vinginevyo kudanganyana tu, kulima pamba nilime mimi kuvaa midabwada nivae mimi! Shamba hilooo, tulimeje ili tujikwamue kiuchumi na kuwapeleka watoto wetu shule bila kukwama kulipa karo? Benki zipi zinzkopesha wakulima wa mazao ya chakula na mazao ya baishara?
Kama mtaji wa mkulima ni mkulima mwenyewe na jembe lake, kilimo cha namna hiyo kipigwe vita.

isibingo said...

this is was United states of america did... In the first peacetime year of 1946, federal spending still amounted to $62 billion, or 30% of GNP. Wartime spending and other measures were able to provide an enormous output. Between 1939 and 1944, the peak of wartime production, the nation's total output almost doubled. This, along with the conscription and removal of soldiers, meant that civilian unemployment plummeted—from 14% in 1940 to less than 2% in 1943 as the labor force grew by ten million. Millions of farmers left marginal operations, students quit school, and housewives returned to the labor force. The war economy was not run on the basis of free enterprise, but was the result of government/business cooperation, with government bankrolling business.

A major result of the full employment at high wages was a sharp, permanent decrease in the level of income inequality. The gap between rich and poor narrowed dramatically in the area of nutrition, because food rationing and price controls guaranteed a reasonably priced diet to everyone. Large families that had been poverty-stricken in the 1930s had four or five or more workers, and shot to the top one-third income bracket. Overtime made for huge paychecks in the munitions factories; white collar workers were fully employed too, but they did not receive overtime and their salary scale was no longer much higher than the blue collar wage scale.

Economist Robert Higgs (1987), argues that the War did not end the Great Depression. Rather, a return to normality after the war, as the government relaxed wage controls, price controls, capital controls, reduced tariffs and other trade barriers, and eliminated the rationing of goods and the relaxing of Federal control over American industries, ended it.

Mashala said...

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Anonymous said...

At individual level you can think you are cursed, at the national level there is no curse. There is a brighter future for hardworkers and smart people. There is also a brighter future for those who are disabled, if you are not disabled and think you are cursed, I feel you should blame your own judgement.

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Anonymous said...

If there is a very slow economic growth and inflation hikings in the east African region, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, it is not about the curse. There is no curse people, you just have to do the right things in the right way at the right tme and with the right people and tools. We may have different opinions but the truth will stay the same.

Anonymous said...

Is this the right thing to do when there is a budget deficit?? Just Go out and beg! is there a free lunch in capitalistic world? Analyze this kind of cooperation.

Tanzania, UK agree on continued cooperation

2007-01-19 09:51:06
By Guardian Reporter

The UK Government has said it will continue to extend targeted assistance to Tanzania to help the country enhance public sector and financial management reforms as well as strengthen democracy, and civil society capacity.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in official talks with President Jakaya Kikwete in London on Tuesday that the assistance would as usual focus on the improvement of private sector environment and access to financial services.

A joint statement issued in London yesterday said the latest UK support would be integrated with contributions from other development partners under the Joint Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST).

The strategy was signed last month and targets to increase the effectiveness of foreign aid in line with the international Paris Declaration of 2005.

In the same context, the UK has already committed ?105 million (262bn/-) in general budget support for Tanzanian for 2007/08.

The statement said this is an increase of over 15 per cent from the 2006/07 figure and would take the UK\'s overall programme of support for Tanzania to around ?400 million (1,000bn/-) for 2007-10.

Both governments consider budget support as the most effective model to back up Tanzania?s poverty reduction strategy, popularly known as MKUKUTA, which they see as allowing Tanzania to decide for itself how best to allocate resources and design, develop and implement the respective programmes.

Both the UK and Tanzania recognize the need for massive additional investment in health, water, rural development and related sectors to speed up development pace in the country, the statement said.

The UK, meanwhile, commended Tanzania for the strong progress made in the implementation of the Universal Primary Education, placing it on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of having all children complete primary school by 2015.

For its part, the Government of Tanzania welcomed the UK`s support in highlighting in the importance of achieving education for all and its commitment to help fund developing countries' long-term education plans to get every child to school.

The UK Government said it recognized the critical challenges faced by Tanzania in scaling up post-primary education and vocational training to increase the number of students graduating from primary school.

The two countries further agreed to continue working closely on international peace and security, just as they did in the United Nations Security Council in 2005 and last year.

The UK saluted President Kikwete's leadership in facilitating the peace processes in Burundi and the adoption of the Security Pact by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region last month.

`President Kikwete's offer of assistance to international peacekeeping in Lebanon and Darfur underscores Tanzania's commitment to working with the UK, the African Union and the wider international community, to support global peace-building,` noted the statement.

It added that both the UK and Tanzania have suffered the appalling effects of international terrorism on their own territory and both have important roles to play in international efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

The UK welcomed the Tanzanian Government's plan to establish a Counter-Terrorism Centre and expressed its readiness to provide technical assistance.

Besides direct support, the UK provides indirect assistance through its contributions to the European Commission, the United Nations, World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The UK has also been providing forensic intelligence training to the Tanzanian police.

SOURCE: Guardian

Comment on this article

Anonymous said...

262 billions shillings for what?

Anonymous said...

Kikwete?s London trip, though deemed by critics as one of his too many foreign excursions since ascendancy to the presidency, had secured Tanzania a 105 million pound (USD206.4m) budget support from the British government, an improvement on an original 90 million pound pledge.

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