Hi! Yes, Western World Speaking – Toni Agbede

“An elegantly-written prose-play, imagining a conversation between a rich country and one from the global South, ranging across injustice, development, responsibility and blame. Clever and thoughtful-provoking.” – Professor Michael Jacobs

Hi! Yes, Western World speaking.
What would you like to discuss?

The environment? Of course, I care about it a lot.
I’m glad you do as well.

Is that so?
How interesting.
I have some concerns of my own, you know.
I’ve been thinking of addressing your current state: rampant manufacturing, rapid population growth, and all the like.

No. My past is none of your concern.
The Revolution was necessary. It was for us.
And since our environment is suffering, you need to do your part.

What do you mean?
We’re connected, remember?
A boom in industry for me is a boom in industry for us.

But look at what all that production has achieved!

No. I’m not ‘blaming you,’ okay?
And I’m sorry if it comes across that way but you need to understand that what you’re doing is wrong.
I didn’t know back then.
Now you do.

I’m warning you, okay?
The world is ours.
If it’s polluted,
We’re all affected.
Why don’t you get that?
Global warming is a serious issue, and I just don’t think you’re capable of grasping that.
I’ve been meaning to ask for a while, do you even care?

How am I ‘villainising’ you?
No, seriously, explain it to me.
‘Cause all I’m doing is pointing out where you’re failing to act.

It’s my duty to correct your behaviour. Is that clear?
Your carbon dioxide emission levels are still utterly unacceptable.
I don’t want to, but I am going to insist on this.

No. Mine are none of your concern.
This is a problem that affects us.

No! I’m not saying don’t develop!
Look at what all my companies are doing for the economy!

Don’t worry about your workers.
They’ll all be benefiting from all this soon enough.
And anyway, a hard job is better than none, am I right?

No. It’s not ‘exploitation.’
How else are you supposed to grow?
I can’t just give you money.
You need to earn it.
This is supposed to help us survive, remember?

Firstly, don’t change the topic.
Secondly, I’m not even making that much off your products!
And thirdly, you couldn’t sell them to someone else.
So don’t even think about it.

I feel like your workers still get paid a decent amount!
(In your currency anyway.)

Nothing! I said nothing.

You know what?
If you really don’t want me then I’ll just leave.
There are plenty of other countries who want to develop just as much, if
not more than you do.
They’ll do business with me.
And where will that leave you?
Nowhere, with nothing.

‘I need this money!’ Then work for it!
Like I did.

Are you even listening to me?
Of course, these sanctions will do something!

‘But the core issues won’t be solved!’ Then fix them yourself.
I’m not a charity. I have charities.
And they’re working someplace else right now.

Focusing on you rather than all of you would send us spiralling towards further uneven development.
I thought we’d agree on that. Given how much you go on about ‘equality.’
Why are you so eager to develop, anyway?

So, you ‘can be like’ me?
It’s funny you say that.
Cause you can’t.
There’s a line between us.
Yes, I’ll admit I did draw it but
That doesn’t matter
You need to respect it.
We are not the same.
And could never be the same.

What do you mean?
Of course, we’re still working together on this!
After all, global warming affects all of us.

Come on, just look at our past!
Look at everything I’ve done for you!
You wouldn’t have even been able to speak to me like this if it weren’t for me.

I’m going to be honest, okay?
Even if you apologise, it wouldn’t be enough.
If you don’t clean up your act, and your streets, and your water, and our air,
I will make you.
We, the Western World, will make you.

I’m glad we spoke for once.
See you at the next summit, okay?
Take care!