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McAfrika Burgers and the Third World

by Carol Norris

McDonald’s recently launched a new burger-in-a-pita product in Norway: The “McAfrika.”

And with this they have inadvertently created a brilliantly succinct metaphor for the increasingly blatant corporate takeover of the Earth – country by Mccountry, continent by Mccontinent. I wonder if McDonald’s, its arches a great, snapping, golden maw, gobbling up one country’s burger market share while digesting a bit of another continent’s culture, created this product to honor the 12 million Africans doing their best to stave off unspeakable famine, or to pay tribute to the millions dying of AIDS, or perhaps to give a nod to the ever-growing numbers left without clean, public drinking water. It’s tough to say.

And I thought Disney putting on an Electricland Parade in California during last year’s blackouts so that all of us Blackouters, intermittently bereft of electricity, could get a little glimpse of 20 foot tall, light-bulb covered bumblebees was a gauche juxtaposition. At least McDonalds had the decency to do it in Norway, away from all that unappetizing African suffering. Disney did it right here in California. But, nobody said a word about it as far as I can tell; unlike in Norway where some people like the Norwegian Red Cross and Norwegian Church Aid have seen the incongruity. These groups have confronted McDonald’s and met with its representatives to discuss the issue and the possibility of sharing proceeds of its sales with the aid agencies helping Africans. Nothing yet. Maybe you should go to McDonald’s website and email this suggestion to them.

Yes, yes, I know. See the cup half full. The McAfrika could be hailed as a celebration of Africa and the wonderful new possibilities it’s rich culture can offer the ingredient-locked hamburger. Africans should be happy and proud as they wait in line for their daily emergency protein biscuit. Maybe they will all be so full from the heaping dose of irony, they won’t even need it.

This is not an invective against McDonald’s. It just happens to be McDonald’s. It could just as easily be any other multinational corporation doing something similar. The only thing I can figure is that maybe the people at McDonald’s don’t know what is going on in Africa, just like the guy down the street from me who herds those three pesky cigarette butts off the sidewalk into the gutter for twenty-five minutes every day with increasingly precious water spewed from his garden hose doesn’t know there is a huge drought going on in the Southwest, not to mention the clean water crisis in developing countries and soon, perhaps, the world. Or just like my neighbor who uses a disposable bib on her kid and then cleans him up with disposable baby wipes and then changes his disposable diapers while using disposable mop covers to clean the mess on the floor and then afterward washes her face and hands with disposable ‘cleansing cloths’ says to me ‘it’s not like I’m throwing away plutonium, for chrissakes.’

So, I was thinking: as long as we are appropriating a little culture from large land masses, creating yummy burgers for corporate gain, I’d like to offer a few burger suggestions of my own:

McMexico Burger: Made in an American-owned factory relocated to Mexico. Includes a yummy GMO corn tortilla hand wrapped by Mexicans. Don’t worry, no unions allowed! And, you know what that means: lower labor standards and sub-living wages. And that equals dirt-cheap prices for you! Get yours while the burgers and the workers last! [Also affectionately known by some as the McNAFTA Burger.]

McVenezuela Burger: Delicious. But, you can only get it if you secretly abet the Venezuelan Rightist in line with you and he is able to successfully oust the democratically elected Shift Manager. [Limited to American government officials only.]

McDeveloping Country Burger: Basic burger. Comes with a $19, 6 oz. cup of newly privatized water. [Cup and debt relief sold separately and only for those who have proof of a World Bank/IMF-endorsed contract with a big water company. No exceptions.] Some of the only uncontaminated water left in the country!! Time limited offer. Offer while water supplies last. Bribes welcome.

McEvil Axis Burger: [Also called the McBrave New World Burger.] Includes an absolutely FREE Bonus Ingredient: Valium. Yep, just another idea American military chiefs here in the ole’ US are reportedly thinking about to mellow out the evil out there. Offer limited to large, hostile populations and certified evildoers only. Yes, the McJust as Evil Country, But Strategically Important and Therefore Our Friend Burger has the exact same ingredients as the McEvil Axis Burger. Sorry, but we’ve completely sold out.

McIraq Burger: Basically, just some flat bread dripping in lots and lots and lots of oil. All the other ingredients have been sanctioned. We know Westerners are just dying to sink their teeth into this one. Remember, Iraq reserves the right to refuse service to anyone.

McEngland Burger: Kinda bland. Special orders? We’ll take ’em, whatever you want. Just tell us what you want! Your loyalty is important to us! [This offer is limited to American power holders only.]

McUSA Burger: Offered only in the USofA. We use pasteurized beef! [Okay, alright, irradiated beef. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to. Whatever.] If your budget is tight and you only make $5.15 an hour, the federal minimum wage that congress has frozen for a while now, phone your congressperson and ask him/her to take you out to lunch. Because, unlike what they’ve done for you, they just voted themselves their yearly pay raise. They should all be pretty flush with cash. Soon to be made with 100% unadvertised, genetically modified ingredients. Yum! Comes with a side of beef-broth flavored vegetarian fries. Wrapped in a disposable, non-biodegradable American flag. But, really, order whatever you want, it’s a free country; nobody’s stopping you. Only be very, very careful to order things that are with us, not against us. Come to think of it, it doesn’t really matter what you order because with that new technology out of MIT that can falsify images, we can film you on our cameras and with a little digital alteration we can make it look exactly like you ordered an Extra-Large Weapon of Mass Destruction and a side of Anthrax.

Bon appetit!

McCarol McNorris is a freelance writer.

She can be contacted at


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