Africa Day: Celebrate it with hard work

African Union

African Union

May is Africa Month; so declared to celebrate the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963, although, this organisation was disbanded by former President Thabo Mbeki in 2002, and then reformed as the African Union. The saying goes, ‘a rose by any name would still smell as sweet‘. Or would it? Does this organisation really have to power to change the destiny of this continent and it’s people?

The leaders of tomorrow?

The leaders of tomorrow?

Being an African, and a part of a new generation of South Africans, I am forced to look north towards the rest of the continent, and wonder if it will ever rise out of the misery and sadness that keeps it from really being a part of the world community.

But at the same time I have this terrible problem of being an optimist by nature; I have this faith that this is Africa’s century. A time to be nurtured from within. Really making a go for it!

The colours of Mali

The colours of Mali

I am not saying that in order to join the international community this continent should be run in the same way – I don’t think that is possible. But when will the day come that Africa is able to look after its own people; listen to them; provide them with hope for the future; and ensure that its voice is heard and respected, both internally and externally, as an equal contributor, to who we are as people? I have hope that I will still see it in my life time.

I was sent a very interesting study conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Baird CMC that has just been released, titled The Conversation Behind Closed Doors (download Part 1 here), in which corporate America was asked how they really viewed Africa. Conducted during 2008, conversations were had as to how corporate America sees Africa, and why it is still reluctant to invest on a continent which is so rich in natural and human resources.

Why invest in Africa?

Why invest in Africa?

There are some interesting points, though a number that we are mostly aware of, but have little control over – that’s you and I, the man/woman in the street.

Some influencing factors include the Rule of Law, in corporate, societal and criminal spheres; risks versus rewards; supportive business frameworks; and a welcoming environment where people are provided with better education and health services to potential workforces.

I am no expert in African affairs. I read what most people read, and then some. I have to rely on clever people, people who have studied the subject, and who claim to really know what they are talking about, to gain some insight into Africa’s problems. So I love it when I hear a voice stand out above the noise. A voice that might go against the grain, but still makes sense to me. The voice of someone who is fighting to be a part of this continents future.

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo (pictured right) is just such a voice. This Zambian has studied at all the right places; she’s worked in the right sphere of industry to understand what she is talking about, and so I’d like to listen to more of what she has to say.

Right now she’s saying that the world needs to cut foreign aid to Africa for non-humanitarian issues; and if it is necessary, ensure that it is provided directly where it is needed. Otherwise, invest on an equal basis with the aim of making a profit, but also ensuring that the necessary skills and infrastructure is created, so that the investor will not just leech and leave!

Dambisa was asked, “So why do Western countries keep on giving (Aid) if it doesn’t help?”

Village life in Africa

Village life in Africa

“The cynical answer is: because it distracts attention from the trade barriers they have erected in order to protect employment in the West. These trade barriers cost Africa an estimated 500 billion dollars every year. That’s ten times the amount Africa is given in development aid. And because they secretly don’t believe that Africa is ever going to pull it together. They feel sorry for the Africans. So they buy themselves a conscience.” Hmmm, I thought. Pretty direct!

Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, is provocative, shocking, brutally honest, and brandishes some very harsh facts indeed. It’s not the first time these things have been said, but this time it’s an African who is saying it. Perhaps it’s time to sit up and listen. (News.Scotsman.com)

If I read through The Conversation Behind Closed Doors, and I listen to the videos I have found of Dambisa, I see the same message: Africa needs to ensure that it is a fertile place for foreign investors to want to come and create profit that benefits all parties. It is time for a fairness in trade, and the ending of the ‘sterotypification’ of Africa as a place of no hope.

High index values, indicated by lighter colors, show   the relative poverty of African countries as ranked by the UNDP's 2004 list of countries by quality of life.

High index values, indicated by lighter colors, show the relative poverty of African countries as ranked by the UNDP's 2004 list of countries by quality of life.

Yes, poverty has risen at an alarming rate, but aid has probably stunted Africa’s growth, and as Dambisa says, I mainly enriching a select few. The giving of billions and billions of Dollars in Aid is a sure way of fueling corruption, and most of us can imagine that very little reaches the intended people. So it is up to our governments, those chosen by us, to ensure that we enrich the soil of this continent, for investment, by creating faith in the international community, that Africa has the ability, and the will, to shine.

Recent research claims that a single African tribe of around 200 people crossed the Red Sea about 70,000 years ago, and is responsible for the existence of the entire human race outside Africa. I am going to say that again, just in case you thought your eyes were playing tricks with your mind.

We aren't so different after all

We aren't so different after all

Recent research claims that a single African tribe of around 200 people crossed the Red Sea about 70,000 years ago, and is responsible for the existence of the entire human race outside Africa.

There are 14 ancestral populations within Africa, only one survived outside of this continent, and to illustrate this I found an awesome map of the journey of ‘man’ on the Bradshaw Foundation website, in conjunction with geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer from Oxford University.

Africa is as much a part of this world as any other continent, and it is time that she is included as an equal. For too long she was stripped of her dignity; for too long wars have raged amongst her people; and for too long has she cried about her colonial past. It is time for her to change.

Marcela Goute under English oaks in 2001

Marcela Goute under English oaks in 2001

To celebrate this, I thought I would end off with some remixed music from a San clan (Omaheke Region, Namibia), whose ancestors genes predate the genetic changes of the rest of the human population, making them a “genetic Adam” and therefore an ancestral group that is different to the rest of the world. From the album Sanscapes 2 (ElectricMELT MZA001), this video was created by Dick Jewell, and shows nicely how although the music of the San (Bushmen) of the Kalahari may seem to be from a different world, we can all dance to the same tune.

I hope that the African Union can work; will work; and can dance to a positive tune. I want to see governments working for the people. I hope that business leaders can create a climate of growth that attracts fair investment. And I cherish the oppurtunity of being able to be a part of it’s future – but we all have to work hard at it, where-ever we are across this beautiful world.

Happy Africa Day folks.

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3 Responses to “Africa Day: Celebrate it with hard work”

  1. […] best way to celebrate Africa Day is through hard work, writes the Root Cause: Being an African, and a part of a new generation of South Africans, I am forced to look north […]

  2. […] best way to celebrate Africa Day is through hard work, writes the Root Cause: Being an African, and a part of a new generation of South Africans, I am forced to look north […]

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