Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Africa Day: Does the international community care?

It may work if having an Africa Day means that all those who know little or nothing about Africa, at least once a year, get interested in the Continent

Well, how wonderful, Africa has a day. But how marvelous, this is going to help Mary solve her problems, in Uganda, the one who was gang raped by the mad followers of God, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army and whose psychological scars are far worse than her considerable physical ones.

Africa Day, well that's just great! Maybe now Samuel will finally get some drinking water at home in Zambia when he turns on the tap and maybe Wilda will not have to drop out of school next year in Tanzania to walk ten kilometers with a pitcher on her head, three times a day.

However important it is to have an Africa Day, is it going to help solve the problems of Mary, Samuel and Wilda? Maybe, but not because it is a day. It may work if the international community remembers that the African Continent is not a lost Continent, if the international Community, especially the ex-colonial powers and those who benefited from using Africa's natural resources without putting anything back, accept that they have a debt to Africa and its citizens.

It may work if having an Africa Day means that all those who know little or nothing about Africa, at least once a year, get interested in the Continent and its richest of cultures, its linguistic wealth, its history, peoples, art, customs, countryside, cuisine, a universe to discover and enjoy. From here, we will break down those barriers, the shadows of the unknown which give rise to racism and intolerance.

It may work if the international community shows good will and does something concrete towards accepting the African nations as full members of their community, on an equal footing. This means adopting commercial practices which do not benefit the western producer and hold down the producer from Africa, through a system of subsidies and tariffs, much heralded as diabolical in the WTO meetings (for going against the grain of free trading principles) but which are practised with gusto the moment the meetings have ended.

However the winds of change are today more than audible. The African Union, set up in 2002, NEPAD, the New Partnership for African Development, the Commission for Africa, appointed by Tony Blair, the fight against corruption, the accountability of those involved in partnerships whether in Africa or abroad, are all good examples. The President of the African Union, Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, has added to the spirit of commitment and responsibility by guaranteeing that corruption is stamped out in his own country and that good governance and the respect for the rule of law is adhered to in his region (cf. the Togo crisis).

We will have to wait and see if the present climate of goodwill will become reality or simply…another day, when the G8 meet at Gleneagles in Scotland, when the leaders of the world's most developed nations consider Tony Blair's proposal to help the African Continent, hopefully forgetting their own interests and remembering those of the potential giant they have been asked to discuss, and provide a future for, not just a day.

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