There is a story about Africa that is all too familiar for anyone who reads international news: the sorry tale of a still largely “dark continent” with horrendous poverty caused by out-of-control population growth and attended by high infant and maternal mortality, all stoked by political corruption and tribal and religious wars… You know how it goes. And while there are germs of truth in it, this story is also warped by myopic westerners with their own crabbed agendas for the world.
But there is another story about Africa, an optimistic story, and I am delighted to inform you that this week MercatorNet has launched a blog dedicated to telling it. The blog is called Harambee, which means “pulling together” and it’s edited by Eugene Ohu a Nigerian freelance journalist with a colourful CV. I can’t do better than quote him on the vision behind this venture:
Africa has more than one story. When we get to know it well and completely, we surprisingly discover a continent that is big, joyful, generous, enthusiastic and optimistic. It is today the darling of many foreign investors, and the world's superpowers are competing to lay first claim to it, not now as lords as in times past, but with a desire to be first to be regarded Africa's friends. So much has it grown in many facets, economy included, that it portends hope for many peoples.
A one-word Ibo proverb “Nkoli” loosely translates to “tell your own story”. Harambee blog sets out to contribute local brush strokes to build the real story about Africa told by Africans themselves.
There is much hope Africa can offer the rest of the world; from its love of life and family, to the heroic examples of people who have withstood great odds with a smile on their lips, and great stories of innovation achieved with limited resources.
I urge you to read Harambee and comment and -- especially if you are one the hundreds of Africans who frequent our website -- seize the opportunity to send in your own news and reflections. This is your chance to sound off about the Africa you know and love.
One of those “heroic examples” that Eugene talks about is the subject of a post on the blog today. Margaret Ogola, who died last year of cancer after an all to short life packed with service to her family, to Kenya and to the world at large, is one of MercatorNet’s heroines. She has had a fourth book published posthumously this week which is reviewed on our front page by Tom Odhiambo. My appetite has been whetted and I am hoping to get hold of it, perhaps electronically.
Just a quick mention of other new articles now: there’s my piece on Queen Beatrix stepping down from the Dutch throne; Densye O’Leary finds that the principle of subsidiarity could have stopped a spat over cats going to court (sorry, cats seems to have a way of insinuating themselves into my newsletters); Karl Stephan says universities have work harder to stop cheating; and George Friedman writes on North Korea -- there doesn’t seem to be much else one can do about that strange and sad place.
The blogs are humming again -- a special mention for Tiger Print and Katie Hinderer’s post on the weird and not very wonderful world of New Adult books. (“New Adult” seems to be a term for high school girls. How odd.)