Africa’s time to shine is now

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, Member of the DA in the KZN Legislature:

Every year on 25 May we commemorate the signing of the OAU founding charter, the predecessor of the African Union.  Its charge is to combat challenges like poverty, conflict, disease and climate change while celebrating political freedom among the 53 member states that make up our beautiful continent.

Africa’s time to shine is now and South Africa can contribute so much to making the continent one of opportunity for its people.   We must up our game to become a regional engine of economic growth that can propel Africa forward.   Load shedding is leading to more job shedding – 600 000 in the first 3 months of this year reported on the news this morning!

Africa must deal with its challenges –

From Boko Harem’s attacks on women and children in Nigeria, to human trafficking to the killing of young students in Kenya – our continent is facing a scourge of terrorism of violent extremes.   These are criminals with financial means and they are well-resourced with weapons to prey on the innocent.   The Lords Liberation Army dominates the Great Lakes region including Mali and Somalia.

The trend seems to be that Africa’s mineral and human resources -and now its wildlife are up for grabs – as they were when the colonial powers feasted on her riches.

The arch enemy of Africa though is the recent xenophobic attacks on mainly African nationals living in South Africa – many of whom were seeking the opportunity of a better life.

This is an embarrassment for this country, and particularly our province

Historically, separation of people of different race, faiths, nationality or tribes has happened through the barrel of a gun, civil war or a coup, through legislation, as we experienced so painfully during Apartheid and through faith divisions creating suspicion and fear which ends in violence

These engineered separations make fertile ground for Xenophobia – a “them and us” scenario, I am better than you, this is my country – you don’t belong if you are different.

The main losers are the already disadvantaged poor whose chance at a free life, being treated fairly and looking forward to a bright future full of opportunity is made impossible.

In my favourite book, the Bible, Leviticus sets out directions from God on how to live for the folk recently freed from the slavery of Egypt.  There is a whole list of what not to do, but toward the end the exhortation comes to “Embrace the foreigner”. Not just tolerate or ignore, but embrace!  The whole of most faiths is grounded on the “Love one another” command.

I love this continent and believe it can become prosperous with South Africa a magnet for foreign investment and the engine for economic growth for Africa

From today let us follow simple wisdom from the Dali Llama –

There are two days you can do nothing about – yesterday and tomorrow.  So, today let us concentrate on our love for Africa and her children.   Reach out to each other in encouragement and affirmation, speak with respect, practice Ubuntu and show by our leadership that we believe Africa deserves a Free, Fair and Opportunity laden future.