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Rise Up and Walk

In July 2005, millions of people filled stadiums for the Live 8 concerts in support of Africa’s people. It was also for ordinary citizens that African leaders traveled to Scotland to meet the G-8 heads of state that summer. It was for these same people that the Jubilee 2000 campaign for debt relief was carried out by many individuals and organizations all over the world. And in St. Petersberg in July 2006, the G-8 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the ambitious goals they had set the year before, although they did not go further.

Nearly a year and a half on, there are signs of progress toward fulfilling the commitments to Africa’s development made by world leaders and committed campaigners. But it is fair to ask when a sustainable solution to Africa’s dehumanizing poverty will be found, not only by the G8 and the organizers of Live 8, but also by Africa’s leaders and people.

Africa is a paradox. It is one of the richest continents on the planet, endowed with oil, precious stones, forests, water, wildlife, soil, land, agricultural products, and millions of women and men. Yet most of Africa’s people remain impoverished. I continue to ask myself, “Why?”

One reason is that many Africans lack the knowledge, skills, tools, and the political will to create wealth from their resources. They are unable to add value to raw materials in order to sell processed goods in local and international markets and negotiate better prices and favorable trade rules. Another reason is that ordinary citizens suffer when debts are not cancelled, when financial assistance is not forthcoming, or when trade barriers are raised.