Many times I hear that I am fighting a losing battle here in the US trying to get people to care about providing access to basic healthcare in Africa because ‘Africans’ don’t care. I am told that the African people who I am trying to help are not at all trying to help themselves, so why do I bother? Now you see this claim could not be more bogus. Just looking back at the history of African action in the news media it is easy to see that ‘Africans’ care. Recently I came across a WireTap article on African Activism which provides numerous examples of people in Africa working towards progress.
The WireTap article highlights pushes towards democracy in Senegal and the use of hip hop to involve more people in the February 2007 presidential elections, especially involvement of young people. The article goes on to note other youth-led activist organizations working across Africa. In Bling: A Planet Rock, GenerationEngage working with the UNDP, a set of screening were made to bring light to American MTV hip hop’s focus on diamonds and the detrimental effect on Sierra Leone and other countries where ‘conflict diamonds’ are mined. This is very much linked to the youth of Sierra Leone and American in that American youth promote the hip hop culture and the youth in Sierra Leone are affected by it.
In Cape Town, South Africa a youth development organisation uses the performing arts to teach the youth about cross-cultural understanding, leadership and non-violent conflict resolution. Named City at Peace the organization puts on workshops and trainings that allow youth to build dialogue in a diverse atmosphere. “participants are trained in leadership for social change as well as artistic training in drama, dance and music. They are required to create an original production based on the stories of their lives, which will tour around the city, and they will have to use the material of that production to initiate community change projects in their homes, schools and communities.”
Liberia’s Save My Future Foundation works to fight the impact of the Firestone rubber company and the effects of the civil war on youth in the country. The organization wants to end the tensions between groups and work to protect the environment as well as human rights.
Here is an interesting link to the blog of a Skoll Foundation (SocialEdge) Fellow working on grassroots initiatives for social change in Sierra Leone. Alyson will be stationed for a year in the country and her blog will attempt to tell of both struggles and successes.