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Show true African solidarity

Josh Moore | Sunday, November 23, 2003

I would like to commend the Notre Dame Interfaith student group for their inspiring prayer meeting “Pray with Africa,” held on Nov. 19. Students responding to Pope John Paul II’s call for solidarity with Africa gathered to honor and pray for their brothers and sisters in Africa, not in charity but in solidarity. Song, prayer and a small collection to alleviate the overwhelming foreign debt that ties the hands of African countries were followed by a scripture reading and reflection by Camlus Omogo, a graduate student from Kenya.Omogo’s well-crafted sermon illustrated how the Bible’s story of Sam, whose hospitality and generosity toward his guests was returned with cruelty and back stabbing, gives us insight into Africa’s relation with the West. After being plundered by conquest and colonialism, Omogo related Africa is like a late-comer to a game of monopoly where, though the other players have a head start and have bought most the property on the board, Africa is expected to play by the same rules.What Africa needs, Omogo surmised, is not a helping hand, but simply a chance to flourish, free of the restrictions and interventions that have stymied development. Small arms flowing into Africa from the West are fueling violence and killing. Strategies to relieve the suffering of the 70 percent of the world’s HIV positive people living in Africa are hamstrung by patent laws. Working in partnership with Africa means recognizing its vulnerable position in the global market place, according to Omogo.Africa’s future depends on a self-reliant civil society of non-governmental organization and religious and community-based organizations that can build consensus and harmony between disparate groups. One of the most useful ways the West can work in solidarity with Africa is to help provide a stable forum for that debate to occur. This means listening to Africa – respecting African values, perspectives, hopes and grievances.Let us continue to pray with Africa, but let us not neglect our history of meeting African hospitality with cruelty and profiteering. Let us listen to Africa and be a force for unity, not division, a force for peace rather than violence, a force for development rather than increased poverty. This would be a more true expression of solidarity.

Josh Mooregraduate studentoff-campusNov. 23