Monday, October 23, 2006

Setting sail...

...for the Cape of Good Hope

Maybe Africa just isn’t ‘hot’. Who cares if Somalia is disintegrating by the day? Who cares that it is difficult to walk through parts of Darfur, Sudan, without stepping on dismembered limbs, split skulls and bits & pieces of the dead or the dying, and who cares if the beautiful green forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo are splattered everyday with the blood of more than a thousand people in a conflict that has claimed 4 million lives in less than a decade? Then again, who really cares if the World Health Organisation bleats plaintively that AIDS could wipe off almost a quarter of Africa’s beleaguered population?

Bet you didn’t see any of that getting past news about a war-mongering president, a paedophiliac Congressman and India’s brush with Hollywood in therapy either in print or on TV the past week. And why would you? Perhaps there just isn’t enough there to ‘oil’ the humanitarian machinery. Funny, how weapons of mass destruction demand more attention than just mere mass destruction.

It would not do for the world to forget about Africa as it gathers bone dust. From Sudan to Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to Liberia, it is the same story of mindless tribal violence, corrupt, despotic leadership, starvation and disease and general international apathy. It is a sad travesty of fate that the cradle of human evolution seems to have got little rewards for its labours. Africa seems both blessed and cursed with nature’s bounties. From ebola and elephants to fruits and famines, Africa had it all, and in plenty. Enslavement, civil war, genocides and horrific epidemics, the continent has endured all with the resilience of the very rocks that herald its presence. And yet, the ordeal persists.

Imperialism, freedom, democracy and dictatorship have all failed in most of Africa. It is almost as if the Continent has lost faith; faith in its ability to cope with challenges, faith in the ability of Africans to find solutions and faith in faith itself. Even in Kenya and some other relatively stable states, democracy and civil rights have been as ethereal as the morning mist in the Sahara. Christians and Muslims, Negroids and Arabs, tribes and clans, brutal rebels and ruthless governments, all routinely indulge in the orgies of mutual massacre.

Yet, it is faith and spirituality that could ultimately rescue Africa from the precipice of destruction, towards which the continent seems to be hurtling at breakneck speed. Not just individual or local faith in tradition (like Voodoo and other animistic beliefs) or other great religions, but a faith born out of spiritual awakening is rooted in the spirit of Africa. Whether the religion is adopted or indigenous isn’t as important as the fact that it has to connect with the African thought and then provide spiritual inspiration and direction, thus resulting in a concerted social and therefore political movement that will help Africa mature through democracy, economic growth and African brotherhood. Africa has bled enough. This suffering must end. The UN will do what it can, but it’s time you and I, dear reader got together to do our bit. Contribute funds, volunteer services to heroic organisations like Doctors Without Borders, and if there are other wounds that seek your healing touch, go ahead, tend to them first. But remember that our ivory towers will crumble, sooner than later, if the gale force of human suffering continues to beat against our door and the magnitude of Africa’s suffering is greatest of all. Africa needs a miracle and it is up to us to work it out.

A matter of choice

Triumph of good over evil is a thought visited very few times a year; during festivals, in between binge and bluster, when suddenly we can’t seem to recollect the reason to the fanciful fervour. That’s a statement we’re heard repeating to ourselves – and others – loud and clear. It doesn’t seem to matter at other times when we blithely turn a blind eye to the pursuit of evil or deferentially remain indifferent to its equivalent in the civilised world war.

It’s somewhat disappointing to note how, despite a-book-a-faith preaching about love and tolerance, greater curiosity lies with the 6th century treatise on warfare, penned by Sun Tzu. Chapters uniquely dedicated to the art of trouncing the enemy, The Art of War – having found followers in myriad fields – claims to not even mandate physical combat necessary in the craft. What match in comparison is The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm? Sublime thoughts on the human heart and its default settings of love and compassion, it is still looking to be picked by those other than the romantics. In Jimi Hendrix’s words, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”…


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