Letter to the editor
Student responds to Africa column
March 23, 2007
Why should we help? Africa is continents away. Not one minute of our busy lives is affected by their troubles. Or is it? Bono has made a point. Our generation will be remembered for three things: the Internet, terrorism and how we deal - or don’t deal - with Africa. By confronting the continent’s crisis, we will be helping ourselves as well as others. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be part of a generation that just decides to sit back and watch.
Guerilla militias and genocide are very big issues that come up when the continent of Africa is mentioned today. Many people, one being myself, do believe something needs to be done. It is not an easy task, but again, if we sit back and watch, we can pretty much guarantee that nothing will change. In the article, “There is no hope for Africa,” Kris Evans mentioned that many people believe we should step in and stop the killing, but says our intervention would only be a temporary fix.
Evans said, “...so we would be stuck there, holding the hands of a people who aren’t willing to help themselves.”
Mr. Evans, have you ever thought maybe these people can’t help themselves?
These guerilla militias aren’t this continent’s only problem. It struggles with a devastating AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty, unpayable national debt and an ineffective trade industry. More than 300 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa - nearly half the population - live on less than $1 a day. This number is expected to rise to 400 million by 2015 (World Bank).
“What really shows that the continent is screwed up is some countries DO have abundant natural resources and are still Third World nations,” says Evans.
You’re right, much of Africa has abundant natural resources, but much of Africa also has an unfair trading system.
Many farmers struggle to bring in any profits because the rich countries heavily protect their own markets against exports from the poorest countries through import duties and quotas. How is this continent supposed to overcome its debt when this is happening? It’s not that they aren’t educated or are unwilling to make a change. They just don’t have the opportunity. Africans have shown they can reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Debt relief and development assistance have shown they can be effective. Africa can be a prosperous continent, with our help.
To say that there is no hope for Africa and that as a continent it is a lost cause, is insulting to those who do volunteer and simply untrue. This issue isn’t about whether or not it is possible to put an end to it all. It is about a moral crisis and a test of our humanity.