May 8th, 2013 1:25 PM UTC
By Jamie Drummond
Erik Charas is a campaigning journalist in Mozambique. He was recently arrested by local officials for asking government leaders difficult questions about shady deals done in Mozambique’s natural resources extraction sector.
Whether “Africa keeps its promise” to its people, the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Cape Town, depends in large part on how Mozambican and other African leaders respond to the probing questions asked by people like Erik.
The stakes could not be higher. Mozambique, like many other African nations across the continent, is discovering and developing vast natural resource reserves and untapping enormous amounts of resource wealth. Resource development offers a golden key to a much desired and heralded “economic transformation”. But the turning of this key depends on ensuring efficient and transparent management of resource revenues and the investment of these revenues into the continent’s physical and human infrastructure.
If Mozambique – like Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and others – gets this right, it could develop more rapidly and, above all, more inclusively, securing a prosperous future for all its citizens. These choices must be made now.
That is why ONE, along with its partners in the Publish What You Pay coalition, have been campaigning hard for transparency in the extractives sector in Europe and North America. We recently celebrated serious progress in this campaign as Europe agreed to mandatory reporting of payments by companies to governments in the extractives sector. It would be wonderful if African leaders now took this further and implemented legislation covering Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and other stock exchanges.
We are also supporting our partners in pushing for disclosure of “beneficial ownership” of dodgy shell companies – as lack of clarity around ownership facilitates hiding stolen assets and tax evasion – as well as technical assistance for African revenue authorities, and exchange of tax information conventions.
All these efforts can help authorities and citizens follow the money, and ensure funds hidden from revenue authorities in the murkier parts of the offshore system can be exposed, relocated and taxed accordingly. But it would be nonsense stopping at transparency only offshore.
Transparency of government budgets is equally important, from national to local level, so citizens can track resources and follow the money all the way to results where people live – kids immunised, educated, nourished, wells dug and working, electricity accessed even in remote rural areas, and small farmers properly supported and connected through farm-to-market roads.
With partners we are campaigning across these fronts so that African nations will have more domestic resources at their disposal, through increased revenue collection and economic growth, to invest in the continent’s infrastructure and meet all the promises African leaders have made to their citizens to end hunger, malnutrition, disease and extreme poverty, and to instead spread prosperity.
A new report from Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel on African natural resource governance, being launched this week at the World Economic Forum, lays out much of what must be done to help secure the revenues needed for development on the continent.
Its policy recommendations make clear that African nations should be legislating for transparency in the natural resources sector, and how governments can make better use of those revenues – by channelling them into infrastructure, job creation, health, nutrition and education. If this happens, then the 2 billion African citizens of 2050, and all global citizens around the world, who will by then be relying on Africa for economic and political dynamism and leadership, will look back upon this time – the 50th anniversary of the African Union, and maybe even this very 2013 meeting in Cape Town – as pivotal turning points in the continent’s history.
This way lies the future that leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu envisioned – that the twenty first century will be “the African century”. This way lies the realisation of the African Union’s own charter; of a resilient, vibrant Africa driven and determined by its own citizens.
This way also lies the realisation of Nelson Mandela’s dream – that this could be the generation to end extreme poverty and hunger. But the path towards such visionary progress wont be lit up if the Erik Charas’ of Africa are silenced and intimidated into not asking those probing, revealing, enlightening, questions.
Get the latest news and views from ONE at the World Economic Forum from tomorrow by following @ONECampaign on Twitter.
Mar 27th, 2013 5:20 PM UTC
By Katherine Lay
This week, the presidents of the world’s leading emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (known collectively as the BRICS) – are meeting in Durban for the annual BRICS summit.
The “Africanised Agenda” for this year’s summit, where the BRICS’ cooperation with Africa is under the spotlight, means that investment in extractive industries is a high priority on the agenda. And extraction of Africa’s oil, minerals and gas is where the national interests of each of the BRICS nations and those of African governments converge.
This is good news for the huge BRICS’ business delegations that have booked out Durban’s beachfront hotels. But it’s a source of concern for civil society coalitions, whose interaction with governments and the new BRICS business council has been limited by the worrying absence of any formal means of engagement.
Civil society’s concerns center on the veils of secrecy that still plague the extractives sectors of the BRICS – secrecy around corporate ownership, contracts and revenue flows. This secrecy is allowing phantom firms – anonymous “shell companies” created for the sole purpose of shifting profits across borders into low tax jurisdictions or havens – to rob citizens of the revenues to which they’re entitled. In addition, it’s a serious disincentive to foreign direct investment as few astute investors are willing to invest in opaque environments that offer no accurate accessible data with which to make decisions. And without information on what revenues governments are receiving from companies, how those revenues are invested, and what results they’re achieving, parliamentarians and citizens can’t hold government leaders accountable for the use of revenue that they’re managing on citizens’ behalf.
ONE is urging BRICS’ Finance Ministers to open up their extractive sectors. We’re calling on them to mandate all oil, gas and mining companies listed on the national stock exchanges of the BRICS countries to disclose their payments to governments in the countries in which they operate, and to publish the names of the people who ultimately own or control listed companies and their subsidiaries.
We’re calling on securities exchanges to put in place regulations to ensure that extractives companies submit country-by-country and project-by-project reports on their payments to governments in all operational jurisdictions, to align their reporting with open data standards, and to make this information publicly available online.
It makes good economic sense. Not only do disclosure regulations help improve investment climates, combat corruption and reduce tax evasion, their application by securities regulators can help improve the functioning and attractiveness of BRICS’ stock exchanges and draw more companies to list in these emerging financial centres. Harmonised rules and standards across the BRICS’ exchanges can help level the playing field, reduce corporate costs associated with following different practices in different jurisdictions, and lower reputational risks for companies should they be accused of bribery and fraud in host countries. Transparent reporting also strengthens companies’ social license to operate by making clear to host communities how much state and local level revenue companies are paying to extract resources.
And what responsible government would turn down the opportunity to improve collection of owed revenue and to better track the massive incoming and cross-border capital flows their countries’ resources are generating? It’s an essential step towards higher public savings and better domestic resource mobilisation for the BRICS and for all resource-rich countries. And it’s a golden key to securing the critical development finance needed to deliver public services to populations in need.
Feb 13th, 2013 10:11 AM UTC
By Katherine Lay
The annual African Mining Indaba is the world’s largest gathering of mining professionals. This year it brought 7500 investors, corporates, government officials, advocates and academics to Cape Town’s International Convention Centre for four days of discussion about the state of Africa’s mining sector.
While the customary deal-making happened on the sidelines, the walls of the conference halls resounded with some hard truths.
In a keynote address to the Indaba, South African activist and business leader Dr Mamphela Ramphele, told delegates that the benefits of mineral resources are simply not reaching the majority of the continent’s citizens.
Instead, they’re watching mining revenues vanishing into their national treasuries and waiting for development outcomes that don’t materialize. In South Africa, their discontent is exploding in wildcat labor strikes across the platinum belt. The country’s current challenges are a microcosm of a broader continental crisis that is showing no sign of resolution.
The issues are complex, but there is a common thread running through them: a deep distrust between stakeholders involved in the extraction and management of mineral resources, the labor forces working the mines, communities living in the environs of these mines, and the broader population.
The secrecy entrenched throughout the minerals supply chain is breeding a level of suspicion amongst stakeholders that is destabilizing the mining sector.
We know well the negative socio-political impact that mineral reserves can present to a region. In Africa, mineral revenues have, in the past, financed cycles of civil wars and left collapsed states with populations living in extreme poverty. Millions of displaced people in refugee camps, child soldiers kept from classrooms and forced to kill as no child ever should, generations of women subjected to the worst sexual violence under the brutality of militias desperate to hold onto gold fields and diamond pans.
It’s the most extraordinary paradox. States sitting on massive riches and profits exchanged between a few powerful hands while surrounding communities are barely able to feed themselves.
Some are speculating that an African Spring is near. Citizen anger at corrupt and secretive resource governance could very well trigger it. It’s essential that every African government and every company operating within African borders recognize this and acknowledge that responsible and transparent mineral extraction and revenue management offer a genuinely feasible solution.
The costs involved in transforming opaque management and reporting practices are miniscule compared to the alternatives: escalating labor strikes, operational shut-downs, investment withdrawal and crashing share prices.
This solution demands public disclosure by governments and mining companies of their fiscal audits, contracts and licenses. It demands mandatory reporting regulations governing the world’s major stock exchanges through legal instruments that require listed multi-national companies to publish their payments to foreign governments on a country- and project-specific basis, and commitment by major financial centers to harmonize disclosure rules in a way that ensures a transparent and accountable global mining sector.
It’s a solution that helps stabilize investment environments and builds more efficient public-private partnerships that are able to maintain high profit margins while enabling citizens to perform a much-needed oversight function.
It’s also at the heart of the Africa Mining Vision. Endorsed by the African Union as a roadmap to harness the continent’s mineral revenues for more sustainable human development, this vision’s realization hinges on action to institutionalize open and accountable mineral revenue management in every AU member state. Its success requires trust between governments, companies and civil society. This adds an even stronger urgency to Dr Ramphele’s message. The only antidote to the hostility and suspicion of actors with competing interests is more transparency in the way they seek to satisfy those interests.
Feb 4th, 2013 10:40 AM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Earlier this week, ONE met up with 30 of our Liberian members in Monrovia at a local watering hole called Tides, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. As I reported earlier, we have been in Monrovia the past week to engage the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 MDGs (HLP) during their meetings and consultations. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet with some of our members and hear their views on the issues affecting development in Liberia.
My colleague Edith Jibunoh, from ONE’s Washington, D.C., office, and I led the meet up. I started off by giving a brief history of ONE and our work around the world to promote Africa’s development. In particular, I focused on our campaigns to engage our African members on issues around the continent and how we work to influence the policies of select African governments and institutions.
Edith then spoke about this week in Liberia and its importance in the greater scheme of development. The HLP would be using this week to listen to the voices of people through civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector on what the next set of development goals should include. ONE also used this week to launch a new report — Open for Development — that would make the case for some key recommendations to improve the post-2015 agenda. We launched this report in partnership with Save the Children with HLP members, which Liberian President Sirleaf joined!
All this talk from Edith and me created some palpable enthusiasm from our members – so they began sharing their thoughts on how governments and partners (like the United States or European governments) could support development.
For me, it was an incredible learning experience. Our members shared their particular sectoral concerns — clean water, HIV/AIDS treatment, environmental sustainability and education were mentioned, with clean water reiterated many times. More importantly though, our members shared how development should be made more accountable. They want the goals applied to everyone, rich and poor. We must speak in peoples’ vernacular languages (while Liberia’s official language is English, I can attest that the vernacular creole or “simple English” can be difficult to understand!) because illiteracy is so high in a country like Liberia.
We have to use radio and other more traditional forms of media to reach people, which I’m proud to say we are already doing here at ONE in our “You Choose” campaign in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. There were even comments on the need to focus on better results and outcomes, which hits at the heart of our latest thinking here at ONE. You’d think these members were on ONE’s policy team!
Our ONE members in Liberia are incredibly astute. That was driven home to me when a member stood up and pointed out that amongst the 30 of us, they were the educated and relatively affluent in Liberia. The real voices ONE and the world need to hear are those not present and who carry the burden of these problems—and he pointed across the water to a beach where children were playing football in front of what appeared to be an endless see of tin-roofed shacks. My fellow ONE member couldn’t have said it better.
Feb 4th, 2013 10:26 AM UTC
By Nachilala Nkombo
This January, two years away from the expiry of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the post 2015 agenda has already created a buzz in Monrovia and Johannesburg. As Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf hosts the United Nations High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development framework this week, I was privileged to have joined an energetic group of ONE Africa staff, friends, partners and members at the launch of ONE’s new post-2015 SMS and social media campaign called “You Choose”. The main objective of this campaign is to engage Africans from all walks of life on what the new MDGs should focus on.
At the launch event Nigerian music star Dbanj told the audience that he joined ONE because he is passionate about engaging on how best to end poverty, he noted that the “YOU CHOOSE” Platforms provide opportunities for all to speak out so that barriers can be removed – or until they find their Jesus Christ! “We can make it, I am an example … Nigerian born, Nigerian made, Africa is more than what people think we are, we have more and have the opportunity to be more,” He said. He called onto the audience and his supporters to participate in this campaign that will influence their futures.
As Africa has close to 700 million mobile connections, the “You Choose” campaign will take advantage of this mobile revolution to enable millions of Africans to make themselves heard. Young people on the continent who are 24/7 on social media will be encouraged to add their voices in shaping the new MDGs through “You Choose”.
The campaign has already hit major airwaves in South Africa on SABC TV, SABC SAFM, SABC and Metro. All citizens need to do is submit their priority in a simple format via a free SMS or the web based platforms. Their priorities could be as simple as food, land, jobs, public transport, skills, hospitals, leadership, accountability, corruption or another critical issue. Today, a radio phone in caller named Bongi told other listeners on the SABC
Morning talk radio show in Johannesburg that leadership is critical in ensuring that ensure that the current and future MDGS are met. He cited how former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia inherited a country with only a few schools and colleges and no university. But within the first years of independence, he was able to establish a countrywide network of primary and secondary and a university. Bongi chose, and sent a free text to 30677.
What do you choose? To choose, send a text for free to 30677 if you are in South Africa or submit your issue at www.one.org/youchoose if you live elsewhere.
Unlike when the 2000 MDGs were created, the post-2015 MDGs process is seeking advice this time from citizens on what future MDGs should address when the current ones expire in 2015. ONE is working in partnership with 20-plus organisations and influentials that include the UN, civil society organisations, churches groups, radio stations and various media houses in rolling out this drive. ONE is particularly working closely with the UN My World team so as to ensure that the feedback collected through “You Choose “will be included in the meeting of the High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda to be held in March 2015 in Bali Indonesia.
ONE is thrilled that African icons such as Hugh Masekela, Dbanj, Lira, Benni McCarthy, Chris Katongo, HHP, have joined hands with “You Choose” to urge ordinary African citizens to join the call to action. Launches in Malawi and Zambia will follow on the 12th and 19th of February respectively.
In Zambia, the campaign will be backed by local celebrities that include former Big Brother Housemate, Mampi, singing sensation, Slap Dee and Zambia’s own TV producer Mary Magambo and one of the hip and hottest artists on the Zambian music scene Kachanana. In Malawi the campaign will be backed by Malawian stars Dan Lu, Bon Kalando. You Choose participants will have an option to join ONE so as to have opportunities to join current campaigns ONE is running on improving health and Agriculture investments in Africa. Remember to choose by texting for FREE 30667!
Jan 18th, 2013 9:44 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest blog post from Malaria No More.
Last summer the Confederation of African Football endorsed United Against Malaria partnership – of which Malaria No More is a key member – as a premier social cause of the most-followed events in Africa: the 2013 Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament.
The most revered champions of Africa’s best loved sport talking about malaria during Africa’s most watched public events? A captive audience of 6.6 billion people, most of them living in malaria-endemic Africa? What could be more captivating!
The biggest names in African football and the top political leaders in Africa’s malaria fight signed onto the campaign, and lent their time to record public messages about malaria for their African audience. These include five elite footballers and five African presidents, including football legends Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, and the first-ever female African head of state, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. TV, radio ads, and billboards were created which feature the players and presidents, targeting policy-makers and decision makers about investments in malaria programs, as well promoting calls-to-action with simple steps to prevent and treat malaria.
Didier Drogba’s Malaria Prevention PSA
To ensure these malaria messages are heard by football fanatics continent-wide, 10 pan-African TV/radio stations, including the biggest radio station in Africa and the official football tournament channel, advertisements in over 10 countries, and 75 billboards in more than 13 countries are helping get the job done.
In addition to the tremendous media support, the campaign launched at the African Union Summit to include more African Heads of State, and a TV spot about the campaign aired during the AFCON Draw and East Africa CECAFA tournament. During the AFCON games, the campaign will be included during AFCON half-times (when football fans are already tuned into watch their favorite footballers), in AFCON sportscasters’ dialogue during televised games, and at the AFCON Final Game’s closing ceremony?
Football stars in malaria prevention billboards around Africa
For Africa’s social media users, a 2-minute quiz is available on the United Against Malaria Facebook page for the chance to win Drogba-autographed swag, like a football or a jersey.
Dec 18th, 2012 3:36 PM UTC
By Mzwandile Sibanda
Is South Africa closer to the dream of becoming a Rainbow Nation 18 years post apartheid?
“The Day of Reconciliation” is a public holiday in South Africa held annually on 16 December. The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity
It is important to note that this day has historically been recognised by two opposing sides. On one hand, South Africans of Dutch descent commemorating the victory at the Battle of Blood River and on the other, the birth of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC).
So, before writing this post I asked around and received opinions from a few South Africans from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, about how they felt about the day and whether indeed they felt it was a reconciled country. I received a variety of views, but the common sentiment is that while South Africa can celebrate the tremendous progress achieved since the dark era of apartheid , this Rainbow nation still has some work to do on reconciling its citizens.
The scars and wounds of apartheid still run deep in this country, and despite best efforts and intentions, racial and socio-economic tension still grip parts of South Africa. Having said that, it has made impressive gains such as access to primary education, electricity and telecommunications.
However, it is important to remember that reconciliation as with democracy is a work in-progress and takes time more than anything, with all the effort and good intentions in the world never circumventing what time can do. We are now in eighteenth year of this beautiful country’s democracy and independence from minority rule, and yet the world and maybe South Africa itself, expect this country to be a model of “democracy” and reconciliation in Africa.
Is this a realistic expectation? It took Western Europe two World Wars, to achieve a measure of reconciliation and begin the building block of the European Union. It took almost one hundred years from end of the civil war and abolition of slavery until substantial gains in the civil rights movement were made and almost fifty years after that for America to have a President of colour. History has shown us that such milestones take time, and South Africa should not be treated any differently.
Rather than holding this country to unrealistic standards of reconciliation, we must celebrate the remarkable achievements it has made in such a short time. It is clear that the intentions of “the Day of Reconciliation” were good. This day should continue celebrating South Africa’s continuing achievements and gains toward a more equitable state.
TAGS: South Africa
Dec 5th, 2012 2:41 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
On the day we’ve announced the winner of the 2012 ONE Africa Award, we also look at our final runner-up, Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP). With two-and-a-half staff members RHAP has made a name for itself in South African policy and medical circles in less than two years.
Seeking an avenue for their voices to be heard, RuDASA (Rural Doctors Association of South Africa) and other medical associations devoted to rural healthcare joined together with leading NGOs and academic institutions to create the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) in 2009. Over the years, it had become increasingly apparent to these healthcare professionals that South Africa outright ignored or would not address healthcare specifically in rural settings. So they took it upon themselves to develop an initiative that would not only create and propose innovative policies for the government to consider implementing, but also begin to address the myriad problems that these practitioners and their patients face on a daily basis.
Since then, RHAP has been at the forefront of taking the data crunched by the Wits Centre for Rural Health on health outcomes and developing policies shaped by the NGO Section27’s vaunted legal tactics to South Africa’s Ministry of Health and other government bodies.
In its relatively short existence, it has become the leading voice for rural health policy that the government seeks out and to which it pays attention. RHAP also has the support and buy-in of the disparate healthcare practitioner’s organizations, including the rural doctors association, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and other healthcare workers’ groups.
RHAP has pioneered an approach by which it is able to score the South African government’s proposed policies on their ability to be implemented in a rural context. RHAP has also been adept at proposing solutions to South Africa’s crisis in adequately staffing its rural hospitalities and facilities, even proposing a revision to the government’s medical service officer personnel policy, which has already been implemented in Kwazulu-Natal province after deliberately building media attention on the issue.
RHAP has also become the de facto ombudsman and quasi-inspector general for rural health workers. Working for government-managed health facilities in rural settings often means that these workers feel pressure to not speak out on problems, whether those problems be drug shortages, poor management practices or missing funds. These workers can now raise their concerns with RHAP, who in turn then takes them directly to the provincial health ministry, the media or the national health ministry in order to find solutions that benefit the patients and rural workers.
RHAP’s core innovation is its “rural-proofing” assessment to which it has subjected South African government policy to score and then recommend changes. It developed the rural-proofing assessment by consulting with the rural health workers closely and also by studying health policies and outcomes from other countries. The credibility that this “rural-proofing” gives RHAP has allowed it to also take up thorny issues with the government that are brought to it by government health workers. Due to the political pressures that district and provincial health authorities feel, they tend to ignore or do not want to act on legitimate complaints and issues that could undermine their work. By involving RHAP, health workers are able to circumvent these politics and reduce any negative repercussions they could face by speaking out.
One other innovation that became readily apparent is that RHAP is not creating its own advocacy juggernaut. RHAP has been incredibly smart in zeroing in on rural health needs, developing its credibility on those, and then piggybacking on the health advocacy work of other community organisations and institutions to infuse a rural perspective that would ordinarily be lacking. In these resource-constrained times for South African’s NGO sector, this has proven hugely beneficial and has resulted in a very lean advocacy machine.
RHAP’s efforts directly address MDGs 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health) and 6 (fight HIV, malaria and other diseases). They envision a society where rural citizens are just as healthy as their fellow citizens in urban and suburban areas. We at ONE can’t wait to see that day.
Jul 19th, 2012 10:50 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Semhar Araia, the founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network, reflects on some of the lessons she learned from Nelson Mandela over the years.
“Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. I will return.” -Nelson Mandela
Every now and then, the world is given the chance to bear witness to life’s ultimate truths through the journey of a single person. From time to time, that person’s actions, his words and deeds, and his quest for a greater existence leave a lasting legacy with his community and his fellow countrymen. In the rarest of times, that person’s quest for peace, justice and equality resonates so deeply, it’s carried in the hearts and minds of every single man, woman and child on this earth.
This is what Nelson Mandela means to me.
For many Africans in the diaspora, Madiba’s life is an infinite source of lessons and teaching moments. His place in history affirms our place in the world as Black African global citizens, leaders and peacemakers. He is the definitive African example of leadership, good governance and diplomacy.
I’m grateful to have been alive as a young adult during South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a young democratic government. I remember going to anti-apartheid demonstrations with my mother in the mid-1980s. It was the earliest teaching I can remember seeing the collective responsibility we had in the diaspora to fight for justice, freedom and peace in Africa.
Because of Nelson Mandela, I learned about human rights from the African perspective. It was deeper than independence from our colonizers, this was about the right to move, associate, think, speak and contribute freely to your country’s well being so that you can have a better life. To me, Mandela’s life represents the essence of Africa’s freedom — the right of all people to be heard, to organize, to speak, to dissent and to live safely in peace and justice.
Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. -Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela reminds us of Africa’s ability to forgive and accept the other; to turn the struggle against the enemy into a partnership for coexistence. His message pushes us to look within and strive to be better so that we may genuinely serve others. Most importantly, he epitomizes the wisdom and willingness leaders must have to accept the transformational change each person is bound to go through.
Often times, many of us wonder what lies ahead for Africa and its people. We think about the continent’s fortunes and misfortunes, envisioning ways to forge a better path full of promise and progress for all. Ultimately, we hit the $64 million question –- what did Mandela do? How can we learn from him? Most importantly, what do we need to do to develop more leaders like him?
I call these questions my “Mandela Moments,” those undeniable, unshakable moments of relation and reflection where we review South Africa’s history and try to draw lessons from Mandela’s humble style of leadership and vision. Regardless of cause, country, value system or familiarity with Africa, nearly anyone’s challenge can somehow be resolved by looking back to see how Mandela faced a similar challenge.
Mandela Moments for Africa
Mandela’s life, all 94 years of it, reflect a remarkable period of one transition after another. Sixty-seven years of commitment to justice and peace took on many forms. From an organizer-turned-prisoner, to a political leader-turned-first black president, to a former leader and seasoned diplomat, his vision for a free, just and equal society never wavered. For Africa, there are many Mandela Moments we can learn from.
Peace is the greatest weapon for development that any person can have. -Nelson Mandela
On Peace & Conflict Resolution: Mandela is proof that peace is an ongoing process that exists long before, during and after the agreements are signed and awards are given. It is the common and genuine pursuit of a more equitable, just, forgiving and safe world with the other.
Peace survives when the people are willing to push for it and cultivate it with the enemy, regardless of the obstacles. Mandela showed us that peace cannot come from external forces or influence. It must originate from the individual, when the heart and mind are devoid of personal agendas, grievances or egos and fully committed to peace and coexistence. After this personal commitment, Mandela taught us that peace is achieved and sustained when enemies choose coexistence over war or insecurity. When they choose forgiveness and reconciliation along with calls for justice.
“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” -Nelson Mandela
On Leadership & Governance: We know by watching Mandela’s many years in the ANC, in his subsequent imprisonment and ultimately as the country’s first black president, that leadership and good governance must exist at all levels for systemic change.
Leadership must go beyond one person’s definition or party vision. Mandela’s willingness to work across party lines and sit with the enemy in the post-apartheid days was incredibly risky, human and forgiving. Many felt he had abandoned the struggle and gave in. His actions showed that real leadership is collaborative, collective and inclusive -– exactly the opposite of authoritative, corrupt or inflexible approaches. It is having steadfast focus on the common goal with forgiving flexibility, inclusiveness and the vision to adjust to human conditions.
On Development: For Black South Africans, apartheid represented more than an institutionalized form of racism and subjugation. Apartheid was also a life of systemic poverty, economic warfare, denial of basic human rights and massive suffering for millions of Black Africans.
Mandela saw the nexus between the people’s right to assemble and organize and enjoy full political and economic rights. The prosperity and freedom of one group depended on the prosperity and freedom of the other. He knew that government could not improve township living, or create jobs, or pursue long term national development if it did not recognize the right of Black labor unions, students, women, and other marginalized groups to assemble, participate and engage with government. Development, prosperity and the protection of all human rights were interconnected.
On Power: In my view, Mandela’s greatest act as president was the day he chose to step down. Not because he should have stepped aside, but because in that gesture, he displayed such vision and wisdom, which injected more faith in the country’s political process and system than it did in one man’s ability to lead. After one term, only five years, Mandela made way for his successors and focused on serving his country through civic life. He knew South Africa’s young life as a free country needed to breathe and grow. It needed new life with more focus on the next generation of leaders.
There are many more Mandela Moments to learn from, but on this Mandela Day, I hold these as perhaps the greatest lessons he’s taught me. The world is a much safer, loving and tolerant place because of Madiba. We are forever thankful.
Happy Birthday Madiba!
July 18, 2012
Semhar Araia is the founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network. She previously worked for The Elders, an organization founded by Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Graca Machel, Kofi Annan and ten other world leaders, from 2007 to 2008.
Apr 10th, 2012 10:48 AM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
This article first appeared on the ONE Africa Blog
Today ONE launches its most ambitious campaign yet – Thrive: Food, Farming, Future. In Africa, this follows our pilot campaign ‘Hungry No More’, which culminated in a petition delivered on 2nd March 2012 in Dar es Salaam to Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, signed by over 16,000 ONE members on the continent.
Millions of people die from hunger on the continent every year. In 2011, more than 30,000 children died in just three months due to the famine in the Horn of Africa alone. Millions more continue to be locked in the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. This year a staggering 178 million young children in the world will be stunted as a result of poor nutrition, their bodies and brains never fully recovering. The numbers are staggering.
A lot of the time we deal with symptoms of a deeper problem hoping it will go away. What we need is to deal with the root causes of hunger and poverty to make sure that these problems become history.
We need your voice to help us urge world leaders—African and donor governments alike—to put in place and fund well tested, costed and affordable plans for smart agriculture and nutrition. Thankfully, there is already, a growing realization in many African communities of the need to go back to farming in order to lift themselves out of poverty. A couple of weeks ago, ONE’s Africa Team had the opportunity to visit a community in KwaZulu Natal (a province in South Africa) where local subsistence farmers said that all they required was assistance from government with the simplest of things, like fencing, farming implements and extension services. For them, the future is in farming and farming is cooler than being jobless in the city. How really cool!
We also had the opportunity to speak with King Goodwill Zwelithini who called upon people in his kingdom to go back to farming and encouraged his chiefs as well as the government to assist people with this, while also calling upon African leaders to make agriculture a priority. Watch our short documentary here:
The onus is on us to collectively use our voices to urge our leaders to make this a priority because we CAN break the cycle of hunger and poverty and put an end to malnutrition for 15 million children, most of who are on our continent. Each one of us has a part to play in making our continent thrive, as we know it can.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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