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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Africa needs attention

The western world likes to believe itself to be just, tolerant, and devoted to progress and freedom. In many cases, these beliefs are rightfully held.

But when it comes to Africa, these values seem to be compromised. In truth, the actions of the Western Europe and the United States in regard to Africa can be summarized as racist and selfish. It seems the problem runs deeply, and goes largely unnoticed.

Every continent (excluding Australia and Antarctica) is divided into countries which are recognized to have separate, unique national identities.

Africa, however, is viewed as a massive international problem child. To the west, the entire continent looks the same, and the picture most often associated with Africa is one of a hungry child.

Contrary to popular belief, Africa is made up of unique countries with rich cultural identities. Complex histories, languages and artwork make up a beautiful tapestry so often dismissed.

Perhaps if we saw the beauty in African history and modern day culture, and recognized unique, separate nations, we would be motivated to not allow their beauty to be lost.

Yet due to ignorance, the problems existing in Africa are often viewed through desensitized eyes. We view genocide and AIDS as self inflicted, distant, large scale, high cost and thus unworthy of our time and money.

What if we looked at our role in their history?

Somehow, historical figures like King Leopold II of Austria, who killed more people in Congo than were killed in World War I, are forgotten.

Following the end of political colonization of African countries, the modern world has turned to what could be referred to as economic colonization, and continued the tradition of exploitation.

The West has had a large hand in corruption of some African politicians, who in many cases are simply following the ruling methods of western leaders like Leopold; sucking away resources using the exploitative forms of control the western hemisphere has used.

If we accepted our role, historically and today, we may see our tremendous influence, and use it to support movement toward positive changes.

However, thus far in modern history, it seems we have not accepted this role, or seen the value of the African nations.

In Rwanda, after 800,000 slaughters, the end came only after the Tutsi army took over from its bases in Uganda. As the slow moving, devastating genocide took place, the west was busy turning a blind eye. The Clinton administration specifically avoided using the term “genocide” in press accounts and intelligence reports, because this word would have called for action.

Just three years later, the cross border attacks on refugee camps in Zaire brought another hands off stance from the US. Six years and 3.3 million deaths later, the atrocity had again gone unnoticed by the western world.

Now, in Sudan, the Sudanese army is supporting the Arab Janjaweed militias in genocide against the region’s black African population. Last week, the UN’s humanitarian chief Jan Egeland warned, “a man-made catastrophe of an unprecedented scale” is developing in Darfur. Yet, there will be no action.

In addition, there are currently 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa. These statistics would provoke international emergency status anywhere else in the world. Yet the international reaction to the crisis relative to the significance of the issue could only be described as negligent.

Africa doesn’t need the west to jump in and save the day. It needs us to recognize and support the positive efforts of African leaders, doctors and teachers who are working to better the lives of those around them. We can support them financially, but perhaps more importantly we can support them with our efforts to learn more, our voices and our votes.

Africa doesn’t need charity. It needs justice, and needs to be looked at as a beautiful, valuable equal.

Send comments to Katherine Kopkowski at [email protected].

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