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"Why Is Africa Poor?"

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Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009
"Why," the BBC asks, "is Africa poor?”

It can’t get no more personal than this. I am sitting here, listening to streaming radio, writing on my laptop, with full WIFI coverage. Crickets and croakers in the background—someone speeds by in their boat—the motor roars. It’s 1:30 AM, and one wonders why these boys are speeding by?


I look out at the house nearest by, and it’s my uncle over there with his wife. His mother lived here, grew up here; and we are all here because he had the courage, and foresight, to genuinely, stake out a place on his ancestors’ location. They were poor- and so are we, by many measures—but poverty was never part of the equation.


We were wealthy—wealth, of course, measured right! Wealth measured by cash and shown in ostentatiousness is vulgar. Why is Africa poor? Ask yourself.
  
“Measure ‘em right” sources like Loraine Hansberry’s character Lena Younger:


You make sure that
you done taken into account…
...the hills and the valleys
he’s come through…
...to get to wherever he is


These are what sources also say. I sit here, in my relative comfort, measuring Africa the same way. People keep giving Africa money and yet Africa, by many measures, is poor.


People keep giving Africa their hearts, and Africans are rich. We’re so Black, and this pride is sometimes read as arrogance, to the undiscerning eye. Why is Africa so poor? In Phenomenal Woman, daughter of her Diaspora, poet laureate Maya Angelou,  answers:


It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.


Yet, we know our beauty is more than the actual cocoa in our skin. Beauty is only skin-deep. Africans are rich, and each one of us has own reasons why. My story could be in Port Harcourt, or taking place in Wetumpka, Alabama on the outskirts of Montgomery.


Be it the seat of human rights, or the seat of civil rights the, the fights over class exploitation, usurpation of resources, the human need to survive, and the humanitarian will to reconcile cannot be denied. The Delta peoples pay for our global oil consumption with their lives and livelihoods, the way that those in Montgomery have paid with theirs.


In the rest of Africa, including her vast Diaspora, each one must teach one; this way global wealth will celebrate all. Peace to my peeps in the Delta.


“A golden opportunity,” says Somali president regarding his meeting with Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton. Her husband has just negotiated the freedom of two of America’s citizens from a hostile nation. This was done on his personal accord and former president Clinton’s efforts were effective and reconciliatory.


As Secretary Clinton, on envoy for the Obama government, is necessarily on a mission of peace, and this is at its most sincere ever from this nation. Jesse Jackson was one of the last private citizens to so effectively negotiate peace on behalf of unarmed citizens caught up in the adages, tempos and bravados of governments. Why is Africa poor?


President Obama’s envoy is headed to Africa to listen- and that’s what’s up. Even politically, one can see that the crickets and the croakers under a full moon summer night, anti-ostentatious spending, but spending on genuine wealth, health, and spirit of the people. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. All begins with forgiving oneself- we are one. Why is Africa poor? Ask yourself. It can’t get no more personal than this.

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