Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Think About Africa, Do You?

How often do you think about Africa?
Rainy seasons in South Sudan are very interesting and life giving. If you never knew, the home of natural environment in Africa and the future for the continent’s bread basket could be in South Sudan.
The sometimes inclined coverage of the unfortunate conflicts in the post independence South Sudan has without doubt cast a very dark shadow on the many positives that the country could offer.

Cassava farm in Hatire- Torit, South Sudan
It is however from the onset important to note that as international journalists and relief agencies eyes focus positively on the conflict and provide humanitarian support to a country that is emerging from a long civil war, the possibility that the rich environmental heritage that this country has stands at the highest risk of depletion should the rate at which trees are falling to the charcoal continue. The practice of burning bushes just before rainfall seasons does not help the germinating and young trees at all.

Back to my anecdote on rainy seasons in South Sudan; a downpour is always preceded by a high speed wind sometimes carrying dust with it. The usually heavy rain – especially in the Equatoria region and parts of Central South Sudan, fall against a background of high voltage lightning followed by shuttering thunder storms.  

I had a good adventurous opportunity to experience the heavy rain fall in a country perceived by many to be a desert. For two and a half years, beginning September 2011, I resided in different areas for capacity building programs for the local journalists working for the member radio stations of the South Sudan’s Catholic Radio Network. The network has 9 radio stations across the 10 states of South Sudan.

I have to admit that some assignments are just a calling because to work in some environment it calls for divine intervention and a lot of humility. Life in a tent in Rumbek was not my best considering the high temperatures in central South Sudan, but the sacrifice I had made to share my skills with a needy friend kept me going. The station director kept reminding me of the impact of my input to the community we were serving, as he encouraged me to soldier on even when the heat from the tension coming from xenophobic feeling and flushes of rejection kept threatening to heat harder.

Rainfall was also a source of hope and inspiration and when the rainfall stops in Rumbek insects and frogs take charge. The frogs are usually after the insects. One evening after a heavy downpour I got into my tent for some rest – a tent is usually cool and comfortable immediately after rain fall.  While on my bed and after a successful battle with the frogs that had sneaked into my tent, I took time to reflect about Africa and what it has on offer for Nicholas Waigwa, a son of the African soil.

My reflection was receiving a relaxing inspiration from the gift of nature, the insects that flew freely close to a bulb on the tent’s roof. As I continued with my reflection, a poem by David Diop, later translated by Ulli Beier, flushed in my mind.  My brother Felix and I rehearsed the poem, for the Magadi Division Music Festival during our date with Olkiramatian Primary School 22 years ago.

I must have forgotten much about what transpired after our rehearsal and how we performed, we may have not given our very best but what remains alive in my memory is how the poet inspired us to appreciate our continent Africa.

“……Africa, tell me, Africa, Is this you?
 this back that is bent?
This back that breaks under the weight of humiliation?
 This back trembling with red scars saying ‘yes’ to the whip under the midday sun?
.....a grave voice answers me:……,
That is Africa, your Africa, That grows again, patiently, obstinately as its fruit gradually acquires the bitter taste of liberty.”

Well, “As its fruit acquires the bitter taste of liberty” Would you say that the fruit of the tree (Africa) in reference here is gradually acquiring the bitter taste of liberty?

Perhaps the answer to this question will come from my articles in future, but as you reflect on these question, each year on May 25th Africa commemorates the 1963 founding of the Organization of Africa Unity.

The day also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the people and governments of Africa and to reaffirm the support of the United Nations for their efforts to build a better future.

In 2012 the theme of the Africa Day was "Africa and the Diaspora."  I would have gone for “Africa in the Diaspora”. 

The United Nation takes advantage of this day to reaffirm their support for the quest for a better future in Africa and to acknowledge the achievements of the peoples and governments of Africa. My suggestion would be that this reputable body should accelerate towards a “better now, towards a better future” in Africa.

The promise for a “Better future” in some Africa countries I am familiar with is gradually progressing towards a mare mirage like promise that may never live to be reached.

Cruci hill in Chukudum - Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan
In 2011 the Africa Day in Kenya took members of the country’s civil society to a venue in Nairobi’s Westlands area. At the event participants took time to reflect on the life and times of a renowned Pan— African activist and former Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign the late Dr. Tajudeen Abdul Raheem. May his soul rest in peace! His life was taken by the ugly ghost of accidents on Kenyan roads.

The National coordinator of the Kenya Debt Relief Network, Ms Wahu Kaara in her reflection observed that one question that the Late Dr. Tajudeen would ask would be “why is revolution in Africa happening without revolutionists?

The late pan African Activist is said to have wasted no moment or opportunity in triggering those that he interacted with in Africa and beyond to a discussion on maters that were very pertinent to Africa.

Revolution can be perceived from different points of view. I leave that to you but revolution in Africa cuts across all boundaries and is happening in all that defines Africa ranging from her rich culture, environment, politics and most glaring the technology revolution.

Is the revolution happening without revolutionists? Take time to think about Africa because …this is Africa, your Africa, growing again, patiently, obstinately as its fruit gradually acquires the bitter taste of liberty.
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