The world is still in awe of the historical elections that took place on November 4th 2008, when the first coloured man ever was elected president of the United States of America. According to the experts, this would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
NEW YORK: Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.
…a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.
Adam Nagourney, International Herald Tribune (November 5, 2008)
Mankind may be slow to forgive, but we are quick to forget. Less than 150 years ago, Barack Obama – as any black man – could have been owned as a slave. Two generations ago, coloured people in the US were still not allowed to vote. Prior to this election, no one dared take for granted that time had finally come for America to turn the page of a troubled past and elect a coloured man to lead its nation.
…the fact that Americans would be willing, at last, to elect a black president stunned many scholars, politicians and advocates for civil rights. They remain keenly aware of the nation’s record of denying black aspirations — from the time African slaves were forced to these shores nearly 400 years ago, to the broken promises of Reconstruction, to the bloody resistance to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to the last lynching of a black man in 1981.
Rachel L. Swarns, International Herald Tribune (November 5, 2008)
This success shows yet again how real change takes time.
Eden’s perspective is long-term, best described as in “change takes generations”. Whilst the aid industry is turning many Africans into aid junkies who are unable to fend for themselves, Eden keeps striving for the population of Africa to lead dignified, sustainable and self-sufficient lives. And after twenty years in Tanout we have come a long way, as we meet the next generation of Africans who are full of energetic enterprising.
Yesterday, Eden published a new article entitled Empowering Teenage Girls in Africa.
This article tells the story of the next generation of Eden farmers, who thanks to their parent’s dedication many years ago are taking new initiatives with new-gained confidence as they are free to invest from nature’s pantry.
None of this would have been possible without time.
It is not good enough to try to impose “instant solutions”, believing to know better than the people you want to help. Real change starts with a mentality change that is strengthened from one generation to the next. No one can transform Africa overnight. It took America more than 40 years to turn the page of its troubled past, and the West cannot expect anything less of a continent who has suffered foreign intrusion and interference for as long the oral history of its people remember.
Just as America was not imposed a forceful solution from the outside, so the West must allow Africa to rise on her own terms. It must allow Africa to reach for her own resources and come free of the dependency on foreign aid, so that she can embrace a sustainable, self-sufficient life.
In Tanout, Eden has come a long way towards this vision and I do not doubt for a second that the coming generation will lead independent and sustainable lives. The aid industry, however, needs Africa in its present state for its fundraising galas and there are more foreign interests holding Africa back than I can count on my fingers. And so my question is: will the West ever allow Africa to develop according to her own heart’s desire?
Let Africa be free of foreign intruders claiming to know better than her own people. Then give her a generation or two to develop according to her heart’s desire and I am convinced we will one day be able to celebrate her success just as the world is now cheering for America.