Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Getting Students Engaged about Africa

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Getting Students Engaged about Africa

Article excerpt

National college tour seeks to raise awareness about economic injustices toward African countries

WASHINGTON

Forty million Africans face chronic food shortages everyday, while millions have died as a result of war and conflict. And it is estimated that 27 million are living with HIV/A1DS. Yet, despite Africa's multiple devastations, the continent transfers almost $15 billion dollars a year to rich nations in payment of external debt.

During the oil crisis of the 197Os, African nations began to experience a shortage and scarcity in imports like bread, soap and medicine. As a result, several African countries acquired loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to provide basic necessities for their citizens. Some of the loans, unfortunately, were odious and illegitimate, procured by dictatorial powers not for the needs or the interest of the people.

Consequently, the impact repayment of debt is having on African countries is detrimental. With most African countries having a 60 percent to 85 percent national budget for debt servicing, there is little money left for such things as food, educational improvements and health care.

One group is trying to bring national attention to debt relief for African countries. The American Friends Service Committee's Africa Initiative Program launched its "Life Over Debt: Africa in the Age of Global Apartheid" college campus tours last month to highlight the need for immediate cancellation of Africa's debt. The national campaign is also an effort to educate, cultivate and empower the next generation of Africa advocates who will work for the next 50 years to change U.S. foreign policy toward Africa.

"Students need to become more engaged in Africa. At some campuses it was evident that the discussion on Africa as well as debt relief has not happened," says Abdul Kamara, a Sierra Leonean who attends Bradford University in the United Kingdom.

"The cause of much unrest in Africa is conflict and wars, external forces, colonialism, slave trade, weaponry manufacturing and a deep interest in Africa's mineral resources," says Gregory Angaluki Sasita, a Kenyan native who works in Botswana.

The Life Over Debt campus tour focused on increasing leadership development, sparking mobilization and cultivating working relationships with universities. …

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