Africa's 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'

By Nontando Hadebe 04-14-2010

I was watching the news coverage on the meeting of world leaders in Washington hosted by President Obama on reducing nuclear weapons and ensuring that these do not get into the hands of terrorists. I was left with no doubt about the importance of the meeting and real threat being posed, but at the same time I thought about equally real threats to life in Africa.

Several "weapons of mass destruction" came to mind -- namely malaria, HIV & AIDS, and hunger. According to the World Health Organization an estimated 90% of malaria deaths in Africa occur in children younger than 5 years old. Malaria accounts for 18% of all deaths in this age group, or between 700,000 and 900,000 children. HIV & AIDS related deaths claimed 2.1 million lives including children. The tragedy is that both malaria and HIV are treatable; it is the gap between treatment and sufferers that is a social injustice. Despite millions of dollars being poured into both malaria and HIV, the gap persists. Malaria day will be on 25th April 2010.

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, recent events have raised concerns about the impartiality of mediation efforts. This could lead to further stalling of talks because of mistrust or it could be an opportunity to explore other alternatives. It is obvious that the current government of national unity is not working, and elections seem to be a way forward. The challenge is whether it is possible to conduction free and fair elections without violence and intimidation. There is an African proverb that says "to lose the way is to find it"!

Nontando HadebeNontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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