Woza 2010 Woza! Reasons for Optimism in Africa
Woza 2010 Woza! Meaning 'come 2010 come!' There is an air of excitement not only in South Africa but across the continent as the World Cup Football Tournament will be hosted in Africa for the first time. Despite the tragic attack on Togolese team members at the African Cup of Nations Soccer Tournament currently taking place in Angola, there is an unstoppable optimism and excitement. We hope the World Cup will highlight positive aspects of Africa!
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Continuing on a positive note, last year in December I attended the 20th Anniversary celebrations of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (The Circle) in Accra, Ghana. The Circle was founded in 1989 by Mercy Oduyoye, a prominent African woman theologian who was challenged by the lack of African women theologians. The vision was not only to encourage theological scholarship among African women but also to challenge oppressive beliefs and practices in culture and religion without disregarding liberative and positive aspects. Members of the Circle have published many books and have been at the forefront of theological research on HIV & AIDS and its impact on women. Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of HIV & AIDS, and over 58% of those living with HIV are women. For more information on the circle, log on to their Web site. My involvement has been in a few things, such as organizing a continental conference in South Africa in 2006, editing papers, doing book reviews, and conducting my own research and writing on HIV & AIDS.
The last time I visited Accra Ghana was in 1998, and I was struck by the developments in the city and the presence of malls! This is an evidence of corporate South Africa's investment in the rest of the continent. South African chain shops are in the malls, and I felt as if I were in one of the malls in Johannesburg! There are still bustling busy markets in the city and there is hope that the discovery of oil will lead to the uplift of the standard of living for the majority of the population, which is poor.
Zimbabwe continues to make snail's pace progress, with each move a struggle. The Zimbabwean people are their own heroes as they continue to keep on striving for a better life, challenging politicians, feeding families, sending children to school, and searching for means of living in neighbouring countries. I salute the church and pastors who minister day in and out and impart courage, hope, and resilience to people for whom this is the only way to live. The optimism of 2010 World Cup is rubbing on Zimbabweans who, as neighbours, have the potential to gain so much from this event. Continue to pray -- your prayers are not vain -- there has been change and much more needs to be done. May God grant wisdom to leadership in the USA as they face numerous challenges.
Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.