If only Africa had a sacred city as popular as Jerusalem, a place that billions of passionate believers around the world felt a deep connection with. If only Africa was the central source of Islamic terrorism. If only Africa had a little more oil. Then, perhaps, history’s most abused and tragic continent would be able to rival the Middle East for the world’s attention. Maybe then Africa’s tears could find their way into the world’s heart and inspire action.
It is odd that sub-Saharan Africa far surpasses the Middle East in poverty and bloodshed, yet trails the Middle East when it comes to getting noticed. The world’s media giants report every car bomb that rocks Israel and seemingly every Palestinian child who throws a rock. In Africa, meanwhile, poverty kills millions, African civil wars grind up innocent civilians by the thousands and corrupt leaders rob their impoverished people with appalling heartlessness and consistency.
One is reluctant to allow hopes to rise too high too fast, but Tony Blair’s new Africa Commission report is a realistic outline for what can and should be done to save Africa. A few key points in the report: 100 percent debt relief by wealthy nations; double or triple aid money; help fund a peacekeeping force; stem the flow of arms into Africa; and help fund universities.
Blair’s report has gotten the world’s attention for the moment and earned positive marks from experts on poverty. The big question-the only question-is if the rich countries will invest the money needed to pull this off. The odds are they won’t. Numerous pledges to help Africa have been broken in the past.
This time, however, the dream of saving Africa has a powerful and sincere voice. If he keeps talking, and occasionally shouting, something may come of this and Tony Blair may go down in history as the man who finally convinced the world to do the right thing.