Every time there is a soccer match, or a moment of national importance I take a look at the crowd of people singing with their eyes closed and their hand on their hearts.

“Lord, bless Africa

May her horn rise high up

Hear Thou our prayers

And bless us.”

And indeed the good Lord has blessed Africa. Africa has a large quantity of natural resources, including diamonds, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits. Much of its natural resources are undiscovered or barely harnessed.

Slowly I believe we are starting to see Africa rise. There is no shortage of economic growth in Africa. Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies of the past decade are in sub-Saharan Africa. This is inspiring and I believe this is the story that we as Africans need to be inspired by and the kind of stories we need to tell.

You know who inspires me more than any rich celebrity? The African entrepreneur, the man or woman who is working hard to make things, who is walking miles to sell their goods, who is thinking of new or better ways to find customers and create an income. This person embodies the true spirit of what is African.

Who branded Africa as barbaric and hopeless? It certainly wasn’t us.

In the documentary Framed (you can find the trailer here), a lecturer in a University asked a group of American students what words come to mind when they heard the word Africa: “poverty, rape, AIDs, war, Ebola, and malnutrition,” were the answers.

Wow. Africa is home to over 900 million people. Tragedy is part of our story, but it’s part of a much wider and more complex story. Why has the media created an image of Africa as a continent to be pitied, full of problems and in desperate need of a rich white saviour? Where are the stories of vibrancy, community and business?

African’s don’t need handouts

Every year, trillions of dollars is given from Western Countries to Africa (and other areas) in the form of Foreign Aid. And it seems like such a noble thing to do, but this aid creates a dependency of Africa on the West. Year after year, despite huge donations, the aid appears to do little to change development trajectories.

Listen, there are lots of arguments for and against foreign aid, and I don’t know all the answers, but the main critique is that handouts block the incentives and opportunities of poor people to make things better for themselves, their neighbours and their own country.

Africa doesn’t need handouts. We need the world to shake off the idea that we are without agency. We need empowerment and we need assistance as an equal.

God bless Africa, and hear her prayers

As Africans we are people of spirit and faith. We pray for our children, we pray for our nations and for our continent and we believe that God sees and hears these prayers. But let us not only pray and ask God for help, let us also take responsibility for the blessing of hands and minds which God has given us.  Even if that looks like starting a business or learning a skill or changing your ways. Let us truly rise up and make the continent great.

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