“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.” So wrote the great African man of letters, Chinua Achebe, in his 1987 novel “Anthills of the Savannah”. His words should ring loud in the ears of those attending (this month’s) London Hunger Summit.
At the summit ‘good works’ will no doubt be done, which we will applaud, but for too long the dominant, if well meaning approach, has been the short term fix. We need to lift our ideas and open our eyes towards the new and changing Africa: a future where African children’s experience of famine is only from history books.
Let us be clear. Parts of Africa are blighted by poverty, hunger, war, corruption and the vagaries of a harsh and changing climate. Today severe hunger is stalking a huge swathe of Africa from Senegal in the west to Chad, on through Sudan, all the way to Somalia in the east. More than 20 million people are affected.
These parts of this vast continent need our collective support. Immediate aid is needed.
But Africa also needs sustained long-term investment which helps people provide enough food for their families, build their own future, withstand the next challenge and lift their horizons beyond the latest crisis.
Let us also be clear that the solution lies in Africa – a continent of vibrant, talented, creative, and hard working people. Africans need a relationship with the rest of the world that treats them as who they are – equals, with something to offer.
Every one of us on this planet is descended from shared but distant ancestors. Whether from those who stayed, or from those who made those tentative steps out of the continent millennia ago, we are all African. Together we can make an African future where ‘charity will have become unnecessary’.
Letter signed by Ismael Lo, Criolo, Baaba Maal, Oumou Sangare, Fatoumata Diawara, Vieux Farka Toure, Femi Kuti, Y’en A Marre, Cheikh Lo, Hugh Masekela, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Angelique Kidjo, 2Face, Sounssultan, lami Philips, Didier Awadi and Croque Mort