Posted by: Martin Fox | July 23, 2008

“A Stand for Change in Africa”

By Martin Fox with The Center for Global Leadership and The Higher Road Initiative

Greetings from the Chautauqua Institue and Leadership Week. Today’s morning topic was a great one… “A Stand for Change in Africa.” The speaker, Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, spoke in real world, practical terms of the issues, challenges, and paths for change facing Africans today. And she should know. Both she and her husband spent years living in Africa for the State Department.

Ambassador Huddleston set the context for her presentation with a tie-in to Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous 1933 Chautauqua lecture quote “Probably all change in the world is due to women.” The room had the expectant hum you would expect with that opening (the audience response was much split across gender lines). Personally, it was a brilliant opening that said “pay attention to what you are about to hear.”

Ambassador Huddleston feels that Africa’s problems can be boiled down into four key areas:

  1. The rise of Islamic radicalism (Somalia)
  2. Ethnic conflict (Rwanda and Sudan)
  3. Misuse of natural resources (Blood Diamonds, oil production, and associated environmental disasters)
  4. Famine and Disease (rising price of food and energy, decreasing crop yields)

So how do you take a stand for change on a continent where many people’s definition of liberty and justice is eating at least one meal a day and having a roof over their children’s head? Well, you listen to the experts and then start doing something.

Unemployment is extremely high in Africa. How do we get a job corp started within the various countries. This area was stated as a gap as well by Moshi business leaders in my spring trip to Tanzania.

Sustainability… We need to get safe water and sanitation in place. We need to continue providing plots of land to women so they can grow the necessary crops and animals to sustain their children,selling the surplus to pay for the education of their children. These were just a few of her ideas, but good starts.

Ambassador Huddleston was very clear in her opinion that the most effective and sustainable help we can provide others is person-to-person (our firm belief as well), not relying solely on huge NGO and/or government aid.

In closing, Ambassador Huddleston came full circle to the Roosevelt connection, quoting FDR’s vision for freedom in the world:

  1. Freedom of speech every where in the world
  2. Freedom of religion every where in the world
  3. Freedom from hunger every where in the world
  4. Freedom from fear everywhere in the world

How do you argue with that?

Peace out from Chautauqua Institute and today’s global leadership topic

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