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May 10: Letters to the editor Add to ...

I have worked in the NGO sector all my life. I am only too aware of the problems that face so many throughout Africa. We know that an intolerable number of the 8.8 million children and over 300 000 women dying annually of treatable and preventable causes are in the sub-Saharan Africa. It is why Save the Children has worked so hard to focus the attention of world leaders on maternal newborn and child health at the upcoming G8 Summit. I find myself speaking so often of the problems in Africa that I fear Canadians will perceive the continent only as a place of never-ending tragedies. The dawn chorus of morning songbirds; the man who climbed up the mango tree outside my window with a basket on a pole to harvest the fruit; the fishermen on the Congo River, poling upstream in their dugout canoes; the boys swimming and clambering up unseen to stow away on the Brazzaville-Kinshasa ferry; the family who lives in a cargo container and planted a flower garden out front; the beautifully coloured cloth worn by both women and men, and the dignity of their bearing - these are all Africa, too.

David Morley, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada

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... and of truth

While the ills that plague Africa are numerous, when I look ahead I also see Africa's capacity to fix much of what troubles Western culture. We Westerners continue our steady descent into the gaping hole of narcissism and self-fulfillment. Africans can help us find the narrow way back to ubuntu - and realize our true interconnectedness. Africa, teach us! I do not wish to romanticize the African soul, but in our day of über-individualism and commitment avoidance, when Westerners prefer reality TV to real life, we have much to relearn. Ask a Westerner who they are, and they will probably start with their job. Ask an African, and they'll probably start with who they belong to. Increasingly, the West will rouse from its slumber and respond to Africa's pressing needs. May none of our efforts rob Africa of her dignity and wisdom, as her sage voice calls us to heed what matters most.

Jacob Buurma, Toronto

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