‘Words have an intrinsic power. When they are true, sensible, and sincere, they heal “the hearts that mourn.” They help to settle disputes between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters. They help to establish and realize initiatives by the community and relieve suffering. Words are sacred.’
– Aminata Traoré
There is a community in the Kwahu mountains of eastern Ghana that is wanting to stand on its own two feet. It needs to find a way to get its youth into work, there are too many unemployed. There are too many single teenage mothers, too many women who have too little. The women are desperate. They will accept a proposal of sex for something to wear, something to eat, or somewhere to sleep the night. Can you imagine being in that position? Your body becomes your trade. Where is your self-esteem when you must trade with your flesh? The problem is that these women are not having protected sex and the result is often a child, or an infection of some kind. The men understand the power they have and they use it, women are dispensable, a convenience. The community is watching itself come undone. The chiefs are looking for a solution, they consult with their people and they look for a way forward. They are strong in their commitment to a better future. My concern is how does a community keep its spirits up when the world rushes by on its busy business of being without even being aware of real-time problems of hopeful people who want change?
Community holds people together. It holds hearts, and heads, together. Perhaps the dissolution of community in places is more serious than the world realises. Africa is founded on community spirit. It is a web, a network whose reach you should never underestimate. You will not find a continent better-equipped to work together – if it can heal the damage done to its soul by the scramble for Africa. Someone, somewhere, needs to say sorry. I think to start with, an apology would make Africa a lot happier. Then she will be able to view herself as whole again and the work can begin. Whilst she is divided – as she currently is – there are two many skirmishes, too much in-fighting. What is she still doing warring with herself? Watching her unfold is like watching a slow-motion movie. The point that should be made is that the longer the community must farm out its resources in trying to keep itself together, the longer it takes for it to make progress. Slow progress is still progress, but perhaps for a change the community must address its defectors and recall all of its wanderers. It is time for a bigger picture and in order to realise that bigger picture, we need unity.