What if guns, drones, and defence budgets were not required in the fight against terrorism? What if militant groups and violent extremists were not the primary targets? What if the battle focused on children and, more specifically, the poverty that robs them of opportunities, a sense of belonging, and hope?
Kennedy Odede, co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities, grew up in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest urban slums. In his recent article in The Guardian, Odede says he’s witnessed what lack of hope can lead to:
I grew up with men and women in Kibera with enough energy, intelligence and entrepreneurial zeal to be a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Many of them were overwhelmed by the constant struggle for basic opportunity, like my dear friend Calvin who couldn’t see any way out and I found hanging one day in his small 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft) room. His dreams never had a chance to become reality. There are millions like him.
Odede says poverty erodes “a basic human need: the need to belong.” This makes people vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups and gangs. Continue reading “Want to fight terrorism? Target child poverty.”
It only took eight words for Barack Obama to break the hearts of millions of Ethiopians. Alemayehu Mariam was one of them.
Alemayehu (“Al”) Mariam is an Ethiopian lawyer and professor who lives in the U.S., and also a commentator on Ethiopian affairs. This week’s commentary was the most passionate one I’ve read yet. In a response nearly 8,000 words long, Al Mariam expressed shock, anger, and a sense of betrayal upon hearing the man he’d once been proud of convey, what the commentator called, “his total contempt for Ethiopians” in a single sentence.
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Ethiopia to address the African Union. While there, on July 27th, he took part in a press conference with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. When asked by a Fox News journalist about his “obvious concerns about human rights…in Ethiopia,” Obama paused, looked down, and stated that he was “mindful of Ethiopia’s history,” then followed up with his view of Ethiopia’s recent elections: “…the elections put forward a democratically elected government.”
Someone aware of Ethiopia’s history is unlikely to draw such a conclusion. Did Barack Obama mean what he said?
Continue reading “Obama’s heartbreaking words in Addis Ababa”