Thursday, April 19, 2007

How to Showcase Africa: Despair or Promise?

One student at the University of North Carolina will not be entering Nick Kristof's contest to accompany him on an all-expenses-paid trip through Africa. Kristof, she says, wants to show Americans the unimaginable, backbreaking, heartrending indigence that ravages that continent. But

Americans don’t need any more stories of a dying Africa. Instead, we should learn of a living one. Kristof and his winners should investigate how it is that Botswana had the highest per-capita growth of any country in the world for the last 30 years of the 21st century. Report on the recent completion of the West Africa Gas Pipeline that delivers cheaper, cleaner energy to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Tell us about investment opportunities in Nigeria’s burgeoning capital markets. . . .

So I’m asking Kristof to refine his summer travel itinerary to include a tour of a thriving organic farm owned and operated by a local Ethiopian cooperative. And the Ugandan health clinics that are reducing the number of AIDS cases despite a continuing guerilla war. And the wonderful “PlayPumps” scattered throughout the continent that provide safe drinking water via a pump system powered by children as they play on a playground. Brilliant idea. And something many people don’t know about.

The student's name is Loren, and I'm placing her letter in the newly created I-wish-I-had-written-that category.