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And Now for the Good News

Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 4, 2018 04:52

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I’m tired of disasters, of hate speech, of impunity for corrupt officials and politicians. Tired of economic disasters. Is there no good news? Epidemics of Ebola and Zika, languishing economies, unemployment? Coral reefs, animal species, rain forests disappearing. There is good news, but you have to look for it.

South Africa’s Finance Minister hopes for a 0.7 growth rate, down from an estimated 1.5% in February. The economy needs 5% to absorb new arrivals in the workplace. Zimbabwe is on the way to a second economic meltdown. The previous disaster produced a 50 000% inflation rate. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, privately admitted that his vaunted new broom could not sweep away the problems and that the economy is in need of rescue

Uganda deploys an experimental Ebola vaccine to the borders to treat refugees from the epidemic, and from armed attacks on population and medical personnel. The Congolese authorities seem unable to bring the eastern regions under control.

Hate speech is increasing apace. Africa has seen how “free speech” led to the Rwandan genocide in 1994 while the world looked away.

Does the bad news never stop?

There is a good epidemic. Google ‘Songhai’, and you will not find it. Google ‘Songhai project’ and you have a chance.

Father Godfrey Nzamujo AFP


Grandson of returned slaves, Godfrey Nzamujo became a Catholic priest, but also a scientist. He rejected the negative news, the political and economic trend that was turning his parishioners in Benin into unemployed, rent-seeking parasites. Instead, he created a microbe of self-reliance, of matching traditional farming methods to modern science. One acre of waste land given as a sop to get unemployed youth from under the feet of the citizenry of Porto Novo in 1985 turned into a demonstration farm.

Songhai Sustainability Project Youtube

Villages apply to send budding entrepreneurs for training against a promise that they will take them back and help them become successful, and carry the Songhai microbe. This needs accommodation, so a hospitality training center was added, creating the nucleus for small-scale hostels. Integrated farming produce cereals, fodder, chickens and small animals. Waste goes into fishponds and generates gas for cooking and running pumps. Ancient African technology in ceramics, with a modern scientific twist, produces water filters, thus saving children's lives. 

Training aid.


The microbe of entrepreneurship is contagious. Three more centers in Benin, three in Nigeria. Sierra Leone followed. Songhai centers are running in numerous African countries. USAID and UNDP support helps, but the spirit of self-reliance is strong.

In Uganda, a Model Project started in 2016. Established in 100 acres, aimed at children who came in conflict with the law, the Mpigi farm produces organic crops and train people in post-harvest techniques and marketing. Mulching and non-chemical sprays produce peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries, okra, and greens. Fish, yogurt, butter, avocado-based cosmetics, leather products flow into the economy.

Ugandan success. Kakumirizi/Monitor

The Songhai microbe has taken root in the Gambia, Congo Brazzaville and Senegal.
 
Many cases go unreported. They are hard to find, but they are spreading.

New ideas take root. German-African partnerships.
Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 4, 2018 04:52

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Source: BBC

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