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The Path to Justice and Peace in Africa



Kamran Mofid, TFF Associate*


May 21, 2005

From April 21st to 24th Kericho will host an international conference "Globalisation for the Common Good and the Quest for Justice and Peace in Africa", under the Patronage of the Honourable Dr. A. A. Moody Awori, EBS, MP, The Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs.

Many speakers representing, governments, religions, business, academia, civil society, charity, voluntary sector, media and young peoplecame together to address, debate and discuss the issues of globalisation, justice and peace leading to the creation of a more humane world. We admire and salute Africa's achievements in ending colonialisation, dismantling apartheid, and initiating development, democratisation and social reform. We are also conscious of the enormous contribution Africa has to make to the rest of the world, but we are aware that many people live in poverty and are unable to achieve their full potential. For this situation to be changed 'Globalisation for the Common Good' is essential.

From poverty to hunger, from disease to civil strife, Sub-Saharan Africa has a host of crises. In what has been described as the greatest tragedy of our time, a scar on the conscience of the world, Africa is trying to heal its broken self. The world too, as it seems, is trying to help. However, given the consequences of our past policies and interventions, are we going to help or hinder Africa's healing process?

As it has been noted, in the 1960s the problem (in Africa) was said to be lack of capital: provide more investment for infrastructure, and Africa would grow. In the 1970s it was exports: sell more products overseas for hard currency, and Africa would grow. In the 1980s "structural adjustment" was the prescription: cut taxes, lower barriers, and Africa would grow. By the 1990s, privatisation and good governance were the buzzwords. Discredited models of development litter the landscape of Africa, its governments being forced to manoeuvre around the shipwrecks of failed policies. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only big region of the world where living standards and life expectancy have deteriorated: by 2000 there were 75 million more Africans in poverty than a decade before.

It seems that, all manners of policies and theories have been tested on Africa. All failing and all bringing Africans a bitter harvest. This is so, because what has been tried has not been in harmony with Africa's civilisation, spirituality and culture. Without a deep understanding of these, we cannot begin to find development strategies that are going to work in Africa or any where else in the world. "One size fits all" economic strategy of development has been nothing but a global tragedy. It would be an affront to our humanity and decency to ignore this.

However, sadly, it seems we are once again repeating the past mistakes in Africa and elsewhere. Looking at what is being recommended, we can note that, nearly all of the proposals on the global economy concern the need to unleash the power of the market, liberalise trade, deregulate and privatise- which are all purely economic considerations. It is as though humanity and the environment are irrelevant except as servants of the overarching need to expand the global economy- as if that could satisfy all human needs and aspirations. Material wellbeing, economic growth and wealth creation are important. But, to create a world of true happiness, peace and wellbeing, wealth must be created for a noble reason. Economics, commerce and trade, without a true understanding of the aspirations of the people it is affecting, cannot bring justice to all.

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Social transformation can be achieved only when unselfish love, spirituality and a rigorous pursuit of justice are embraced. Millennium Development Goals, Commission for Africa recommendations and more will only be achieved when unselfish love and the pursuit of justice guides the motivations; nothing more, nothing less. As it has been noted observed, "Our true life is not this external, material life that passes before our eyes here on earth, but the inner life of our spirit, for which the visible life serves only as a scaffolding - a necessary aid to our spiritual growth. Seeing before him an enormously high and elaborately constructed scaffolding, while the building itself only just shows above its foundations, man is apt to make the mistake of attaching more importance to the scaffolding than to the building for whose sake the former has been temporarily put up. We must remind ourselves and one another that the scaffolding has no meaning and importance except to render possible the erection of the building itself".

As for justice, it is my firm belief that the cultured, honoured people of Africa, the citizens of the Cradle of Civilisation, need no charity. What they require is justice. In most cases to give to charity is to numb our own pain and to give thanks that we are not like "them". To do justice is to feel the pain and to become one with the sufferer; is to ask fundamental questions about the roots of injustice and to fight for their removals.

To this end, I recommend Globalisation for the Common Good for Africa: Rekindling the Human Spirit and Compassion in Globalisation. Globalisation for the Common Good Mission is to promote ethical, moral and spiritual values into the areas of economics, commerce, trade and international relations amongst others, as well as personal virtues, to advance understanding and action on major global issues by civil society, the private enterprise, the public sector, governments, and national and international institutions, leading to the promotion of collaborative policy solutions to the challenges posed by globalisation.

As it has been noted in Catholic social teaching for example, fostering peace by overcoming evil with good requires careful reflection on the common good and on its social and political implications. When the common good is promoted at every level, peace is promoted. Can an individual find complete fulfilment without taking account of his social nature, that is, his being "with" and "for" others? The common good closely concerns him. It closely concerns every expression of his social nature: the family, groups, associations, cities, regions, states, the community of peoples and nations. Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own. This responsibility belongs in a particular way to political Authorities at every level, since they are called to create that sum of social conditions which permit and foster in human beings the integral development of their person.

The common good therefore demands respect for and the integral promotion of the person and his fundamental rights, as well as respect for and the promotion of the rights of nations on the universal plane. In this regard, the Second Vatican Council observed that "the increasingly close interdependence gradually encompassing the entire world is leading to an increasingly universal common good... and this involves rights and duties with respect to the whole human race. Every social group must take account of the needs and legitimate aspirations of other groups and the common good of the entire human family". The good of humanity as a whole, including future generations, calls for true international cooperation, to which every nation must offer its contribution.

Moreover, at Globalisation for the Common Good, we are committed to the idea that the marketplace is not just an economic sphere, 'it is a region of the human spirit'. Whilst considering the many economic questions and issues we should also reflect on the Divine dimension of life, and should, in contrast to what is practised today, be concerned with the world of heart and spirit. We view the problem and challenge of globalisation not only from an economic point of view, but also from ethical, spiritual and theological perspectives. I affirm that economics is, above all, concerned with human well-being and happiness in society. This cannot be separated from moral and spiritual considerations. The idea of a "value-free" economics is totally spurious. It demonstrates the complete misunderstanding of what it means to be a human being.

It is our firm belief that peace and justice will flourish when Globalisation for the Common Good is applied. As peace begins in the heart and embraces all of life. Those practicing Globalisation for the Common Good reach out to all people caught in fear, suffering, hate, oppression and violence. This involves reflection, prayer and an active, non-violent witness to the structures that cause and perpetuate injustice and violence. The goal of Globalisation for the Common Good is the wellbeing of all God's peoples. "Love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will embrace. Humility's loyalty will reach up from the earth, and God's justice will look down from heaven" (Psalm 85:11-13).

We affirm our conviction that a genuine inter-faith dialogue and co-operation is a significant way of bringing the world together; leading to the creation of a harmonious environment needed to build a world of peace, justice and prosperity for all. The call for Globalisation for the Common Good is an appeal to our essential humanity to deal with some of the most pressing concerns of peoples the world over.

Religion has always been a major factor in the growth of human civilisation. Business and wealth creation when they are for a noble reason are blessed and vital for human survival. Bringing religions and business together for the common good will empower us with humanity, spirituality and love. It will raise us above pessimism to an ultimate optimism; turning from darkness to light; from night to day; from winter to spring.

Globalisation for the Common Good, by addressing the crises that face us all, empowers with humanity, spirituality and love. It engages people of different races, cultures and languages, from a wide variety of backgrounds, all of whom are committed to bringing about a world in which there is more solidarity and greater harmony. This spiritual ground for hope at this time of wanton destruction of our world, can help us to recall the ultimate purpose of life and of our journey in this world.


*Kamran Mofid, PhD (Econ), Founder, An Inter-faith Perspective on Globalisation for the Common Good; Co- Convenor, with Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Africa and Globalisation for the Common Good: The Quest for Justice and Peace, An International Conference, Kericho, Kenya, 21-24 April, 2005. More about For The Common Good.

A New Book by Kamran Mofid and Rev. Marcus Braybrooke, Promoting the Common Good: Bringing Economics and Theology Together Again, Shepheard- Walwyn (Publishers), London, June 2005.

Book details and you can pre-order it here.


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