A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Crusading for the Continent
By Sosthene Mikala
While media titan Oprah Winfrey distributes gifts to rural South African schoolchildren, or rocker Bono lobbies world leaders on behalf of impoverished Africans, and actress Angelina Jolie visits refugees of our motherland's sundry conflicts, I applaud. My fellow Africans might be cynical of television, film, and music celebrities who suddenly seem obsessed with saving third world countries, but not me. I was a fortunate, even spoiled, child in a middle class family of eight. My father was a police commander and my mother was a banker in the largest bank in Central Africa. I got a college education and a taste for rebellion as editor of the Omar Bongo University newspaper Speak Up.''

Many children on the black continent are not so lucky. As millions die from AIDS, the stars cannot but help. And we need help where ever we can get it.

So what if the beautiful, twice divorced, drama queen Jolie adopted an Ethiopian daughter?

Jolie has been a positive force as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador traveling to Sierra Leone, Tanzania and a host of other African nations⦥uro;devoting her time and energy.

Rock star Bono was so involved with African causes he had to apologize to his band members for focusing on global politics more than pop culture. Perhaps one could say he is full of himself. Yet his work towards erasing the debt owed by developing nations to industrialized countries led to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The U2 star also spent six weeks working at an Ethiopian orphanage showing generosity to the world.

Oprah Winfrey was ridiculed because she wanted to know about her African heritage and got a DNA test to find out if she was Zulu. But I respect Oprah for supporting education and giving hope to South African kids with HIV. Her foundation will contribute 0 million to build the Oprah Leadership Academy for girls in Guateng Province, South Africa with the goal of making the best school in the world where decision makers and leaders will be trained.

My brother Stephane Mikala, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Africa Program, believes that celebrity philanthropy is vital and successful because of the media coverage and fanfare that bring much needed attention to Africa's plight. Note Angelina Jolie's interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on June 20th's World Refugee Day. As people tuned in to hear about Brad and baby Shiloh, she educated them about the fifteen million people around the world who have fled their homes due to war, famine and poverty.

It is said that to whom much is given much is expected; however, many blessed with fame, riches, and resources choose not to give. Oprah, Bono, and Jolie are exceptions. My beautiful continent still struggles with famine, poverty, debt and AIDS. Many of us fight to make a difference and with our new star power backing, I have newfound hope for our land.

Photo Credit: © Edward Parsons/IRIN