The commemoration of the Africa Freedom Day is a reminder of the struggles our continent endured in the fight for political freedom. The effort to break from political and social oppression precipitated by imperialistic ideals saw African countries coming together – breaking geographic boundaries to unite and fight for liberation, equality and human rights. Indeed this day marks a significant milestone in many African countries’ political change.
But as I celebrate and reflect on this day, I ask myself two questions: how did they do it? What lessons can today’s young global health leaders draw from our forefathers’ counter efforts to political and social inequalities?
Previously, a common problem – colonialism brought our forefathers from across African states to join hands in mutual understanding that the fight for liberation can only be realised through collected efforts. Similarly today social injustices including, the invasion of human rights, discrimination and violence creates an unfavourable atmosphere that deprives people of happy and healthier lives. As global health leaders dedicate their efforts to spearhead health equity, there can be no greater emphasis for us to transcend beyond our physical boundaries in order to create the change that we want to see.
Building strong and healthy communities across our continent requires us to share success stories, adopt best practices and learn from each other’s failures. Through research, volunteerism and the media together we raise a voice that exceeds our borders and connects us in such oneness of purpose – to build a healthier future for ourselves the next generation.
Just like our forefathers, we need to develop a motto of leaving no one behind in our quest for social justice and health equity. For instance, even when other countries had gained their independence, they still rallied behind those that had not yet been liberated. What I learn here is that change and freedom are never complete or even satisfactory when others are still under the coat of deprivation. Yes my country is sovereign but I don’t feel safe. I won’t feel safe until there are zero new infections of HIV in Africa. I won’t feel safe until my uncle in Chief Ndake’s village can have ready access to healthcare services without his income being an issue, and certainly not when one third of women in the world experience physical, sexual, psychological and economical violence.
If we believe that health is a human right that should be enjoyed by all without any bias to gender, sex, race or social economic status then there is a call to be each other’s keeper, to gain satisfaction from the joy of others even if it is not our own. Above all to sacrifice our time, skills and money to help others come to the same happy place that we are enjoying or trying to create.
I’m thankful to our forefathers for having laid a foundational model for my generation to drive Africa to greater heights in better health.
Happy Africa Freedom Day!