Out of Africa

by Cari Oleskewicz

Last week, seven African nations, including Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia, met to denounce terrorism and pledge their unconditional cooperation to the United States in our battle against terrorism and our search for the Evil One.

They had to do this, of course.

After all, we already bombed Sudan three years ago (still not sure what exactly we accomplished there), and our military is parking their ships off the Somalian coast right now.

As a good American, I certainly appreciate Africa's attention to this matter.

But I'm also a little embarrassed.

These African nations, believe it or not, DO have other things to worry about. Political instability, for example. Governments change overnight, and tribal warlords can make the Taliban look like pussycats. There's also the problem of famine. 'Survivor' cast members and viewers might think it's trendy to hang out in Africa and eat nothing for a few weeks, but try spending your whole life that way. Not only is food scarce, but drinking water as well. Which brings us to another problem which might occupy the thoughts of Africans when they're not obsessing over where they last saw Osama bin Laden - disease. The Ebola virus is back, and sweeping through Gabon and the Congo. AIDS is as common as a sneeze.

And don't even get me started on the topic of women. AIDS-infected men have intercourse with virgins because they think it will "cure" them. In some tribes, teenage girls are subject to female genital mutilation in order to be "clean" for their husbands.

The poverty in Africa runs deep. It is tragic and it is an issue we, in the West, rarely concern ourselves with. In the 1990s, about a million Rwandans were massacred by extreme rival Hutu and Tutsi tribe members; men we might classify as terrorists. The United States barely blinked. And would we today, in our zeal to rid the world of terrorism?

It seems our struggles are more important. Our lost lives are more relevant. Our economy has more authority.

It's shameful that we're going after the poor countries.

Saudi Arabia has bred, trained and financed more terrorists than any other nation in the Middle East or Africa. If we're in fact so principled, so "zero tolerance" on terrorism and countries which sponsor it, they should have been the first enemy in our war. The hypocrisy is unacceptable.

So thank you, Africa, for putting your less-important issues aside. If only you provided us with oil, or contributed campaign dollars to our elected officials.

But you don't. And you know what that means.

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