Sub-Saharan Africa did not have a particularly good year. There were internal conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic. Nigeria's north and Kenya experienced considerable insecurity that led to loss of lives. But great things happened in Sub-Saharan Africa -- one new and two ongoing efforts -- a combination of which hold tremendous potential to empower and improve lives.
For millions of Africans, most of whom have lived under one ruler all their lives, developments in Burkina Faso have breathed a new life and hope into nascent democratic movement across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Burkina Faso's people power is bound to affect every other Sub-Saharan country in some way -- small or large, direct or indirect, proving that Africa is not preordained to remain under dictatorship forever.
Last week an American team of researchers published a paper in which they looked at the microbial content of human hands. They not only found distinct differences in the bacteria between the two groups, but they were also able to identify quite possibly a new way to test for a truly natural being or a Westernized wannabe.
Just a few days ago I joined Canada's newly appointed Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino on a trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa. Throughout this visit I was struck by many sights and sounds that will stay with me for a long time -- evidence of how the crisis is affecting lives, how people are coping, and what more needs to be done to avert a crisis from becoming an all-out catastrophe.