While I am a doctor with a strong inner-surgeon-voice, my years working and living in countries in Africa and in urban and rural Canada convinced me long ago that we need to pay attention not just to vaccines and drugs, not even just to health care and health services, but to the ideas, money, conflicts, and energy behind what we see.
The Canadian dollar may not be in line with the U.S. dollar anymore, but that doesn't mean it's time to stop traveling. In fact, there are plenty of places around the globe where your Canadian dollars can make you a millionaire, literally. After all, $100 CAD is equivalent to roughly 1,004,817 Indonesian Rupiah and 168,842 Tanzanian Shillings.
Outside of the bilateral relationship with its U.S. ally, foreign aid is not something Canadians are accustomed to. That's why eyebrows were raised when a contingent of 300 African firefighters landed in Edmonton to lend a hand. Three hundred -- that's 100 more firefighters than the U.S. is sending Canada's way to battle the historic blaze.
The deployment of wildland fire fighters to Fort McMurray is the biggest foreign deployment ever for South Africa (save armed forces' deployments). The South African PR machine casts the aid as "repaying a debt to the Canadian people for their support for the anti-apartheid struggle." It's an interesting re-interpretation considering Canada's weak anti-apartheid record and deteriorating diplomatic relationships with South Africa.
Then there is the matter of political competition for higher office. There is no such a thing in Rwanda. Members of genuine opposition are either in prison, exile or mysteriously die in and outside Rwanda. Leader of the Unified Democratic Forces party, Victoire Ingabire, who was barred from running for presidency in 2010 is in prison.
I stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, New York and all over the world who are experiencing police violence. I encourage those of us who are committed to dismantling structural violence against black people that as we chant the slogan "Black Lives Matter", we must also remember "Black Lives Matter Everywhere". Let us not limit our desire for structural changes to only the United States.
Nelson Mandela would have been 96 this week. It's the first birthday since his passing -- celebrations replaced with mourning and reflection. With the passing of Mandela, humanity lost a quiet voice of reason -- one we still sorely need in an increasingly polarized world. In honour of Mandela's birthday, here are some of our own fondest memories of "Madiba."
In South Africa violence is present and disregarded across the country. The victims of this violence are black, coloured, Indian, and white, women and men, rich and poor, famous and unknown. While the stories of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp deserve attention, there are other poignant personal histories across this spectrum of experience that are ignored, and have been ignored for decades. Surely such stories deserve real attention as well. Not a matter-of-fact reporting of time, place, and cause of death, but real attention; in narratives as penetrating and rich as is necessitated by the lives they represent.
Both the adults and the kids cry often but data collectors must not confuse their role with the families' service providers. It must be noted that the study has gone through several layers of ethical review and nevertheless, the stories trouble those who hear them. In some cases, children feel safe enough to make horrific disclosures for the first time.
There is no discussion of the fact that part of the reason Mandela was sent to prison was because he was responsible for bombing a power plant. Though we seem to like to imagine that Mandela brought change to South Africa with nothing but wise words and a kind, grandfatherly smile, the truth is very different. Mandela fought for his freedom, tooth and nail.
The South African Reconciliation Barometer, a survey of racial and social attitudes, consistently finds a deeply divided nation. Less than 40 per cent of South Africans socialize with people of another race, while only 22 per cent of white South Africans and a fifth of black South Africans live in racially integrated neighbourhoods.
If there were such a thing as a rock star politician, the man known affectionately around the globe as "Madiba" is one. Today's youngest generation did not witness his historic struggle, release or election. Yet they know his extraordinary messages of equality, hope and forgiveness. And they are ready to receive his torch.