While the western World is grappling with the spread of the novel Corona Virus, dozens of prominent intellectuals, writers and academics from across Africa have co-signed an open letter and petition addressed to the continent’s leaders, asking them to use the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to spur “radical change”. Arguing against a new flare of worldwide Afro-pessimism, the authors call on the continent’s political eilte to look “beyond the current crisis as a symptom of deep structural problems Africa has to confront if it is to become one day sovereign and an actor that contributes to the new global order”, and to seize the opportunity to mobilize the plentiful resources the continent has to offer – “traditional, diasporic, scientific, new, digital, and creative – and to emerge stronger from a disaster that some have already predicted for them”.
Refuting the doomful Malthusian prognoses from Western experts, the authors urge to remain confident in the future of the continent and see a momentum for renewed Pan-Africanism and an African health and economic union. The letters serve as reminder that “the African continent must take its destiny back into its own hands.”
Researchers of the CRC-TRR 228 ‘Future Rural Africa’ fully endorse the views expressed by their African colleagues in the above-mentioned letters. Acknowledging the damages and sorrow the pandemic brings and will bring to African communities they wholeheartedly support the claim for a united, creative and independent African response to the threat of the current pandemic. In that sense, and despite its hardships, the present crisis offers a rare opportunity to reshape the future of the continent, break with defunct models of development as well as unsustainable modes of globalization and strive for further political, economic and intellectual cooperation.
The full letter entitled: “The Time to Act is Now” was published, inter alia, on Al Jazeera. The petition “To Emerge from COVID 19 Stronger and Together” can be found on the petition platform Change.org