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The time has come for Africa

Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki penned a number of speeches around “The time has come” (for Africa). Renowned African poet, Chibuike Nwokike has also penned a poem entitled: “The Time has come Africa.”

The time has indeed come for Africa, and one of our own has made South Africans and the continent as a whole, enormously proud. South African HIV researcher, Professor Glenda Gray has been included in this year’s, Time magazine’s list of the most influential 100 people in the world.

However, this is not the first time that a South African has been included on the list, which was introduced in 1998.

South Africans, who have previously made it on the list include Nelson Mandela, Thuli Madonsela, Elon Musk, and Charlise Theron. Africans, from the rest of the continent, who have also been included in the past, include gynaecologist, Dr Denis Mukwege, gender activist, Jaha Dukureh, and Ethiopian born Roman Catholic priest, Father Moses Zerai.

These achievements confirm that Africa can stand up proudly against the best in the world.
Gray’s work in search of an HIV and Aids vaccine and her work to prevent transmission of the disease from mother to child during pregnancy is truly remarkable. Unfortunately, South Africa is still top of the list and has the highest Aids rate in the world.

Rank (2016) Country Number of infected persons
1  South Africa  5,600,000
2  Nigeria  3,300,000
3  India  2,400,000
4  Kenya  1,500,000
5  Mozambique 1,400,000
6  Tanzania 1,400,000
7  Uganda 1,200,000
8  United States 1,200,000
9  Zimbabwe 1,200,000
10  Russia 980,000

South Africa, and the continent as a whole, faces many challenges. Challenges in South Africa include:

• 12 million South Africans go hungry (64% of child deaths are malnutrition-related)
• Unemployment is around 25%
• Millions are homeless
• Youth unemployed is the third highest in the world (approximately 3,6 million NEETS)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a South African made it on the Time magazine list in the near future, for innovating, and making a real difference in one of these areas?
In closing, I am reminded of the following lines from Chibuike Nwokike’s haunting poem:

Africa listen the time has come for us
to sing, dance, clap and rejoice for we
have been in the bosom of sorrow but
the time has come for that to end.

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