Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An African Woman responds to Melinda Gates

For the past six years Ms. Ekeocha has been living and working as a biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England. Most of her family and many friends still live in Nigeria. From Catholic Online: Ekeocha "was inspired to write an open letter to Melinda Gates after learning of Gates' move to inject $4.6 billion worth of contraceptive drugs and devices into her homeland." She is hoping Gates will hear her "as the voice of the African woman."

"Do I intend to speak for every African woman?"

Excellent question!!

My answer: Yes and No.

Yes. I speak for every woman living in the (sub-Saharan) African context, not as if I can read their minds, but as if I can read their living situations.

This is a bold statement to make but I would dare to make it because I understand the African society, the African cultural ethics and universal values, given that I was born and raised within that culture. Africa of course is comprised of many, many tribes and tongues and creeds (Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Islam and African Traditional religion). However across state lines, borders and languages, we share the universal values of the Culture of Life. This is why abortion advocates have found it very difficult (if not impossible) to sell legal abortion to any of these countries. There is a unanimous rejection of the Culture of Death, which is very much framed by the right to kill the defenceless unborn child in the womb.

As for the acceptance and use of artificial contraception, we have artificial contraceptives in Africa. In the last 2 decades, the UN has been on a mission to reduce the birth rate in Africa so they have flooded our hospitals with it, campaigning in urban and rural communities alike. But yet - surprise, surprise - most people still refuse to accept it because they perceive it as 'anti-life'. And besides, most African women know how to avoid or delay pregnancy without resorting to chemicals. They might be poor, but they are not slow nor stupid.

...... I would take the liberty to bring China into this conversation (only as an example) so please pardon me. The Chinese leaders have always had both unspeakable power and unfathomable wealth, so the moment they perceived the women's fertility as problematic, they used what they had to achieve what they wanted. They launched a rather expensive but effective war against fertility: state-sponsored abortions, forced sterilisations, mandatory contraception - all done without much consideration for human rights. Now in Africa among our governments, the desire to cap national population is there, the power (to trample human rights) is there, but the money is not, so women remain safe from this sort of violence.

But this could very easily change by the time Melinda pours into our territories the incredible amounts of artificial contraceptives that she is campaigning for (her target is to get enough for 120 million women! Most of whom are in Africa). I can just see this in the hands of the African dictators who will be quick to 'weaponise' every single one of these contraceptives (pill, pin, patch or injectables). I know many people who think that it is a 'nice' thing to do to get this 'choice' of birth control to the women, and I understand that they mean well, but are we willing to allow this extra edge of power to fall into the wrong hands? So on this point I speak for ALL African women who are as safe as the Authorities are disabled by limited supplies of artificial contraceptives.

...... But in more recent years, thoughts and tendencies of the younger African women on different things are informed and formed by a broad array of factors: social class, wealth, education, degree of devotion to faith - these will all determine her level of exposure to western cultural values (this one is very important - so an African woman who has access to internet and cable TV spends more time watching American TV series [such as Mad Men!] which is more often than not highly sexualised; over time her perception and definition of love, sex and family life is inevitably shaped and formed). So there is an emerging group of African girls (though not a majority at all) gradually being "westernised" because they perceive the entirety - the whole package - of the western life as the 'glamourous life', the 'modern life', the 'better life'.

In order to embrace and accept this life, they inadvertently let go of some or most of our African universal cultural standards. With this persistent pursuit of the 'better life', many young Africans are now standing on the precipice beyond which lies the mirage of happiness/fulfillment promised by the new western norms of sexual expression. They have the choice either to jump off that precipice leaving our own norms behind, or to stand back in the realisation and appreciation of the beauty and solidity of our own African Culture of Life, which is so compatible with faith and morals.

I personally have chosen not to jump, I know many many, many other African women who have also chosen not to jump. And I pray that as my beloved African sisters come up one after the other to that precarious precipice they too would turn back and hold tight unto the beautiful Culture of Life which holds the firm promise of light, life and true love.

h/t Little Catholic Bubble

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