‘One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-one who have only interests.’
(Peter Marshall, Scottish Clergyman 1902-1949)
‘What makes you a social person?’ was the heading of a column I wrote in The African Bulletin five years ago. I ended with this conclusion: ‘The principle of Ubuntu in South African Zulu language has multiple meanings. It is often explained as ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’ There is no more fitting statement to make us realize that as humans we are social beings.
The word cause has various meanings, depending how it is used. It can be the reason for something happening, the basis for an action or response, but also the goal or interest you strive for or dedicate all your resources to. It is the last meaning I want to elaborate on.
What is a good cause?
‘Good cause; is also a legal term denoting adequate or substantial grounds of reason to take a certain action, or fail to take an action prescribed by law. However here we are talking about ‘a good cause’ in the sense of something that will result in an actual benefit of the cause.
Asking to name a good cause is a question that will produce a myriad of answers, depending on whom you ask. There are indeed hundreds or even thousands of good causes, general ones, personal ones and specific ones. The good cause can be your calling to spread your faith, whether Christian or Moslem. It can be your political conviction which you want to share as you are convinced that it is the right one to govern and bring benefit to society around you. It can be a rather local cause, like supporting your sports- or social club as you are passionate about football, cycling, tennis, racing, fishing, snooker, nature, scouting, singing, making music or any other sort of sports or hobby. It can be a global cause as you feel strongly about supporting world peace, human rights, protecting and sustaining the environment or combating corruption, hunger, poverty, disease or assisting your community back in Africa.
Selected Global good causes
UNICEF the United Nations Children’s Fund works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection, guided by the Convention on the rights of the Child. It is mandated by the United nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF insists that the survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress. It mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries ensure a “first call for children” and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families. UNICEF responds in emergencies to protect the rights of children. The Executive Board has 36 members, elected for three-year terms with the following regional allocation of seats: African states (8 seats), Asian states (7), Eastern European states (4), Latin American and Caribbean states (5) and Western European and other states (12).
Amnesty International is a global movement of more hat 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Their vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. They are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by private membership and public donations. They have offices in more than 80 countries around the world and campaign for human rights for all in many more.
GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL is located in Amsterdam and has offices in 55 countries. Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by:
- Catalysing an energy revolution to address the number one threat facing our planet: climate change.
- Defending our oceans by challenging wasteful and destructive fishing, and creating a global network of marine reserves.
- Protecting the world’s ancient forests and the animals, plants and people that depend on them.
- Working for disarmament and peace by tackling the causes of conflict and calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
- Creating a toxic free future with safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in today’s products and manufacturing.
- Campaigning for sustainable agriculture by rejecting genetically engineered organisms, protecting biodiversity and encouraging socially responsible farming.
To maintain its independence, Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments or corporations but relies on contributions from individual supporters and foundation grants.
Greenpeace often carries out spectacular and conspicuous actions, which at times may endanger the lives and freedom of its volunteers or overstate the issue.
See Greenpeace website: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/ and other media like: https://www.biggreenradicals.com/group/greenpeace/
Good causes in Africa
The above mentioned UNICEF and Amnesty International and to a lesser extent Greenpeace International also work in various Africa countries.
Here is a random selection of Africa-wide NGO’s:
- AMREF – African medical and Research Foundation
- AWF – African Wildlife Fund
- EFA – The Environmental Foundation for Africa
- ASb – African Storybook
- Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
- One Acre Fund – innovative agriculturalNext month I will expand on a selection of smaller NGOs in various African countries.
You as an African Diasporan and a social person, but also well integrated citizen of Holland or other European or Western country, you may already be engaged in a cause for your community, home town, region or country.
It does not matter in the first place whether how big or small your cause or NGO is, what does matter is that you put your heart in it and support it with all you got!
As late Kenyan female environmentalist and activist Wangari Maathai said: “It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make a difference for Africa.”
Irish singer, musician and humanitarian Bono of the rock group U2 said this: “The fact is that ours is the first generation that can look disease and extreme poverty in the eye, look across the ocean to Africa, and say this, and mean it: We do not have to stand for this. A whole continent written off – we do not have to stand for this.”
Fortunately times have changed and Africa is rising making great strides in its economy, education, health of its population and, thanks to mobile technology, communication.
Nevertheless there are still pockets of abject poverty, disease, hunger and halting development, not to talk about raging wars and internal, often ethnic, conflicts.
Unfortunately wrong policies, reigning selfish elite and regional power play of African governments are mostly responsible for not solving these unwanted situations.
That is where global, Africa wide and local causes can make a difference and where you should be a part of it! Next month more about African NGOs and how to find them!
*Ato Bob is a former Dutch Diplomat who now consults with various NGO’s on African issues. He lives in Rotterdam and may be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org