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The RoundTable

Africa: Cry the Beloved Continent

Summer-Fall 2000


Major Articles

  • Facing Africa’s Harsh Realities – Cathy Hartrich
  • Dreadful and Beautiful - Annjie Schiefelbein
  • Africa and the Ethnic Crisis – Obi Nwakanma
  • A Somalian’s Story – Barb Prosser and Obi Nwakanma
  • AIDS in Africa

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Regular Features

  • Cover –Photo by Ann Appelbaum
  • Why This Issue – Carol Giles
  • Centerfold –  Africa’s Troubles - Nathan Sprehe, Teka Childress
  • From Abroad – South Korea – Mark Sweetin
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Becky Hassler
  • RoundTable Talk – Ellen Rehg

Why This Issue:

This issue of The Round Table is a wonderful example of one of the tenets of Catholic Worker philosophy, clarification of thought. Scholars and students of the continent of Africa have written volumes; and yet, to many of us in the United States, Africa is a sound byte on the news or a few columns or pages in newspapers or magazines. Africa is a beautiful land that has been beset by apartheid government, civil strife, famine, and, more recently, AIDS . To clarify our understanding of the varied histories, cultures, and crises of African countries is truly a daunting task, as Cathy Hartrich notes. Nevertheless, she shares her hopes for her trip to Ghana and her desire that all of us can work alongside the African people to "bring about a new earth as it is in heaven, wherein justice dwells."


Obi Nwakanma, a Nigerian poet and journalist, discusses "Africa and the Ethnic Crisis." He is well aware of the human tragedy that results from ethnic rivalries, but he does not stop there as many in the Northern Hemisphere find it simpler to do. It is easier to lay the blame for Africa's current problems on ethnic warfare. He notes, however, "Many of these wars are inspired by fears of domination and have been engendered by a history of political divisions and manipulation by larger historical interests."


Sharmarke Hashi discusses the difficulties of Somalian refugees in the United States and the reasons for the civil war that caused many Somalis to leave their country. He points out that American intervention in 1991 was not as helpful as hoped for because the United States did not know enough about the situation in Somalia before going there.


Annjie Schiefelbein, a Karen House community member and nurse, is in Angola working with Jesuit Refugee Services. She discusses her work with the people in refugee camps. She also tells of Raul, a twelve-year-old boy who has seen many of his friends forcibly recruited to fight the war in Angola. This Northerner looks forward to learning more about Annjie’s work there and her friendship with Raul.


We have chosen to focus this issue on some of the tremendous struggles that Africa faces, but we realize that this is just a small part of its story. May the perspectives offered in these articles help us to continue clarifying our understanding and encourage us to work with our African sisters and brothers, there and in the United States.


- Carol Giles



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