Harubuntu 2008 : a competitive exam to push those who contribute to Africa’s development

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A competition to bring out the African potential and those who make it happen. This is what Harubuntu 2008 is about. It is open to all africans with existint projects living on the continent. The first edition of the competitive tests of hope bringers and african wealth makers, which opens on the 1st of december, is a new step to change the image of Africa in Europe. A struggle which brings together belgian NGO’s Echo Communications and Cités, local governments from Africa as well as african local communities.

Africa’s potential is underestimated. Harubuntu 2008, competitive tests of hope bringers and african wealth makers want to change the given. Intiated by the belgian NGO for education and development Echos Communication, the Cties and Local governments of africa (Cités et Gouvernements locaux unis d’Afrique – CGLUA), the project is supported african local communities. In Kirundi (a language spoken in Burundi), Harubuntu means « there is value in this place »signifie “à cet endroit, il y a de la valeur “, a self explanatory topic in what concerns this december 1st contest.

« All development dynamics are deeply rooted in a relationship, the manner by which we look at the other person and how the other person sees himself, says Francoid Milis, the general secretary for Echos Communication. It is particularly true in what concerns the frustrating and hurting dialogue between Africa and Europe …The importance of encouraging people behind local development in Africa thereby satisfying the needs of the inhabitants, helping promote them as models, and participating in the effort to change the way the European regards Africa ».

Hightlighting African models

Project initiators, already operational, within the enterpreneurial domaine either from the local government of private individuals resident in Africa have been called on to subscribe to the Harubuntu 2008 website. The project developpers or their patrons have until the 25th of April to declare their cancidacy. In May, 5 candidates per category will be selected by an international jury made up of members of the civil society, journalists and intellectuals. After field missions a winner will be selected from 3 domaines. Prize awards will be organised in November 2008. Every prize includes, maong other things, a check of 10 000 euros, a training and a large promotion campagne of their projet.

« This competition has today become a way of giving a name to this new african image that we have been promoting for some years now, to give it a visible outlook through concrete projects. The CGLUA could not but become part of this initiative, said Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, general secretary of CGLUA, talking about the origin of of his movement’s commitment. « You (Afrik-news.com as a partner of this competition, ndlr) were there when we started protesting against the european vision of africa as being the « lost continent » after observation, a loser in globalisation, the continent of misery, of despair… We acted by organising a meeting aimed at rebuilding a new image for Africa, in Brussels in 2005. A media campagne was equally started to promote this new image». The summit Africités, a gathering of african local communities, held in 2006 in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, gave it a head start.

To create hope to develop the African continent

Another level of this Marshal plan for the African image in Europe, thus, opens with Harubuntu 2008 in Brussels. « It is an initiative which englobes the objectives of the city in what concerns the improvement of african competences, Bertin Mampaka Mankamba reaffirmed, alderman for international solidarity for the city of Brussels. The reason being that we have a concept consisting of respect towards our partners from the south with whom we work. The exchange of experiences being the principal objective set by the city» The partnership established between his municipality and the Kinshasa region, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is according the alderman, a perfect illustration of this philisophy. « there is a high level of flow of competence between the municipality of brussels and the Kishasa region, he goes on. An exchange with a human dimension rather than on material or financial basis. »

Humanising the north south relations is what Lokua Kanza (a congolese musician) and the organisers of Harabuntu 2008 are waiting for, with respect to the competition. While Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi remains very optimistic. « I hope that with time new faces will emerge and that a new hope will be born as soon as we understand how to promote African models in an honest fashion, patiently developping a hopeful future. Afterall, Africa happens to be the continent where the first man emergerd, a land of raw materials, biodiversity, culture… It is a continient that should stand for hope for its children. This is not the case today, which is why we are involved in this process. » An energy to which all Africans are called upon to contribute towards. Massively subcribe to Harubuntu 2008 will mean a good beginning.

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