Archive for July, 2010

Salute to Desmond Tutu – the Rainbow Nation’s man of peace

July 29, 2010

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mbilo Tutu – Nobel peace laureate and former teacher, often referred to as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’ announced in St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on 22 July that he was finally withdrawing from public life, on his birthday in October when he turns 79. “My schedule has grown increasingly punishing over the years,” said Tutu, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer 13 years ago.

“Instead of growing old gracefully, at home with my family, and reading and writing, and praying and thinking, too much of my time has been spent at airports and in hotels. The time has now come to slow down and sit with my beloved wife.”

Desmond Tutu is South Africa’s most famous cleric. He is an icon as near in stature as Nelson Mandela. When asked to name the highlight of his career, Tutu replied immediately: “The day I introduced Nelson Mandela as our newly democratically elected president to South Africa and the world – I said to God: ‘God if I die now, I don’t really mind’.”

Well-known for the courageous role he played in the fight for democracy in South Africa, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He has accumulated dozens of international accolades. Though his vigorous advocacy of social justice once rendered him a controversial figure, today Archbishop Tutu is regarded as an elder world states-man who has played a major role in reconciliation and as a leading moral voice. He became an icon of hope far beyond the Church and Southern Africa.

For many years Archbishop Desmond Tutu has supported Rotary. In February 2005 he was the keynote speaker at the Centennial Presidential Conference for Africa in Johannesburg, where the first Rotary club was chartered on the continent in 1921. He has been a keynote speaker at many Rotary events, more recently at the Rotary World Peace Symposium in Birmingham, England on June 18, 2009 when he encouraged Rotary World Peace Fellows and young Rotarians to “go for it” in working for world peace. He said that “Rotary’s dedication to peace in the world made God smile”.

A comment on the RI website at the time read “Tutu and Rotary equals world peace”.

A polio survivor himself, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, is a polio ambassador in Rotary’s “This Close” campaign. The football that has travelled through the 23 polio-affected countries during the Kick Polio Out of Africa Campaign, was signed by him and we believe – silently blessed for a safe journey.   

Rotarians in Africa, especially here in Southern Africa, thank Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, for his unwavering support of Rotary and for his dedicated commitment and contribution to world peace. We wish him well in his much deserved retirement from public life. We salute him as he continues to work and strive for peace at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre which he established as his legacy for world peace.

Bill Gates on Polio Eradication in Nigeria…

July 28, 2010

Please click the picture below to access the video clip

In June, 2010, Bill Gates travelled to a northern state in Nigeria. His focus: Learn how Nigeria is making progress in its fight against polio. He met with government and religious leaders to learn how they’re helping reduce this disease, and where more energy needs to be focused. Watch the amazing footage.

Africa’s good governance icon gives polio big boost in Kampala …

July 26, 2010

Above: Mo Ibrahim – founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Rotary’s promise to kick polio out of Africa and the world received a big boost  from Celtel founder Mo Ibrahim by calling upon African leaders who met at the 15th African Union Summit in Kampala to finish the job of polio eradication. The 53-member bloc that gathered at the AU summit focused on health issues, peace and security, infrastrcture, energy and food security during its three-day summit.  

“While the fight against polio has been overwhelmingly successful, it’s important to remember that it has not been won. Although numbers of new cases have drastically decreased, outbreaks and epidemics are a constant threat. This is not the time to relax and say ‘job done’,” wrote the Sudanese-born telecommunication entrepreneur in an op-ed published in the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian on July 23. Follow this link to his M&G opinion piece http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-07-23-good-governance-crucial-in-fight-against-polio.

In this article Mo Ibrahim went on to write: “There are two valuable lessons to be drawn from this experience. Firstly, it emphasises the importance of good governance in fighting disease. The Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign has commended the political leaders of Nigeria, and government officials in West and Central Africa, for their commitment to polio eradication, a commitment which has manifested itself in effective policies and ultimately a decrease in new infections”.

“Eradication campaigns on such a large scale require, at minimum, cooperation from governments. It is important to remember that good governance is not always about direct action from governments; it is sometimes just about allowing others to do their jobs.”

“Another important lesson is the necessity of cross-border cooperation and regional integration in fighting disease. Unfortunately, polio pays no attention to border posts or immigration officials, so countries have to work together. After a polio outbreak in northern Nigeria in 2008, the virus spread again into neighbouring countries and as far as Angola, Mauritania and Kenya.  This highlights the need for all countries have preventative vaccination policies to safeguard their population. Cooperation on such a global scale might sound far-fetched, but it has worked before – smallpox was completely eradicated in 1979 after a joint global effort.”

Friday, July 30 marks 1 year since the last polio case in the Horn of Africa, meaning that the region is once again polio-free. On 18 June, the new Global Polio Eradication Initiative Strategic Plan 2010-2012 to eradicate wild poliovirus was launched at a key stakeholder meeting in Geneva. While stakeholders fully endorsed the range of approaches and new tools in the new strategic plan – which are already showing positive results – a $1.3 billion funding gap is forcing a reprioritization of further planned activities to respond to the outbreaks in west Africa. A GPEI statement will soon be released to mark the achievement of a “Polio Free Horn of Africa” and posted on this blog for information.

In the Global Montly GPEI report of June 2010 it is recorded that as of 24 June, the DRC has been polio-free for 12 months. However, a recent cluster of cases in north-eastern Angola, close to DRC’s border, underlines the need to raise childhood immunity to protect against wild poliovirus importations. As Mo Ibrahim says – “This is not the time to relax and say ‘job done’”. We all need to keep our eye firmly on the KPOA ball until we reach our final goal!