Renaissance is end of ignorance

President Thabo Mbeki has spoken, quite eloquently, about the need for Africans to seize the moment and make this the century for Africa's renaissance.

President Thabo Mbeki has spoken, quite eloquently, about the need for Africans to seize the moment and make this the century for Africa's renaissance.

His speech touched a chord in many people's hearts across the continent and the African diaspora who are hungry for change, and want to see Africa break with its ignominious past as a poor, disease-ridden, war-ravaged, hopeless continent ruled by corrupt tyrants.

Thankfully, the winds of change are finally sweeping through the continent.

Democracy and good governance, the necessary conditions for driving development, are taking root on the continent.

Except for a few flash points and the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur and Zimbabwe, the future does indeed look promising.

One of the things Africa needs to do to turn that promise into reality is to tackle the cult of popular ignorance and widespread belief in mumbo jumbo.

Faith in charlatans and confidence tricksters masquerading as traditional healers is anathema to Africa's quest to improve its standing on the human development index.

Take, for example, the case of the nurse from KwaZulu-Natal who was recently bust for the illegal possession of umbilical cords and other body parts allegedly harvested from hospital patients.

The matter has yet to go to court but it is common knowledge that body parts are the stock-in-trade of many false traditional healers.

For how much longer will African leaders continue to ignore the role these charlatans play in fostering discredited, unscientific and bizarre beliefs that retard the development of its human capital?

How do we hope to encourage entrepreneurship while we countenance the nefarious activities of people who teach that the secret to wealth and prosperity lies in using muti containing human body parts?

How can African leaders tolerate the activities of people who, in the name of tradition and custom, prescribe the rape of virgins as a cure for HIV-Aids?

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