April 17, 2009. The Popes recent trip to Cameroon and Angola was one of the more awaited ones of his Pontificate. He took the opportunity to express his concern about the issues that matter most to the African people, among them corruption, hunger and war.
The Popes message wasnt just heard in Cameroon and Angola but throughout the continent. Florence Oloo was paying close attention to Benedicts message, one that she says her people awaited with high expectations.
Florence Oloo Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University (Kenya) Our whole attention was focused on him. Whats he going to tell us, how are we going to support him? I think it was much more of that unity with him. We experienced it very much in a very tangible way. Because we followed his trip to Cameroon, we followed his trip to Angola.
Oloo, deputy vice chancellor at Strathmore University in Nairobi, says the Popes message was being listened to very closely because it was one of hope for Africas future.
Florence Oloo Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University (Kenya) He spoke to us about looking at different ways of fighting corruption, because thats one of the big things in Africa that has somehow retarded development. And its something that is a challenge for us, that we have to see, how do we fight corruption? Not only in the government, in the private sector, in universities, in secondary schools. Thats a challenge for us.
Oloo says the issues highlighted by the Pope that most plague Africa like corruption and poverty, will ultimately have to be dealt with by African countries themselves. And that aid from foreign countries can only do so much.
Florence Oloo Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University (Kenya) Aid is important. But aid can only help us when it comes to help us with our own solutions. Aid does not help us when they give us that aid and they tell us how to use it, how to solve our problems. It doesnt help.
And then there are issues that cannot be solved with money alone, like AIDS and the situation of women in Africa.
Florence Oloo Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University (Kenya) Yes, theres some cultural values that do look down upon the woman, but were trying to bring out the positive, the way that the woman is at the center of the family, that the woman is the one that looks after the home, the women is the one that educates the child, the woman is the one that obtains the food that she puts on the table. Im not saying men do nothing, they do something, of course, but the woman is very powerful.
While aid and assistance help, she is certain that African nations will reaffirm the idea of hope by investing in a powerful tool: education.
Florence Oloo Deputy Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University (Kenya) I think the salvation of African countries of my country Kenya will come through education. Helping people to empower themselves. And once youre empowered you dont need someone to come tell you this is your problem, this is your solution. You have a problem, you get an innovative idea and you solve your problem.
Oloo says its through education that she hopes Africa can promote values that create more awareness about issues like AIDS, so as to foster a sense of hope for the continent.