Africa is a continent and one way to look at it, is to draw the out line of the map of Africa. Having done this one can fit the whole of North America, China, Europe, India, Argentina, Japan and there will still be room for some other countries. We have to look at Africa as a continent with all its diverse issues.

The recent elections and smooth transition in South Africa and Nigeria give us all hope. Some years ago it seemed that all was lost in South Africa. Nelson Mandela gave us hope.

The recently concluded Summit on Africa is just a beginning. What the summit did was create a forum and bring Africans, African-Americans, and others to discuss some issues. In this process it opened the minds of those who are proactive to come out with a vision, ideas and solutions to address some if not many of the projects that can help Africa.

One must always remember that Africa belongs to the Africans. The Africans should run their own affairs. It is completely out of place for Americans and any other nation to dictate terms to any African sovereign country.

The Summit on Africa, has perhaps for the first time, exposed everyone in America to genuine issues where Africans from America, Africans from Africa, and others can discuss African issues as partners. In this process the thematic papers were of some use. Some guide lines were provided so that in the deliberative process, those participating would stay on track. The process was not perfect but it did some what serve the general purpose if follwed correctly.

The summit held in San Francisco played an important role because the diverse group participation brought an infusion of some drastic language changes in some of the draft documents. It also afforded those that were astute to arm themselves with current information. Having educated themselves delegates from California some 208 strong can go to Washington and do justice in the year 2000.

Again and again there been talk that the Summit on Africa did not try to bring Africans some 3 million strong and growing and residing in America to the various summits. That the agenda was prepared in such a way that certain elements in Washington wanted the deliberations to move in a certain direction.

Today, all of us are capable of making our mark. The important thing is to be educated with the best information. Africa is a continent and it is a Herculean task to master all the important issues. We should make an attempt to bring about change. The late Ron Brown tried his best. With his premature death, Africa lost one of its best hopes in recent times. We all should contribute our talents and expertise without bias.

California and the Bay Area is posed to contribute its resources and expertise to Africa. We really do not need the Summit on Africa to dictate terms to anyone. United as groups or under one umbrella group, we can direct our energy to attain common goals and objectives.

California and the Bay Area has many groups that want to do something to help Africa. Many of the groups have done a lot. It is not easy to do business in Africa. It is not easy to build an infrastructure in Africa as we are accustomed here in the United States.

Africa will have to move with the times and has every intention to do so, but Africa is Africa and things in Africa are done the African way. While time is of essence here, time in Africa is just one of the many elements that go into the equation.

If one does not have connections in Africa one is doomed. Gifts and bribing officials are a norm. While most of us do not condone such actions that are looked upon as corruption in the States, in Africa, and in the emerging new independent countries changing of money is a norm. We call them bribes.

The health issue is an important issue that will have to be decided on a war footing in Africa. Aids for example is killing millions. In America and Europe medications are slowing the spread of Aids and prolonging the lives of women, children, and men affected by this disease. In Africa people die because there is no infrastructure to address Aids in a systematic way. Poverty and lack of sanitation fosters the spread of disease.

Clean drinking water is at a premium. Just in this field of drinking water, by helping dig wells and keeping them disease prone we can save the lives of millions of young children, many of them do not live past 3 years.

The average life span is around 40 years in Africa. Soon this will drop to 30 years. Right now children form the majority of the population. Again and again young children are looking after adults who are ill. Young children are going to war. Children below 14 years are learning to kill. They should be in school learning skills to build Africa and their respective nations.

Between now and the final summit which will be held in February of 2000 there is some time to prepare ourselves, especially those who will be going to Washington as delegates. While it is true as a united front much can be done, it is also very true as individuals we can do a lot. Small fires lit here and there will burn and soon there is one big fire of love.

There can be no love without sacrifice. Africa calls us to work with Africans as brothers and sisters. We have to understand Africa and this cannot happen over night. We will have to listen to Africans and not dictate terms to them.

We cannot address many of the issues without a sound infrastructure and Africa needs our assistance. The poverty in Africa can be eradicated on a war footing as did the Marshall Plan in Europe. There is legislation in Congress to do just this. It should be put in place as soon as possible.

Africa is the home of the first beings. Again and again America and the so called developed nations have treated Africa using a different yard stick. It is time we bring about change by respecting Africans and listening to them. Let Africans prioritize their needs. We should then afford them our assistance with love in our hearts.