In 1212, 30,000 children averaging the age of 12
years old, went to war. On a holy crusade, mimicking
the Knights trying to reclaim Jerusalem for the
Church, they set off only to be destroyed by
shipwreck, starvation and disease; or sold as slaves
in Palestine. Also during the Middle ages the
population of Europe en masse’ suffered from bad
nutrition and many lived with starvation. In addition
to these travesties, a disease we now call the Bubonic
plague laid waste to citizens regardless of national
border. Is it any wonder the life expectancy was
just over 30 years old in most areas.
These statistics even now, to our civilized ears,
cause concern. We cringe at the thought of children
suffering from famine and disease, much less heading
off to war. What is sad about these statistics is not
that they were true 800 years ago; but rather that
they are true today.
Today in 2008 these statistics are true for not just
a country but for a continent. These statistics are
more than numbers and issues, they are life for
millions of Africans everyday.
**In Africa disease, in particular HIV/AIDS is
reducing life expectancy to under 45 years of age.
**In Africa many children are thrown into the grown
up world of murder, rape and war by the age of 12.
**In Africa, famine and starvation ravage the health
of not only the countries, but of the citizens.
*HIV/AIDS has reduced the average life expectancy of
males in sub-Saharan Africa to 43 years of age, of
course this is down from the high of 65, the age where
we begin retirement, in which we will spend, on
average a third of our lives.
*millions of children are fighting as soldiers,
children who will never get their childhood back
even if they stopped today. children who have known
but war, poverty and famine. That is their life, that
is why they fight, because it is the only relationship
they can maintain, that of brothers in arms, because
they've watched their mothers and sisters die, their
fathers rape and kill BUT their brothers support them.
* Perhaps the best known image of Africa is that of
famine, in 1984 American pop-stars sang “We Are The
World”, and more than 20 years later the famine has spread.
We in the civilized, democratic West can remember and
study our own Middle Ages; and I can compare the
plight of Africa to Medieval times. But there is one
difference. In the 13th Century, there was no
civilized, democratic West; In the 13th century there
was no Super Power of America’s strength or wealth.
In the 13th century WE were not her to help and demand
help; You and I hold the future in our hands, and we
should be reminded of the bible verse “Unto whom much
is given, much is required.