There is a number of social injustices observable in Africa. They include HIV/Aids pandemic, racism and poverty. These problems have persisted in Africa due to the negligence of African leaders as well as high illiteracy level in most African countries (Ndulo 15). As a result, death cases have increased and the number of orphans has become higher. These problems have resulted into increased poverty that has hindered economic improvement on this continent. In simple terms, poverty can be defined as the lack of access to basic needs. Though most people view poverty as purely an economic phenomenon, it is important to note that poverty has some social aspects. In this regard, social aspects should be taken into account when formulating poverty eradication policies. This essay analyzes poverty in a social context.
In Africa, people have started viewing poverty from a social dimension. As such, there are many religious organizations that remain devoted in addressing the issue of poverty in the society (Mooney 32). Such organizations include the Catholic Church that advocates for the fight against poverty through its teachings of the way people should treat each other. One of their proposed methods that they believe can be successful in reduction of poverty is participation in becoming advocates of change in the world through such activities as charity collection of goods that can be supplied to the poor as well as research, planning and execution of activities that are likely to bring relief to the needs of the poor.
According to Catholic teachings on the life and dignity of the human person, we were all created in the image of God. Thus we need to respect each other’s life and dignity, irrespective of age, gender, race or other discrimination tools. We need to realize that every person is sacred from the moment he is conceived until he dies. Furthermore, catholic teachings imply that human beings are more important than material things (Addison 46). As such, the religion requires nations to first solve problems affecting their people viz. poverty, before pursuing material wealth.
Therefore, according to the Catholic Church teachings, the first step towards social justice in the fight against poverty is bringing relief of the immediate needs. This is because the most affected people are young children and the elderly; social work needs to be started at these stages. Some of the acts of charity that can be done include collecting food and depositing it in a food bank or collecting money for reasons that are worth the activity within our towns and cities to constitute this stage of fulfilling the needs of poor people in Africa. Though Aids may not be regarded as the most appropriate poverty eradication measures, they act as a good starting point. This is because development economists argue that poverty is impossible to eradicate in the midst of inequality. By mobilizing resources from the rich and using them on the poor, Aids act as suitable tools for income redistribution. This is a condition precedent to poverty eradication.
The next effort towards the alleviation of poverty in Africa is the application of Catholic teaching on the call to family, community and participation. It teaches that human beings are social and such institutions as marriage are lifelong commitments that are important foundations in social well-being of people. Thus it advocates for the support of every person’s social, economic and political life, and the duty to work for the advancement of everybody’s welfare, especially the poor. According to Bishop Tihagale, most leaders are characterized by graft, crimes, corruption and poor service delivery as well as the effort to enrich themselves in positions where they are responsible. He proposes that leaders need to postpone their personal interests and address the needs of the poor. He also proposes that the Catholic teaching that seeks to involve the public in moral ethical issues that affect the entire society needs to be implemented in all countries in Africa. It should be recorded that the major impediment to poverty reduction strategies in Africa is corruption. By condemning corruption and terming it as a sin, it would be fair to say that Catholic Church is a major player in poverty reduction process.
Examples of activities that are proposed by the Catholic Church on this issue include visiting a local retirement home, volunteering at the youth activities, organizing the lunch serving to a large number of people, making cards for people who are in hospital, and working with social organizations that assist poor people (Glantz 9). Others include donating money or material support to needy communities or donating foods to food banks.
According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, there is a close connection between poverty and racism. Therefore, there is concern in tolerance towards both poverty and racism in Africa. Consequently, some of the convictions that have been offered to both the church and the society include the interconnection between poverty and racial discrimination and the need to address the two issues if progress in poverty reduction is to be made. Poverty and racial injustice can be concluded to be moral issues that betray the concept of giving liberty and justice to all human beings. In addition, poverty is caused by human agency and these causes need to be addressed to. People need to know that social life can only be achieved through their collective participation.
According to the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter on racism, there must be no tolerance in an effort to achieve justice and no regret for the past occurrences as well as no mishandling of simple problems such as racism. We are all children of the future, where those who believe they are the first shall come last and the last come first and we will only be blessed if we give our services, both spiritual and material, to our “brothers” and “sisters”, especially the poor and those who suffer racism.