Africare, a private, non-profit organization, sponsors this annual essay contest for D.C. public high school students. Students wrote on the theme "The United States and Africa: How Do They Interrelate?" The essays were judged on content, originality, the accuracy of the comparison between the United States and Africa, and writing style.
The following are excerpts from the first and second place essays:
In America in the late 1980s, despite minor setbacks, blacks in the 1980s have the freedom to do what they choose and to go where they please. This is not to say that there won't be a silent hostility or cold stares by bigots when they do so.
The black South Africans of the 1980s are not nearly as fortunate. They are being denied the basic freedoms granted human beings. Winnie Mandela, wife of civil rights activist Nelson Mandela, has spoken harshly against the segregationist policies of South Africa, and for doing so she has been banned from her homeland of Soweto. Unfortunately, the racist government does not seem to be altering its policies significantly.
In America, conversely, Afro-Americans are now enjoying rights and privileges that were not available to them some twenty years ago, but they are not at peace. They are malcontent because their "brothers" of South Africa, as yet, have not been granted these same rights. Black Americans, taking note of such atrocities, are left with a stabbing pain and a raging anger. It is not a passive anger that can be soothed by picketing. Rather, it is a deep, lingering, hurt that will remain for as long as their South African "relatives" have to suffer the indignity of aparthied. To rephrase this position: "When their South African brothers are in pain, THEY feel the pain."
The environment to which one is exposed is a major factor in making what one is. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Kwame Nkrumah saw problems in their nations and set about to change them to make a better country. Although their outward appearances seem very much alike, King and Nkrumah were very different men.
King and Nkrumah were great visionaries who became great leaders of people. King led, through his belief in the Church, the struggle for all civil rights originally devised by the Constitution of the United States to be recognized and racial and economic equality to be granted in the United States. Nkrumah led, through his beliefs in Marxist socialism, the struggle for total independence from England and the joining of all nations, the African political emancipation, to be spread throughout the continent of Africa.
Although both of them drew people, King was more in contact with them on a person-to-person basis. King received his strength from his congregation and his family while Nkrumah was more of a private entity
These two great men, however alike or different, were truly living symbols of their people and countries.