God did not forget Africa in the creation process, Dr Maria Akrofi told a meeting of African spouses today.
The continent was generously endowed with natural resources. ‘In every nation the wealth is the people God has given it. We have people who are our gold – but we have to muster ourselves for government,’ she said. ‘There is no need to bring aid to Africa. What needs developing is the people.’
Maria, who is the wife of the Archbishop of West Africa, the Rt Revd Justice Akrofi, and also a doctor, made an impassioned plea for the spouses to pray for the transformation of Africa and to do all they could to facilitate the training of its people to work for good.
She told the story of Dennis, a 13-year-old from Ghana who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Dennis’s mother Cynthia was a single parent and couldn’t afford the brain scan for her son.
When Maria heard about Dennis’s case she said: ‘I told the Lord I had enough on my plate. But then on the eve of St Valentine’s Day I said, “OK Lord, I will do this as an act of love.”’
After prayer and fasting she managed to get an appointment for him at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, where she works half of the year as a consultant anaesthetist – and also funding for his treatment.
‘I don’t know what Dennis’s future is – that is in the Lord’s hands,’ she said. ‘Whatever we are doing is in partnership with the Lord.’
Dennis’s story, she said, was one example, about the transformation of one child’s life. ‘We need to know the truth and ask God to redeem our continent,’ she said. ‘And we should ask our husbands to speak to our heads of state… I always say to Justice, “Don’t think you are sitting by the President for nothing.”’
Africa might have problems – and it was easy to make excuses such as the legacy of colonialism or a lack of aid. ‘But if we are to get to the root of things, we need to get inside the minds of people. The important thing is not to give people fish, but to teach them fishing,’ she said.
‘Our voices need to be trained. We are the voices that can make a difference.’ Sometimes, she said, she was asked if she ever lost hope – and she admitted she did.
‘But I’ve decided not to concentrate on global [problems]. I try to do things locally. And hope is your choice.’
The presentation was followed by questions and contributions from members of the audience with ideas for working better together to mobilise the continent.
Maria encouraged the spouses to share good practice and to work through the Mothers’ Union. ‘But we must learn to communicate with each other better,’ she stressed.