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Commemorating the 300th Issue of Pambazuka News I first came across Pambazuka News in/around 2003 when I was a graduate student in Boston, Massachusetts. After reading the first issue, I immediately subscribed and forwarded the web link to all students and scholars of Africa at my school. From time to time, I continue to forward specific articles to various people that I know are interested in listening to an African voice published in an African platform. I have never turned back since then.

Pambazuka News has given me a voice, a home, a reflection point and a reaffirmation that my thoughts and believes are not crazy but shared by many individuals in our world. The weekly articles give us a visual picture of “the African” activist through the style of communication that reflects expressions of reality rather than abstract or theoretical imagination of issues concerning civil society in Africa.

Occasionally, other social activists from outside Africa contribute to our discussions on international justice and its impact on Africa and other marginalized groups.

Indeed, Pambazuka News has established itself as an African mouthpiece for social justice for all of civil society. As we move toward the 301st issue, I ask Pambazuka News to help us begin a conversation with our national, sub-regional and regional political leaders. Civil society tends to monopolize concerns for social justice in Africa in Pambazuka News and the current publications in Pambazuka News tend to affirm this trend.

Most of the contributions are from people (myself without exemption) decrying or rebuking the government without an opportunity given to the government to respond in this forum. It cannot be true that there are no individuals within our national, sub-regional and African Union concerned about social justice in Africa. We in civil society do not hold a monopoly of concern for the welfare of Africa. We, therefore, need to make a concerted effort in working with our governments, providing them our ideas and accepting that them and us can richly contribute to shaping the growth and health of Africa and African Unity.

As my friend Chidi Odinkalu once said to me, “If Oxfam has an African Union Representative in Ethiopia, why not us, African organizations and civil society?” I fully agree that, rather than disengaging with our governments, this kind of engagement will help us achieve the transformations for Africa we expect from our leaders.

Politicians come from among civil society, some of whom have been activists before they are transformed into government officials. Let us, therefore, begin a conversation with our governments through Pambazuka News, and if possible, let Pambazuka News establish a regional desk in Ethiopia to capture proceedings as they unfold.

Thank you for the great service Pambazuka News and may you keep it up and strong!