The message of the Charter for Compassion was taken to Africa on my recent visit to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

I felt safe on a street walk through the jacaranda filled centre of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Zimbabweans are remarkably friendly and good natured which explains why there has been no revolution. Dodging cracks in the pavements, I saw glimpses of the splendor of this place that was once the Jewel of Africa and its breadbasket.

Many of the offices are empty in a land where unemployment is conservatively at over 80% and where a quarter of the population, many skilled, have fled. The Zimbabwean dollar is no longer in circulation and has been replaced by the US dollar. At one point they issued a 100 billion dollar note which could purchase just three eggs.

On one of the main streets, I met with young political activists from the MDC Party. They bravely run an information store, selling dvds and books, which is often shut down by police and their material confiscated. Despite the façade of a power sharing government, they told me “there is no democracy in Zimbabwe. We are not yet free”.

I spoke to them about the Charter. They were particularly interested. Afterall, the Zimbabwean people desperately need compassion after years of oppression and neglect at the hands of the brutal and corrupt Mugabe regime. One of the activists summed it up best by saying, “It is Mugabe and his his ZANU PF who need to show us, the people, compassion.”

In this photo, note the open hand salute. This is the symbol of the MDC and represents transparency. Mugabe’s Zanu PF Party has a clenched fist as its symbol.

There is huge potential in Zimbabwe and investors, tourists and refugees will hopefully return when sanity and democracy prevails.

In South Africa, I discussed the Charter with some inspirational people. The country is buzzing with Football World Cup fever.

I promoted the Charter to a well known documentary maker, a senior strategist at the City of Johannesburg Council and a representative for the non-profit organisation, MaAfrika Tikkun, which does incredible outreach with vulnerable children in the sprawling townships.

Anthony Orkin and Darren Bergman

Anthony Orkin and Darren Bergman

I was particularly thrilled to meet a dynamic young but experienced politician, Darren Bergman, the Democratic Alliance’s (Main Opposition Party in South Africa) Safety Spokesperson in Johannesburg. See the photo. Amongst his many responsibilities, he is at the forefront of confronting the horrific crime rate in South Africa.

Darren is very keen to spread the message of the Charter in South Africa and collaborate with us in Australia. South Africa is fertile ground for the Charter with issues such as AIDS orphans and xenophobia against immigrants from other African countries.

I recommend that you visit his brilliant website at http://darrenbergman.wordpress.com/ which talks about his uniquely South African experiences. Darren is also in the process of writing a book which will make a fascinating read.

All in all, it was an unforgettable trip to Africa and an invaluable chance to advance the Charter. The whole world will enjoy the wonders of South Africa and Africa when the World Cup kicks off next month.

Anthony Orkin

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