I was actually at the launch of the Commission for Africa in May 2005. While the Commission made a big show about having African input into the consultations, I couldn't help but notice that the Ethiopian I was sat next to was one of the few Africans in the audience. Everyone else seemed much of a piece: officials from BINGOs (Big NGOs), western journalists, a few civil servants, and Labour Party workers.
With today's historic elections in Kenya - the first since the announcement of the new constitution in August 2010 - I was interested to find out if the country had endeavoured to hold true to this aspiration. Has the Kenyan government taken steps to make sure that disabled people are included in this election?
In the week that Kenyans went to the polls I was reminded of a morning three months ago walking through the streets of Freetown, Sierra Leone. The pace of the country's capital was not at its usual frantic level. Queues were steadily forming around voting booths, observers busy checking materials, and polling station staff working from morning to late into the night. It was the 17 November 2012, election day in Sierra Leone.
Sauti Ya Wanawake (Voice for Women) is working in the coastal region of Kenya to educate women about the electoral process and provide advice on staying safe on the day. As a non-partisan organisation, we are calling on all parties to hold peaceful campaigns and for the authorities to ensure sufficient police presence at the polling stations so that women and men feel safe when voting.
About a third of Nairobi's population - around 1 million people - live in slums. These settlements are deemed "illegal," so they are not recognized in government plans for schools. Household poverty, poor child health and nutrition and extensive child labour provide formidable barriers to education.
Many actually consider that Africa is a wilderness where there will never be peace. It is also deemed that Africa's children are doomed to live a pitiful existence on earth because it is their 'lot' in life. Up to half of the world's child soldiers are in Africa. Many of these children are abducted at ages as young as 10 or 11 years old, some even younger.
I am shocked, but not surprised, to find ourselves in the middle of another poaching crisis, one that is having massive impact throughout the African continent. A small trinket or a large extravagant ornament made of ivory will have had a bloody start as most ivory these days is illegal; hacked from the face of a dead or dying elephant.
Desperate to save their loved ones, families turned to traditional faith healers, running up huge debts paying for treatment that not only didn't work but was often painful and dangerous. HIV testing wasn't available, and for the few who did know they were infected, there was no support or treatment. People were dying and things seemed beyond hope. And so to people who say that that we shouldn't give aid to Africa because it's not helping, I'd say you're chatting rubbish. I've seen with my own eyes that you're wrong, aid does work. It's real and it's making a massive difference.