The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Out of Africa

by JC Bowman

Bishop Tom Wright says there are two types of travelers: One that sets off in the general direction of the destination and is quite happy to figure things out along the way, sure they read the signposts, ask directions, and muddle through.  The other type of traveler wants to know everything, every little detail in advance.

I generally fall into the first camp, even if I see strange signposts pointing beyond the landscape of our culture into the unknown.  It is not merely life that excites me, it is the journey.  I like to live imaginatively and interface with my thoughts, my faith and the people I meet along the way at life's intersections.       

Sometimes, like my mother Linda Lawhorn used to tell me, you have to do things bigger than yourself.  I have a sign that hangs above my office door that says three words: Dare to Dream.  This month I am going to Africa for the first time in my life.  Why Africa?  Well let me share a few words of a former Cleveland resident now residing in South Africa, Floyd McClung Jr., who wrote:

"It is Africa's hour. Africans are rising up in great numbers to take hold of the promises of God for their continent. The president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, says there is an African renaissance in the making. Everywhere you turn you find a spirit of entrepreneurship and vision for new things… God will not evangelize the world without Africans playing their part. African leaders have yet to find their place in significant numbers in world evangelization…The spiritual center of gravity in the world has shifted to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The greatest growth, the greatest openness and the greatest moves of God's spirit are happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and increasingly, in the Middle East…African leaders are crying out for spiritual mentors. There are hundreds and thousands of teachable, dedicated leaders in Africa who are crying out for training and mentoring…God loves Africa. He planned her, created her in his image, and designed a destiny for Africa that no one else can fulfill."

You can find poverty anywhere you look in the world. But unfortunately few

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



places compare to those in Africa. Unbelievably, 41% of Sub-Saharan Africans live on less than $2 a day, 41% of all Africans live on less than $1 a day.  200 million go hungry every day. This year alone at least a million Africans, most of them young children, will die of malaria and two million will also die of AIDS.  For the first time in human history, we have the science, the technology and the money to put an end to extreme poverty. With this unprecedented historic opportunity comes a responsibility to take bold action. 

Africa faces three critical issues that keep people poor and its nations weak: 1) Debt that overwhelms many African nations incurred by previous leaders which keeps many African countries building schools and hospitals.  2) AIDS, a disease that is taking the lives of an entire generation. More than 38 million people around the world are infected by HIV/AIDS, 25 million in Africa alone. 3) Trade, currently, the 50 poorest countries in the world control less than 1% of the global export market. If Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America were each to increase their share of world exports by one percent, the resulting gains in income could lift 128 million people out of poverty. In Africa alone, this would generate $70 billion - several times what the continent receives in aid.

While the devastating facts in Africa are staggering, mere sympathy for Africa sets up a weak foundation for a lasting relationship between those in prosperous western countries and the masses in Africa. It is worth considering that fighting poverty is also important for our national security. By addressing those three critical issues identified above it could save millions of lives and could change the way the United States and other wealthy nations are viewed by the rest of the world.  From a national security perspective, greater prosperity for ordinary Africans would also reduce threats posed by Islamic terrorism and pandemics such as AIDS or other new infectious diseases. It sure would be nice to meet other citizens around the world outside of military encounters.  Commerce and aid are methods that will allow us to do that. Like Bono said: "It is madness for us to fight the war on terror with tanks and guns when we could fight it with medicine, free schooling and freedom of thought." 

Even in the middle of this catastrophic situation, a new Africa is emerging.  In 2007, 20 million children are going to school for the first time in their lives. African economies are forecast to grow by an average of 5.8% in 2007, according to the latest edition of the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2007), the annual flagship publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).  The report, titled "Accelerating Africa's Development through Diversification," notes that African economies continued to sustain the growth momentum of previous years, recording an overall real GDP growth rate of 5.7% in 2006. 28 countries recorded higher economic growth rates in 2006 than 2005. Across the continent there is hope for turning the tide, African churches, community groups and media outlets are acting as the deterrent against corruption and holding their governments to account for their decisions and spending through transparency and accountability. 

On my trip I will visit Botswana and South Africa.  However, it is Botswana that has touched my heart the most. Botswana is among the countries hardest hit by AIDS with the second highest prevalence rate in the world. Life expectancy at birth fell

from 65 years in 1990-1995 to 33.6 years in 2006.  There are 12-15 year olds that are now heads of households, and that should make all of us cry.  While there are dire financial needs, the focus of my engagement is on building unity, sustainability and spiritual growth. The spiritual growth is as much for me as it is for those in Africa.    Mother Teresa was a good example of belief in action. As she herself succinctly put it, she was merely a pencil in the hand of God.  She was living proof that one person, filled with love, purpose and determination, really can make a difference - can, in fact, touch the entire world.  For me to do nothing is not acceptable. 

It was Socrates who said the unexamined life is not worth living.  The main reason we lead unexamined lives is that we do not take time to really look at ourselves carefully looking for more and more. If you want a planned out life, where every step is mapped out to the smallest detail, you probably should not interact with people too often.  You should also never follow in my footsteps or take the paths that I have taken in life because on my journey, I take pleasure in each little step.  It is our differences that make each of us special. 

My wife Bethany once gave me a sign that said:  Your life is God's gift to you, what you do with your life is your gift to God. If you want to find out more about Africa or how you can discover how your gifts and passions can be utilized in places like Botswana visit our website at or sit down with a local religious and community leader and volunteer your time.  Whichever path you choose in life I have no doubt that your journey will be remarkable, the people you meet will be interesting and you can do things bigger than yourself.  Dare to dream!

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
He can be reached by email at:

Visit his website at: