2012-01-02 Vatican RadioIt would be wrong and impossible to generalise when speaking of Africa except perhaps, to agree that it has an enormous amount of potential.
Analysts worldwide agree that Africa is experiencing an economic boom. It is predicted to have the largest economic growth of any continent over the next decade with all social and political implications of the case.
For a more personal and pastoral analysis Linda Bordoni asked South African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Archbishop of Durban, to look back on the lights and shadows of this past year in his continent.
He begins by thinking back to the momentous year of 1994 during which South Africa put its best foot forward and became a democratic nation and a shining example to the entire world. 1994 however, Napier says, was also the year of the horrific genocide in Rwanda, making it a year that stands out in the history of Africa. 2011 - he says - has similar reasons for standing out.
First the bright lights beginning with the birth of the world's newest nation: South Sudan. The South Sudanese people were finally given the chance to rule themselves and this showed the world that Africans, when they are given the chance, will make the right decision.
Another bright light would have been in July when the South Sudan Independence Celebrations took place, showing that the nation had really began to stand on its own feet.
Then of course the Pope's visit to Benin to launch the Apostolic Exhortation that came out of the Sinod for Africa.
And of coure the Arab Spring all across the Northern part of Africa giving us a picture of how even long suffering people "say enough is enough" - and "we want to be able to determine our own future on the basis of what is good for us and not on what is good for a small elite of leaders".
On the negative side we saw what happened in Lybia and how Gheddafi sacrificed the country in order to hold on to his own power and position.
Another aspect pointing to the changes in Africa are elections that are won and lost and contested, and go on and on with the continuing fear of a new outbreak of civil war.
Also on a negative note, the short-sightedness of South African leaders today, more concerned for their own priviledges than for the good of the people.
And Cardinal Napier spoke of the incredible potential of the African continent, which he says, was picked up by Pope Benedict XVI who described Africa as "the lung of the world, the lung of the Church". New oxygen and new life is going to come from the Church in Africa.
And the Cardinal also spoke of the effect of the World Youth Day meeting and message on African youth and in the Pope's recognition that it is the young people who bring hope to the future. Just as the young Church in Africa represents hope for the future of Church.
listen to the interview...