Next month could be a historic turning point for the more than 300 million Africans who live on less than a dollar a day. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain has been busily lining up international support for his proposal to attack poverty in Africa by ramping up foreign aid. Leading entertainers like Madonna, Bono and Elton John have announced a string of concerts to mobilise grass-roots enthusiasm. Only one crucial element is still missing - the wholehearted support of the US government. Unless President Bush joins this effort in the five weeks remaining before the summit meeting to be held in July in Scotland, Africa’s hopes will be disappointed and America’s image in the eyes of a world that once looked to it for enlightened leadership will be further diminished. Africans, after long years of accepting the rule of brutal and corrupt dictators, are finally dragging themselves to their feet to say,

“Enough.” With help, African countries can take the route of development and progress, and finally enjoy lives that are about more than just scrounging day in and day out for food and clothes. Without that help, those same countries can take the path that cycles back into civil war, poverty and life expectancies so low that 13-year-old girls are considered old women. — The New York Times