It was the late Pan Africanist and Ghana’s First President, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah who said that political independence is meaningless without economic liberty.

One recurring attribute among the African liberation fighters in the heady days of colonialism was that they focused more on battling for the political independence of their countries while neglecting economic independence which in my humble view is the more important of the two since it has a direct impact in the lives of the hoi polloi that they claim to be fighting for. Whether it was the charismatic approach of the Late Zik of Africa who had his education in the United States that took up arms against their former British Imperial Overlords or the militant strategy of Jomo Kenyatta whose Mau Mau Movement led to the death of hundreds of thousands of his countrymen including the Caucasian British Colonialists, Uhuru meant little or nothing to the Man on the Clapham Omnibus as some even argued that their economic fortune was far better under the White men that their fellow black brothers chased away while purporting to act in their best ‘interest.’

South Africa fondly known as the Rainbow Country because of her diversity and inclusiveness tragically is the archetype of how freedom fighting went wrong which is worthy of critical study by historians and political pundits. Madiba Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress despite their altruism and heroic nationalistic stance failed to carefully factor in the economic independence of the blacks when the walls of apartheid finally fell in 1994 with the election of Mandela as the country’s first black President with the blacks having ruled the country since then.

Economic power lies squarely in the hands of the descendants of the Boers which has made a cruel mockery of all the decades of anti-apartheid struggle leading the blacks to vent their anger and unleash their venom on their fellow Africans resident there as economic migrants ironically the leaders of these other Africans massively supported the black liberation struggle in the Rainbow country financially, diplomatically and politically.

As reported by IT Web, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group says there are 23 known cases of suicide in SA every day, and for every person that commits suicide, 10 have attempted it.

This grim situation led to the launch of Panda which has as its main thrust the agenda to greatly democratize mental healthcare assistance in South Africa. The Panda app provides community support, expert assistance and useful mental health information.

In an e-mail interview with ITWeb, Alon Lits, co-owner and co-CEO of Panda, explained: “Our mission at Panda is to democratise access to mental healthcare. We hope to achieve this byreducing the main barriers which inhibit access to mental health support.”

Users can anonymously join daily, live and audio-only sessions on various topics in the Panda Forest feature, says the company.

“When a user logs into the app, they will see what sessions are lined up for the next few days. A library of mental health-related content (videos, articles, activities) can be accessed and worked through on demand.

“To better understand individual mental health journeys, screening assessments can be completed in the app, after which personalised feedback and suggestions for care are generated for each user,” said Lits.

Users can reach out to a primary mental health professional via the synchronous, text-based support functionality, which is available for eight hours daily, he added.

Mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists can be accessed through the one-on-one virtual consultations via the booking functionality within the app.

Launched in 2019, the app was initially developed with the help of a dev house in Poland. Earlier this year, Panda moved all its development to its in-house team based in SA.

Although the company will start charging for its services in 2023, Lits says for now, users can benefit from the app free of charge.

Panda has gone on to partner with healthcare corporations such as Medscheme and Fedhealth, to create more access to healthcare workers on the platform.

Lits says the team has received great feedback from users who are benefiting from the app and that validation keeps the team motivated.

I am glad that Panda has berthed in South Africa and hope that it stems the tide in the rising cases of suicide there especially among the black community who sadly live at the bottom end of the spectrum close to three decades after the fall of the sinister apartheid.

A big thumbs up to the brains behind Panda!

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