Pambazuka News 283: 2006 - The year in quotes
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Books & arts, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. Podcasts, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Environment, 18. Media & freedom of expression, 19. News from the diaspora, 20. Conflict & emergencies, 21. Internet & technology, 22. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 23. World Social Forum 2007, 24. Jobs
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Featured This Week
Pambazuka News Editors
FEATURE: We bring you highlights of the year and give you reasons for continuing to support Pambazuka News
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- There has been an increase in violence against aid workers in Darfur. Eva Dadrian argues that for international development aid to be effective, peace must be restored first to Darfur.
- WSF is a few weeks away. Onyango Oloo writes that social movements want to see the WSF being transformed into a space for organizing and mobilizing against the nefarious forces of neo-liberalism.
- Dieu-Donné WEDI DJAMBA explores what reconciliation means for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
PODCASTS: Safaa Elagib Adam from the Sudanes Community Development Association talks to from Pambazuka News
PAN AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem celebrates the intellectual achievements of Issa Shivji, 'a legend in his own lifetime.'
BLOGGING AFRICA: Sokari Ekine reviews the film ‘Blood Diamonds’.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM: What is the WSF?
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Links to news on Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Nigeria and the CAR
HUMAN RIGHTS: Darfur demands sanctions, not words
WOMEN AND GENDER: Annan’s legacy for women
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Refugee camps after dark
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Gabonese go to the polls
DEVELOPMENT: Beware of China-Africa economic ties
CORRUPTION: Tackle corruption not critics
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Libya HIV death penalties condemned
ENVIRONMENT: New drive for the environment in Zanzibar
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Egyptian Blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman has spent six weeks in custody
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Germany’s black community demand demolition of racist statue
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops
2006: The year in quotes
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Pambazuka News Editors
How does one summarise the year 2006 in a few words? It’s been a year of hope and dashed-hopes. The Democratic Republic of Congo held its first democratic elections since the country’s independence in 1960. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe is making moves to extend his tenure of office as president by a further two years. In Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is waging a struggle to have access to the wealth generated by the oil found in the area. In the Sudan, the Janjaweed continues killing and causing destruction in Darfur. China has become a major economic - and political - player on the continent. Amidst all of this, Africans celebrated in June the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the first anniversary in November of the coming into force of the AU Protocol on the Rights on Women in Africa.
But is has also been a year in which Pambazuka News has helped the voices of those engaged in the struggles for social justice be heard through the cacophony of stereotypes that normally fills the mainstream media. In 48 issues of the English language version, and 17 of the French language version, over 200 authors have written more than 270 articles.
This rich collection of analyses and commentaries has also given rise to two books that will be available at the World Social Forum in Nairobi in January: 'Grace, tenacity and eloquence: the struggle for women’s rights in Africa' and 'African Perspectives on China in Africa'.
And to complement that, there have been 14 podcasts featuring the voices of activists committed to expanding freedoms in Africa.
Pambazuka News has become a critical means for organisations in Africa to exchange information, to forge networks of solidarity, and to open much needed debate about major developments in the region. This community - connected through Pambazuka News - is unique to the continent.
All this has been done on a shoestring. We’ve been generously supported by loyal funders (see the acknowledgements at the bottom of this newsletter), but we rely primarily on the generosity of our authors and readers to really make Pambazuka News what it is today. Pambazuka News is able to do what it does because it remains independent. And to retain that independence, we continue to need your support. You can support Pambazuka News in many ways: by writing articles or reviewing books; telling your friends and colleagues about Pambazuka News; by distributing articles to others; by volunteering your time. But if you don’t have time or inclination to do such things, you can support us by making a regular donation to Pambazuka News.
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And to remind you of some of the highlights of the year here is a selection of 12 feature articles from 2006. You can read these and some 40,000 other news, resources and analyses at www.pambazuka.org
HAITI: A COUP REGIME, HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND THE HIDDEN HAND OF WASHINGTON
'To its everlasting discredit, in 2004 the UN sent troops to Haiti when a U.S. marine occupation became politically untenable. In effect, this international presence, consisting of soldiers from more than twenty countries, comprises an occupation force that legitimizes the current coup regime and controls dissidents unwilling to accept the new status quo. And, as a Chilean officer told me in Cap Hatien in December 2004, the troops are ‘trained as soldiers, so it is very hard for us to not react in a military fashion.’ A Haitian activist I spoke to who identifies himself as a member of Lavalas told me that one useful thing the UN has done in Haiti is to bring in health care. Unfortunately, he noted sardonically, the treatment only comes after UN troops shoot civilians.'
-- Pambazuka News 239: 26 January 2006
A LEAKING SHIP: THE ROLE OF DEBT, AID AND TRADE
'The rationale behind the ‘more and better aid, debt cancellation and more just trade policies’ is that these will create the conditions to ensure adequate resources to finance Africa’s development. Undoubtedly, if fully addressed, these will put more money in the hands of governments and people and ease the resource constraint. We will argue however that on their own – never mind the quality of aid, the speed of debt cancellation, the degree of market opening in the north and the end of export subsidies - these demands will not provide the resources adequate for Africa’s development. These demands, though relevant, are slightly misplaced in their singular focus on sources of ‘inflows’ to the total denial of the mechanisms of ‘outflows’. It is the balance of inflows and outflows that create the net resources for development.'
-- Pambazuka News 240: 02 February 2006
CHINA IN AFRICA – THE NEW IMPERIALISM?
'China’s increased presence in Africa is part of a wider effort to ‘create a paradigm of globalisation that favours China’. In the past China’s African presence benefited from a shared history as an object of European imperialism and its ideological commitment to anti-imperialism and national liberation. China’s declared principles of respect for national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs appealed not only as a contrast with the suspect motives of former colonial powers, but for less elevated reasons to rulers threatened with internal dissent. But more recently China’s policy has shifted from Cold War ideology to a more classical pursuit of economic self-interest in the form of access to raw materials, markets and spheres of influence through investment, trade and military assistance - to the point where China can be suspected of pursuing the goals of any classical imperialist.'
-- Pambazuka News 244: 02 March 2006
WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE AND SEXUAL RIGHTS AND THE OFFENCE OF ZINA IN MUSLIM LAWS IN NIGERIA
Ayesha M Imam
'Approaches to human rights must also be constantly reconstructed. It is important that local cultural-religious norms and traditions, as well as formal national and international rights regimes must be simultaneously drawn from and negotiated with. Women’s rights groups have been integral to this process. Even though many of these groups are often regarded as in opposition to family, religious or ethnic community, they are in fact challenging not the communities themselves, but the current definitions of culture and norms of that community, and the powers of the cultural gatekeepers to maintain those definitions. It is with this background in mind that this article looks at the politics and activities surrounding zina cases under the Sharia Penal Codes in Nigeria. Nigeria has seen a growth in religious essentialism and conservatism. However, the introduction of Sharia in Nigeria has had more to do with emotional political appeal, especially due to economic and educational issues, rather than religious sentiment.'
-- Pambazuka News 245: 09 March 2006
ZIMBABWE 2006 – WE ALL FALL DOWN
'Every year since 2000, Zimbabweans have wondered: ‘Will this be it, will this be the year when it all ends, when Humpty Dumpty finally totters off the wall?’ And if it is, what will it mean for each one of us, and for the nation as a whole – healing, restoration and return to ‘normality’, or deepened chaos, insecurity and catastrophe? We listen to talk about elections in 2008 and 2010 and deep down nurture a hope that there will be no more ZANU PF elections. But even deeper down we fear that even if there aren’t, things will never come right again, not in our life-times, unless we are still very young. Several years ago, as Zimbabwe left the gentler rapids and began its headlong rush towards the precipice, some people declared loudly that we had reached the bottom and could now only go up. How deluded they were.'
-- Pambazuka News 248: 30 March 2006
CELEBRATING TWO DECADES OF THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS
Ahmed C Motala
'The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) was adopted on 27th June 1981 by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), predecessor to the African Union (AU), at its Assembly of Heads of States and Government in Nairobi, Kenya. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the African Charter, which came into force in October 1986. Some commentators have hailed the African Charter as a progressive document that, amongst others, recognises the indivisibility of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, distinct from other international human rights treaties. The African Charter was also the first human rights treaty to refer to the right to development, although it did not define this right. Others have criticised the African Charter for its many shortcomings, in particular its ‘claw-back’ clauses, which make certain rights subject to domestic law. For example, Article 9(2) of the African Charter states: ‘Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate opinions within the law.’ Other rights such as the right to privacy do not feature in the African Charter and some rights including the right to fair trial are inadequately defined.'
-- Pambazuka News 260: 22 June 2006
DRC’S POTENTIAL: LIGHTING THE CONTINENT FROM CAPE TO CAIRO
'The DRC cannot play a positive role in Africa’s development as long as it remains a dependent territory with approximately 60 percent of its national budget, over US$400 million for its national elections and virtually all of its development policy decisions coming from external sources. Elections, in this context, are not an exercise in self-determination but a ritual designed to justify external control through weak and non-patriotic elements of the political class. To play an emancipatory role with respect to Africa’s development, the DRC must complete its transition from colonialism to genuine independence as a sovereign nation with its own social project and capacity to make and implement its own development policies.'
-- Pambazuka News 261: 21 July 2006
THE DYNAMICS OF MEDIATION IN IVORY COAST
'The continuation of the Ivory Coast crisis is due, not only to the fact that none of the protagonists has a vested interest in its resolution, but also because the various mediations have failed. It is not possible to bring together two parties without their mutual consent. It is interesting to note that the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has ‘lasted’ longer at this game than others, but, like the others, he has been both rejected and recognised by the two parties in turn. Until August 2005, he appeared to be adulated in turn by one side and vilified by the other in equal measure, but from August his ‘mediation’ became ‘stabilised’ in favour of the ruling power and was thus totally discredited. Before him, all the mediators underwent similar ups and downs: Eyadema of Togo was in turn denounced as a ‘rebel subversive’ then as a ‘supporter of Gbagbo,’ sometimes both in the same week!'
-- Pambazuka News 269: 14 September 2006
THE POLITICS OF OIL AND POVERTY
'It is almost impossible to imagine, as we sit in a well lit, fully functioning gas station on Main Street, USA, that a community blessed with oil riches under its soil could look as impoverished as Yenagoa in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa. Yenagoa is the site of one of Nigeria 's first oil wells, built in pre-independence 1956. Yet as in many communities in Nigeria’s oil rich Delta region, most people of Yenagoa live in mud huts. Some reside only a few feet away from the oil wells. But they lack electricity and indoor toilets. They have no hospitals, no running water, no schools. And there is unemployment too. Oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil bring in foreign workers for even the most menial jobs.'
-- Pambazuka News 272: 05 October 2006
DARFUR: THE AVOIDANCE WORD STILL SCREAMS ITS NAME
'Those who have had the dubious privilege of reading the manifestoes of the arrowhead of a state policy of ethnic cleansing, the Sudanese Janjaweed, an agenda pronounced, without ambiguity, as the Arabisation of the Sudanese nation - will surely have squirmed at the naked language of racial incitement, its claims of race superiority, complemented by the language of contempt and disdain for the indigenous African. It is not quite what Senghor had in mind when he embarked on his fraternal annunciation of arabite and his proposition for a north-south, negro-arab collaboration of cultures: Je ne parle meme d’arabisme…. je parle d’arabite, de cette arabite qui est le foyer irradiant des vertus de l’eternal Bedouin.'
-- Pambazuka News 273: 12 October 2006
MEND: ANATOMY OF A PEOPLES’ MILITIA
'The first thing that strikes you on meeting members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) militia is the ease with which they move about in Warri metropolis, and also in the creek villages, indicating clearly that they are amongst people who not only identify with their cause but also go out of their way to offer them protection and safe havens during attacks by Nigerian soldiers. However, their movements are constrained by the ever-prowling soldiers. The second thing you notice is that the militants, or the ones elected by the others to respond to your questions, are articulate, well-educated, and conversant with latest political developments in Nigeria and other parts of the world.'
-- Pambazuka News 275/6/7: 02 November 2006
THE STIGMATISATION OF SEX WORKERS
'The normative message that society has traditionally given to women is that sex is only acceptable within marriage or at least within a significant relationship. This message can be understood as part of society’s attempt to keep women’s sexuality controlled within the bounds of marriage. Sexual relationships that do not occur within marriage, or at least within a committed relationship, are seen as deviating from this social norm. The further a relationship is from the norm-setting nuclear family the more likely it is to be categorised as ‘abnormal’. Thus, for example, unmarried heterosexual couples are still close enough to this norm to be considered nominally acceptable, while homosexual relationships fall further outside of the norm and are thus often seen as ‘suspect’.'
-- Pambazuka News 279: 23 November 2006
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
The political dynamics of the Darfur crisis
At least 200,000 people are estimated to have died since the Darfur conflict between government forces, allied militias and rebels seeking autonomy began in 2003. Aid workers have also been attacked, and their vehicles and communication equipment stolen. Eva Dadrian writes that for international development aid to be effective, peace must be restored first to Darfur.
Throughout the Darfur crisis, Sudan has disputed accusations, accused everybody except the pro-government Janjaweed militias, played for time, pledged and promised but never delivered. It has even managed to stave off UN intervention. Darfur is entering its fourth year of conflict and turmoil and there are no more excuses to be made, say observers.
Despite calls for action from the United Nations (UN), aid agencies and human rights organisations, Africans have consistently resisted any action which would be critical of the Sudanese government, in the name of African solidarity. But patience seems to have run out even from a very complacent African Union, and not long ago, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria warned of possible genocide in the region. Now, President Omar el Bashir has until the end of the year to disarm the Janjaweed, and accept a hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur or face the consequences.
Addressing the African-Caribbean-Pacific conference held recently in Khartoum, President al Bashir said that the situation in Darfur is “under control” and that peace has been restored in the province. In reality, the situation in Darfur is far from being "under control" as claimed by the Sudanese strong man. The rebellion continues and a new group has emerged and taken up arms against Khartoum.
Reported to belong to Darfur Arab tribes, the Popular Forces Troops (PFT) say they are fighting against the “marginalisation” of the region. It is not yet known whether they will join forces with the rebel groups that did not sign the Abuja Peace agreement. However, the PFT is reported to have made a statement saying that “Darfur Arab groups believe that Darfur people are fighting for a just cause”.
In the meantime, the only group which signed the Abuja Peace agreement with the government last May (the Sudan Liberation Army), has threatened to pull out of the deal if Khartoum-backed militias “continue to be armed and to attack civilians”. In addition, fresh fighting has erupted between the Sudanese government troops and the National Redemption Front (NRF), an umbrella group of the rebel factions that did not sign the Abuja peace agreement in May.
Sitting in Addis Ababa last week, the AU Joint Ceasefire Commission (JCC) decided that the disarmament of the Janjaweed in the war-torn Darfur region "be started immediately." That decision was made upon the assessment of a confidential report presented to the JCC by General Luke Aprezi, the commander of the AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan) peacekeeping force. The report testifies clearly and without ambiguity hat the Janjaweed had recently increased their attacks. It also draws the attention of the JCC to the fact that "the re-emergence of the Janjaweed also negatively affected the security situation." Although Khartoum continues to deny it, General Luke Aprezi’s report says, “The Sudanese government continues to arm the Janjaweed."
Back in 2004, at the height of the conflict, I wrote that the Sudanese armed forces and other paramilitary units, i.e. the government-backed Janjaweed, have simultaneously targeted civilians, allegedly accused of supporting the rebellion. Despite promises and pledges from the government, the Janjaweed are still being armed and still targeting civilians. Only last month, the Janjaweed were again in action against civilians. This time the attacks took place near the Chadian borders.
Both the AU and the United Nations confirmed this recent military campaign and said that the Janjaweed militia has targeted “civilians and particularly children”. More than 70 civilians were reported killed. Western monitors have also reported that the Sudanese Air Force has also been deployed in the offensive and bombed villages along the border with Chad. No circumstances can justify deliberate attacks on civilians, or military operations that endanger civilian lives. These recent attacks were grave violations of human rights and the laws of war, and they happened despite the recent pledge by the government to dismantle the Janjaweed and honour a UN Security Council resolution that banned bombing raids in Darfur.
President Al Bashir has consistently rejected the deployment of an extended peacekeeping force on the grounds that his government is capable of maintaining peace in the region. He went as far as declaring that the presence of any UN force would be like “an invasion” or that the West is interested neither in human rights nor in the plight of the people of Darfur, but seeking to invade Sudan only so it could plunder its resources. Sudanese government officials have also warned that the war-torn province could become “a new battlefield for jihadists”.
There is no doubt that the disarmament depends on “ the political will of the Sudanese government” says Monique Mukaruliza, deputy head of the peace mission, but the pressure is building up and it appears that even Sudan’s African supporters have given up on Khartoum’s long-lasting diplomatic game.
That game is almost over. An “informal” consensus seems to have been reached by the AU, the international community and the UN to put further pressure on Sudan.
As the AU Joint Ceasefire Commission was sitting in Addis Ababa, 15 former foreign ministers wrote a proposal for Darfur. Published in the Financial Times of London (18 December 2006), the proposal, signed by amongst others: Joschka Fisher (Germany) Ismail Cem (Turkey) Gareth Evans (Australia), Erik Derycke of Belgium, Lamberto Dini of Italy, Bronislaw Geremek of Poland, Rosario Green of Mexico, Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand, Hubert Vedrine of France and Ana Palacio of Spain, says that a “fully observed ceasefire leading to a sustained political settlement would be the best way to save lives in the war-ravaged region.”
In the interim, says the proposal, the international community will need to convince President al-Bashir that his best interests would be served by allowing the “African Union peacekeeping force to be strengthened with financial, logistical and other support from the United Nations.”
The option of sanctions, the so-called “consequences” mentioned by the JCC communiqué, is clearly stated in the foreign ministers’ proposal. They reckon that sanctions would force a change of policy by Khartoum. “As former diplomats, we support one last effort to persuade Khartoum to accept the proposal for a hybrid force. If by the year's end Mr Bashir still refuses or, more likely, continues pretending to agree one day and saying no the next, he should pay a stiff price."
That price, or the consequences should first include targeted multilateral sanctions [such as travel bans and asset freezes] directed at military and civilian leaders who are responsible for the violence. The second step should be measures to target revenue from Sudan's oil sales, coupled with an embargo on the sale of equipment to that country's petroleum industry, and thirdly, steps to be taken to close offshore accounts affiliated with the government-majority party, including militias.
In addition, the International Criminal Court should up its investigations into those who order or commit crimes against humanity in Darfur. However, unless these sanctions are “multilateral” they will have no effect on the Sudanese government. Extensive diplomatic efforts by the AU and the international community are being made to persuade Sudan’s African, Arab and Asian allies to help change President al Bashir’s mind and to reach an agreement for a “hybrid” AU-UN force to be sent in 2007. Before being asked to leave Sudan, in October 2006, Jan Egeland, the United Nations humanitarian chief, made a similar plea and called on African, Arab and Asian countries to urge Sudan to accept a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.
The Addis Ababa-Abuja broad diplomatic coalition, which benefits from the support of the AU, the Arab League and the UN Security Council, has recommended a hybrid force that would combine AU personnel with financial, logistics and other support from the United Nations. The plan is 1) to strengthen the capacity of the AU monitors, 2) to provide for increased logistical support to the embattled African contingent and 3) to see the deployment of a hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force yet to be formally approved by Sudan.
Pressure is also mounting from the International Criminal Court (ICC), as Luis Moreno Ocampo, the chief prosecutor for ICC, announced that his investigation has collected enough evidence to prove “who are the most responsible for the crimes committed in Darfur” in 2003 and 2004. It was during that period that the highest number of crimes were committed, by all parties involved in the conflict. The chief prosecutor has also asked the Sudanese government to facilitate a visit by his team in January 2007 to gather information on the 14 arrests made by the GoS.
However, it seems that the people indicted by the GoS are not the same people the ICC is investigating. Under the Rome statute, the prosecutor must first assess whether the government is building the same case. Ocampo has already asked the Sudanese government for an update on their national proceedings, regarding the arrest of 14 people by the Sudanese authorities.
Furthermore, as the UN Human Rights Council is preparing to send a high-level team of human rights experts to Darfur, news reports have quoted Mohamed Ali al-Mardhi, the Sudanese minister of justice, as saying that he was “ready to cooperate with a UN fact-finding team due to investigate human rights abuses in war-torn Darfur.”
According to Al-Mardhi, “the authorities have nothing to hide” and all obstacles will be removed in order “to allow the team of experts to probe cases of rights violations in the western region”.
Collective decision-making is very well, and there is no doubt in my mind that as Africans, we have to stand for African sovereignty and reject any outside interference in our own affairs. But my question is whether in the name of that same sovereignty, we should allow our governments to kill Africans and destroy entire communities, making hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes and become refugees or IDPs (internally displaced people), facing starvation and life threatening diseases? It is indeed in the name of their sovereignty that successive governments in Khartoum have waged wars against their own people: for more than twenty years in Southern Sudan and now for almost four years in Darfur.
Observers and aid agencies continue to remind us that Security Council resolution 1706 was written under the enforcement chapter of the United Nations, therefore the UN force could intervene “regardless of what the government of Sudan wants”. But this is not, and this cannot be, the preferred option. Sudan must agree to let the hybrid AU-UN into Darfur where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating as aid agencies have announced that they had to pull out 650 staff from Darfur and Chad, because of security fears. The evacuation of the aid workers, even if temporarily, means disrupting supplies of food and medicines to hundreds of thousands of people.
Some African political analysts say that the so-called "international peacekeeping force" is a “euphemism for foreign military intervention which is destined to have disastrous repercussions for the people of Darfur and Sudan as a whole.” Let us be honest and look into the past 50 years of Sudan history. The only disastrous repercussions for the people of Sudan are the centralised, hegemonic, dictatorial, elitist and undemocratic policies of successive Sudanese governments who have ruled the country since independence.
Some observers suspect that oil is the main “motivation” behind the heightened interest of the international community and specifically that of Washington. Yet, there is no geological evidence of oil reserves in Darfur. Academics and some diplomats are behind the spread of these false reports. If one looks into the oil issue, one can see that China, Malaysia and India hold the concession rights for oil development and exploration in Southern Sudan and in the Kordofan province.
For my part, I have always believed that the fighting in Darfur should not be seen as an isolated issue, but in a wider regional context. The entire Sahel region, from Mauritania to Sudan, faces a common problem: droughts and underdevelopment that lead to a scramble over the meagre resources between nomadic tribes and pastoralists, mainly Arabs or Arabised, and African non-Arab agriculturalists and farmers. This has been the situation since the 1960s. Only sustainable development assistance to the entire region of the Sahel can help quell current and future clashes between those communities. But before sending any international development aid, peace must be restored to Darfur.
• Eva Dadrian is an independent broadcaster and Political and Country Risk Analyst for print and broadcast media.
• Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Social Movements Set to Assert Their Presence at WSF Nairobi 2007
Social movements in Kenya, “want to see the WSF being transformed into a space for organizing and mobilizing against the nefarious forces of international finance capital, neo-liberalism and all its local neo-colonial and comprador collaborators,” writes Onyango Oloo. Whether this will be achieved is a practical question which will be put to the test in Nairobi this coming January.
The clock is winding down. With barely a month before the commencement of the 6th World Social Forum (WSF), social movements from Africa and around the world are gearing up to make their presence felt in the Kenyan capital where the annual event is scheduled to take place from January 20th to 25th 2007.
Indeed, there has been a flurry of activities in the host country itself. At the end of November, a bevy of organizations and movements representing various pastoralist and minority groups converged at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre to celebrate the Kenya Pastoralists’ Week. In contrast to previous outings, the 2006 edition was devoted to building up support and mobilising for the World Social Forum. Impatient with their stereotypical image as cultural artefacts used to drum up foreign exchange earnings from tourism, members of the Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Rendille, Pokot, Yiaku, Njemps, Ogiek, El Molo and other marginalized groups (many of them from the historically ignored and systemically impoverished northern limits of Kenya) resolved to bring to the global audience offered by the WSF space, issues more relevant to their lived experience.
Among these issues are colonial era land edicts and policies which dispossessed their communities; the impact of mining and extraction activities on the environment and human livelihoods; discriminatory policies by successive governments that have guaranteed the stubborn survival of pre-colonial conditions of poverty and underdevelopment among many pastoralist and minority communities; the arrogant disregard for the concerns raised by (for example) Samburu women raped over the years by British soldiers dispatched on military exercises in those Kenyan communities; proposals on ending conflict and creating conditions for sustainable growth; the role of youth; tensions persisting with neo-colonial era settler farmers and indigenous Kenyan comprador businessmen in hiving off thousands of hectares of land while the pastoralists and minority communities are targets of state terror, evictions and denunciations and other related concerns.
The WSF 2007 may also serve as an occasion to celebrate recent victories by some of the above marginalized groups. In Botswana, the San people made global headlines in December 2006 after a court affirmed their legal claim that they were wrongly forced off their ancestral lands by the Botswana government and that they had a right to return to their homes in the Kalahari Desert. Hot on the heels of that decision barely a week later, another court this time in Kenya, agreed with lawyers for the minority Njemps community that they had a right to a parliamentary representative from their own community given the decades of exclusion and marginalization by successive Kenyan regimes, both colonial and neo-colonial.
On the other side of the coin, members of the Digo community on the Kenyan coast are fuming after a High Court judged ruled in favour of the Toronto-based Tiomin company and against seven local farmers who are opposed to the paltry compensation packages the firm was offering for displacing members of the community from the site of proposed titanium mining operations. The court also ruled that the Kenya government could immediately proceed with forceful evictions of all farmers opposed to the displacement and proposed compensation. The Tiomin issue has been a lightning rod that has led to national and international coalitions and solidarity campaigns bringing together activists in Kenya, Canada, the United States, Italy and other parts of the world.
The Yiaku people have been also quite involved in the plans for the World Social Forum 2007. They have at least two representatives sitting in the Organizing Committee itself and active in the Social Mobilization Commission.
Theirs is a unique case for cultural survival: in the 1930s, they were forcibly assimilated into the larger Maasai cluster and over a period of decades, they have effectively lost their language with less than 10 people (mostly greying elders) able to communicate in the Yiaku tongue. Today they are confined to the inner reaches of the Mukogodo Forest on the outskirts of Nanyuki town in the Laikipia District of central Kenya. But in a testimony of their grit and resolve to fight for their right to self-determination, they have joined up with other marginalized and endangered peoples in Africa and around the world and no doubt they will have compelling testimonies to share during the January global event in Nairobi.
Dwellers of the so-called “mitaa ya mabanda” or informal settlements in Kenya- from the sprawling slums of Kibera and Mathare to the lesser known Huruma, Korogocho, Mukuru, Kondele, Chaani and other slums are quite in the thick of things. The Kutoka Network is working closely with these communities to ensure a massive presence of the inhabitants of these settlements at WSF 2007. One of the highlights of their activities will be a marathon that will snake its way through the Nairobi slums to historic Uhuru Park - the venue of the opening and closing ceremonies.
Hawkers, who have of late born the brunt of municipal government and state terror in the Kenyan capital, are also organizing to participate, partly to correct the media misperceptions that they are nothing but a bunch of hoodlums working in cahoots with organized criminals to desecrate the central business district of Nairobi.
Women in Africa and around the world are busy organizing their presence at the WSF 2007 with the Nairobi-based FEMNET and the Kampala-based AWEPON taking a very conscious lead in hooking into encounters like the Feminist Dialogues to ensure an effective participation by women.
The Kenyan trade union movement walked into the WSF process rather late in September 2006, and found their way around after a couple of hiccups. At first, it was a major battle to get the phrase “right to decent work” inserted into the major principles guiding the WSF 2007 meeting because some WSF veterans objected to incorporating the name of a specific ILO campaign into a broad platform such as the WSF. At the end of the day, there was a compromise and the phrase was adopted after protracted behind the scenes discussions.
More recently, a press conference organized by the Kenyan trade union leadership cast wrong aspersions at the Nairobi-based WSF 2007 Secretariat and this created some bad blood, which was once again overcome after face to face meetings with representative of the two bodies.
Even before the arrival of COTU (the Kenyan trade union confederation) on the WSF scene, workers and their issues were very much part of the WSF process with South Africa’s COSATU part of the International Council of the WSF and OATUU head Hassan Sunmonu one of the most familiar presences at the African Social Forum council meetings. Elsewhere around the world, bodies like the Canadian Labour Congress and other trade union formations have been longtime supporters of the WSF process since its very inception.
In Kenya, bodies like the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) have worked for a long time to highlight the plight of export processing zones (EPZ) wage slaves and flower farm workers. The KHRC recently organized an international forum for shopstewards from Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and other parts of the world to talk about the issues workers would be bringing to the WSF 2007.
The Kenya Land Alliance, one of the constituent bodies of the Kenya Social Forum and a member of the WSF 2007 Organizing Committee has for the last year been mobilizing peasants, squatters, fisher folk, pastoralists and other rural folk to bring their issues on land and livelihoods to the WSF event. KLA has supported regional forums such as the Western Kenya Social Forum, the Coast Social Forum and the Central Social Forum, materially and otherwise.
Other dynamic bodies in the WSF 2007 Organizing Committee such as the Shelter Forum, Citizens Assembly and Haki Jamii have mobilized evictees, urban dwellers, the poor, the youth etc to articulate social and economic problems and suggested alternatives.
On a global scale, the World Assembly of Social Movements has held a series of meetings and exchanges on how best to use the WSF space to galvanize social movements. At the continental level, the South African based Khanya College and the newly founded Sankara Centre for Social Movements in Kenya are determined to see that the WSF 2007 event is an occasion to network and map out joint actions with other social movements from around the world.
In the same vein, an initiative coming out of Asia and Africa will be a prominent feature of the WSF Nairobi encounter, as activists from the two vast continents map out the elements of Africa-Asia Solidarity. A similar process is underway involving Latin America and Africa.
At the formal organizing level, all these initiatives, encounters and proposals have been concretized in an International Council of WSF (supported by the local organizing committee and the African Social Forum) decision to devote the fourth day of the WSF event (January 24, 2007) to solidifying joint actions and campaigns, partly to stave off lingering criticisms and perceptions that over the years the WSF has become little more than a talk shop.
With just weeks before the WSF 2007 event, it is clear that the WSF process itself is a contested ideological terrain. Some of the more activist types are struggling to ensure that WSF events transcend their depiction as annual NGO jamborees with the usual high flying suspects flitting from one seminar to the other workshop before jetting back to their familiar civil society lairs.
Social movements, including dozens in Kenya, want to see the WSF being transformed into a space for organizing and mobilizing against the nefarious forces of international finance capital, neo-liberalism and all its local neo-colonial and comprador collaborators.
Whether this will be realized is a practical question which will be put to the test in Nairobi this coming January.
• Onyango Oloo is the National Coordinator of the Kenya Social Forum. He writes here in his personal capacity.
• Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
DRC: Debating reconciliation and national unity
Dieu-Donné Wedi Djamba
Dieu-Donné WEDI DJAMBA explores what reconciliation means for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Reconciliation will not only allow Congolese people as a community to know the truth about their past in order to build a better future but also will heal their wounds, writes Wedi Djamba.
With the election of Joseph Kabila as the fourth president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the DRC started a new era. This era is the Third republic. For a country dealing with a legacy of two undemocratic regimes (theMobutu regime of 1965-1997 and the L.D. Kabila regime of 1997-2001) and two deadly wars (1996-1997 and 1998-2002) many challenges are faced by the elected president and his government. Amongst them is the reconciliation of the Congolese people. In this regard, many Congolese define reconciliation wrongly in terms of power-sharing while others define it through the words “forgive and forget”.
To achieve national reconciliation it takes more than power-sharing between politicians or the use of the words “forgive and forget”. Indeed, the DRC is emerging from two wars that affected her deeply and is also recovering from the legacy of dictatorship. During those two eras (war and dictatorship) many human rights violations occurred and many injustices were experienced by the population. Congolese people were divided and many disappeared. In this regard, many families are still trying to find out what happened to their loved ones.
Therefore, to move on from the past it is important to turn the page of the history. But first, there is a need to read this page.  Indeed, reading the page of the past allows for understanding the past mistakes in order to avoid them in the future. For a country like the DRC, the amnesia is the worst option because it is the best way for people to repeat the same mistakes. George Santayana , so often quoted in relation to Nazism and the Holocaust, confirmed this view when he said, `Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it’. Consequently the DRC has to read the page of her history before turning it.
Furthermore, in the DRC, reconciliation is a process which needs to know who did what. In this regard, Alex Boraine  argues that transparency, accountability and truth are essential ingredients in any nation which seeks integrity, the consolidation of democracy and a culture of human rights.
Alex Boraine argues that: “For the sake of justice, for stability and the restoration of dignity to victims, there must be accountability for the past”.  Indeed, all these years of the reign of undemocratic regimes and two deadly wars have left the DRC with thousands of victims but also the same amount of perpetrators. All past abuses and its victims and perpetrators has to be disclosed in order to heal the wounds of the victims and to send a deterrent message to the perpetrators.
The accountability for past abuses can be made judicially or extra-judicially. It is not possible to prosecute everybody in case of the mass abuses. Therefore, there is a need to hold those responsible for the past abuses accountable through other mechanisms such as removal from office, retirement or an obligation to apologize publicly for the wrong done. In this regard, to set up an independent commission to deal with the issue, is important.
Furthermore, accountability for the past in the DRC will draw the line between the past characterized by injustice and impunity and the Third republic that has just been born. The sentence “the recreation is over” used by the elected president, Joseph Kabila expresses the willingness to draw a line between a wrong past and the new era. And this line should start by holding accountable all those implicated in the past abuse.
In the restorative justice perspective, reparation is defined as including any form of compensation, ex-gratia payment, restitution, rehabilitation or recognition. 
Reparations aim to redress injustices suffered by one or several individuals or communities. In the context of the mass past abuses in the DRC, reparations can be granted by the court through a judicial process but also by the national authority. Currently it is utopian for those victims to expect any reparation from the judicial process because firstly this involves fees which the majority cannot afford and secondly the judicial system in the DRC as noticed by Human Rights Watch , is in state of disarray. Thirdly, the judicial system is corrupt and was listed among the four most corrupt institutions during the transitional period in the DRC by the report of Observatoire du Code d’Ethique Professionnelle (OCEP)  (an anti-corruption commission set up by the state department). Therefore, the only way for the thousands of victims of past abuses to expect any reparation is through and from the government. This reparation will not change the pain suffered in the past, but will help victims to face the future.
In addition, reparations aim to restore the dignity of the victims and to heal their wounds. Indeed, in the DRC any reparation to the victims of past abuses will be an acknowledgement of their pain and a condemnation of the abuse they suffered.
The government should grant individuals reparations such as money, rebuilding of houses, free health care, free education to the children of victims, free treatment for the victims of rape or those affected by HIV/AIDS in the wake of the rape. They should also grant symbolic reparations such as building a memorial statue for those victims, or dedicating a memorial day to those victims.
Reparations will not only help victims to turn the page of the past but will also pave the way for the reconciliation process between victims and perpetrators, in particular and between the Congolese people in general.
Telling the truth
Telling the truth about terrible events is a prerequisite both for the restoration of social order and for the healing of individual victims. When truth is finally recognised, survivors can begin their recovery.  Furthermore, the research for truth and a commitment to truth must be undertaken by the entire nation: ordinary people, government, agencies, poets, writers, historians, academics, and whoever cares about the future. 
Indeed, many injustices and conflicts that occurred in the past decades left thousands of victims and divided the Congolese community as a whole. The past in the DRC is filled with plenty of mass violations of human rights - atrocities such as mass killing, rape, burning of houses, disappearance, torture or ethnic cleansing such as the conflict between Kasai community against Katanga community in 1992-1993 in Katanga province; and the conflict between Hema community and Lendu community in Ituri District between 2001 and now.
The road to reconciliation between victims and their perpetrators, or between communities, passes through a truth telling. In this regard, George Bizos  argues: ”It is not possible to simply forget the past, it will sooner or later come back to haunt the nation.”
Furthermore, truth telling will not only allow Congolese people to know the truth about their past in order to build a better future but also will heal their wounds. Indeed, the disclosure of the past will help many families to know what happened to their loved ones and finally to end their long mourning.
In addition, truth telling is an opportunity for those who committed any abuse to cleanse themselves of the ghosts of the past by acknowledging their wrong doings, asking for forgiveness and for the victims to forgive them. Thus, Congolese as a whole can say ‘never again’ for what happened and then turn the page of the past. To do so the establishment of a forum for national reconciliation becomes urgent.
This paper analysed the conditions for reconciliation in the DRC. Congolese people need to move on from the past. But they need to look back in order to move forward. Looking back has to be a national concern. This will include accountability for the past abuses, the reparation for victims of those past abuses and truth telling involving victims, their perpetrators, and all divided communities as well. Reconciliation which leads to the national unity in the DRC comes at this price.
• Dieu-Donné WEDI DJAMBA is a lawyer(Advocate)at the Lubumbashi Bar association/DRC; Independent consultant; Assistant lecturer in a College of Law in Lubumbashi/ DRC; Human Rights Activist and Writer. Tel:+243812485222;+27738362921 ; Fax:+18016727206 Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
• Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
 Alex Boraine, ’A country unmasked’ ,Oxford University press, 2000,p5
 Alex Boraine,op.cit,p4
 Alex Boraine,op.cit,p8
 Alex Boraine,op.cit,p8
 Wendy Orr, `Reparation delayed is healing retarded’, in Charles Villa-Vicencio and Wilhelm Verwerd (eds), Looking back reaching forward: Reflections n the Truth and Reconciliation commission of South Africa ,Cape Town :UCT,2000, p239
 William W.Burke-White, “International Criminal Court, Complementarity in practice: The International Criminal Court as Part of a System of Multi-level Global Governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo”,Leiden Journal of international Law 18( 2005),p576
 Radio Okapi,`Quatre services de l’Etat indexes dans la lutte contre la corruption’<,http://www.radiookapi.net/article.php?id=6202>,accessed 10 december 2006.
 Nomfundo Walaza, ’Insufficient healing and reparation’ in Charles Villa-Vicencio and Wilhelm Verwoerd,(eds) op. cit p253.
 Alex Boraine,op.cit, p8
 Georges Bizos ’Why prosecution is necessary’, in Charles Villa-Vicencio and Erik Doxtader,(eds), The provocations of Amnesty: Memory, justice and impunity, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation,2003, p5
Honour To Whom It is Due: Celebrating Issa Shivji
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
Professor Issa Shivji is a legend in his own lifetime. He is one of the few veteran members of the leftist intelligentsia who has withstood all storms and remains firmly on the side of the people. He is truly a life long member of the ‘Africa will never, never surrender’ Club for whom ALUTA CONTINUA is not just a slogan, but a working motto. He retires from the University of Dar Es Salaam this year. He may be retired but he is certainly not tired. More importantly his colleagues, comrades, and several generations of students are not tired of him.
It is not often that Africans, especially those of us on the left, say thank you to one of us. Often we reserve our best homage till they are no longer with us. We think it is a kind of bourgeois ostentation, vanity, or what they call ‘feferity’ (ie showmanship) to celebrate individual achievements because the struggle is all that matters. Individuals, no matter how much they have contributed to our struggles, are not supposed to matter.
I have always had unease about this... It is the people that matter in the end but who are these people if not an aggregate of individuals?
It is heartening that times are changing and we are beginning to celebrate our heroes and heroines while they are still alive. The Africa Research and Resource Forum this week in Nairobi has been holding a celebratory seminar alongside a series of public debates in honour of Shivji.
One of the public lectures was entitled “Choosing leaders: The dilemmas of democracy in Africa and abroad”. It was held at the Kenya National Theatre close to the University of Nairobi and opposite the colonial edifice of the Norfolk hotel. Prominent African scholars participating in the seminar were on the panel chaired by Prof Peter Wanyande who is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Nairobi. The panelists included Prof Thandika Mkandawire; former Director of the Dakar based CODESRIA and Head of the UNRISD in Geneva: John Oyoo of the Africa Institute of South Africa; Prof Haroub Othman of the University of Dar; and Professor Mahmood Mamdani.
Thandika opened up the discussion with a Brecthian quote suggesting that in Africa the challenge of democracy may not be about the way to choose our leaders but how they choose their peoples. He was not downplaying the importance of the formal processes of free and fair elections, or rule of law and associated freedoms, instead of drawing attention to the mystification of formalities that lead to people confusing the process with the end itself. This has created a situation in many countries where people vote without choosing or become ‘choice-less voters’.
Just being chosen in an election is not enough. There are consequences for the chosen one. One of these is the obligation to be accountable to the voters. This is an area where democracy is still facing numerous challenges in Africa and elsewhere. How do we hold our chosen leaders accountable in between elections? How do we prevent them from becoming elective dictators and self-serving lots who only care for themselves? This is very important in Kenya where the MPs are among the best paid in the world. During this week President Kibaki had to turn down a salary increase awarded by the parliament that would have seen him earning more than President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Even in the so-called ‘advanced democracies’ where institutions are more developed and there are countervailing centres of power, checks and balances, accountability is difficult to enforce. For instance Tony Blair went to war even though an overwhelming majority of British voters did not support the unjust war.
In Africa, thanks to the IMF and World Bank and their fellow travellers in the neo-liberal orthodoxy of the moment, accountability has now become accounting. Yet according to Thandika, it was African scholars who first suggested to the IMF/World Bank, in a now forgotten pioneering dialogue with African scholars, that governance was a central issue for the continent. This was in the 80s when the Bank and its egg-head economists believed that only structural adjustment mattered. They produced a two-volume report which was quickly forgotten but they were to pick up on ‘good governance’ later as a mantra. In Washington terms, good governance is government without politics, a dictatorship of experts in the name of technocracy.
Thandika advised that African scholars should examine our societies more in terms of how they are shaped, and who is shaping them, in order to understand our politics and the political behaviour of the masses. By looking at ourselves we can better understand the sociology and ideology that determines the consciousness of the African voter, and why this voter is susceptible to class, ethnic, religious, and other forms of manipulation.
Finally, he suggested that there is a cyclical turn-around in African politics that he estimated to be between 30-40 years, during which the same political elite have been dominant (whether in or outside of government) waiting to be government. He sees the next few years as the period during which a new cycle will begin. He challenged the younger scholars and political activists to seize the opportunity to reshape Africa.
I am not quite sure about this cycle of Thandika’s because there is another problem that I see with some of our political leaders especially the so-called ‘New Leaders’. They are a special class that has known no other role other than leading. Last job: Leader. Present job: Leader. Future expectation: Leader. They do not know ‘followership’.
John Oyoo spoke after Thandika. He observed that in the independence period there was a more unified elite with the common aim of riding the continent of colonialism. Many of the politicians were intellectuals and many intellectuals were politically involved. However in the post-colonial phase, intra-elite conflicts led to military coups which decimated the intellectual class and devastated state and society. Intellectuals became either opponents of the khaki boys or their stooges and hirelings.
The Cold War also took its toll on our intellectuals and politicians who became cold warriors for the east or the west. By the late 1970s and throughout the 80s, Africa had become prostate and formed an experimental ground for all kinds of half-baked ideas of development from outside, principally through the hegemony of the IMF /World Bank and their dubious Washington Consensus.
The IMF and World Bank did not want thinkers who would challenge their dubious assumptions and arrogance. The military or one party dictator did not want any criticism of their misrule. Between both of these, our once promising and flourishing intellectual centres became deserts and development thinking and planning became externalized.
Haroub concentrated on his familiar themes of the essential difference between visionary and non-visionary leaders. At independence, many of the leaders, regardless of their ideological leaning, were visionary, charismatic and beloved by their peoples and they derived their legitimacy from the people.
However the unity between the leaders and the masses soon fizzled out in many countries as class differences began to emerge and consolidate. The progressives of the nationalist period soon became the conservatives in power, unwilling to set their own people free. Resistance to their tyranny developed.
Some countries like Tanzania under Nyerere managed to retain popular legitimacy largely due to the personal discipline, humane and humble leadership of the Mwalimu.
He concluded by observing that leaders do not emerge from the heavens but need to be developed organically from among the various social forces in any society: political parties, mass movements, factories, industries, workshops, production sites, farms, villages, etc.
The final speaker was Mamdani. He lived up to his well-deserved reputation as one of the most engaging intellectuals of this continent. As usual he turned the topic upside down, preferring not to focus on individual leaders per se but first the structural basis of the relationship of power, and secondly the kinds of individual leaders they produce.
In the past few years it has become very difficult (or maybe impossible) to discuss anything with Mamdani without coming back to ‘Citizenship and Subject’, his seminal book that still remains very thought provoking. It is still provoking Mamdani himself.
He began by postulating that, in general, countries that have gone through colonialism are susceptible to group violence especially civil war. A cursory look at the history of India, the USA and Africa will confirm the point. Mamdani thinks this is largely because of the struggle for the expansion of the rights of citizens who live in these colonial states. They are about citizenship since citizenship defines who belongs, who has a right to belong, who is to include and who is to be excluded.
Colonialism distorted peoples’ ways of life and imposed new identities, regimented those that were previously converging and in many cases offered different sets of rights to different peoples in the same political community. At independence the leaders did not inherit a country with one citizenship and one people but a myriad of political communities in one state with different grades of rights enforced through colonially constructed customs and traditions, natives and subjects. What the colonialists used to maintain their power was soon adapted and adopted by the new elites with devastating consequences.
He contrasted Nigeria and Tanzania. While Nigeria carries on with the colonial divisions albeit through new forms of tribalisation (state of origin instead of tribe, federal character instead of ethnic character), Tanzania completely changed the colonial basis of citizenship and succeeded in creating a nation which Nigeria has not been able to do in spite of all the riches.
While identifying the colonial roots of the problems Mamdani was clear that the responsibility for changing them and righting these wrongs are ours, not anybody else’s.
On the role of individuals, he posed a number of questions: How do we find a saint in politics? Why should we be looking up to those in power to help us make them accountable to us?
They are rhetorical questions for which he provided his own answers. It is not the leaders who will voluntarily render themselves accountable. Rather, we have to mobilize socially and politically throughout society not to accept lack of accountability in our public and private lives. We must struggle to broaden the political space for the fullest participation of all members of our political communities without discrimination. We also have to make politics about the social questions that affect the majority of our peoples rather than the political ambitions of the individual elite.
It was a very good forum and a worthy testimony to Issa Shivji as one of the most important of our intellectual leaders. The turn out was great and quite refreshing to find so many young people in attendance.
But I am always left frustrated whenever there is a discussion about leadership in Africa. The comments, questions and answers session of this panel discussion had all the elements that frustrate me.
One, the discussion of leadership is often too narrow and limited to politicians. We do not include ourselves and our role or inaction and how this impacts on the socio-economic and political lives of our peoples. Invariably we blame others and are content to ignore our own culpability. These leaders did not emerge from space; they grew from amongst us and are kept in power in part by our collaboration or indifference.
Two, Mamdani asked why we want saints in politics. The same question has to be asked about our intellectuals. Why do we expect them to be prophets or messiahs? They are part and parcel of our society, with their contradictions, and they have to make choices to be part of the solution or part of the problem.
Three, we need to look beyond our political class and politicians for the failures of leadership on this continent. Are our universities better run? Are our NGOS better run? Are we running our homes democratically? How many NGOs, including the human rights ones that make so much noise about political leaders and state abuse, can claim that they practice what they preach?
The dilemma of democracy is not just about the leaders. It is about us as a whole and about creating a democratic culture that tolerates difference, manages diversity and respects the right of everyone of us whether as children and parents, old and young, women and men, bosses and workers.
• Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa
• Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Reflections on China and Africa
Indeed, any reflection on China and Africa is timely and it is encouraging that you are taking the lead. Two weeks ago, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB) was at my Institute at the invitation of the Dutch Government to talk about poverty reduction, governance and regional intergration vis á vis the ADB lens. In his speech, Mr Kaberuka mentioned that he was optimistic that Africa could leap out of its 'misery' and that the Africa-China relationship could accelerate this development. That comment raised some 'expected' response from the host (the Chief Economist at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) who sharply remarked that she was of the view that 'China is a Wolf in Sheep’s skin'. So now you know it will be interesting to hear a comprehensive African voice on CHINA!
China and Africa?
Regarding your articles on China and its role in Africa, all I have to say is: You've got to be joking! Are you people serious about human rights?
China seen as a positive force? I could analyze your articles, but I won’t waste my time as you people seem to have bought into the idea of using China as a model to replace the western one. Although I have been highly critical of the west's involvement for years in Africa, South America, and Asia, the governments of Asia are indeed following in their shoes in exploiting people.
I see no willingness to put people first in their dealings. Cast your eyes to Asia, to China and India's dealing in working in other countries. All eyes are on China now working in Africa, but they have a poor record in other Asian countries, especially Burma, a country sometimes referred to as the Africa of Asia, in which China sucks out everything it can get in short order.
China is just like the west, but possesses a frame of mind that the westerners had a hundred years ago, or even now - the same colonial mindset, especially in ethnocentrism on a massive scale. The Han Chinese, as well as the Japanese look down on people with dark skin, who are seen as beneath them. All I have seen in Asia is a complete disdain for foreigners, especially in East Asia, where there is a disdain for people from Southeast Asia.
I also have worked on the Burmese-Thai border with the human rights situation there. There is a war going on there, and the Chinese support the Burmese military junta by supplying them with all the weapons they need in exchange for resources such as gems, energy, timber, and others as do the Indians and the Thai, to annihilate the ethnic peoples there. There is massive displacement there, and the Chinese are the main suppliers of the weapons used by the Burmese military to kill, rape, maim, and torture people in the remote depths of the jungle.
The Koreans also supply weapons to the Burmese military junta as weapons are business, and they could care less about people's lives.
So wake up! South to South partnerships!! Stop living a damn fantasy land, it's all about the money.
Editors reply: "I could analyze your articles, but I won’t waste my time ...". Well, in which case we take it this is not an informed response. Perhaps if you did analyse the articles, the paper tiger you set up might be less easy to shoot at. Interesting that you say nothing of the US and British collusion with the Burmese junta ...
The anatomy of Zimbabwe’s problems
The article ‘The Psychosis of Denial: Response to The anatomy of Zimbabwe’s problems’ www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/37717 reflects the thinking of an analytical mind. The psychological problem facing many Africans is fear of annihilation by the Euro/Asian forces. For the past 3000 years, Africa has been under attack by these various alien forces. Zimbabwe is just one of the last to put up a valiant fight. But we must understand that even when our governments give in to white/Arab supremacy, they are still sanctioned and marginalized. Occupied Sudan, Kemit and Mauritania come to mind as a few of the nations now under the control by alien forces. Others on the continent as well as the Diaspora also operate under the direction of the Euro/American ideological sphere of influence. There are few places on this earth where Africans are completely free to build and prosper because of either alien influences or incompetence by so-called leaders. We, as a people, will achieve prosperity throughout the world once we have rid ourselves of all alien influences and allow our ancestors to guide us, as our ancestors did in the past. We must develop our own indigenous economic system that serves the needs of our people. It is incumbent that we master the vital skills of Science, Engineering and Medicine in order to build the types of governments as existed in the past. We must look to the past to find solutions for the future.
Global: New Black Orpheus
A Call for Contributions
The next volume of New Black Orpheus is billed for publication in May 2007. It will be the second to be published in the newly revived authoritative journal on African Literature. The first Vol. 7 No. 1 which carries an interview with South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus, is in press, due to be released in January 2007. Vol. 7 No. 2 will focus on literary currents and other cultural developments in the East Africa sub-region as seen by creative writers, critics, scholars and culture analysts.
New Black Orpheus – A Call for Contributions
The next volume of New Black Orpheus is billed for publication in May 2007. It will be the second to be published in the newly revived authoritative journal on African Literature. The first Vol. 7 No. 1 which carries an interview with South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus, is in press, due to be released in January 2007. Vol. 7 No. 2 will focus on literary currents and other cultural developments in the East Africa sub-region as seen by creative writers, critics, scholars and culture analysts. By this call, we request for short stories, original poems and critical essays for inclusion in the forthcoming volume.
Each potential contributor to the creative writing section is allowed to submit a maximum of ten poems out of which a maximum of five will be published per writer. Only one short story or drama per writer will be accommodated. Owing to space constraints, contributors are advised to stick to one genre per submission.
Critical essays should explore developments in the field of literary and cultural studies in East Africa between 1980 and 2006. Essays which focus on new writers and new writing will be particularly welcome. Specifically, we welcome any essays on trends in creative writing in the East African countries in order to graphically capture developments in the region in the last twenty odd years. However, essays on individual writers should be given enough depth. Manuscripts will be accepted in the hope that they have not been published elsewhere. Thereafter they g through a process of blind review and contributors will be informed about the outcome of the review process.
Abstracts for such papers should be sent by 15th of February 2007. Contributors should include their names, institutional affiliation (if any) and address on the first, detachable page of their submissions.
Deadline for all submissions is 31st March 2007. All such submissions should be mailed electronically to:
or directly to:
New Black Orpheus
Department of English
University of Lagos
For further enquiries, please contact
Hope Eghagha (PhD)
Department of English
University of Lagos
Review of African Blogs
The film Blood Diamonds is the focus of a number of blog posts this week. 'Black Star Journal' - Black Star Journal (blackstarjournal.blogspot.com/2006/12/blood-diamonds.html) comments on an article in the Christian Science Monitor that a “self policing process appears to be cleaning up the industry” which he sees as a model for NGOs to effect positive change in international affairs.
“This is called enlightened self-interest. The diamond industry didn't adopt these regulations because it suddenly had a tinge of guilt. Selling diamonds is an amoral activity. But activists made it so doing the right thing morally was the best thing for the industry's bottom line. In the end, a diamond boycott would hurt those engaging in legitimate mining, such as Botswana, Africa's oldest democracy.”
In contrast, 'The Benin Epilogue Part 1' - Benin Epilogue Part 1 (africareadyforbusiness.blogspot.com/2006/12/different-perspective-on-africas.html) writes that many of the diamonds coming out of Africa may not be “blood diamonds”. He also uses Botswana as an example of ethically and morally produced diamonds:
“This article seemed interesting to me because Botswana enjoys one of Africa's highest per capita incomes and derives the bulk of it's income from diamonds. Additionally, Botswana recently experienced a slight reduction in foreign direct investment in it's diamond industry. However, this was not due to press associated with ‘blood diamonds’. In fact this contraction was due to a statement made by a diamond executive at a leading diamond cutting and polishing company about Botswana's diamond supply. It just illustrates the sensitivity of small developing economies to damaging public relations.”
What is missing from both these posts, is that Botswana-produced diamonds may themselves not be morally tainted. However because of Botswana’s legal production of diamonds, the country is used by illegal diamond traders to sell their blood diamonds from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
'France Watch' - France Watch (www.francewatcher.org/2006/12/en_fin_fout_le_.html) reports on the end of the UN mandate in Ivory Coast and more specifically the French forces like ‘Force Licorne’ who he believes have contributed to the conflict through their involvement in the internal affairs of the country:
“These French troops have never ceased to meddle in the internal affairs of the Ivory Coast. They have supported the rebels of the North from the beginning; offered them weapons and supplies; marketed and transported their stolen goods; and plotted innumerable coups and outrages. They opened fire on unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in November 2004, killing many and wounding more. Just three days ago the French forces planned and supported an attempted coup in the Ivory Coast, bent on assassinating many of the key leadership figures of the country. When that failed they spirited the coup leader out to France on French military transport. It is clear that the root of any solution of the Ivory Coast dilemma must start with the rapid and complete removal of the Force Licorne from the Ivory Coast.”
'The Big Pharaoh' - The Big Pharaoh (www.bigpharaoh.com/2006/12/18/welcome-to-islams-1400-years-old-schism) looks back on the recent rise of the 1400 year old schism between Sunni and Shia Islam. He believes the two groups are on the verge of a war that will engulf the whole region:
“Two major events brought the Shia genie out of the bottle. The first was in 1979 when an old Iranian Shia cleric (who asked Oriana Fallaci who Mozart and Beethoven were) managed to overthrow one of the most powerful regimes in the Middle East. The entire Arab Sunni world, the West, and the Soviets worked on keeping this genie engulfed within Iran's borders by supporting Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war. The genie slipped through though, jumped over Iraq, and landed on the friendly land of Syria. It got leaked to Lebanon during the civil war and the genie mutilated into Hezbollah.”
'African Bullets and Honey' - African Bullets and Honey (bulletsandhoney.wordpress.com/2006/12/15/dr-de-cock-praises-the-cut) comments on the recent study on Kenya and Uganda by the National Institutes of Health that male circumcision might reduce the risk of contracting the HIV virus. However he quotes a report from a few years ago that states exactly the opposite – that not only does circumcision not lead to lower rates of infection, but there is actually a higher incidence in circumcised males:
“Anyway, hard on the heels of the pro-circumcision study, two of the larger HIV/AIDS funds are considering paying for The Cut in high-risk countries. Daniel Halperin, a Harvard HIV specialist extraordinaire, excitedly responded, ‘I have no doubt that as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised, and that will save many lives.’ That is the kind of enthusiasm displayed by a man who got The Cut as an infant in a bright shiny hospital. Not as a teenager by a circumciser who declared the use of aesthetic to be unmanly as yours truly lay trouser-less, sweating onto the cold plastic of the hospital cot and praying to the gods for a last minute reprieve and failing that at least an injection of painkiller.”
As he says, once word gets around, traditional and western medical doctors are going to be making a lot of money from men desperate to get circumcised in the belief that this will save them from contracting the virus. What are the implications here for safe sex? Will these men abandon all thoughts of using condoms? It seems to me that there are many implications attached to this report which have just not been thought through and might hinder, rather than help, the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Rethabile writing on 'Black Looks' - Black Looks
remembers Steve Biko on the anniversary of his birthday by way of a letter:
“We do not want to be reminded that it is we, the indigenous people, who are poor and exploited in the land of our birth. These are concepts which the Black Consciousness approach wishes to eradicate from the black man’s mind before our society is driven to chaos by irresponsible people from Coca-cola and hamburger cultural backgrounds.”
“They feared you, hence they killed you. The new ideas you were working out jangled their nerves, and you became a problem without a solution, just like we all were. But they couldn’t get the whole black nation to slip on a bar of soap. No. That was reserved for top problems like you.”
• Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, www.blacklooks.org/
• Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org/
Sudanese women's movements and the conflict in Darfur
Safaa Elagib Adam
Safaa Elagib Adam from the Community Development Association based in Khartoum talks Pambazuka News about the vital role Sudanese women play in the struggle for peace. In the mainstream coverage of the conflict in Darfur, the voices of the people most impacted are often absent.
Africa: Annan's Legacy for Women
Outgoing United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan is saying his farewells. And, in doing so, he appears to be freeing himself from the diplomatic constraints of his former position. A recent speech hit hard at the United States for what its recent actions in Afghanistan and Iraq have done to the idea of multilateral action in collective self-defence. And China too took some barbs for its blithe stand vis a vis arms sales to the Sudan.
Africa: Girls getting educated but also abused
Child rights advocates are increasingly facing a dilemma: How to boost the number of girls getting an education while reducing sexual violence in school? Sexual violence at school is much more widespread in the region than previously thought because families and education authorities often hide or tolerate the problem, Jean-Claude Legrand, regional child protection adviser for the UN children's agency (UNICEF), told IRIN.
Global: Gender equality linked to children’s wellbeing
Calling for more action to counter pervasive discrimination against women, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today (11 December 2006) launched a report highlighting that “gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand,” and recommending a raft of measures, from greater investment in girls’ education to imposing quotas ensuring woman are better represented in politics. Gender equality is also key to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Kenya: Military Excluded in Gender Policy
The 30 per cent affirmative action policy for recruitment of women in the public service will not apply in the disciplined forces. It will, instead, be restricted to recruitment, appointments and promotions in ministries and State corporations, according to guidelines issued by Public Service head Francis Muthaura.
Kenya: Shame of Child Sex Tourism On Kenyan Coast
At least 1,500 children engage in sex tourism daily along the Kenyan coast. This is according to a damning new report released by the United Nations Children's Education Fund (Unicef). And contrary to prior perceptions that the sex pests involved in the vice are only foreign tourists, the report indicates that 40 per cent of those exploiting the children are crooked Kenyan men.
Sudan: Women facing mental-health problems in Darfur
A significant number of displaced women in South Darfur, western Sudan, suffer from depression and experience suicidal thoughts because of largely unaddressed mental-health problems, according to a study by the International Medical Corps (IMC). Solomon Kebede, IMC country director in Darfur, told IRIN on Friday (15 December 2006) the study was conducted in the field two years ago, but the situation had since deteriorated further.
Africa: Darfur Demands Sanctions, Not Words
European Union leaders should support tough new action against top Sudanese leaders for their failure to end abuses in Darfur, the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch said today (13 December 2006) in advance of the EU summit on 14-15 December. “Millions of civilians are paying the price for nearly four years of unkept promises and empty commitments,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
Botswana: The San can return home now
After a hard-fought court battle - billed as the longest and most expensive in Botswana's legal history - on Wednesday (13 December 2006) the San won their right to return to their ancestral home in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR), in the Kalahari Desert.
Burundi: UN Must Stress Human Rights
When the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission meets with representatives of the Burundian government tomorrow, this new UN body designed to promote recovery for countries after armed conflicts should emphasize the crucial need for human rights protection in Burundi, Human Rights Watch said today (11 December 2006).
Egypt: Police Intensify Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood
In simultaneous predawn raids, Egyptian police on Thursday (14 December 2006) arrested 17 senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood and rounded up at least 140 students on suspicion of being linked to this banned nonviolent organization following a protest at Cairo’s al-Azhar University, Human Rights Watch said today (18 December 2006). The Egyptian authorities have arrested at least 1,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood in a crackdown that began in March.
Global: Landmark UN convention on disability
The General Assembly this week adopted a landmark disability convention, the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century and one that Kofi Annan said represents the “dawn of a new era” for around 650 million people worldwide living with disabilities. Mr. Annan, along with Assembly President, other UN officials and civil society members that lobbied for the pact, urged Member States to quickly ratify the convention, which covers rights to education, health, work and other protective measures.
Global: Ratify treaty to protect migrant rights
The United Nations marked International Migrant’s Day with fervent appeals for the vast majority of States who have not yet done so to adhere to the treaty that seeks to protect the rights of the estimated 195 million people around the world who have left their homelands in search of better lives. “Rising numbers of migrants are being exploited and abused by smugglers and traffickers,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message. “Others suffer discrimination, xenophobia or racism."
Global: UN acknowledges 650 million disabled people
International aid and development agencies, World Vision and Action on Disability and Development (ADD), welcome the formal adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention draws together for the first time the human rights of disabled people.
UN acknowledges 650 million disabled people with the 1st Human Rights treaty of the 21st century
International aid and development agencies, World Vision and Action on Disability and Development (ADD), welcome the formal adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention draws together for the first time the human rights of disabled people.
It has the potential to ensure that barriers to participation in society are removed so that disabled people are fully included in their own communities and in international development initiatives. The Convention will provide a recognised international standard for the rights and freedoms of disabled people around the world, including the 480 million disabled people in developing countries.
Isaac Kute, ADD's Chief Executive said "We welcome the long overdue Convention and call on all governments to ratify this treaty as quickly as possible - disabled people have been 2nd class citizens for too long! In order for the Convention to make a practical difference to disabled people's lives governments need to take urgent steps to ensure this treaty is not left gathering dust on a shelf."
World Vision's Disability Adviser Sue Coe says: "This Convention will hopefully mean that the rights of disabled people, especially disabled children, will finally be taken seriously. Until now, governments have been slow to make good on their commitments to disabled children outlined in many other human rights treaties. For example, though all disabled children have a right to education through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, only 2% of disabled children in the developing world actually go to school."
British Para-olympian athlete Anne Wafula-Strike, grew up in Kenya and was struck down with polio at the age of two and says "I threatened to quit school when I was a child because of a lack of adequate facilities and the way I was treated by society. We would particularly like to see governments take action to ensure that the 40 million disabled children currently out of school in developing countries are given the opportunity to receive a quality education which will enable them to reach their full potential in life."
Isaac added: " This new Convention provides the impetus for governments to ensure that disabled people are finally fully included in society. However, this will only happen if the Convention is implemented and monitored effectively once it has been ratified."
For more information, pictures and recent broadcast footage of a disability project in Zambia or an interview with celebrity ambassador, Para-olympian athlete, Anne Wafula-Strike and ADD spokesperson Isaac Kute, please contact Esther Williams on 01908 244 418 or 07876 503 978 firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> or Gail Johnston on 01373 475723 or firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> Note to Editors
1. World Vision is a Christian charity and one of the world's leading relief and development agencies, currently helping more than 100 million people in nearly 100 countries in their struggle against poverty, hunger and injustice, irrespective of their religious beliefs. The issue of including disabled people in development projects is currently being tackled by all World Vision offices throughout the world.
2. Working in 12 countries in Africa and Asia, Action on Disability and Development (ADD) supports groups of disabled people to campaign for their equal rights. In developing countries, disabled people, especially disabled women and children, are among the poorest, most disadvantaged and socially excluded, and are often forgotten by other organizations. ADD also works to influence other development organisations of the need to include disabled people in their work.
Esther Williams World Vision Tel. 01908 244418 Mob. 07876 503978 NB broadcasters: ISDN line 01908 394862 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> World Vision House Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0ZR www.worldvision.org.uk <http://www.worldvision.org.uk/> Gail Johnston Action on Disability and Development Telephone: 01373 473064 Fax: 01373 452075 Textphone: 01373 454422 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> Vallis House, 57 Vallis Road, Frome, Somerset, BA11 3EG www.add.org.uk <http://www.add.org.uk/> Gail Johnston Communications and Public Fundraising Direct Line 01373 475723
Global: Corruption inquiry into asylum bias
The Home Office is investigating allegations that a representative of Uganda's ruling party secured a job in the immigration service and blocked the asylum applications of political opponents. John Guma-Komwiswa, of Bermondsey, south-east London, has been suspended from his post of senior caseworker pending an internal corruption inquiry by a specialist unit which is collaborating with police.
Global: Refugee camps after dark
Night-time is scarcely discussed when it comes to the analysis of life in refugee camps. Around the world, humanitarian aid agencies´ access to camp sites is often limited to traditional office hours. Aid officials’ presence may be limited by offical curfews. Aid workers may retreat from camps for socializing and rest.
Global: The case of refugee protection
In the context of growing complexity in global governance arrangements, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand issue-areas – such as ‘security’, ‘migration’, ‘human rights’ and ‘development’ - in isolation from one-another. This paper develops two main concepts: embeddedness (the structural relationship between issue-areas) and linkages (the way issue-areas are grouped together in bargaining), and explores the relationship between the two.
CAR: An unknown emergency in a dangerous region
The north is in a state of crisis as civilians are currently caught between rebels, government forces and armed bandits. This has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 150,000 people, though this number may be higher now. In addition, 20,000 people have fled to neighboring Cameroon and 50,000 are in refugee camps in southern Chad. With the continued fighting and insecurity in northern CAR, the number of displaced people is expected to increase.
Kenya: Conflict-induced internal displacement in Kenya
Internal displacement in Kenya is a complex and multi-faceted social problem that revolves around and reflects unresolved issues of land and property, as well as the struggle for the control of political and economic resources. These intricate and sensitive issues, manifested in ethnic conflict, violent cattle raids, and government evictions characterised by human rights abuses have displaced people throughout the country.
Senegal: Dozens feared drowned off Senegal
Rescuers fear at least 100 suspected African migrants have drowned after their boat capsized off Senegal. The boat set out in early December with as many as 124 people on board, thought to be headed for the Canary Island, but it ran aground in bad weather. Fishermen rescued 24 people from the boat on Saturday (16 December 2006) off the northern coast of Senegal.
Uganda: Congolese refugees moved to permanent camp
At least 800 Congolese who fled recent fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been moved from the DRC-Uganda border to a camp further inland in southwestern Uganda, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has said. 300 of the refugees left Nyakabanda transit site in Kisoso, also in the southwest of Uganda, for the Nakivale Refugee Settlement camp in Isingiro District, 330 km away.
Africa: Communique of the parliamentary-civil society organisations
Members of Parliament and Civil Society Organisations of 12 countries met recently under the theme: “The new and the old loans in Africa – what role for Parliamentarians in Africa and Europe?” The meeting was concerned by the continuing net resource outflows of capital from Africa to the North and the increasing marginalisation of the continent.
DRC: Security crucial to Kabila’s success
Joseph Kabila won Congo's first democratic presidential elections in decades, but now the 35-year-old former guerrilla leader faces the daunting task of rebuilding from scratch a country almost the size of western Europe. Apart from resettling internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in neighbouring countries, he needs to address widespread insecurity and human-rights abuses, including sexual violence committed by government troops and different militias, and reintegrate ex-combatants into society.
Gabon: Gabonese go to the polls
Citizens in the African state of Gabon have begun voting in parliamentary elections with Omar Bongo, the current president, looking to maintain his hold on power. Voting got under way slowly across the former French colony, with many of the largely Christian population preferring to attend mass before going to vote.
Nigeria: Governor wins Nigeria party ticket
Nigeria's ruling Peoples Democratic Party has chosen Umaru Yar'Adua, governor of the northern Katsina State, as its candidate for the April 2007 presidential election. The vote will choose a successor to Olusegun Obasanjo, whose second four-year term is coming to an end and who is constitutionally barred from standing again.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe set to rule until 2010
Moves to extend President Robert Mugabe's tenure of office by two years are being seen by civil society and opposition groups as a consequence of the messy presidential succession battle being waged in the ruling ZANU-PF party. At its annual conference this week in the capital, Harare, ZANU-PF is expected to confer an extension of office on the president - a post Mugabe, 82, has held since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain.
Angola: Tackle Corruption Not Critics
The government of Angola, which yesterday joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), should publicly account for how it spends the country’s massive oil wealth instead of harassing citizens who criticize corruption, Human Rights Watch said today (15 December 2006).
Africa: Beware of China-Africa Economic Ties
African countries have been warned against a new possible form of colonization resulting from China's heavy investment thrusts into several parts of Africa. South African President, Thabo Mbeki who gave the warning, says Africa must guard against falling into a "colonial relationship" with China. His comments come as fast-growing China is continuing to increase its push for raw materials across Africa.
Africa: China's Africa Plan
Ever since the Berlin Conference of 1883, which Belgium's King Leopold II called "the sharing of Africa's cake," the West has assumed exclusive rights over sub-Saharan Africa. But, while centuries of struggle to end colonial rule and apartheid have not changed this much, now Western influence is being challenged by China, which likewise covets Africa's rich reserves of minerals and resources.
Global: Aid Accord to Enhance Cooperation
The government of Denmark and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Friday (15 December 2006) signed a cooperation agreement to enhancing bilateral relations in addressing Africa's development challenges. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which involves a $ 800,000 aid agreement to help the economic commission's development endeavors in the continent.
Liberia: Government lays foundation for legal logging
Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority is preparing a new bidding process for logging concessions following the lifting in October of the United Nations Security Council’s three-year ban on Liberian timber exports. “We expect this will create about 10,000 jobs,” Richie Grear, the government’s forest bureau spokesman, told IRIN.
Zimbabwe: IMF urges change in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe must undertake widespread reforms in order to prevent a worsening of the country's dire economic problems, the IMF has said. On Tuesday (19 December 2006), the IMF released a statement asking Zimbabwe to cut and prioritise its public spending, undertake structural reform and improve its international relations, saying such changes are "urgent".
Africa: Libya HIV death penalties condemned
The European Union has criticised a ruling by a Libyan court sentencing to death five nurses and a doctor for infecting more than 400 children with the HIV virus at a hospital. Johannes Laitenberger, an EU spokesman, said they had yet not decided whether to take steps against Libya, but said he "did not rule anything out."
Angola: Enthusiastic caregivers and silent sufferers
Fear of stigmatisation in Angola is keeping people living with HIV/AIDS in hiding. Caregivers are more than willing to help but are having a hard time finding patients to take care of. "People prefer to keep silent and to die in silence," Ambrósio Cabral, coordinator of Angola's Red Cross HIV/AIDS programme, told IRIN/PlusNews.
Global: HIV, Malaria Prevention Methods Should Be Integrated
HIV prevention has "seen two breakthroughs this month" in data indicating that male circumcision might reduce a man's risk of HIV infection, as well as the publication of a study that found "AIDS and malaria feed on each other with disastrous effects," a New York Times editorial says. HIV transmission occurs most easily when a person has high viral load.
Global: Malaria and AIDS fight requires strong institutions.
Last week, US President Bush hosted a White House summit on malaria. "We know exactly what it takes to treat and prevent the disease," Mr. Bush said, referring to insecticide-treated bed nets and other simple measures. "The only question is whether we have the will to act." The day before the malaria summit, the question of will was raised again by the announcement of an AIDS breakthrough.
Namibia: Cultural Practices Hinder HIV Prevention
Cultural practices in Namibia are hampering the "ABC" HIV-prevention strategy - which stands for abstinence until marriage, be faithful and use condoms -members of the Women's Leadership Centre in Windhoek, Namibia, said. According to The Namibian/AllAfrica.com, dry sex, female genital cutting, initiation ceremonies for women that involve sex and "unorthodox treatment often administered by traditional healers" are practiced in Namibia.
Uganda: HIV/AIDS Control Efforts Requires About $1Billion
Uganda's HIV/AIDS control efforts over the next five years will require between $800 million and $1 billion, the director-general of the country's AIDS Commission, said Wednesday (20 December 2006) at the closure of the National Strategic Plan joint review in Kampala. According to recent research, within the next five years, more than one million people living in Uganda will become HIV-positive and 500,000 will die of AIDS-related illnesses.
Zambia: Poor nutrition nullifies benefit of ARV treatment
The poor nutrition often experienced by HIV-positive Zambians on antiretroviral [ARV] drug treatment is nullifying the benefits of the medicine, health experts are warning. "Whenever I take my ARVs without eating anything, I begin to feel dizzy and sometimes I even vomit - I generally feel very weak in my body; I have to be in bed for some time unless I took the drugs after eating," Elizabeth Mukwendi, a resident in the capital, Lusaka, one of thousands on ARVs, told IRIN.
Zimbabwe: Fake drug market
Zimbabwe's deteriorating health services have made room for a thriving parallel market for drugs, many of them counterfeit, warn concerned health professionals. The sale of genuine as well as fake medicines on the streets was "big, booming business," said Dr Paul Chimedza, the president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA).
Africa: Centres of Excellence
African countries have responded to the need to boost science and technology by creating centres of excellence. But creating such centres in just a few African countries is unlikely to lead to an effective spread of science, technology and innovation necessary for development across the whole continent.
Africa: How to build African science?
Few people would question that Africa's economic development relies on building its own base of scientific and technological capacity. But most African countries seem unsure how to create such indigenous capacity. Should they create new centres of excellence? Or should excellence be encouraged to flourish in existing centres?
Africa: Early Withdrawal of Highly Toxic Pesticides
Danish chemicals company Cheminova has submitted plans for phasing out highly toxic forms of pesticides in developing countries to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in line with the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides.
Côte d'Ivoire: Appeals for Funds to Clean Up Toxic Waste
Côte d'Ivoire is facing a funding shortfall of at least 15 million euros for the clean-up and rehabilitation of sites contaminated by hundreds of tonnes of deadly foreign toxic waste that was criminally dumped around Abidjan, its largest city with a population of 5 million, according to a United Nations update issued today (20 December 2006).
Global: Energy solutions bank on carbon trading
In the midst of climate talks in Nairobi and the release of the Stern review on the potential catastrophic economic impacts of climate change, the World Bank has been touting the most recent draft of its investment framework on clean energy and development, and stepping up its role in devising market-based solutions to climate change. Critics have decried the hypocrisy of the Bank's role in funding fossil fuel projects, and the perverse rationale behind carbon trading.
Senegal: Dismal reality for flood victims
When floods in August 2005 made some of Dakar’s most impoverished suburbs uninhabitable, Senegal’s long-standing plan to transform its slums into modern housing took on a new urgency.
Tanzania: New drive for the environment in Zanzibar
Environmentalists in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar say lack of awareness and negligence have greatly hindered efforts to protect the environment, which is now threatened by soil erosion, deforestation and pollution.
Botswana: Proposed Expansion of Security Services Threatens Citizens
The 3 November 2006 edition of the "Government Gazette Extraordinary" indicates that the Government of Botswana plans to bring a bill to Parliament on intelligence and security services. According to the draft, "The bill is to establish a Directorate of Intelligence and Security, a Central Intelligence Committee, a National Intelligence Community and an Intelligence and Security Council for the reason that the regional and global environment has changed necessitating a review in Botswana's approach to national security concerns."
Egypt: Blogger Has Spent Six Weeks in Custody
Reporters Without Borders has repeated an appeal for the release of blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman - known as Kareem Amer - who has been held in custody for six weeks after posting articles critical of Islam on his blog www.karam903.blogspot.com
Ethiopia: On the Formation of Nile Media Network
It was in 2005 that this issue was introduced in Cairo, Egypt. In that first meeting, media representatives from the Nile basin countries agreed that they form this media network. Following that meeting it was a year later in May that the agreement was articulated and the representatives reached at a better understanding in Nairobi, Kenya.
Swaziland: Media slammed for neglecting real issues
Despite Swaziland's humanitarian crisis, local newspapers are largely ignoring issues such as poverty, food shortages and HIV/AIDS in favour of reports about crime and bickering amongst political personalities, according to The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
Global: Blacks demand demolition of 'racist statue'
Germany's black community are demanding that the government demolish the statue of Heinrich Carl Von Schimmelmann in Hamburg, which they argue honours 'a racist abductor, enslaver and mass murderer of African people.’ The statue was covered in red paint by ‘unknown persons’ on November 25, the day a protest was staged by a coalition of 18 black-led organisations including: The Pan African Women in Liberation Organisation and the Pan African Liberation of the Black Community in Germany.
Global: Slave descendants seeking reparations
A federal appeal court ruling that dismissed most of the claims for reparations from US slave descendants left a ray of hope as companies who hide links to slavery can still be found guilty of fraud, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said. Those seeking reparations maintain that some of the biggest companies in the US profited from slavery and should be made to pay reparations to the descendants of those who were enslaved.
Africa: Fresh clashes in Somalia
Somali government troops and fighters of the Islamic Courts Council have been skirmishing as a senior European Union envoy flew to the country to press for peace talks to resume. The rivals for control of the nation in the Horn of Africa have been at an impasse since talks broke down early last month.
Africa: Regional pact highlights humanitarian issues
Presidents from several Great Lakes countries signed a pact at the end of a two-day summit in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday (15 December 2006) to address security, stability and development across the region. The pact contains a protocol on protection and assistance for the displaced – the first legally binding regional instrument specifically dealing with internally displaced persons (IDPs).
CAR: Tens of thousands of villagers on the run
Around Dikba Elisi’s oldest child’s neck is a plastic whistle, so that if the family is forced to flee into maize fields and the children get lost, the adults have a better chance of finding them. Elisi, her three young children and sister, are living under two pieces of tin they salvaged, sleeping on a single bed, hidden in swaying fields three kilometres behind their old village.
Chad: Dozens killed in Chad fighting
Up to 40 people have been killed in clashes between Chad's government security forces and men who attacked two villages in the east of the country, a government official said. Moussa Doumgor Hourmadji, the communications minister, said the attacks had been carried out by the Janjawid - Arab fighters who operate from Sudan's Darfur region.
Ivory Coast: Ivorian leader unveils peace plan
Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivory Coast president, has announced a plan to reunite his war-divided country, in an apparent snub to a UN-backed plan announced last month. The five-point plan followed a series of consultations with civil society groups after the UN-backed plan was presented last month.
Nigeria: Blasts rock Nigeria oil compounds
Two explosions have been reported at oil industry facilities in the south of Nigeria just hours after a group claimed it had planted three car bombs. A suspected bomb exploded at a Shell residential compound in Port Harcourt and another went off near the perimeter fence of a compound of the Italian oil company Agip.
Uganda: Scores killed in forced disarmament in northeast
More than 150 people, including woman and children, have been killed and hundreds of others displaced in northeastern Uganda after clashes between government soldiers and armed cattle herders in the past two months, the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) said on Tuesday (19 December 2006).
Africa: Technology Conference Convenes Creative Thinkers
In the shadow of one of the world's most iconic mountains, several hundred people will gather in Tanzania this June in a global version of the annual gathering in Monterey, California known as the TED conferences. Programme director for the Africa event, Emeka Okafor, says change is afoot in Africa, which is confronting the challenges of development, and the conference will bring together "creative, resourceful types who roll up their sleeves and get it done."
Global: Forget the wires, surf the airwaves
The World association of community radio broadcasters conference took place in Jordan’s capital city of Amman between November 11 and 17 2006. Colleagues of the APC were there to contribute two workshops: one on community wireless networking and the other on the gender evaluation methodology (GEM).
Rwanda: NUR to Be a Regional Internet Provider
The National University of Rwanda is to become the core Internet service provider, a reliable source from the Rwanda Information and Technology, (RITA) has revealed.
Zimbabwe: Afrosoft Strikes Lucrative Partnership Deal
A Zimbabwean-OWNED software company, Afrosoft Corporation Limited, has entered into a lucrative partnership deal with Microsoft Corporation. Sources this week said the two firms recently signed the deal that would see the local company developing software for the world's largest software company.
Global: Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean
The 8th annual Uncovering Connections: Cultural Endurance between Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean conference Will be held March 8-10, 2007 at Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY. The foci of the conference include: The intergenerational transmission of African culture (i.e. the role of parenting in the survival of African culture or documenting the knowledge and practices of elders in Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas).
Global: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Race & Ehtnicity
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago invites applications for the 2007-2008 postdoctoral fellowship to begin September 24, 2007 and end June 30, 2008. Qualified candidates from all disciplines and all ranks who have their Ph.D. in hand are encouraged to apply.
Global: Pre-Doctoral Fellowship
The African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University seeks a Pre-Doctoral Fellow for the Academic year 2007-2008. Applicants must be ABD (have finished their course work and be already engaged in the writing of their dissertation): they must be conducting or have conducted research on the African or/and African Diaspora.
Global: In depth world Social Forum
The World Social Forum (WSF) was created to provide an open platform to discuss strategies of resistance to the globalization model proposed at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos. Firmly committed to the belief that “Another World Is Possible” the WSF is an open space for discussing alternatives, exchanging experiences and strengthening alliances among civil society organizations, peoples and movements.
Global: WSF- Periodicity of the Forums
The International Council (IC) of the World Social Forum (WSF) decided in its meeting in Parma on 10-12 October 2006 that the next coordinated worldwide WSF event after the Nairobi WSF in January 2007 will take place in 2009. This was not simply a minor logistical decision. The periodicity of the WSF events had been loaded with various kinds of political tensions, and the incapacity of the IC to make a decision on it had become a serious threat to the continuity of the process.
Kenya: What Is WSF?
In just a months time the World Social Forum will get underway in Nairobi, Kenya- marking the first instance in which Africa is acting as sole host of the event. Also home to Kibera - sometimes referred to as Africa's largest slum - it could be argued that there is no more appropriate venue for the 2007 WSF. Where better to hold it than near one of the communities most affected by the social ills which the forum aims to combat?
Africa: Project Manager
DEPHA is an inter-agency project, hosted by UNEP and with partners from several UN agencies. DEPHA’s mission is to provide a high quality service for the exchange of critical map and data resources for humanitarian and development planning in the Horn. This is achieved by the acquisition, development, and dissemination of information products that conform to international data standards and reflect the most recent and most accurate data available.
Angola: Country Director
Job Purpose: To be responsible for strategic development and effective management of the Concern Angola country programme in line with Concern Worldwide organisational and country specific strategies, policies and procedures.
DRC: Primary Healthcare Advisor
The successful candidate will support the expatriate medical programme manager and 2 national staff primary care advisors and midwife, who form the medical field team. The role involves supervision of the health structures, on site training at the health centres, planning of formal training and report writing.
Germany: Africa ICT policy advocacy coordinator
APC has played a role with other stakeholders in advocacy for the reduction of the cost of international connectivity in Africa focusing on the EASSY and the SAT3/SAFE/WASC cable for West Africa. The advocacy work focuses on bringing a civil society perspective to bear on the policy and regulatory structure of these initiatives.
Sudan: Reproductive Health Manager
The RH manager will act as a focal point for RH services within the IRC South Darfur Program providing technical support to the health program. She/he will be responsible for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the CRHC project in South Darfur. The RH Manager will identify gaps in services and take the necessary steps to address those gaps.
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