Pambazuka News 298: United States of Africa - the challenges
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.
To view online, go to www.pambazuka.org/
Want to get off our subscriber list? Write to email@example.com and your address will be removed
CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Obituaries, 7. Books & arts, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Social movements, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. LGBTI, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 27. Jobs
Support the struggle for social justice in Africa. Give generously!
Donate at: www.pambazuka.org/en/donate.php
This week's Highlights
FEATURES: Demba Moussa Dembele on building a United States of Africa.
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Gichinga Ndirangu on the stumbling blocks to a United Africa.
- Chippla Vandu assess the outcome of the Nigerian elections
- Challenging homophobia and patriarchy in Africa by Fikile Vilakazi
- Dawn Gilipse on No compassion for Sierra Leone amputees
- Edward Mtetwa on reparations
- J Majome questions change in Zimbabwe.
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem on Nigeria, Lootacracy and the same old story.
BLOGGING AFRICA: How do we speak on Zimbabwe, urbanisations and evictions in Johannesburg, and photos from Senegal.
BOOKS AND ARTS: A poem of lost childhood.
OBITUARY: We mourn the passing of Archie Mafeje - one of Africa's giants
WOMEN AND GENDER: Men need to be sensitized about women’s rights
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Weapons of Mass Underdevelopment
HUMAN RIGHTS: Zambian market smashed in ‘clean-up’
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: South African shack-dwellers on hunger strike
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenyan border closed to asylum-seekers
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Legislative polls close in Benin
CORRUPTION: Morocco tackles money-laundering and financial crimes
DEVELOPMENT: East Africa fights for ‘kikoi’ trade-mark
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: HIV+ foreigners get rough deal in South Africa
EDUCATION: Rise in school enrolment causes funding problems in Sudan
LGBTI: Conference tackles skills development
ENVIRONMENT: Flood water keeps Namibia’s displaced in camps
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Uganda’s pastoralists hit by market reforms
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Zimbabwean cameraman murdered
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Call to eradicate effects of slavery
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: New report on youth, ICTs and development
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, Seminars and Workshops and Jobs
*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit del.icio.us/pambazuka_news
The United States of Africa: The challenges
Demba Moussa Dembélé
Demba Moussa Dembele examines the external and internal challenges faced by Africa in the face of globalization and the US led war on terror and asks if the current African leadership is up to building the United States of Africa in the present global environment.
'Africa must unite or perish!' Kwame Nkrumah
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of Ghana, the first sub-Saharan African country to break from the dreadful colonial yoke. It was under the leadership of President Kwame Nkrumah, enlightened, visionary and Pan Africanist leader, who devoted time and energy to liberating other African countries. Nkrumah fought tirelessly for the unity of African countries into a single African Federal State. He was convinced that the newly independent countries needed to unite to liberate other African countries and lay the ground for their economic emancipation. He understood that a divided Africa would still remain under domination and be an easy prey for global capitalism.
It is in part for his vision and far-sightedness that the Anglo-American imperialism co-opted Ghanaian felons to stage a coup that toppled Nkrumah and sent him into exile until his death. But Nkrumah’s vision and dream did not die with him. Quite the contrary: they remained very much alive throughout the years. As Africa got deeper into crisis, as its external dependence worsened, bordering on the threat of re-colonization, Nkrumah was largely vindicated while the proponents of ‘balkanization’ were completely discredited.
An illustration of this is the foundation of the African Union (AU) in 2001 and the decision of the Heads of State and Government to move toward the United States of Africa by the year 2015. This is a fitting tribute to the memory of President Nkrumah!
But the road to realizing this dream faces great hurdles, both externally and internally. In particular, the current world system, characterized by an increasing militarization of neoliberal globalization, presents overwhelming challenges for the African continent.
A) The challenge of globalization
The decision comes at a time when corporate-led globalization has entailed very high costs for the African continent, as a result of the acceleration of trade and financial liberalization and privatization of national assets to the benefit of multinational corporations. Trade liberalization, combined with western countries’ disguised or open protectionism and subsidies, resulted in the deterioration of sub-Saharan Africa’s terms of trade. Trade liberalization alone has cost the region more than $270 billion over a 20-year period, according to Christian Aid (2005). An illustration of these costs is Ghana, which lost an estimated $10 billion. According to Christian Aid, it is as if the entire country had stopped working for 18 months! Capital flight, fuelled by trade and financial liberalization, has reached alarming proportions, estimated at more than half of the continent’s illegitimate external debt, according to the Commission for Africa (2005).
The privatization of State-owned enterprises and public services has resulted in a massive transfer of the national patrimony to foreign hands, precisely to western multinational corporations. This, combined with the illegitimate and unbearable external debt, has deepened external domination and increased the transfer of wealth from Africa to western countries and multilateral institutions, as acknowledged by the Commission for Africa (2005), put together by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. And members of the Commission had reliable sources to back up their claim, since Britain is one of the main beneficiaries of this transfer of wealth. Quoting a study published in 2006 by Christian Aid, Archbishop Ndungane (2006) indicated that:
'Britain took away far more money from sub-Saharan Africa than it gave in aid and debt relief last year, despite pledges to help the region. In all, it took away £27 billion from Africa. In the 12 months since an annual Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland last July, the British economy gained a net profit of more than £11 billion ($20.3 billion) from the region. The charity calculated that almost £17 billion flowed from Britain to sub-Saharan Africa in the past year, including donations, remittances from salaries earned by Africans in Britain and foreign direct investments. At the same time, more than £27 billion went in the opposite direction, thanks to debt repayments, profits made by British companies in Africa and imports of British goods and capital flight.'
This is just one example of the financial hemorrhage hurting Africa. This is compounded by the ‘brain drain’, which has deprived Africa of thousands of highly trained workers in all fields. The World Health Organization (2006) says that more than 25% of doctors trained in Africa work abroad in developed countries. About 30,000 highly skilled Africans leave the continent each year for the United States and Europe. Still according to Archbishop Ndungane (2006), in the US alone
'African immigrants are the highest educated class in the range of all immigrants…there are over 640,000 African professionals in the US, over 360,000 of them hold PhDs, 120,000 of them (from Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda) are medical doctors. The rest are professionals in various fields – from the head of research for US Space Agency, NASA, to the highest paid material science professors. ...'
B) The challenge of the US 'War on Terror'
The challenge posed by neoliberal policies to Africa will be aggravated by the militarization of globalization, with the doctrine of ‘pre-emptive strike’ adopted by the Bush Administration. One of the tragic illustrations of this doctrine is the illegal aggression and occupation of Iraq with the numerous crimes against Humanity committed by the occupying forces the world has been witnessing since the invasion. Another illustration of that doctrine is the threat of war against other sovereign countries, such as Iran, North Korea or Syria.
These aggressions and threats are part of what the US imperialism calls 'war on terror'. The Bush Administration is attempting to draw African countries into that strategy, which poses an even greater threat to Africa’s security and development. Since 2002, the US government has put together a special program, named “PanSahel”, whose stated objective is to train the armed forces of the countries involved to enable them to track down groups supposed to be linked to Al Qaeda.
The recent announcement of the creation of a US military command for Africa - Africa Command (AfriCom) - is a major step toward expanding and strengthening the US military presence in Africa through more aggressive policies to enlist support from African countries for its 'war on terror'. According to George W. Bush, 'the new command will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa.”
In reality, the objectives of the Africa Command are to be found in the US drive for global dominance and its growing appetite for Africa’s oil. US imperialism seeks to protect oil supply routes and American multinational corporations involved in oil and mineral extraction. In fact, several studies have forecast that the United States may depend for up to 25% of its needs on crude oil from Africa over the next decade or so. One clear sign of this trend is that several US oil companies are investing billions of dollars in oil-producing countries, notably in the Gulf of Guinea region. Thus, oil is one the main driving forces behind the US activism on the continent. It has nothing to do with Africa’s ‘security’. On the contrary, this is likely to increase the insecurity of the continent!
Therefore, the US strategy aims to secure strategic positions in Africa by using the threat of “terrorism” to gain military facilities and bases to protect its interests. The countries which accept to cooperate with the US may become more and more dependent on the US and inevitably on NATO for their “security”. They will be forced to provide military bases or facilities for US forces and serve as a canon fodder in the US ‘war on terror’, as Ethiopia has done in Somalia. The US strategy will sow more divisions among African countries and undermine the goal of African Unity.
C) Internal challenges
To the challenges posed by the global context described above one should add the internal challenges facing African countries.
As indicated above, the neoliberal policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank and the violence of corporate-led globalization have further weakened Africa. The principal characteristic of the continent is its weakness and divisions, despite the foundation of the African Union and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The divisions are ideological and political. Neo-colonial ties are still strong with former colonial powers. There are still many foreign military bases and facilities on the continent. Several countries still depend on western countries for their “security”. France is intervening in the Central African Republic in an attempt to help the government push back attacks by rebel groups.
A similar operation took place a few months ago to help the Chadian government repel a rebel attack that threatened some parts of the capital. These countries are home to foreign military bases and have signed defense agreements with their ‘protectors’. These military bases are also used to launch criminal aggressions against other African countries, as the United States did when it launched air strikes against innocent civilians in Somalia from their air base in Djibouti! France is using its military bases in West Africa – Senegal and Togo- to destabilize Cote d’Ivoire.
These examples underscore the vulnerability of the continent and the fragile nature of many States, some of which have all but collapsed, in large part as a result of structural adjustment policies. Africa’s vulnerability is also reflected in the widespread poverty affecting its population, in the deterioration of the health and educational systems and in the inability of many States to provide basic social services for their citizens. Poverty is the result of policies imposed by the IMF and World Bank, using the pretext of the illegitimate debt with the complicity of African governments. This has aggravated economic, financial, political dependence on western countries and multilateral institutions. Food dependency has dramatically increased. According to the FAO and other UN agencies, more than 43 million Africans suffer from hunger, which kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined! As a result, Africa spends billions of dollars in food imports, paid for by credits and ‘aid’ from western countries and multilateral institutions.
The external dependency and the extreme vulnerability of the continent are also reflected in the surrender of economic policies to the World Bank and western “experts” by many countries.
II) Can Africa overcome these challenges?
In view of these formidable challenges, building the United States of Africa may seem an impossible task, a Promethean undertaking. Indeed, one should be skeptical about the ability and willingness of current African leadership to build a genuine African unity. Because not only are the odds overwhelming but also past experience does not show any sign of optimism. Therefore, if African leaders are really serious about achieving this noble objective, they need to make tough and courageous decisions.
A) Need for political will
The document on the United States of Africa, published by the African Union (2006) claims: 'it should be realized that what unites Africans far surpasses what divides them as a people' (page 8). Yet, this did not translate into a political will to overcome their divisions and move toward strengthening African unity. Therefore, what African leaders need first and foremost is the political will to make the tough decisions and the courage and determination to implement them. In reality, the decision to establish the United States of Africa is the latest in a long series of decisions and agreements, most of which were never implemented. Some of the agreements on regional integration are more than 30 years old, but they are still lagging behind for lack of genuine will to implement them. The slow pace of integration and lack of solidarity is a reflection of the unwillingness of many African leaders to place the fundamental interests of the continent above national or even personal interests in order to move decisively toward genuine unity and cooperation.
The lack of political will is better illustrated by the fate of key documents adopted over several decades and that should have strengthened African unity and laid the foundations for the United States of Africa. Think of the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA), adopted in 1980 and which was quickly forgotten in favor of the IMF and World Bank-imposed structural adjustment programs (SAPs). Think of the African Alternative Framework, which was among the first documents to level a devastating critique of SAPs in 1989. Think of the Arusha Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Social Transformation, adopted in 1990 and which contains a blueprint for citizen participation in the design and implementation of public policies within a democratic and participatory decision-making process. Think of the 1991 Abuja Treaty, for the creation of the African Economic Community. This list is not exhaustive. Yet, when some African leaders proposed NEPAD in 2001, it made a scant mention of these documents. Instead, it attempted to rehabilitate failed and discredited neoliberal policies.
B) Freeing the African mind.
The political will has an ideological dimension, which is the need for African leaders to free their minds and understand once for all that they must take responsibility for their own development. No country or group of countries, no international institution, no amount of external ‘aid’ will ever ‘develop’ Africa. Likewise, no foreign country, no matter how powerful, will ever guarantee the ‘security’ of African countries. It is therefore illusory to assume that the United States, France or Britain will provide ‘security’ for Africa! Quite the contrary: these countries’ interest is to see a weak, divided and defenseless Africa. African countries must take responsibility for their own collective security! In this regard, African governments must close down all foreign military bases and scrap all defense agreements signed with former colonial powers and US imperialism. Furthermore, African governments must end their allegiance to neo-colonial institutions, such as ‘Francophonie’, Commonwealth and so forth.
C) An enlightened leadership
For these dramatic changes to take place, Africa needs an enlightened and visionary leadership, who would listen to the voices of the people. This also means promoting leaders who are accountable to their own citizens, not to outside powers or institutions, as is the case in many countries. Furthermore, Africa needs leaders who can define an agenda consistent with Africa’s interests, not let someone else do it in their place. In other terms, African leaders must no more accept that others speak or define policies in their place for their continent. A case in point is the US “war on terror”. As indicated earlier, some countries are supporting the US agenda. But fighting ‘terrorism’ is not a priority for Africa. The continent has other priorities, which have nothing to do with terrorism.
D) Involve the African people
So far, African leaders seem to have forgotten the African people in the conception and implementation of their agreements. To overcome the challenges outlined above, African leaders must understand that they must move from a union of States to a union of peoples. This means that the success of the United States of Africa depends on putting African the people at the center of the project. The popular participation in decision-making and implementation of public policies, as called for by the Arusha Charter, is a critical factor in building a genuine and strong Union. This seems to be understood by the document published by the African Union (2006), which says that 'the Union Government must be a Union of the African people and not merely a Union of States and Governments' (page 4).
This seems to be just a lip service paid to the idea of popular participation, because so far, there are no concrete steps to make it a reality. Despite the establishment of some institutions, like the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), the people have no say in the decisions of the Union. To achieve a genuine Union of the African people, the first step should be to allow a free movement of people –on the continent and in the Diaspora- throughout the continent. It is unthinkable to build the United States of Africa by keeping the current borders in place and limiting the free flow of African citizens across the continent. The building of the Union must be rooted in the mobilization of the African masses across the artificial borders set by former colonial powers in order to divide and weaken the African people.
The paper has reviewed the challenges facing Africa in its attempt to build the United States of Africa. External factors, such as the high costs of neoliberal globalization and the US ‘War on Terror’, are likely to hamper African efforts at unity and independence. These external factors take advantage of Africa’s internal weaknesses and tend to aggravate them.
But does the current African leadership have the capacity and will to overcome the internal and external challenges in the process of building the United States of Africa? It is doubtful. Most of current African ‘leaders’ take their orders from western capitals and have surrendered their policies to the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. In the words of the late Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo (1995), these are ' "leaders" with frightened minds' who can only 'imitate” their western masters. How can anyone trust such ‘leaders’, some of whom contemplate providing military bases to the United States in the name of fighting 'terrorism'?
The building of the United States of Africa requires a new leadership with the political will to follow through their commitments. This means promoting a new type of leadership in Africa, imbued with the ideals of Pan Africanism, genuinely dedicated to the unity, independence and sovereignty of the continent and to promoting the welfare of their citizens. It is a visionary leadership, like Nkrumah and others of his generation. A leadership who refuses Africa’s enslavement and will never accept that others speak or define policies for Africa.
So, building the United Sates of Africa requires a different kind of leadership with decolonized minds, who are willing to stand up to foreign domination, who would listen to their own citizens and promote policies aimed at recovering Africa’s sovereignty over its resources and policies. In other words, the success of such undertaking requires a leadership imbued with the values and ideals of Pan Africanism and genuinely committed to the unity, independence and sovereignty of Africa.
African Union (2006). A Study on an African Union Government. Towards the United States of Africa. Addis Ababa
Christian Aid (2005). The economics of failure. The costs of ‘free’ trade for poor countries. London
Commission for Africa (2005). Our Common Interest. London (March)
Ki-Zerbo, Joseph (1995), Which Way Africa? Reflections on Basil Davidson’s The Black Man’s Burden.
Ndungane, Njongonkulu, “A CALL TO LEADERSHIP: The role of Africans in the Development Agenda”. Harold Wolpe Memorial Lecture (30 November 2006), Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
* Demba Moussa Dembele is Director, African Forum on Alternatives based in Dakar. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pan African unity: Can Africa match the bid?
The idea of a United States of Africa is the visionary outcome of a Pan African Unity. Gichinga Ndirangu presents the case for a United States of Africa and points out some of the major stumbling blocks that need to be overcome before Nkrumah’s dream of a united Africa becomes a reality.
At the upcoming African Union summit in Accra, Ghana, a proposal seeking to establish a continental union government will be debated. Accra is a symbolic, if not significant host for this debate. It was here that Ghana’s founding father, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first pitched for Pan African unity in his famous exhortation that Ghana’s independence counted for less unless, and until, the entire continent was liberated. It was Nkrumah’s view that in the absence of forging a common united front, Africa would remain shackled to neo-colonialism.
It was the period preceding the re-launch of the African Union in 2002 which witnessed renewed debate on Pan African unity. Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, then an intractable opponent of western imperialism, challenged African leaders to unite across common purpose and chart their destiny unshackled by the West. Gaddafi rooted for increased trade amongst Africans, the creation of common continental institutions including a federal government and the free flow of persons across borders. At its relaunch in Durban, the African Union took the sails out of Libya, reaffirming its commitment to the Pan African vision without unveiling a specific roadmap. The leadership of some of the continent’s key leaders – South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, Algeria’s Bouteflika and Senegal’s Sane Wade – initiated instead the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which was seen as an attempt to develop a policy framework towards a unified vision on Africa’s development and bolster, in part, Pan Africanism. NEPAD’s vision was, however, restricted, being more intent on resource mobilization than on its vision for Africa’s social and political cohesion. Conversely, this year’s proposal for a union government revisits the attempts to consolidate Pan African political, social and economic integration and establishes important benchmarks in laying out a renewed vision for continental unity.
The hope, though not assured, across Africa, is that this year’s debate will move the pan-African vision of Nkrumah beyond its fifty-year stagnation. There is no doubt that this is a debate whose time has come, not least because the union government proposal finally reaffirms the quest for uniting Africa’s people across a common thread of shared values and joint purpose. Within the debate, there are many critical voices that claim to welcome the idea of African unity but caution that the hour for Pan African federalism has yet to come. In addition, Afro-pessimists within the ranks of the African Union are driven by the zeal to consolidate national sovereignty and regional hegemony rather than an outright rejection of the Pan African vision.
While hopes are high, consensus on this proposal will take time and effort given the disparity in positions as well as the high demands that will be placed upon each State to realize a union government. The AU proposal wants the union government created as a transitional arrangement preceding full political integration under the banner of the ‘United States of Africa’. This transitional arrangement implies that realizing the actual Pan Africa vision calls for more work, consultation and buy-in. Even then, the transitional vision is bold in its intent and envisions the establishment of parliamentary and judicial systems, common continental financial institutions and standardized monetary policies and procedures, among others. It is these preliminary propositions that Africa’s leaders will be called upon to give thought and focus to at the June summit in Accra.
After many years of internecine conflict within and between states, the need to harness Africa’s potential around a unity of purpose is a necessary and overarching imperative. At the heart of it, the proposal for a union government must be directed towards Africa’s transformation through creative and well-thought out strategies that advance integration and not the isolation or balkanization of any country or region.
The proposal should be used to catalyze developmental policies and programmes that are people-centred and rooted in the finest of African traditions, culture and values. The ideal of a people-centered and united Africa is one that must be welcome and advanced. It is also a prerequisite in an increasingly globalized world that has demonstrated the value in consolidating shared interests that drive policy formulation and implementation.
Not limited to political union, the proposal for a union government will also delve into the concepts and realities of potential economic integration. Colonialism bequeathed on most African states economic inequality and social inequity which have stifled the integration of Africa’s economies to the world market. Intra-African trade has been constrained by weak policy and institutional support at national and regional levels and internal structural limitations, which have narrowed the scope of exploiting the continent’s economic opportunities to the fullest extent. While economic integration has been a key but elusive priority for Africa’s leadership since the onset of political independence, what has been lacking is the handiwork to take this goal beyond the realm of conjecture and optimism. In 1963, the Organisation of African Unity unveiled a proposal to establish a continental African common market that was expected to coalesce into a Pan-Africa community straddling the economic, social and political spheres. Both the Lagos Plan of Action and the 1991 Abuja Treaty that established the African Economic Community (AEC) spoke to the need for such an African economic union. While this level of ambition has not matured to its full intent, the African Union has continued to look upon the various Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as essential building blocs in the quest for continental economic union.
Yet within the current arrangement, there is growing concern that Africa is spreading herself thin and wide in negotiating multiple trade arrangements, which stand to undermine her own development priorities. The common view is that there is limited scope to fully harness the potential of regional integration granted that new concessions are being exerted by Africa’s trading partners.
The African Union views deepening regional economic integration as an important pillar in Africa’s structural transformation. Given the complexity of regional integration in Africa, there is widespread concern that the undue emphasis on trade liberalisation in the ongoing negotiations with the European Union (EU) and other trading power houses could scuttle rather than consolidate economic integration.
The truth is that trade and trade liberalisation are not an end in themselves but a means to help the continent respond to its development challenges. The ongoing trade negotiations between African countries and the EU have shown the complexity of consolidating economic ties amongst African countries which are already pressured into negotiating with the EU under new configurations outside their natural and traditional economic groupings. The regions currently negotiating with the EU have been severely disrupted by overlapping membership to different negotiating configurations. As a result, there is a risk of countries undertaking trade commitments with the EU to the detriment of their traditional trading partners with whom they may have different agreements at the regional level.
In today’s new global economic dispensation, there are few alternatives to economic integration as a strategy in promoting sustainable socio-economic development. It is obvious that only by closing ranks within the framework of continental level initiatives like the African Economic Community and the African Union can Africa avoid further marginalization.
The union proposal acknowledges that African governments have made determined efforts towards consolidating regional economic blocs with the active support of the AU. But the history of consolidating continental unity is limited by many factors including the lack of political will, limited awareness among a large segment of Africa’s population and increased dependence on external assistance.
The African Union must, therefore, work towards providing an appropriate framework, which strengthens partnership between national governments, peoples’ representatives, civil society and other stakeholders towards promoting the continent’s economic and social development.
A union government will, on the one hand, secure the continent’s interests while, on the other, assert its due role in global affairs and build on the continent’s collective capacity to influence world affairs from a position of unity and strength. But, the current proposal could halt in its tracks if debate is merely confined to the hallowed halls of the African Union without active buy-in from Africa’s people. Since 2002, the AU has renewed momentum towards more effective and accountable governance structures. The next frontier in consolidating continental unity must involve making concerted efforts at the national level to develop institutions and processes that will advance the desired new continental architecture and which are rooted in peoples’ popular participation. The debate must include the voices and perspectives of a wide range of Africa’s people through the involvement of key institutions such as national and regional parliaments, civil society organizations and the media. This participation will broaden and deepen the debate that is, ultimately, about the people of Africa
* Gichinga Ndirangu is a consultant with the African Union Monitor.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Why the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
Political governance on homosexuality in Africa
Fikile Vilakazi of the CAL gives a brief overview on the lack of 'good political governance on homosexuality' in Africa and the role of the Coalition of African Lesbians in combating the criminalisation of lesbians and homophobia in African societies.
Africa is a continent that is comprised of 53 states with only one state, South Africa that protects the rights of people who are in loving relationships with other people of the same sex and/or same gender. The South African constitution is the only constitution in the African continent that has a bill of rights that condemns discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation . Otherwise, most countries in Africa are governed by penal codes that condemn homosexuality with penalties ranging from imprisonment, life sentence and even death sentence in some cases.
The lack of good political governance on homosexuality is an artefact of colonialism and apartheid that plagued the continent in the previous centuries. Colonial leaders introduced the idea that homosexuality is a sin and is a western import. This notion was filtered through the minds of African people and its leaders to an extent that most African people alleged homosexuality to be foreign, un-African and sinful. Post-colonial leaders promulgated colonial laws like penal codes to continue to condemn homosexuality and thereby betray African people who are in same sex and same gender loving relationships.. This has resulted in horrific political governance on issues related to sexual orientation, gender, gender presentation and sexuality in the African continent. This has contaminated African jurisprudence and constitutional law and produced shocking and limited legal and political judgment on this matter.
The consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has been and continues to be bloodcurdling. In most African countries, lesbian and gay people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained; assaulted, extorted, raped, beaten and even murdered simply because they self identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex. In Cape Town, South Africa, Zoliswa Nkonyana. In 2005, a young black lesbian woman was stoned to death by a gang of boys in front of her house and most lesbian women continue to experience hate crimes in the form of rape and assault. In 2006 in Zimbabwe, a group of lesbian women were beaten badly by a group of men. In the same year, a lesbian woman in Mauritius was sent to a mental hospital by her parents because there was no way that she could be lesbian and therefore certified her to be mentally ill.
In Uganda, police raided unlawfully a house of a transgender woman and arbitrarily detained her friend and brutally violated her rights to privacy and dignity by undressing her in front of group of policemen to prove whether she was a man or a woman. In Kenya, a lesbian couple and a gay friend were arrested and charged with an act of homosexuality and impersonation with a possible sentence of 14 years imprisonment. In Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana and other parts of Africa people of the same sex continue to live and fear and at the mercilessness of the criminal justice system that has a duty to ensure full compliance with penal codes. The situation is horrific. There is just nowhere to run to and find refuge and freedom to be.. There are no legal and political remedies at a local level that can assist in this situation
In attempting to address this situation, the Coalition of African Lesbians has an advocacy project that is directed at working with the African Commission to expose human rights violations against sexual minorities in African countries and call for remedies and the commissioners to hold African governments accountable to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other International Human Rights Instruments that some African states have signed and ratified
Research on the existence of homosexuality in Africa..
The other challenge that is facing Africa is lack of knowledge and documentation on the existence of homosexuality in the continent. There is very little written work on the experiences, both positive and negative of people who are in same sex and same gender loving relationships. Most anthropologists and hi/herstorians that have written about this work have selectively hidden information on the subject. Those who have managed to expose these relationships in a good way have not been free from harassment and prejudice.
The experiences highlighted above get lost in time due to lack of effective documentation and research. Most researchers are afraid to write about these experiences due to their hostile political and legal environments. Most written work is from scholars who are often distances from the real experiences of lesbian and gay people. The exercise therefore remains purely academic with less social result and impact.
In responding to the phenomenon, the Coalition of African Lesbians also has a project directed at promoting creative writing and researching the lives of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the continent. This is a research project that will be conducted by lbt women themselves and CAL hopes to produce a book at the end of 2007,that will collate different experiences of lbt women in Africa.
The Coalition also aims to provide capacity and skills sharing opportunities for lbt women in order to build leaders that will take the struggle for the rights of sexual minorities forward. This happens through CAL’s annual Leadership Institutes and local country workshops and strategic international conferences, seminars, institutes and dialogues..
Challenging homophobia and patriarchy through feminism
The Coalition of African Lesbians acknowledges that the experiences of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are not separable from those of other women in the continent. Whilst lbt women face a specific struggle against homophobia, the commonality between and among all African women is the struggle against patriarchy and all its forms and systems. The African tradition and culture has for centuries promoted and overstated the superiority of men at an expense and compromise of their women counterpart. The notion of African values is framed and rooted in a system of male dominance in society. This thinking and ideology informs religion and culture and women remain on the receiving end of the system. Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are not immune to this challenge. One of the reasons lbt women get raped is still to prove that women’s bodies are for men and anything that continues to challenge that phenomenon is persecuted by society.
It is against this background that any intervention that seeks to address the challenges facing lbt women need to realise that their struggles are not just about their sexual identity, but about the fact that they are also women and other things as well. We need a holistic approach to address inequalities against women in society. The commonality of all our struggles is the inequality and the injustice that we endure. It is against this background that CAL has committed itself to unite in the struggle against patriarchy and building feminist leaders that will wage the struggle to the end.
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) was founded in 2003 as an independent, non-profit organisation with a membership comprising organisations in Africa that work to support the struggle of lesbian women for equality. It is the first non-governmental organisation in Africa to work on the equality of lesbian women at a continental level.
The founding process was endorsed at a seminar in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, in the last week of August 2004. The seminar was hosted by the Rainbow Project and Sister Namibia and attended by twenty-five representatives of lesbian organisations, as well as a number of individual women, from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia.
At this gathering the participants developed the vision, objectives and structure for the organisation. After lively discussion and debate they unanimously adopted African radical feminism as the foundational philosophy for CAL.
Aims and Objectives of CAL
The principal objectives of CAL are:
1 To advocate and lobby for the political, sexual, cultural and economic rights of African
lesbians by engaging strategically with African and international structures and allies;
2 To eradicate stigma and discrimination against lesbians in Africa;
3 To build and strengthen our voices and visibility through research, media and literature and
through participation in local and international fora;
4 To build the capacity of African lesbians and our organisations to use African radical
feminist analysis in all spheres of life;
5 To build a strong and sustainable lesbian coalition supporting the development of national
organisations working on lesbian issues in every country in Africa;
6 To support the work of these national organisations in all the foregoing areas including the
facilitation of the personal growth of African lesbians and the building of capacity within their organisations.
The Lesbian Equality Project
CAL currently manages one project called the Lesbian Equality Project. The project covers (1) Direct lobbying and advocacy with the African Commission, (2) Research on the experiences of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in Africa, (3) Creative Expression to enable lbt women to express themselves through creative means like writing, singing, drama, photography and visual activism, and lastly (3) Capacity Building through Leadership Institutes and local country workshops to enable lbt women to advance advocacy and activism in their own contexts.
* Fikile Vilakzai is the Director of the Coalition of African Lesbians based in South Africa.
For further enquiries: Tel: +27(0) 11 487 3810/1, Fax: +27(0) 11 487 2332
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
As Nigerians vote
As Nigerians move towards elections that mark the first time one elected civilian government has handed over to another, Chippa Vandu provides an historical overview of military and civilian rule in Nigeria and assess the probable outcome of the April elections.
As a nation, Nigeria has come a long way. 1999 was meant to be its year of hope—the return to democratic rule after a decade and a half of military dictatorships. Of all military rulers in Nigeria’s history, only one voluntarily gave up power to a democratically elected government. His name was Olusegun Obasanjo and the year was 1979. General Obasanjo became a military ruler by chance in 1976, having inherited the seat of power when the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, was assassinated in Nigeria’s second bloody coup. Obasanjo handed power over to the democratically elected Shehu Shagari, who was toppled in a bloodless coup by Major General Muhammadu Buhari in 1983. Then began the decade and a half of military dictatorships that saw General Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993), General Sani Abacha (1993-1998) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998-1999) rule Nigeria..
Olusegun Obasanjo once again ascended to the highest office in Nigeria in 1999 filled with expectations. The exceedingly corrupt government of one of his predecessors—the late Sani Abacha—had all but destroyed the semblance of civil society in Nigeria. Together with his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo set out to work, promising to take Nigeria where military dictatorships had always prevented it from reaching. Four years went by and the government was re-elected for a second term. All this while, there were reforms in the banking and financial sectors of the economy, with the country literally settling its huge debt problem. The government, it appeared, had also solved the perennial problem of fuel shortages, which were common during Sani Abacha’s era. A mini telecommunications revolution also took place in Nigeria, with the birth of GSM telephone networks.
Technocrats were brought into government, some of who excelled at what they did. But to most Nigerians, events were far from rosy. Corruption remained endemic and special agencies were created to deal with it. Even then, it remained a part of daily life. From those who sat at the apex of power, to the janitors in government ministries, everyone expected to be settled—Nigeriaspeak for bribed—for simply doing his or her job. And, while the Nigerian government spoke of impressive economic growth, a concurrent increase in population (and corruption, of course) made for an almost unperceivable improvement in the life of the average man or woman on the street. And there lay the paradox—the desire by Nigerians for change, a government that was promising change, but change that was simply too slow to be perceivable.
Democracy, it appeared, had come to stay—or so Nigerians thought. Sometime in late 2005, the Nigerian presidency silently began pushing for the nation’s constitution to be amended to allow Olusegun Obasanjo run for a third term in office. Opposition to this amendment grew like wildfire, with Obasanjo’s deputy being one of the most vocal opponents. Good enough, the amendment failed as it was thrown out by the Nigerian legislature in May 2006. Without a doubt, this came as a surprise to Obasanjo, who accused his country’s media houses of being vile and insensitive for the manner in which they went about reporting about the third term agenda. And one person in particular whom Obasanjo never forgave was his deputy—Atiku Abubakar. In months to come, Abubakar (who by the way happened to be very much interested in contesting the presidency) was to be frustrated to the point of political suicide.
Abubakar was expelled from the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the behest of Obasanjo. At the PDP national convention in December 2006, Obasanjo picked an obscure governor—Umaru Musa Yar’Adua—as his likely successor. Yar’Adua’s health became the subject of media speculation in Nigeria. When he had to be abruptly flown to Germany for treatment during one of his presidential campaigns, it became clear that all was not well. The media, it appeared, was right in stating that Yar’Adua’s frail state of health was a cause for concern. Yar’Adua remains the presidential candidate for the ruling PDP.
Atiku Abubakar’s expulsion from the ruling PDP did not in anyway weaken his desire to contest the presidency. In late 2006, he became instrumental in the formation of a new political party called the Action Congress (AC), which eventually nominated him as its presidential candidate. But Olusegun Obasanjo, not wanting to have any of that, began what may be termed a calculated campaign to ensure that Abubakar was not allowed to contest the presidency. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) published a list of corrupt politicians in February 2006. Top on the list was Abubakar, along with other politicians who, though corrupt, also happened not to be friends of the president.
Though he won a couple of court cases over corruption allegations brought forward by Nigeria’s corruption watchdog, Abubakar was eventually given the final blow when the Nigerian electoral commission omitted his name from the list of those eligible to run for the office of the presidency. Furthermore, in the third week of March 2007, the Nigerian Senate indicted both Abubakar and Obasanjo for mishandling petroleum technology development funds. The Senate further recommended that they both be referred to a disciplinary committee (i.e. the Code of Conduct Bureau) for further action. Calculated as it seemed, this was to partly to ensure that Mr. Obasanjo erased all hopes of extending his tenure beyond May 29, 2007—the stipulated handover date. The Senate indictment literally put a full stop to Abubakar’s political ambition—at least, for the time being.
Two things appear certain when Nigerians begin voting in a couple of week’s time: it has become close to impossible for Mr. Obasanjo to extend his stay in office as he had once hoped. However, by selecting Umaru Yar’Adua as his successor, Obasanjo believes he has found a wall of refuge that would eventually protect his interests after he ceases being Nigeria’s first citizen. Secondly, Abubakar will most likely not run for the presidency, even though the slimmest of chance still exists that the courts might rule in his favour.
With Abubakar out, Yar’Adua’s main challenger becomes Muhammadu Buhari—one time military dictator and presidential candidate of the All Nigeria’s People Party (ANPP). While it is most certain that the ruling PDP will do all in its power to rig the elections in favour of Yar’Adua, an easy victory cannot be guaranteed. Unfortunately, some of the brightest candidates—like Pat Utomi of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) party—have weak political bases. Thus, at the end of the day, most Nigerians will practically be compelled to choose between mediocrity and mediocrity. Such is the life of the game called politics.
It would take nothing short of a miracle from the heavens to stop the ruling PDP from producing the next president of Nigeria. In other words, Nigeria’s next president would most likely be the very man chosen by the incumbent president. Despite being labeled honest, Yar’Adua’s frail health should be a cause for concern. If the man who intends on becoming the next president of Nigeria has to keep running to Germany to be resuscitated each time his health starts to fail, one could only be left wondering what sort of message that sends to the very people he intends to govern. But then, all through Nigeria’s delicate history, there have always been two sets of rules—one for the upper class and another for others. Shattering this barrier could be but a first step towards creating the sort of society that would treat people for what they are—human beings. In this regard, the next government of Nigeria is already failing.
* Chippla Vandu is a Nigerian research engineer with an interest in governance, history and philosophy. He currently resides in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and blogs at chippla.blogspot.com
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Nigeria will muddle through to lootocracy again
Tajudeen Abdul Raheem
The first and last time I ever voted in an election in Nigeria was in 1979. Ironically it was the military regime of General Olushegun Obasanjo who gave my generation (the independence kids) our first opportunity to exercise our voting rights as young adults. The military had overthrown the first civilian administration in 1966 and had retained power through more coups and counter coups for 13 years (nine of which were spent by General Yakubu Gowon including the three years of bloody civil war to ‘keep Nigeria One’, 1967-1970) until the Obasanjo regime returned the country to ‘democratic rule’ in 1979.
That election, like previous elections in Nigeria’s short lived experience of democracy as an independent country (1960-1966), was marred by violence, brazen irregularities, extreme polarization and allegations of official and unofficial bias in favour of the five registered parties.
The military regime was not seen by many as impartial observers. Their alleged partiality was not unfamiliar because, even under British colonial over-lordship, elections were rigged or tilted in favour of particular groups, regions, or ethnic interests amenable to British neo-colonialist designs. Therefore the British were never neutral about who succeeded them whether in Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya, although they miscalculated in some cases, most famously Ghana and the emergence of Nkrumah and the CPP.
Nigeria’s 1979 Presidential election, and the majority of the Governorship at the state level and also the National Parliament, were ‘won’ by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), whose presidential candidate, a northern Hausa-Fulani Muslim, ex-school master and former Minister, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari became the President. The closest rival to Shagari and the NPN was veteran politician, an Ijebu-Yoruba Methodist from the South West, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
The Chief came from the same state, Ogun, as Obasanjo but he and his fanatical supporters predominantly among the Yoruba accused Obasanjo of ‘betraying the Yoruba’ and of being ‘an agent of the Hausa –Fulani Feudalist North’. Since Lagos is the centre of Nigeria’s financial, industrial and commercial activities and the Yoruba had historically had hegemony over the media both, Obasanjo and Shagari were pilloried, abused and put under siege in the federal capital which was under the UPN.
The Chief, himself a successful lawyer, gathered together a formidable team of lawyers and took his election petition against the electoral commission, the military government and the NPN up to the Supreme Court. But the highest court decided against him. The election of Shagari stood.
By 1983 the Shagari government /NPN was in charge of the elections. Not only did Shagari win in a ‘landslide’ across the country, but in his home state, Sokoto, he had more votes than the total population of the state! So brazen was the NPN manipulation of the votes that even Chief Awolowo, a very litigious and cantankerous old man in Nigerian politics, unrivalled up to now, did not feel the need to go to court again. He thought it a waste of time. Instead he gave up the case to God and public opinion.
Less than 4 months after those controversial elections in December 1983 the civilian regime was overthrown in yet another military coup and General Muhammadu Buhari (he is, without any sense of irony, today a leading Presidential candidate) became the military head of state.
The military remained in power for another 16 years until 1999 when the country again ‘returned’ to civilian rule under a ‘civilianized’ Obasanjo. So the story of democracy in Nigeria has become one long journey from Obasanjo to Obasanjo!
The General is again at the threshold of another historic transition in Nigeria. He was the first military leader to handover to an elected civilian President and if all goes as well as possible in spite of the current uncertainties on May 29 2007 Obasanjo will become the first ‘elected’ president to peacefully handover to another elected president.
Less than three weeks before the elections the omens do not seem to be good.
There are two sets of problems even though one has received greater media space than the other which may be more important.
The first set are political issues related to the reluctance and very active resistance of Obasanjo to leave office, the third term ‘prolongation manoeuvers’, as Nigerians call it, but which Ugandans will be more familiar with as the ‘sad term’ or ‘Ekisanja’. This has brought on a credibility deficit to his legacy and public perception of the transition processes. The worst consequence of the checkmated futile term extension is, of course, the Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s desperate struggle to be on the ballot, and Obasanjo’s blatant ‘do or die’ stratagems to block him.
The other set of problems concern the level of technical, administrative and organizational preparedness of the Electoral Commission – aspirationally called Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. It pleads readiness, but the average Nigerian believes otherwise. The evidence on the ground does not inspire much confidence. Many of the challenges could actually be technical incompetence. But so divided is the public that many think the incompetence is deliberate and orchestrated to create chaos and secure a ‘sad term’ extension for Obasanjo.
I do not believe in this conspiracy theory about Obasanjo creating chaos in order to remain in power. There is too much obsession with Obasanjo’s shenanigans that is really frustrating to any sane person. Some of his critics are so consumed by their hatred for the man that they even behave, talk and write as though Obasanjo is the worst leader Nigeria has ever had.
Yet many of these critics were resounding in their silence while others were active collaborators under the IBB and Abacha dictatorships. A lot of the animosity against Obasanjo is self-earned because of the man’s ‘I-know-best’ and often rude public profile. However hatred for Obasanjo should not confuse one to the extent that even if there is no rainfall (or even if there is too much rain!) it could be blamed on the regime. The Atiku supporters or their fellow travelers using this line need to wake up to the stark political realities. Neither Atiku nor Obasanjo will be on the ballot.
Would this be fair to Atiku? Of course not, but what will be new about political injustices by the Nigerian political elite?
Chief MKO Abiola won the fairest and freest election ever held in that country but it was annulled and he died in prison .The world did not collapse. The dictator, Babangida, banned 15 presidential aspirants (some of them ex-Generals including Atiku’s political God Father, Shehu Musa Yar Adua) and other Plutocrats were prevented from standing. The world did not collapse on that occasion either. It will not collapse if Atiku did not stand.
Somehow the country will muddle through. There is no military option anymore therefore Nigerians have to find ways and means of making democracy to mean more than just one set of oppressors and exploiters periodically posing to be their liberators. There are hopeful signs in the growing assertiveness and clear political demands of a new generation of CSO activists who want to deepen the democratic process beyond the Donor-driven project cycle and its complimentary protest by per diem culture.
In spite of all the gathering dark clouds one can hazard very quick guesses.
One, Atiku will not be standing and has to be content with enjoying his unlikely victim status and dubious rebranding as a ‘martyr to democracy’ even if he was a chief architect in all the scams and fraud that got Obasanjo elected both in 1999 and 2003. There may not be honor among con men, but the Obasanjo–Atiku saga is a just desert for both of them.
Two, the elections will be marred by all kinds of irregularities including ‘rigging where you would have won’ by all the leading contenders. But finally the ruling class will go back to ‘business as usual’ while the masses continue ‘suffering and smiling‘ as Fela Kuti once sang, in a country where the elite is unashamedly committed to only one ideology: LOOTOCRACY (government of looters, by looters, for looters).
* Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is the Deputy Director for the UN Millennium Campaign in Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He writes this article in his personal capacity as a concerned Pan-Africanist.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
No compassion for Sierra Leone’s amputees
I am not a psychologist, nor doctor. However, the pain of the amputees and their struggles are unimaginable to me... I simply cannot even begin to understand how difficult their lives must be.
I watched a movie recently, here in the US, about a gentleman in Ghana who, with the gift of a bicycle began a campaign to regain dignity and acceptance for the disabled in his country. He insisted, directly, to these folks to beg no more, but find their abilities and sell their work. Very inspiring, no-excuse approach from another differently-abled person. He, eventually, had gone from living life on crutches with one proper leg, to cycling across his country with a donated bike to show those around him that they can persevere... with one functioning leg.
Through sponsorship of doctors and former atheletes, he was given a prosthetic leg, and shortly after, ran an Ironman triathalon in the US alongside another young man who had two prosthetic legs. Yet he was an extremely functional and inspired young man before even having the new leg! He began his successes with one leg and a bike. Of course, the emotional and post-traumatic psychological hurdles are different for the amputees of Sierra Leone's war.
They have been attacked, mutilated unjustly by some of their own countrymen in a small country. But I believe in the perseverance of the Sierra Leonian spirit! Another reference: When I was a new mother and had psychological needs, I was treated by a young lady by the name of Dr. Gina Patterson. She had no arms below her elbows, and only one natural leg to her knee. Everything else was prosthetic and braces. She was truly quadrapalegic.
But... I have never seen a more charitable, compassionate person! Though I was immediately self-conscientious of my petty problems compared to her inspiring capabilities, she was quick to make me feel that it was okay to be a human with problems that are average that sometimes get the best of us, and she was loving, and supportive in helping me find hope that I had lost... never once being a handicapped lady trying to console a confused person. She was "a rock" and an uplifter!
I would sit in her office in amazement as she handled all of her papers, and WROTE in BEAUTIFUL penmanship with the arms that had no elbows. There is so much hope with an uplifted spirit! I will try to contact her... she was married after my time with her... intending to be a mom! But her name is changed and I have to do some digging to find her. She may be a wonderful resource/inspiration to any interested in the wonders of how she is so much more successful, capable, and compassionate than the average AMerican... with two upper arms, and a thigh, then science's best attempts at replications of legs...
Encouragement, acceptance, and more than anything... UPLIFTING is what the amputees need most. And a shoulder ... a rock ... to lean on. But to also uplift them, and let them know that a great life can lay before them as soon as they choose to believe in it! Much love and blessings to the great country and amazing strong spirited folks of Sierra Leone!
We Are Our Own Liberators
The issue of reparations should be put at the forefront of the African agenda as the world commemorate the abolition of the slave trade, however focus needs to be made on the Arab Slave trade which is still going on as I write. As a black African I feel not much has been written on slavery in the Arab world and the fate of the Africans who were transported to Arab lands throughout the middle east. Slavery, whether by Europeans or Arabs must be treated the same and be condemned in equally strong terms and if reparations are to be paid, the Arab world should also pay.
Zimbabwe: Change is coming: the first step in a long journey
In what ways exactly has the opposition failed to show Zimbabweans that it has the will and skills to replace this corrupt government and deliver what Zimbabweans want and need? In what sense are the capable 'elements within it' too small? Where are those?
A giant has moved on …: Tribute to Archie Mafeje
Wednesday, 28 March, 2007 will go down as a sad day among social researchers all over Africa and beyond: It was the day Professor Archie Mafeje passed away in Pretoria in what was a most quiet exit that has left the very many among us whom he touched directly or indirectly in a state sadness and anger. Archie Mafeje, the quintessential person of science and one of the most versatile, extraordinary minds to emerge from Africa was, in his days, a living legend in every sense: His knowledge was as vast as his grasp of issues – almost all issues - was breathtaking. His discourses transcended disciplinary boundaries and were characterised by a spirit of combative engagement underpinned by a commitment to social transformation. As an academic sojourner conscious of the history of Africa over the last six centuries, he rallied his colleagues to resist the intellectual servitude on which all forms of foreign domination thrive. He was intransigent in his call for the liberation of our collective imaginations as the foundational stone for continental liberation. In all of this, he also distinguished himself by his insistence on scientific rigour and originality: It was his trade mark to be uncompromisingly severe with fellow scientists who were mediocre in their analyses. The power of his pen and the passion of his interventions always went hand-in-hand with a uniquely polemical style that was hardly meant for those who were not sure-footed in their scholarship. This then was the Mafeje who left us on 28 March, 2007 to join the other departed heroes and heroines of the African social research community: A great pan-African, an outstanding scientist, a first rate debater, a frontline partisan in the struggle for social justice, and a gentleman of great humanitarian principles. We will surely miss his thoughtful insights, his strident rebukes, his loyal friendship, his companionship, and – yes, his wit, humour and expert culinary skills that included an incomparable knowledge of foods and wines from all corners of the world.
Archie Mafeje has fought the battle and run the race successfully; for those of he has left behind, especially those of us whom he inspired, the challenge before us is clear: Keep the Mafeje spirit alive by investing ourselves with dedication to the quest for the knowledge we need in order to transform our societies – and the human condition for the better. In the meantime, our thoughts and solidarity go to the members of his family, including his wife Shahida El-Baz and their daughter, Danna.
About Archie Mafeje
Professor Archie Mafeje was South African by birth. He completed his undergraduate studies and began his career as a scholar at the University of Cape Town, in his home country but, like many other South Africans, he was soon forced by the Apartheid regime to go into exile where he spent the better part of his life. He obtained a PhD in Anthropology and Rural Sociology from Cambridge University in 1966. In 1973, at the age of 34, he was appointed Professor of Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague by an Act of Parliament and with the approval of all the Dutch universities, becoming the first African scholar to be so distinguished in The Netherlands. That appointment bestowed on him the honour of being a Queen Juliana Professor and one of her Lords. His name appears in the prestigious blue pages of the Dutch National Directorate.
Archie Mafeje’s professional career spanned four decades and three continents. From 1969 to 1971 he was Head of the Sociology Department at the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania before moving to the Hague as a visiting Professor of Social Anthropology of Development and Chairman of the Rural Development, Urban Development and Labour Studies Programme at the Institute of Social Studies from 1972 to 1975. It was here that he met he met his wife and life-long companion, the Egyptian scholar and activist, Dr. Shahida El Baz. In 1979, he joined the American University, in Cairo as Professor of Sociology. Thereafter, he took up the post of Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Multidisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Namibia from 1992 to 1994. Mafeje was also a senior fellow and visiting or guest professor at several other universities and research institutions in Africa, Europe and North America. He is the author of many books, monographs and journal articles. His critique of the concept of tribalism and his works on anthropology are widely cited as key reference materials. He also did pathbreaking work on the land and agrarian question in Africa.
Mafeje returned to South Africa several years after the end of apartheid where he was appointed a Research Fellow by the National Research Foundation (NRF) working at the African Renaissance Centre at the University of South Africa (UNISA). In 2001 Archie Mafeje became a member of the Scientific Committee of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and in 2003 was awarded Honorary Life Membership of this Council. In 2005, Professor Mafeje was appointed a CODESRIA Distinguished Fellow in conjuction with the Africa Institute of South Africa, in Pretoria. Professor Mafeje is survived by his wife Shahida and their daughter Danna.
A Child No More
Maria was raped 48 hours ago today
We found this out the hard way
You see, Maria is five years,
10 months and 18 days old
She's less than a metre tall
Barely reaches my hip
Her corn-rowed head is bowed
As her gaze fixes on my knee
For 48 hours Maria didn't speak
She didn't eat
Maria didn't play
Didn't want to leave her bed
Today Maria is on her feet
We watch as she struggles to walk straight
She fights to carry her normal gait
Fights to hide the wince of pain
Fights to be a child again
Turns out Maria was raped by her father
On Monday before the sun quite went down
Rudely pulled atop him with all his might
Threatened to a whimpering silence
Her innocence plundered, tattered and forever scarred
As tear-filled eyes stared back without fight
Maria was raped by an economic system
that keeps her in a one-room house
She was raped by a President
Who does nothing to improve her life
Maria was raped by an MP
Who year after year spews out useless words
Deafens us with empty promises
She was raped by those among us
Who dare not speak out
Who bury their anger in silence
Her father's guilty as sin
Without doubt his act of unabated greed
Was full of shame
He must carry his own cross
Pay for this disgusting thing
But the system must pay too
And all who choose to turn a blind eye
For he should not bear the punishment alone
Lioness © 2nd April 07
Review of African Blogs
The Other Africa is a new blog from Senegal by Ndeyefatou. Her latest post “Discover Dakar, she posts a photo essay showing places and monuments in the city – one of my favourites is a piece of modern art depicting “Mother Africa”
“The Millenium Door. This was constructed in 2000 on the Corniche of Dakar. It has a door in its middle thats known as the Millenieum door . This door symbolizes the entry to a new century or millenium. At the top of the door there is a statue of a woman named Yaye Boye= Mother in wolof. She symbolizes mother Africa watching over its children.”
Khanya is another new blog this time from South Africa. Referring to the new South African blog aggregator, Amatomu, produced by the Mail & Guardian, Khanya asks “where are all the African bloggers”. Yet again that same question we have heard so many times before both referring to African men and women bloggers.
“Look at South African blog aggregator sites like Amatomu, and the vast majority of the bloggers there are white. And this in spite of the fact that it is run by the Mail & Guardian newspaper, which has several black journalists. So if there are black bloggers out there, why aren’t they showing up on Amatomu?............The disparity not confined to blogging, but is seen in other parts of the Web and in electronic communications generally. In Usenet newsgroups, for example, most of the South African newsgroups are dominated by whites, with a high proportion of whinging whenwes. The soc.culture.south-africa newsgroup did have one very articulate black poster a few years ago, but he was not one to suffer fools gladly, and went off to play golf instead.”
I don’t know why Black bloggers are not showing up on Amatomu but I do know that issues of access to technology exist for the not white population who make up the majority of the poorer sections of SA. With most Black people still living in townships and a further 20% living in shacks it is not surprising that blogging and technology in general is not being taken up. Most Black and people of colour complain about the cost of internet connection at home and lets face it if you have just spent 2 hours struggling to get home the last thing you want to do is go and find an internet café and start blogging.
Sotho is possibly the only blogger to write about the recent elections in Lesotho. Knowing so little about Lesotho and Lesotho politics I welcome this short piece especially as he raises the question will the prime minister, Mosisili be taking after Mugabe?
“On Sunday elections were held in Lesotho. The small southern African “kingdom in the sky” was the continent’s first country to use a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system, in 2002. Sunday’s election was Lesotho’s second under MMP, and as I am not aware of any other African countries having opted for MMP (as opposed to MMM/parallel, which is used by several countries*), it must have been only the second African MMP election……………Lesotho politics is fraught with fallacies. There are even suggestions that the tiny mountain kingdom should be incorporated into South Africa before its tool late. In fact the only hope for the poor country is its big neighbour where there are more than 50 000 Basotho employed in the gold mines. Lately, its educated citizens are leaving in droves for greener pastures in the SA provinces. Is Lesotho becoming the next Zimbabwe? Is prime minister Mosisili taking after pres Mugabe?”
Alt.muslim writes on “the growing acceptance for anti-Arab prejudice and discrimination that remains politically correct in the US and the West”. Alt.Muslim is concerned about what he perceives as a growing anti-Arab movement that separates Arab Muslims from non-Arab Muslims and what that elevates the second group over the first – he uses Malcolm X’s analogy of “house niggers” versus “field niggers” with the Arab Muslims being the latter.
“America's battle for "hearts and minds" in the interest of ending terrorism and the Muslim world's enmity for it will continue to fail as long as such strategies are used. Cultivating "house Negroes" in Indonesia and Turkey to keep down the "field Negroes" in the Arab world will only lead to further anger at the United States for its continued meddling in the domestic politics of, in this case, non-Arab countries…………Finally, Muslims in America and abroad must never succumb to the growing acceptance for anti-Arab prejudice and discrimination that remains politically correct in the US and the West in general, whether it's in stupid jokes or "intellectual" commentary like Kristol's. As our beloved Arab Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him said: "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood."
Squatter City reports on a court ruling in Joburg that will allow the government to evict squatters.
“The Supreme Court of Appeal decision allows the government to evict approximately 300 people from six buildings in the inner city that it argues are unsafe and unhealthy. The court ruling does, however, require the city to provide temporary relocation housing for the people it evicts”
What Squatter City is reporting on is the move by the Johannesburg government to gentrify downtown Joburg and in the process remove the last remaining black population so that it may refurbish and construct new high rise expensive apartments for wealthy people.
Henry 2015 confirms the above plans in his post, African urbanization: Cities without limits.
“Johannesburg, South Africa's business capital, is facing similar problems. Over 20% of the city's population are thought to live in shacks and the city cannot build cheap houses fast enough. In places like Alexandra, one of the city's townships, shacks have been built dangerously close to the river and people drown when it swells. Plans are under way to move some people to new houses elsewhere. But what happens when the people do not want to move? That is the problem facing the city in the old central business district. For years it has been kicking out poor people who had moved into the many abandoned buildings, claiming that they are unsafe. But now lawyers acting for 300 people fighting eviction argue that the city must provide alternative accommodation, preferably in the same area.”
The movement to kick out the poor in cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town is a systematic one that has been taking place for years and is a form of apartheid – this time economic which does translate into racial as most poor people are people of colour (in SA terms, Blacks, Indians and coloureds). There are two informal settlements in Durban that are presently fighting the local government against removal after promises to build new houses for them on nearby land was rescinded and sold to local business men for development.
In Black Looks Kameelah questions the way in which we speak about the highly complex situation in Zimbabwe and asks that we do not assume the MDC as the given and best alternative to Mugabe.
“This delicacy in speaking about Zimbabwe does not mean we stay silent—engaging in the quiet diplomacy that South African president Thabo Mbeki has seemed to master; it means that we develop the strategies to speak about Zimbabwe in productive ways.”…………. Granted–any words uttered about the negligence and brutality of specific African governments will be an invitation for the West. If it is not a formal invitation, then it is an instigation of the desire for greater Western involvement in Zimbabwe (and by extension Africa)—a desire that lingered below the surface awaiting the opportunity to exploit—and at the moment Africa has many crisis opportunities to exploit. It is a desire for involvement that can only be staged as legitimate when certain people speak in certain ways. With that said, how do we speak? When? Where? And to whom? Or, do we stay silent? Do we pussy-foot around the crisis at hand to preserve the sanctity of African political leadership? If we choose to speak, how do we speak in a way that does not invite neocolonial intervention, or mimic Western neo-con and neo-liberal narratives?”
Kameelah raises an important point in asking how do we speak of Zimbabwe. We need to be very careful of the kind of language we use and avoid language that is racially loaded and feeds into the West’s vision of Africa as opposed to a progressive vision which seeks a new form of African leadership.
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, and is Online News Editor of Pambazuka News.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at www.pambazuka.org
Africa: Men need to be sensitised about women's rights
Educating the boy-child and the grown man would go a long way to ensure that gender equality and women's rights on the African continent were upheld, delegates attending the African Regional Meeting on Gender Justice in Conflict-Affected Countries were told.
South Africa: De Lille 'invaded HIV-positive women's privacy'
A biography about South African legislator Patricia De Lille invaded the right to privacy of three women whose names and HIV-positive status were disclosed in it, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday. According to a report in the Independent Online, the three women were each awarded R35 000 in damages, from Patricia de Lille, author Charlene Smith and publishers New Africa Books.
Uganda: I waited for my death
Hundreds of thousands of women worldwide die as a result of childbirth each year. Millions more survive life-threatening conditions to tell the tale. In this PANOS report, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda relates the stories of survival. Researchers believe maternal deaths could be cut with better understanding of the experiences of these women.
Malawi: UN-backed programme launched to tackle maternal mortality
In Malawi – where 16 women die every day giving birth or during pregnancy – the Government has kicked off a United Nations-backed campaign to combat maternal and infant death. “Pregnancy and childbirth are supposed to be joyful occasions,” said Esperance Fundira, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Malawi.
South Africa: Food for breastfeeding moms
Food parcels are finally being offered to HIV positive mothers in KwaZulu-Natal who want to exclusively breastfeed their babies as part of a new government policy. In the past, positive mothers were advised to either exclusively formula feed or, in cases where there was no supply of clean water, to exclusively breastfeed to protect their babies from getting HIV.
Zambia: Market smashed in 'clean-up'
Zambian police have demolished makeshift street stalls in Lusaka, as part of what the government says is a drive to "clean up" the streets of the capital. Vendors watched as police used sledgehammers to tear down "illegal" stalls and destroy goods, in scenes reminiscent of a similar drive in Zimbabwe almost two years ago.
Zimbabwe: Government maintains pressure to stifle strike
President Robert Mugabe's government on Wednesday increased police patrols and stepped up a propaganda blitz to stifle a national strike over wages amid a devastating economic crisis. Many companies and shops in major cities were again open on Wednesday, the second and last day of a strike called by labour unions, as the government continued warning that organisers were "looking for trouble".
Ethiopia: US agents visit Ethiopian secret jails
CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaeda militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse, according to an investigation by the Associated Press (AP).
Mozambique: Maputo blast victims to receive disability grant
The Mozambican government will pay disability grants of up to R500 per month to victims of last month's Malhazine armoury blasts, Vista News reports. Government spokesperson Luis Covane told independent television channel STv on Wednesday that the grants will be paid after an assessment to ascertain the degree of injury.
East Africa: Region criticised over human rights
Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been accused of dragging their feet on incorporating the Bill of Human Rights in their constitutions despite ratifying relevant international laws.Addressing a judges’ seminar on human rights in Kilifi, Prof Chris Peter Maina of the University of Dar-es-Salaam, said though the Tanzania government had accepted the Bill of Rights in 1984, it had not domesticated it fully.
East Africa: Border remains closed to asylum seekers
The Somalia-Kenya border is to remain closed despite the arrival of thousands of new Somali asylum seekers escaping weeks of heavy fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, a Kenyan official announced.
Chad: Up to 3,000 flee after fresh attacks
The UN refugee agency and its partners are dealing with a new wave of displacement in south-eastern Chad following a deadly attack at the weekend against the villages of Tiero and Marena.
Southern Africa: UNHCR helps prepare new guidelines for HIV treatment
The UNHCR has helped in the development of new guidelines for HIV treatment in southern Africa. The new guidelines are designed to help health workers in deciding the most appropriate treatment for displaced populations, including internally displaced persons, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Somalia: Displaced Somalis brings tales of "unbearable" life in Mogadishu
Thousands of people have been flooding into the small town of Balcad, north of Mogadishu, saying that life in the Somali capital has become unbearable. They are part of a massive exodus from battle-torn Mogadishu that has seen almost 100,000 people flee the city since the beginning of February, including some 47,000 in the last two weeks.
Chad: Thousands more displaced in Chad, government says
The Chadian government has accused Sudanese janjawid militiamen of attacking two villages in eastern Chad, killing 29 people. “Today there are between 6,000 and 8,000 more people who are exposed without shelter and who have completely lost everything,” government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told reporters on Monday.
Africa: Citizenship Rights
"On March 6, 1957, the independence of Ghana promised for all Africans and our communities a new era of citizenship in full dignity and equality with the rest of humanity. 50 years later, ...this promise remains unfulfilled. African governments remain unable or unwilling to fully assure, respect and guarantee effective citizenship in our continent." - Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Dismas Nkunda, & Chidi Anselm Odinkalu.
South Africa: Abahlali [Shackdwellers] members on hunger strike.
The Kennedy 5 Are now on hunger strike in Westville prison, and will appear in court on 13 April to ask for bail. This means that they will have already been in jail for one month before they even get a chance to ask for bail.They were arrested along with four others at 3:00 in the morning on Human Rights day, 21 March, 2007.
Benin: Legislative polls close
Voting has closed in Benin's legislative elections one year after Boni Yayi, Benin's president, took office with a pledge to fight corruption. Saturday's vote will be a key measure of support for Yayi, a former development banker and a political unknown when he was the surprise winner of the presidential poll in March last year.
Algeria: Women underrepresented in legislative race
Candidate lists for Algeria's May 17th parliamentary elections were due at midnight on April 1st. According to Magharebia news, many political parties included women in their lists but the country's conservative tendencies will likely preclude women from being elected.
Nigeria: Court upholds ban on VP
A Nigerian court has ruled against Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria's vice-president, dealing a blow to his plans to run as a presidential candidate. The court of appeal ruled on April 03 that the electoral commission did have the authority to remove names from the official list of candidates, upholding Abubakar's disqualification from running.
Nigeria: Obasanjo urged to approve Nigerian freedom bills
With less than one month before parliamentary and presidential elections, Nigeria's Freedom of Information Bill 2004 still awaits presidential assent, human rights groups note. They now urge President Olusegun Obasanjo to make a last effort to secure right to transparency in Nigeria before he leaves office later this month.
Guinea-Bissau: Opposition suspends protests
A coalition of Guinea-Bissau's three leading political parties suspended demonstrations planned for the weekend after President João Bernardo 'Nino' Vieira undertook consultations with political leaders.
Guinea-Bissau: PM resigns
Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Aristides Gomes, did what most African leaders should give a try - to tender his resignation, especially at a time when his country is hooked up in political, administrative or economic crisis.
Morocco: Morocco tackles money laundering and financial crime
According to a report by Magharebia news the Moroccan government has enacted a law explicitly forbidding money laundering and related financial crimes as a tool to combat both terrorism and organised crime.
Zambia: Poverty driving corruption
If you want to experience for yourself the widespread corruption that plagues Zambia, all you have to do is catch a taxi or jump onto a bus in downtown Lusaka. PANOS' Mildred Mpundu takes a taxi ride in Zambia to uncover the reasons behind corruption among traffic officers.
Namibia: More protection needed for whistle-blowers
Human rights and anti-corruption bodies agree that Namibia needs expanded laws to protect whistle-blowers more in the fight against corruption, Catherine Sasman reports for the New Era.
Africa: Corruption distorts freedom, human values - Mbeki
Corruption distorts human values and freedom and negatively affects the delivery of services to those most in need, President Thabo Mbeki said on Monday. The president was speaking in Sandton, Johannesburg, at the Fifth Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Protecting Integrity.
Nigeria: Buhari decries corruption
Corruption at the highest levels of the Nigerian government is hampering the economy of the oil-rich country at every level, retired general and presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari told United Press International in an exclusive interview from the campaign trail in Port Harcourt.
Africa: EU offers full free market access for ex-colonies
The European Commission said on Wednesday it was offering full free market access to former colonies in trade talks, with transition periods on rice and sugar. The announcement added further details to previous commitments by the wealthy 27-nation bloc to further cut trade barriers with the group of nearly 80 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
East Africa: Fighting for the 'kikoi' trademark
Kenyan activists are fighting to retain cultural designs that have been developed in East Africa but are being patented by companies in rich countries. After losing the kiondo basket trademark to Japan, the popular kikoi fabric design is currently at risk of being patented by a British company.
Ethiopia: Ethiopian coffee brings its own aroma
Ethiopia is looking to trademark coffees in the EU to benefit its poor farmers, in the face of opposition from Starbucks in the U.S. The Ethiopian move provides lessons for an African market that could be worth billions of dollars.
Global: Globalization: A panacea for world economic development?
Ravinder Rena of the Eritrea Institute of Technology argues that rather than acting as an equalizing force, globalization has instead widened the gap between rich and poor, both in the developed and developing worlds.
Kenya: Portrait of poverty
Like the rest of Africa, Kenya is waging a war against poverty to halve its hungry by 2015 – a global United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal. But has that battle reached poverty’s heartland? The large but marginalised rural communities where tens of millions are so hungry they are barely living. Mildred Barasa of PANOS reports from eastern Kenya.
Kenya: Small businesses get access to banking at last
In Kenya, major banks – like most banks on the continent - prefer to deal with ‘big’ clients. ‘Small’ clients find obtaining access to banking services almost impossible. One bank in Kenya has set out to change this. Zipporah Musau and Kwamboka Oyaru report for PANOS.
Sierra Leone: Water pipe dreams
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals for poverty eradication aim to halve the number of people without access to safe water and sanitation by 2015. Safe drinking water remains a mirage for the vast majority in poverty-stricken Sierra Leone, and there has been scant public discussion of the possible solutions. Bai-Bai Sesay reports for PANOS.
South Africa: HIV-positive foreigners getting a rough deal
HIV-positive foreigners living in SA are discriminated against by health professionals, according to Francois Venter, president of the HIV Clinicians’ Society. Venter said xenophobia was “a huge problem” that extended to the professional clinicians in government’s health facilities.
Global: The right to reproductive and sexual health - media tool kit
The right to health is acknowledged as a universal human right. Good sexual and reproductive health services enhance public health and improve quality of life. Journalists can play a key role in getting these issues debated publicly. This PANOS media briefing explains some of the key issues and how to use researchers as a journalistic source.
Kenya: AIDS widows: stories from women who lose everything
Across Africa, the AIDS pandemic is creating chaos for hundreds of thousands of women forced to leave their land and homes when their husbands die. Campaigners say the best way to protect the growing number of these ‘AIDS Widows’ is to introduce and enforce laws which give women equal rights to inherit and own property. In Kenya, these rights continue to be denied. This article by PANOS suggests that there are signs that things might change.
South Africa: Evaluation of the Stepping Stones intervention
This study, from the South African Medical Research Council, evaluates the impact of Stepping Stones on new HIV infections and on new genital herpes infections, sexual behaviour and male violence. Stepping Stones is an HIV prevention programme that aims to improve sexual health through building stronger, more gender-equitable relationships with better communication between partners.
Sierra Leone: The challenge of Sierra Leone's health
More than five years since the war officially ended, the bigger problem in Sierra Leone's health is the lack of resources and leadership to combat the multiple scourges of diseases ravaging the country's poor and sick from very preventable causes.
Sudan: Rise in school enrolment poses funding problem
Bonkir Benjamin has just begun school at JCC Model Preschool in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba. However, despite his high aspirations, he knows he will probably have to leave the war-torn region if he is to fulfill his dreams.
Uganda: Education that is free but not easy
Last month saw the launch of free secondary education in Uganda, part of the government’s strategy to expand opportunities for young people and reduce poverty. The number of students is set to double. This PANOS feature looks at some of the challenges ahead.
Uganda: Schoolkids learn to make money
Uganda wants to teach its children lessons in finance and in doing so hopes to create a generation of entrepreneurs. Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda reports for PANOS from Kampala.
South Africa: Schools to benefit from Unicef partnership with IT firm
International communications company BT is to invest R20m in education in SA, China and India over the next three years in terms of a partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Uganda: Half a million children given a chance to go to school
A campaign backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aiming to help school 450,000 children returning home from displacement camps in the war-torn northern region of Uganda has kicked off. Over the next two years, this scheme will also target 4,500 teachers in 650 schools in the Lango sub-region in northern Uganda.
Botswana: Behavioural Change In Schools And HIV/AIDS
The HIV and AIDS pandemic is a worldwide phenomenon. It is necessary to empower students to achieve behavioural change. There is a link between approaches to behavioural change, HIV/AIDS and other social problems faced by schools. Student indiscipline, smoking, the use of alcohol by under age children, the use of drugs, violence and bullying are some of the behavioural problems that schools face.
Africa: Conference targets skills development
Financial and fundraising skills, and gender awareness within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisations in Africa, seem to be priorities for the coming International Lesbian and Gay Association’s (ILGA) conference to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 5 and 8 May this year. This is ILGA’s first regional conference in Africa, and it targets a large number of LGBTI activists and their work.
South Africa: Refuge for Africa's gays
South Africa has become a safe haven for many people fleeing from war, persecution and more recently homophobia as many African countries deplore homosexuality. Gay people from countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi, to mention a few, relate their stories of facing prejudice for being gay.
Namibia: Flood water keeps displaced in camps
Water levels are still keeping thousands in camps after flooding in Namibia's northern Caprivi region in early March, and aid agencies warn it could take months before displaced residents can return home. Torrential rain in neighbouring Angola caused the Zambezi River to burst its banks and spill onto the floodplains.
Senegal: An ongoing battle against deforestation
The quadrupling of Senegal's population in 47 years has led to an increase in the amount of land under cultivation, rising demand for firewood and charcoal, and accelerated urbanisation. The result: Senegal loses about 350,000 hectares of its forests annually to fires that are frequently started to clear land for farming, and more than 80,000 hectares for agricultural needs, according to the Centre for Environmental Preservation (Centre pour la sauvegarde de l'environnement, CSE).
Chad: A problematic solution to deforestation
It's affordable, and central to stopping deforestation in Chad. But, butane gas has a long way to go before it becomes a household staple in this Sahelian country: many Chadians have a fixed belief that gas is simply too dangerous to use.
Uganda: Science and politics clash over Ugandan forest
Peter Wamboga-Mugirya reports for SciDev that scientists are challenging politicians over the planned give-away of a natural forest east of Kampala, Uganda, for a sugar plantation. The Ugandan state-owned newspaper The New Vision last month (20 March) reported that Uganda was in the process of leasing 7,100 hectares ― around a quarter ― of the Mabira Central Forest Reserve to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda, part of the international Mehta group.
Uganda: Pastoralists hit by market reforms
Accustomed to their age-old freedom to roam, the nomadic pastoralists of Uganda are now having to cope with a law that seeks to settle and ‘modernise’ their communities. Sharon Lamwaka reports for PANOS on unforeseen implications for the survival of the long-horned Ankole cow, and for food security.
South Africa: Women still fighting for the right to own their own homes
An increasing number of black women want to formally own their own homes and land in the cities where they settled informally under apartheid. But the system is still stacked against them. Anna Weekes hears the incredible story of one woman’s fight to secure her own home in Cape Town.
Zambia: We know no other home than this: land disputes in Zambia
Throughout southern Africa customary laws governing land management are coming into conflict with modern statutory laws that aim to put land on the market. A land dispute in Zambia between a group of villagers and a big sugar company highlights some of the issue, including festering class divisions.
Africa: Land, Memory, Reconstruction and Justice: Conference papers
The Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) of the University of the Western Cape Recently held a conference entitled Land, Memory, Reconstruction and Justice: Perspectives on Land Restitution in South Africa. A series of insightful papers dealing with the issue of land restitution in Africa were presented and are available online.
Zimbabwe: Cameraman abducted and murdered
According to reports by Britain's "The Independent" newspaper, a Zimbabwean freelance cameraman, Edward Chikombo, was abducted from his home in the Glenview township outside Harare. His body was discovered on the weekend near the village of Darwendale, 80 kilometres west of the capital, Harare.
Somalia: Three Haatuf journalists freed after being held for three months
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, the publisher of the Somaliland privately-owned daily Haatuf, Ali Abdi Dini, its editor, and Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim, one of its journalists. They had been detained since January because of an article about corruption in the president’s immediate circle.
Gambia: Intelligence agents arrest journalist and opposition activist
Gambian freelance journalist and pro-democracy activist Fatou Jaw Manneh, was arrested by the National Intelligence Agency on 28 March on her arrival at Banjul International airport.
CAR: Publishers' leader given two-month prison sentence
Michel Alkhaly-Ngady, head of the independent publishers organisation GEPPIC (Groupement des éditeurs de la presse privée et indépendante de Centrafrique), has been sentenced to two months in prison. Alkhaly-Ngady, managing editor of the newspaper Temps Nouveaux, was also fined 300,000 CFA francs (€400). He was arrested in Bangui on 12 March, held for questioning and a court on 15 March ordered him provisionally detained for “obstructing the law and national institutions” pending trial.
Zimbabwe: Journalist arrested, another hospitalised after beating in detention
Gift Phiri, of the London-based daily The Zimbabwean, was arrested in Harare on 1 April for no apparent reason. He had time to send a text-message to a friend saying he had been arrested and that he thought it was for political reasons. The friend said Phiri had been sought by police since his paper started printing the names of police and politicians involved in recent arrests of opposition figures, human rights activists and journalists.
Global: OAS calls for greater effort to eradicate effects of slavery
Commemorating 200 years since the trade in African slaves was abolished by Britain, the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution urging member states to continue implementing measures to eradicate the effects and consequences of the slave trade and slavery.
Africa: Weapons of Mass Underdevelopment
Weapons of Mass Underdevelopment
On Wednesday April 4, the world celebrated International Mine Awareness Day. It has been a little over eight years since the International Mine Ban treaty, better known as the Ottawa Convention, came into effect. Although the treaty was opened for signatures on the 5th of December 1997, it only came into effect when Burkina Faso became the required fortieth signatory on the 1st of March 1999. In Africa, the event was marked with festivities in Angola, DRC, Eritrea, Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan and Western Sahara.
To date, there are still 13 countries who are not state parties to the treaty, and either actively produce, or have the capability to produce anti-personnel land-mines, the most notable of which are the United States, China, India and Russia. The total number of land-mines still stock-piled by the non-parties is a staggering 160 million. At the receiving end, in the period 2005-2006, a total of 58 countries reported new victims of all types of landmines and explosive remnants of war. This paints a chilling portrait of the devastating and lasting effects of the enterprise. The issue of land-mines and unexploded ordnance has not featured prominently in the media, since the late Princess Diana made it her cause célèbre, and yet these killers account for between 15,000 and 20,000 deaths and injuries every year (Landmine Monitor Report 2006), according to official statistics. Although still unacceptably high, this figure is down from 26,000 ten years ago, thanks to multi-lateral efforts around the globe and the cessation of hostilities in countries such as Angola and Mozambique, who accounted for a significant percentage of the casualties on the continent.
The spread of land-mines and other weapons in Africa can be contextualized within the post-colonial state building exercise of the 60s and 70s and the ensuing Cold War that made the continent a playground for competing influences. The instability that has characterized most countries of the continent can be traced to internal tensions fuelled by the Cold War and the vast stockpiles of leftover weapons. Even in countries that have been lucky to avoid major armed conflict such as Kenya, unexploded ordnance from foreign military training sites continues to destroy the lives of citizens.
Like landmines, small arms and light weapons (SALW) continue to threaten development on the continent at a social political and economic level. Conservative estimates put the worldwide circulation of SALW at a staggering 500 million. West Africa alone accounts for seven million, with similar numbers in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa. The deadly difference between the landmines and SALW is the latter's durability and re-use value, as exemplified by the ubiquitous AK-47 rifle. These weapons continue to threaten democracy and development on the continent.
The prolonged conflict in the DRC can be attributed to, among other factors, the means to challenge the state's monopoly of violence. This has compromised the role of elections as the only means of power transfer. The post-election period remains tense in the DRC, due to the continued presence of disaffected and armed groups. In Nigeria, the spectre of violence looms large, not to mention the low intensity conflict that continues to rage in the Niger Delta. Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda are but a few other hot-spots on the continent.
Countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Ghana are at peace but still bear the social cost of SALW. Illegal arms flooding the black market from nearby conflict areas are fuelling crime and challenging the ability of the state apparatus to protect the livelihoods of citizens. The state of insecurity has a negative impact on the economy, the effects of which are invariably felt by the poor. When economic growth suffers as a result of costs associated with crime, a vicious cycle kicks in and the latter grows as more people are driven to illegitimate means of survival.
The arms trade is governed by supply and demand. Although South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, to name but a few, are manufacturers of arms, the supply side is overwhelming from Europe, the US and Asia. Demand remains high on the continent, where political traditions still favour strong militaries to bolster unpopular governments that use force against their own citizens.
This is an election year on the continent. One would think this would stir feelings of hope, excitement and the sheer exhilaration at the prospect of peaceful change and the exercise of democratic rights. Sadly, these feelings are more often than not replaced with fear and resignation that the vicious cycle will go on.
International Mine Information Network
UN Protocol on the Explosive Remnants of War
Small Arms in Africa Briefing
UNIDIR Scoping Study 2006
UNDP: Development Held Hostage
Human Security Gateway: Small Arms Survey
UNDP/ SEESAC SALW Awareness Support Pack
Somalia: Diplomats press for peace as truce holds
The United States, Europe and African countries on Tuesday called for all fighting to stop in Somalia after battles in Mogadishu killed hundreds and the rest of the country struggled with an influx of 100,000 refugees.
Madagascar: Successive cyclones bring country to its knees
As the sixth mayor cyclone to hit Madagascar this season tears across the northeast of the impoverished Indian ocean island, a relentless succession of natural disasters has left nearly half a million people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
Chad: Janjawid 'raid Chad villages'
At least 65 Chadians were killed and up to 8,000 driven from their homes when Sudanese Janjawid fighters attacked and destroyed two villages in east Chad over the weekend, Chad's military has said.
Sudan: The Darfur conundrum
On 31 March 2007, five African Union peacekeepers in Darfur were killed in the most fatal attack on them since the force arrived in the western province of Sudan in 2004. At the time of writing, the spokesman for the African Union (AU) has been unable to say who was responsible for the attack. This is the conundrum in Darfur: the killers could have belonged to any of the several armed groups there, though most reports suggest that one of the rebel forces was likely responsible.
CAR: Disaster looming - UN
The Central African Republic faces a growing humanitarian disaster, with the lives of a quarter of its people disrupted by civil and regional warfare, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said on Wednesday. Although the United Nations appealed in January for richer countries to provide $11.7 million to fund basic health, schooling and water programmes in the impoverished country, only $2.5 million has been pledged so far, the agency said.
Global: Youth, ICTs and development
In this report, IBRD's David McKensie states that although the main reason for many youth to use computers, the internet, and mobile phones is entertainment, the new ICT technologies are having wide-ranging effects on youth transitions. their agency."
Ethiopia: Digital doctors
Super-fast internet connections and digital technology are changing the face of medicine. A multi-million-dollar venture between India and Ethiopia will see doctors in Addis Ababa using telecommunications to consult fellow medics in Indian hospitals. But will ‘telemedicine’ help more than a lucky few? Sisay Abebe of PANOS reports.
Global: FOSS solutions for open educational resources
This report captures the themes of the final session of the Free and Open Source Software for OER discussion, in which the International Institute for Educational Planning's two communities on free open-source software (FOSS) and open educational resources (OER) came together to share their thoughts on the two related movements.
Africa: Africa develops common science and technology action plan
Africa has developed a consolidated action plan on science and technology that integrates the programmes and projects of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) into the structures of the African Union. Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action articulates Africa’s common objective of socio-economic transformation and full integration into the world economy.
Tanzania: Rural connectivity in Tanzania: options and challenges
A new report by the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) looks at the options and challenges faced with regard to connectivity in Tanzania and gives an overview of types of connectivity available. Although rural connectivity is feasible in all areas of Tanzania, there are several challenges: The issue of last mile infrastructure, the cost of service, the ‘appropriateness’ of the type of services available and the support and sustainability of the service.
Global: A list of funders for ICT based projects
This article published by the "ICT Hub Knowledgebase" Web site offers an interesting and exhaustive list of funders financing ICT based projects. According to the ICT Hub Knowledgebase there are a number of trusts and grant funders who look favorably on applications for ICT within a project application, a limited number of funders will specifically fund ICT.
Global: World Bank E-Learning course: Basics of health economics
In every country (and in many sub-national structures such as states and provinces), health economics plays, or should play, an important role in critical policy and operational decisions. This World Bank sponsored course will run from May 7 - June 20, 2007.
Sudan: New digital archive for Sudan
The Sudan Open Archive offers free digital access to knowledge about Sudan. The Archive is an expanding, full-text database of historical and contemporary documents, with a linked analytical guide to internet resources.
Global: Women's narratives, war, and peace-building - Call for papers
Women for Women International, a non-profit humanitarian organization, seeks submissions for the Summer 2007 issue of its bi-annual academic journal, Critical Half. The journal is intended to raise awareness and spark debate among a variety of audiences by presenting various perspectives on economic, social, and political issues as they relate to women in international development and conflict and post-conflict societies. Deadline: May 21, 2007
East Africa: Graphic Designer - Raising Voices
Graphic Designer for Raising Vocies. To be considered, submit CV and sample portfolio (nothing over 1mb) or link to online portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 10th 2007.
Raising Voices is known for creating user-friendly, publications and program tools on violence prevention. We are seeking an individual or firm for graphic design services on upcoming print publication. Job involves identity creation, design concept, layout and typesetting and creative packaging. Applicants must have experience in bringing piece from concept to print and comfortable using Adobe Creative Suite. Applicants must be willing to build on existing organizational style and willing to work in team environment. To be considered, submit CV and sample portfolio (nothing over 1mb) or link to online portfolio to email@example.com by April 10th 2007. Short listed candidates will be contacted, given clear parameters of project, and asked to submit a competitive bid for the work.
Kenya: Programme Coordinator - OSIEA
The Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) is hiring a Programme Coordinator.To Apply: Send cover letter and resume by May 5, 2007 to: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to +254-20-3877663. No telephone inquiries please.
The Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) is hiring a Programme Coordinator to oversee a one-year campaign of regional advocacy on citizenship and statelessness to be conducted in collaboration with OSI's Justice Initiative. The position is based in Nairobi (home of the OSIEA head office). The Open Society Justice Initiative and OSIEA will undertake a program of regional-level advocacy in Africa, chiefly targeting mechanisms of the African Union, on issues of citizenship and statelessness. This advocacy will seek to address the lack of a right to nationality in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the consequent lack of any African regional standard on this critical issue. Thus, the overall goal of this advocacy is to encourage the African Union to draft and adopt a protocol to the African Charter on the right to nationality. Responsibilities The Project Coordinator will work under the supervision of the Justice Initiative's Senior Legal Officers for Africa and for Equality and Citizenship.
PROGRAMME COORDINATOR Citizenship and Statelessness Project
OPEN SOCIETY INITIATIVE FOR EAST AFRICA (OSIEA).To Apply: Send cover letter and resume by May 5, 2007 to: email@example.com or fax to +254-20-3877663. No telephone inquiries please. Please Note: Because of the large number of applications received, only selected candidates will be contacted further by OSIEA.
Gambia: Publications officer
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa requires publication officer based in the Gambia. Closing date for applications is April 23rd 2007. Interviews will be held in Banjul, The Gambia in May/June 2007. Kindly send your application and all relevant documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa. The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa was founded in 1997 as a pan-African non-governmental organization based in The Gambia, with the objective of increasing the use and effectiveness of African regional human rights mechanisms through legal advocacy, capacity building, research and publication, and more broadly cooperating with the African regional human rights system.
Closing date for applications is April 23rd 2007 Interviews will be held in Banjul, The Gambia in May/June 2007. Kindly send your application and all relevant documents to email@example.com For additional information please contact Mrs. Fatou Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gambia: Legal Officier
The Institute for Human Rights & Development in Africa requires a Legal Officer based in Banjul, Gambia. Closing date for applications is April 12th 2007 and applications should be sent to: email@example.com
The Institute for Human Rights & Development in Africa is a pan-African human rights organisation with its headquarters in Banjul, the Gambia. The Institute specializes in the African regional human rights system, including impact litigation in national and international fora based on African human rights treaties, and training in the procedures of African treaty mechanisms.
Please note that only short listed candidate will be contacted. Closing date for applications is April 12th 2007. Interviews will be held in Banjul, The Gambia in May 2007. Kindly send your application and all relevant documents to firstname.lastname@example.org: For additional information please contact Mrs. Fatou Cole at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Namibia: Advocacy Programme Co-ordinator
AIDS & RIGHTS ALLIANCE FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA (ARASA) requires a Advocacy Programme Co-ordinator. Closing date is 15th April.
AIDS & RIGHTS ALLIANCE FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA (ARASA). Established in 2002, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a regional partnership of non-governmental organisations working together to promote a human rights based response to HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa through capacity building and advocacy. The Regional Secretariat of ARASA is located in Windhoek, Namibia.
Interested and qualified candidates who match the profile are invited to submit their CV and letter of interest as well as a sample of recent writing to:
The Director ARASA P O Box 97100 Maerua Windhoek Namibia Fax: +264 61 227675 Email: email@example.com Closing date for applications is 15 April 2007
Namibia: HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Training Co-ordinator
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) requires an HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Training Co-ordinator. Closing date is 15th April, 2007
Established in 2002, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a regional partnership of non-governmental organisations working together to promote a human rights based response to HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa through capacity building and advocacy. The Regional Secretariat of ARASA is located in Windhoek, Namibia.
Interested and qualified candidates who match the profile are invited to submit their CV and letter of interest as well as a sample of recent writing to:
The Director ARASA P O Box 97100 Maerua Windhoek Namibia Fax:+264 61 227675 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Web: [url]=http://www.arasa.info[/url] Closing date is 15th April, 2007
PAMBAZUKA NEWS IS PRODUCED AND PUBLISHED BY FAHAMU
Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice
UK: 2nd Floor, 51 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA
SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio, 06 Cromer Road, Muizenberg 7945, Cape Town, South Africa
KENYA: 1st Floor, Shelter Afrique Building, Mamlaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Fahamu Trust is registered as a charity in the UK No 1100304
Fahamu Ltd is registered as a company limited by guarantee 4241054 in the United Kingdom
Fahamu Ltd is registered a company limited by guarantee F. 15/2006 in Kenya
Fahamu SA is registered as a trust in South Africa IT 372/01
Fahumu is a Global Support Fund of the Tides Foundation, a duly registered public charity, exempt from Federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Support the struggle for social justice: $2 (one pound) a week can make a real difference Donate online at www.pambazuka.org/en/donate.php
Get Pambazuka News Headlines Displayed On Your Site
Would you like Pambazuka News headlines to be displayed on your website?
RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is an easy way for you to keep updated automatically on Pambazuka News. Instead of going to our website to see what's news, you can use RSS to let you know each time there's something new.
Visit: www.pambazuka.org/en/newsfeed.php You can choose headlines from any or all of the Pambazuka News categories, and there is also a choice of format and style. Email email@example.com for more information.
Visit: www.pambazuka.org/ for some 40,000 news items, editorials, letters, reviews, etc that have appeared in Pambazuka News during the last two years.
Editor: Firoze Manji
Online News Editor: Sokari Ekine
Contributing Editor: Patrick Burnett
French Edition Online News Editor: Hawa Ba
Editorial advisor: Rotimi Sankore
Blog reviewer: Sokari Ekine
Links and Resources Researcher: Joshua Ogada
African Union Monitor editor: Hakima Abbas
Multimedia producers: Heidi Bachram, Robtel Pailey
Online Volunteer: Elizabeth Onyango
Website technical management: Mark Rogerson
Website design: Judith Charlton
Publications manager: Stephanie Kitchen
Pambazuka News currently receives support from Christian Aid, Fahamu Trust, Ford Foundation, HIVOS, Oxfam GB, New Field Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Open Society Initiative, and TrustAfrica and many individual donors.
The French edition is supported by New Field Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation and by OSIWA.
SUBMITTING NEWS: send to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Newsletter comes out weekly and is delivered to subscribers by e-mail. Subscription is free. To subscribe, send an e-mail to with only the word 'subscribe' in the subject or body. To subscribe online, visit: www.pambazuka.org/
This Newsletter is produced under the principles of 'fair use'. We strive to attribute sources by providing direct links to authors and websites. When full text is submitted to us and no website is provided, we make the text available on our website via a "for more information" link. Please contact email@example.com immediately regarding copyright issues.
Pambazuka News includes short snippets from, with corresponding web links to, commercial and other sites in order to bring the attention of our readers to useful information on these sites. We do this on the basis of fair use and on a non-commercial basis and in what we believe to be the public interest. If you object to our inclusion of the snippets from your website and the associated link, please let us know and we will desist from using your website as a source. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this newsletter, including the signed editorials, do not necessarily represent those of Fahamu or the editors of Pambazuka News. While we make every effort to ensure that all facts and figures quoted by authors are accurate, Fahamu and the editors of Pambazuka News cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies contained in any articles. Please contact email@example.com if you believe that errors are contained in any article and we will investigate and provide feedback.
(c) Fahamu 2007
If you wish to stop receiving the newsletter, unsubscribe immediately by sending a message FROM THE ADDRESS YOU WANT REMOVED to firstname.lastname@example.org Please contact email@example.com should you need further assistance subscribing or unsubscribing.