Pambazuka News 302: Transatlantic slave trade: The wider historical context
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This week's highlights
FEATURE: Hakim Adi examines the wider historical context of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Ken Banks on mobile phone technology for monitoring elections
- Kola Ibrahim argues that solutions to Nigeria's problems cannot be solved by the ballot box
- Adetokunbo Borishade calls for an African-centred curriculum in the new Liberia
LETTERS: responding to the article published last week: 'Slavery ain't dead – it's manufactured in Liberia's rubber'
BLOGGING AFRICA: Violence against women; power of the gun; hip hop and racism
BOOKS AND ARTS: Zimbabwe at 27: Echoing Silences by Alexander Kanengoni
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Interview with Joseph Yav on why there can be no continental union without peace and security
WOMEN AND GENDER: SOAWR Update on protocol on the rights of women in Africa
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Sudan, Chad sign reconciliation deal
HUMAN RIGHTS: New report on the world’s minorities
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Housing for Burundi’s returnees
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Touré wins Mali elections
AFRICA AND CHINA: African perspectives on China in Africa – book review
CORRUPTION: Transparency International releases country studies
DEVELOPMENT: Zimbabwe maize price goes up 680 per cent
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: HIV positive people ignored in prevention campaigns
EDUCATION: The case against the IMF
LGBTI: The plight of rape survivors
ENVIRONMENT: Activists decry loan approval for Ugandan dam
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Indigenous People of Africa speaks out
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Press freedom declined in Africa
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Prison reform and the rule of law in Haiti
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Taking information technology to rural schools in Kenya
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; fundraising and useful resources; courses, seminars and workshops and jobs
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The wider historical context of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade
Trade in African slaves underpinned the British economy in the 18th century: the rich and powerful, the monarchy and the Church. So why was an enterprise that was so economically important ended so abruptly in the first decade of the 19th century? Hakim Adi explains...
In March 2007 large-scale commemorative events were organised to mark the bi-centenary of the parliamentary act to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
This unprecedented commemoration of a historical event, in which the British government itself is playing a leading role, was difficult to avoid.
There has been a frenzy in the British media. We have seen government publications (allegedly designed to enlighten the public); meetings and exhibitions; a debate in parliament; an apology from London’s mayor; the issuing of postage stamps; a service in Westminster Abbey; and release of the film Amazing Grace which promotes the well-established myth that abolition was largely due to the efforts of the Hull-based MP William Wilberforce.
It would be hoped that owing to the vast amount of information that is being disseminated, everyone would be now disabused of such erroneous views; and would be able to place both the so-called abolition and the centuries of trafficking of human flesh from Africa in historical perspective. The commemorative events certainly provide the opportunity for broad and in depth discussion of Britain’s history and the crimes against humanity committed over many centuries.
But are we any clearer about what went on 1807? More importantly, do we know why parliament decided to make illegal an enterprise which had underpinned Britain’s economy throughout the 18th century, when Britain was the world’s leading slave trading power?
After all, Britain was involved in the trafficking of kidnapped and enslaved Africans from the mid-16th century, when this enterprise was pioneered by John Hawkins and Elizabeth Tudor, until the early 1930s, when legislation was still being passed outlawing slavery in Britain’s African colonies.
In the 18th century Britain, as the world’s leading slave trading power, transported about half of all enslaved Africans not only to its own colonies but also those of other major powers such as France and Spain. British ships transported at least 3,500,000 Africans across the Atlantic.
In total, this entire ‘trade’ led to the forced removal of some 15,000,000 Africans, transported to the colonies of the European powers and the Americas. Many millions more were killed in the process of enslavement and transportation. Historians now estimate that Africa’s population actually declined over a period of four centuries, or remained stagnant until the early 20th century.
In 1713 the British government was militarily victorious against its rivals in Europe. By the Treaty of Utrecht (the same treaty by which Britain lays claim to Gibraltar) , it gained the lucrative contract to supply Spain’s American colonies with enslaved Africans.
The government promptly sold the contract for £7.3m to the South Sea company, whose first governor happened to also be the chancellor of the exchequer.
Indeed the trafficking of Africans was the business of the rich and powerful from the outset. The monarchy was a zealous supporter and beneficiary, as was the Church of England. The slave trade was Britain’s trade in the 18th century. The British Prime Minister William Pitt declared that 80 per cent of all British foreign trade was associated with it. It contributed to the development of banking and insurance, shipbuilding and several manufacturing industries. Most of the inhabitants of Manchester were engaged in producing goods to be exchanged for enslaved Africans. Their trafficking led to the development of major ports of London, Bristol and Liverpool. Today it is difficult to find any major stately home, or cultural or financial institution which is not connected with the profits generated by this trade and the luxury items associated with it such as sugar, tobacco and coffee.
It might be wondered therefore why an enterprise that was so economically important to the rich and powerful in Britain in the 18th century should have been so abruptly ended in the first decade of the 19th century.
The answer requires the abolition of various myths and disinformation peddled since that time. One such myth is that abolition was largely the work of one man – William Wilberforce; and that it was carried out largely for humanitarian reasons. And there is another myth: that abolition was the work of an enlightened parliament, finally acknowledging the barbarism and inhumanity of the kidnapping, enslavement and trafficking of other human beings.
However, on the contrary, it is a matter of historical fact that the struggle to end the enslavement and trafficking of Africans was first initiated and pursued primarily by Africans themselves.
Historians now speak of centuries' long wars of resistance in the Caribbean; of the maroons; of day to day large and small-scale liberation struggles.
But such resistance also took place throughout the American continent, wherever enslaved Africans were to be found. There were also significant acts of resistance within Africa itself, and on many ships engaged in the human trafficking, most famously on the Amistad.
Such acts of resistance also took place in Britain, where enslaved Africans who liberated themselves were subjects of court cases contesting the legality of slavery throughout the 18th century.
It was as a result of this self-liberation of Africans that drew some leading abolitionists, such as Granville Sharp, into the abolitionist movement in the late 18th century. While the resistance acts of Africans culminated in the famous legal judgement of 1772 which declared that it was illegal for self-liberated Africans to be re-enslaved in Britain and taken out of the country against their will. Africans in Britain had organised their own liberation. But they were assisted by the ordinary people of London and other towns and cities.
African resistance to enslavement and kidnapping contributed to growing public support and opposition to slave trafficking in Britain and elsewhere.
In Britain, a popular movement opposing the trade began in the 1780s. It soon became a broad mass movement of enormous proportions, possibly the biggest. It was certainly one of the first mass political movements in Britain’s history, although it is conveniently ignored in most historical accounts.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people eventually took part in this movement which involved the petitioning of parliament and the boycotting of slave-produced sugar. This abolitionist movement coincided with a more general concern with and struggle for the ‘Rights of Man’. Its more advanced elements consciously promoted the view that the rights of Africans were indeed part of that struggle. Therefore what was required was a struggle for and defence of the rights of all.
Africans themselves played a leading role in this movement as lecturers, propagandists and activists. The most notable was Olaudah Equiano, formerly enslaved, whose autobiography became a bestseller. But we should not forget the writing of others, for example Phyllis Wheatley, Ottobah Cugoano and James Gronniosaw.
Africans in London, including Equiano and Cugoano, formed their own organisation, the 'Sons of Africa', which campaigned for abolition. It worked with both the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the wider mass abolitionist campaign.
But African resistance in the Caribbean and elsewhere was an even more important factor in the abolitionist struggle, since it had the tendency to make slavery both less profitable and more dangerous for the slave owners.
Uprisings by enslaved Africans threatened not just the profits of individual owners but the control of entire colonies and the fate of Europe’s economies.
The most important of these liberation struggles, the revolution in St Domingue, the largest and most prosperous French colony in the Caribbean, broke out in 1791 not long after the revolution in France. Revolutionary St Domingue therefore became the first country to effectively abolish the enslavement of Africans.
In Britain, the popular mass abolitionist movement coincided with wider demands for political change, at a time when the vast majority were denied the vote. It also coincided with crucial economic changes; the industrial revolution; the emergence of new social forces with the workers on one side and industrial capitalists on the other, attempting to consolidate their economic and political domination of the country. The industrialists were sometimes at odds with the economic and political power exercised by those who owed their position to the slave-based economies of the Caribbean.
Mass petitioning of parliament, the only means open to the disenfranchised, against the trade was often strong in manufacturing towns such as Manchester, where perhaps a third of the entire population signed. This was viewed with alarm by the ruling class.
The Prime Minister of the time, William Pitt, recognised that popular sentiment might be used to persuade parliament to abolish Britain’s exports of enslaved Africans to its main economic rival, France. It was Pitt who first encouraged Wilberforce to bring an abolition bill before parliament. Wilberforce’s bill was first introduced in 1791. It was defeated, as were several similar bills during the next 15 years.
But during this period several significant changes took place. First, the French Revolution of 1789. Britain’s declaration of war against revolutionary France in 1793 allowed the suppression of the political activity of the people at home, effectively limiting the popular abolitionist campaign and driving it underground.
The revolutionaries in St Domingue successfully defended their revolution against the French army then against invasions by both Spain and Britain. It is worth remembering that this war was pursued by Pitt and supported by Wilberforce, who clearly did not belief that Africans should liberate themselves.
In 1804 St Domingue declared its independence and was renamed Haiti. The revolution in Haiti contributed to, and occurred alongside, other major insurrections across the Caribbean, in Jamaica, Grenada, St Vincent and elsewhere, which severely threatened the entire colonial system.
Even those Africans forcibly recruited into Britain’s West India regiment in Dominica mutinied. Toussaint L’Ouverture and some of the other leaders of the Haitian revolution became nationally known figures in Britain. Abolition came to be viewed by some both as a means to press home a naval and economic advantage over France and its allies, and a means to limit the numbers of Africans imported into British colonies; thereby preventing the likelihood of further revolutions and maintain the slave system.
It was with these aims in mind that parliament passed the Foreign Slave Act in 1806, banning the export of enslaved Africans to Britain’s economic rivals, a measure that effectively ended around 60 per cent of Britain’s trafficking, but which is now hardly remembered, and certainly not commemorated.
There is no doubt that for many in parliament and outside, the demand for abolition was based largely on economic motives. Prime Minister Pitt, and others had been concerned about competition from St Domingue and other Caribbean colonies even before 1791. They had unsuccessfully sought agreement from both France and Holland to prohibit the trafficking of Africans.
Others were more concerned about what they saw as the subsidies given to slave owners and sugar producers in the Caribbean; and government support for economies and a trade that was declining in importance by the end of the 18th century, not least because there was over-production of sugar.
Others in Britain became more interested in developing direct trade links with India, Brazil and other Spanish American colonies. The trafficking of Africans to Britain’s colonies was no longer so important and was seen as by some as being an impediment to important trading links elsewhere.
These economic motives for abolition have long been associated with the names of Eric Williams and C.L.R. James. Many attempts have been made to discredit them. In fact very similar views were expressed by British historians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most importantly economic justifications for an end to ‘the trade’ were strongly advanced in the period preceding the Abolition Act.
What is significant is that this explanation for abolition is hardly ever discussed. It has been largely absent from many of the commemorative events so far and even from the government’s own publication which, it is claimed, is designed to educate the public.
Simply stated, this explanation means that the parliamentary act was passed not for humanitarian reasons but because it was in the interests of the rich and their representatives in parliament to do so. And it should be added that it was the actions of people, and most importantly of the enslaved themselves, in the Caribbean, Britain and elsewhere that made enslavement and trafficking increasing inefficient, unprofitable and dangerous.
In 1807 therefore, parliament was persuaded to pass the Abolition Act; partly on the basis of such economic concerns, partly on the basis that limiting the importation of enslaved Africans would likely limit future revolutions and preserve slavery throughout the Caribbean colonies. Partly it seems, because it was seen as a way of diverting attention away from an unpopular war against France and its allies, and persuading the people that such a war was being fought in the interests of abolition.
Of course after the 1806 act it is arguable that most of ‘the trade’ had ended already. Even some of the major established Caribbean planters were in favour of abolition since this worked against the interests of their commercial rivals, both foreigners and those who had acquired newly captured territory in the Caribbean from Britain’s enemies. They reasoned that this might be especially advantageous if abolition could be forced upon other countries as a consequence of Britain’s military and naval supremacy. Other representatives of the rising bourgeoisie supported the measure as a means to limit the economic and political power of those who had hitherto retarded the development of industrial capitalism and ‘free trade’.
The 1807 Act was subsequently used as the representatives of the rich envisaged, not least as a means by which the Royal Naval might interfere in international shipping across the atlantic.
Yet it did not end British citizens’ involvement in the trafficking of Africans nor slavery itself. Following other major insurrections in the Caribbean and similar economic and political considerations, slavery itself was only later made illegal in 1834. But it continued in some areas of the British empire for another century. The trafficking of Africans in general increased during the 19th century. Many British slavers sailed under foreign flags of convenience.
The 1807 Act did not end Britain’s dependence on slave produced goods such as cotton, the mainstay of the industrial revolution. Even that so-called ‘legitimate commerce’ subsequently developed with Africa, such as the extraction of palm oil, was largely produced with slave labour. The act increased rather than diminished Britain’s interference in Africa which culminated in the so-called ‘scramble’ for Africa at the end of the 19th century: the invasion of the continent and imposition of colonial rule.
It is sobering to reflect that Britain’s first colony in Africa was Sierra Leone. This was the region from where the first enslaved Africans had been kidnapped in the 16th century. It was established allegedly as a haven for liberated Africans in 1807, and has now been under Britain’s domination for the last 200 years Much of this time, it has been occupied by British troops, while its shores are still patrolled by the Royal Navy.
Today the government is demanding that even its basic utilities, such as water, should be privatised for the benefit of British multinationals. Centuries of interference by British governments have produced a country that manages to be one of the world’s poorest - and at the same time the world’s leading producer of diamonds.
The trafficking of Africans over many centuries was one of the greatest crimes against humanity. The current commemorative events, which are organised for a variety of purposes, at least provide the opportunity for widespread discussion.
What is vital is that the myths are shattered and disinformation combated. We must ensure that appropriate and adequate reparations are made for slavery, colonialism and all crimes against humanity. People themselves must draw the appropriate lessons from history, one of the most important being that it is people that make and change history; and that therefore, we are our own liberators.
* Hakim Adi is reader in the history of Africa and the African diaspora at Middlesex University, London, UK.
* Please send comments to email@example.com
The Nigerian elections: A short history of FrontlineSMS
Ken Banks, founder of kiwanja.net, explains the idea and history behind FrontlineSMS – a technology that was used by an organisation, Human Emancipation Lead Project (HELP) to monitor the Nigerian elections.
An idea is born
The FrontlineSMS concept came rather suddenly a couple of years ago during one rainy Saturday evening in Cambridge, UK, a long way away from the country that inspired it. The idea now seems like an incredibly simple and obvious one, but it took its time to dawn on me.
A few months earlier, in the autumn of 2004, I was working in South Africa and Mozambique with a South African NGO, Resource Africa, on a contract with the oldest international conservation organisation in the world – Fauna & Flora International.
We were looking at ways national parks could better communicate with local communities – something which has traditionally been rather problematic – and the project I was working on at the time had a specific technology angle.
I was already working on another mobile phone project. With SMS usage just beginning its astronomical climb, it seemed like an obvious tool to consider. Things were beginning to happen back in 2004, but it was early days in the mobile revolution, particularly in developing countries. So, as a starting point in the solutions evaluation process, local companies were asked to put in tenders to help develop a service, and existing services were trialled and tested.
There were two specific issues which, several months later, became central in the thinking behind FrontlineSMS.
Firstly, everything we were looking at was web-based. This was fine for a parks authority, and fine for this particular project. But I’m always looking for ease of replication and scale, and I didn’t see the perfect solution as being a purely web-based one.
Secondly, everything we were looking at was one-way – top down if you like – and I had trouble with this. The parks could send stuff down to the community, but the community voice was silent. After a short period of research and evaluation, a trial was started with a web-based service. For me these two external issues remained unresolved.
FrontlineSMS, which finally addressed these shortfalls was launched in 2005. It was the first text messaging system to be conceived, designed and written firmly with the needs of the non-profit sector in mind.
Up until then, the majority of systems did not take into account the nature of non-profit work, nor the specific conditions – financial and physical – which many work under. Since the non-profit sector isn’t considered fertile ground for most for-profit companies, this wasn’t surprising. The software was picked up by a number of news sites, and trials began. Most were small-scale grassroots initiatives, however, and little news got out to the wider community.
But then came the Nigerian elections…
In African election terms, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Nigerian elections. Two months ago, back in February 2007, I was contacted by the Human Emancipation Lead Project (HELP) Foundation, a Nigerian group interested in establishing a team of volunteer election monitors to report on their forthcoming presidential elections.
HELP are a non-profit group of young professionals in Nigeria, advocating for social change through good governance. Their goal is to encourage the Nigerian electorate to participate in the electoral process. Since 2005, HELP has been in the forefront of employing available mass communication technologies in their work.
According to the group, the 2007 elections presented a 'vital opportunity to truly change the cause of things for good for the common Nigerian by ensuring that a transparent and acceptable general election is conducted'. With the proliferation of mobile technology in Nigeria, the group chose SMS as their communications medium.
Their initial search for a software and hardware solution led them to a series of mobile guides published by MobileActive, a global network of people, tools, projects and resources focused on the use of mobile phones for activism, campaigns, and civic engagement.
One of the guides specifically deals with elections and voting, and FrontlineSMS was featured in the guide as a tool worth considering. Two months before the presidential elections were due to be held, HELP contacted me and asked for kiwanja.net’s help.
As with many organisations looking to use text messaging for the first time, they were confused over issues of available solutions, short codes, licenses to operate, costs, applicability and ease of adoption. As an organisation with little or no budget, all of my services were offered for free. I still need to work on that business model!
HELP installed FrontlineSMS onto a single machine, obtained a phone and a new SIM and began their tests. There were local elections planned in the weeks leading up to the presidential elections, and they were to be used as a dry run. During the testing process I was in occasional contact with their team, but I generally left them to it. FrontlineSMS is designed to be a simple, works-out-of-the-box solution and require little or no support. Other than a couple of emails and the odd call at 3 o’clock in the morning, HELP managed to take the software and run with it with little help. The local government election monitoring was a success. The main event now loomed.
Next was the launch of a website – www.mobilemonitors.org – where HELP promoted their work under their 'Network of Mobile Election Monitors of Nigeria' (NMEM) banner. The site’s primary purpose was to encourage the general public to register as volunteers, and tell them how they could engage in the process. Individuals registered their mobiles by texting their name, location and polling station to the new NMEM election monitoring hub. Each volunteer was then registered on the FrontlineSMS system.
On election day itself the volunteers were asked to send in two reports – the first to contain details of when the polling station opened, voter accreditation and the ballot box delivery times. The second was due when the polls closed and was to contain information on the result, counting processes, turnout and general conduct. Things were slowly falling into place.
Up until now, I was generally oblivious as to how things were going in Nigeria – I was just quietly getting on with my other work at Stanford. The first news I received that things had gone so well was an email which landed in my inbox around midday on Tuesday 17 April, which came with an accompanying press release. HELP were now ready to monitor the main election, and it was just four days away. The press release was for immediate circulation, so I put on my PR hat and started shooting mails off to my various friends, contacts and acquaintances in the social mobile world. One wrote for the BBC.
On the Thursday morning I woke to find that I’d missed seven calls on my UK mobile. On checking my email, I realised that the calls were from the BBC World Service. I also had an email from one of the BBC website technology editors. After some frantic conversations, I provided them with contact details for the Nigerian team. I could answer the BBC’s technical questions, but the real story was NMEM’s and I was keen for them to have the chance to profile their work themselves.
For the rest of the day I watched as more and more sites picked up on the story, hoping that the BBC would manage to make contact. Friday was the last chance – once the weekend passed it would no longer be a story. Perhaps, more importantly, if the BBC did manage to get the story out then suddenly there was much greater potential to recruit infinitely more volunteers.
I got up at 6am on the Friday morning – 2pm in the UK – in case the BBC had mailed and needed any final information. I needn’t have bothered – the story was already up.
The next time I spoke to HELP was on the Saturday, just after the polls closed. Despite general disquiet about the overall election process, they were very happy at the response to their call for volunteer monitors.
What’s more, FrontlineSMS worked exactly as they hoped. A result all round – after all, this hadn’t been attempted in Nigeria before - and was maybe a first in Africa?
HELP are now working through their data which will be presented to EU monitors and other monitoring groups. Sadly, in this particular case, problems with the electoral process are already well documented.
In their initial report, released a few days after the polls closed, NMEM commented:
'As has been highlighted by both local and international observers, the elections in Nigeria leave little to be desired.'
However, amidst the widespread report of fraud and rigging there were pockets of hope. In communities like Ibiono Ibom in Akwa Ibom State, 80 per cent of the SMS received indicated calm, orderliness and a free and fair exercise.
The same was indicated in reports from Kano GRA in Kano State, and Ward 3 & 4 in Calabar Municipality of Cross River State, among others. We believe that these communities should be identified and commended as an encouragement to others to imbibe fair play and transparency in subsequent elections.
It should be noted that most international observers were trained and equipped to spot and report in places where things did not go as they should. They were further sent to major urban areas where most of the heavy rigging took place.
Our observers, on the other hand, were instructed to report on everything, both the good and the bad. As a result, we documented many remote, rural communities where polls were orderly, materials arrived on time and polls were relatively free and fair.
In total, over 11,000 messages were received from the volunteer monitors, a great response.
NMEM are now looking at how SMS can be used to engage Nigerians in the everyday political process.
For its part, FrontlineSMS was just a tool in the process. It doesn’t do anything on its own, but it does empower. It was NMEM who had the mission, NMEM who had the passion and NMEM who had the commitment to drive their vision forward. NMEM also found FrontlineSMS, and they took the software and ran with it. Anyone else can do the same.
Kiwanja.net believes that all non-profits, whatever their size and wherever they operate, should be given the opportunity to implement the latest technologies in their work, and actively seeks to provide the tools to enable them to do so.
* Ken Banks is founder of kiwanja.net.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigeria's solution is not in the ballot box
Kola Ibrahim argues that the solution to Nigeria’s hydra-headed socio-political problems lies not with the ballot box but rather with grassroots-led social and political movments from the urban and rural masses.
The contemporary histories of Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico, Greece and Ukraine have shown that it is independent political actions of the masses that can change the society.
The outcome of the Nigerian elections held in April 2007 have shown that the solution to Nigeria's hydra-headed socio-political problems can only be achieved if the mass of the working people of Nigeria take destiny into their hands and exercise political movement as a counterweight to bourgeois corrupt politics. Politicians cannot be relied upon to resolve the sufferings of the Nigerian working people.
To begin with, the clash within the rank of the ruling elite, especially that between president Obasanjo and his vice Atiku Abubakar, was never based on how to better the lot of the masses, who have been made to swallow the poisonous pills of neo-liberal capitalist economic policies over the past eight years.
In fact, instead, the cause of the rancour between the two is the question of succession. While Atiku claimed to have conceded power to Obasanjo in 2003 so as to regain it in 2007, the Obasanjo camp sees no reason why Atiku, who has served two terms in the presidency, should be 'criminalising’ Obasanjo for going for a third term in office.
The masses were presented with two sides of the same corrupt political arrangement and no genuine alternative. Both the president and his vice have acted together to implement the anti-poor, pro-rich policies of neo-liberalism. Atiku was the chairman of National Council on Privatization (NCP), which oversaw the privatisation of several government corporations and parastatals. Social service provisions were either commercialised or partly privatised. Meantime the masses were made the scapegoats of age-long corruption and mismanagement by the ruling elite via retrenchment, unemployment, unpaid entitlements, including pensions, and inflation.
The president demonstrated that if the nation he rules over could not manage its tertiary education, he could do better. The children of the poor masses who want a good education were told to either a pay Naira500,000 at Bells University's bursary or go to hell. At the same time, hundreds of acres of state farmlands were bought over by the president - or the Obasanjo Library. Followers boast of juicy packages which they try to protect as much as possible.
And whereas the so-called opposition wanted to present itself as an alternative, the past let them down. Nigerians forget the spree of retrenchment of the former AD southwest governments of the likes of Bola Tinubu in Lagos and Bisi Akande in Osun. All opposition groups bow before the almighty neo-liberal economic pills as advocated multilateral agencies of imperialist capitalism – IMF, World Bank and WTO.
Political action could not take into cognisance the plight of the poor people. In an absence of genuine alternatives, the best it could do was to use people's plight to justify their quest for power. This explains why none of them could give reasons for supporting or participating in policies that have deprived the majority. Even Obasanjo has conceded that all those who antagonise his ‘reforms’ could not provide alternatives because they all stand for the same policies.
This situation is underlined in a letter Atiku Abubakar wrote to Obasanjo in early 2006. He stated his intention to run for the presidency and praised Obasanjo for his economic reforms: retrenchment, denied entitlements, decrepit social services, looting via privatization. He promised to continue the same policies.
Neither Atiku nor the so-called opposition have suggested any alternative to neo-liberalism and market economies, rejected by the working people. Ruling class politics of survival of the fittest substitutes for radical political actions of the masses; and the masses taking the political road is feared.
Of course any concession to allow the masses to take independent political action through formation of a working people's party would lead to the diversion of the resources of the country to pro-poor policies: free education, health care, adequate salaries and pension, secure job opportunities and better infrastructures. As these could only be achieved by the stopping corruption and privatisation of national wealth, they would spell doom for corrupt ambitions.
Therefore, the ruling politicians and their estranged counterparts in the so-called opposition - which some elements of the media has wrongly tagged progressives - continue their ruinous politics. These same estranged politicians participated actively in the electoral fraud of 1999 and 2003. Many of them played major roles during the dark days of military absolutism. For instance, Obasanjo was the first head of state to plunge Nigeria to the abyss of debt and economic dislocation. Atiku was head of customs and excise, which was fraught with corruption. The masses, meanwhile, are cajoled with such hollow terms as the rule of law and respect of electoral wishes. But to expect these individuals to genuinely involve working peoples in the political process is an illusion.
The election outcome clearly indicates the futility of relying on any section of the ruling class for a political breakthrough for the people of Nigeria. While the estranged ruling class tried to use mass pressure to force the main ruling PDP party to concede to some of their demands, the ruling class maximised the constitutional flaws and illegitimate rights to authority through for example control of the INEC, the armed forces and part of the judiciary to ensure they did not lose power. Although the majority of voters were disenfranchised by the political machine of the ruling PDP through rigging and violence, the estranged opposition could not mobilise the masses to come and vote.
It is foolhardy for anyone claiming to be from a left-wing background to believe that any political gain can come by the people attaching themselves to the estranged section of the ruling class without undertaking independent, democratic, mass-based and radical political activities.
Many so-called civil society organisations - many of which derive their grants from the imperialist agencies in the West on the basis of maintaining the status quo - continue to be lethargic; instead of seeking to build a political platform of the working people of Nigeria that will seek to dismantle the stranglehold of the capitalist ruling class on our economic and political lives.
It is important to draw out lessons from last week’s farcical general election for the working masses.
First, given the present constitutional and political arrangements, the corrupt capitalist ruling class will continue to recycle itself in power, irrespective of mass opposition.
Secondly, confining the masses within a neoliberal economic framework will continue to deprive the masses of the political will to undertake independent political action.
Thirdly, in order to breakthrough this quagmire, the masses must build a fighting political alternative that is economically and politically different from corrupt opposition politics, and democratically organised from the grassroots to the national level.
Fourthly, it is erroneous for the leaders of working class organisations to believe that by confining themselves to so-called civil or legal means, that they can assume political control. Only by taking to the streets, along with other mass political actions, can they force the ruling class to abdicate power. And political alternatives must be linked to the daily struggles of the masses for democratic rights, including the right to free and fair elections.
For these reasons, mass organisations and their leaders must reject last week’s nonsensical general elections. They must immediately call for the reconstitution of the electoral body, a re-run of all elections, and convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. This should draw its membership democratically from mass organisations: trade unions, market men and women associations, student movements, civil societies and ethnic nationalities, which shall reconstitute the political and economic agenda of the country.
And this must not mean supporting other corrupt politicians. Rather it is a step towards building a mass struggle that will culminate in the reconstitution of the country in favour of the working masses.
Civil society organisations and social movements must come together and call the people to the street to take their destiny in their own hands. They must convoke a general summit of all pro-working peoples organisations, to be spear-headed by the trade unions, with the aim of forming a working people's party that will serve the interest of the masses.
I propose a week of political protests around the country to include mass processions, leafleting, rallies and mass meetings as soon as possible. The masses must fight for a democratic socialist Nigeria, where the resources of the country are used not in the interests of the already rich few, but in the welfare interests of the masses.
* Kola Ibrahim is a student activist from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, email: email@example.com
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The role of education in the new Liberia
Adetokunbo K. Borishade
Adetokunbo Borishade calls for an African centered curriculum in the new Liberia that is inclusive of gender and ethnic diversity.
It amazes me that the more things seem to change, the more they remain the same.
African educational systems appear to be the only ones on the planet that do not teach their students in accordance with Africa's own cultural values and perspectives.
At a time when Liberia’s education system is staggering under the burden of physical reconstruction, this topic might appear insignificant. The ministry of education is stretched thin doing all it can to recover.
However, there are some things so serious and fundamental to Liberia’s future progress that they need to be undertaken slowly, thoughtfully, deliberately and collaboratively.
I believe that one of those considerations is the development of an African culture-based curriculum that includes, values, and supports the diverse range of potentialities presented by females and people from the 16 or more indigenous ethnic groups in Liberia.
This is not a popular subject because as Africans we believe that we are the only people in the world who do not have a history, belief and philosophical system worthy of study or even discussion.
Therefore, I understand that discussing it openly creates animosity. However, there are some things that are so important that they need to be said anyway. My commentary aims to get people thinking, talking.
Talk about things remaining the same. As far back in Liberian history as 1881, Edward Wilmot Blyden, who was at that time President of Liberia College, laid out an educational programmme for the Africa-centred instruction of Liberian students and for youth throughout the African continent.
Over the course of his lifetime, 126 years ago, Dr Blyden spoke, wrote, and preached that the elements of genuine and permanent progress in Liberia and the rest of Africa are found in teaching African students about the true history and culture of African people and the contributions Africans have made to world civilisations.
As one of the original fathers of pan-Africanism, he dearly wanted to live long enough to see positive change in the slavish thinking and situation of Africans worldwide. This is the man who inspired generations of continental and diaspora Africans, including Marcus, W.E.B. DuBois and Kwame Nkrumah.
In 1989, the late Dr Mary A.B. Sherman reminded us of the dialectical relationship that exists between education and the society it serves. This message was the focus of her keynote address at the 21st Annual Conference of the Liberian Studies Association in 1989. Dr. Sherman eloquently pointed out the evolutionary and synergistic processes involved with educating a society:
'Education originates from that society, contributes to changing it and is, in turn, changed by the society.'
Liberia’s beloved educator went on to reflect on the three forces that shaped education in Liberia:
'The emigrant ethnicity, the influence of Christian missions, and the intersection of values.'
Dr. Sherman’s reference to education as an agent of social change strongly implies that one role of education is to keep in step with a constantly changing world by preparing students to meet new challenges and to develop new visions and expectations.
Dr Elwood Dunn (2006) recently spoke of Liberia as being 'heavy with history' that 'cannot be wished away'. Dr Dunn suggests that we study the historical dynamics of the founding of Liberia in the 19th century:
'Africa and Africans were abased and debased. Those touched with a bit of European culture were considered charged with elevating the culture-less Africans.'
Dr Dunn set forth three critical questions focused on: national identity; national purpose; and national mind-set or culture.
Inspired by the ideas and words of the three scholars cited in this article, I propose four suggestions.
First, Liberia’s educational system needs to get in step with the ever-changing world academically, socially, culturally, and philosophically.
Second, Liberia’s educational system desperately needs to cease perpetuating notions of African inferiority.
Third, Liberia needs to develop a curriculum that includes and values females as well as the contributions Africans have made to this world for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no reason why, in this enlightened age, Liberians are taught to value and valorise everyone else besides themselves.
My fourth and final suggestion is that these three building blocks combined just might form a cornerstone of Liberia’s substantive renewal, out of which can develop a national identity, national purpose, and national cultural pride.
'Momie may have, Daddie may have,
But God loves the child that has his own.'
- African American proverb
Now it is time for Liberia to begin catching up and getting in step with international changes that are 21st century realities. We need to pay attention to the educational systems in other so-called developing countries that are making great strides at national independence.
Some Asian countries, for example, direct their students’ education to serve the interests and needs of the nation.
As a result, those countries are increasingly able to control their natural resources because they have mathematicians, chemists, engineers, and technical experts skilled in applied science, mining, manufacturing, and building industries.
Those countries are harnessing the power that still resides within the core of their people’s ancient cultural ideals and philosophical doctrines to stride forward.
We need to take a sharp look into the statement made by Kim Il Sung, President of North Korea, when he claimed that they were able to quickly jump ahead in their nuclear missile technology program by using 'indigenous knowledge'.
My question is why is Liberia not developing and harnessing the tremendous sources of power and indigenous knowledge that reside within the Liberian people, instead of paying out scarce resources for foreign knowledge that does not fit African culture and environment?
'If you are not bought at home,
You will not be sold in the market.'
- Liberian proverb
Up until now, Liberian educational and social realities consist of alien cultural values and notions of African inferiority that are taught to students, who in turn teach it to their children and grandchildren.
It all began in 1822 when repatriated Africans from America arrived in Liberia. According to Dr. Sherman (1989), the repatriated Africans were imbued with the idea that they were on a 'Christianizing-civilizing mission'.
They were led to believe that they were returning to Africa 'to spread the light of the gospel and of civilization' to the 'heathenish' Africans in Liberia.
Sherman relates how, during the early nineteenth century, the Christian missions isolated the indigenous Liberian children from their parents for the purpose of instruction lest they become 'corrupted'. Indigenous Liberians fought to preserve their culture and societies by placing their young ones into Poro and Sande Societies.
Despite these efforts, the ruling class in Liberia perpetuated discriminatory practices against Liberian masses based upon a misguided, false notion of superiority since they were mixed with non-African blood and/or had contact with Western culture. But I would like to know: if Liberians believe they are inferior, by virtue of their Africanity, how can this possibly gain respect from other nations?
'Lion rules the forest
Because Lion babies are taught it is their birthright.'
- African proverb
It is unimaginable that in the 21st century Liberia’s educational system does not teach even one class in Africana or Liberian studies. Nor does it value the cultural and social experiences of its indigenous populations.
Liberian students are not taught anything about their own civilisations, culture, and history. But they know all about everyone else’s.
Liberians are not taught that Africans walked this earth for tens of thousands of years when there was no one else but them.
They are not taught that Africans are the parents of all humanity and that Africa is the cradle of all world civilisations.
Nor are they taught that African people have made more contributions to world civilisations than any other group of people on this earth.
The Liberian curriculum does not include the historical activities and cultural contributions of its people prior to European and American contact.
These are facts that are validated and documented even by many of the greatest European scientists. Learning this information is a birthright, not just some useless privilege.
The people of other cultures know more about Africans than Africans know about themselves.
African history books in Liberia and elsewhere begin with the coming of Europeans. I would like to know: if Liberians teach their students that their Africanity makes them so inferior; that there is nothing about themselves worthy of study, then how can they be expected to rule an independent nation once they grow into adulthood?
'The house of the King,
Once burnt, is more glorious.'
- Nigerian proverb
When something precious is destroyed and rebuilt, the beauty of the new version always surpasses the first. Dr Sherman’s words are more significant now than they were in 1989:
'A clear understanding of Liberia’s place in the international economy, definition of national purpose, and reformulation of the goals of education would be a good starting point as we look to the 1990s. Unless we confront the realities growing out of our past, we can not have clear directions for the future.'
The sharp questions posed by Liberia’s beloved educator are more applicable today than when she spoke them eighteen years ago.
'What is the new international order that we would like to see? How will Liberia fit into it? How can she reduce the external dominance –economic, cultural, and psychological – which impinge on her? How can her hidden potential be released? Can we create a new society, new individuals? Are there indigenous values we would need to preserve and foster to promote these ends?"
I conclude by pointing out that Edward Blyden’s words continue to echo through the annals of time, calling for us to create positive psychological, cultural and social change in the midst of world events that are speeding ahead while we lag behind.
But just as we choose to fall behind, we can also choose to surge forward. Just as we are knowledgeable of the problems, we are also knowledgeable of the solutions. All it takes is the courage to make the right decisions.
We need African minds creating African solutions to African problems within the parameters of African culture. If we are serious we will make the necessary changes now that will ensure a glorious future for the new Liberia.
Blyden, Edward W. (1881). The Aims and Methods of a Liberal Education for Africans.
Dunn, D. Elwood (2006). 'Liberia and New Beginnings', The Perspective, Atlanta: Georgia, September.
Sherman, M. Antoinette Brown (1989). 'Perspectives on Education in Liberia'. Unpublished manuscript. Ithaca-New York: Cornell University.
* Adetokunbo K. Borishade is based at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
* Please send comments to email@example.com
Slavery ain’t dead, it’s manufactured in Liberia’s rubber
Thanks for the very informative article based on facts from empirical data. I think we have an idea as to how we can remedy the problem with some degree of success. First, we must accept that the genesis of our problem stems from lack of education and vision on the parts of our 'forefathers'.
Any leader who negotiates a deal of this magnitude, so lopsided and skewed towards the opposition belongs in the Guinness Book of Records for being of inferior intellect. On the other hand, Liberia's inability to do things right has earned us a place in the infamous category of this book for election fraud. Holding our elected officials to their pledges and not accepting the aged old excuses that 'it will take time', or 'it is on the agenda' would be a good start. The contracts were signed by crooks disguised as government officials. This in essence should make it null and void.
Ms Sirleaf should void the contract and renegotiate the deal fairly.
Zimbabwe at 27: Echoing Silence - book review
Alexander Kanengoni's Echoing Silences is probably the most engaging and brutally frank account of Zimbabwe's guerrilla war to be narrated quasi-fictionally. Published ten years ago, it unravels the war's ugly underbelly: regular torture and killing orgies sanctioned by kangaroo courts, raging male sexual predators targeting junior female combatants, indiscipline and betrayal among fighters.the list is endless. What strikes me about the book though is none of this. Kanengoni makes a spot on diagnosis of one of independent Zimbabwe's terminal ailments:
27 years into independence and the wheels of state have come off, it seems to me that the 'culture of silence' among many Zimbabweans-especially those who absolutely should have spoken- is a key factor to the crisis. I'll come back to this later.
In the last chapter of his book, Kanengoni captures a fictional rally addressed by Herbert Chitepo and Jason Moyo, a rally where 'fundamental policy changes to the struggle' are supposed to be announced. Although located in the theatre of struggle, the issues raised there describe a post-independent Zimbabwe.
He writes: 'the Chairman (Chitepo) talked angrily of a series of monumental historical betrayals and he said he and a few others were the living examples of such betrays; and Jason Moyo wondered how politics, the wealth and the economy of the entire country was slowly becoming synonymous with the names of less than a dozen people and he asked how in such circumstances the struggle could not be said to have lost its way.'
Wallace Chuma used to work as a journalist for the banned Daily News in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The full review can be read on NewZimbabwe: http://www.newzimbabwe.com/pages/indepex22.16293.html
African Books Collective: April/May new titles
The Uncertainty of Hope
This novel has been described by Charles Mungoshi as ‘an astonishing debut’. The various and complex lives of Onai Moyo - a market woman and mother of three children, and her best friend Katy Nguni - a vendor and black-market currency dealer, give an insight into the challenges that face those who are surviving by their wits, their labour and mutual support.
Other newly available titles include:
The Mediator. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo and the Southern Sudan Peace Process
Shona Companion: A Practical Guide to Zimbabwe’s most Widely Spoken Language
African Oral Story-telling Tradition and the Zimbabwean Novel in English
Maurice Taonezvi Vambe
For further information, see: www.africanbookscollective.com
Review of African blogs
Malawian blogger Cryton Chikoko writes that Malawi is 'going through a period of change' one of which is the increase in 'clean' uranium production.
'Just to put you in the picture. Currently, Malawi produces 275 megawatts of hydro-powered electricity every year. However from next year we will be producing up to 3.3 million pounds of uranium oxide every year. Converted into electricity production, 3.3 million pounds of uranium is enough to produce more than 6,000 megawatts of electricity each year. This is projected to earn the country about 200 million U.S. dollars every year for the mining life span! This is unprecedented for our country. I can't stop thinking of what we could do with electricity generated from the uranium...a stop to the constant power cuts, a huge surge of power into our manufacturing industry, what about a good electricity powered transportation system (don't stop me dreaming) may be thus a possibility?'
So what's the catch? The benefits of the mining goes to the multinationals who have exclusive rights over the Kayalekera mines; questions about the environmental cost of the mining uranium? will the electricity generated reach the Malawian people? What if any will be the impact on unemployment and for the few that do manage to get jobs – how will their salaries relate to the profits of the mining companies and to the salaries of expatriates employed by the MNC.
Nigerian blogger, Grandiose Parlor comments on a post by Dare Obasanjo's blog (son of President) on the occasion of his father's 70th birthday. GP takes particular offence over a photograph and the word 'servant' - the caption reads:
'One of the servants sitting down on the bed of his one room apartment. You can see the entire apartment in this shot.'
All but one of the comments support GP's position on the use of the word 'servant' except for one commenter who writes:
'Oh come on. You guys are too far removed from the realities in Nigeria. In Nigeria its all in a days job for a grown man to receive a slap from the madam. Who amongst you have not used the label “house boy” in the past.'
Well I for one have never used that expression – we were brought up to be respectful to those employed by our parents and not to expect them to work for us as children. The comment is a reflection of the whole lack of respect for people and an acceptance that the status quo is fixed in stone. With that kind of attitude it is no wonder we continue to have such useless and corrupt leadership and a dismissal human rights record in areas such as child labour and child abuse.
Cameroonian blogger, The Entrepreneur considers the debate around the proposed African Union Government or Union of African States. Two meetings will be held, one in May and one in July to discuss the proposal.
'The purpose of the two exercises is to undertake in-depth discussions on the nature of the continent’s integration agenda in order to determine where we are, where we are going, when and how to get there. The need for such an exercise at this point in time, arose from a proposal considered by the Assembly at its 4th ordinary session in Abuja in January, 2005, on the creation of certain ministerial portfolios for the African Union. The Assembly accepted that the proposal was pertinent and forward looking and also in line with the vision of the African Union. It therefore, decided to set up a Committee of seven Heads of State under President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to examine the proposal in all its ramifications.'
For further information on the Union debate see Pambazuka News and the African Union Monitor (accessed from Pambazuka's website)
Sub-Saharan African Roundtable publishes a disturbing piece on 'Congo's forgotten women'. Women who were taken to Uganda from the Congo by Ugandan armed forces and then left to fend for themselves.
'In 2001, after a disastrous misadventure in the Congo, Ugandan troops trekked back home with a cargo of hundreds of Congolese women they had “married” while fighting in that country. Most of them ended up in northern Uganda where their men had been hastily taken to continue the seemingly endless fight against the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army. But it wasn’t long before the rosy picture the Congolese women had of Uganda turned rough. They were quickly abandoned by their “husbands” who, unknown to most of them, had wives back home. Without anywhere to stay, many turned to prostitution; others joined the nearly two million internally displaced people in northern Uganda, existing in cramped and dingy camps.'
Southern Cameroons Interim Goverment-in-Exile is a blog dedicated to the liberation of Southern Cameroons – their mission statement reads:
'The Southern Cameroons Interim Government-in-Exile (IG) is dedicated to the liberation of the people of the Southern Cameroons from the brutal colonial control of France masquerading as La Republique du Cameroun. After more than a century of colonization and the failure of Great Britain and the United Nations (UN) to perform their sacred duty and obligation of guiding the people of the Southern Cameroon to “self-government and/or independence," the IG is resolved to return to Southern Cameroonians their humanity and their God given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'
In 2003 the group filed a complainant with the Africa Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights against the Republic of Cameroon for violating the rights of hundreds of citizens of Southern Cameroon. The aim of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) and Southern Cameroon Peoples Organisation (SCAPO) is independence from the Republic of Cameroon by peaceful means.
Violence Against Women: Do Something is a blog created by Ethiopian blogger Concoction to specifically highlight the global violence against women and to encourage everyone to 'do something' to end the violence. In this latest post she reports that the progress made by VAW activists is being hampered by President Bush's lack of commitment to act on the issue.
'If the Office on Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice, then...critics fear the administration would eliminate or de-emphasize certain anti-violence programs and add funding for new, untested programs. That, in turn, could deny victims access to what advocates say is a "well-rounded" menu of programs that was carefully considered by Congress and signed into law by the president.”... The other issue is funding problem. The Bush administration has not funded some programs at all while severely under fund others.'
Although this post is US specific, VAW is a global issue. One of the barriers to stopping VAW lies with those of us who have been victims of violence – we all need to speak out and testify to our own experiences and that of others we know. Another is families and communities that remain silent even when the violence is staring at them in the face. We all must try to speak out and shame those that commit acts of violence against women and children.
New Nigerian blogger, Funmi Iyanda's Blog posts on an interview she had with Nigerian actress, Shan George who spoke about the marital violence she experienced.
'At 15 she was married off to a much older man on the promise that he'll educate her. 2 children, six years and many beatings later and the promise of education looked like a mirage. At each beating, she runs to her mother, her only relative who sternly orders her back to her husband and who informs her that if she leaves the marriage she had no home with her.'
In an act of great courage at the age of 21, Shan walks out on the man even though she has no where to go and ends up on the streets of Lagos until she is helped by another woman who takes her into her home. Sounds like a Nollywood movie but this is real life fact. A great post.
Silent Storms in an ocean of one gets the feeling of power from holding a shotgun – ok he was clay pigeon shooting. Personally I cant see the attraction but I guess it is fairly harmless. At least he wasn't out shooting birds or animals. But then he goes on to analyse his own feelings around holding a gun and the potential of using it as a weapon of power- fortunately not a feeling he is at all comfortable with.
'...because i am still struggling to understand the Virginia Tech tragedy, I wanted to take a few moments to appreciate what holding that gun in my hands felt like. there was a sense of power, reinforced by the kick in my right shoulder as the rifle spit flames; it was a feeling which became a light-headed thrill as each clay-disc disc shattered before my eyes, each hit punctuated by the excited cheering of my friends. .in a flash i understood the attraction that guns have for some people. its a feeling of power, something close to omnipotence. that steel tube feeds the bearer with an assurance that he can exert some control over his own destiny - that i can defend myself and my family if needs be, ensuring that nothing is taken from us without the usurper paying some sort of price. its not even necessarily an aggressive assurance, it could be more passive than that, but its strength nonetheless. the second amendment makes sense when that firearm is within reach, it just does...I was also aware of the menace, the sense that the gun could so easily be used as an instrument of oppression was there. that power that made me feel at ease could also be the tool with which a malevolent nature manifested itself on the world around it. if a man wanted, he could get people to submit, and that is power indeed - just wave the gun and bark a few instructions, and you're the almighty. at least until a more determined person turned up.'
Black Looks comments on the Imus 'nappy headed ho' incident and the overall trend of blaming it all on “hip hop”. Kameelah writes:
'...first, the language of mainstream hip hop cannot be excused under any circumstances. but, this is really a question of diverting attention from imus to hip-hop culture. imus acts as if he is a 8 year old child who heard a bad word in the school yard and innocently repeated it and as such should carry no responsibility. everyone responds and jumps on the bandwagon on blame hip hop and imus in chilling in the background laughing at critics black and white alike who have completely moved the center and have allowed him to blend into the background as just another victim of the hypnotizing trance of hip hop and its predatory tentacles. let’s play history correctly and remind ourselves that the images of black women did not ORIGINATE within hip hop, rather these images originated in scientific discourse and white racism hundreds of years ago and are often punctuated by the capturing and carnavalizing of difference and inferiority most notably with sara baartman (otherwise known as the hottentot venus). as william jelani cobb says.'
African perspectives on China in Africa - book review
In November 2006 almost every African head of state attended the largest international summit meeting ever held in Beijing. The event highlighted just how important Africa has become to China's future economic growth - something that the Western media is only just starting to wake up to. One of the consequences of China's recent economic boom has been a parallel boom in imports. The export industries that power China's growth need raw materials, fuel and components that the rest of the Chinese economy can't supply.
Ethiopia: Rebels free Chinese oil workers
Ethiopian rebels have freed seven Chinese workers who were seized in a deadly oilfield raid that was one of the worst attacks to date on Beijing's growing interests in Africa. Officials said separatist gunmen killed 65 Ethiopians and nine other Chinese in last Tuesday's pre-dawn assault on the exploration field in the barren eastern Ogaden region.
Make Kenyan aspirations for democracy a reality
Ordinary Kenyans have not felt a significant impact from the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process, a new report has found. The report, commissioned by the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) and OSI’s Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), calls on the government to deliver a programme of action that will increase democratic space for Kenyans.
Kenya’s APRM review focused heavily on the delivery of services, according to the report, but did not tackle the more challenging task of institutional reform that is vital for Kenya’s democratic transition.
'It is not enough to just ask Kenyans what they want from their government and then say we have completed the APRM process',said Binaifer Nowrojee, OSIEA director. 'The work is not done until the government responds to these concerns. That is what democracy is about.'
Set up by the African Union, the APRM process is intended to give citizens a greater voice on how the country is governed and thereby foster democratic participation in Africa. Kenya conducted its APRM process from February 2004 to March 2006.
The report: 'The APRM Process in Kenya: A Pathway to a New State?' provides the leading independent analysis of Kenya’s experience. It is a valuable resource not only for Kenyans, but also for other African countries about to undergo the APRM review.
The report commends the Kenya government for being one of the first African countries to open itself to critical examination of its governance and human rights record. To date, the government has done well in complying with its reporting obligations to the APRM Forum. The report recognises the strong support from the minister of planning and the wide consultation around the country that succeeded in giving ordinary Kenyans some voice to their demands for change.
The report also highlights some key concerns that emerged. The APRM national steering committee, set up in December 2005, is dominated by government representatives and was appointed in a non-consultative manner. Since then, key stake holders have found themselves left out of the preparation for the progress report. The disproportionate role played by state actors in conducting this process is resulting in weak engagement of the civil society sector.
OSIEA/AfriMAP call for the APRM report to be made more accessible, including through simplified language-appropriate versions for local communities; the creation of participatory tools such as citizens’ report cards to measure government performance; and the expansion of the process beyond the executive branch to include other state structures, such as parliament, and non-state organisations.
'Kenyans need to organize to push the government to deliver on its promises – We need to ensure that the APRM really does bring greater accountability to Africa', said Ozias Tungwarara, AfriMAP director.
African states have pledged a growing number of commitments to promote democratic principles and good governance since the African Union was formed in 2002. One of these mechanisms is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) that contains the APRM for governments to conduct a self-assessment report through a participatory process. The APRM covers four areas: political governance and democracy, economic governance and management, corporate governance, and socio-economic governance.
French and English versions of the report are available at www.afrimap.org or www.osiea.org
For further information, please contact Mugambi Kiai, Program Officer, OSIEA/AfriMAP on + 254-720-439622 or mkiai at osiea.org
No continental union without peace and security
Joseph Yav is a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He works with a network of African research institutes in support of the African peace and security agenda.
Saloman Kebede interviewed him on the upcoming 'Grand Debate on the Union Government' to be held at the June 2007 summit of the African Union.
The interview is part of a series of interviews, to be published by the Pambazuka AU-Monitor, with African citizens and civil society leaders on the AU proposal for continental government.
The interview was conducted by the Oxfam Pan-Africa Programme in the corridors of a civil society meeting organised by UN-CONGO and FEMNET in Addis Ababa in the week of the 13 March 2007. The interview was edited by Emily Mghanga of Oxfam’s Pan-Africa Programme.
Saloman Kebede: What form of continental government does Africa need?
Joseph Yav: Africa needs a continental government that depends on the people of Africa, not only their heads of state. Africa must forge its own direction, learning from the experiences of the US and the European Union.
Saloman Kebede: Why is continental union important to African citizens especially the poor and the marginalised?
Joseph Yav: Human emancipation and freedoms must be the focus of any union.
Saloman Kebede: How could integration be successful?
Joseph Yav: The focus must be based on a clear assessment of the progress of the African Union (AU) from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). How have we overcome poverty and conflict? What are the new ideas, opportunities and challenges for the African Union in future? How can we push the national and regional mechanisms? This would create a clear strategy for change.
Saloman Kebede: What one policy would you propose to be adopted in the continental organisation?
Joseph Yav: The Institute for Security Studies works mainly for a stable and peaceful Africa. We would want to see a clear focus in the area of peace and security. Because if there is no peace, there is no security. By security, I mean not only the security of states but human security as well.
Saloman Kebede: What milestones would you like to see achieved within the first two years?
Joseph Yav: Our heads of state and governments should focus first on the integration of people. Secondly, we should question the current structures - both positive and the negative. Finally, assess all the forms of integration, federational and others.
Saloman Kebede: What meaningful decisions would make this process people driven, rights based and publicly accountable to African citizens?
Joseph Yav: There is an urgent need to consult the civil society. Our leaders must depart from the experience of the OAU. Otherwise it will end up as a club of heads of states. We must change the idea of the union as a club of heads of state to an idea that is championed by the people of Africa. Heads of state have a right to make decisions, but the focus must be on people. Civil society has the right to also engage and contribute to this debate.
Saloman Kebede: Do you think the timing is right?
Joseph Yav: Yes and no. No, because it is coming too late in Africa’s history. The former President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah and others championed this idea 40 years ago. Secondly, this idea was re-proposed by heads of state as far back as 1999 in Sirte, Libya. Yes, if the idea is driven by African peoples: the time for a union is now!
The views expressed here are the perspectives of the interviewee. Joseph Yav can be reached at: email@example.com
Africa: SOAWR update on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa
The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) has released a quarterly update on the campaign on the Popularization, Ratification, Domestication and Implementation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa.
The protocol entered into force on 25 November 2005, 30 days after the 15th ratification by Togo on 26 October 2005. As at March 2007, 43 countries had signed the protocol and 20 had ratified it. The number of ratifications shows a minimal improvement from the same time last year. Despite the tremendous work that has been done by the numerous rights groups across the continent, advocating for the rights of women, there still remain obstacles to their achievement. The report clearly demonstrates that whereas the ratification of the protocol as an all encompassing and legally binding document is paramount, there are many fronts on which the battle for the equal rights for women must continue to be fought. In the first quarter of the year, several countries and themes have come under the spotlight.
The continuing civil strife on several fronts across the continent has exacerbated the lot of women and children, leaving them even more open to exploitation and abuse. Furthermore, the absence of legitimate governing structures has precluded the possibility for legislative moves towards the ratification and implementation of the Protocol. Even in relatively stable countries there has been the usual reticence to ratify the protocol. In countries like Ethiopia, for instance, the view of the government has been that those self-same rights and principles are already enshrined in the social contract.
This however, has not prevented the continued abuse of women. Female genital mutilation has been in the spotlight and there is growing condemnation of the practice that remains a deeply rooted cultural practice in many countries. Other fronts in the effort are greater political participation, strengthening of legislation to protect women from abuse, and training in gender equality at all level of government
Other countries have raised legal reservations to elements in the Protocol and, to their great credit, civil society groups have actively engaged with governments to free these bottle-necks, with promising results thus far.
Since the beginning of the year there have been several fora at which the protocol has been actively promoted by groups such as SOAWR. Among these are the World Social Forum, the Sub-regional Workshop for North Africa, the Conference on Domestic Violence, the African Civil Society Forum and the Conference on the Status of Women.
Whereas progress has been encouraging thus far, it is clear that the impetus must not be lost in the ratification of the protocol, without which there lacks a comprehensive and all-inclusive legal framework within which the campaign for gender equality can operate in Africa.
Update on the campaign on the Popularization, Ratification, Domestication and Implementation of the Protocol on the rights of women in Africa
Equality Now, January-March 2007
Below is the quarterly update (January to March 2007) that Equality Now received from SOAWR members who are campaigning for popularization, ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa; and also from other organisations that are doing work around the Protocol. Also included is information on the status of ratification, meetings attended by the SOAWR members and upcoming events.
Country Level Updates
The Action Aid Office in Addis Ababa reported that there was no progress on the process of ratification in Ethiopia. They paid a visit to the Ministry of Women's Affairs where they were informed that the Protocol had been returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for review of some of the provisions. Action Aid will continue to follow up with the Ministry on the progress of ratification. They were further advised that there was no urgency to ratify the protocol as the national laws were already in harmony with the Protocol.
Action Aid is encouraging the violence against women coalition to take up the campaign on the ratification of the Protocol.
The Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC) in Addis Ababa reported that its Geneva office on 6 February 2007 organized a Special Briefing session at the UN office in Geneva, in celebration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). At the event, there was a strong presentation on the Protocol to an audience which included African diplomats. In addition a statement from the African Union representative at the Special Briefing Session mentioned that the Protocol is a platform to combat FGM.
IAC also reported that at the 51st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, February 27, 2007, the IAC Executive Director, Berhane Ras-Work made a presentation at a Parallel Event entitled 'Protecting Girls from FGM/Cutting' during which the Protocol was promoted as one human rights instrument that helps in the elimination of female genital mutilation. And in Spain, at a Seminar on 'FGM and other Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women And Children in Africa', held from 5-9 March, Mrs Ras-Work also presented a paper and highlighted the Protocol as an instrument that can be used to combat FGM.
The African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) reported that the Solicitor General and Legal Secretary of the Gambia, Dr Henry Carrol, stated on 25 April 2006 that the National Assembly reversed the Gambia’s reservations on the Protocol. A legal consultant was hired to analyse the national laws and draft a women’s bill to address gaps in the legislation with the help of a technical and advisory committee. The team held various consultations with various stakeholders cutting across the public and private sectors and civil society, religious leaders, scholars, legal practitioners and women at the grassroots level. The findings of the review of laws and international conventions as well as the outcomes of the consultations resulted in the drafting of the women’s bill 2007 which was validated by all the stakeholders on 28 March 2007 at a meeting that was officially opened by the vice president and the secretary of state for women affairs. The women’s bill 2007 is currently going through parliamentary approval process.
WiLDAF Ghana reported the good news that Ghana's Parliament ratified the Protocol on 21st March 2007. This was confirmed to WiLDAF Ghana by both the Chairperson of the Gender and Children's Committee and the Minister for Women and Children's Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in the process of preparing the instrument of ratification for submission to the AU Commission.
On 27 February 2007 the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya attended a meeting at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the Advisory consultative Committee on International Human Rights obligations. FIDA (K) sits on the Committee. The ministry gave an update of the government’s efforts to fulfill its international obligations including the submission of government reports to the different treaty bodies to which Kenya is a signatory. They informed the meeting of the most recent treaties they had ratified and reiterated their commitment to also ratify the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women. However, a member of the committee pointed out that the slow pace of ratification was due to the government’s inability to meet the resources obligation that some of these treaties require of state parties in order to fulfill the actualisation of the rights provided for in these treaties.
The committee was tasked with preparing a list of treaties including the protocol that Kenya has not ratified and to come up with recommendations on courses of actions for the government to advance the ratification process.
Fórum Mulher reported that its members continued with advocacy activities around the Protocol and in particular targeted the Domestic Violence Bill, which was submitted last year by civil society, with a view to winning the support of the Mozambican Parliament for its approval. The bill is presently being discussed by the Gender and Social Affairs Commission of the Parliament. In its advocacy interventions, Fórum Mulher worked closely with the women parliamentarians and appreciated that all activities in support of the bill were closely coordinated with the women parliamentarians.
Together with COMUTRA (trade union of women's workers), OMM (Mozambican women's organization), Fórum Mulher organized events to celebrate 8 March, international women’s day. They held a march which attracted approximately 1500 participants including several dignitaries such as the First Lady, several female ministers and six women parliamentarians. The event which included drama staging aimed at raising awareness on the Campaign on Violence against the Girl Child in Education.
Coordination Non-Gouvernmentale Associations Féminines Nigériennes (CONGAFEN) had a dialogue with five religious leaders on 25 January at a meeting held to share information with the religious leaders. CONGAFEN also held a meeting with women parliamentarians on 6 February 2007 where the protocol and CEDAW were discussed, and specifically worked with the Minister for the Promotion of Women, on 2 February 2007, on an advocacy plan on the protocol and the CEDAW in preparation for successful ratification of the protocol by parliament and for the removal of reservations entered against CEDAW.
CONGAFEN and several other women’s structures also met with the President of the Republic on 21 March 2007 following an article by a French actress that caught the attention of the politicians. The article highlighted the plight of women in Niger and talked of the harmful practices that women are subjected to. It mentioned the problem of fistulas and early marriages and noted that the actress would use the staging of the Vagina Monologues in Niamey to highlight these concerns. It also noted that the actress had the support of the Federation Internationale des Ligue des Droits de L’Homme (FIDH) or International Federation for Human Rights (www.FIDH.org). During the meeting with the President of the Republic, CONGAFEN, and the other women present, urged the president to intervene with the parliamentarians so that ratification of the protocol and removal of reservations placed on CEDAW would be realised. CONGAFEN felt confident that their call was heard.
Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) started its International Women’s Day celebrations in Oyo state on 21 March 2007, where it introduced the Protocol to representatives of the 23 local governments of the state. The working document gave an overview of the Protocol, its status, contents and benefits and was translated into the local language (Yoruba).
Copies of the abridged version of the protocol were also distributed and the representatives committed to share this with the local authorities for wider circulation among teachers and members of churches and mosques. WRAPA has also offered its willingness to provide technical support to the Oyo state to undertake sensitization activities at local government levels.
In order to reach as wide an audience as possible in support of the protocol, WRAPA has identified language experts who will undertake translation of the Protocol into the three major Nigerian languages. (Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo).
Similarly, the abridged version of the protocol published by WRAPA in 2004 will be reviewed, translated into the three languages and widely disseminated. A graphic artist has been identified to make pictorial depictions of the provisions of the protocol along side the concerns they address and the benefits to be derived by women if the protocol is domesticated and implemented. These will be displayed at strategic public locations.
WRAPA in partnership with the Nigeria Law Reform Commission & National Human Rights Commission facilitated two trainings on Gender-based Violence (GBV) for Judicial Officers, Law Enforcement and Security Agencies. The trainings were conducted in the North Eastern and Central zones of Nigeria from 22–24 January and 7–9 February 2007 respectively. The broad objective of the trainings was to improve knowledge on Gender Based Violence (GBV) issues and responses.
The specific objectives included sensitising law enforcement and security agencies on GBV issues; refocusing understanding and responses to GBV issues; and establishing commitment and directing thinking and action towards prevention of GBV. The collaboration strategy adopted for the design and facilitation of the trainings proved effective and enhanced the quality of delivery of the training content. The Ministry of Women Affairs relied on the vast resources within the work of recognized women’s rights groups who are grounded in GBV advocacy, sensitisation and interventions on behalf of survivors.
The strategy paid off as participants in both zones confirmed the enrichment of their knowledge as well as the reinforcement of their commitment to respond to GBV along lines of best practices. Both trainings received effective media coverage from the national and state radio and television stations. In Minna zone, six electronic and print media outfits covered the opening ceremony and the event was broadcast at peak hours on the National Television Authority (NTA).
In addition, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development with support from the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed and conducted eight zonal three-day trainings on Gender Based Violence for officers of law enforcement agencies and related services including officers of the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Armed Forces, the Prisons Service, the Immigration Service, the Judiciary and the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria.
The selection of the target group for the training is justified by the central role these agencies play either as first line institutions that a victim of gender based violence turns to or their strategic position of responsibility for stopping national and transnational forms of GBV especially human trafficking.
During January-March 2007, WRAPA gave priority to the political participation of women in Nigeria’s 2007 elections and hence organized several events ranging from capacity building support to advocacy actions calling to attention for relevant provisions in the African Women’s Protocol and CEDAW in support for women’s participation in decision-making; and quantitative and qualitative documentation of the political aspirations of women showing details of the numbers of aspirants and candidates who have emerged from party primaries; women’s positions in political party structures, challenges women face within the party and in their constituencies, the potential for support and/or threats to their success in the April 2007 elections.
In commemoration of International Women’s Day 2007, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Nigeria Gender Budget Network and Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) organized a policy dialogue, in Abuja on 13th March 2007, on Institutionalising Mechanisms for Addressing Violence against Women in Nigeria. The objective of the dialogue was among other things to highlight policy trends and undertake an analysis of Nigeria’s legal and institutional frameworks for advocacy on violence against women. This was within the IWD theme for 2007 which was on ‘Ending impunity for violence against women’. Key concerns highlighted the lack of enactment and domestication of key national and international laws. Participants agreed that this deficiency has aggravated impunity of offenders and deepened the vulnerability of women to violence in public and private spheres. Major outstanding Federal legislations identified included:
1. The Violence Against Women (Prohibition) Bill, 2003, was put together by members of the Legislative Advocacy Coalition on VAW as a legislative tool that can be used to deal with the rampant and often ignored problem of Violence Against Women in Nigeria. This Bill was first presented to the National Assembly on May 28, 2002. This Bill has gone through harmonisation and reviews but has not been formally raised on the floor of the house.
2. Domestic Violence Protection Bill 2005’ sponsored by Senator Daisy Danjuma and is hinged on violence in domestic settings. The Bill has passed through 1st and second readings and is at Committee level.
3. Draft Bill on Elimination of Violence in Society 2006 sponsored by the Executive which has also passed 1st reading at the National Assembly.
4. The CEDAW Draft Bill titled 'A Bill For An Act To Provide For The Enforcement Of The United Nations Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women in The Federal Republic of Nigeria and for the Purposes Connected Therewith- 2005' This has passed 1st reading at the National Assembly.
5. The domestication of the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa which Nigeria ratified in 2004.
Other key policy issues identified were the lack of concrete commitment to gender mainstreaming and an absence of linkage between resource allocation and gender concerns. The absence of gender disaggregated data and prevalence data on many forms of violations suffered by women were also identified as key concerns that must be addressed if women in Nigeria are to enjoy the promotion and protection of their human rights.
During the International Women’s Day (March 8th) BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights marked the day by hosting women’s political aspirants in some local government areas in Lagos State. The aim was to discuss challenges faced by women in decision making and devise strategies for overcoming these challenges.
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights with support from the British High Commission has been engaged in human rights training from a gender perspective for Sharia Court Judges, Magistrates and the Police for the 12 states that have adopted the Sharia legal system in Nigeria. The aim of the training included enhancing women’s access to justice and personal security in Nigeria to sensitise judges and the police on gender issues and women’s human rights. It also aimed at highlighting the importance of International human rights treaties as a framework for the protection and promotion of women’s human rights in Nigeria.
The latest training was held in Sokoto and Kebbi States in February 2007. The participants found the trainings to be very effective and in particular the participants were happy to learn about the international human rights treaties such as the CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women. The next trainings will be held in Kano State for Kano and Jigara States participants in May 2007.
BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights recently facilitated the launch of a network called “Journalists against Violence against Women’ (JAVAW). The network is aimed at highlighting various issues around violence against women and using the platform of the media to address these issues.
Akina Mama wa Afrika commissioned a filming company in November 2006 to create a documentary on the protocol. The documentary seeks to highlight the views of rural and grassroots women on the contents of the Protocol and give them an opportunity to share and deliberate on its contents. The documentary once completed will be used as an advocacy tool to popularise the protocol in Uganda. The documentary targets the views of rural and grassroots women around Uganda and so far has documented women from the west and south of Uganda. The documentary shoot is still ongoing and will proceed to cover the other parts of the region. It is hoped that they will finish shooting the documentary by the end of April 2007. Akina Mama Wa Afrika will keep SOAWR members updated on the progress.
Equality Now joined the Tanzanian coalition members, who are campaigning against female genital mutilation (FGM), during advocacy visits to two ministers: Hon. Mary Nagu, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs; and Hon. Sophia Simba, Minister for Gender, Children’s Affairs and Community Development. Upon enquiry about the status of ratification of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women, both Ministers responded that the last session of Parliament (which sat on 1st February 2007) had approved the ratification instrument. The same was confirmed in the Hansard dated 1st February 2007 (one of the local daily newspapers). The African Union Commission, however, has not received it and Equality Now, together with the coalition members, urged the Ministers to expedite the deposit of their instrument of ratification. The Ministers assigned their staff members to follow-up on this matter.
Status of ratifications
The status of signatures and ratifications remained the same as reported in the last quarter: 43 and 20 respectively. Though Ghana and Tanzania have reportedly ratified their instruments has not been received at the African Union Commission and hence are not officially acknowledged by the AUC.
Status of signatures and ratification
At March 2006 At March 2007
Total signatures 40 43
Total ratifications 17 20
The Protocol entered into force on 25 November 2005, 30 days after the fifteenth ratification by Togo on 26 October 2005.
RED-CARDED COUNTRIES (7)
02) Central Africa Republic
05) Sao Tome & Principe
YELLOW-CARDED COUNTRIES (26)
07) Cote d’Ivoire
08) Democratic Rep. of Congo
09) Equatorial Guinea
20) Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
22) Sierra Leone
GREEN-CARDED COUNTRIES (20)
02) Burkina Faso
03) Cape Verde
04) The Comoros
06) The Gambia
18) South Africa
PAST EVENTS AND MEETINGS
The World Social Forum (20th-25th January 2007) Nairobi, Kenya
The World Social Forum was hosted this year in Nairobi, Kenya. This created a great opportunity for SOAWR to popularize the campaign on the protocol. On 21 January 2007, SOAWR held an event to launch the SOAWR/Fahamu book titled, Grace, Tenacity and Eloquence. The objectives of the meeting were to popularise the protocol on the rights of women in Africa; discuss some of the key provisions within the protocol; and provide space for interaction with participants to contribute ideas and actionable recommendations towards the struggle for women’s rights in Africa.
COVAW, FIDA-Kenya and Women Direct took the lead in organising the event. Faith Kasiva (COVAW) introduced the purpose of the meeting, the theme and the panelists. Roselynn Musa (FEMNET) gave an introduction to the protocol highlighting several provisions as examples of the many rights recognised in the protocol.
Faiza Mohamed (Equality Now) gave an overview of the SOAWR campaign citing the various strategies that the coalition engaged to secure speedy ratification. Janah Ncube (Acord) discussed challenges women face in enjoying the fruits of the protocol and offered some ideas to advance the human rights of women in the continent. She stated that even though international instruments on women’s rights such as the protocol have been adopted and ratified, women should not wait for these instruments to take effect but should in their daily lives strive to ensure that their rights are protected.
Manal Abdel Halim (SIHA) discussed sexual and gender violence in Darfur citing examples of cases; she also spoke about the challenges women in Darfur face in exercising their rights and how SIHA is supporting local groups to be empowered to take actions to protect their rights. This was followed by a plenary discussion and thereafter the address from the key note speaker, Dr Eunice Brookman Amissah of IPAS who stressed a great deal on the importance of securing reproductive rights for women so that maternal deaths in the continent could be significantly reduced; she highlighted international instruments and declarations that safeguarded women’s reproductive rights; cited challenges facing women and concluded with some recommendations on the role women could play to secure their reproductive rights. She then launched the book Grace Tenacity and Eloquence – The struggle for Women’s Rights in Africa. The vote of thanks and closing remarks were made by Maty Diaw (FEMNET).
The meeting was well attended and drew almost 40 participants. SOAWR members had the chance to distribute campaign materials and networked with participants from different parts of the world.
The 8th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
In January 2007, SOAWR members (Irungu Houghton-Oxfam GB, Roselynn Musa - FEMNET, Wangari Kinoti - Women Direct and Caroline Muthoni- Equality Now) attended the 8th African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Due to the activities at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, many of the SOAWR members were unable to attend the AU summit.
These four organisations represented SOAWR at the summit activities. On 25th January 2007, SOAWR organized a public forum and the launch of the SOAWR/Fahamu book Grace, Tenacity and Eloquence which had been previously launched at the World Social Forum in Nairobi.
The public forum which was meant to serve as an outreach to Ethiopian civil society organizations attracted about 40 participants, among them representatives from local NGOs and UN bodies. SOAWR encouraged the representatives of the Ethiopian NGOs present to take up the campaign on the popularisation, ratification, domestication and implementation of the Women’s protocol.
It has been noted that despite Ethiopia being the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia had not ratified the Protocol. During the public forum, participants got to know about the provisions of the Protocol and the work SOAWR has been doing around it.
The book was distributed to the participants to use it as a tool to inform their campaign and participants were also encouraged to use the Protocol as a tool to fight issues that most affect women in Ethiopia such as female genital mutilation; abduction, domestic violence, inheritance matters, etc.
On 25 January 2007, SOAWR distributed color cards to the Ministers during their Session depending on whether their governments had signed (yellow) or ratified (green) the Protocol or done neither (red). The colour cards continue to be an effective strategy to remind member states of their obligations and commitments.
Many of the ministers recognised the cards from previous Summits. For example the Minister from the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic upon receipt of the card proudly exclaimed that his country was no longer in the red category but was now yellow. SOAWR called on states to ratify the protocol and for those that had ratified the protocol to implement the provisions of the protocol.
SOAWR members also took the opportunity to distribute campaign press releases to media attending the Summit and gave interviews as a way to popularise the campaign.
During the AU summit, the Assembly adopted a decision calling on member states to implement all commitments made in the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and urgently to submit their baseline reports on compliance to the African Union Commission.
The Assembly also requested the Commission to urgently organise a continental conference on Economic Empowerment of African Women in order to articulate strategies to elevate the economic status of African women including the establishment of the African Trust Fund for Women. Lastly the Assembly appealed to member states which had not ratified the Protocol on the Rights of Women to do so.
The next summit will be held in Accra, Ghana, in June/July 2007 at which time new Commissioners will be elected for both the African Union Commission and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Joint AFRODAD- AFRIMAP-OXFAM report launch Towards a people-driven African Union on 24th January, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The book launch attracted about 50 officials from embassies, the AU Commission and civil society organisations. The report was the first independent public assessment of the progress of the African Union towards the goals of accountability of the institution and accessibility by the public. About 400 copies of the report were distributed (in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic) during the summit and some countries including Ghana, Senegal, and Uganda formally asked for more copies to be sent to their capital.
Sub-Regional Workshop for North Africa - Realizing Women’s Rights through Human Rights Education in Algiers, Algeria 17- 20 March 2007
Caroline Muthoni, Equality Now, attended this workshop on behalf of SOAWR. The workshop’s objective was to contribute to the implementation of the UN World Program for Human Rights Education and create awareness about African Human Rights mechanisms and instruments.
The meeting was organised by the African Union Commission (Political Affairs) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Algeria in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The workshop brought together participants from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. It drew participants from various government ministries, civil society, and the African Union Commission among others.
The five countries each gave presentations on the work that had been done within the education system to incorporate human rights education. Libya being the only country in North Africa that had ratified the Protocol mentioned that prior to the ratification it had already incorporated similar provisions within its national laws.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Senior Legal Counsel, Mr Feyi, gave a presentation on the work and the role of the African Commission in the promotion of human rights education and talked about the African Charter and the Protocol on the Rights of Women.
Mrs Yetunde Teriba, Acting Director of the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Development Directorate, gave a presentation on the role of the gender directorate and spelt out obligations under the Protocol on the Rights of Women and the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality.
She talked about the Commission’s collaboration with civil society and in particular SOAWR and informed the meeting about the North African Consultative meeting that is to take place in April in Tunisia. Ms. Souad Abdennebi (UNECA) gave a presentation on the World Program for Human Rights education and a review of the recommendations under the Beijing and Dakar Platforms for Action.
Mr Mounir Lallaly of the African Union Commission gave a talk on the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and advised states to ensure that in the implementation of the convention and fight against terrorism they must be careful not to erode the human rights of their citizens and must ensure that enforcement agencies such as the police and the military are trained in human rights.
Thereafter Mr Med Imed from the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) spoke about the work that the centre is doing in regard to human rights education for young people. He urged the ministries to consult young people when preparing the curricula to hear their views and concerns.
Caroline Muthoni gave a presentation on the SOAWR campaign. She emphasized the challenges that girls face in accessing education and highlighted those articles within the protocol that addressed these challenges and the provisions that required states to incorporate human right education within the school curriculum.
Three working groups respectively discussed Implementation of the world program on human rights education at the domestic level; strategy for security and peace building through human rights education; and building partnerships at domestic level for the promotion of women’s rights education.
They came up with recommendations that were shared during the plenary and led to the adoption of a Plan of Action. The plan of action amongst other things noted that the protocol among other regional and international instruments was a crucial document for the promotion of women’s rights and its content should be included within human rights education programs and further urged North African countries to ratify the protocol within the shortest possible time.
The declaration that was adopted by the participants will be shared with SOAWR members when it becomes available.
Conference on Domestic Violence Urges 'Family Conversations: Let’s Tell the Secrets'
The Institute of Gender Studies of Addis Ababa University (AAU), in partnership with the United States Embassy and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, organised its first conference on domestic violence to celebrate the 2007 International Women’s Day under the theme 'Family Conversations: let’s tell the secrets'.
The aim of the two day conference was to bring together students, specialists, journalists and activists in Addis Ababa to create a joint platform for action against domestic violence.
The conference was also meant to broaden and strengthen the national network of gender specialists, professionals and students interested in gender issues, so that they can more effectively fight against domestic violence and promote the implementation of policies to decrease the incidence of domestic violence in Ethiopian society.
The event was also an opportunity to bring the research, analysis and policies relevant to this field to a broader public.
The conference was held in the backdrop of the first acid attack in Addis Ababa where a young woman was badly scarred when battery acid was thrown onto her face by a man who had stalked her for five years.
The conference delegates took part in a demonstration held after the close of the conference to condemn violence against women.
The workshop presented various researches by graduate students of the Department of Gender studies Addis Ababa university that painted a graphic picture of massive violations of women’s rights in prisons, in the home and through FGM.
In her presentation Marren Akatsa Bukachi, Executive Director of the East African Sub-regional Support Initiative (EASSI) – a member of SOAWR, noted that GBV was endemic in many parts of the world. She noted that women were not safe anywhere, even in their own homes and many countries did not have proper legislation to address this. She observed that Ethiopia was not yet a signatory to the protocol on women’s rights yet so many violations were practiced in its own back yard.
African Civil Society Forum: 'Democratizing Governance at Regional and Global Level to Achieve the MDGs' on 22-24 March 2007, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) and the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) co-organized this meeting in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC). The purpose of the Forum was to bring together representatives of national, regional and international NGOs from Africa to explore the most effective ways to partner with and impact on African institutions: the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
During the meeting a workshop was held on the perspectives if African NGOs on the Human Rights Council (HRC) and the need for African NGOs to input into the HRC institutional building processes. Participants also discussed the challenges brought by conflicts in Africa on its populations and the daily violence against women which were seen as serious setbacks to reaching the MDG targets.
51st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Several SOAWR members attended the 51 Session of CSW held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The theme of the CSW was 'The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child'.
SOAWR did not hold any side activities; however SOAWR’s presence was felt through the participation of Equality Now, FEMNET and Women Direct at the African Caucus meeting where the call for the ratification and implementation of the Protocol was made through the declaration of the Caucus.
Breathing Life into the African Union Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa
Silvia Tamale PhD, Associate Professor and Dean of Law, Makerere University, Uganda gave a review of the AUC/SOAWR book Breathing life into the African Union Protocol on Women’s Rights in Africa, which appeared in the Gender and Development Journal, Vol. 15 issue 1. While she commended the book and declared it as a must read for women’s rights activists, human right practitioners, development policy makers, and students from various disciplines; and recommended that it be translated into Portuguese, Arabic as well as major indigenous languages to ensure a wider readership; she highlighted some shortcomings of the book for example disregarding the agency of African women, uncritically perpetuating the rights versus culture polarisation and assuming the readers’ prior knowledge evident in references made to the African Court and Court of Justice to mention a few.
Her review can be found at www.informaworld.com or http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/wgender/40220
The North Africa Consultation on Strategies for Accelerating the Ratification of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa the in Tunis, Tunisia, 2-4 April 2007
SOAWR together with the African Union Commission’s Women Gender and Development Directorate are organizing a North African Consultation meeting in Tunis.
The meeting is expected to bring together government and civil society representatives from Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, The Gambia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sahrawi Arab Republic, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, and Tunisia. This consultation seeks to stimulate the emergence of national campaigns in countries in Northern Africa where ratification has not happened.
It will therefore focus on issues relating to the legal, cultural and religious challenges that have prevented ratification in most countries of this region so far and highlight good practices in member states from the region and from East and West Africa which experienced similar difficulties but managed to overcome them and ratified the Protocol. The consultation will also seek to encourage the invited countries to ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Participants at the consultation are drawn from Ministries of Justice, ministries in charge of Gender and Women’s Affairs, National Parliaments, Civil Society Organizations, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), AU Organs, UN Agencies, the Media and other development partners.
Third Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health 9th-13th April 2007, Johannesburg South Africa
The theme of the meeting will be 'Strengthening of Health Systems for Equity and Development'. The main objective of CAMH 3 will be to discuss pertinent issues related to health in general and the strengthening of health systems in particular.
Issues to be discussed include the state of African traditional medicines (ATM), human resources for health, the draft implementation plan for the outcome of the Abuja Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the draft plan of action on violence prevention, and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa; the 'Africa Malaria Strategy' will also be launched during the conference. The main outcome of the conference will be the Africa Health Strategy and a Declaration on Strengthening Health Systems in Africa for Equity and Development.
The Conference will draw Ministers of Health of the African Union and health experts, officials from AU member states, AU Commission staff, UN Agencies, international organisations, Non Governmental Organisations and other civil society organisations.
The Second Meeting of African Union Women's Committee, on 18-19 April, 2007- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The meeting will be discussing the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and reporting by member states in terms of implementation of commitments made therein. The AUWC also expects to generate its annual workplan. For more information visit the African Union website www.african_union.org
Forum on the participation of NGOs in the 41st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the 15 African Human Rights Book Fair 12-14 May 2007 Accra Ghana
The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHR) will organise the NGO forum to promote networking among human rights NGOs for the promotion of human rights in Africa.
The ACDHR will also organise the African Human Rights book fair during the forum and public sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to enable organizations to exchange their materials as well as publicize their activities.
The Agenda of the forum will be to discuss a number of thematic topics: The human rights situation in Africa, the Final Communiqué of the 40th Ordinary session of the African Commission and matters arising, the Protocol on women’s rights in Africa and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, the African Court, the Human Rights defenders, the death penalty, HIV/AIDS and trafficking in persons, corruption and Human Rights, Peace Building and Human Rights, Minority Rights and indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Africa and Human Rights education among others.
For more information on how to participate in the forum kindly contact the African Centre by either fax on +220 4462338/9 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
41st Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The Commission’s Session will take place from the 16 - 30 May 2007 in Accra, Ghana.
30 April 2007
Angola: Failure to empower women peacebuilders: A cautionary tale
In the summer of 1994, against the backdrop of the Rwandan genocide and the deterioration of conditions in Somalia, one of the few hopeful developments on the African continent came from the Zambian capital of Lusaka, where Angolans from the Government and the rebel UNITA movement and international mediators were working to end two decades of civil war that had killed 500,000 people. This article by Donald Steinberg examines the importance of including women in peace building.
Mauritius: Battle over sexual offences bill
The sexual offences bill recently tabled at the Mauritian parliament brought much heated debate from both sides of the house, as well as protests from religious leaders and professionals. The bill could also decriminalise consensual anal sex. Amid the outcry, the speaker has tasked a select committee to look into the bill in detail.
Nigeria: Blogs for African women
Blogs for African Women (BAWo) has taken hold of the Nigerian blogging spirit to strengthen women's activism. Oreoluwa Somolu, BAWo's founder, sees blogging as a way to get women 'hooked on technology', and gain important skills for community and NGO leadership at the same time. Networking for Success, BAWo's second initiative getting women into the blogosphere, has just been awarded an Harambee small grant to increase BAWo's collaboration capacity.
South Africa: 'You have to work nine to ten times harder than a male farmer'
As activists focused on the challenges facing workers this May Day - 1 May 2007, Martha Moside, in an interview, called for attention to be paid to the situation of female subsistence farmers in South Africa. Many encounter difficulties gaining access to markets, securing bank loans and retaining reliable workers to assist them.
South Africa: Glass ceiling two: Women and men in South African newsrooms
While there are now roughly equal numbers of women and men in South African newsrooms, women, and especially black women, are still scarce in senior and top management echelons, as well as in the hard news beats. On average, women earn 20 per cent less than men in newsrooms; and black women earn 25 per cent less than white men.
Uganda: Women petition court to outlaw FGM
Women’s rights activists in Uganda have petitioned the constitutional court demanding that female genital mutilation (FGM), practised by several communities in the east of the country, be declared illegal.
Global: New report on the world's minorities
Somalia is the world's most dangerous country for minority communities and has overtaken Iraq to top a global ranking of countries where minorities are most under threat, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) says in a new global survey. Fierce fighting and the threat of state repression have seen Somalia, Iraq and Sudan lead this year's ranking of 'Peoples under Threat', which is a major feature of MRG's annual 'State of the World's Minorities' report. Last year Iraq led the list and Somalia was in third place.
Morocco: Security council urges unconditional talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front
The UN security council unanimously approved Resolution 1754 on Monday 30 April, urging Morocco and the Polisario Front to hold direct and unconditional negotiations in order to resolve their 30-year conflict over Western Sahara. According to Magharebia News, the resolution also extends the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) by six months.
Rwanda: French troops advised on genocide -- author
French troops advised Rwandan Hutu extremists how to hide their gruesome work from spy satellites, the author of a new book on the central African nation's 1994 genocide said on Thursday. Silent Accomplice, by British researcher and author Andrew Wallis, gives what the author says is new evidence of French complicity in the 1994 slaughter of Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus, by militias formed by the Paris-backed Hutu government.
Sudan: Sudan Rejects ICC warrants on Darfur
The International Criminal Court (ICC), based in the Netherlands, issued its first warrants Wednesday for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region. 'The ICC judges ruled that there is sufficient evidence on the merits of the prosecutor's case and reasonable grounds to believe that the two individuals are responsible for murder, rape, torture, the forced displacement of entire villages, and other war crimes against humanity', Marie Okabe, deputy spokesperson for U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, told reporters.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe warns 'political' Catholic bishops
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe warned Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops, who have become increasingly critical of him, that they are treading a 'dangerous path', according to reports published on Friday. Mugabe's comments, in the state-run Herald newspaper, come after a pastoral letter was read out by the country's Catholic bishops on Sunday calling for a new people-driven constitution to avert bloodshed and mass uprising.
Burundi: UNHCR hands over housing for 1,000 landless returnees
1,000 Burundians, including 800 refugee returnees, have moved into new housing built for them with funding from the UN refugee agency in the village of Gatere near the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Somalia: Aid airlifts from Italy
The Italian government flew in 15 tonnes of aid from southern Italy to the town of Baidoa in Somalia on 1 May for distribution by the UN refugee agency to thousands of displaced people in the volatile country. The aid, including 3,200 jerry cans, 2,700 blankets, 20 tents, twn water tanks, four generators, a water purification unit and other non-food items, will shortly be moved to a UNHCR warehouse in Afgooye some 30 kilometres west of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.
Zambia: Voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees
UNHCR has launched a three year voluntary repatriation programme to help Congolese refugees in Zambia return home to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UNHCR plans for up to 20,000 of the 61,000 Congolese in Zambia to return in 2007. The initial convoy, carrying 414 refugees, drove 400 kilometres from Mwange Refugee Camp in the north of Zambia to the Zambian port of Mpulungu where they overnighted.
Algeria: Parties gear up for 17 May legislative ballot
Magharebia News reports that with less than a month remaining until legislative elections for Algeria's new lower chamber of parliament, excitement is growing within the nation's political parties. Under the seasoned leadership of Said Bouchair, the political election monitoring committee officially opened on 19 April, and the country's electoral machinery has now been set in motion.
Comoros: Armed stand-off in run-up to island elections
In an exchange of gunfire, national government troops stationed on Anjouan, one of the three semi-autonomous islands that make up Comoros, clashed with local police on Wednesday, according to local media. Elections for each island are scheduled in June, but the archipelago's delicate power-sharing agreement hangs in the balance.
Mali: President Touré wins election
Mali's president Amadou Toumani Touré has been re-elected with an absolute majority of votes cast in Sunday's election, according to official results released on Thursday. Provisional results announced by the Territorial Administration Ministry, which organised the polls and collated the returns, showed Touré won 68,3 per cent of valid votes, while his main challenger, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, took 18,6 per cent.
Mauritania: First post-election government formed
Mauritania's newly-appointed prime minister Zeine Ould Zeidane announced the formation of his government on Saturday 28 April, following a week of consultations with President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdellahi. The 28-member cabinet includes Abderrahmane Ould Hamma Vezzaz, who previously worked for the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), as the new economy and finance minister.
Nigeria: Activist group's offices raided
Men of the state security services, on Monday 30 April at about 3pm raided the office of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE-Nigeria) at Jima Plaza, Garki, Abuja. The heavily armed men, who came in three Peugeot cars, two 206 and a Boxer Expert van, arrested the general secretary of the alliance, Emma Ezeazu.
Men of the State Security Services, on Monday, 30th April at about 3pm raided the office of the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE-Nigeria) at Jima Plaza, Garki, Abuja. The heavily armed men, who came in three Peugeot cars, two 206 and a Boxer Expert van, arrested the General Secretary of the Alliance, Emma Ezeazu.
The operation, which lasted about 30 minutes, saw the security operatives carting away posters, banners and placards decrying the shameful conduct of the April 2007 elections. The men said the placards were capable of inciting the public.
The statements on the placards were "POWER BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE: YAR'ADUA IS NOT OUR CHOICE", "SOVEREIGNTY BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE: YAR'ADUA CANNOT RULE US", "WE CANNOT BE SLAVES IN OUR OWN COUNTRY; WE TOTAL THE 2007 THE 2007 ELECTIONS", "COME RAIN, COME MAY 29, OBASANJO MUST LEAVE", "VOTE ROBBERS ARE ARMED ROBBERS THEY CAN'T RULE US", "Vote robbers pass armed robbers", "POLITICIANS HAVE FAILED US, MUST WE FAIL OURSELVES?"
and "EFCC, WHAT OF MAURICE IWU?"
Odoh Diego Okenyodo
Alliance for Credible Elections
Nigeria: Election protests flop
The massive protests planned by the opposition over Nigeria's disputed elections have failed to materialise. They had hoped to use the trade unions' May day rallies to denounce what they see as election fraud but the rallies went ahead as usual.
Nigeria: Yar'Adua promises better polls in future
Nigerian president-elect Umaru Yar'Adua has promised to review the conduct of the disputed April elections that gave him his mandate with a view to delivering better ones in 2011. Local and foreign observers said vote-rigging was so widespread that the elections were not credible, while the opposition has rejected the results. Yar'Adua has repeatedly said he believes he won fair and square.
Africa: Transparency International releases country studies
Transparency International (TI) has published nine detailed country studies that analyse the implementation of anti-corruption laws in Algeria, Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, and Uganda.The studies found that the nine countries have legal gaps with respect to requirements established by the international anti-corruption instruments most relevant for the region: the UN Convention against Corruption (2003) and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences (2003).
Global: Love, lies, Wolfowitz and the Bank
Paul Zeleza writes that the unfolding corruption scandal of the World Bank president, Paul Wolfwitz, is an intriguing and entangled tale of love: the personal love life of Mr Wolfowitz himself, the current love affair between neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism, and the long-standing marriage between capitalism and corruption, the development industry and the military-industrial complex, and the Northern-dominated international financial institutions and the institutionalisation of dependency and poverty in the global South.
Global: Understanding political corruption in low income countries
This paper published by the Center for International Development examines corruption through the lens of political economy and by building on the large and growing empirical literature on the political behaviour of individuals in low income countries. It particularly focuses on the political behavior of individuals exposed to democratic political institutions and its implications for corruption.
Kenya: Looting the Kenya Power and Lighting Company
Kenyans now have the opportunity to read for themselves what has transpired within the KPLC and in particular a picture of a procurement quagmire involving electricity poles on which the national grid is supported. A new report by the Mars Group Government Accountability Project (GAP) details the corruption involving the parastatal electricity company.
Africa: How to increase Asian FDI to Africa
How might African countries attract a greater proportion of Asian foreign direct investment (FDI)? A new book by UNCTAD first looks for answers to this question through an examination of the role that FDI played in both the successful economic development strategies of East Asia, and in the Asian financial crisis. It then considers the implications of these experiences to identify the policies and institutions needed to increase Asian FDI in five countries of Africa: Botswana Ghana Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Algeria: Algeria is Italy's top gas supplier
Algeria has been ranked as the first supplier of gas to Italy in 2006, according to official figures. The company says 33 per cent of the European country’s gas needs were derived from Algeria. This shows an increase of 3.5 per cent over the 2005 figures. As a major market for Algerian natural gas export, Italy imports 27 billion cubic metres per year from the country.
Congo: Rebuilt dam brings power to rural areas
The Congolese government has recommissioned the biggest hydro-electrical dam of Moukoukoulou, in the south-west, which was damaged during the 1999 civil war. 'We have just rehabilitated all four turbines', said President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who visited the structure.
Ethiopia: Starbucks and Ethiopia on the verge of coffee trademark deal
In a press release, Oxfam has welcomed news that Starbucks and the Ethiopian government have agreed in principle to sign a licensing, distribution and marketing agreement this month that recognises the importance and integrity of Ethiopia's specialty coffee names, Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. Phil Bloomer, director of campaigns and policy at Oxfam, said: 'In just seven months, more than 93,000 people worldwide have joined us in calling on Starbucks to sign this agreement.'
Sahel: Strategic shift in battle against region's high death toll
Every year in the Sahel region of West Africa, hundreds of thousands of children die, and malnutrition means millions of others will live on with permanent mental disability and physical stunting.
South Africa: Inflation 'is a weapon of the bosses to attack workers'
The petrol price has sky-rocketed; food prices are expected to increase by 30 per cent by the end of the year. With workers spending at least half of their wages on food, this means that the 12 per cent wage demand of the public sector workers must be regarded as an absolute minimum. In fact it is already too low. The reality is that workers wages are going to drop this year; there will be greater starvation. This is the contention of South Africa's Workers' international Vanguard League.
Zimbabwe: Maize price rises by 680 per cent
The massive hike of prices of maize by the Zimbabwean government was a far from the expectation of poor Zimbabweans. Rugare Gumbo, the agriculture minister, spilled the beans that the government increased the country’s staple food by 680 per cent. The agriculture minister said the government had taken the decision was to back a 570 per cent increase of the producer price of maize awarded to farmers to encourage food production.
Africa: African states urged to implement hiv/aids policies
Researchers have challenged African governments to implement policies and study recommendations on the fight against HIV/Aids. The more than 500 experts attending a seminar on HIV/Aids in Kisumu, Kenya, criticised governments for weak health structures. Participants said poverty remains a hindrance in the war against the disease and urged leaders to implement findings of various studies. The concerns were raised during a plenary session on Innovations in Access to HIV/Aids Prevention Services.
Africa: HIV-positive people ignored in prevention campaigns
HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in Africa are failing to include people living with the virus, despite the fact they are vulnerable to reinfection and could, unless properly informed, transmit the virus to others.
Global: Brief intervention on HIV and alcohol risk encourages safer sex
Researchers have found that a single counselling intervention that includes an exploration of the risk of alcohol use in sexual contexts may have an impact on HIV prevention by reducing sexual risk behaviours. The study is published in the 15 April edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Considerable evidence exists that alcohol use contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.
South Africa: Reaching out to women caught in sex industry
Esselen Street Clinic, in Johannesburg's edgy, bustling inner-city suburb of Hillbrow, houses the only health centre in Johannesburg offering medical care aimed at sex workers. Business is brisk: at 8am the first clients are waiting outside the door of nurse Tryphina Matsena, who dispenses treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
South Africa: `Incredibly high risk` of male-to-female HIV transmission reported
In sub-Saharan Africa, young women are at high risk of HIV infection, with a prevalence of 21 per cent among 21 year-olds recently reported from South Africa. Now, the same team of US and South African scientists report that this prevalence occurs in young women with few lifetime partners, suggesting a much higher rate of male-to-female transmission than previously reported. The researchers report their findings in the 23 April edition of AIDS.
Africa: The case against the IMF on education - A new report
In the world’s poorest countries many children have gone without quality education for far too long, and as a result, the human capital that these countries need to grow and develop sustainably is still in desperately short supply. A new research report by Action Aid on Malawi, Mozambique and Sierra Leone shows that a major factor behind the chronic and severe shortage of teachers is that International Monetary Fund policies have required many poor countries to freeze or curtail teacher recruitment.
Kenya: 'My education has been affected'
Emmanuel Barasa, 17, is a former primary school pupil from the Mt Elgon district in western Kenya, along the Kenyan-Ugandan border. Barasa, who is now living with relatives in Bungoma, a neighbouring district, spoke to IRIN during a food aid distribution about the effects the fighting has had on his education.
Madagascar: Rough road to recovery
Aid agencies are scrambling to help Madagascar recover from a succession of natural disasters, feeding whole communities cut off from desperately needed food supplies and helping thousands of children get back to school.
Sierra Leone: 'An idle mind is a devil’s workshop'
With tens of thousands of youths still out of work more than five years after the end of Sierra Leone’s civil war, many say that prospects for employment will be what they demand of the new leaders they are to elect in July.
South Africa: the plight of rape survivors
According to the National Working Group on Sexual Offences, a group of 25 organisations including Childline, the Teddy Bear Clinic, People Opposing Women Abuse and the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, rape survivors are not getting the health care they need. To make matters worse, teenage girls who are raped are often scolded or branded liars by health workers attending to them, while men, gays and lesbians and sex workers who have been raped are also discriminated against.
Tunisia: Bloggers debate homosexuality and democracy
Some Tunisian bloggers are angered by the decision of Hou-Hou blog to allow the inclusion of the Gay Tunisia blog in his TN-blogs aggregator. The first angry reaction was submitted by Tunisian Doctor, who wrote, 'with the addition of Gay Tunisia to TN-blogs, I will leave you, dear blogger friends, in protest of a group whose sexual practices play no part in our culture, religion or legal system'.
South Africa talks green and acts dirty on carbon emissions
When it comes to environmental sustainability, South Africa talks green but opts for dirty coal, according to Mathabo le Roux of Business Day. As concerns about climate change grow, the global trend is to diversify away from finite fossil fuels towards renewable energy in an effort to mitigate the impact on the environment.
Uganda: Activists decry loan approval for dam
Brushing aside concerns from environmentalists and rights groups, the World Bank has said it will support the controversial Bujagali dam in Uganda with US$360,000,000 in loans and guarantees. The decision was quickly denounced by activists, who say the dam poses grave environmental risks and that Bank ignored recent studies in justifying the measure.
Africa: Statement by the Indigenous Peoples of Africa
The 150 member organisations of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee’s (IPACC) express their profound disappointment that African states were unable to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The African diplomatic group at the UN has placed the new Human Rights Council at grave risk of politicisation and domination by a few powerful states.
Kenya: 'We need to stop the violence affecting future generations'
Reverend William Kebeney is a cleric working with the Full Gospel Churches of Kenya in Kipsigon, Kopsiro, one of four administrative divisions in the strife-torn Mt Elgon district, near the Kenyan border with Uganda. Kebeney deals with the spiritual and health needs (the church runs a health centre) of the affected people but talked to IRIN about the other needs, those not often addressed.
Africa: Press freedom declines in Sub-Saharan Africa
Overall press freedom in much of sub-Saharan Africa declined in 2006, particularly in the Horn of Africa as well as East Africa, according to Freedom of the Press 2007, released today by Freedom House. However, there were noticeable improvements in the legal environment for the media in a number of other countries.
Nigeria: Journalist in a coma after being beaten unconscious
Journalist Dare Folorunso of state-owned Ondo State Radiovision Corporation (OSRC), was beaten unconscious by several policemen, including a deputy commissioner, at a May Day rally on 1 May in Akure, in the south western state of Ondo. He is now in a coma. A policeman objected to Folorunso’s taking photos and tried to grab his camera from him, although Folorunso explained that he was a journalist. When Folorunso defended himself, other policemen intervened and began beating him.
Somalia: Going without a by-line
The comment is chilling under the best of circumstances, and on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, even more so: 'I often tell people that I am a private English teacher or a computer technician. Being known as a journalist might put one's life on the line…I am forced to lie to defend my life.'
Zimbabwe: Cops ban media freedom marches
Zimbabwean police banned journalists from holding peaceful street marches on Thursday to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, while there were renewed calls to repeal harsh media laws and improve working conditions for journalists.
Haiti: Prison Reform and the Rule of Law
Haiti’s overcrowded, understaffed and insecure prisons are powder kegs awaiting a spark. Any explosion of violence or mass prisoner escape could undermine recent steps by the government and UN peacekeepers (MINUSTAH) to combat urban gangs and organised crime, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group.
USA: Michigan State University African Studies Centre
Founded in 1960, the Michigan State University (MSU) African Studies Center (ASC) is one of nine Title VI National Resource Centers on Africa designated by the US Department of Education. MSU can offer instruction in 30 African languages, with 9-12 languages taught each year. Two PhD African studies librarians staff the third largest Africana library in the nation. African Studies at MSU has been distinguished by its focus on Africa’s human needs - poverty alleviation, food security, education for development, environment and development, tropical disease, ethics of development, and gender equity.
Chad: Oxfam criticises governments for inaction
In a press release ,Oxfam has criticised international donors, particularly Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain and Australia, for their inadequate or non-existent response to the UN humanitarian appeal for Chad and called on them to give generously to the aid effort. Penny Lawrence, international director of Oxfam said: 'In stark contrast with the generosity of the public the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Chad has been very disappointing.'
DRC: At least 42 rebels, four soldiers killed
At least 42 Rwandan Hutu rebels and four government soldiers have been killed in a crackdown by the Democratic Republic of Congo's military in the strife-torn east, the United Nations has said. The FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebel group) haslost at least 42 men; while four DRC soldiers have died in a combat zone north of the eastern town of Goma, it said.
DRC: Congo's peace: Miracle or mirage?
On 22 March 2007, the worst fighting that Kinshasa has ever seen broke out between government forces and supporters of the opposition. Hundreds of people lay dead in the streets and opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba announced his departure into exile. Yet some diplomats in the capital played down the violence as a hiccup in the peace process. In this article, Jason Stearns evaluates the prospects for lasting peace.
Sudan-Chad: Sudan and Chad sign reconciliation deal
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and Chadian president Idriss Déby Itno signed a reconciliation accord in the Saudi Arabia capital, Riyadh, on Thursday, aimed at ending tensions between their two countries. The televised signing took place at a summit hosted by Saudi King Abdullah, with the deal committing each of the parties to refrain from supporting rebels in the other country.
Sudan: Revitalising the peace process in Darfur
A new report by the International Crisis Group: 'Darfur: Revitalising the Peace Process' finds that almost a year after Sudan’s government and one of three rebel factions signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), the humanitarian and security situation has deteriorated in the troubled western region of Sudan. Despite a recent lull, the post-DPA period has seen increased combat, including further government reliance on aerial bombardment and its allied Janjaweed militia.
Uganda: New report on peace process
The latest International Crisis Group report examines the ten month old peace process between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government. Both sides have agreed to renew their cessation of hostilities agreement and restart the Juba negotiation that stalled early this year.
Africa: Did you say cell phones for development?
Considering the rapidly growing presence of cell phones in the developing world, interest in their role for advancing development goals is only natural. And, considering the demographic overlap between those most affected by HIV/AIDS and cell phone users, it only makes sense that a major focus be put on how this low-cost technology can fight this deadly pandemic.
Kenya: ‘Digital villages’ to be set up to speed up access to data
The government plans to set up ‘digital villages’ throughout the country, to ease access to information for its citizens according to a report in the Daily Nation. Information assistant minister Mr Koigi Wamwere said during the weekend that the villages to be set up in all the 210 constituencies, will facilitate easy access to information that would trigger economic development in those areas.
‘Digital villages’ to be set up all over Kenya to speed up access to data
Story by NATION correspondent
Publication date: 30 April 2007
The government plans to set up ‘digital villages’ throughout the country, to ease access to information for its citizens.
Information assistant minister Mr Koigi Wamwere said during the weekend that the villages to be set up in all the 210 constituencies, will facilitate easy access to information that would trigger economic development in those areas.
The minister was speaking in Kisumu during the commissioning of the Od Mikayi satellite information centre, where the project by the Government also received a major boost with the approval of a Kenya shillings (Ksh)8 billion grant by the World Bank.
This will see local communities exposed to new technologies such as the internet and SMS banking. 'We intend to roll out the first of these projects in August', said Mr Wamwere. He added, 'The laying of fibre optic cables throughout the country is on course and when completed, Kenyans are going to enjoy the benefits of high speed internet connectivity'.
This initiative is intended to double the number of people having access to such services from 2.7 to 6 million, he said. Also targeted will be telephone subscribers, whose numbers are expected to rise significantly from the current 8.5 million to 15 million before the year ends.
Learning centres 'We also intend to set up E- learning centres in all schools in addition to computerising all Government departments in the country.'
'This will enhance transparency in the running of Government affairs', said the minister.
Kenya: Taking IT to rural schools
At the heart of Meru district, Eastern province, a dusty road leads to Ruiga Girls' School. It is a typical village school with no power and vehicles to the shopping centre that operates only on market days. To access it, one needs prior information, if it rained; don't bother visiting because the road is impassable. The school is two kilometres from the road with no public transport.
Highway Africa News Agency
At the heart of Meru district, Eastern province, a dusty road leads to Ruiga Girls' School. It is a typical village school with no power and vehicles to the shopping centre that operates only on market days.
To access it, one needs prior information, if it rained; don't bother visiting because the road is impassable. The school is two kilometers from the road with no public transport.
Imagine this: the school has an integrated system that allows teachers to teach mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics using animated computer graphics and has an integrated system that allows parents to monitor students' academic and disciplinary progress from the internet. The imagination can roll on to the classroom where the teachers use LCD projectors in the place of black boards and exam past papers are available online.
The assignments are forwarded via email and teachers, parents and students are in constant communication. Well, this is the dream that the headmistress of the school has dared to dream.
The school is typical of many village schools but wants to be the pioneer of computer technology in the area.
This school imposes itself as the testimony of the determination by Cyber School Technology Solutions (CSTS) of providing quality educational services to schools in Kenya - whether rural or urban. With no power and coming from a place where computers are still perceived as myths, CSTS is proving that all students can enjoy world-class teaching aids that enhance the learning environment.
Fatma Bashir, chief marketing officer at CSTS narrated to ICT stakeholders gathered for the KICTANet forum how she has had to teach communities about benefits of computers before embarking on her mission to promote educational packages.
'One time a headmistress of another school blocked us from entering the school because we were introducing bad pictures through the internet to the students. I took time to explain to the teachers the benefits of computers in schools, and that we had good intentions', Bashir told the forum.
CSTS develops teaching resources, aligned to specific syllabi, featuring 3D animations.
Each Unit within a chapter apart from 3D animations contains 2D animations, visuals, charts, experiments and other reference materials required by teachers in a classroom environment.
Today, Ruiga Girls' School has 220 students and 12 teachers. Granted the challenges, the school was ranked 18 out of 79 schools in 2006, up from 33rd position in the district in 2005, and according to Bashir, the students have demonstrated positive index improvement in science subjects after using the Digital Science products for barely six weeks before the final exams.
This school epitomises the desire by CSTS to bridge the infrastructure and digital divide and ensure that rural schools enjoy similar opportunities as those enjoyed by urban schools.
Through the electronic teaching aids offered to schools, CSTS hopes to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban schools.
This, Bashir argued, will lead to early familiarisation with ICT for teachers and students alike.
According to Bashir, CSTS hopes to qualitatively improve learning by conceptualising more creatively and digitising learning resources to help educators build better learning interventions.
For the tough science subjects, CSTS hopes to make them fun by introducing new teaching aides in the subjects of mathematics, biology, physics and chemistry that animate and turn the subjects to life, making it easier to learn and recall.
Standardising the learning process, thereby creating an equal opportunity for success for every student sitting the examination across the board.
Digital science is a revolutionary teaching aid because by using animated visuals, that brings to life the abstract concepts learning science has been made easier thus more interesting and readily understood by the students. '
'The interactivity built into these modules also gives students a feeling of hands-on experience. At the same time, it gives control to the teachers and students as the lessons follow syllabi of specific subjects while pace and explanations can match the level of the student', said Bashir.
In physics, interactivity allows students to tweak parameters in situations and literally see how the system responds to the change.
In short, the limitations of a school laboratory are overcome. For example, no school lab can show a nuclear reaction, but this is also shown in our modules.
In chemistry, using the virtual lab, students can conduct potentially hazardous experiments safely and without the expenditure of chemicals. Even dangerous experiments dealing with poisonous gases, etc. can be performed (students are warned adequately in such cases to prevent them from replicating it in reality).
They can also repeat experiments over and over until they are familiar with the process in preparation for practical examinations, all this at the click of a button.
In biology, through animation of complex concepts students get to understand what they are being taught and can thus apply this not only in their lives but also while responding to examination questions.
For example a process such as importance of diffusion in the human body, cell division during reproduction etc are visually depicted aiding the understanding and retention process required in the teaching and learning environment.
CSTS has introduced a new technique of teaching mathematics. When teaching about shapes for example, the animation shows the shapes in three dimension, thus attracting the students to get into the concept and learn it better and with self-interest.
CSTS recognises the necessity for educating students about HIV/Aids appropriately and effectively, using the power of multimedia. The organization has developed innovative, original multimedia teaching tools, on CD ROM for HIV/Aids education for children between the ages of 6 and 18.
The content sophistication increases for higher age groups, covering the nature of viral infections and causes and effects of HIV/Aids.
Because this is a global problem with many mature themes, it is treated in a sensitive and flexible, and non-judgmental manner to appeal to persons from different backgrounds.
The lessons are created in a visually attractive style with cartoon characters giving the message in a manner which is easy to understand.
This is followed by interactive exercises, quizzes, etc. to reinforce the learning process, evaluate what they have learned, and show them how this knowledge can be applied in safe behavior to avoid HIV/Aids.
By advocating the use of relevant ICT software in education, CSTS hopes to improve learning processes of all students in Kenya as well as improve living standards.
Global: National Consortium for Study in Africa resources
The National Consortium for Study in Africa provides an extensive list of volunteer, research and work opportunities in Africa according to organisations that are predominantly based but not limited to the United States.
Global: Fellowships for African women
As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security and Development Group at King’s College London, is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women for 2007/2008. The deadline for applications is 29 May 2007.
King's College, London
Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women
As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security and Development Group at King’s College London, is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women for 2007/2008. This Fellowship is a financial and intellectual reward for personal and academic achievements as well as the recognition of future potential. It does not lead to a formal qualification, but will open doors to opportunities that would otherwise seem beyond reach for many. The Fellowship is therefore highly competitive.
Funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Fellowships bring together African women at the early to mid stages of their career to undertake a carefully designed training programme in Conflict, Security and Development at the King’s College London. This training is followed by an attachment to an African regional organisation or a Centre of Excellence to acquire practical experience in the field of peace and security. It is intended that this project will train African women to develop a better understanding of African peace and security issues in order to increase their participation in conflict management processes and other areas of security concerns for African women.
The Purpose of the Fellowship
The African Women’s Fellowship on Peace and Security is designed to expose young professional and mid career African women to the complexities of conflict, security and development and to equip them for careers in this field.
The Fellowship is conceived against a number of background factors. First is the comparatively low number of African women exposed to rigorous academic writing and policy analysis in the field of peace and security especially as compared with those involved in human rights and development issues. Second is the need to assist African women to meet the demands of the Beijing process and more recently the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that calls for the inclusion of women at all decision making levels in “all national regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts”. This Fellowship is aimed at challenging the existing tendency that seems to reinforce the male dominant discourse on conflict and security related matters. It will also develop the network of African women scholars working in the field whilst linking them with the peace and security mechanisms of relevant regional institutions.
This is a one-year Fellowship, divided into two 6-month phases. The first phase will be based at King’s College London where the Fellows will attend specifically designed courses on conflict, security and development. They will also study several UK institutions working in the field of peace and security. This phase will end with a simulation seminar during which a mock conflict management situation will be practiced. In the second phase, Fellows will be attached to an African regional organisation or Centre of Excellence to undertake practical work in the field of peace and security including peace and conflict management processes.
Terms of the Fellowship
Successful Fellows will have the status of full time students on the post-graduate non-degree programme at King’s College London and they will be subject to the immigration rules of the UK, which can be found on the King’s College London web page for obtaining student visas: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/international/preparing/visas/
Additional information on studying as an international student at King’s College London is available on the College’s webpage for International Students:
The position is funded* and will include a stipend of £4,900 for the first 6 months based in London. In addition, a sum of £750 will be made available to Fellows upon their arrival in the UK, to assist with winter clothing and books expenses. Fellows will be able to apply for University of London accommodation although they can make their own accommodation arrangements. Fellows are strongly advised to make all necessary accommodation arrangements prior to taking up their positions at King’s College London.
For the second phase of the Fellowship to be based in Africa, Fellows will have a stipend of $1,000 per month, exclusive of medical insurance expenses; in addition to a $250 one-off allowance to enable them settle in to their respective countries. Fellows are expected to find their own accommodation during this phase also.
It is important to note that this financial support is for individual researchers. It does not cover dependants and it is not intended to support family members. Successful candidates will need to make alternative arrangements to cover the costs of dependants before arrival in the UK. Under the UK Immigration laws, prospective Fellows must satisfy the Home Office that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents before arrival in the UK (taking into account the stipend to be provided by the Fellowship Programme).
The Fellowship is a full time appointment and Fellows are expected to make a full time commitment. Given the intensive nature of the programme, including its short 6-month phases in different locations, as well as necessary extensive travel, successful applicants that are expectant or nursing mothers will be advised to defer their admission to the Fellowship Programme.
The offer of the Fellowship is subject to successful candidates obtaining a student visa to cover the 6-month duration of the first phase of the Fellowship in the UK. Failure to obtain a visa to enter the UK automatically invalidates the offer of Fellowship with no consequences to King’s College London. Successful applicants will be required to undergo medical examinations at recommended venues prior to taking up their positions. It is a condition of the Fellowship that Fellows shall return to their base or home countries at the end of the Fellowship. Please, note that any deviation from the Fellowship, except as may be lawfully authorized by King’s College London, shall affect a Fellow’s immigration status. Please consult the British Embassy/High Commission in your home country for more information. The Conflict Security and Development Group reserve the right to terminate the appointment in the event of any breach of the conditions of the Fellowship.
• Be female citizens of an African country, with valid travel documents.
• Have knowledge of, or experience of women’s rights, gender and development issues.
• Must be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa
• Must have a relevant organisational base and be sponsored by an organisation with which they have been involved for at least two years. Exceptional candidates without such organisational ties will be given special consideration.
• Have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations.
• Hold a Master’s degree or Bachelors with an equivalent level of professional experience. Applications from women with non academic backgrounds are encouraged.
• Must be fluent in spoken and written English.
To be considered for the Fellowship please e-mail or post the following documents to Eka Ikpe at firstname.lastname@example.org or Eka Ikpe, Conflict, Security and Development Group, King’s College, London, The Strandbridge House, 138-142 Strand, London WC2 3LS UK by 17:00 hrs, 29 May 2007:
• A letter of application detailing your relevant experience.
• A supporting statement detailing why you think that this Fellowship is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues no longer than 2,000 words.
• 2 letters of recommendation(To be received directly from the Referees by the deadline of 17:00 hrs, 29 May 2007)
• Recent curriculum vitae
• Two samples of your written work.
Please ensure all documents are sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message or as a single post package.
* This project is funded with the generous support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust. Formal confirmation of continued funding of the project is expected later this year.
Global: UNRISD director to participate in round table at African film festival
UNRISD director, Thandika Mkandawire, is to participate in a round table discussion at the 4th Festival de Cine Africano de Tarifa (Tarifa African Film Festival, FCAT) in Spain, 28 April 2007. The round table entitled 'A new "chance" for Africa? New IMF and World Bank programmes and initiatives', aims to focus on the most recent programmes of these two influential institutions with a view to examining their role in the African continent.
Global: WIDER Conference on Southern Engines of Global Growth - Call for papers
This conference focuses on the inter-linkages between China, India, Brazil and South Africa (CIBS) and the global economy, including the impact of these economies on their respective regions. The main themes are growth, trade, international finance, global governance and geopolitics. Comparative studies are particularly welcome. The deadline for submissions is 14 May 2007. Final copies of accepted papers are required by 1 August 2007.
Kenya: ICT Africa 2007 Call for abstracts and papers
The conference organising committee for ICT Africa 2007 is pleased to invite the submission of abstracts on or before 15 May 2007 and full papers on or before 30 June. This conference and tutorial programme will bring together engineers, scientists, developers, government leaders, corporate managers, educators, financiers and project representatives from all over Africa and abroad.
South Africa: Media literacy training course
Following the successful run of its first ever gender and media literacy course that took place in June-August 2006, Gender Links will be conducting another Media Literacy Training Course from 3 May - 2 August 2007. The course material has been developed by Gender Links (GL), a southern African NGO that specialises in gender, governance and communication.
South Africa: World environmental education congress, 2-6 July 2007
This is the first time that the World Environmental Education Congress comes to Africa. As researchers, practitioners and policy makers we need to ensure that we contribute to the values and goals of sustainability as found in the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the UN Development Millennium Goals; Education for All and many other international directives. Standard registration booking deadline: 15 May 2007. Standard registration payment deadline: 2 June 2007.
Uganda: Distance education and teacher training in Africa conference
The Distance Education and Teacher Training in Africa conference is taking place from 5-8 August 2007 in Kampala, Uganda. Interested educationalists are invited to submit abstracts under a number of streams. The presentations in these parallel sessions will be limited to 15 minutes, with an additional five minutes for questions. Abstracts must reach the organising committee not later than 31 May 2007.
UK: INTRAC - summer training programme
INTRAC Open Training Programme: June - July 2007.
INTRAC Open Training Programme - June - July 2007:
1)Introduction to Strengthening Civil Society, Partner
2)Capacity Building, and Organisational Development
4)NEW! Summer School Advocacy Plus
For further information: email: email@example.com or visit their website at www.intrac.org
Managing Change within Organisations
DRC: Programme manager - Save the Children UK
Save the Children UK is seeking a programme manager - North Kivu to work in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Closing date: 20 May 2007.
Global : Director, Department of Policy Analysis and Communications - Africa Action
Africa Action is seeking a highly qualified and experienced policy professional to head its Department of Policy Analysis and Communications. Africa Action is a leading U.S. organisation that works to change US Africa relations to promote political, economic and social justice in Africa. Closing date: 24 May 2007.
Global: Advice on writing academic applications
When applying for academic jobs, one needs to be aware of the different ways to present themselves as the classic cv and cover letter does not always suffice. In order to prepare yourself for online applications, consider your skills, key words, format and organise your experience in categories.
Global: Speakers of African Languages needed
Language Services Associates is presently seeking speakers for African languages for their over-the-telephone interpreter service. In particular they need Fulani, Pulaar, Twi, Somali, Swahili and Yoruba.
Global: UN & Legal programme officer - Association for the Prevention of Torture
The APT, an independent, non-governmental human rights organisation working worldwide for the prevention of torture, since 1977, is currently recruiting a UN & Legal Programme Officer. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2007.
Somalia: HIV/Aids development advisor - Progressio
The Progressio Development Worker (DW) will work alongside the TALOWADAG Coalition as a HIV/Aids development advisor supporting both its staff and the partner organisations that make up the network to strengthen their support and care to people affected and infected with HIV/Aids by providing community-based care support.
South Africa: South Africa Director - Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch Africa Division seeks a South Africa Director to coordinate its efforts from its office in Johannesburg, South Africa, contribute to the organisation’s human rights policy and advocacy work, and serve as the organisation’s principal spokesperson in South Africa. Please apply immediately.
UK: Aga Khan Foundation, Head of External Relations & Communications
The Head of External Relations & Communications will work in a highly-driven, complex and demanding environment. Working closely with AKDN Communications Heads s/he will develop effective, well-researched communications materials to promote and find a constructive balance between communications and content to serve a variety of purposes.
USA: Summer interns at Kabissa
Kabissa: Space for Change in Africa is seeking three summer interns from 15 May -15 September based in Washington DC.
Kabissa: Space for Change in Africa is seeking 3 summer interns from May 15th - September 15 based in Washington DC as follows:
SPECIAL PROJECTS INTERN; DEVELOPMENT INTERN;MEMBER RELATIONS ASSISTANT. For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org by 12th May 2007.
Zimbabwe: Executive director
A regional NGO based in Harare seeks to recruit a suitable candidate for the post of executive director. The executive director currently reports directly to the board of trustees and heads the organisation’s secretariat. deadline for applications is 9 May 2007.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR A REGIONAL NGO, BASED IN HARARE
We have been mandated by a Regional NGO based in Harare to recruit a suitable candidate for the post of Executive Director. The Executive Director currently reports directly to the Board of Trustees and heads the organization’s Secretariat. In this position the Executive Director provides appropriate leadership and direction to the team of staff, who are responsible for programming, developing initiatives around the organizations’ sustainability, relationships with other actors and overall growth and administration of the organization.
Candidates with the following proven skills and competences are encouraged to apply for this position. The following is an illustrative indication of basic skills required for this position:
• A sound educational background with experience at the top management level of well reputed non-profit organizations. The Executive Director is expected to provide relevant strategic leadership to the organization in close liaison with the Board of Trustees.
• Excellent communication and socio-cultural skills
• Deep understanding of the capacity challenges that the NGO sector faces in the region and a first class ability to fund raise for the organization
• Social entrepreneurial skills with a proven ability to network with NGOs, donor communities, and various stakeholders.
• A demonstrated interest and past involvement in the nurturing of institutions that work with and support the efforts of Civil Society in diverse settings on the African continent.
• Familiarity with all the operational aspects of NGOs in Africa and a clear preparedness to undertake sustained advocacy efforts in line with the vision and mission of the organization, and specific guidelines provided by the Board, from time to time.
• Specific ability to provide leadership on the sustainability challenges that continue to confront the NGO sector in Africa in general and more specifically, to maintain a high level interest in the activities that the organization is involved in for purposes of institutional strengthening.
• The position involves extensive traveling within the eastern and southern Africa sub-region and beyond
Interested candidates who comfortably satisfy these minimum requirements and have at least seven years working experience and are from any of the countries of the eastern and southern Africa region are encouraged to formally indicate their interest in the position and send this, together with a detailed resume to email@example.com within 10 days of this announcement.
April 29, 2007
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