Pambazuka News 316: In search of Congo's coltan
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Highlights from this issue
FEATURE: Mvemba Dizolele on coltan, conflict and the DRC
COMMENTS AND ANALYSIS
- Laurie Nathan asks is if the Darfur Roadmap is likely to bear fruit
- Mammo Muchie calls for an alternative mediation process in Ethiopia
- If government was a restaurant, then … writes Rakesh Rajani
- Betty Muragori casts African eyes on America’s virtual segregation
- Jacques Depelchin responds on ‘A farewell to activism’
- Old habits die hard
- Calls for an end to the harassment of human rights defenders
BOOKS & ARTS: The double bass and a political instrument
PODCASTS: Don’t turn away from Sudan and DarfurAU MONITOR: As AU Monitoring work expands, so does the round up of key news
WOMEN AND GENDER: African sex workers still at risk of violence
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Morocco and Polisario in new talks
HUMAN RIGHTS: Mauritanians outlaw slavery
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Slum-dwellers’ leader arrested
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: More Kenyans flee attacks
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Massive irregularities in Zimbabwe voter registration
CORRUPTION: Nigeria, US cooperate on bribe probe
DEVELOPMENT: Foreign aid will not make poverty history
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: Victory for affordable ARVs
LGBTI: Circumcision message could confuse gay community
ENVIRONMENT: UN debates climate change
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Women still back of the queue on land access
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Zambian Minister’s attack on journalists condemned
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Wireless launched for rural Uganda
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops and jobs
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Pambazuka News taking a break
As is customary, Pambazuka News is taking a break during August to rest and recharge the batteries. The next issue (No 317) is scheduled for 30 August 2007. We wish all our readers and contributors a good break - and thank you for your continued support in making Pambazuka News the platform for discussion, analyses and advocacy in Africa.
In Search of Congo’s Coltan
Mvemba Phezo Dizolele
Bukavu is perched high above Lake Kivu, gently encroaching on the placid body of water between Rwanda and Congo. Once known as the pearl of Congo because of its beautiful climate and mountains, the Bukavu I found last summer barely resembles the famed city I heard about as a child.
In the past ten years, South Kivu province and its capital city of Bukavu have been known for two things: insecurity and coltan. I came for both. In anticipation of the country’s first multiparty elections in four decades, I wanted to understand the potential effect of insecurity on the elections and learn first-hand the role minerals such as coltan play in fueling insecurity.
Four times the size of France, and as big as the United States east of the Mississippi river, Congo holds 80 percent of the world’s reserves of coltan, a heat-resistant mineral ore widely used in cellular phones, laptop computers and video games. The ore derives its name from a contraction of columbium-tantalite, the scientific nomenclature.
Columbium-tantalite is so vital to the high tech industry that without it, wireless communication as we know it would not exist. Refined coltan yields tantalum, which is used primarily for the production of capacitors, critical for the control of the flow of current in miniature circuit boards. Tantalum is also used in the aviation and atomic energy industries.
Even though it has been exploited for years, this mineral did not come to prominence among the uninitiated until the “coltan rush” of the late 1990’s. At the beginning of 2000, a pound of unprocessed coltan cost between US$30 and US$40 on the international market. By the end of the year, the price had risen tenfold to US$400.
The advent of a new generation of mobile phones, the upsurge of tech products, and the popularity of video games such as Sony Playstation 2 increased demand for the ore to unprecedented levels and drove prices to new heights. Hoping to make money, thousands of Congolese men rushed to the mines.
Insecurity welcomes me as soon I exit Bukavu’s Kavumu airport. On the way to town, we pass a couple of United Nations peacekeepers’ camps – South Africans, Pakistanis and others. On the rest of the road, we see the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, known among the people as FARDC.
The FARDC does not inspire trust. Far from a typical army, it is a patchwork of various militias that fought each other not so long ago and still treat each other with suspicion. They idle at the market, smoke at the street corner or fight for public transportation with civilians. They are always armed, do not receive regular pay, and beg whenever they get a chance. Above all, they are hungry and mean. The FARDC seems to own the 35 kilometer-road to town.
The bad condition of the road mirrors the collapse of Congo’s infrastructure and reflects the failure of the State, which is unable to provide the minimum of public service. It takes over an hour to reach the center of town and I see no sign of coltan’s wealth. It is an old beat up city.
By the end of 2001, coltan overproduction and the subsequent decrease in demand drove prices down to their previous level. Adam Smith’s invisible hand did its job. A few international traders made a fortune and militia leaders stuffed their war chests and foreign bank accounts. Local miners, however, only had their dreams for trophy. Coltan perks had evaporated long before I arrived in town.
Bukavu mimics Congo’s problems. Like the country, South Kivu has unlimited potential, from its physical beauty to hydro-electrical capacity to human and natural resources. Yet, conflict, mismanagement and corruption prevent the region from benefiting from these riches.
“If you want to understand what has gone wrong in Congo,” says Thomas Nziratimana of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) and vice governor of South Kivu in charge of finance, economy and development, “You start with the way the country has been run so far. Despotic regimes cannot attract investors. They create tensions that do not make anyone feel safe to come and invest.”
Congo has had its share of dictatorships, war and civil unrest. From 1965 to 1997, the late Mobutu Sese Seko presided over a kleptocracy - a predatory regime that benefited a few members of the political elite, bankrupted the rich country and left its population in misery.
“In the past we have had a highly centralized system where everything went to Kinshasa, the capital, yet the provinces were very productive. This has continued today,” reflects Nziratimana. “Eighty-five percent of the income generated in South Kivu is sent to Kinshasa and nothing remains here, nothing.”
The kleptocratic culture did not end with Mobutu’s fall. In May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila forced Mobutu into exile and became president.
A former pro-Lumumba guerilla fighter who had trained along side Che Guevara in the hills of eastern Congo in the 1960’s, Kabila launched his rebellion from South Kivu with the support of neighboring Rwanda and Uganda in 1996. Bukavu served as his rear base and suffered great damage in human and infrastructure terms during the fighting.
In the new Kabila regime power remained in the hands of a few cronies who amassed wealth for themselves à la Mobutu. A new millionaire class emerged overnight as Congo sank deeper into misery. In 1998, after Kabila fell out of grace with his backers in Uganda and Rwanda, these two countries invaded Congo in an attempt to overthrow him. A multinational war followed, with Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia intervening on Kabila’s side. Unable to unseat Kabila, Rwanda and Uganda chose to support a second rebellion in eastern Congo.
In 2001, following Laurent-Désiré’s assassination, his son Joseph assumed the presidency. The city did not recover from the suffering. Neither did the country.
The conflict partitioned the country. Supported by Uganda, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo ruled over northern Congo, from east to west. Rwanda-backed RCD militiamen controlled eastern Congo for five years until a series of peace accords brought a transitional government in Kinshasa, which included leaders of various warring factions.
Rwandan occupation years also coincided with the coltan boom years. In fact, while neither Rwanda nor Uganda have gold, diamond or coltan deposits of significance, both countries have become important exporters of these minerals. A 2003 United Nations Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources accused both countries of prolonging the civil war so that they could illegally siphon off Congo's wealth with the help of Western corporations.
This second rebellion, which has claimed over 4.4 million lives, has made Congo’s conflict the deadliest in the world since World War II. Mineral exploitation was one of the driving forces behind the war and the proliferation of militias; some of these militiamen still operate in the region and control mining areas.
When I inquire of the people how to get to a coltan mine, I receive different versions of the same response. “It’s too dangerous out there,” they say. “There is too much insecurity. We advise you, ‘don’t go to the mines’.” For several days, I tried to arrange a trip to the mines and found nobody to take me.
My search eventually takes me to the city’s Ibanda neighborhood, to the backyard of a two-story house that someone converted into offices. Olive Depot is one of the largest coltan companies in town, but to my surprise, it is unimpressive.
Considering the publicity coltan has received recently in Western media, I expected a large processing center – an imposing edifice with complex machines and engineers barking orders to their foremen. Instead, I found the most rudimentary of processing systems, two dozen men working with their hands and playing with dirt like children. No one barked orders. They worked in silence, interrupted only by the sound of their own movements.
My attention turns to several men squatting down and playing with dirt – black dirt – in a medium-sized hangar. “That is coltan,” says my guide Alexis Mushaka, a metallurgical engineer.
“Are you joking?” I ask. That dirt in front of me could not be the highly-prized coltan, the bloody ore that fueled the conflict and the subject of several UN investigations. “No, I am serious,” Mushaka responds as he motions me to follow him to the hangar.
The men give us a quick look and return to their business. They are covered in dust, coltan. A couple of them sift through a large bowl of dirt and blow on the dust, which falls on their faces. It looks terrible. Most of them do not wear any mask. Neither do they wear any uniform. They also do not wear shoes, perhaps by choice. I do not ask. They work in silence and quietly listen to Mushaka explain the process to me.
“First, the négociant brings the coltan from the mine,” he says and points to a white sack of dark brown dirt on the floor. “He sells it here and then these fellows start the separation process.”
The process means the men in the hangar have to separate all impurities from the product itself. “Deep in that dirt is coltan or its sister products of cassiterite and wolframite,” Mushaka continues, “and they will have to find it.” The end product looks like crushed gravel.
He beckons me to the other side of the hangar where a man dressed in a tank top and shorts sits on the floor, working with two small piles of black dirt. “Look, he is holding a magnet in his hand,” Mushaka says. “He is separating iron from the rest. The bag of cassiterite comes with all kinds of other minerals. They need to get all of them out.”
When I ask the men what type of work contract they have, I learn that most of them have no contract. Every morning a large group of laborers lines up outside the compound’s gate and ask for work. Few are chosen and the rest are sent home. They make less than US$1 a day.
“If we did not have this job, we will have no work,” says one of them when I ask why they accept to work in these conditions.
The négociant’s situation is not much different. As the middleman, he is very much at the mercy of the depot. “They wait until their merchandise is processed before they are paid,” Mushaka explains when I ask how a négociant sells his load. “The tonnage they bring does not equate their pay. It shrinks quite a bit after the impurities are sorted out.”
The négociant who arrives while I visit the depot says most of the time he is in the red. When asked why he still deals coltan considering his losses, his response reflects what the average Congolese worker in any profession says. “If I did not do this, then what else?” he retorts. He makes US$1.59 per pound.
On the international market, coltan costs between US$8 and US$18 per pound. If anyone still makes any money with coltan, it’s the processing depot and the other dealers on the international market. The final product is exported via Kigali in Rwanda to the ports of Mombassa and Dar-es-Salaam where it is shipped overseas.
The coltan business underscores the failure of the State. Beyond a new mining code adopted by the transitional government, which imposes a high tax rate on businesses and investors, the government has not undertaken any serious initiative to formalize the coltan industry, as is the case with other resources such as copper, cobalt and zinc.
“There is an issue with taxes these days,” says Nzojusa Belembo, director at Olive. “During the RCD rebellion, there was an exportation monopoly through a local company called SOMINGL. Companies paid a fixed tax, regardless of the product price fluctuation. Everyone benefited.”
After a pause, Belembo continues. “It is simple. We have porous borders,” he says. “You can cross the river to Rwanda with coltan in your pocket. They offer better prices there. Our legislation encourages fraud.”
The visit at the Olive Depot did not prepare me for what I saw at the mines. Dug on the steep flank of a high mountain, Mushangi mines are located about 90 kilometers west of Bukavu. Driving as fast as we could on an arduous road, the trip took two hours.
The mines are 15 kilometers from the Nzibira area where several militias have operated, including the Interahamwe and the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda. The FARDC also has a post in the vicinity, which is not encouraging either. Insecurity required that we brought armed guards with us.
At Mushangi, a treacherous path leads to the mines where we find only a handful of adults. The mines are exploited by children of all ages, working in precarious conditions.
From sunrise to sunset, they toil in open pits with the most primitive tools and no protection from falling rocks and mudslides. They crawl through dark tunnels with no structural support.
In my travel across Congo, I have seen a great deal of suffering. Watching children crawl through those pits and tunnels tested my resolve. Ten-year old Bashizi tells me, “I do this hard work because my father is too old to support me.” He has been doing it for several months. “That is the only thing there is to do around here,” he says.
The children swarm around us, seeking attention and asking to be photographed. I snap several pictures as I speak with them and hear their stories. Through my lens, I see lost childhoods and broken dreams. Images from my own youth in a different Congo flash before my eyes when I push the button.
We ask 16-year old Baruti and his friends whether they understand where their coltan goes from Mushangi. “It goes to Bukavu,” they say. “Do you know coltan is highly prized in America and Europe? It is needed for computers, mobile phones and video games,” I follow. “No,” Baruti replies. Their world revolves around the open-pits where they spend seven days a week and make less than 20 cents a day.
One last question before we leave for Bukavu. It is three in the afternoon, and that is late to be out here. “Do you understand that the exploitation of coltan fuels the conflict in Congo?” I inquire. Baruti looks at me straight in the eye and answers, “If we knew that, we would no longer work here.”
* Mvemba Phezo Dizolele is an independent journalist and writer who traveled across Congo in the summer 2006 on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Long road to peace in Darfur
At the beginning of August the AU and UN special envoys for the Darfur peace process, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson, will convene a meeting of Darfur rebel leaders in Arusha. The meeting is one of the components of the Joint AU-UN Roadmap for the Darfur Political Process, which aims to revive negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebels. Is the Roadmap more likely to bear fruit than the Abuja talks that preceded it? Have any lessons been learnt or might the same mistakes be made?
In 2006 the AU-led peace talks in Abuja culminated in the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) that was signed by the government and one of the rebel groups but rejected by the other groups. The agreement was divisive and unpopular in Darfur, exacerbating a protracted conflict that has left over two hundred thousand people dead and roughly two million displaced.
The glaring problem with the Roadmap is its unrealistic timeframe: in May and June there will be consultations with the Sudanese parties and Darfurian civil society, the development of a negotiation strategy and efforts to unify the divided rebel movements; June and July will be devoted to finalising the consultations and preparations for negotiations; and the final phase in August will entail a “brief and intensive negotiation session”.
This four-month timeframe has already slipped because it is completely out of sync with the dynamics of the conflict. Many formidable hurdles have to be overcome before substantive negotiations can begin, let alone be concluded with a settlement that enjoys popular support in Darfur.
For example, there is no consensus among the Sudanese government and the rebels on the agenda for negotiations and on who should participate in the talks. Nor is there consensus on whether the DPA should be revised in part, renegotiated entirely or thrown out the window. There is little common ground on the causes of the rebellion and the most appropriate remedies, and the parties’ mutual hatred and mistrust make the search for common ground a tortuous endeavour.
Complicating matters further, the rebels are even more fragmented than they were in 2006. The Abuja talks were wracked by antagonism between the three participating rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement. Today there are at least twelve groups, many of which claim to represent the same constituencies and few of which have proven support in Darfur. The leader with the most support, Abdul Wahid al Nur, is an erratic and indecisive negotiator. Regrettably, he has refused to attend the forthcoming AU-UN meeting in Arusha.
The violence in western Sudan poses another serious impediment. The Roadmap correctly highlights the need to consult Darfurian civil society, tribal leaders, internally displaced people, refugees and women’s groups, but this will be extremely difficult in conditions of chronic insecurity.
To add to the envoys’ woes, the AU and UN are not viewed favourably by all the parties to the conflict. The government in Khartoum is hostile to the UN while some of the rebel groups resent the AU because of its association with the DPA and because its peacekeeping force has failed to protect civilians in Darfur.
The AU and UN are painfully aware of all these obstacles. The logic of their tight timeframe is that it conveys the seriousness of the international community and the need for the Sudanese parties to move rapidly to a negotiated settlement. Given the dire situation in Darfur, the message is one of impatience and urgency.
The logic is appealing but the Abuja talks showed that it is ill-conceived and counter-productive. These talks were characterised by a steady stream of unrealistic deadlines emanating from the AU, the UN and foreign donors. Intended to put pressure on Khartoum and the rebels, the deadlines were ignored by them and succeeded only in pressurising the mediators who were obliged to heed the stipulations of their funders and masters.
This had several negative effects. First, the ever looming short-term deadlines inhibited a programmatic effort by the mediators to build momentum gradually over time and led instead to an ad hoc approach that proceeded in fits and starts. The deadline diplomacy was too simplistic to constitute a viable strategy and too rigid to allow the mediators to develop a smart strategy.
Second, the tight deadlines made it impossible for the mediators and negotiators to communicate with the people of Darfur and with important groups that were not represented at the talks. Darfurian civil society had no opportunity to shape the draft DPA and could not conceivably have acquired a sense of ownership of it.
Third, the haste induced by the deadlines precluded effective mediation. A mediator’s job is to help adversaries overcome their enmity, build their confidence in negotiations and facilitate dialogue, bargaining and collaborative problem-solving. The deadline diplomacy caused the AU mediators to neglect these tasks in favour of writing an accord that sought to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable positions of the parties. The result was that the DPA was owned by the mediators and not the parties.
In all civil wars the humanitarian need for a quick accord is indisputable. But there is never a quick fix. These conflicts have multiple, complex and intractable causes, and the difficulty of resolution is heightened immeasurably by the protagonists’ mutual hatred and suspicion. There is no point in rushing negotiations and forcing the parties to sign an agreement to which they are not committed. As happened in Abuja, they will simply leave the signing ceremony and continue fighting.
Sustainable peace requires a negotiated settlement that sufficiently meets the interests and needs of parties and citizens, sufficiently addresses the causes of the conflict, and rests on the parties’ willingness to implement agreements in a co-operative fashion. This will not be obtained through a “brief and intensive negotiation session”. A rushed process will only reproduce the errors of Abuja.
This is not to say that the international community and special envoys should stand by idly while people are being slaughtered in Darfur. If a conflict is not ripe for resolution, then the challenge is precisely to find ways to ripen it. In addition, it is absolutely imperative that African countries and foreign powers boost the AU peacekeeping force in Darfur until UN military support finally arrives.
The special envoys should not be driven by spurious deadlines, which are meant to signal seriousness but convey the opposite when they are missed and then reset without any repercussions. Instead, the envoys should be guided by a comprehensive mediation plan that reflects the realities of the conflict. They should be based in Sudan and should engage constantly in dialogue with the government and the rebels. These discussions can themselves be a useful form of indirect negotiations, preferable to big conferences where the delegates lambaste their opponents and make pious speeches about peace.
For peacemakers working on intractable conflicts, the greatest challenge is persistence and the greatest bravery, as Eliasson himself put it many years ago, is patience.
* Laurie Nathan, research fellow at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town, was a member of the AU mediation team for Darfur in 2006. An earlier version of this article appeared in The Sunday Times (South Africa) on 8 July.
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
No longer my way or the highway
Building reconciliation through traditional mediation
Politics in Ethiopia, region and in Africa has been, for the most part, destructive since the post-war period, writes Mammo Muchie. There is a need to find an alternative system, where conflict is managed through debate and conversation, rather than by lethal or non-lethal fighting.
‘Since anyone who criticises the entire systems of others has a duty to replace them with an alternative of his own, containing principles that provide a more felicitous support for the totality of effects to be explained, we shall extend our meditation further in order to fulfil this duty.’ – G. Vico, La Scienza Nuova in 1725, quoted in Reinert, E., 2007, How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor, London: Constable and Robinson.
The success of traditional mediation emerges from rules of engagement that are not predicated on conceptual frameworks of punishment or reward, winning or losing, right or wrong, justice or injustice. Mediation must not free one party and censure the other, make one the ‘hero’ and the other the ‘saint’.
The main concept of traditional mediation is to bring the parties from a state of conflict into normal communication. It asks them to refrain from pursuing grievances through threats, legal action, courts, violence and imprisonments. It brings opposing parties to negotiate, accept the principle of dialogue and find workable settlements.
In some cases, mediation can be so successful that enemies turn into partners. But mostly it is a case of ‘antem tew, antem tew’, meaning ‘stop pushing your maximum demand on the case and settle for the average or the golden mean’.
In a country such as Ethiopia, where litigation is plentiful, poverty and deprivation encourage conflict, and there are insufficient judges and courts, nearly 90 per cent of disputes fall into the domain of traditional mediation. The creation of justice requires more than formal courts. The context of Ethiopia requires that traditional mediation remains critical to redress justice and conflict resolution.
There is thus a lot to be gained from our tried and tested methods of traditional mediation and to develop it by providing the resources to reach and expand the justice sphere in our society. In fact, this alternative method may be the most appropriate mechanism for dealing with the intractable difficulties that our country, region and continent have been suffering from the times of the colonial encounter.
Let us be bold enough to suggest traditional mediation as an alternative to war, violence, endless court wrangling, imitated legal ideas and discourses from Euro-American jurisprudence that may not work in the difficult contexts of our largely peasant societies and peoples.
Perhaps intractable problems that have defied solution, such as the chaos in Somalia, could be resolved, not by mounting an invasion to support despicable warlords, but by supporting traditional mediation amongst peoples.
The problems between Eritrea and Ethiopia cannot go on with each side using refugees as political opposition; but by engaging in mediation, including on the vital issue of why such an unjust settlement was reached in 1991 that denied Ethiopia its historic right of access to the sea.
Settling major political disputes through mediation The submission of the recently detained Ethiopian prisoners of conscience and the government to a traditional mediation process sends a positive signal: left to ourselves, we Ethiopians are capable of dealing with any problem, however intractable, by using local imagination, local arbitration tools and local ideas of fair-dealing and fair play. This is a generous way of reading the outcome.
Beyond the politics and propaganda of the government, the settlement between the prisoners and the government crystallised something new and original in the culture. Regardless of how the regime wishes to capitalise on the release of the prisoners, who were threatened by its courts with the death penalty and life sentences, we ask: does its action betray that it may have broken from fast-held and worn-out politics of ‘my way or the highway’?
The only way we can admit proof that the Meles [Zenawi] government is prepared to see traditional mediation as an alternative model of conflict resolution is if – and only if – they commit themselves beyond the contested episode of the prisoners of conscience. The government will only demonstrate acceptance of traditional mediation when it has conceptualised and committed itself to choosing traditional mediation as an alternative and critical method for broad and comprehensive national reconciliation and the resolution of all major conflicts. If they are not prepared to use traditional mediation with the other problems in the country and region, it is fair to conclude they have no commitment to the approach.
While it is an encouraging that the government might consider traditional mediation as an alternative to perpetual conflict, it is not easy to ascertain whether it is converted to this model for reasons of conviction or tactics. From the way it behaved before and after the release of the prisoners of conscience, the regime seems eager to capitalise on the fact that it had to play politics, using the carrot of pardon, after wilfully administering the stick of court punishment.
The prisoners of conscience never recognised the court or the charges against them. Thus entering into traditional mediation, of which some had openly advocated the value for a long time, has been natural to them.
As the government insisted all along that the case against the prisoners of conscience was a ’crime’ that only the courts can settle, its submission to traditional mediation is a real climb-down from such a public position. The government stuck to ’the political is the legal and criminal position’. But eventually it gave in to mediation. By its action, if not by its words, it bolstered the traditional mediation system of conflict resolution; in fact doing exactly the opposite of what the government seemed to want to achieve through the courts.
The acceptance in principle of a mediated model of conflict resolution represents a new flexibility, uncharacteristic of this regime for the last 16 years. We must recognise and encourage such flexibility, even from this regime.
Solving such major national conflicts through traditional mediation is a new phenomenon, regardless of the motivation and subsequent barrage of propaganda. For a regime stuck in a dogmatic time warp of the mindless position of the politics of ‘my way or the highway’, its latest stance must be acknowledged as new.
Judging by the pardon politics, by claiming it was giving total ‘pardon’ to those who confessed, after they admitted guilt by signing, it is hard to think that this regime has accepted the principle of traditional mediation. That it had to resort to such gimmick is deplorable.
Its stance does not however eclipse the significance and importance of the emergence of traditional mediation as a new domain. Traditional mediation has been ignored by elites, too often seduced by the trappings of Western legal notions that very often have not helped create sustainable resolutions to our intractable troubles. The fact that traditional mediation is being seen to produce results is significant for efforts to resolve complicated conflicts in Ethiopia, the region and Africa.
The partner group, headed by the Canadian ambassador, appears also to have facilitated traditional mediation efforts. If indeed traditional mediation is supported and resourced by citizens, opposition, government and partners, our country may move faster from pervasive conflict to secure development.
Broadening the domain for traditional mediation Now that the prisoners of conscience are released, and traditional mediation has played a significant role in the process, the prisoners, the mediators, and all who submitted to the process, including Ethiopia’s current government and the partner groups, especially Canada, deserve our acknowledgment.
But we must not stop at the first success, and must follow this with a further demand: to create a new alternative method for all the conflicts in our country, region and continent. The only way we can truly appreciate the significance of changing the method of conflict resolution to traditional mediation is when mediation is applied to all domains of intractable conflict based on a sustainable and consequential strategy.
The positive energy and spirit for the millennium requires that all the political prisoners detained from May 1991 be released. And everything must be done to open the opportunity for those who suffered to forgive those who disrupted their lives and killed their loved ones. If families refuse to forgive, it is understandable But government, political parties in opposition and traditional mediators must do all they can to encourage the concept that those who killed others may not handle being forgiven by those they hurt.
Launch the era of productive politics
Politics in our country, region and in Africa has been, for the most part, destructive since the post-war period. A number of productive moments have existed, but have not been sustainable. There is a need to find an alternative system, where conflict is managed through debate and conversation, rather than by lethal or non-lethal fighting. Fair dealing, fair play and the attenuation of grievance thresholds must be clear objectives to create a context where people feel secure to carry on normal lives. The fact that the regime, which has been so adamant in refusing any form of dealing with political opponents, conceded and accepted a mediation process is a break with the last 30 years. The question is whether this new engagement in mediation can be generalised to provide a framework for a national and regional reconciliation strategy from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.
We should encourage this traditional model as a realistic alternative of creating a radically new political environment, no matter how intractable and difficult a conflict may be. Only then will it be possible for destructive politics to lead into a new era of productive politics. Traditional mediation empowers and accords agency to local stakeholders. It bolsters national self-confidence and creates learning and local competence. It is hugely beneficial in many respects. It requires our total commitment.
A fresh and empowering start We would like to see a generalised and comprehensive application of traditional mediation, and full political support for it inside and outside the country. We would like a full amnesty and the release of all political prisoners arrested since 1991, with the sole proviso that those who enjoy generalised amnesty must commit to carrying out politics without resorting to violence, and by agreeing to engage in debate and a political culture of reason and argument. Perhaps this will not be so difficult, provided the prisoners are fully informed, and their prior understanding is secured.
The acceptance and extension of traditional mediation as an alternative or integral part of comprehensive reconciliation from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean may be the most significant achievement of the millennium. All armed and non-armed political forces would voluntarily accept rules that silence the gun, and put forward programmes and arguments peacefully, getting the people to vote freely and choose the party they support.
We would like traditional mediation to be extended between the Ethiopian government and all its opponents from Eritrea to Oromia, Somalia. Inside the country, we would like to see all the multi-national and self-determined armed and non-armed parties enter into traditional mediation to create a favourable environment of tolerance, free debate and competition where only those voted for by the people can come to power.
What is needed is the courage to stop fearing the loss of comfort of the current position. There is no comfort in continuing destructive conflict. There is everything to gain by creating a peaceful environment. Conflict is productive only when it is pursued within legitimate rules that all have agreed to promote peaceful and civilised competition. Let us hope the coming millennium catapults the nation, the Horn of Africa and indeed wider Africa to climb the great wall of peace, stability, security and prosperity for the next 1000 years.
* Mammo Muchie is chair of the Scandinavian Chapter of the Network of Ethiopian Scholar. He writes on their behalf. He is a professor at the Center for Comparative Integration Studies, Department of History, International and Social Studies (CCIS) (http://www.ccis.aau.dk/) and director of the Research Center on Development and International Relations (DIR) (http://www.ihis.aau.dk/development/), both at the Aalborg University, Denmark.
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
If Government was a restaurant
Once upon a time there was a country which had only one restaurant. All the people in that country had to eat in that restaurant, so thousands went there every day.
But the service was a bit of a problem. People who were hungry had to wait for hours, and in some cases even days. There did not seem to be an order to things. Some people who arrived late got service quicker, a few others got particularly big plates of food, but most suffered more or less silently.
They did not dare to ask questions of the waiters or managers. Experience showed that it did not help. Those who had asked in the past had been told ‘be patient’, ‘don’t you see I am busy’, ‘come back tomorrow’ or ‘we have lost your order’. Others were told ‘come back tomorrow’ or ‘who are you anyway?’ The customers paid ‘a little something’ to expedite the order, or waited, take your pick.
When the food did arrive, often it wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very balanced or healthy, at times it wasn’t clean, and usually it wasn’t enough—especially in the second half of the month because the restaurant had ‘run out of supplies’. You had to pay anyway, though some waiters charged a little less if you agreed not to demand a receipt, right underneath posters exclaiming ‘this is a corruption free zone’.
One day the restaurant owner passed by, and became quite alarmed. He called a meeting of all the managers and told them things had to change. The managers were to remember that ‘customers were king and queen’. Service had to improve, and there was to be more accountability. New rules were issued, including a code of ethics for managers, a manual for waiters. There was even a ‘client service charter’, that explained the restaurant values and its obligations to customers, though most of the customers never got to see it.
Afterwards, there was some difference. Several managers worked really hard to make their part better organized than before. Some of the waiters were more alert and kind to customers, though they could do little about delays in the kitchen or the mosquitoes. But for many others it was business as usual. Another problem was that a lot of the managers and a few waiters always seemed to be away for capacity building seminars. They would come back with lots of files and papers on improving restaurant services, but kept the little brown envelopes for themselves.
The funny thing was that it did not seem to matter if you treated the customers well or did your job right. The incompetent and uncaring staff always got their salaries, and were not held accountable. The hard working ones got the same as the rest, and no special recognition. If anything, the other staff ridiculed them, saying ‘you think you are better than us’, ‘you think you are smarter’, etc… and so after a while even they stopped taking initiative, asking questions or going out of their way to make the restaurant work better.
The newspapers kept reporting about the continued problems at the restaurant, so everyone was aware. This time a team of expert consultants was hired, with funding from donors. They interviewed a lot of the customers and managers and wrote large reports. A strategy was developed with a Swahili name to show it was locally owned – MKUKUHUMGA (Mkakati wa Kuboresha Uwajibikaji na Huduma za Mgahawa) More capacity building seminars were done. Managers went abroad on exchange visits. Codes of ethics, manuals and client service charters were all updated.
But life for most of the restaurant customers did not improve. The food was mostly poor and the service bad. And despite all the tough talk about accountability, the rules were rarely enforced. The reality was that it did not matter whether the managers or waiters did their job or not. There appeared to be no consequences; at most a few of the really bad ones were transferred.
All this puzzled the frogs, who lived at the edge of the restaurant, immensely. “Instead of all the rules, guidelines and seminars”, observed one frog, “why don’t they just get their incentives right – reward those who do well and sanction those who don’t?” “Moreover,” quipped another frog, “and why not give power to the customers to hold the staff accountable?”
* Rakesh Rajani is the executive director at HakiElimu (http://www.hakielimu.org/)
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
African eyes and virtual segregation in America
Betty Wamalwa Muragori
Betty Maragori reports on her experiences of visiting the US. The big thing that she experienced for the first time in the US was hard wired virtual segregation. There were no signs designating white and black zones, but the reality of segregation was visible to an untainted African eye.
I went to study in the USA in the 1980s in the time of what was to me the inexplicable presidency of Ronald Reagan. It was an enigmatic presidency for me for two reasons. First, at my university and amongst the mostly left leaning circle that I was to hang out with it, I never found anybody who had voted for him. The second reason was that for me Reagan was clearly challenged on the intellectual front. I could not believe that a nation with all that maendeleo or development, we in Africa so covet, would tolerate some folksy guy who could have come from a darker and more ignorant century. Certainly the cool left leaning students at C University had no time for Reagan.
In my two years in the US the only person I found who would publicly admit to voting for Reagan was a 65 year old black man, in Albany, Georgia, the father-in-law of my cousin. Pops, as he was called by his children, in that quintessential African American manner would routinely proclaim his love for President Reagan, loudly to people, in the presence of his children. Pops broke two rules I had come to accept about voting patterns in America, first that black people were not members of the republican party and second that they always voted for the Democratic party. To this day I am still left with the question, “So how did President Ronald Reagan win with such landside victories twice, if only one black man in the South voted for him”?
America’s Presidents and War
Eight months into America, I had imbibed the paranoid conspiracy theories of my Marxist circle and lost my African ease. Late one night I turned on the television to find the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan ranting and raving in the most alarming manner about the “evil empire”. He was referring to the former Soviet Union, America’s then mortal enemy country of cold war days. And you thought “Axis of evil” was original? Do you see a pattern here? This is clearly the language of America’s dumb dumb presidents.
Twenty years later as I watched the elections that brought another dumb, dumb unfathomable US president into power, George Bush Jr., I realized that my vantage point with its emphasis on linear “development” or maedeleo had warped my thinking. Until that instant, I had thought development also brings highly enlightened people who would not lie about the presence of weapons of mass destruction to bring pain and destruction to innocent women and children many miles away in another country. For what, for oil, (I can’t believe that), to get revenge for daddy, (that’s too weird) to get their way (what way, the American way in Baghdad?) To be right about a perspective? (Probably the only right answer outrageous as it may seem).
For us in this part of the world, things like technological advancement, elimination of hunger, industrial development, foreign vacations, microwaves, one doctor per 100 people, four lane highways, per capita income of US$ 30,000, a new car every two years, pensions, social security, (pick your top ten) all of which come with development also lead to progress, to maendeleo. And ultimately to enlightment, the cherry on top of the development cake. We think, surely in America or Europe there must be such enlightenment that people, ordinary people everywhere must have become immune from the dictates of the baser human urgings like fear, malice, jealousy, racism, intolerance, corruption, violence, the need to declare war for dubious reasons, religious fanaticism, (again pick your top ten).
I now realize of course that human beings may have made huge technological advances such that they can send men to the moon or invent the internet and they will still rely on some form of magic, juju or alchemy for managing their lives. The advances have not created certainty. In fact they create even more uncertainty and the threat of a backlash which can take people deeper into the bosom of their juju side.
Impressions of the American South
I went to visit my cousin’s in-laws in the American south in Albany, Georgia for a week and discovered I could not hear so I took to endless grinning and nodding my head. I left those people thinking I was simple in the head. But I couldn’t understand them and I soon got tired of asking them to repeat themselves so I withdrew into an African grin of protection and lost my reputation in the process. They speak English in the south so it wasn’t the language and there was still a language barrier. The long dragged words that go on seemingly forever lost my short attention span. I found that my mind had wondered before the end so I never heard the finish. Caaaahhhn aaaaah speeeek to Eyyyyd Coooook is what I thought I overheard a woman in a bank asking. It was shocking to hear, like somebody caricaturing an American. I tried not to laugh and asked my cousin-in-law what the woman was saying. And she translated, “Can I speak to Ed Cook?”
Virtual Segregation in the American South
The other big thing that I experienced for the first time in the US was hard wired virtual segregation. There were no signs designating white and black zones any where in Albany, Georgia that I saw. Indeed on the surface all seemed well in race terms. But even my Republican cousin’s father-in-law made sure he hid his de-segregated business to keep up appearances. He was in business with a white person because it was a good business cover that allowed him to get white business. The trick was he had to keep his partnership hidden so that he could get and keep that lucrative white business. He passed himself off as a worker in the business. I know the logic is challenging.
The two groups occupied the same physical spaces, they ate at the same restaurants, entered all buildings and transport from the same entrance, sat anywhere on buses. And yet my stranger’s eyes quickly saw through this façade and identified the fault lines of virtual segregation. The new apartheid still did not allow the twain to commune freely even as they congregated. As soon as I stepped into those spaces I could feel the barriers. There was a sense of forced togetherness. If the gap between the two races could speak it would say, “OK we have to share this same physical space but we are not giving up our right to be separate. They can take away our right to segregation but they can’t take segregation out of our hearts.” It was in what was missing in the interaction between black and white. There was no ease, peacefulness, insignificance, silence, freedom, love.
What existed in that gap was tension, a hateful watchfulness and worst of all an embryonic violence that was always ready to grow into fully-fledged adulthood. You could feel it. This violence ebbed and flowed and hung around like a dark threat. When I was amongst black people everyone was relaxed. They are a very laid back people, but in the presence of a group of white people in the segregated spaces there was an all round tensing alertness, an expectation of something unpleasant.
Black and white people occupied those common public spaces differently too. White people seemed to strut and begrudge black people’s presence. It was white people who still seemed to be the bona-fide owners of the space. Black people were the interlopers, but they had no choice, they had to occupy the spaces, otherwise they risked recreating segregation by their absence. But the sense of threat in those spaces implied that Black people occupied those spaces under peril. Desegregation had been about pulling down the limits placed on the existence of black people. It was not white people who were fighting to sit in the seats reserved for black people on buses or to use the black only entrances. Desegregation demands that white people cede space and privileges that define their superior place in society.
Race in the North
My experience of race in the American north was not one of absence rather the north was racially clandestine, a state I much preferred. It gave me freedom to spend many more hours in a day being just another human being. The colour of my skin was not a constant conscious presence foisted on me by open racial hostility. Thank you but I am not black, I really am just a person. I am an African living in Africa so although I have many identifies being black is not my premier identity. That is the advantage of growing up black in Africa.
When I brought this to the attention of my southern black relatives-in-law they made that claim that always bemuses me. “I like the south they said, the boundaries are clear people here are not hypocrites like in the north. I know where I stand here with them.”
“I know where I stand?” What the hell is that? What I understand from that telling statement is an admission on the part of black people that it’s OK for there to be limits on a black person’s existence. I never heard a white person say things like that, only black people. For a person simply because of the hue of their skin to know where he or she could go and what he or she could expect from their world? In other words there was a limit of possibility which means that there was no possibility at all. And it was fine for white people to have veto powers over the dreams, scope of existence of black people. You can dream so much and no more. You can aspire so far and no further, these are the limits on your movement. And black people accepted this proscribed world and were happy that they knew their place in this controlled world. That world was a banned dream which they passed onto their children and this was done with the active connivance of black people. To know my place?
I understand how dangerous the world in which black people live in the south. I imbibed a small part of that fear many thousands of miles away from movies and media reports of the Ku Klux Klan. So much so that I arrived in America terrified. For four days I refused to leave my sister’s apartment because I was sure the Ku Klux Klan were going to gun me down. Living with that dreadful history can skew any one and the wonder is that black people have lived to step out of the shadow of such terrors and nightmares. The journey has had its negative impact that sometimes their ability to see beyond the boundaries of their terror has been compromised. A person exposed to these negatives on a daily basis for most of their life will loose their perspective. Such an environment can beat down the most-thick skinned, sanguine, optimist man and woman and create an oversensitive “defensive human” who can no longer see the forest for the trees and perceives racism under every bush. Such an environment can leave people severely embattled and debilitated. Centuries of actual and virtual lynching that black people are subjected to in the USA will do that.
This is where Africans can lend their sight when the dreams have been extinguished. We have the same racial reality because our existence in the world gives us the same reference points. Yet we live in our own homes largely amongst our own people. We are not vested in only a racial reality. Our human reality predominates. We can fly above “black person negatives” and separate fact from damaging fiction.
* Betty Wamalwa Muragori is especially interested in how Africans are constructing new identities as they redefine their place in the world. She believes in the power of words. She has a BSc degree from the University of Nairobi and MA in Environment from Clark University in Worcester Mass. USA. Currently Betty works for an international conservation organization in Nairobi, Kenya
* Please send comments to email@example.com or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Farewell to political activism: response
Mukoma wa Ngugi's article (http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/42869) article is still resonating inside me, but I did not know what to say at the time. But on this anniversary of Hiroshima (August 6th 1945), it hit me again.
Significant anniversaries come upon us now and again like flood waters and we are caught speechless, and then, the very thing you point out happens: "Oh well, next time we shall speak up", thus losing the opportunity to wake up, stand up, resist with all one's might against apathy, lethargy, accommodation to a growing cancerous mindset.
With regard to Hiroshima/Nagasaki, my sense is that the master narrative still dominates and threatens us with severe and collective punishment if we were to call it, as it should be, i.e. the modernization of Auschwitz, itself the modernization of previous unspeakable crimes against Africans and Native Americans which continue unaccountable. If we are going to repair, as in healing, the human conscience, then one should work at making it ultra sensitive to any form, intention of maiming, diminishing life in any of its manifestations. Gaia is a living organism. The level at which it has been violated is still misunderstood and/or denied through the use of propaganda which is no longer perceived as such. On this anniversary, is it possible for people to stop any business as usual? Is it possible to insert in our lives, consciously, a moratorium, a sort of time out away from the modernized enslaving system called globalization. Time out to treat our nuked selves, time out to take time to heal and rebuild, really, a conscience worth calling a conscience. Time out to reconnect with the collective conscience of those who, like the Native Americans, like Corbin Harney, who warned against the idea of messing up with the yellow cake (uranium), long before the physicists decided that splitting the atom was not an act against nature.
You asked at one point why do we have to keep laundering our history as though it was for sale to the richest bidder. From your article I get that you are wondering how and why our collective mindset, consciousness have been brought to the point where we would rather be activists than revolutionaries, to the point where Mandela sees nothing wrong in creating a Rhodes-Mandela Trust so as (my words) "to capitalize on both sides of the old and new capitalist", not that your words are less cutting, as if it is ok for Elie Wiesel to join hands with Himmler to create a Trust Fund. Some people will not forgive you for thinking such thoughts.
Yet, we are living in the kinds of times which do call for thinking unthinkable thoughts because the unthinkable, the "never again" have been said and trespassed so many times that it seems futile to remember all of the unthinkable things which continue to be committed today.
As we were talking about these things (crimes against humanity) with another person here (just met). He asked me if I were a priest. I laughed because that question reminded me of a certain mindset today in South Africa where such horrendous things are happening that it has become a custom to turn to pastors and the likes (how many?) of Desmond Tutu to provide a believable ethical compass for a humanity which has been so mangled that it can no longer recognize itself, except by way of people like Desmond Tutu, the presumed Global re-conciliator.
Here we are once again remembering Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and all of the things which led to it, industrialized slavery to individualized and industrialized ways of killing as savagely as possible, perpetrated against the Jews, the Palestinians, the Ota Bengas, the street children, the raped babies, women, the Armenians, Chinese in Nanking, the people of Rwanda, DRCongo, pygmies, Namibians, Native Americans, Amazon Indians, Aborigenes in Australia, Inuit, Untouchables, the list is almost endless. If we do not join hands with the current Hibakusha, sooner or later we shall be sorry we did not, whatever the reasons might be, because we are all being led, some knowingly, some not, to a nameless slaughterhouse.
How did we get from Hispaniola to Hiroshima and still doing even more horrendous things than then. We have become so accustomed to them that until we see another mushroom cloud we shall think it is OK. Yet, if one were to look at the Planet today, from the lens of an astro physicist trained, in quantum physics, I would not be surprised if such a physcist were tell us that the Planet is closely resembling a mushroom cloud...if one looked from a virtual telescope on the Moon.
Mukoma, you have expressed the thoughts which have run in the minds of the countless terrorized from way way way back when the roots of the current system were hardly visible. Then, women, children, men were violated, raped in unspeakable ways. Countless screamed. Are we going to need the help of quantum physicists to confirm to us their words? The list of names should be put on a roster as a sort of unfinished, in the making Humanity Holocaust, an art project. A sort of monumental, planetary reminder that the smallest, least victim, most forgotten, must also be the most remembered.
Which kind of humanity has this become when it is considered ok to kill anybody, but especially the most vulnerable people, in the name of making a killing at the bank. Which kind of consciousness are we referring to when more and more philsophers, psychologists, psychiatrists and scientists are trying to study it (consciousness), and understand the material basis of it, while sensing (from which physical sense?) that such an entreprise would be futile.
My problem is.....and, I am afraid, this rambling letter is not helping resolving it: Is it possible to reverse the mindset, the consciousness (or whatever is left of it) which has brought us to the point where one is ready to accept any unacceptable outrage, crime against humanity?
Calls for an end to the harrasment of human rights defenders
Christian Aid is calling for the Angolan government to stop its harassment of human rights defenders.
Angolan government officials have recently accused seven human rights organisations of illegal activities. Two Christian Aid partners, SOS Habitat and the Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy (AJPD), are among those publicly named as lawbreakers.
Christian Aid is deeply concerned by these accusations, and is calling on the European Union to take urgent action to protect these groups so that they can continue their vital work. Our partners are concerned that, without international pressure, they may face legal action to shut down their activities.
On 10 July 2007, the Director of the Angolan government's Technical Unit for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (UTCAH), Mr. Pedro Walipi Kalenga, claimed in a radio broadcast that certain national and international organizations working in Angola were violating the law and mobilising the population to oppose the government.
Mr. Walipi went on to say the organizations were sponsored by opposition political parties, and using human rights claims as a cover for illegal activities. He threatened that the cases would be investigated by the public prosecutor.
The seven organizations accused are Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (AJPD), SOS Habitat and Associação Mãos Livres, Open Society, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Search for Common Ground.
SOS Habitat protects poor people’s housing rights by publicising and opposing illegal evictions. AJPD works to protect prisoners by denouncing prison beatings, police brutality and torture, and also promotes the rights of people living with HIV and other marginalised groups.
This is not the first time that SOS Habitat has been the target of the Angolan government. In May 2006 Prime Minister Fernando Dias Dos Santos publicly accused SOS Habitat of inciting unrest.
‘These organisations have a vital and legitimate role to play in building a fair and democratic society in Angola,’ says Maria do Rosario Advirta, Christian Aid’s programme manager for Angola. ‘These accusations are totally baseless; they are simply intended to intimidate our partners and curb their legitimate activities.’
Christian Aid and seven other international organisations has sent an open letter to Dr. Luís Amado, the President of the Council of the European Union, asking that the EU pressures the Angolan government to retract these accusations, and respect the right of human rights groups to work freely, without government interference.
The signatories to the letter are: Christian Aid, Amnesty International (AI), the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Front Line, Global Witness, the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NiZA) and Oxfam Novib.
To date none of the Angolan organizations accused have been formally notified of any wrongdoing or informed of the legal basis for such accusations.
Old habits die hard: response
Manthan Awardee 2006 for e-Inclusion & Livelihood Creation
Old habits die hard (http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/42865). The only way to get out of the rut Africa or Sudan is into, is by banning currency circulation and making all transactions transparent on the web for all to see, using biometric linked smart cards from birth to death.
Any one possesing any wealth has to declare its source and its value at the time of start of the new system and from then on everything is tracked biometrically through a single smart card for every individual and organization.
No corruption of any kind should be allowed. No ill gotten wealth or plundering or looting of public money.
Things will even out over a period of time.
See http://ll2b.blogspot.com for recent experiments.
Virtuoso Double Bass: Giovanni Bottesini 1821-1889
Leon Bosch (double bass) & Sung Suk Kang (piano)
It was as if my CD player had developed a heart, a passion, a resonant emotion of its own. How, I thought to myself, can an instrument such as the double bass, usually lost as the background in the orchestra, so rarely heard as an instrument in its own right, play with such passion and meaning? And how was it that it has such meaning for me, largely unschooled in Western classical music? I don’t pretend to have even heard of the Italian romantic composer Bottesini, so I can’t say whether it was just the music that touched me. But I also sensed that it was the player, the South African musician Leon Bosch, who was reaching out to me, across years of experience of repression and suffering – that was what made listening to this an extraordinary experience.
‘I have no doubt that the double bass and I were made for each other,’ writes Bosch on the CD sleeve. ‘- we’re completely inseparable and the music we make together brings me unbridled joy! It has always been my mission in life to defend the cause of the underdog and my passion for the double bass, the ‘Cinderella’ of instruments, will never die.
‘Every note I play on the instrument embraces my life experiences, both in Europe and in my South African homeland. I’ve known love and comradeship, but also witnessed the epitome of hatred. I’ve felt both shining optimism and deep despair. I’ve benefited from the pleasures of civilised society, but also seen the destructive impact of poverty and ignorance. I’ve been privileged to stand side by side with people who’ve lost their lives in the defence of their principles.’
As a 15-year-old protestor in Cape Town Bosch was arrested, detained and tortured by the apartheid regime. After a trial at which he was found not-guilty as a result of being defended by Abdullah Omar (subsequently Minister of Justice in the new dispensation), Bosch wanted to study law, but was denied a place at University as a consequence of his political activities. And that made him turn to music, first at the South African College of Music and then the Royal Northern College of Music in the UK.
There is a long tradition of music as a place for protest and politics. We are used to hearing jazz, reggae, hip-hop, and similar forms of music expressing the struggle against oppression. To hear the same through classical music is rare, and even rarer was to hear the soul of the double bass sing of the struggle and of love. This is something to be experienced. Add this one to your collection.
We hope to feature extracts of this music in future Pambazuka News podcasts. Look out for these!
* Virtuoso Double Bass: Giovanni Bottesini 1821-1889 is published by Meridian Records, 2007 (www.meridian-records.co.uk)
* Firoze Manji is editor of Pambazuka News and director of Fahamu
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
Sudan: Darfur - Don't Turn Away
Say ‘Darfur’, and many of us feel we just can’t confront the prolific slaughter and rape that is taking place there, in the African nation of Sudan. Yet those who don’t turn away will see an extreme example of how many of the world’s governments deal with those seeking independence. On the ground, there’s an arrogant government stripping the natural resources from the area without giving the region and its people opportunities to develop. Together with New Internationalist co-editor Jess Worth – who’s just finished editing a magazine about Darfur – this program travels to Egypt, Uganda, and China in search of some solutions:
AU Ministers Discuss Education
Education in Africa will come under the spotlight as education ministers from African Union countries meet for a five-day conference this week in Johannesburg South Africa.
AU Security Commissioner in Bujumbura
The Peace and Security Commissioner of the African Union (AU), Saïd Djinit, arrived in Bujumbura Monday afternoon on a three-day working visit, aimed at gathering information on the current political and security situation in the country, a diplomatic source said here.
Call for Borderless Communities
Costly delays at border posts, caused largely by a shortage of experienced staff and the manual clearance of goods, have resulted in SA’s rail utility, Transnet Freight Rail, formerly Spoornet, calling for the introduction of “borderless communities” or the creation of a single inspections standard for freight trains.
Climate Change Action Africa
African environmental experts meet in South Africa in August to strategise on a continental position to incorporate climate change adaptation programmes in national development policies.
Diasporans Demand Full Citizenship
The government should expedite the process of dual citizenship for members of the Diaspora, former Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey said Wednesday after the launch of the Joseph Project.
Doubts AU Government Proposal
Leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces in Guinea (UFDG), Mamadou Bah has expressed grave pessimism about the viability of the African Union government project.
Trade among African countries represent only 7% of the continent’s external trade, said Malian Habib Ouane, Director of the Division of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Special Projects of the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Leaders Failed Test of Unity
The search for African unity is not only an emotional issue, but also a divisive subject.
Preparing to Use the Darfur Road-Map
Mariam Bibi Jooma
The joint African Union-United Nations ‘roadmap’ agreed on 8 June this year is supposed to guide the Darfur political process and the joint operations of these two international bodies in the region. If the current status of the peace process is anything to go by, however, they will find themselves navigating in a sandstorm.
Protocol on Freedom of Expression
A resolution for the adoption of an Additional Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on Freedom of Expression was drafted at the CSO AU Summit conference on Strengthening Freedom of Expression organised in Accra, Ghana 25-26 June 2007. The communique and resolution are available at www.aumonitor.org/comments/317
Refugees Integrated into Nigeria
Some 7,292 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia resident in Nigeria are to be integrated into the country under the terms of a multi-party agreement signed by ECOWAS, UN refugee agency UNHCR and the three countries, an ECOWAS statement said here Tuesday.
Remarks on ECOSOCC Credentials Report
The mammoth task of electing CSOs to the ECOSOCC substantive assembly can not be left to few individuals as heard in the Ghana ‘credentials’ report. In a world where legitimacy, credibility, transparency, ownership and rights-based approaches are increasingly becoming buzz words and have taken center-stage it will be amiss for the African Union ECOSOCC elections to be done in an ‘instant coffee’ and haphazard manner.
SADC Ministers Endorse Gender Protocol
Southern African News Features
Ministers for gender and women’s affairs from southern Africa have endorsed the contents of a Gender Protocol that would make regional decisions on gender equality legally binding for the first time.
Situation in the Comoros
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union, at its 82nd meeting held on 23 July 2007, was briefed by the Commission, supplemented by the representative of South Africa, the country coordinating the regional efforts on the Comoros, on the outcome of the Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Countries of the Region on the Comoros, held in Pretoria, South Africa, on 8 and 9 July 2007, and on the subsequent developments in the Comoros.
Summit Failed Due to Lack of Methodology
Togolese senior minister Edem Kodjo said Sunday the formation of an African unity government during the African Union (AU) summit in Accra, Ghana 1-3 July failed due to lack of a methodology.
Unification to Fulfill Historic Destiny
The Senegalese senior Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, has said immediate unification is “the only way to set Africa once and for all on the right track to fulfil its historic destiny”.
Workshop on Land Policy
Within the context of developing a Land Policy framework in Africa, the consortium of the African Union Commission (AUC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and African Development Bank (ADB), in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), is planning to organise a regional consultative workshop on land policy in the Southern Africa region. Scheduled to take place from August 29th to 31st, 2007, the regional consultative workshop would be hosted by the Government of Namibia in Windhoek, Namibia.
Mauritius: Sex workers unprotected from violence
Though Southern Africa is seeing increasing opportunities and rights for women, protection from gender violence continues to be elusive for those engaged in sex work. Some people even argue that sex workers cannot be victims of rape at all. Moreover, when they are victims of violence or sexual assault, few receive help from police or health services. Many turn to drugs or alcohol.
Southern Africa: SADC Summit to adopt protocol on gender and development
As SADC Heads of State and Government meet for their annual Summit in Lusaka, Zambia in mid-August, one of the expected outcomes is the adoption of the Protocol on Gender and Development. The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development will provide a legal and institutional framework for the region to accelerate implementation of the commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment. A Protocol is the most binding of SADC legal instruments.
Kenya: More women in parliament, hopefully - by way of the constitution
Kenya's parliament will soon debate a constitutional amendment bill to improve female representation in the legislature by creating 50 special seats for women. At present, only some eight percent of parliamentary posts in the East African country are occupied by women. The bill is scheduled for discussion Aug. 14, to be adopted or rejected in its entirety the same day. Over 2,000 women from across Kenya will be present at parliament to lobby legislators to vote for the bill.
Sierra Leone: A women's issue that women are wary of campaigning about
Female genital mutilation (FGM) can make sex painful, complicate childbirth, lead to urinary tract infections, enable the transmission of HIV -- and induce a host of other ills. So, promising to fight this practice should be a winning strategy for someone hoping to be elected to parliament this Saturday in Sierra Leone - where about 90 percent of girls and women undergo FGM, according to rights watchdog Amnesty International.
Global: Political will needed to advance women’s access to safe abortion
This paper by the UN Millennium Project analyses the need to reform abortion laws and policies in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal health, gender equality and poverty reduction. The paper reviews existing international agreements which support access to safe and legal abortion including the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action, and the actions of international bodies, governments and non-governmental organisations in promoting women’s access to safe abortion.
North Africa: Mauritanians outlaw slavery
Mauritanian lawmakers yesterday outlawed slavery in the desert country. With effect, those found promoting slavery or practising the century old culture will face between five and 10 years in prison. The leader of the anti-slavery group, SOS-Esclaves, Boubacar Ould Messaoud, expressed satisfaction about the development, describing it as “a great victory for the democrats and the people of Mauritania."
Sudan: Reports of gross violations of human rights by all sides in Darfur
All parties to the Darfur conflict continue to carry out “gross violations” of human rights, including killings, disappearances, torture and sexual violence, an independent United Nations rights expert has reported after wrapping up her latest visit to Sudan. Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Sudan, called for greater action to protect civilians in violence-wracked Darfur from breaches of international law.
Zimbabwe: Activists still in detention
Repression continues with no end in sight as pro-democrats continue to be arrested and brutalized with impunity, by state security agents. Just this week alone a torture victim from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is missing in Mutare; another victim of police brutality, a student leader, has been seriously injured and is in custody in Bulawayo and more than a dozen members of Women/Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA/MOZA) were arrested when they were playing sport in Masvingo.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe signs spying bill into law
President Robert Mugabe has signed the Interception of Communications Bill into law. The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda announced this in a general notice issued in the Government Gazette of 3 August 2007. The Act will make lawful the interception and monitoring of communications in the course of their transmission through a telecommunications, postal or any other related service or system in Zimbabwe. The Act also provides for the establishment of a monitoring centre.
Zimbabwe: 16 WOZA activists released but two more arrested
More than a dozen activists from the Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise were finally released on Thursday, but they had been badly beaten. They were arrested on Tuesday while playing a game of netball and mixed soccer when state security agents arrested them at Macheke Stadium in Masvingo. The victims spent two cold nights in police cells in their sports uniform. They were released after being forced to pay admission of guilt fines. WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams said all 16 activists were badly beaten.
Zimbabwe: Rights violations are escalating - report
Torture, assault, unlawful detention and other violations of human rights are increasing rapidly in Zimbabwe, according to a new report. The report, by the independent Human Rights Forum, highlighted the government crackdown on the country's political opposition. Monitors said they collected evidence documenting 5 307 human rights violations in the first six months of this year - nearly double the number during the same period a year ago, the report said.
Kenya: Displaced numbers grow as more flee attacks in volatile district
Fresh killings in the Mt Elgon District of Kenya – where a long-standing dispute over land ownership has sparked violent clashes between two communities – have left more people displaced and heightened tensions in the area, aid workers said. Seven more people were killed on 5 August and another three on 7 August in the Kopsiro area of the district, said William Kebeney, a church minister aiding the displaced.
North Africa: Call for appeal: Fear for safety/Excessive use of force
The lives of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who daily try to cross the border from Egypt into Israel, may be in danger, following the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials in the area. This follows the reported death of two men believed to be of Sudanese origin, who were allegedly shot dead by Egyptian security forces as they attempted to cross the border during the night of 1 August 2007.
PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 12/025/2007
7 August 2007
UA 202/07 Fear for safety/Excessive Use of Force
Hundreds of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from Sudan and other sub-Saharan African countries The lives of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who daily try to cross the border from Egypt into Israel, may be in danger, following the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials in the area. This follows the reported death of two men believed to be of Sudanese origin, who were allegedly shot dead by Egyptian security forces as they attempted to cross the border during the night of 1 August 2007. Egyptian official sources have denied that the shootings took place, although they have confirmed that two men were arrested by the Egyptian border police on 2 August, one of whom is said to be seriously injured. Amnesty International is concerned that Egypt and Israel may be sending law enforcement officials to the area who do not have the necessary training for dealing with crowd-control situations, thus putting the lives of more migrants, refugees and asylum seekers at risk. Excessive use of force by the Egyptian security forces has increased over the last few weeks. Prior to this incident, a Sudanese woman died on 22 July 2007, after allegedly being shot by Egyptian security forces while she was attempting to cross the border with Israel. Other Sudanese, including an 11-year old girl, and a woman from the Ivory Coast were also injured at the scene. Twenty-two others from Sudan, Ivory Coast and Eritrea were also arrested by the Egyptian authorities. Thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who mostly come from Sudan and Eritrea as well as other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, try to cross from Egypt to Israel each year. Their numbers have been increasing in recent months and according to the Israeli Minister of Interior Roni Bar-On some 300 try to cross into Israel every week. Hundreds more are believed to be preparing to try to cross the same border. Meanwhile, raids by the Egyptian security forces in the border area between Egypt and Israel in July 2007 alone have reportedly led to the arrests of over 220 mostly Sudanese migrants, who were trying to cross the border without official permission. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) some two to three million migrants, including thousands of refugees are currently living in Egypt. Most of whom are from Sudan. The increase in arrests follows an agreement between Egypt and Israel, due to the latter's pressure, at the beginning of July 2007, to reduce the flow of migrants crossing the border into Israel.
Amnesty International acknowledges that states have the right to regulate entry of foreigners into their territory. However, the measures taken must not neglect or violate internationally recognized human rights law and standards. According to international standards such as the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, security force officers should use force in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality and should only employ firearms if lives are in danger and there is no other means to respond to that danger. In May 2007, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families has in its concluding observations called on Egypt “to initiate training for all officials working in the area of migration, in particular police and border personnel …”.
Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible.
Please write to Egyptian authorities (in Arabic, French or your own language):
- expressing concern for the safety of hundreds of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, who are believed to be preparing to try to cross the border from Egypt to Israel;
- calling on the authorities to take immediate action to ensure that any use of force by Egyptian security forces at the borders between Egypt and Israel be strictly in line with international human rights standards; in particular that intentional lethal use of firearms may only be used when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.
- calling for a prompt, impartial, thorough and independent investigation into the alleged killing of two Sudanese men and for its results to be made public, and those responsible for the killings to be brought to justice according to international standards for fair trial;
- calling on Egyptian authorities to investigate the death of the Sudanese woman on 22 July 2007 on the border between Israel and Egypt and to ensure that the investigations are prompt, comprehensive, independent and impartial, with the results made public and those responsible for the killings brought to justice according to international standards for fair trial
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
'Abedine Palace Cairo Egypt Fax:
Salutation: Your Excellency Minister Habib Ibrahim El Adly
Minister of the Interior
25 Al-Sheikh Rihan Street Bab al-Louk
Fax: +2022790682 e-mail:
Dear Minister and to diplomatic representatives of Egypt accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 18 September 2007.
Chad: Fleeing Chadians should be classed as refugees - Joint UN-Sudanese report
A joint report by the United Nations refugee agency and its Sudanese Government counterpart has recommended that the estimated 30,000 Chadians who have fled to neighbouring Darfur to escape a worsening security situation in their homeland be classified as refugees. But the report also warned that anyone in that group who is an active or former combatant in the clashes in Chad should not be granted refugee status, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis has said.
Sudan: UNHCR teaches Darfur IDPs to help themselves and environment
The UN refugee agency is working with internally displaced Sudanese to rehabilitate the environmental degradation that has been both a cause and a consequence of the Darfur conflict. Earlier this year, UNHCR through its implementing partner INTERSOS started a community-based environmental rehabilitation project in three localities in West Darfur: Forobaranga, a small town bordering Chad, in Garsila and in Um Kher village
CAR: UNHCR coordinates aid to 26,000 Central African Republic refugees
The UN refugee agency has announced it is coordinating an operation to bring help to some 26,000 refugees who fled insecurity in the Central African Republic and are now living in precarious conditions scattered along the eastern border of Cameroon.
South Africa: Zimbabwe exodus
The South African government is dusting off a 2002 plan to deal with a feared mass influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa, amid a growing official recognition that economic migration is snowballing towards crisis. Last week Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told a media conference in Pretoria that the Zimbabwean influx was “a serious problem” and that it was “vital for South Africa to act”.
South Africa: Abm Deputy President Philani Zungu and two others arrested
At 10:00 a.m. August 9, Philani Zungu, deputy president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, was arrested in the Pemary Ridge settlement. A meeting had been scheduled with the eThekwini Housing Department. However they arrived with the Sydenham SAPS who immediately went to Philani and demanded to search him. He asked them why they were searching him and was immediately arrested for 'resisting arrest'.
Zimbabwe: Massive irregularities in voter registration exercise
There are reports that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans could have failed to register their names with the mobile voter registration teams, after officials avoided certain areas associated with opposition supporters. MDC legislator Editor Matamisa, who first raised the issue of the irregularities with her party, claimed on Wednesday that the mobile registration teams did not bother to visit her constituency, which has close to 10 000 residents who want be added to the voters’ roll.
Sierra Leone: Polls mark break with "blood diamond" past
Sierra Leone holds presidential and parliamentary polls on Saturday, the first since U.N. peacekeepers left two years ago and a watershed in its recovery from an 11-year civil war fuelled by "blood diamonds". President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, a war-time leader re-elected on a wave of euphoria after a 2002 peace deal, is stepping down under the constitution amid dismay at his Sierra Leone People's Party's (SLPP) failure to provide water, power or decent roads in one of the world's poorest countries.
Sierra Leone: Elections bring hope for a former failed state
It all seems almost too normal to be newsworthy. On August 11, Sierra Leone goes to the polls to choose a new president among three candidates, all pledging to reform government, create jobs, address health and education, and expand the economy. For most countries, this would hardly merit outside attention. But Sierra Leone remains for many the ultimate symbol of the failed state, the classic case of a violent crisis arising from environmental degradation, crime, overpopulation, and ethnic divisions. What seems normal elsewhere is exceptional here.
Nigeria: Authorities working with US on US$6 million bribery probe
Nigeria's anti-corruption police is working to uncover who allegedly received $6 million in bribes from a U.S. oil services executive who has been indicted in the United States, the head of the force said on Thursday. U.S. prosecutors have accused Jason Steph, a former manager at Willbros Group Inc., and others of bribing Nigerian officials between 2003 and 2005 to help the Houston-based firm secure a $387 million contract to build a gas pipeline.
Global: Stealing aid money is unacceptable - World Bank Chief
World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Thursday spoke out against corruption in poor countries that receive the bank's loans, echoing the anti-graft stance of his controversial predecessor, Paul Wolfowitz. "If people are trying to steal the World Bank's money, we can't accept that," Zoellick told reporters.
Africa: Foreign aid will not make poverty history
Alex O. Awiti
There is an innate paradox in the global conversation about poverty alleviation that eludes even the most astute scholars. Proponents of foreign aid are advocating for a big push, featuring an increase in foreign aid through which billions of dollars could be transferred to the poor. Yet $2.3 trillion in foreign aid and nearly sixty years later, over one billion people around the world are still hungry, infirm, illiterate and homeless.
Global: The poor stay poor due to the price of sending money home
Workers migrate away from their families to serve as labor in rich countries and send capital in the form of remittances, or money transfers, back to their loved ones in impoverished communities around the world,say Yania Marcelino and Shannah Kurland in a report for New America Media. But a key challenge faced by these communities is the high fees associated with remittance transactions. Studies show that if money-transfer fees were cut in half, 33 million people could be lifted out of poverty in the developing world.
Southern Africa: SADC region takes steps to acccelerate infrastructure development
SADC Member States are scaling up the provision of regional infrastructure, a critical foundation for the speedy realization of regional integration objectives. Infrastructure support intervention has been placed at the core of the region's community-building agenda and concerted efforts are being made to ensure the availability of an integrated, efficient and cost-effective system to sustain regional economic development and trade.
Global: How the aid system is undermining the Millennium Development Goals
A report published by Wateraid argues that there is a genuine risk that the human development related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will not be met if international donors continue to pursue single issue ‘global causes’ instead of building an aid system that will respond to the complex needs of poor communities.
Tanzania: Boosting farmer’s profits through better links to markets
Poor farmers in Tanzania are using modern information and communication technologies like mobile phones and even the Internet to get access to market information, and to learn how to build better and more collaborative market chains from producer to consumer. Market “spies”, known locally as shu shu shus, investigate prices and other aspects of local markets, then use their mobile phones to report the information back to their villages. Soon they might be using SMS to access Internet-based databases of locally-relevant market information.
Global: Victory for affordable ARVs
The High Court in Chennai, India has upheld India’s Patents Act in the face of a challenge by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. The ruling allows the Asian country, dubbed the “pharmacy of the developing world”, to continue supplying antiretrovirals at much reduced prices to countries battling to treat the thousands in need.
South Africa: Slight decline in HIV prevalence among pregnant women
After a steep increase in the 1990s, and several years of plateauing, South Africa's HIV prevalence may finally have entered a phase of decline. The first evidence of this downward trend comes from the government's 2006 National HIV and Syphilis Survey, which tested more than 33,000 pregnant women at antenatal clinics in all nine of the country's provinces.
Kenya: Maternal HIV and malaria increases the risk of tetanus in newborns
Maternal HIV and malaria infection during pregnancy reduces tetanus antibody levels in newborns and mothers thereby exposing them to an increased risk of tetanus, according to the findings of a study published in the August 15th edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. According to the paper and an accompanying editorial, the control of these diseases in child-bearing women have an important role to play in the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus which causes 213,000 deaths annually.
Global: How can HIV testing be expanded while protecting individual rights?
Since the first HIV test was licensed in 1985 there has been a constant tug of war between those who advocate the widest possible use of HIV testing, and those who argue that testing throws up a raft of ethical issues that need to be considered before testing can be expanded. In an effort to increase access to and uptake of HIV testing, there has been growing support for implementation of provider-initiated testing and counselling (PITC).
Uganda: Poor adherence and virological outcomes in children receiving HIV care in rural areas
HIV-positive children taking antiretroviral therapy in rural Uganda often have poor adherence, a detectable viral load and extensive resistance to anti-HIV drugs, according to a study conducted by Medecins Sans Frontieres and presented as a poster to the recent International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Sydney.
Senegal: Circumcision message could confuse gay community
Experts are warning Senegalese men who have sex with men not to get caught up in the hype about male circumcision after recent research indicated that the procedure could offer some protection against HIV, and are urging them to keep using other means of protection. In 2006, the results of three studies, one each in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, showed that the risk of HIV infection was up to 60 percent lower among circumcised men. However, these studies were specific to heterosexual interaction.
South Africa: ILGA Statement on the murder of two South African Lesbians
The International Lesbian and Gay Association, ILGA, would like to join the South African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities, to condemn the brutal killing of Sizakele Sigasa (34 years old) and Salome Masooa (23 years old) from a township in Johannesburg. On Sunday 8th July they were found murdered in a nearby field in Meadowlands.
Africa: Book to document experiences of African lbt women
In its mission to educate policy makers about the existence of LBT women in Africa and to tackle the myth that homosexuality is unAfrican, The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is planning to publish a book that will document lived experiences of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women in the continent. As part of CAL’s research project, the book will “increase lesbians’ political voice in the continent, create a platform for expression and help eradicate homophobia.” This is according to CAL director, Fikile Vilakazi.
Global: UN debates climate change
Climate change climbed another rung up the global agenda when the United Nations General Assembly held its first ever plenary debate in New York on “Climate Change as a Global Challenge” on 31 July – 2 August 2007. Many speakers stressed that climate change has emerged as the major environment crisis of our times, but it must be dealt with in the context of development.
Global: Climate change could intensify hunger risk in developing world - UN official
Climate change could lead to potential food shortages and increase the risk of hunger in developing countries, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said. However, industrialized countries could see an increase in their crop yields, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a speech in Chennai, India.
Namibia: Namibia embarks on climate change control
Namibia is to set up two special offices to implement obligations related to climate change control under the Kyoto Protocol. Namibia acceded to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change in July 2003. To implement the Protocol, Namibia needs to establish a Designated National Authority (DNA) and a Clean Development Mechanism Office (CDM). At its latest meeting, Cabinet decided to create these two offices.
Africa: Women still back of the queue on land access
The yams in the family plot were ripe when Elizabeth Igwenagu's husband died. But at the end of the one-week-long burial rite, his family harvested the entire crop of the thick, potato-like tubers, a staple starch in southern Nigeria. In many African societies, women's rights to land and property are tenuous and dependent on males. Although legislation may guarantee equality among men and women, family matters are often managed under customary law, which evolved to retain property within the family and under male control.
South Africa: Residents join hands to oppose Transnet's port expansion plans
"Sick and tired" residents of Clairwood, Merebank and Merewent have dug in their heels against Transnet proposals for the extension of Durban Harbour and vowed to petition the Constitutional Court. Transnet representatives and project consultants met with the residents this week to discuss the proposals and to view a presentation outlining plans to widen the harbour entrance and enlarge the Bayhead area to accommodate higher volumes of traffic passing through the port.
South Africa: All roads lead to Modikwa - The development jump of capital
Dale T. McKinley & Ahmed Veriava
The Maandagshoek community, nestled in a valley just outside Burgersfort (a booming mine town that straddles the Mpumalanga-Limpopo border), is theoretically one of the richest places on the planet. But here, where platinum rises up from the bowels of the earth to empower a new breed of capitalist, the people of this valley still wait for the illusive dream of a ‘better life’ for all’.
South Africa: Tribe summonses ministers, Angloplat
Summonses have been served on Anglo Platinum, Potgietersrust Platinum and nine other defendants, including the ministers of agriculture and of minerals and energy, to prevent the relocation of Limpopo’s Mohlohlo community and to set aside certain lease agreements.The government and Anglo Platinum have the next few weeks to decide if they want to defend the action .
Zambia: IFJ Condemns minister's attack on journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)has condemned the statements uttered by the Zambian Minister of Information, Mike Mulongoti’s that those threatening to beat up some media personnel are justified, because they have no other forum through which they could express themselves. “These statements are uncalled for and unexpected from a personality holding such a respectable position as the Minister of Information” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office.
DRC: IFJ calls for the release of two abitrarily detained journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the DRC authorities for the release of Michel Shango and Vincent Hata, two journalists and trade unionists of the state-owned Congolese National Radio and Television station (RTNC), detained since July 27 in connection with their trade-union activities. A third journalist Risasi Tambwe, arrested with them, was released last Tuesday.
South Africa: IFJ Calls for investigation into shooting of journalist
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)has called on South African authorities to conduct a thorough and swift investigation into the shooting of Abel Mutsakani an exiled Zimbabwean journalist and news website editor based in South Africa. “We condemn this attack which raises again the need for more security for journalists and other citizens in South Africa,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa office.
North Africa: Morocco and Polisario in new talks
Morocco and the Polisario Front are meeting for a second round of UN-brokered talks in New York to try to resolve their 32-year dispute over Western Sahara. The Polisario, or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro, is a political and military group fighting for the separation of Western Sahara from Morocco.
Sudan: UN envoy begins visit to Darfur for fresh talks
The United Nations envoy tasked with re-energizing the peace process in Darfur is heading to the violence-wracked Sudanese region for talks with local authorities, tribal leaders, civil society groups, Arab nomads and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Darfur, travels first to El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, before heading later to Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, where he is expected to stay overnight.
Somalia: Top UN envoy calls for opposition groups to join reconciliation debate
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Somalia François Lonsény Fall has called on the war-ravaged East African nation’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to invite opposition groups to join the reconciliation meeting currently under way in the capital Mogadishu. “We would like to see the stakeholders who renounce violence inside and outside the country take part in this process,” Mr. Fall said in an address to the National Reconciliation Congress.
Sudan: The case of the African Union Mission in Darfur
This paper published by the Institute for Security Studies examines the problems of civilian protection created by the war in Darfur, focusing on the role of African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the challenges it has encountered in protecting civilians in Darfur. The paper argues for the strengthening of the AU force in the context of the UN support and the fast-tracking of the peace process within Darfur between Khartoum and the Darfur rebels. It also draws attention to the need for dialogue between Khartoum and its neighbours.
Great Lakes: DR Congo and Uganda in border talks
Military officials in Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda say they will work together to ease tensions along their shared border, where two people were killed in clashes last week. Army officers from the two sides met on Monday on an island in Lake Albert, which straddles the border.
Uganda: Wireless launched for rural Uganda
Community wireless networks have been set up at telecentres in northern Uganda in Lira and Nabweru, areas that are considered extremely rural by the CWRC. This intervention arose out of the need to reduce the high cost of Internet connectivity at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that is supporting telecentres in Uganda, to explore optimal connectivity models such as sharing the existing bandwidth with neighboring institutions via outdoor wireless networks.
Highway Africa News Agency
Community wireless networks have been set up at telecentres in northern Uganda in Lira and Nabweru, areas that are considered extremely rural by the CWRC.
This intervention arose out of the need to reduce the high cost of Internet connectivity at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that is supporting telecentres in Uganda, to explore optimal connectivity models such as sharing the existing bandwidth with neighboring institutions via outdoor wireless networks.
According to a statement from CWRC the wireless connections are also to provide Internet access to rural partners without need for heavy initial investments in satellite hardware and subscriptions.
"It is anticipated that these networks will enhance sustainability of Internet access at these telecentres," the statement says. In Lira, a total of three partners have been connected to the telecentre using wireless connections and can now access the internet at their premises. While in Nabweru, a total of three partners have also been connected. The CWRC team now heads to Kabale in western parts of rural Uganda to implement similar wireless networks in Kabale town and Kachwekano The design of these networks considers the telecentre to be the hub of the network where all other sites are connected. In cases where line of sight links to the telecentre are not possible, connection between the hub and the partner site is accomplished via a repeater.
According to the statement, "the telecentre acts as a wireless Internet access point to its partners."
Juma Okee, the IT officer at CPAR (Lira telecentre) said, "The CWRC project is a blessing for rural connectivity over distances. CWRC has really come at a time when we needed it most."
The Community Wireless Resource Centre (CWRC) was established within the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Faculty of Technology, Makerere University with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian organization.
Africa: AfricaNews starts with mobile reporters
Africa is witnessing impressive growth in the development and use of mobile communication networks and the Internet. This development is changing the face of media and the way people are informed. Open communication and uncensored exchange of opinions are helping to build transparent societies. This serves good governance and helps to build stronger democracies.
Uganda: CWRC Launches Community Wireless Networks in Lira and Nabweru
In July 2007, community wireless networks were implemented at telecentres in Lira and Nabweru by the Community Wireless Resource Centre (CWRC). The CWRC team included CWRC staff and four electrical engineering students who are doing industrial training under CWRC. This intervention arose out of the need to reduce the high cost of internet connectivity at IDRC-supported telecentres in Uganda.
Africa: Flood, famine and mobile phones
"My name is Mohammed Sokor, writing to you from Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab. Dear Sir, there is an alarming issue here. People are given too few kilograms of food. You must help." A crumpled note, delivered to a passing rock star-turned-philanthropist? No, Mr Sokor is a much sharper communicator than that. He texted this appeal from his own mobile phone to the mobiles of two United Nations officials, in London and Nairobi. He got the numbers by surfing at an internet café at the north Kenyan camp.
Uganda: Rwanda to train Ugandan teachers in ICT
The Ugandan Government is mobilizing funds to send primary and secondary school teachers to Rwanda for training in Information and Communication Technology(ICT). Speaking at the Uganda-Rwanda Education Joint Expo in Kigali recently, the education minister, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, said "Rwanda has taken serious strides in the development of ICT to achieve its development goals and it's a good lesson for us."
Africa: Africa's ICTdevelopment still "haunted" by the past
The demons of the past will remain the evils that will continue cursing the development of ICT in Africa, if not exorcised. This was the sentiment held by the delegates attending the session on 'ICT Policy in Africa' at the SANGONeT conference. Delegates from various countries in Africa were given an opportunity to share experiences of the information technology communication (ICT) environment in their countries.
Ghana: UNECA supports e-trade
Ghana and the rest of Africa can make significant progress in developing high-tech export products industry to boost trade if attention is given to the development of scientific and industrial research base. According to reports and supported by evidence collated by the World Bank a number of countries in Africa have a low research. Analysts believe that the trend was attributable to the minimal number of scientists and engineers available on the African continent.
Highway Africa News Agency
Ghana and the rest of Africa can make significant progress in developing high-tech export products industry to boost trade if attention is given to the development of scientific and industrial research base.
According to reports and supported by evidence collated by the World Bank a number of countries in Africa have a low research.
Analysts believe that the trend was attributable to the minimal number of scientists and engineers available on the African continent.
In Ghana for instance, a study conducted as part of the input for the Ghana ICT4AD process on the number of research scientists and engineers in the universities and the number of registered practicing engineers in the country, estimated that the number of scientists and engineers per million persons was close to 300.
Less than 10 per cent of the number was involved in research and development (R&D) works. This was interpreted to mean that Ghana had as low as less than 30 scientists and engineers per million persons involved in research and development.
The statistics in the World Bank report also meant that countries with a high percentage of scientists and engineers involved in R&D were those that were doing well in the area of high tech exports.
Another study report on ICTs and Trade urged Ghanaians to develop scientific and industrial research base and take policy steps to increase the percentage of scientists and engineers involved in R&D work.
"The recommendation here is that: if Ghana is to make any progress in developing a high-tech export industry to enable it address the challenges of a weak and narrow export based dominated by traditional products, a lot of efforts will need to be directed at developing the nation's R&D base devoting particular attention to establishing linkages between industry and the research institutions and universities", the report said.
This, the ICTs and Trade report said, would enable the nation to make appreciable progress in developing high-tech exports.
The World Bank report formed part of the basis for the recommendations in the other report that sought to find ways to inculcate ICTs into trade in Ghana.
The other report titled "The ICTs, Trade and Economic Growth Study: The Ghana Report" researched into a number of policy issues relating to the prospects and the opportunities of the deployment and exploitation of ICTs to facilitate economic growth through the promotion of Ghana's internal and external trade.
The study was funded by the United Nation's Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The main objective of the UNECA supported study was to carry out an extensive research work on the subject matter with a view to come out with specific policy recommendations to guide and facilitate the deployment and the use of ICTs to promote regional and international trade to promote Ghana's economic growth and development in the information age.
Among the areas researched into was the socio-economic and ICT landscape of Ghana with a focus on a number of indicators including those relating to demographic and ICT deployment and roll-out.
The study also reviewed Ghana?s trade landscape through the use of a number of broad and specific trade indicators to provide a basis for assessing Ghana's capacity to facilitate economic growth.
While assessing Ghana?s readiness to promote trade and economic growth through the deployment and the exploitation of ICTs, the study also identified key target areas and sectors such as commodities, financial services, BPOs, e-Content services, tourism, export and m-trade whose activities can be supported and harnessed through the use of ICTs and trade facilitation to improve their competitiveness.
An area of policy recommendation that Ghana can also pursue to develop e-trade capacity especially in ICT products and services is to put in place policy initiatives and incentive packages to product development of the ICT industry and services sector.
The report said promotion of ICT friendly and trade related policies must seek to promote enabling industrial and trade policies and instruments as well as suitable investment, competition and business promotion policies and regimes, mechanisms and environment.
The report said while looking at policy interventions, there is the need to also pay attention to issues that would complement private sector investments, availability of a critical pool of labour with the requisite technical skill, education that makes ICT specialisation a prime focus, simplified trade procedures and a consistent capacity building.
Africa: Call for expressions of interest in the Footprints Project - British Council
The British Council is looking for young people who have an interest in exploring past and present relationships between Africa and the UK by documenting the personal histories of families over three generations, highlighting shared experiences, and creating fresh understanding to build new relationships for the future. Forms must be returned by 3 September 2007.
CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST FOR FOOTPRINTS PROJECT
The British Council is looking for young people who have an interest in exploring past and present relationships between Africa and the UK by documenting the personal histories of families over three generations, highlighting shared experiences, and creating fresh understanding to build new relationships for the future.
Footprints is one of the regional projects that together constitute Africa 2007, a three-year programme in East and West Africa. The programme aims to explore notions of culture and identity to generate fresh ideas and create new understanding between individuals and communities in Africa and theUK. It will focus on current identities and future possibilities, enabling people in Africa and the UK to explore relationships, trace journeys in the past and understand them from new perspectives.
The participants that we are looking for should have the following characteristics:
* Age 18 - 35
* Strong communication skills
* Evidence of interest in family history
* Evidence of Africa-UK and UK-Africa links
* Evidence of strong stories, linked to the project's aims
* Good understanding and appreciation of local culture
* Available for the project period ( up to 2 years)
If you think you can fit the criteria, or know someone who will, please complete the attached application form.
A panel will meet and applicants will be short listed by 7 September 2007, after which an interview will be carried out.
Successful applicants will; be invited to attend a workshop to help equip them for the task ahead.
Forms must be returned by 3 September 2007 to:
British Council Connect Youth
10 Spring Gardens London SW1A 2BN
Tel: 0207 389 4617
Global: International database on civic education - IDEA
IDEA International is compiling a database that will enable researchers, public policy makers and NGOs to see and compare how nations are approaching the challenges of civic education and engagement for their young populations across countries throughout the globe.
Global: K-12 Electronic Guide for African Resources on the Internet
This guide illustrates both how to find resources for teaching about Africa on-line; and how to navigate the Internet. Users can access the African Studies World-Wide Web (WWW) database at the University of Pennsylvania, which contains resources and information on events and issues that are related to African countries. These materials are available for use by students, teachers, librarians, the business community, and the general public.
Kenya: Support A Digital Village
ICTVillage is inviting individuals and organizations to apply for registration as digital village enterprises in the digital village network as owners/managers of digital facilities (centres, schools, kiosks) located in each constituency and location in Kenya in collaboration with key stakeholders.
USA: Call, Post-doctoral Fellowship, Columbia University Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion
The Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion (CDTR) at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) of Columbia University invites applications for a two-year appointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar to participate in the research and activities of the Center.
Africa: EQUINET Regional training on writing skills - call for participants
The EQUINET Secretariat at Training and Research Support Centre with local hosts, REACH Trust (Malawi), invite personnel working on health equity in east and southern Africa to apply for participation for a capacity building workshop on “Writing scientific papers and peer reviewed journals” to be held in Lilongwe, Malawi from 20-24 October 2007. Call Closes On 3 September, 2007.
CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS
Regional training Workshop on Writing skills for scientific papers and peer reviewed journals
Lilongwe, Malawi , 20-24 October 2007
Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) and The Regional Network on Equity in Health in east and southern Africa (EQUINET) locally hosted by REACH Trust (Malawi)
Call Closes On 3 September, 2007!
The EQUINET Secretariat at Training and Research Support Centre with local hosts, REACH Trust (Malawi), invite personnel working on health equity in east and southern Africa to apply for participation for a capacity building workshop on “Writing scientific papers and peer reviewed journals” to be held in Lilongwe, Malawi from 20-24 October 2007.
This workshop is designed to support capabilities for effective dissemination of research on health equity, especially from EQUINET activities, through scientific journals and publications. The objectives of the workshop are:
To build skills for writing in scientific papers and peer reviewed journals; To understand the peer review process works and facilitate peer review and feedback on a set of equity-focused papers among a group of east and southern African researchers and practitioners; To introduce tools and approaches to improving writing skills for scientific papers and meeting reports.
Preference will be given to applicants working on EQUINET research programmes, but the workshop will also include people working on equity-focused themes in east and southern Africa. For further information on areas of EQUINET work and the equity focused themes please see www.equinetafrica.org Preference will be given to applicants who have writing work in progress (e.g. those who have completed research, have prepared a draft paper or are ready to do so, or have a paper that has been drafted for publication). Participants to the workshop will be expected to participate in the pre workshop process to qualify for sponsorship for the workshop.
This will include:
· Initial application as indicated above, by 3 September 2007. Participants will be informed on the outcome of their applications by September 7 2007.
· Submission of a draft paper for a scientific journal of no more than 5 000 words, dealing with equity, health and Africa, that is work in progress, by September 17 2007. (Those who are unable to submit a draft paper that they are working on by this date will not be included in the workshop).
· Papers will be peer reviewed and for returned to authors by September 26 and candidates will be expected to prepare a further draft, taking account of the reviewers' comments, and bring this for discussion and further development within the Workshop.
· It will be preferable if participants can bring to the workshop a laptop plus the references they are drawing on most heavily in writing their paper.
The workshop will aim to leave authors with advice and comments on how to complete their papers and will agree a timetable for final submission. The workshop will be run by Rebecca Pointer, publications officer for EQUINET, assisted by EQUINET senior scientific and publications resource personnel. There are limited places in the workshop. We invite interested individuals to submit an application to participate and to provide the full information shown below. EQUINET will sponsor a limited number of accepted delegates for airfare or local costs or both based on need.
Delegates who can provide part sponsorship only are asked preferably to meet their air travel costs.
Information requested from applications:
Interested applicants should submit;
· A 1-2 page 'expression of interest' that outlines their institution, their position and their research or training work that they and their institution are reporting on in the scientific paper and any links if relevant to EQUINET
· A personal CV including publications produced, including those in peer reviewed journals
· A 500 word abstract or maximum 5000 word draft of the paper they propose to work on in the workshop
· Clear information on whether they are able to meet all costs, or need EQUINET sponsorship for airfare ONLY, local costs ONLY, or ALL costs.
Applicants should submit this information by 3 September 2007 to the EQUINET secretariat email@example.com and copy it to firstname.lastname@example.org with WRITERS WORKSHOP in the subject line of the email. Accepted delegates will be notified by 7 September 2007 on the outcome of their submission, including sponsorship.
Africa: Programme Announcement - The Politics of succession in West Africa's democracies
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) are pleased to announce the two-day advanced policy and research dialogue which they are jointly hosting in Cotonou, Benin Republic, on 24 and 25 September, 2007 on the theme of The Politics of Succession in West Africa’s Democracies. The dialogue is a follow-up to a survey of governance trends in West Africacarried out in 2006 under the auspices of the two institutions.
CODESRIA-OSIWA Advanced Policy and Research Dialogue
Theme: The Politics of Succession in West Africa's Democracies
Date: 24 and 25 September, 2007
Venue: Cotonou, Benin Republic
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) are pleased to announce the two-day advanced policy and research dialogue which they are jointly hosting in Cotonou, Benin Republic, on 24 and 25 September, 2007 on the theme of The Politics of Succession in West Africa's Democracies. The dialogue is a follow-up to a survey of governance trends in West Africacarried out in 2006 under the auspices of the two institutions. Out of the survey exercise emerged a host of recurring concerns, among them the increasingly thorny question of succession which has come to occupy the center-stage of politics in the quest for democratization in West Africa. No country of the sub-region has been spared the tensions and pressures associated with the succession process; indeed, in a number of cases, the struggles over succession have significantly affected the texture of the democratic project and even threatened to abridge it altogether. Articulated in different ways and at different inter-locking levels in each of the countries of West Africa, the politics of succession has, for two basic reasons, clearly become worthy of closer attention both from a policy perspective and in terms of the kinds of follow-up research work that would need to be undertaken. The first reason centers on the fact that succession politics is, by definition, central to the quality of the democratic project and its long-term sustainability. Secondly, the ramifications of the succession process are integral to the apparent disconnect between the actual practice of democracy as experienced across West Africa and the democratic aspirations of the bulk of citizenry.
For CODESRIA and OSIWA, the focus on the politics of succession at this point in the history of efforts at extending the frontiers of political reforms and citizen rights in West Africa represents a concrete contribution to on-going reflections on the long-term health of the polities that make up a sub-region that has only recently begun to recover from a history of post-independence instability and violent conflicts. The immediate urgency of the dialogue is underscored by the fact that in 10 out of the 16 countries of West Africa, presidential and/or parliamentary elections have been held or are scheduled to hold in 2007. Viewed in a longer historical perspective, it would be difficult not to recall the struggles over succession between and among military officers and civilian politicians that represented a key feature of the politics of governance inWest Africa. The transition to electoral pluralism which marked the end of single party and military rule foreclosed certain types of succession politics whilst legitimating others. The results of the CODESRIA-OSIWA survey of governance trends suggests that the management of the multifaceted succession process brought about by the new context has been an issue of growing discontent which will be as critical to the prospects of the democratic project and the overall well-being of the political system as anything else.
Contestations over Succession in West Africa West Africa was ushered into the decade of the 1990s amidst widespread popular pressures for political reform in many of the countries that make up the sub-region. Beginning from Benin Republic where citizen mobilization against the ancien regime of Matthew Kerekou resulted in the convening of a sovereign national conference that paved the way for a new constitutional order, single party and military regimes in the sub-region mostly unraveled, replaced by various types of electoral pluralism. That process, structured within a multi-party framework, produced a variety of elected governments and generalized realignments in politics whose dynamics have been the main stuff of democratization in West Africa. Most countries have had repeat elections involving transitions from one elected government to another even if the transitions mostly meant the return of incumbents and/or ruling parties to power.
The changes that occurred on the West African political landscape from the beginning of the 1990s were broadly welcomed as representing a new phase in the political development of the sub-region. Afterall, West Africa, with its succession of military coups d'etat and the political violence associated with the single party systems that proliferated had developed a reputation as one of the more volatile and unstable belts on the African continent. While de jure and de facto, rules of succession were clearly in operation and there were a number of outstanding examples of legal succession, the unpredictability of change, the rate at which it happened, and the resort to illegalities that accompanied it constituted the foundation on which West Africa's reputation for instability was anchored. The re-birth of electoral pluralism was embraced as offering a possibility for a new start in the political development of the sub-region. However, more than a decade after the first reforms were introduced, and in spite of the varying degrees of progress registered, there have been many discontents thrown up both by the practice of the democratic project and the impact it has registered in the lives of the generality of the populace. A central element of the discontents is connected to the organization of the politics of succession in the sub-region.
Succession politics in West Africa's democracies has played itself out at several levels. One level has involved the scope which has emerged for the alternation of power within and between political parties/coalitions of parties. Another level has centred upon inter-generational shifts in power crystallized into discourses about the need for the old guard to make way for a younger generation of politicians within political parties and the administrative system. At a third level, the process of governing the succession process between the military and elected civilian government was not always given in all of the countries where prolonged military rule formed a part of the old order of things or where politics had become intensely militarised as a result of prolonged armed conflicts. Fourthly, the case has also been made for an engendering of politics in order both to increase the participation of women and assure a role for them in the succession process. Fifthly, concern has been focused too on the role of electoral agencies and the judiciary as credible arbiters in and governors of the succession process. But a sixth and much more contested issue in the succession process has been the push on the part of incumbents to amend existing constitutional provisions, alter party rules and procedures, and engage in generalized gerrymandering in order either to perpetuate themselves in office or anoint a successor whom they hope they would be able to remote control. In some instances, incumbents have positioned their own sons to succeed them in power and have undertaken repeated reshufflings of the political system in order to have a better chance of securing that end. This latter component of the politics of succession in West Africa merits closer attention as it has played itself out in different ways across West Africa with all the adverse consequences for the health of the political order. Dialogue Issues Among the variety of issues which will be covered during the dialogue are:
i) The Nature of the Contemporary Succession Debate in West African countries;
ii) The Contemporary Politics of Succession: Bane of West Africa's Democratic Project?
iii) Managing Succession for Democratic Development:
a) Enforcing Constitutional Provisions;
b) Strengthening Intra-Party Democracy;
c) Reinforcing Legislative Autonomy; d) Revitalising the Judiciary;
e) Reinvigorating Opposition Political Parties;
f) Deepening Electoral Reforms and Governance;
g) Engendering Succession Processes in West Africa;
h) Inter-Generational Concerns in the Succession Project; i) Sustaining Citizen Vigilance;
j) Life after Office for Incumbents.
Structure of Dialogue Sessions
The dialogue will bring together about 50 participants from across West Africa. They will be drawn from diverse backgrounds: Scholars, policy makers from governmental bodies such the electoral commissions and intergovernmental organisations such as ECOWAS, political party leaders, civil society organisations, former and serving head of states, and representatives of the organised private sector. An admixture of researchers, politicians and civil society activists will be commissioned to produce background papers and think pieces that speak to the different aspects and patterns of succession politics inWest Africa. These commissioned papers will serve as background documents for the plenary debates that would take place. The debates themselves will be structured to allow for the presentation of the results of research carried out on succession politics, the insights of politicians and policy makers, and the perspectives of civil society activists, thus ensuring that a proper exchange of views is facilitated towards conclusions that might be actionable by all parties interested in or concerned by the problems of and prospects for West African democracy.
For further details about the dialogue, please contact:
CODESRIA Advanced Research and Policy Dialogue, BP 3304, Dakar, CP 18524, Senegal.
Tel.: +221 - 825 9822/23 Fax: +221-824 1289 E-mail: email@example.com Website : http://www.codesria.org
Central Africa: Women Peacemakers Programme Training of Trainers-Call for Applications
The Africa Women Peace Makers Program (AWPP) is a Program of International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and is committed to showcasing Africa as a beacon for peaceful co-existence by enhancing the capacities of Africa women peace makers to promote gender sensitive active non-violence. The Africa WPP intends to hold a Training of Trainers (ToT) is to deepen participants’ skills in gender and nonviolence training and education, in order strengthen their capacities to spread the work of WPP through empowering women at the grassroots.
WOMEN PEACE MAKERS PROGRAM (WPP) -AFRICA REGION CALL FOR APPLICATION
The Africa Women Peace Makers Program (AWPP) is a Program of International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and is committed to showcasing Africa as a beacon for peaceful co-existence by enhancing the capacities of Africa women peace makers to promote gender sensitive active non-violence.
The Africa WPP intends to hold a Training of Trainers (ToT) is to deepen participants' skills in gender and nonviolence training and education, in order strengthen their capacities to spread the work of WPP through empowering women at the grassroots.
Applicants must be women in situations of armed conflict or situations where a significant potential exists for armed conflict in Central Africa and must Have previous experience as gender and non-violence trainers within their organization Clear plans to take the skills gained at the Training of Trainers back to their organization Possess good communication skills and sensitivity, and be committed to participatory approaches to training Be prepared to conduct, one follow-up training within six months upon their return home with the support of a mentor and their organization Have sufficient English-language skills in order to participate fully in the training as the Training of Trainers is conducted in English If you satisfy the requirements above, answer the questions on the next page and return to the address below by September 1, 2007.
Africa Regional Coordinator Women Peacemakers Program West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) P. O. Box CT 4434 Cantonments, Accra Ghana Tel. +233-21-221318 Fax +233-21-221735 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Personal Details: Full Name:
Mailing address: Street and house number:
City and postal code:
Telephone: Fax: Email:
Date of Birth
Please describe your organization and the role you play within it.
How long have you been involved in active gender and non-violence training? Please describe your involvement.
How long have you been involved in activities related to women and gender issues? Please describe your involvement.
Why do you want to attend this training? Are there specific goals you seek from your participation?
What are the specific kills and training you want to get out of this Training of Trainers?
What skills and/or experiences would you like to share/teach to other participants?
How do you plan to spread the skills and ideas you have learned during the Training back in your organization?
Please describe one or two key issues involving differences (gender, class, religion, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc.) which are either a constant source of tension or which frequently emerge within the organization or community in which you work. Have these issues been resolved? If so, how?
When dealing with differences and the tensions it may bring, what has been the most difficult for you personally?
Please attach a one-page personal statement (not a curriculum vitae) on the ways you see gender impacting on building a culture of peace.
CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPANTS
1. The purpose of the Africa WPP Training of Trainers (TOT) is to deepen the skills African women peace makers in gender and nonviolence training and education, in order strengthen their capacities to spread the work of WPP by empowering women at the grassroots.
2. The selected participants must have some training experience already and show a strong interest in active nonviolence and gender.
3. Priority will be given to members of IFOR branches, groups and affiliates, and to women belonging to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) already connected to the WPP network.
4. Priority will be given to individuals who have an interest in and commitment to women's empowerment, and who are willing to work for gender equality within their branch, group or affiliate.
5. The participants must be in a position to spread the skills they have learned during the TOT.
6. Participants must be women.
7. Participants must possess good communication skills and sensitivity, and be committed to respectful, participatory approaches to training.
8. Since participants may be in a position to represent WPP and to speak on its behalf it is important that they be mature individuals with a sense of responsibility.
9. Two participants will be chosen from the same IFOR branch, group, or affiliate, or other participating NGOs. The individuals must commit themselves to supporting each other in working together within their organization.
10. Participants must indicate a commitment to work within their organization towards increasing the organization's capacity for gender sensitive, nonviolence education and training.
11. Priority will be given to participants from groups with a stated interest or aim in active nonviolent social change, rather than charity.
12. In selecting participants for the TOT, a balance will be sought in terms of religion.
14. Participants must commit themselves to conducting at least one follow-up training.
This follow-up training may be single-sex or mixed. The follow-up training will include development of links to further resources and training of trainers in the area.
15. Participants and must be prepared to contribute what they can to the implementation of the TOT, and the follow-up training in the home country (e.g. labour, materials and/or venue).
16. Participation in the mentoring program is mandatory, as is participation in all evaluations of the TOT and the follow-up training.
17. Women well-qualified in other respects who are not members of an IFOR branch, group or affiliate, or who have not worked with WPP in the past, but who work with a group in situations of armed conflict or situations where a significant potential exists for armed conflict, will be considered for participation in the WPP Training of Trainers.
18. Participants will be expected to give input into, and to adhere to a WPP trainer code of conduct once it is finalized.
19. Selection of participants will be made by the WPP TOT Africa Desk in consultation with the Regional Advisory Board.
20. Participants must submit a timely application, and be informed of their selection prior to the TOT.
21. In selecting participants, priority will be given to local or regional trainers. The building of a network of local trainers and resource women, with links to regional networks, is important. Trainers, networks and FOR branches, affiliates or groups will be made aware of each other and encouraged to connect.
22. As the Training of Trainers will be conducted in English, participants must have a sufficient command of English in order to participate fully in the Training of Trainers.
Global: Funding for business writers from the developing world
The Reuters Foundation is offering full bursaries for journalists from developing countries to attend training on business writing. The course is scheduled for November 5 to 16 in London. The bursaries include travel costs, lodging and a modest living allowance. Partially funded bursaries are also available for journalists at organizations with little or no resources for training. The course provides training on international standards of reporting and writing about business news and issues. The application deadline is September 10, 2007.
Global: Training on making governance gender-responsive
Making Governance Gender Responsive (MGGR)" is a generic course that can be adapted and modified to suit the needs of the different countries in Asia-Pacific. The initial training module was developed by the Center for Asia-Pacific Women in Politics (CAPWIP), with funding support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Asia-Pacific Gender Equality Network (UNDP-APGEN) and the Regional Governance Programme for Asia and the Pacific (UNDP-PARAGON). The training will take place from November 12-19, 2007.
Rwanda: Intern, Project On Responses to Genocide in Rwanda
REDRESS and African Rights are initiating a fact- finding and advocacy initiative aimed at eliminating European safe havens for Rwandese genocide suspects and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice. We are currently seeking a full- time project intern to assist with the implementation of the Project in Rwanda. Salary: Living expenses will be covered.Closing Date: 10/8/2007
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