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Pambazuka News 418: Zimbabwe's coalition government: MDC's surrender?

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Editors’ corner, 3. Features, 4. Comment & analysis, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. African Writers’ Corner, 9. Blogging Africa, 10. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 11. Zimbabwe update, 12. African Union Monitor, 13. Women & gender, 14. Human rights, 15. Refugees & forced migration, 16. Social movements, 17. Elections & governance, 18. Corruption, 19. Development, 20. Health & HIV/AIDS, 21. Education, 22. LGBTI, 23. Environment, 24. Food Justice, 25. Media & freedom of expression, 26. Conflict & emergencies, 27. Internet & technology, 28. Fundraising & useful resources, 29. Courses, seminars, & workshops, 30. Publications

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Highlights from this issue

FEATURES
- Tendai Dumbutshena argues that ironically MDC may have become Mugabe's saviour
COMMENTS & ANALYSIS
_ Friends of the Congo on the implications of Nkunda's arrest and Rwanda's role
- KANERE, the independent refugee newsletter, faces hostility
- Tom Kagwe reviews the successes and limitations of the formation of the coalition government in Kenya
- Chioma Oruh evokes a history of disunity, theft, rhetoric, marginalisation and the social toxicity of oil in Nigeria
- Chiuma Oruh considers the consequences of the Nigerian state’s crackdown MEND
- Pitso Tsibolane charts the rise and broad support for Kgalema Motlanthe
- Claudio Schuftan, Laura Turiano and Abhay Shukla on progress on the PHM in Africa
ACTION ALERTS
- Sudanese civil society calls for national conference to discuss the crisis in Sudan
PAN AFRICAN POSTCARD
- Tajudeen looks at the implications of Gaddafi's election as the AU chairperson
_ Karen Chouhan describes her hopes arising from the Obama presidency
LETTERS
- Food is a human right, not a corporate commodity - a challenge to Paul Collier
AFRICAN WRITERS' CORNER
- A conversation with Lilian Masitera
_ Wangui wa Goro looks down from Mt Kenya
BLOGGING AFRICA
Dibussi Tande and Sokari Ekine review the African blogosphere
AU MONITOR
- Deadlock over the Union Government
CHINA AFRICA WATCH
- The global crisis and China's African committmentsBOOKS & ARTS: Review of Francis Nyamnjoh’s Married but Available
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Judge frees MDC’s Biti
WOMEN & GENDER: Female combatants in African wars
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Leaders talk tough on Darfur war crimes
HUMAN RIGHTS: Slavery still weighs heavily on Mauritanian society
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenya to set aside land for Somali camp
SOCIAL MOVEMEMNTS: Chavez speaks to social movements
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Gaddafi condemns Africa democracy
CORRUPTION: Kenya denies blocking UK probe
DEVELOPMENT: Africa deserves financial bailout
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Excellent ARV adherence due to social networks
EDUCATION: Mali’s students left behind in MDGs race
LGBTI: Youth conference in South Africa
ENVIRONMENT: Key issues on the road to Copenhagen
FOOD JUSTICE : Farmers call to restructure food system
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Kenyan journalist murdered
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Global Information Society Watch released
PUBLICATIONS: New publication on African resistance against the Slave Trade
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs

*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://del.icio.us/pambazuka_news



Action alerts

Seizing the final opportunity

Sudanese civil society call for national conference

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/action/53849

Representatives of independent Sudanese civil society organizations, media and rights activists called on Sudanese government, political actors and civil society members to urgently convene a conference to discuss the crisis brought on by the Sudanese government’s reaction to the charges brought by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court against the President of Sudan.
In a statement presented at a press conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, civil society, media and rights activists said reactions within Sudan to the possible indictment of President Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) had “generated confusion and uncertainty” forcing the Government into confrontation with both its own people and the international community. There was an urgent need as a result for all political forces within Sudan to come together to discuss the situation “holistically” with the support of those “regional and international stakeholders directly contributing to peace, justice and democracy.”

According to the statement, the proposed conference is a response to several concerns about the direction Sudan is heading at this critical crossroads, just two years before the CPA interim period will expire. The statement
calls explicitly for the beginning of “a comprehensive process for reconciliation and healing throughout Sudan,” noting in particular that there had “yet to be a genuine peace process for Darfur that addresses the rights of Darfurians and brings them justice.”

The statement describes the core objective of the conference as “a broad consensus within Sudan on a course of action that will lead Sudan out of its current crisis” rooted within the framework of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This is expected to include agreement on a practical strategy to “consolidate peace processes and democratic transition; ensure a just and comprehensive solution to the Darfur crisis; respond to the demands of the marginalized regions in a genuine federal system; and address chronic social problems such as poverty, poor living conditions for displaced persons, unemployment, corruption, gender and racial discrimination.”

Today’s call for the conference comes at a time of increasing crackdown by Sudanese authorities on those perceived to support the ICC. In November, three human rights activist were arrested and two of them seriously tortured by government security agents. In December, security agents arrested and questioned a prominent member of an opposition party.

Participants in the press conference emphasized that the civil society initiative has the support of the silent majority of Sudanese, including political parties, who are terrified by the NCP’s reactions to the ICC. The initiative representatives at the press conference expressed the hope that both the proposal itself, and the courage required to launch the initiative, would contribute to a new momentum and challenge the current stalemate. They called on “all democratic voices” at home and abroad, to lend their support to the initiative. Speakers at the conference concluded, “We know the only way forward is to openly discuss these issues and transform challenges into a window of hope.”

For more information please contact:

In Sudan: Alhaj Warrag @ +249-913666992
In Uganda: Monim Elgak @ +256-753120253




Editors’ corner

Goodbye and go well, Mukoma

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/editorial/53850

Mukoma wa Ngugi, who served as co-editor of Pambazuka News and later as Assistant Editor, ended his term with Pambazuka News. He has just signed a deal with Penguin South Africa to publish his first novel, The African Connection. It's a detective novel set half in Madison, Wisconsin and half in Kenya about the murder of a young white woman (Macy), which is being investigated by an African American detective (Ishmael). He has poetry appearing in New York Quarterly and short fiction forthcoming from Kenyon Review and is writing regularly for Foreign Policy in Focus. And, he tells us, he's going to devote more time to completing his dissertation. His humour, creativity and contributions to Pambazuka News growth will be missed. Go well, Mukoma! We are sure that we will continue to hear from him in Pambazuka News.




Features

Surrender: the best form of defence?

Tendai Dumbutshena

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/53848


cc. Sokwanele
After the June 27 putsch by Robert Mugabe signs were always there that the MDC were headed for surrender.

It officially happened on January 30, 2009 when the party hoisted a white flag on top of its Harvest House headquarters. What followed was a pathetic attempt by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to portray this decision to join the unity government without any of their conditions being met as some sort of victory.

Equally pathetic was a plea to Mugabe to be treated as an equal partner. There is a fat chance of that happening. The old tyrant must have chuckled when he heard this.

What the MDC has done goes beyond naiveté and lack of strategic nous. It is an ineptitude breathless in its magnitude. Besides guaranteeing an inevitable demise of the party as a political force, it has more importantly set back for many years the struggle for the democratic transformation of Zimbabwe. It threw a lifeline to a vile regime that was on the verge of death.

Mugabe and SADC leaders were desperate for the MDC to join the unity government to save the Zimbabwe leader from an ignominious downfall.

Tsvangirai had a big bargaining chip in his hand. He did not use it. He could not even get Mugabe to concede on modest and reasonable demands. On the basis of mere promises from a man who honours them more in their breach than observance, he joined the unity government.

The damage, however, was not done on January 30, 2009. It was done on 11 September 2008 when the MDC signed an agreement that legitimized Mugabe's coup d'etat. Before that the MDC had maintained that a unity government had to reflect the wish of the people as expressed in the March 29 election. The MDC won that election at all levels of government. This meant the party and its leader had to be top dogs in a unity government.

The reality is that they have been co-opted as junior partners on its margins. Tsvangirai is not even second to Mugabe. He comes fourth after Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru the two vice-presidents. Even more critical, all executive power is vested in Mugabe as head of government and state. Tsvangirai is a prime minister without any executive power. He is a glorified cabinet minister. The only power he will exercise is to give Mugabe names of MDC ministers.

Once the MDC conceded the presidency to Mugabe, ignoring the expressed wishes of the electorate it was on a slippery slope to capitulation. Now the party is at the mercy of Mugabe. All talk by Tsvangirai of outstanding matters being resolved before he is sworn in on February 11 is deceitful. There will be no more concessions from Mugabe. All that awaits him is further marginalization and humiliation. He has made his bed and Mugabe will ensure that he lies in it.

All five conditions for joining government that the MDC spelt out in official resolutions have not been met. As stated above Mugabe refused to yield an inch when Tsvangirai was in a strong bargaining position. What chance is there for him to make any concession when Tsvangirai has no single card to play? A statement announcing the MDC's decision claimed that this represented a transition to democracy.

"This inclusive government will serve as a transitional authority leading to free and fair elections," it said.

A transition to free and fair elections in a government dominated by Mugabe is a classic oxymoron. Who will guarantee that whenever elections are held Mugabe will break with tradition and allow people to choose their leaders freely? Where in the agreement does it say elections will be held after a stipulated transitional period? It only refers to a review of the agreement after the adoption of a new constitution without committing to an election. It is up to Mugabe to decide how long this government lasts. He will tolerate the MDC for as long as he needs to. When they are surplus to requirements he will, through an election that he controls, get rid of them.

The post March 29 and June 27 period was a crucial one. Sadly the MDC leadership at this defining moment lacked focus and strategic coherence. It was all over the place. It clearly had not anticipated a victory in March and planned for Mugabe's predictable response to it. Conflicting and contradictory statements emanated from an assortment of spokespersons. The left hand did not know what the right one was doing. It was not clear in which direction the party was headed.

Tsvangirai spent too long a time outside the country when his followers were under violent siege from Mugabe's coercive apparatus. There was a leadership vacuum in opposition ranks. It was bad politics on Tsvangirai's part. A strong impression was created that he was more concerned about his security and welfare than that of his supporters.

Meanwhile Mugabe, who had been thrown off balance by an unexpected electoral defeat, regained his nerve and composure. He focused on the job at hand – remaining in power. His focus was not distracted by any concern for the welfare of the country and its inhabitants. He long ago ceased to pretend that the welfare of Zimbabweans was a matter that exercised his mind. That is the hallmark of the man soon to be Tsvangirai's boss.

A conclusion to draw from all of this is that the MDC decided to join the unity government for two reasons. First, they no longer have the stomach to fight Mugabe. Fear and fatigue have taken their toll. There is no more fuel in the tank. Refusal to join the unity government would certainly have been followed by a massive crackdown against the party.

SURRENDER WAS THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE

Secondly, the MDC leadership was seduced by the material comforts of office. Better a large air-conditioned office than a communal cell in Chikurubi. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Let us just take what is on offer.

It will be a busy time for Tsvangirai while Mugabe still needs him. Armed with a diplomatic passport his first and most important task will be to travel to Western capitals to get sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies lifted. This is his most important duty so that visits to London and other desirable destinations can resume. Much needed economic relief has to be secured from the same Western countries.

Tsvangirai has to convince those who control international purse strings that his association with Mugabe's regime has sufficiently cleansed it to deserve a financial rescue package. Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, who is going nowhere, and Zanu-PF will be grateful beneficiaries of such largesse. Once this is achieved Tsvangirai will become expendable, to be gotten rid off at a time that suits Mugabe.

In the months to come Tsvangirai must get used to life as Mugabe's useful underling. He must learn quickly how to win his favour from the craven pipsqueaks who have surrounded Mugabe for years. There will be frequent visits to State House to pay homage to the boss. An occasional gift to the First Lady will endear him to His Excellency. At least he will have the satisfaction of seeing the inside of State House, something the Mugabes vowed he would never do.

EVEN IN DEFEAT LIE SMALL COMFORTS

Tsvangirai had a good chance to ascend to the presidency of the country and change Zimbabwe for the better. He threw that chance out of the window on January 30. The seeds of that surrender were planted after March 29 when a catalogue of appalling decisions was taken by the party. They culminated in a decision that rescued a dying regime.

Even more tragic is the fact that a golden opportunity to transform Zimbabwe, for the first time, into a free society was missed. Nine years of struggle by the MDC came to nought. The buck stops with Tsvangirai.

In a most perverse way he became Mugabe's saviour at a moment of near death for the despot.

* Tendai Dumbutshena is a Zimbabwean journalist
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/

* This article was first published in The Zimbabwe Times (http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?tag=tendai-dumbutshena) on February 2, 2009.




Comment & analysis

Nkunda's ‘arrest’ and Rwanda's response to international pressure

Friends of the Congo

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53788


cc. Flickr.com
With events in the central African region unfolding at a dizzying pace over the last week, Friends of Congo (FOTC) responds to questions posed to them in the aim of enhancing readers’ understanding of developments on the ground. Casting doubt on the nature of Laurent Nkunda’s reported arrest and highlighting the persistently extra-parliamentary and undemocratic nature of negotiations between Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame around Rwandan troops entering the DR Congo, Friends of Congo discuss some of the limitations around recent efforts to achieve greater stability in the troubled eastern region of the country.

Is Laurent Nkunda’s arrest a positive development?

We have reasons to doubt that Laurent Nkunda has been arrested. Rwandan Maj. Jill Rutaremara said that Nkunda was in Rwanda but ‘not in jail’. If Nkunda has in fact been arrested it would be a positive development but not a massive change as some analysts would like you to believe. A true marker of the veracity of Rwanda’s claims of arresting Nkunda will be the extradition of Nkunda to the Congo where he committed the crimes against the Congolese people. If Nkunda is not extradited to Congo in short order then that will be a clear sign that this is part of the shell game that Rwanda has been playing for the past 12 years, a period during which they replaced one proxy leader with another while they continued to occupy eastern Congo. Even if Nkunda were to be arrested, it would be a fundamental flaw in one’s reasoning to believe that Nkunda was the primary cause of the conflict in the east. In essence, what has happened is that Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People has been replaced by thousands of Rwandan troops. The problem is Rwanda’s and Uganda’s aggression against the Congo [has been] backed primarily by the United States and British governments and corporate interests since 1996.

If Rwanda did in fact arrest Nkunda, doesn’t this mean that they never supported him as the 12 December UN report documented?

No, to the contrary, over the past 12 years Rwanda has shuffled different rebel leaders according to its interests. It is in part for this reason there were so many versions of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD, former rebel militia backed by Rwanda), which Nkunda was a part of in 1998–2002 war. Nkunda’s apparent replacement, Jean-Bosco Ntaganda, also has an arrest warrant out for him issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC); one human rights offender has been replaced by another as Ntaganda now proclaims to head the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP).

A systemic and historical analysis is warranted in order to demystify current events in the Congo and arrive at prescriptions that will lead to lasting peace and stability. Unfortunately, the majority of Great Lakes analysts offer Rwanda-friendly analysis and prescriptions as Rwanda represents US and British foreign policy interests in central Africa. The job of these analysts is to provide intellectual and advocacy cover for the otherwise disastrous policy currently pushed by both the US and British administrations, a policy that has led to the deaths of millions of Congolese and the systematic looting of Congo’s wealth to the benefit of US allies Rwanda and Uganda, as well as Western corporations.

Isn’t the new collaboration between Congo and Rwanda a good sign on the road to peace and stability in the region?

On 5 December 2008, Rwanda and Congo signed a secret pact in Goma that the Congolese people know nothing about (President Kabila is scheduled to speak to his nation on this issue on 31 January 2009). James Kabarebe, chief of general staff of the Rwandan defence forces and former private secretary and aide-de-camp of Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, was later dispatched to Kinshasa to seal a deal with President Kabila. Thus, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, and President Kabila worked out a deal that resulted in over 5,000 Rwandan soldiers entering Congo. These are the same characters that collaborated in 1996 when Congo was first invaded by Rwanda during the Clinton administration. During that period they traversed the Congo slaughtering Hutu men, women and children and anyone else who was in the way. The United Nations says that the killings were so massive and systematic that they can be considered crimes against humanity and possibly genocide. The UN investigation into these crimes against humanity by the Rwandan army, Kabarebe and Kabila was blocked and still remains unresolved (see the UN investigations). Once a responsible and credible government is in place in Congo, all these crimes must be investigated and justice must be delivered so that the Congolese people can be made whole. Find out more about the Kagame–Kabarebe–Kabila connection, see our 20 January blog. In the final analysis, more troops and further militarisation of the region is not the answer. A robust political path must be established in order to lead to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.

So are you saying that President Kabila allowing Rwandan troops on Congolese soil to hunt down those responsible for the 1994 genocide is not a good thing?

The logic that allowing Rwandan soldiers on Congolese territory to hunt down Hutu rebels will bring about peace is fundamentally flawed. Below are some factors to consider:

1. The deal allowing Rwandan soldiers on Congolese soil was not between the Congolese government and the Rwandan government. It was between the Congolese president Joseph Kabila, whom many suspect is not even Congolese and the Kagame regime in Kigali. Neither the Congolese parliament nor the Congolese people were either consulted or addressed regarding Rwandan troops entering Congolese territory. In fact some Congolese are calling for the impeachment of Kabila. When it comes to matters in Africa, we tend to drop all critical faculties and common sense. Can you imagine troops entering US territory without the US Congress knowing about it and the president not even addressing the population to explain why? What is even more farcical is that some Congolese government officials are trying to convince the world that thousands of Rwandan soldiers are coming into the Congo as advisers to the Congolese troops. It has even been stated that the Rwandan troops will be under Congolese command. Will they be under the same compromised command that Nkunda chased out of North Kivu?

2. It is beyond imagination that Rwanda is going to do in a few weeks what it was not able to do or interested in doing when it occupied the Congo from 1996–2002. During this period of the occupation of eastern Congo they did not wipe out the so-called Hutu militia. In fact, the biggest battle they had was with their ally Uganda over mining concessions. Also, during this time they systematically looted Congo of its wealth. (See UN Reports from 2001 to 2003). It is this looting of Congo’s wealth that spurred the economic miracle that President Clinton and other Western officials wax eloquently about in Rwanda. You will notice that they never mention the degree to which ill-gotten wealth from the Congo contributed to Rwanda’s ‘economic miracle’. Former Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen says it best when he notes ‘Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product’.

3. What is almost certain is that Rwandan troops on Congolese soil will lead to more suffering of the people of the Congo. Analysts in the West have not fully appreciated the enmity that the average Congolese holds toward Rwanda. Remember, it was the US- and British-backed Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 that unleashed the deaths of estimated millions of Congolese. So, for one to say that Rwandan soldiers are now going to make things better for the people of the Congo does not take history into account. One merely has to look at the Congo–Ugandan action against Ugandan rebels inside Congolese territory to see where this latest action is heading. Over 600 Congolese civilians lost their lives as a result of military action against the Lord’s Resistance Army in Congo, which began over a month ago. Moreover, that operation was supposed to take a few weeks and now Uganda is requesting more time on Congo’s soil, while Congo’s gold and timber continue to find its way into Uganda.

What role are the great powers playing in what is unfolding in the Congo?

It is key to understand how the game is played to keep Africa dependent and impoverished. Because the West is more powerful than the divided and weak African nations, they have been able to assassinate or systematically sideline leaders who truly serve the interests of the people. They facilitate the ascension to power of those who demonstrate a proclivity for killing their fellow Africans. Once these feckless leaders are in power and predictably incapable of governing, Western diplomats condescendingly intervene on the premise that those they have assisted in acquiring power either through elections or otherwise cannot in fact justly govern. This narrative is buttressed by superficial media coverage of African society, intellectuals for hire by Western powers and the humanitarian industry. It is in this context that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen have proposed the balkanisation and economic neutering of the Congo. They have made proposals to reward Rwanda and their Western support structure for the systematic looting of the Congo, which has resulted in unmatched death and terror for the Congolese people. Nearly 125 years since Europe gave Congo to King Leopold II of Belgium as his own personal property, the situation is fundamentally the same whereby the affairs of the Congolese people are not determined by themselves, but rather by external forces.

So what can be positively drawn from recent events?

Several things can be looked at positively:

1. It is clear that international pressure works. It has moved Rwanda to at least announce the arrest of Nkunda. As was said, the litmus test for whether Nkunda has actually been arrested is his extradition to Kinshasa, otherwise for all intents and purposes he is vacationing in Rwanda at the behest of Kagame while Rwandan troops roam the hillsides of the eastern Congo with the blessing of Joseph Kabila. The US is finding it increasingly difficult to defend its proxy, Rwanda, as both French and Spanish courts (the same Spanish court that ruled against Pinochet of Chile) have arrest warrants out on President Kagame’s top officials for commission of war crimes, one of whom, Rose Kabuye, was arrested in Germany in November 2008. Despite such repeated damning evidence against the Kagame regime, under the auspices of Donald Rumsfeld’s AFRICOM programme, the US sent a shipment of military equipment to Rwanda for peacekeeping purposes in western Sudan in early January 2009, coinciding with Rwandan troops’ intervention in Congo. The military shipment is supposed to be used for peacekeeping in western Sudan. Both Sweden and the Netherlands suspended aid to Rwanda and of course the damning 12 December UN report has made it difficult for anyone to defend Rwanda except for some ideologically-driven humanitarian institutions. Even The New York Times editorial board continues to call for international pressure on Rwanda.

2. Kagame felt it necessart to adjust to the new realities in Washington. He could not necessarily count on President Obama to give him the same carte blanche he received from Presidents Clinton and Bush. Rwanda is certainly still a staunch ally of the US. However, Kagame cannot be certain that President Obama will fully support him in spite of some of the old guards (Susan Rice at the UN and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state) being in the administration. The Obama administration can hardly present itself as an administration of change with an old policy for the Great Lakes in particular and Africa in general. The new administration would be best served to implement policies that serve the people and not strongmen like Kagame and Kabila.

3. The US- and British-backed resource war of aggression is being disrobed on a daily basis. The hunt for the Hutu rebels is an attempt to recast the conflict in an ethnic context. The Hutu rebels, otherwise know as the Interahamwe or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR in French) need to be dealt with, but not in the manner currently underway. Remember, it has been the Congolese people who have been the primary victims of the presence of the Hutu rebels in the Congo. Nonetheless, what is happening in Central Africa is a high stakes geopolitical battle for precious and strategic resources that are vital to the world’s military, aeronautics, electronics and technology industries. This interview with British Foreign Minister David Miliband provides some insight and perspective on corporate interests in Central Africa.

4. The average person is becoming better informed and more engaged about the root causes of the deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War. They are better equipped to demand action from their elected officials and challenge humanitarian institutions that come to their communities peddling warmed-over ethnic explanations for the suffering of the people of Congo.

We are confident that with persistent education, organisation and mobilisation, the people of the Congo will be free from the forces that have her sons and daughters living in absolute misery while we in the West benefit from her riches.

Join the global movement in support of the people of the Congo and strike a blow for justice and human dignity.

* Based in Washington, D.C., the Friends of Congo (FOTC) was established in 2004 to work towards bringing about peaceful and lasting change in the DR Congo.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Report on KANERE’s progress and challenges

Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE)

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53789


cc. Hoisaeter
Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE) is an independent news magazine produced by Ethiopian, Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan, Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan journalists operating in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. In a new article following on from an original piece published in Pambazuka entitled ‘Support KANERE for an independent refugee press’, KANERE discusses the current hostility towards its publication exhibited by the UNHCR and the office’s reluctance to support the development of an autonomous outlet for refugee voices. The second issue of the Kakuma News Reflector is now available online at www.kakuma.wordpress.com.

From 1993 to around 2005, a print newspaper called the Kakuma News Bulletin was circulated within Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. It was initially funded by UNHCR through the supervision of an implementing partner NGO, the Windle Trust of Kenya. The print newspaper was not distributed outside Kakuma and was meant to serve as an internal means of information-sharing. Around 2005, the original KANEBU publication gradually disappeared as its editors were resettled in third countries, refugees repatriated to Sudan, and resources were exhausted.

KANEBU disappeared, but the spirit of journalism did not. Refugees continued to participate in small journalism clubs operating out of camp schools. The clubs taught lessons for students periodically, and journalists met among themselves to discuss news reports and reflect on happenings in Kakuma camp and surroundings. Many of these journalist club members had previously contributed to KANEBU.

In October 2008, these journalists approached a Fulbright researcher to propose collaboration. The researcher was reporting on human rights in a refugee camp; the journalists were reporting on their daily realities. They began working together to develop a free refugee press.

The new paper was christened the Kakuma News Reflector, or KANERE. The journalists chose not to revive the previous publication, KANEBU, in order to clearly establish the independence and autonomy of the new endeavour. KANERE was to be a refugee free press, allowing refugees to speak directly to the world without oversight by humanitarian organisations. In order to reach the international community, a web blog was created at www.kakuma.wordpress.com.

CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPMENT

The acting editor, Bethany Ojalehto, met with the UNHCR head of sub-office, Dr Mohamed Qassim, and the UNHCR mass media officer, Caroline Opile, on 9 January 2009. At that time, Dr Qassim said the project was ‘positive’ and that UNHCR ‘welcomed the initiative’.

Since then, the position of UNHCR Sub-Office Kakuma regarding KANERE has changed markedly.

On 20 January 2009, a refugee journalist was informed by Ms Opile that he should ‘keep his distance’ from KANERE. She warned that his involvement in ‘things that UNHCR does not like’ would ‘jeopardise’ his job with UNHCR. Another refugee journalist met with protection staff Peter Muriuki to discuss his protection case around 13 January 2009. Mr Muriuki asked him about his involvement in KANERE in a way that the journalist perceived as intimidating: ‘What is this bad news about KANERE? I saw your name in it.’ On 23 January 2009, another journalist met with protection staff Stephen Choka to discuss his protection case. Immediately upon entry to the office, he was asked whether ‘he was writing anything online’. The journalist asked Mr Choka to clarify what he meant, at which point he demanded to know whether our journalist was ‘writing for a Kakuma press’. Our journalist perceived this exchange as intimidating and says Mr Choka seemed angry at his involvement.

On 21 January 2009, Ms Ojalehto attempted to speak to the community services officer, Menbere Dawit, and the protection officer, Malar Smith. Both officers declined to speak to Ms Ojalehto and referred her to Dr Qassim, citing ‘concerns over the publication’.

Dr Qassim was busy and could not schedule an appointment with the editors of KANERE for two weeks. Ms Ojalehto and her co-editors visited his office on five occasions to attempt a meeting.

Ms Ojalehto finally reached Dr Qassim by phone on 23 January 2009. When asked what the position of UNHCR was on KANERE, Dr Qassim replied that ‘we are compiling a report of concerns’ and that UNHCR ‘would not become involved at this time’ with KANERE. He refused to share the concerns and said that he would call Ms Ojalehto for a meeting when the report was completed.

On 2 February 2009, Dr Qassim contacted Ms. Ojalehto to schedule an appointment to discuss UNHCR’s concerns over the publication. The meeting is set for 12 February 2009.

On 26 January 2009, Ms Ojalehto was called to a meeting with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) project coordinator, William Tembu. Mr Tembu asked Ms Ojalehto about her involvement in KANERE and said he was unaware that her research would lead her to ‘get involved with refugees on this level’. He said he had received a phone call from UNHCR mass media officer, Ms Opile, regarding Ms Ojalehto’s housing at LWF (Ms Ojalehto is hosted by LWF and pays monthly rent). He was concerned about her housing, but said he would not take action until a joint meeting was held between LWF, UNHCR, and Ms Ojalehto.

KANERE seeks to register with the Kenyan Government as a community-based organisation (CBO). This registration will allow the group to be recognised as an association under Kenyan law. On 23 January 2009, the district officer, Eric Wanyonyi, met with KANERE editors and signed the registration form. Only the local chief remained to sign the form.

The local chief refused to sign the form on 25 January 2009. The district officer now refuses to move forward on KANERE’s application for registration. After signing the form on 23 January, Mr Wanyonyi confiscated the registration form on 27 January 2009 and will not ‘release’ it to KANERE’s editors.

In a meeting with KANERE’s editors on 30 January 2009, the District Officer Mr Wanyonyi informed KANERE that he could not sign the registration form ‘because UNHCR has raised objections’ to the project. He refuses to move forward on KANERE’s registration until UNHCR has ‘approved’ the project and he has cleared the matter with the District Commissioner. Mr Wanyonyi also informed KANERE’s editors that he had been called to a meeting at UNHCR along with the camp manager and divisional chief on 27 January 2009. Issues including KANERE and Ms Ojalehto’s research were discussed at this meeting.

In a meeting with KANERE editors on 27 January 2009, the camp manager, William Lenaremo, expressed his support for KANERE. He shared his concern that information on vulnerable cases should be reported anonymously in order to protect individuals’ identities. He had no other concerns, and stated that the publication will provide ‘good information-sharing’ for the refugees. A journalist visited Mr Lenaremo on 3 February to discuss a news story and Mr Lenaremo again affirmed his support for KANERE activities and objectives in this meting.

Currently there is no funding source for KANERE. All journalists are working on a voluntary basis without access to computers, free internet, or basic office supplies. The group has approached USAID and the US Embassy in Nairobi for funding support, but the process is pending.

The group has requested internet access from UNHCR Sub-Office Kakuma. The request remains pending.

Update to Story: On 5 February 2009, UNHCR Head of Sub-Office Kakuma
Dr. Qassim contacted the acting editor, Ms. Ojalehto, by phone. He
said that he found the second issue of KANERE to be "very balanced and
constructive." He also extended his invitation to the co-editors of
KANERE to attend a meeting on Thursday, Febuary 12. The editors look
forward to this meeting as a positive step forward in relations with
UNHCR Kakuma.


* KANERE’S online news blog can be found at www.kakuma.wordpress.com.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


State of the Kenyan nation one year after the accord

Tom Kagwe

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53786


cc. Teseum
A year after the signing of Kenya’s National Accord, Tom Kagwe of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) reviews the successes and limitations of the formation of the coalition government. Highlighting the fragmented progress towards truth and justice, Kagwe argues that while the issue of post-election internally displaced persons remains a troublesome reality for the country, the CIPEV report represented a celebrated step towards ending political impunity.

Fellow Kenyans, it is one year since the National Accord was signed by four gentlemen: President Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila, President Kikwete and His Excellency, Kofi Annan. With the signing of that accord, the Tenth Parliament enacted the National Accord and Reconciliation Act (2008) and simultaneously amended the constitution of Kenya to put the act into force. One year later, every Kenyan has the right to take stock of: 1) What worked and what did not; 2) When some things worked and when some did not; 3) Why some things worked, and why others did not; 4) How some things worked as they did, and how others did not; and 5) Finally, who is responsible for any success and/or failures.

With these five factors we interrogate the Grand Coalition one year later with the object of holding it to account so that it may strengthen what worked and improve on what failed. These five factors are interrogated within four key indicators: 1) The survival of the coalition; 2) Commissions of inquiry; 3) Internally displaced persons; and 4) The Tenth Parliament.

SURVIVAL OF THE COALITION

The Grand Coalition is the first coalition government in Kenya’s history, at least in terms of what coalitions are: governments that are formed after elections, when no party can win a majority to form a government on its own. Most coalitions in the world, especially those in Italy, Japan or Israel, last about a year. The Kenyan one has clocked over one year, but of course not without factional fights through and through. But the government’s principals have weathered storms and tornados from their political lieutenants, storms and tornados which could have split the coalition. The two men have made it work, since as we say in Kenyan politics, the party is the person leading it: Kibaki and Raila remain the principals, and thus, they hold and wield power, even if some of the party noisemakers assume they don’t.

Nonetheless, there are other instances where the two principals were asleep on the job, such as when the Party of National Unity (PNU) was splintering, and now some members elected on a PNU ticket have already registered their own parties. Another example is of Raila when he was allowing some party riff raffs to dismiss the Waki Report. However, the two principals have demonstrated ‘statesmanship’ more often than not, where Kibaki has allowed Raila to really ‘head government’ in a de facto way, but also when Raila gave up on the protocol catfights with Kalonzo, by showing that it does not matter who is second, as well as when he stood firm against Mau forest encroachment.

Unfortunately, there is a need to point out that this coalition has the highest number of ministers and assistants in Kenya’s history. Efforts by civil society to have ‘not more than 24 ministers’ hit rock-bottom, when the two principals chose political expediency over a lean and efficient cabinet. It is quite disheartening that in a country reeling with hunger, abject poverty, high food and fuel prices, the two principals have allowed such a humungous cabinet, which continues to draw huge perks and allowances while the majority of its people live in deplorable situations. To make matters worse, the fiascos surrounding corruption in the maize and maize-flour dealings have continued to haunt this government.

COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY

Four commissions were proposed during the mediation talks, namely the Independent Review Commission (IREC), the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (CIPEV), the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and the National, Ethnic and Race Relations Commission (NERRC). The first two commissions completed their work and submitted reports to both principals and these reports were made public within a few hours. This worked well, unlike before when such reports were only known to cabinet. Although made public, the cabinet seemed splintered on what position to take.

What did not work was the way in which the IREC sidestepped assigning criminal responsibility to anyone at the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) or any other quarters, including within the political parties led by the two principals. At least however, the IREC recommended the dismantling of the ECK. The manner in which this was done is not the subject of discussion in this commentary, but briefly, politicians changed the constitution to solve political problems, just like they have done for 45 years. Furthermore on the IREC, some terms of reference were to investigate the authenticity of the results and also the tallying process. Had they done a forensic audit, which had been recommended by Kenyans for Peace, with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), it would have been possible to know who actually won. But the IREC chose the simple route that it is impossible to know who won the presidential ballot. Come on, in the 21st century, with its forensics?

The CIPEV report was met with mixed reactions across political and ethno-social divides, but giving credit where it is due, Justice Philip Waki and company did their work well, especially the automated implementation timelines and ‘secret list’, which threw politicians into all manner of panic and disarray. Many Kenyans were also supportive of the implementation of the report, with a view to ending impunity. To date, while many still support its implementation, there has been some confusion on which way to go. Some have supported the proposed ‘local tribunal’ while others have openly stated that The Hague is the way to go.

Not to worry. Both are much of the same; the so-called ‘local tribunal’ is subject to much foreign influence in having four foreigners of the total six judges and a foreign chief prosecutor, while the Special Statute is reminiscent of the Rome Statute, but with some pitfalls nonetheless. The only difference is that the ‘local tribunal’ will operate in Nairobi and not The Hague. To avoid any doubt, if politicians mess up the ‘local tribunal’, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo should bring all those on the ‘list’ to The Hague immediately. In sum, the CIPEV was no without its legal questions and certain administrative weaknesses, but for the first time a Commission of Inquiry caught politicians by their horns.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS

Over 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were rendered homeless and jobless in the wake of the post-election crisis. These numbers were only conservative estimates, as the true figures indeed could reach 500,000 IDPs. Those rendered homeless were either chased away from their homes or farms while others who had businesses in various parts of the country were left without employment. In addition to many other weaknesses, the government started a shoddy project called Operation Rudi Nyumbani (go back home), which disrespected the regional and international instruments that Kenya is a signatory to, disregarded profiling who and where IDPs were, and ignored the efforts of other stakeholders.

Eventually, one year later, IDPs are still lying in camps, especially those near to their origins, in so-called ‘transit camps’. Look at the hills and valleys of the Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces in particular and you would be shocked. Some sort of ‘concentration camps’, littered with white or cream torn tents, are still evident from the ground and also from the air. Government may dispute this and buy newspaper adverts to rubbish credible reports by organisations such as the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), but the truth be told, many IDPs have not gone back home. Where to? While noble efforts of ‘compensating’ with some few coins were done, the government’s failure to admit culpability in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project is simply dumbfounding.

TENTH PARLIAMENT

While the live broadcasts of proceedings represent a celebrated achievement of the August House, it nonetheless has always been fond of bringing itself into disrepute. It has many roles to play, but in the context of this commentary its chief role of legislating – as provided for in Sections 30 and 46 of the constitution – should bring it under close scrutiny. Looking the bills drafted for and/or passed by the Tenth National Assembly, and later on, assented to by the president, one is left puzzled. The Constitution of Kenya Review Bill, the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Act, the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Act, and the NERRC Bill, among others, speak volumes to the levels of honesty, professionalism and integrity of the 222 MPs who comprise Kenya’s Tenth Parliament.

Their inability to seek the common good leaves one with a single conclusion: something is amiss in that house and it does not matter who occupies it. The majority of the MPs are new, but it seems the problems such as the disease of lacking quorum and betraying the common good through passing terrible legislation which plagued the Ninth Parliament still persist in today’s house, one year after the swearing of the incumbents. That is why P.H. Okondo, in the book A Commentary on the Constitution of Kenya, stated that what we need are the right systems and structures, and not merely the right men or women.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

One year after the Grand Coalition was formed it is difficult to find many good things to say. Nonetheless, the bag is mixed. While the principals have stood tall to steer the country towards seeking justice and reform, they have also failed to give leadership at some key points. An office such as that of the government’s spokesperson has not helped in the least, merely lying to the public about the true state of the government; indeed, this spokesperson should have been fired a long time ago. Despite the above scathing attack on the Tenth Assembly, some of its members have had their fair share of success, with some working closely with civil society on the very pertinent issue of reforms. One year later, the IDP problem remains the worst eye sore in this country, while the CIPEV report remains the most celebrated.

* Tom Kagwe is a researcher at the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Guns, oil and steal

Chioma Oruh

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53780


cc.usnico
In a poetic piece subtly traversing Nigerian post-colonial experiences, Chioma Oruh evokes a history of disunity, theft, rhetoric, marginalisation and the social toxicity of oil.

The pains of a failed Biafra still live and are spilling like the oil that drilled its demise. Sentiments of bitterness invade the discourse of ex-revolutionaries that now visit The Hague every few months to report to their employers about the state of the state deferred. Although ‘One Nigeria’ enthusiasts preach the good word of unity, their rhetoric is exposed in daily soap-opera-like headlines that crow the cock of sheets that recounts the tales of politicians pocketing unaccounted revenues. Meanwhile, poverty pimps cry crocodile tears for the poor and disenfranchised and call for ceasefires while the pot of pain over boils in equatorial heat of madness.

Wombs exposed to toxic flares never go full term. Mouths that fed off the land now have sores caused by the petroleum-poisoned soil. Hands strong enough to build new nations now carry black market guns as a new marketing scheme. And this tragic anatomy of the colonised, have eyes and ears that are distinctly aware of the fact that their reality is a nightmare. Over fifty years of fossil fuel extraction with nothing to show but CNN specials on sensationalised African gangsterism. Oil, oil everywhere and no healthcare system in sight. Na bi too much o! When the memories of Boro and Wiwa now go for the lowest price of $1.71 a gallon and names disappear in history books to be replaced by inflated Naira notes of the inane stock exchange. Dis stain no fit kommot easy.

Nigeria lives at the crossroads with a choice pattern between varying degrees of implosion or explosion. Joint task force of opposing interests make a mockery of the well-known irony of professed unity. Transnational pimps play puppet master beckoning zombie loyalists to walk towards the road marked ‘Explode’. As for road number two, the path of internal combustion, Sodom and Gomorrah are compatible metaphors for the Naija game board of kidnappers and robbers. As the rules of the game change daily, both the gun and the word burn fire from the oil flares that occupy the minds of the rich and poor… all players play with no sense of purpose and live devoid of destiny.

As citizens stall for time by trading Obama t-shirts at Christmas festivals in the go-slow of failed road policies. And as they wait for the second coming guaranteed in the prophecy that prescribed that things must fall apart before coming together, old men still drink palm wine and tell senior jokes under iroko trees. Weddings still occur as daily ritual. Elaborate funerals of accomplished elders still fill social calendars. And although the young worry about finding funds to bribe for school results, Nollywood takes notes from Big Brother and pacifies response… leaving the crossroads to be crossed on another day.

But to seize the moment! To steal back the time and use it to organise for tomorrow. To hop on another train that is neither interested in imploding or exploding. To disconnect the association between the terms ‘Niger Delta’ and ‘crisis’. To regain consciousness from the slumber of petroleum drunkenness. To remove the mark of the beast and rename it freedom. To not be jaded by the lies told about unity. And to want to go to heaven, willing to die first. This is the moment that hope restores in a land of the hopeless. This is the only form of unperfected theft that must be mastered. This is thee only way to get out of this mess.

* Chioma Oruh is a graduate student at Howard University in the African Studies Department with a focus on music and liberation movements. She is also a member of the African People’s Socialist Party and is one of many organisers for the upcoming African Socialist International North American Conference.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Niger Delta crisis continues: Can hope be restored?

Chioma Oruh

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53787


cc. USNICO
In the wake of the death of alleged militant Tubotamuno ‘Boy Chiki’ Angolia at the hands of Nigeria’s Joint Task Force (JTF), Chioma Oruh considers the consequences of the Nigerian state’s crackdown on the militant efforts of organisations such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). While much of the mainstream international press lauds the state for the stability (and enhanced official access to oil resources) achieved under the watch of the JTF, Oruh contemplates the inequity behind a system that will happily find funds to enforce order yet comes up empty in the face of local people’s abject poverty.

In July 2008, President Umaru Yar’Adua set forth Operation Restore Hope in Nigeria and, consequently, unleashed the military might of the Joint Task Force (JTF). Since last summer, the JTF has reportedly shut down over 300 illegal refineries and promises to be yet more effective in 2009. A major focus of the JTF has also been its concentration on nullifying militant efforts, with a particular focus on suspending the activities of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Many MEND leaders and other militant organisations have been under the surveillance of the JTF, and operations have been intercepted and attacked by this collaborative effort of various legs of the Nigerian armed forces. Although Nigeria declared a ceasefire with Niger Delta militants following brokered peace talks last summer, many recent activities of the JTF since December 2008 have created more tension in the region. For example, on 25 December 2008, the JTF was noted for killing three militants and injuring four others at an Agip-operated Tebidaba flow station in Bayelsa State. Shortly after news broke of the Agip attack, Nigerian military spokesperson Lt. Col. Rabe Abubakar issued a statement that accused the MEND of provoking the events in Bayelsa. The MEND denied participation in this attack. Tensions continued to rise in the region and, most recently, the MEND called off the ceasefire due to a JTF report of the capture and provoked killing of alleged militant Tubotamuno ‘Boy Chiki’ Angolia. The JTF pronounced Boy Chiki’s death a consequence of his attempt to escape military custody, but MEND-spokesperson Jomo Gbomo made several public statements accusing the JTF of unlawful murder.

Is this the final straw that will break the back of the oil pipes in Nigeria? Most importantly, what impact will the potential firearm free-for-all have on the indigenous population of the Niger Delta? It is hard to tell at this point, but one thing is for certain that whatever comes out of Nigeria can never be said to be unanticipated.

Without the need to recount the history of Nigeria since the discovery of oil in 1956 at Oloibiri by Shell-BP, it has been obvious that Africa’s top oil-producing nation has been on the verge of warfare for several decades. With blood on all hands, the noted crisis has earned its name with corruption coming from the side of the government, militants and their mutual sponsors in the shape of foreign interests. Many have accused the Nigerian government of failed leadership on the national and local levels due to their inability to regulate oil companies for bad environmental behaviour as well as their refusal to properly address the needs of the masses of disenfranchised citizens.

What continues to go unaccounted, however, is the impact that protecting the interests of transnational corporations has had on the region. For example, even though much of mainstream international press has praised the JTF for its efforts at restoring stability in the Niger Delta, very little has been reported as to how Nigeria (one of the poorest economies in the world) can afford such an elaborate military project while its citizens live in abject poverty. The JTF’s protection of the interests of Shell, BP, Julius Berger and host of other companies from Europe, Asia and North America is a direct mockery of Nigeria’s professed democracy. This failed democracy has its citizens wishing for the ‘good ole days’ of military dictatorship, where marginalisation was a more honest and straightforward affair. Now, Nigeria enjoys elections with questionable results while being seduced by US training and equipping programmes under the new military project of AFRICOM. So while MEND gets a CNN special, the Nigerian leaders visited by a delegation of US congressmen pleading the case for an AFRICOM base conveniently goes under the radar.

It is safe to say that Operation Restore Hope has failed, but all is not lost (hopefully). Perhaps this is the moment for an African internationalist remedy, one that connects the dots of the oppression of the indigenous population of Niger Delta to the 500 hundred-year old story that gave birth to the military might protecting the transnational corporations that did the legwork for the slave trade and that sustained both slavery and colonialism. And as the world waits for the other shoe to drop in Nigeria, perhaps Africans everywhere can seize this moment to finally unify. What more needs to happen to Africa’s children before their fate is changed? The time is ripe for reconsideration and it is Africa’s duty to reconsider everything. And if this be the moment that Africa begins to re-examine its role in history, deconstruct capitalism, pick back up the discourse of unity without borders and finally have its renaissance, let that be the hope restored.

* Chioma Oruh is a graduate student at Howard University in the African Studies Department with a focus on music and liberation movements. She is also a member of the African People’s Socialist Party and is one of many organisers for the upcoming African Socialist International North American Conference.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Kgalema Motlanthe on the walls of history

Pitso Tsibolane

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53781


cc. World Economic Forum
Highlighting the success of a leader able to command respect through calm resolve, Pitso Tsibolane charts the rise and broad support for Kgalema Motlanthe from both the Zuma and Mbeki camps in the ANC in the wake of Mbeki’s resignation. But with growing grumbles about alleged dithering over decisions and suggestions of extra-marital affairs, Tsibolane argues that the caretaker president’s initial honeymoon period is long gone in the face of ever greater ANC and media scrutiny.

The unfolding demise of President Kgalema Motlanthe reads like a thriller, except that it is a real life tragedy. When Thabo Mbeki decided to defy the odds and attempted to be re-elected for the third time as ANC president in 2007 at the Polokwane conference, no one could have imagined that South Africa had entered a new path, one that would lead to this sad end. In the run-up to Polokwane, as Jacob Zuma grew bolder and his support swelled, little did we know that a baby dragon was born and as it grew older, it would have the ability to spew fire and its claws would scratch so deep!

On the two lists presented by the Zuma camp and the Mbeki camp at Polokwane, one similarity stood tall: the name Kgalema Motlanthe. For a decade this quite but strong willed man, known affectionately as Mkhulu – the ‘old and wise one’ – had been quietly steering the ANC ship as the secretary general. When others chose which camp to join, he stood like a towering father above all circumstances, providing leadership and supporting Zuma through his ordeal while serving under Mbeki.

Indeed, the ANC had found a new Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma, a unifier and a voice of reason amidst infighting and animosity. Motlanthe managed to be respected by both camps; he was seen as the elderly leader in the mould of Sisulu, able to ease tensions while giving strong leadership. It was no wonder he could appear in the top six of both camps without any contradictory and divisive sentiment. When the Zuma machinery at Polokwane was at its climax, when the Mbeki people were booed off the stage, the chairman of the ANC at the time, Mosiua Lekota rose up to chastise such behaviour, he got an even bigger booing. It was only when Mkhulu stood up, with a stern resolve and dignity he called for order and there was quietness. Only a giant of a leader could achieve that, and Motlanthe did it with calm and poise. He is reported to have warned, ‘One day you will be running the ANC and there will be nobody to respect you because you will have planted this culture of defiance.’ It worked, the masses calmed down.

It was clear from then that Motlanthe was the father of the movement, what Mbeki, Zuma and Lekota lacked in character and dignity in the eyes on the membership, Motlanthe possessed in great measure. When he was elected overwhelmingly over Nkosazana Zuma as the deputy president to Jacob Zuma, the masses were ecstatic. Motlanthe inadvertently became part of the Zuma camp, the new post-Mbeki rulers. When asked if he had ambitions to be president of the country, like Jacob Zuma before him he indicated reluctantly that he harboured no such ambitions, and that he is simply a servant of the movement who would in reality rather be a soccer talent scout and help Bafana Bafana – South Africa’s national team – reverse its fortunes.

As it was becoming clearer that a smooth handover of power was needed from the Mbeki administration to the next one, a bridge was needed. None other that Motlanthe was swiftly sworn in as a member of parliament to be the custodian of this transition. As the Zuma machinery kicked in after the Polokwane victory, it was time to ‘address the Mbeki question’. With Judge Chris Nicholson having indicated that Mbeki may have meddled and caused Zuma’s problems, the leaders clearly could not ignore such an inference of a political conspiracy against their beloved president. It is reported that Motlanthe once again tried to be the voice of reason. Supported by Zuma he opposed the move to oust Mbeki prematurely, but this time he was overruled. Thabo Mbeki was the enemy of the state and had to be taught a lesson.

There were already voices from several quarters touting Kgalema Motlanthe to be a better man who would make a better president than Jacob Zuma. The star of Motlanthe was shining brighter. Clearly, some within the camp were not happy with him, however. Why was he starting to behave like ‘Zuma is not here’, one voice was heard muttering. Some started to question the fact that he was not really ‘100 per cent JZ’, a badge of honour worn by members of the inner circle. He was never seen singing the king’s praises and, as some reminded us, he was in both camps prior to Polokwane. Motlanthe had earlier said on radio that it was nonsense for ANC members to say that they ‘will kill for Zuma’. He was not endearing himself with the faithful.

After Mbeki was vindictively dethroned, the Zuma camp put forward Motlanthe’s name to stand in as caretaker president; he was the logical choice as he was already an MP, making him the third post-apartheid after Mandela and Mbeki. However, bad timing seemed to be Motlanthe's enemy as he walked into the presidency. He was given a difficult task of finalising the Vusi Pikoli matter, a matter which was left hanging by Mbeki and had ramifications for the Jacob Zuma trial. Motlanthe decided to show Pikoli the door against the recommendation of the Frene Ginwala, a senior in the movement, apparently without consulting with the movement.

This was a turning point for Motlanthe's presidency; the honeymoon was over. The media started critically assessing him, while his party members were also throwing jabs at him. The ANC started making more demands, and Motlanthe seemed to be dancing to some other tune, perhaps his own, but clearly not the one from Luthuli house. Mbeki decided to appeal Nicholson's judgment, funded by the state as an ex-president. Luthuli House wanted Motlanthe to withdraw the support of government, but he did not. Mbeki lost the appeal, and Motlanthe should have been lauded, but he was castigated for his wisdom. He has been seen to be dragging his feet on two important matters: the signing of two bills into law. The first regards the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board and the other relates to the abolition of the National Prosecuting Authority. The faithful and the greedy alike are furious.

Motlanthe seemingly went against the ANC’s wishes by bringing Ibrahim Rasool into his team after the latter was ousted from the party leadership in the Western Cape province. Now that the disaster known as Mcebisi Skwatsha has exploded in the ANC's face in the Western Cape, one would think Motlanthe's decision would be lauded. When the ANC had a chance to remove Mbeki from the Zimbwabwe mediation, they blinked; today those wishing that he was removed then seem to blame Motlanthe for spending too much time with him. Motlanthe has even been accused of inviting Mbeki to particular state events where the JZ brigade believes he should have been shunned. It looks like Motlanthe is too decent for petty squabbles.

When it was revealed that Motlanthe's other house was being paid for by the dubious Sandile Majali, one started to wonder what forces were at play. Is he just another corrupt comrade? Not long after, media reports about his collapsing family life were reported. It was clear that the claws of the dragon were digging in. Other reports started surfacing that Motlanthe will not want to serve anymore in the future cabinet following the completion of his caretaker presidential term. He cited interference in his family life as a reason, according to those reports. The most painful assault was inflicted recently when it was reported that Motlanthe has a secret love affair with two other women, one a 45-year-old lover and another a pregnant 24-year-old. The allegation went further to imply that he is the father of the unborn baby.

The honeymoon is over. Just like the dramatic ending to the leadership of Dr Xuma, who was ousted for being too moderate by the radical elements within the ANC of the 1940s – namely the ANC Youth League and the South African Communist Party – Motlanthe’s future seems to be written on the walls of history.

* Pitso Tsibolane is a South African blogger.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


The People’s Health Movement: Progress in Africa

Claudio Schuftan, Laura Turiano and Abhay Shukla

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/53778


cc. World Bank
Over the last two years, the People’s Health Movement (PHM) campaign has advanced significantly in Africa. It now has active, funded campaigns in the DR Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo and Cameroon, with Zimbabwe and South Africa also involved (without receiving PHM funding), as well as advanced negotiations to launch the campaign in Senegal and Djibouti. Elsewhere, new PHM circles have been formed in the last three months in Mali, Kenya, Morocco and Uganda, where representatives will be submitting campaign proposals shortly. The countries that are on the verge of completing the assessment are now eligible for small, additional funding to hold national workshops through which to present the results to their respective governments, along with UN agencies, international and national NGOs and the media.

To put the People’s Health Movement campaign in perspective, we wanted to share with Pambazuka readers the principle in which it is based. The progressive weakening of public health systems, the growing privatisation of healthcare and the erosion of universal access to healthcare are worldwide phenomena. The health sector globally is still dominated by vertical and technocentric approaches, often supported by ‘public-private partnerships’ active at several levels.

There is therefore an urgent need to replace this dominant discourse with a process aimed at universally achieving the ‘right to health and to healthcare’ as the main objective. In this way, we can hope to achieve more equitable healthcare systems in both developing and developed countries. To counter and reverse the tide promoting ‘healthcare as a commodity’, there is a need to establish a global consensus on ‘healthcare as a right’. Human rights violations are not accidents, they are not random in distribution or effect and are acutely linked to social conditions. It is the socio-political forces at work that determine the risk of most forms of human rights violations. Our understanding of human rights violations is thus based on broader analyses of power and social inequality and their social, economic and political determinants. The promotion of equity is the central ingredient for respecting human rights in health. It is mostly the poor who are the victims and they have too little voice and no influence, let alone rights. It is inequities of power that prevent the poor from accessing the opportunities they need to move out of poverty. Structures and not just individuals must be changed if this state of affairs is to change.

Since laws designed to protect human rights and the right to health are mostly not applied, what additional measures have to be taken? This is what the People’s Health Movement’s ‘Right to Health and Health Care Campaign’ (RTHHC) sets out to explore. It is not enough to improve the situation of the poor within existing social relationships. Rights are claimed through social action and the latter depends on how power is distributed and used to address health issues. Human rights legislation alone – without enforcement mechanisms – is not up to the task of relieving suffering already at hand. Rights are not equal to laws, they are realised through social action and by changing prevailing power relations. Rights cannot be advanced but through the organised efforts of the state and of civil society. To work on behalf of the victims of violations of the right to health invariably means becoming deeply involved in pressing for social and economic rights.

Public health must be linked to a return to social justice. Denial of care to those who do not pay is simply legitimised in the free-market system. The commoditisation of healthcare changes people from citizens with rights to consumers with (or without) purchasing power. This leaves those who are economically marginalised also marginalised from accessing comprehensive healthcare. The global campaign proposed by the PHM is a step in the direction outlined above, seeking the social transformations indispensable to resolving the current inequities found in health.

THE RIGHT TO HEALTH: A HOLISTIC OVERVIEW

The right to health has been defined as the ‘right to the enjoyment of a variety of facilities, goods, services and conditions necessary for the realization of the highest attainable standard of health’. This right includes both the right to all the underlying determinants of health (such as water, food security, housing, sanitation, education, and safe and healthy working and living environments), and the right to healthcare itself and the entire range of preventive, curative and rehabilitative services including education and activities around promoting good health.

In practice, this suggests two types of tasks for the global health movement: tackling the right to all the underlying determinants of health, and strengthening the right to healthcare. Tackling the right to the underlying determinants of health includes supporting and even co-initiating campaigns or initiatives addressing key health determinants (for example, campaigns for water, for food security, and for housing). There are initiatives already underway on behalf of these rights, initiatives which are not necessarily spearheaded by health activists. We contend that the focal point for each of these initiatives should be the organisations with the most experience and commitment to a particular issue, be it water, food security, housing, or the environment.

This recognition places an obligation on health activists to actively support and strengthen such initiatives, though not necessarily to take up the responsibility of primary leadership of such groups. When liaising with these groups, PHM will bring the health perspective to their campaigns. An additional important role that has to be played by health activists is to help document violations of the right to the underlying determinants of health, for example, by showing how the denial of food security leads to worsening malnutrition, increased morbidity and mortality. Health-based arguments can significantly strengthen the demands of claim-holders to tackle these determinants from a right-to-health perspective.

STRENGTHENING THE RIGHT TO HEALTHCARE

The global health movement has a primary and unquestionable responsibility to take the lead on the right to healthcare. We are all witnesses to the often catastrophic consequences of the lack of economic access to adequate healthcare and the poverty trap that leads to avoidable mortality.

What then does the right to health imply and what is the added value of the human rights-based approach? In every development process, there are three types of actors: Claim-holders, duty bearers, and agents of accountability. When the state does not respect human rights, claim-holders have to demand their rights directly from the duty bearers in government, all the while interacting with agents of accountability in the form of human rights commissions, ombudsmen, and human-rights-oriented NGOs who oversee the procedures being put in place by government and make sure duty bearers fulfil their obligations, including remedies and restitutions.

If claim-holders do not do this, they are partly responsible for their situation. One can thus say that it is also the duty of those of us who are aware of human rights to generate awareness about the bases of these rights, in partnership with the marginalised and underserved groups we work with. When the right to health is violated and when the poor, the marginalised and the discriminated, as claim-holders, do not have the capacity to effectively demand their rights, these rights themselves are also violated because duty bearers do not have the capacity or the will to fulfil their obligations (technically called ‘correlative duties’). Therefore, in a human rights-based approach one has to carry out three types of analyses: 1) Situation analyses in which one determines the causes of the problems by placing them in a hierarchical causality-chain of immediate, underlying and basic causes or determinants; 2) Capacity analyses in which one determines who are the individuals and institutions that bear the duty to do something about the causes identified by calling on them to fulfil their duties (as per their country’s obligations as signatories of the UN human rights convention); and 3) Analysis of and liaison with accountability agents.

Herein lies the call for human rights activists to carry out rights awareness work, for instance to educate and inform broader society about what these rights mean and what accountability mechanisms should be put in place and made to work. These three types of analyses have to be carried out in conjunction with representatives from local communities and the beneficiaries of the health system so that the rights being violated can be jointly identified and those responsible also be jointly confronted in order that problems be effectively tackled. Note that the rights activist’s ultimate goal is not to look for health policies that favour the poor as such; what is sought is significant poverty reduction policies that directly address the social determinants of health. As rights activists, we are no longer going to go and beg for changes to be implemented; we are now going to demand them based on existing international law already in force in most of the countries where we work.

Disseminating this concept is in itself empowering. We should note that people in countries that have not ratified these conventions have the same rights; their problem is simply that their governments have not made a commitment to honour them. PHM seeks to overcome the culture of silence and apathy about the human rights violations in health that we all know are happening, because human rights and the right to health will never be given to poor, marginalised, discriminated and indigenous persons. Rights are never given, they have to be fought for!

Fighting for these rights is precisely what PHM’s global RTHHC campaign is attempting to do. As regards the added value of adopting a human-rights-based framework, several advantages come to mind: 1) A RTHHC campaign possesses big potential for social mobilisation, and this is an indispensable part of any campaign; 2) The human rights approach is backed by international law; 3) The right-to-health approach demands – from a position of strength – that decision-makers take responsibility; 4) Human rights imply correlative duties that are universal and indivisible; and 5) The human rights approach is focused on processes that lead to specific outcomes, and not simply setting goals like those underpinning the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

WHAT MAY BE REALISTICALLY ACHIEVED?

PHM has no illusion that systematically raising the issue of the ‘right to health’ will, by itself, lead to the complete implementation of this right in countries across the globe. The universal provision of even basic healthcare services involves major budgetary, operational and systematic changes. In addition to shifting to a rights-based framework, major political and legal reorientations are needed, and such major changes cannot be expected to happen in full in the near future, given the political economy of healthcare in most countries of the world today. PHM expects, however, to be able work on a number of more achievable objectives, objectives which can take us towards a broader human rights goal. Some of these achievable objectives to be considered are: 1) The explicit recognition of the right to healthcare at country level; 2) The formation, in some countries, of health rights monitoring bodies (accountability agents) with PHM and civil society participation; 3) A clearer delineation of health rights at both global and country levels; 4) The shifting of the focus of the World Health Organization (WHO) towards health rights and universal access systems and the strengthening of groups within the WHO that will work along these lines; 5) Putting the right to healthcare firmly on the global agenda by making it a central reference point in global health discourse; and (6) Strengthening human rights activists’ networks in as many countries as possible so that all their members work around a common and broad rallying point while continuing to build partnerships.

* The People’s Health Movement (PHM) is firmly committed to expanding the Right to Health and Health Care Campaign (RTHHC) in Africa. Any country not mentioned within this article is welcome to inquire with us how they can get a PHM circle going. Please contact us at [email protected].
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/




Pan-African Postcard

Gaddafi and African unity

Addis summit putting brakes on progress

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/panafrican/53847


cc. Andrew Heavens
Following Muammar al-Gaddafi’s election as the African Union’s new chairperson, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem calls upon the long-time Libyan leader to promote genuine strides towards greater pan-African unity. Noting Gaddafi’s traditional support for minority groups and left-wing political causes across Africa and around the world at large, Abdul-Raheem argues that substantive achievement will rest on the ability of the new leader and the AU to effectively engage with pan-Africanists at all levels outside of the corridors of governmental power.

The leader and our brother Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi has just been elected chairperson of the African Union. As to be expected around anything to do with the leader (40 years in power this September) of the Libyan Arab socialist Jamahiriya, there is a controversy which will not abate for the next 12 months of his tenure as chief spokesperson for Africa’s premier diplomatic and political forum.

For those of us with longer memories we can rewind to a different time and age in 1982 when Gaddafi was prevented from becoming chairperson of the former Organization of African Unity (OAU) by an unholy alliance of internal reactionary leaders and external Cold War-driven campaigns against the then fiery revolutionary leader led by the West, with the US as the principal Force of opposition. Gaddafi was then a pariah to many Westerners and their puppets of African allies. Libya was hosting the OAU summit but many African leaders stayed away and a quorum could not be obtained. Consequently, the outgoing chairperson, one Daniel arap Moi, a ‘model’ African leader, in the eyes of London and Washington, had his term extended. Moi did not even go to Tripoli. I recall that President Shehu Shagari of Nigeria also stayed at home while hypocritically expressing the wish to join his colleagues in Tripoli if quorum was obtained. It did not occur to him that by staying put in Lagos he was preventing quorum from being formed!

The real reason was that many of these leaders distrusted Libya’s revolutionary position and Gaddafi’s support for different radical opposition activists including the forces behind military coups. Tripoli was a Mecca to all kinds of revolutionary groups that were fighting rotten leaders, often Western-backed, allegedly ‘moderate leaders’ in whose hands imperialism and neo-colonialism felt safe in Africa. While he was unpopular with many of the governments he was a hero to many ordinary people, radicals, youths and students because of his outspokenness and willingness to face down the West and support socialist and revolutionary forces both in Africa and internationally. It was not just coup leaders that Libya’s leader supported; Gaddafi was a pillar to many liberation movements across Africa including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), Namibia’s South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), and the Patriotic Front in Zimbabwe, as indeed he was to Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva in Brazil, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and other leftist groups in South America and the Caribbean, along with civil liberty and minority groups and hard Left groups in Europe, Islamist leftist forces everywhere such as The Nation of Islam and other black nationalist and Native American groups in the US.

Despite his ideological alignment with the socialist bloc Gaddafi was neither a Moscow or China surrogate leader. In spite of supporting mainstream liberation movements in an age when such organisations claimed to be the ‘sole representative of the people’, Libya often supported different groups from the same country and even different factions of the same groups. It also had an infinite capacity to switch support from government to opposition or vice versa. Any regular participant at the various Al Mathaba events and training at that time will readily attest to the presence of a motley of groups from all over the world that were fellow travellers in Tripoli in those days, courtesy of Libyan solidarity and internationalism.

Sometimes with friends in Libya you do not need enemies. Libya’s unpredictability was both an indication of the country’s independence and Gaddafi’s attempts to create a third way between the two dominant blocs. He never quite succeeded but the relative fabulous wealth of the country and the popular legitimacy of the Al Fatah revolution enabled it to be a force to be reckoned with. It is not just Libya’s wealth but the orientation of its leadership that cemented the country’s power, because in comparison Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zaire under Mobutu, Angola, Botswana and a few other countries in Africa have tremendous wealth yet did or do not have a similar level of influence.

Imperialism fought against Libya for a long time including several coup and assassination attempts and Tripoli bombings (Ronald Reagan’s pre-emptive strike of 1986 missed Gaddafi only by a whisker). Libya also fought Euro-American hegemony by all means at its disposal. But it was Lockerbie that finally led to sanctions being imposed on Libya for 10 years. The sanctions regime nearly brought Libya to its knees. It was pan-African diplomatic and political solidarity that helped Libya to find a diplomatic end. It was Africa’s resolve and threat to break the sanctions unanimously adopted at the 1998 Ouagadougou summit that forced the hands of the UN Security Council. Mandela, Museveni and Rawlings were instrumental in instigating the change. The OAU gave the UN, the US and Britain an ultimatum to accept the trial of the Libyan suspects in the Netherlands instead of Scotland. Mandela even went on state visit to Tripoli twice in one week. Who could have imposed sanctions on Mandela for breaking sanctions against Libya?

The lessons of Lockerbie were what dictated Gaddafi’s renewed interest in African unity and his belief that African states could wield more influence if they were to act together. Africa held together whereas the Arab league, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and other pan-Islamic or pan-Arab diplomatic and political forums that Libya belonged to could not back up their solidarity with any tangible action. His gratitude to Africa led to the extraordinary session of the OAU in Sirte in September 1999. In the search for a faster process of African unity, it was the Sirte Declaration that led to the transformation of the OAU to the African Union. By this time Libya had more or less abandoned the policy of changing African governments in exchange for just having friendly relations. The world had already changed too. By then many pro-Western governments in Africa had become post-Cold War ideological orphans. And many of Libya’s former rebel friends had also assumed power in a number of these countries. Even those leaders who did not share Libya’s revolutionary ideas learnt to accommodate the country. You may not be firm friends but you do not want it on your enemy’s side.

Libya’s rehabilitation in Africa with friends in all the national capitals preceded its international rehabilitation with newfound friends in London, Washington, Rome, Paris and Brussels. Post-Lockerbie Libya has concentrated its intra-African diplomacy on state-to-state relations and pan-African business enterprises that have made it a leading financial and investment player in many African countries in areas like hotels, banking, agriculture and mining. Increasingly Libya is becoming more like China in its African relations.

Libya’s power and influence across Africa is therefore not just because it uses money to bribe leaders or finance ruling parties but also as a key player in investments, buying privatised state assets and real estate, offering soft loans, and bartering trading oil for other assets.

It is not afraid throw its weight around but also is able to be willing and always ready to put its money where its mouth is. Against the caution of the bureaucrats in Addis Ababa and the lack of political will of many of the continent’s leaders, since 1999 Libya has been pushing for faster unity. Unfortunately it is concentrating too much on states instead of also building people-to-people dialogue and supporting grassroots movement in every country to nurture local constituencies for pan-Africanism. This misguided emphasis on leaders makes it easy for reluctant leaders to throw the all important issues around union government to committees, study groups and more committees since most of them do not believe it will or should happen in their lifetime.

Unlike in 1982 there is no big external interest in stopping Gaddafi from being the AU chairperson. After all, he is now great friends with those who made him a pariah before. In Africa itself the Moi or Shagari of today’s Africa no longer fear that Gaddafi will overthrow them; rather disagreements centre on the pace of African unification. They have accepted that it was better to have Gaddafi ‘pissing out from inside’ rather than ‘pissing in from outside’. They have perfected how to manage his eccentricity while giving him the illusion that he is winning. It is a war of attrition.

That reduces Gaddafi to a mere irritant. Since Libyans are not known for caring too much about details all their apparent political gains will prove to be phyrric at the committee level, buried in legalese and politico-bureaucratic fudge.

Gaddafi’s assumption of the post of chairperson of the AU will ensure that the issue of union government remains on the agenda for the year, but I doubt if much progress will be made unless Gaddafi changes his approach and learns the right lessons of the past 10 years of re-branding the OAU. It is not more noise that we need but concrete strategic actions. One, changing the name from AU to African Union Authority will not make any difference if the organisation lacks the power both politically and economically to exercise its authority. Two, Gaddafi has to give up the razzmatazz and his penchant for political form rather than content. Three, he should stop childish pranks like calling himself ‘king of kings’ and allowing himself to be a pawn in the hands of all kinds of charlatans who will give him any title as long as Libya continues to sponsor their useless gatherings. Four, African unity can only be built by committed pan-Africanists who are not just temporary residents of state houses but who operate at all levels in every country, be they political parties, the private sector, trade unions, mass organisations, civil society and non-governmental organisations, professional associations, youth representatives, students, parliamentarians, and the media. Bribing leaders may ‘win’ resolutions but yield no concrete actions leading to unity.

But above all Gaddafi needs to lead by example. Libya must politically educate its own citizens and stem anti-African xenophobia in the country and stop pursuing immigration policies and pacts that make it a gatekeeper for Europe. Gaddafi must stop promoting dictatorships by openly supporting leaders who do not respect the wishes of their people with reckless proclamations like his infamous remark that ‘revolutionaries do not retire’. After 40 years in power he needs to show that the Al Fatah revolution is able to sustain itself without him. If he does not have confidence in Libyans to rule themselves without his ‘guidance’ after all these years it will be very difficult for him to inspire discerning Africans about our collective future.

As a friend of Libya for more than two decades and someone who has met Gaddafi several times and believes that he means well for Africa and who knows that he is not as crazy as his caricatures make out, I am also anxious that the messenger is now the main obstacle to the message. He readily plays into the hands of the reactionary bureaucrats of our union, the opportunistic populism of his own personality-driven political machine in Libya and the political obscurantism of unwilling leaders who will say yes to his face while working assiduously to block him as soon as his back is turned. The business of unity is too important to be left to the whims and chagrin of leaders. It has to be anchored on sustainable institutions that are well thought-out and well costed and budgeted for. There is enough in the constitutive act of the African Union that any further reviews agreed in Addis Ababa can only advance the interests of the enemies of unity who are determined to put the brakes on any progress.

* Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is general secretary of the Global Pan-African Movement, based in Kampala, Uganda, and is also director of Justice Africa, based in London, UK.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/


Yes we can!

Karen Chouhan

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/panafrican/53784

Reflecting on her visit to Washington during Obama’s inauguration, Karen Chouhan discusses how the new president has transcended traditional divisions around race and gender. Saluting Obama’s campaign for never resorting to personal attacks or disparaging remarks, Chouhan hopes that the momentum generated behind the message of change will bear fruit in the form of progressively greater equal opportunities, opportunities which are the responsibility of all of us to work towards.

I don’t remember feeling this wave of universal optimism and jubilation since Mandela was released.

That was ‘BO’ (Before Obama).

The streets and bars and clubs are rocking with star struck people of all ethnicities, sexualities, abilities, ages, genders, and faiths, all forgetting to feel the bitter cold. I’ve met Germans, Brazilians, Columbians, latinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Mexicans, British, and Portuguese and everyone!

I have attended several discussion events in my few days here in Washington,. I was at the famous ‘Busboys and poets’ bookstore and restaurant, (where I bought the book that Barack Obama read for his campaign, ‘Rules for Radicals’ by Saul Alinsky), then at a local black church (Plymouth) and at Howard University. The panellists ranged from local community activists of every ethnicity, through to Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Queen Latifah and Chris Bridges to the actress Rosario Dawson, as well as civil rights leaders and commentators like Reverend Al Sharpton, Dr Cornell West and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Almost everyone on the streets and in the bars and restaurants, churches, university students have at least one Obama word in common: ‘transcend’.

He transcended above the fray, above the politics of race and gender, and above the politics of politics.

This is not the same as going beyond, because Obama has not left any of these issues and these issues will never leave him.

He did not go beyond gender but transcended the anti-sexism rhetoric without action.

He did not go beyond race but beyond the rhetoric-without-action of some anti-racists, making use of a practical opportunity for power and doing something to bring about equality.

Female panellists at Howard university were asked how they felt about a white woman losing out to a black man, but are there still fissures between white women and black men? They said we learnt a lot from Obama. He ran a better campaign. He showed that you don’t have to put anyone down to put yourself forward.

Obama did not say disparaging things about Hilary, he did not enter the fray of whether there was a choice between a white woman and black man , between tackling sexism and tackling racism. He did not entertain discussions of hierarchies and he never denied the reality of race or gender disparities, nor for that matter any issue of equality. Obama mentions sexuality in almost every important speech he makes.

There seems to be room for all views, and those who have been on the receiving end of discrimination feel enfranchised enough to converse as equals.

When the press were attacking Sarah Palin for her daughter being a single-mum-to-be, Barack Obama said hands off everyone, I was born to a single mother.

He did not join in with the personal attacks to take his political enemy down; he stayed true to personal values.

I heard it said at a panel of hip hop artists by the moderator Barry Michael Cooper (journalist and filmmaker), that he is the new template for black masculinity; I would go further and say that he’s perhaps the template for all men.

The feeling of togetherness and unity, change, and of a new world dawning is fantastic. And yet there is room for difficult questions. In many of the debates, questions were raised about Palestine and Obama’s course of action.

I heard cynics saying ‘only one person has changed so what can he do when the others behind him stay the same’.

And I heard others answering, ‘He is, however, the key change and he has constituency power and pull and push; people will not let him be alone. They will organise stronger and harder to make the most of this opportunity.’

I read the Black Men of London (BMOL) response to one such cynic and it was so spot on it merits being replicated here: ‘There’s lessons for us all from observing Obama. We don’t have to accept every invitation to a fight or an argument. And if we have to win people over to our point of view by shouting or disparaging them, then our reason is weak.’

At the same time very real racial inequalities exist in the unemployment and income levels of people of colour in the UK and globally. These inequalities are visible in the lower levels of achievement in education of particular groups such as white working-class boys, traveller and gypsy children, Caribbean and Pakistani boys, and in the over-representation of people of colour in the criminal justice system and mental health wards, as well as in the under-representation of people of colour in the judiciary, police, teaching, parliament, and local authority systems (to name but a few).

So we cannot let Obama down; we cannot leave him to the wolves of Wall Street or the power-hungry territorial heads of state and nations that care nothing about killing ordinary citizens by the thousand. We cannot leave Obama alone to deal with world poverty, hunger or to realise the Millennium Development Goals.

We may have change, we may have hope, but we don’t have equality yet. That is for all of us to deliver, by transcending the fray and working on higher principles, values and better respect for all humanity.

The hip hop panel ended by saying there are two time periods: BO and AO. Join us in making AO a time for equality – our time!

* Karen Chouhan is the Equanomics UK co-ordinator and director for research and policy.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.




Books & arts

Review of Francis Nyamnjoh’s Married But Available

Researching sexuality in Africa

Omobolaji Olarinmoye

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/53785

The book Married But Available is a unique one, unique in the sense that it is first an exposé – a mischievous and daring one for that matter – on the issue of sexuality (in Africa and the discourse guiding research on the issue) and more importantly (at least for the reviewer) a critique of the process of data collection for research in the social sciences. In other words, through an examination of sexuality in Mimboland (a fictional country based on the author’s home country of Cameroon, but which could easily represent any African country), the book addresses the issue of how to or not to undertake social research and examines the consequences, personal and public, of sloppy data collection.
At a first glance, the idea of a book on social science research methods is not an obvious choice, but Nyamnjoh’s is an effective critique of how research on societies in the global South is done, especially by outsiders to such societies. The choice of sexuality was an powerful medium for the basis of such a critique. Set in Mimboland, the research on sexuality, orchestrated by Lilly Loveless (and her local collaborators, Dr Wiseman Lovemore, Bobinga Iroko, and Britney) highlights the socio-political and economic power dynamics that structure sexual relations in Mimboland (read Africa at large).

Through skilful use of the context of Mimboland, a typical African state wracked with poverty due to bad governance and dependent on foreign aid, the author is able to weave together in a concise manner the issues involved in the debate on African sexuality and explore in full the nature of male–female, young–old and elite–subaltern sexual relations. The book highlights how sexuality is socially defined and how such definitions are influenced by position of the actors involved. In short, the book shows how religion and politics interact with class, culture and poverty to structure sexual relations.

What is most important to note is that the exposé on sexuality is a function of a subtle exploration of the process of data collection in the social sciences. In other words, the titillating details on sexuality in Mimboland so lovingly shared by the author with his readers resulted from the application or misapplication of social science research methods. Through the efforts of Lilly, Britney, Iroko and Lovemore to examine the dynamics of sexuality in Mimboland, the author is able to put social science research methodology under the spotlight. He identifies the problems and advantages inherent in the use of established research methods and most importantly provides solutions. The chapter covering the interview Lilly had with the mobile phone dealer demonstrates the need to be innovative in data collection.

Nyamnjoh goes a step further to discuss issues that are not given prominence in discussions of research methodology, issues such as personal experiences of the researcher in the shape of Lilly’s sexual escapades with African men during her first visit to Africa (p. 57–60), Lovemore’s marital problems (p. 166–193), Bobinga Iroko’s personal tragedy (pp. 360–368) and Britney’s twisted relations with her overseas boyfriend as reflected in her emails to him. The book also highlights the need for flexibility in response to situations arising within the study site (an interview Lilly has with a mobile-phone dealer shows the need to be innovative in data collection (p. 123–127)), as well as in relation to ethics, context, questions of bias and how they affect the choice of research topic, research instruments, research subjects, the choice of study site, modes of application of research instruments, the choice of research assistants and final interpretation of research data.

The challenges faced daily in conducting research in Africa are highlighted in Nyamnjoh’s discussion of the power relations involved in research, as reflected in the need for letters of affiliation and invitation for the outside researcher (p. 1–3), the politics of collaboration (Lovemore, a PhD holder practically pleads with a conceited foreign PhD student to co-publish a paper with him (p. 15–16)), and the politics of resource allocation in universities seen in the actions of the vice-chancellor and the registrar in the form of appointments, promotions and allocations of funding for research and attendance at conferences.

The problem is that the above analysis of research methodology is not very obvious to the reader as the comments and issues pertaining to research methodology are so skilfully integrated into the prose of the book that it is only a researcher with fieldwork experience who can immediately grasp the lessons the author seeks to convey to the readers. In other words, while the theme of the book is most pertinent for highlighting the issues involved in conducting social research – especially in the South by ‘outsiders’ – it tends, due to the excitement the taboo status it raises in the minds of readers and the juicy morsels the author most delightfully throws out, to overshadow the more serious goal of the book, which is to critique social science research methodology.

But sincerely I cannot think of any other way of achieving the twin goals the book set out to achieve: examining sexuality in an African country in a frank manner while critique social science research methodology. The book is an excellent one, a very pleasurable read and one that I recommend for those interested in sexuality issues (especially for its insights into the intricacies and politics of the field). In the hands of a skilled and experienced instructor, the book will be useful for the teaching of social science research methods, especially for the excitement it brings to what is considered by most students to be a very boring subject.

* Omobolaji Olarinmoye is with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration,
Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Nigeria.
* Francis B Nyamnjoh’s Married But Available is published by Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group, Cameroon.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Review of Yoon Jung Park’s A matter of honour: being Chinese in South Africa

Stephen Marks

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/53782

South Africa is home to one of the largest Chinese communities in Africa, estimated at over 300,000. Most have arrived since the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1988, many of them as illegal overstayers. There are also an estimated 30,000 Taiwanese, the remainder of a once larger population of over 100,000 established during and after the 1970s, when the apartheid regime established close relations with Taipei.
But Yoon Jung Park has chosen to write about neither of these, but rather about the smallest and at first sight least significant of South Africa’s Chinese communities; the 10,000 to 12,000 South African-born Chinese whose community was already established in South Africa before and during the apartheid years.

On the surface this may seem a strange, even perverse and eccentric decision. But her perceptive and multi-dimensional analysis as well as being a fascinating story in its own right, establishes and deploys a conceptual apparatus which is useful and even essential in assessing and anticipating the possible future development and choices for more recently established Chinese communities in South Africa and elsewhere, and indeed in understanding the role and future of other diaspora communities in a globalised world.

Chinese people can be found in South Africa’s story from the 17th through to the 19th century, as slaves, convicts and artisans. But the ‘South African-born Chinese’ are not descended from them or from the 65,000 indentured workers brought into South Africa after 1904 to work in the mines, and repatriated after 1910. Instead, their parents or grandparents arived as independent free migrants from the 1870s onwards.

The South Africa into which they migrated was already a racially structured society, with restrictive legislation, originally targeted at indentured Indian or Chinese labourers, impeding their residence, movement and economic opportunities.

While the first generation were free to seek marriage partners in China and send their sons there for a Chinese education, the advent of formal apartheid after 1948, together with the effective closure of China after 1949, combined to isolate the community. The apartheid system also isolated them internally; officially ‘non-white’, they were too few in number to be treated in practice as a distinct racial group.

Their self-image combined a compensatory belief in an imagined ‘great and powerful China’ – itself increasingly detached from a rapidly-changing reality – and a refusal to accept the second-class status to which they were officially consigned.

In Park’s words, ‘these two factors created the primary tension that would define their lives: their sense of superiority and of belonging to a greater, imagined China, alongside their treatment variously as foreigners or second-class citizens (and later as ‘honorary whites’) in South Africa.’

Their strategy for coping with this situation was, as Park puts it, ‘to become better than the whites, chiefly through educational achievement and professionalisation’ thus seeking, often successfully, to gain respectability, acceptance and economic parity with their middle-class white equivalents. In addition they would choose professional avenues such as medicine, accountancy and engineering, in which they could be self-employed and therefore avoid the worst effects of employment discrimination.

As Park explains, ‘They became with very few exceptions, model citizens: law abiding, quiet, non-violent, non-confrontational, polite, educated and above all respectable.’ This strategy and its consequences were worked out over the generations in three successive stages, which Park identifies as, first, the older shopkeepers who had the harshest encounter with apartheid and like first-generation immigrants the world over, concentrated on working hard, keeping their heads down, avoiding trouble, and dreaming of returning ‘home’.

Next came what she identifies as the fence-sitter group, benefitting from the first real opportunities for upward mobility and social mixing, and finally the bananas (‘yellow outside, white inside’), with little remaining Chinese culture and increasingly seeing themselves as primarily South African.

This progression, familiar to the experience of many other migrant groups, was accompanied in the South African case by a policy of increasing relaxation of segregatory laws which, by an often-humiliating procedure of individual exemptions, would allow Chinese access to white amenities, schools and universities, and residential areas.

While never officially reclassifying the Chinese as ‘honorary whites’, this trend, reinforced by the ‘honorary white’ status granted officially to the Japanese for commercial reasons, had many of the same effects. But it was always insecure, involving Chinese, for example, in the offensive necessity of canvassing potential white neighbours on their doorsteps to get documentary confirmation that there were no objectors to their moving into a ‘white’ area.

Against this historical and sociological background Park discusses and analyses the shifting nature of Chinese identity in different generations and groups. On the one hand she finds an essentialised and idealised concept of ‘Chineseness’, which is found not only among those who maintain it, but also among some of the most completely South Africanised ‘bananas’ in the form of a feeling of guilt for what they feel they have lost.

Against this Park insists that ‘ethnicity is constructed and contested, as well as positional and relative’. One of the places where this is brought out most clearly is in her discussion of ‘remigrants’ – those South African Chinese who have emigrated and in their new countries find themselves associating with other South African Chinese.

‘Among these there are now Chinese South African Canadians, Chinese South African Australians, Chinese South African Americans and so forth… these various remigrants have increasingly layered, nuanced and complex identities that are sited in at least three geographically distant spaces. Furthermore the various parts of their identities shift as one becomes more salient than the others at various times, according to circumstance. And as with other Chinese South Africans, these identities shift with different life stages.’

Similar shifts in identity can be traced among the more recently-arrived Taiwanese South Africans. These and the more recent arrivals from the mainland also impact on the still-developing South African Chinese identity, sometimes as an indignant and irritated reaction to the stereotyping of all Chinese by the negative image of the most recent arrivals.

Park does not exclude the possibility of ‘the eventual construction of a pan-Chinese, multi-generational, multi-group Chinese South African identity’. But this should by no means be seen as inevitable, given what one scholar calls ‘the fluidity of Chineseness as a layered and contested discourse’.

Here as elsewhere the description and analysis is invaluable in understanding other diaspora, immigrant and minority experiences. The author makes comparative reference to studies of Chinese communities in Mississippi, and to the ‘Peranakan’ Straits Chinese. But there are many other parallels, not only with other Chinese communities in Africa and elsewhere but with the experiences of other diasporic communities – Indian, Greek, Jewish and Lebanese. Indeed, there are lessons for all of us, as in an increasingly globalised world, we are all, to a greater or lesser extent, becoming diasporic.

* Stephen Marks is a research associate with Fahamu’s China in Africa programme.
* Yoon Jung Park’s A matter of honour: being Chinese in South Africa is published by Jacana Media.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.




Letters & Opinions

Food is a human right, not a corporate commodity

Open letter to Paul Collier, director of Oxford's Centre for the Study of African Economies

William Aal, Lucy Jarosz and Carol Thompson

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/letters/53783

Paul Collier (‘Politics of Hunger’, November–December 2008) advocates ‘slaying three giants’ to end the food crisis: peasant agriculture, the fear of scientific agriculture, and the myth of biofuels from grain to overcome US oil dependence. His analysis is, however, very much grounded in the agriculture of the last century.

Collier continues to make the 20th century-long argument that increased yields is what can feed the hungry, a point that seems self-evident. But much research now documents that the hungry remain with us, not because of a lack of food but rather because of distribution and the inability of the poor to access food that is available, often only a few miles away. Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for Economics (1998) for demonstrating not only the theory, but the empirical reality, of famines occurring in the midst of plenty. Moreover, research on commercial agriculture demonstrates its negative effects on the environment, public health, and farming families (Magdoff et al. 2000; Nestle 2002). Commercial farming is highly dependent upon fossil fuels for production, processing, and transport, and is a major contributor to climate change (IPPC 2007).

Collier is correct to lament the high price of food in 2008, causing food riots in about 80 countries. However, he places blame for ‘the root cause’ on the increasing consumption of the Asian (i.e., Chinese and Indian) middle-classes. The statistics tell a different story. As stated by a senior economist at the International Grains Council, Amy Reynolds, ‘At the start of the decade, a small amount of grain—18 million tons—was used for industrial purposes. This year 100 million tons will go towards biofuels and other industrial purposes. Can anyone really tell me that hasn't had an impact on what we pay for food?’ (Chakrabortty 2008, p. 4).

There is never one root cause, and using grain to feed American cars, instead of people, is just a single factor, but one we can change quickly. We fully agree with Collier that Americans must end their addiction to oil, by refusing to put, as he states, one-third of our grain production into gas-guzzling vehicles. A longer term issue, but relevant to increasing demand, is that more than half the US grain and nearly 40 per cent of world grain is being fed to livestock, rather than being consumed directly by humans (Pimentel 1997).

Other contributing factors include the increasing costs of petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides and increasing speculation on commodities markets (Stewart and Waldie 2008). These factors demonstrate, contra Collier, that the root causes of the global food crisis are related to the political economy of commercial agriculture itself, and not simply a matter of supply and demand.

We disagree quite strongly with Collier’s derisive depiction of ‘peasant agriculture’. He attacks the populism that ‘Peasants, like pandas, are to be preserved.. This overly general categorisation seems to include the very diversified category of small-scale family farming, a category which comprises the majority of farm operations throughout the world. These smallholders (often female farmers) are highly entrepreneurial and innovative. They are even more efficient than commercial agriculture, if one uses the measure of capital expenditure per bushel or tonne of yield.

Many scientists now provide statistics that ‘Africa can feed itself’ and that ‘organic farming can feed the world’ (Halberg et al 2007; Norstad 2007). Organic food production and localised forms of small-scale food production are among the fastest growing areas in agriculture today as the health and environmental effects of commercial agriculture are increasingly rejected and as people move to more healthful plant-based diets. Small-scale urban agriculture in the form of community gardening is becoming increasingly important in seasonal food supplies and local forms of food security.

Commercial agriculture, according to Collier, may increase yields by 10 to 20 per cent. Yet long term analyses from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) demonstrate, across the globe, that ‘best practices’ of smallholder agriculture will double yields. ‘Best practices’ include the sharing of seeds (farmers’ rights), research following farmers’ requests, available and affordable credit and yes, agricultural extension. Collier is very wrong in saying that the latter has ‘largely broken down’, for many sources across the African continent document that removing the government from agriculture was a systematic policy of the World Bank (Berg report) and USAID from 1981. If agricultural credit, extension and markets do not work in Africa, the explicit policy of removing ‘government interference’ from agriculture is a major cause.

Another way Collier reveals he is caught in the last century is that he considers ‘scientific’ thinking as coming from those with white coats in elaborate laboratories. The barefoot woman bending over her cultivated genetic treasure is not ‘scientific’, even though such farmers have cultivated genetic biodiversity over thousands of years. These free gifts do not fit into the corporate logic behind commercial agriculture, where only profit can be an incentive, not curiosity nor sharing. Yet indigenous knowledge provides us with all our current food diversity and is the basis for 70 per cent of our current medicines. Americans, for example, need to know that every major food crop we use today was given to us by Native Americans. In contrast, commercial agriculture makes a profit by depleting the gene pool, the result of valuing only very specific traits. As the FAO concluded (1996, p. 13–14), ‘The chief contemporary cause of the loss of genetic diversity has been the spread of modern commercial agriculture.’

A major point which Collier avoids is that genetically modified seeds rely on the patenting of life forms, which most all the world rejects, with the exception of the US government and the global biotechnology industry. Much of the genetically modified research currently involved in the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA of the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations) relies on freely taking seeds and experimenting them with them in the laboratory; if an innovative trait is produced (e.g., pesticide resistance), the plant is patented, with zero recognition to other breeders of the variety over thousands of years. By adding one gene, the corporation patents the whole plant, and often, the whole specie. Africans call this act ‘biopiracy’, or the theft and privatisation of genetic wealth which had previously been available to all (Mushita and Thompson 2007). We agree with farmers that the sharing of biodiversity is both the past, and the future, of human sustenance.

Food is a human right, not a corporate commodity for speculation. Mother Nature does not operate on a boardroom quarterly profit margin. But food production can be very profitable, sustainable and feed all of us. It is just not capable of feeding the ‘giants’ of Wall Street or the City of London; it is those giants’ interference with food production that needs slaying, because food produced mainly to feed corporate profit will merely lead to more food crises, not fewer.

* William Aal is with the Community Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle. Lucy Jarosz is a professor of geography at the University of Washington. Carol Thompson is a professor of political economy at Northern Arizona University.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.

REFERENCES:

Chakrabortty, Aditya. 2008. ‘Fields of gold,’ The Guardian (London), 16 April, p. 4.
Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations. 1996. Report on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, prepared for the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources, Leipzig, June17-23, Rome: FAO.
Halberg, N., et. al. 2007. Global Development of Organic Agriculture: Challenges and Prospects. London: CABI Publishing.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), United Nations. 2007. Climate Change 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/index.htm
Magdoff, Fred, et al., 2000. Hungry for Profit. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Mushita, Andrew and Carol Thompson. 2007. Biopiracy of Biodiversity – International Exchange as Enclosure. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
Nestle, Marion. 2002. Food Politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Norstad, Aksel, ed. 2007. Africa Can Feed Itself. Oslo: The Development Fund.
Articles from a June 2007
Pimental, David. 1997. ‘‘U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat,’ Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists.’ Cornell University Science News. http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/aug97/livestock.hrs.html
Stewart, Sinclair and Paul Waldie. 2008. ‘Who is responsible for the global food crisis?’ Globe and Mail, 31 May.




African Writers’ Corner

Interview with Lilian Masitera

Conversations with Writers

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/53790

In an interview with Conversations with Writers, the Zimbabwean author Lilian Masitera talks about the background to and influences behind her work.

Lilian Masitera is a woman of many talents.

She is a lecturer-in-charge in the Mathematics Department at Belvedere Technical Teachers College in Harare, a novelist, short story writer and poet.

In 1989, while teaching at Queen Elizabeth High School in Harare, she formulated a way through which the vertical angles of cones could be calculated. The formula was accepted as original by the University of Stanford in the United States and is now widely used by high school students.

In 1994, she was among a group of women who published the first anthology of poems and short stories by Zimbabwean female writers. The anthology was described by local critics as ‘a landmark in the history of Zimbabwean literature’. In 1997 she received a merit award from the International Society of Poets for her poem, ‘Enter the Teetotaler’, which also appears in Militant Shadow (Minerva Press, 1996).

In an interview originally published in Mahogany (November/December 1999), Lilian Masitera spoke about her writing:

What made you publish Now I Can Play on your own?

I submitted the seven stories that make up Now I Can Play to a local publishing house a year or so ago. The editor who was handling the stories later informed me that the publishing house was not in a position to publish a collection of short stories from a single writer. Instead they wanted to do an anthology from a number of different writers. Some of my stories would be included in the anthology. Another four were going to be used in an English textbook for secondary schools. The publishing house had also taken another story, ‘Eleven Twice’ and translated it into Shona for publication in a Shona textbook. Although I let them keep my stories and choose what they wanted, I am tired of anthologies. I have been in so many of them with my poetry, so I decided to go solo and publish the collection of short stories on my own.

Did you ever consider sending the manuscript to another publisher?

Minerva Press wanted to publish it. They had accepted the manuscript but I have a problem with being published abroad. My readership is here in Africa but the books don't get here. For them to be available locally, for them to be read here I have to order them myself and it's expensive.

Why Now I Can Play?

Because the whole collection is about women who have fought, won or lost and who say Now I Can Play. For example, there is a schoolgirl who gets raped by her teacher and ends up having an abortion. The story looks at events that led to the abortion.

How autobiographical are your writings?

A lot of what I have written is, to some degree, autobiographical. They are things I have experienced, things I have rubbed shoulders with. I believe I am writing better because of this first-hand experience. Also, it is not too difficult for me to figure out how other people I work with, people I live with, people who were in my childhood, feel. I use them as ingredients in many cases. It is going to be difficult for me to write something totally fictitious.

When did you start writing?

I was writing when I was at school. When I gave what I wrote to other people to read, they enjoyed it. One or two people were shocked by what they read. I remember a composition I wrote once, when I was at secondary school. I went to a girls' school. At the bottom of my composition the teacher wrote, ‘See me.’

When I went to see her, she pointed out some paragraphs which she said were indecent. I remember she told me, ‘Nice girls don't write like that.’

Did you deliberately try to be shocking?

No, not at all. In my composition I had said something about gonads. I didn't realize the impact it would have on the white nun who took us for English. At that time I thought I could write about anything, especially when you write in English — things don't appear as rude or as shocking as when you write them in Shona.

Why do you think this is so?

I suppose it has to do with the place of certain words in culture. You find that in Shona we do not have any words on the reproductive system that can be spoken. You don't refer to certain parts of the anatomy, even to breasts, without causing embarrassment, but in English when I came across them it was in the context of Biology where you draw diagrams and labelled them. Also, some people who use English as their mother language casually throw sexual swear words in their association with people who use English as their second language. So we have learnt them as things which are not vulgar.

What would you say compels you to write?

There are many reasons. I want to share my experiences with others. I want people who read my books to know that what they go through is also experienced by others. I want others to experience the same joy I experienced when I read other people's books, and yes — writing is a compulsion, an addiction.

* This interview appears courtesy of Conversations with Writers. If you are a writer interested in participating, please contact Ambrose Musiyiwa.
* Lilian Masitera is the author of Militant Shadow and Now I Can Play.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.


Looking down from Mt. Kenya

Wangui wa Goro

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/African_Writers/53779

Where do you hope to join my life
Flowing
Not like a river
But as torrents and currents of the tide
Buffeted by multitudinous waters of change
Going back or forth?
Lapping up the high and low banks
Dazzling the plains with illuminous floodings
Awash against the orange red sky of our history?
Where?
Do you and I
Merge as minor or major (con)tributeries
To the great sea -
Vast ocean of change?
Or where do we become engulfed by (o)the)r tides of the past
Of victory and of shame
And of what futures unforetold, then and now?
What do we become?
Droplets of vapour
Carried under the translucent sky
To descend on unsuspecting blossom of spring-tide freedom
As a dew drop - inseparably defiant;
Or swallowed by the parched earth of our desert(er)s
Or a hail stone in the tropical storm?
Here we stand poised to (e)merge
Like Gikuyu and Mumbi
In a world of numerous possibilities
Drawing from history
And awed by the great expanses of the earth, the sea and the sky
That our our future
And which hold promises of infinite, infinite...
Possibilities
London 1997




Blogging Africa

Africa blogging review February 5, 2009

Dibussi Tande

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/blog/53792

Making Sense of Darfur believes that it is time to rethink how peacekeeping missions operate in fragile states:

“Conventional peacekeeping operations are designed as stop-gap measures, either for a brief period of time or with a limited brief in a frozen conflict. This can be functional if the peacekeepers are dealing with institutionalized belligerents, with functioning hierarchies. In so-called ‘fragile states’, there is a risk that peacekeeping missions will turn into open-ended commitments.

Fragile states are typically defined by what they are not–they are not Weberian states in which autonomous state institutions administer the rule of law and regulate political conflicts, and not states in which governments deliver services on an efficient and impartial basis. International policies for dealing with such states, from Afghanistan to Congo, assume that these states can build ‘normal’ institutions in a brief historical span… This is, I fear, a formula for peacekeeping missions without end.”



Halftribe wonders whether true democracy is possible in societies with authoritarian cultures:

“There have been, and still are, very many interesting cultures in the world. I read about one recently...This society seems very interested in adopting a particular set of principles, but the cultures within the society seem to go against the underlying tenets of the very same principles. This appeared to be a model example of running around in circles...

In this society, it is commonplace for parents to instill fear in their children...The elementary schools teach the weightiness of obedience to the law, obedience to parents, obedience to elders, and obedience to God... Religious leaders… are considered infallible... this culture also places high significance on titles... But paradoxically, this society LOVES democracy...

What puzzles me is, is democracy a way of thinking, a mindset, a way of life, a culture? Or is democracy built on the principles of social equality and respect for the individual? Can a society have a totalitarian family structure, an authoritarian governance in classrooms, a societal scale that measures a person's significance based on age, titles, wealth and the like, and simultaneously have a democratic government?

Eyeing Africa comments on reports that Pfizer illegally tested experimental drugs in Nigeria in the 1990s:

“In 1996 during a bacterial meningitis outbreak in Nigeria, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer illegally used a test drug on the local population.”Those reportedly treated by the company ended up with adverse effects like deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight, slurred speech and death." I find it interesting that pharmaceutical companies choose to test in Africa...why is that? Perhaps the developed world is too good for testing and thus opt to use Africans as their Guinea pigs. Today Pfizer settled out of court with the government of Nigeria in an attempt to further hide the truth of their inhumane testing practices.”

Where ever I lay my hat comments on the Rise and fall of Hiplife in Ghana:

“Hiplife is said to be a marriage of Ghanaian highlife and the hip-hop that has been so popular amongst the youth of Ghana since the sound first emerged from New York in the late Seventies and early Eighties. However, while it owes some influences to hip-hop, hiplife really is a different sound altogether.

Hiplife struggled for popularity at first. Parents did not like the way that it aped the vulgarity and brashness of its American cousin and the teenagers thought it was hip-hop’s poorer and – God forbid – local substitute. Eventually songs by Rockstone, the Native Funk Lords and VIP came to vie with rap and R&B for radio airtime and dance floors. Producers emerged who weaved the rap style with highlife making it even more accessible to the Ghanaian masses. Youngsters began emerging on the scene with no understanding of the fact that rap involves clever wordplay and is so rhythmic that you do not need to understand what a person is saying to appreciate the awesomeness of the rhyme…. When singers like Ofori Amponsah and KK Fosu began singing over its beats, even parents started picking up on hiplife’s catchy melodies… which is probably when it all started going horribly, horribly wrong…”

Alex Henderson considers the Zimbabwe’s unity government as the lesser of two evils:

“Whether we like it or not, we’ve got to live with this unity government. It’s not perfect - far from it - but in a few days Morgan Tsvangirai will be the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and that in itself is something I did not expect this time twelve months ago. I was quick to condemn the unity government, and will remain skeptical until convinced otherwise, but after seeing what several MDC members have had to say afterwards I can begin to understand why they had no other choice….. For so long Zimbabwe has been let down by its neighbours and the international community, perhaps it is foolish to think that changes in government in South Africa and the US would have brought eventual change to Zimbabwe. In these tough times, countries have to look after themselves and that is what Zimbabwe has decided to do….

… perhaps we should be thankful that we have not witnessed the bloodbath that occurred in Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence. The deaths by cholera are completely unacceptable and akin to crimes against humanity on the part of the Zimbabwean government, but a violent tribal rift could have been far more deadly. Just like Raila Odinga has risen to the challenge of being a prime minister in a less than perfect unity government, lets hope Prime Minister Tsvangirai will prove up for the task.”
Scribbles from the Den

Scribbles from the Den writes about the “change and changelessness” of American foreign policy and warns that the expectations that Africans have of the Obama administration are unlikely to be fulfilled:

“It is very difficult, and in some cases virtually impossible, to change American foreign policy significantly, especially in those regions where American interests are marginal. Having an American President with a direct connection to and an apparent heightened interest in Africa will not automatically lead to African strongmen tumbling down like dominoes.

The fact that so many Africans, from all walks of life, are counting heavily on President Obama to "bring" democracy to Africa is a clear signal that we have failed to grasp the real significance of Obama’s political story, and are therefore unable to appropriate and adapt the Obama playbook to African realities. The message from Obama's improbable presidential run and his equally improbable victory is a fairly simple but not very obvious one for Africa; change activists on the continent must start working towards creating inclusive and vibrant grassroots political coalitions that will be able, in the long run, to successfully take on the political establishment.”

* Dibussi Tande, a writer and activist from Cameroon, produces the blog Scribbles from the Den

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at www.pambazuka.org/


African Blogging roundup, 5 February 2009

Sokari Ekine

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/blog/53774

Abahlali baseMjondolo report on the recent judgement on the 2007 Kwa ZuluNatal Slums Act in Durban. The shackdwellers had applied to the court to declare the Act unconstitutional. Their application was denied by the Judge whose statement was clearly an attack against the poor....
The Slums Act makes things more orderly in this province and the Act must be given a chance to show off its potential to help deal with problem of slums and slum conditions."
The shackdwellers take the view that settlements are living communities which need to be developed and the Slum Act is a return to apartheid politics whereby it is now poverty that has become a security problem and the poor are criminalised for being poor. Their next step is to take their case to the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The Movement still believes that Amandla is still Awethu and that there is no one that can take that away from us. We will continue to protest against the government's ongoing attacks on the poor, against evictions called 'delivery', against government shacks called 'transit camps', against rural human dumping grounds called 'housing opportunities', against the failure to provide services to settlements resulting in fires, endless water queues, sickness and attacks in dark nights.

Sokwanele – This is Zimbabwe comments on Morgan Tsvangirai’s statement to finally agree to join ZANU PF in ruling Zimbabwe – no not yet time to open the champagne!
“Friday’s announcement from Morgan Tsvangirai came as no surprise. For me it was a moment of resignation – I am resigned to the fact that following nine years of hard work, hours spent recording one catastrophe after another and the energy that has gone into saving the endless victims of the vile regime, we now have to accept the great compromise.”

Yet before the ink is even dry, it seems ZANU-PF are already backtracking on the inclusive governing agreement
“Today, the Zanu PF negotiators said they could not talk about the issue because they have no mandate from their leader who is attending the AU summit in Ethiopia.
We in the MDC are convinced that there is no intention on the part of Zanu PF to put all these issues to rest. There is no wish to consummate an inclusive government in line with SADC resolutions. “

Sukuma Kenya comments on the failure of the Kenyan parliament to pass the necessary legislation to set up a special tribunal to implement the Waki Report (on the 2007/08 post-election violence). Rather than see this as a setback Sukuma says it is a blessing in disguise as the next step is the Hague where he believes justice will be better served under an independent judiciary.

“We, Kenyans, support The Hague option because having an independent unbiased third party such as the ICC in charge will ensure that the process for justice is free from political interference. Further, this will save the nation from soap-opera-like intrigues and the twists and turns that is customary with Kenyan public business as political elite battle to stay in power. Even as the parliament rushed in an attempt to pass the law to set up the Special Tribunal, there are crucial questions that either alarmed or concerned Kenyans:”

Staying with Kenya,Gukira returns to the Kenya’s independence and the unveiling of the national flag. Gukira asks who owns the flag (who owns Kenya?) then and now and what is it’s purpose. Although in 1963m Tom Mboya describes the flag as being a symbol of “national unity” and one that must be respected, he goes on to say that the public should not fly the flag on their bicycles thereby separating two key groups of Kenyans – those that define the flag and those for whom the meaning is defined, the political class and the public.
The distinction between the political class and the public is further defined by the spaces the flag should occupy. Mboya’s comment that it should not be displayed on bicycles expresses a clear division between the public and the political class. While the flag is not supposed to be displayed on bicycles, it is proudly displayed on vehicles belonging to politicians.
From the early years of the twentieth century, the bicycle promised freedom and mobility to black Kenyans. Even today, elderly Kenyans remember the first individuals who owned bicycles in their villages. The bicycle was the mwananchi’s lexus. During the 1920s, Jomo Kenyatta was famous for owning and riding his bicycle around Nairobi. In fact, it’s not overstating the point to claim that the bicycle is an integral part of Kenya’s political history.

The Trials & Tribulations of a Freshly Arrived Denizen of Ghana writes on the many possible meanings of being a West African. For example could it be “an ECOWAS” – the West African economic union which issues passports which are not recognised or are they?
Where's that ECOWAS passport?

But to move swiftly to the second reason why I don't feel I can call myself an "ECOWAS-ian" is to do with the passport. Despite the fact that the ECOWAS passport has been around for a while, it is still only operational in Benin; Mali; Nigeria and Senegal! Ghana made a lot of noise that by 2007 it would start operating it alongside the traditional ones.

It never happened.
Black Looks- How is it news when a President takes a vacation? When he does so without informing the legislature or allowing his deputy to deputise for him. Black Looks ponders on the ongoing saga of President Yar’Adua’s vacations and do nothing governance.

* Sokari Ekine blogs at www.blacklooks.org

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/




Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Navigating the world recession: In the year of the Ox

Stephen Marks and Sanusha Naidu

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/africa_china/53832

Stephen Marks and Sanusha Naidui look at China’s response and the impact on Africa. It’s early days so far in the Obama Presidency but there continue to be worrying indications of US-China friction on trade. If co-operation did break down it would be bad news for Africa. But there are encouraging signs that a lot of the noise may be posturing. There are also good reasons to believe that China’s African commitment will not suffer, and may even be stepped up as a result of the global crisis. But the reasons for African vigilance on the ground will also continue.

The spectacle of a China-US trade war raised its head again last month when Paul Geithner, President `Obama’s nominee for the post of Treasury Secretary, told the Senate’s finance committee in a written response to questions, that “President Obama – backed by the conclusions of a broad range of economists – believes that China is manipulating its currency.” Mr Obama would “use aggressively all the diplomatic avenues open to him to seek change in China’s currency practices”, he added.

True, Mr Geithner - whose nomination was later endorsed by the committee - was careful to leave himself room for manoeuvre on the key question of whether the US would formally deignate China as a currency manipulator, which under US legislation, would entail retaliatory measures.

"The question is how and when to broach the subject in order to do more good than harm," Geithner said in his written answers. He stressed that the Obama administration was looking forward to a productive economic dialogue with the Chinese government on a number of short- and long-term issues, and "the yuan is certainly an important piece of that discussion."
However he also added that "given the crisis, the immediate focus needs to be on the broader issue of stabilizing domestic demand in China and the U.S..,"

Geithner’s remark was promptly condemned by Chinese offficials. Su Ning, vice-governor of the Peoples Bank of China, called Geithner’s remarks misleading and “out of keeping with the facts,” and said they could sidetrack efforts to manage the global financial crisis.

Other less official Chinese commentators were prepared to make allowances for Geithner’s comments as [ur=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/24/content_10710897.htm]aimed at winning Senate approval[/url] But the incident did focus attention yet again on the prospects for US-China economic co-operation under the new Administration.

The outcome could be crucial for the world economy, and particularly for Africa. Many African countries that benefited in the past from the world-wide boom in commodity prices, as well as being able to use China’s increasing African involvement to improve their infrastructure and increase their space for manoeuvre internationally.

Despite recent price falls, the hope must be that China’s and America’s recovery packages together will help to turn the tide.

A US-China trade war on the other hand could beggar both countries, intensify the global slump much as trade wars did in the 1930s, and drive commodity prices even lower. With the US relying on China to continue buying US Treasury bonds, and China dependent on a strong dollar for the value of its massive reserves, the assumption must still be that neither party will want to rock the boat - though it was surprising to see Geithner who, as this column pointed out two weeks ago, normally has a reputation for level-headedness, being the one to play the trade war card.

But is there any truth to the claim that China is driving down its currency to expand export markets? In fact China has been appreciating its currency in recent years, and the recent halt in that process in relation to the dollar has been due more to the dollar’s rise, while the Yuan has continued to rise against most other currencies. As Philip Bowring pointed out in the International Herald Tribune;

On a trade-weighted basis, China's currency has appreciated by about 10 percent since August.
There is little evidence that China manipulates specifically to help exporters or sustain a trade surplus. Its desire to move closer to the U.S. dollar rather than simply follow a trade-weighted basket is a natural outcome of the denomination of most of its trade in dollars. Beijing's reluctance to moderate appreciation of the yuan against the dollar is also natural because it creates losses for China's central bank - whose assets are in dollars and liabilities are in yuan.’

More significant in the long run than this war of words over China’s exchange rate may prove to be the little-publicised announcement last week that China’s cabinet had approved a trial programme allowing its currency to be used in trade deals between selected provinces and their overseas trading partners.

The trial is modest, initially affecting deals by the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta provinces with Hong Kong and Macao, as well as between the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Yunnan province and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries.
But the headline in the official English-language China Daily made the implications clear; Program helps make yuan a world currency.

The report went on to spell out the possible implications;

‘The small step could be a big stride in China's currency history. China is finally making a substantive step forward, after a raft of moderate currency policies, on the road to develop the renminbi into an international currency, a step partly driven by the ongoing global financial turmoil.

‘The move seems to have only limited impact on some regions, involving capital flow of no more than several hundred billion yuan. But ...If the new scheme proves successful it will yield several positive results. The yuan may grow into a major currency in China's neighbouring areas and eventually rise to an international currency on par with the greenback, euro, Japanese yen and Swiss franc.

‘It promotes establishing an East Asia trade zone and helps reduce foreign exchange risks. The relatively stable yuan will help lower costs and manage risk caused by exchange rate fluctuations of such currencies as the dollar and euro’.

Meanwhile China’s $586 billion economic stimulus program is likely to add 1 to 3 percent to its economic growth this year, according to Dong Tao, a China economist at Credit Suisse. The American program is likely to add close to 3 percent to the United States’ growth, he predicts.

“The increased expenditure on infrastructure will certainly contribute to China’s productivity growth and improve its long-term competitiveness, allowing it to pull away from its Asian neighbours who are much more constrained — by higher levels of budget deficits and public debt — in their ability to unleash a fiscal stimulus,” said Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

‘Bank lending jumped in November at the fastest annual pace in nearly five years, as the state-controlled banking sector responded to regulatory pressures to step up lending.. Insurers have just been given the authority to start lending to infrastructure projects’.

The Economist pointed out the implications of China’s continued central control of its banking system;

‘Chris Wood, at CLSA, a brokerage, says the effectiveness of the stimulus hinges on the extent to which China is now a capitalist economy. The more “capitalist” it is, the deeper the downturn now; the more it is still a command economy, the better the chance of recovery in 2009. State-controlled firms, which account for one-third of industrial output and almost half of all investment, have been “asked” not to cut jobs and capital spending. All the big banks are state-owned and their chairmen are appointed by the government. If they get a phone call telling them to lend more, they are likely to do so.
.
‘Banks already seem to be following Beijing’s orders: total lending surged by 19% in the year to December. China is one of the few large economies whose banking system has not been crippled by the global credit crunch. Andy Rothman, also at CLSA, argues that “in China, there is only a credit crunch when the political leadership wants one”. He believes the economy will revive by midyear and achieve GDP growth of close to 8% for 2009 as a whole.’

And there may be more to come. Premier Wen Jiabao, in a rare interview with the Financial Times during his London visit, revealed that Beijing was considering further economic stimulus measures beyond those already announced. ‘We may take further new, timely and decisive measures...’ he told the interviewer.

But how will China’s response to the global crisis affect Africa? A new report from the Jamestown Foundation claims that ‘In practice, Chinese entrepreneurs have been the first to leave when the market turned since the global decline in commodity prices accelerated with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. For instance, according to interviews the authors conducted in Congo, more than 60 Chinese mining companies have left the mineral rich Katanga in the last two months, as cobalt and copper prices have tanked. Over 100 small Chinese operators are reported to have left Zambian mines for the same reason’.

On the other hand Alistair Thompson, reporting from Dakar for Reuters, finds that

‘Chinese businesses are taking a long view and pursuing strategic expansion in Africa, even though China's multiplying investments on the continent have lost some luster in the global downturn. Beijing and Chinese companies have pledged tens of billions of dollars to Africa in loans and investments, mostly to secure raw materials for China, the world's fastest-growing large economy. That long-term interest remains intact despite a worldwide economic slump that has hit China's exports to wealthy countries and a sharp decline in African mineral shipments to China’.

However he does concede that the global slowdown ‘has led some Chinese businesses to close operations in Africa and prompted a rethinking of some of the multibillion-dollar deals that blazed a trail across the continent’.

One likely explanation is that smaller private firms, with a more short-term perspective and a more direct response to market pressures, have been pulling out of mining operations as commodity prices have fallen, while larger enterprises especially those which are state-owned or responsive to government influence, will take a longer-term view.

Thompson quotes the verdict of David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso who teaches at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs; ‘China is in Africa for the long term, and strategically’.

One area in which China, and other Asian investors, may actually have an increased interest as a result of the global downturn is investment in infrastructure. The Financial Times reported on 27 January that Asian and Middle East backers, thought to include China, have offered to fund a 1,300km pipeline needed to exploit Uganda’s Albert Basin oilfield.

Asian governments, the oil company points out, are seeking outlets for surplus steel, idle engineers, and uninvested cash.

In a further example of Asian interest in investing in Africa’s infrastructure, India has extended its largest-ever loan to a single country in the form of a US$166.33 million line of credit to Ethiopia to fund sugar development projects.

Chinese and other Asian bargain hunters could also come to the rescue of industries closing as a result of the global downturn. One possible example could be Zambia’s Luanshya copper mine, which closed last month, paying off its 1,740 workers, citing the recent sharp drop in world copper prices.

Since then however the majority state-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) has been discussing a takeover, with a view to selling on to Chinese and Indian investors. ‘South Africa’s Standard Bank, which has been 20% owned by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for the past year, is indeed currently advising a series of Chinese clients on the most potentially lucrative mining assets on the continent’.

Africa is not the only continent where Chinese investors are seeing the opportunity to snap up resources. The Financial Times has reported that ‘China is being welcomed as a saviour for a growing number of cash-strapped junior Australian mining companies in a reversal of the wary reception that greeted many of the country’s state-backed enterprises during the mining boom years....The deals highlight China’s desire to secure its long-term resource supplies, and the country’s role as a “white knight” in an era when it is difficult for fledgling miners to secure funds for large projects [Australian miners warm to ‘white knight’ January 26th]. And on 1 Feb it added, reporting on Chinalco’s talks on acquiring assets from RTZ, that ‘Although economic growth in China has slowed in the past six months, Chinalco’s close links to the Chinese government means it is taking a more long-term, strategic view of the commodities markets and is keen to secure supplies now while prices are relatively low’.

But this is far from unalloyed good news for Africa, as the example of Zambia’s Chambishi mine shows. Where assets are acquired from bankruptcy by investors - of whatever nationality - who believe they can make them pay where others failed, the business is certain to be under great pressure to cut corners where issues such as employment rights or environmental standards are concerned.

There are also reports of increased supplies of Chinese-made arms entering Africa - not as some observers have speculated, as part of some sinister military strategy, but as commercial sweeteners. As one defence specialist reports;

‘Increasing quantities of China-made military equipment have been finding their way to Africa, traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights. Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms’.

As always, there is the risk that in hard economic times governments and citizens will be under pressure to cut corners on justice and environmental issues. In working together to counter this danger, Africa’s CSOs should remember, as the trade war issue shows, that China is concerned for its international image, and that elements of Chinese civil society and government will be concerned to see that Chinese firms abroad comply with China’s own laws and declared policies.

But even so as China navigates through world recession and tries to balance the risks with opportunities, the Year of the Ox will be a tough up hill battle for most economies that benefited from Beijing’s spectacular domestic growth. And while China may see partnerships with northern actors, like the UK, to help assuage the impact of the financial crisis on its African activities, it will be significant for African CSOs to also add their own voice to how these partnerships will affect their struggles for justice. Therefore, the Year of the Ox, is as much as about markets and the private sector finding resilience as it for Africa’s social justice movements meeting the challenge of monitoring of how China and other actors affects the daily livelihoods of Africa’s citizenry either through increased investments or a gradual disinvestment. This is definitely the point of departure for African CSOs to mobilise around when President Hu Jintao embarks on his fourth African visit from the 10-17 February.

* Stephen Marks is research associate with Fahamu.
* Sanusha Naidu is research director of Fahamu's China-Africa programme.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/




Zimbabwe update

Cholera crisis worsening

2009-02-05

http://zimbabwejournalists.com/story.php?art_id=5235

Zimbabwe's cholera crisis has reached unprecedented levels with nearly 63,000 people being infected by the epidemic, according to a report by a United Nations agency. The epidemic, which began in August, has already killed more than 3,000 people - the deadliest outbreak in Africa in 15 years, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.


Judge frees MDC's Biti

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7875071.stm

A Zimbabwean judge has dropped charges of treason against the secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti. He had faced a possible death sentence after being accused of plotting a coup against President Robert Mugabe. But Magistrate Olivia Mariga said prosecutors appeared unprepared to proceed against Mr Biti. It could be a sign that the ruling Zanu-PF wants a proposed coalition government to work, say correspondents.


Mugabe to sign unity deal bill

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7874016.stm

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is due to sign into law a constitutional amendment allowing his rival Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister. It paves the way for the men to share power, as agreed last September. Meanwhile, a judge has dismissed treason charges against a key opposition MDC figure, removing another obstacle to forming a unity government.


U.S. statement on Zimbabwe unity government

2009-02-05

http://zimbabwejournalists.com/story.php?art_id=5238

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has agreed to join a unity government with Robert Mugabe under the conditions called for in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) January 27 Communiqué. The success or failure of such a government will depend on credible and inclusive power sharing by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.




African Union Monitor

Africa: African leaders deadlock over Union Government

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/crpue8

Dumping an earlier agreement, African leaders meeting here on Wednesday failed to reach a consensus on the transformation of the African Union Commission (AUC) to the African Union Authority, as a first step towards the establishment of a Union Government. On the last day of their 12th summit, African leaders met until the early hours of Wednesday to work out the final details of the Union Government, but hit a brick wall when it came to the modalities for transforming the AUC into an Authority.




Women & gender

Africa: Female combatants in African wars

2009-02-06

http://www.eldis.org/go/country-profiles&id=41772&type=Document

Young women are not only combatants in contemporary African wars, they also participate in a whole array of different roles. By and large, though they remain invisible in these contexts to northern policy makers and NGOs. This policy dialogue argues that to improve policy and programming efforts it is necessary to broaden the understanding of young women’s roles and participation in armed conflict in Africa historically and today. The intention is to provide policy makers and aid practitioners with a state-of-the-art overview of the situation for young women in African war and post-war situations.


Burkina Faso: Cutters turn razors on babies to evade FGM/C law

2009-02-05

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82600

Women performing excisions in Burkina Faso are cutting babies instead of young girls to escape increased scrutiny, according to the government and organisations fighting female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). FGM/C has been outlawed in Burkina Faso since 1996 and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and US$1500 in fines.


Egypt: Tougher sex-harassment law on the agenda

2009-02-06

http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3910

When Egypt's new parliament convenes in early February, some members will be proposing a law to strengthen penalties against sexual offenders by increasing jail time and fines. The bill will also put more pressure on police to crack down on perpetrators by calling on them to intervene when incidents occur and not to remain passive bystanders when women demand justice.


Global: Geneva gathering discusses livelihoods for displaced women

2009-02-06

http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/498c53842.html

A cosmopolitan mix of women from the corporate and humanitarian aid fields gathered in Geneva on Friday to discuss the empowerment of displaced woman through livelihoods. More than 30 people from around the world attended the half-day "Worlds of Women Coming Together" meeting, co-organized by the UN Refugee Agency and Women's International Networking. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, general secretary of the World YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), gave the keynote address.


Global: World Pulse - Voices of Our Future

Call for Applicants

2009-02-06

http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups/3740

World Pulse Media is pleased to announce a Call for Applicants for Voices of Our Future, an exciting new international women's correspondent network. World Pulse will choose up to 30 applicants who are beginning to use new media to speak for themselves to the world, transform their communities, and change their own lives.


Global: WSF 2009 Women's Assembly declaration

2009-02-06

http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/7340.html

In the year in which the WSF joins with the population of the Pan-Amazon, we, women from different parts of the world gathered in Belém, reaffirm the contribution of indigenous women and women from all forest peoples as political subjects that enriches feminism in the framework of the cultural diversity of our societies and strengthens the feminist struggle against the patriarchal capitalist global system...


South Africa: Government to facilitate processes dealing with gender equality

2009-02-06

http://www.buanews.gov.za/news/09/09020614151002

Government is to facilitate the processes aimed at strengthening the machineries dealing with matters of gender equality such as 50/50 representation in decision-making structures. Delivering the State of the Nation Address during a joint sitting in Parliament on Friday, President Kgalema Motlanthe said in the coming few months pending on the national and provincial elections, government will endeavour to complete that particular mandate.


West Africa: FGM/C knows no borders

2009-02-06

http://www.ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=45696

Laws against female genital mutilation are driving the practice underground and across borders, says UNIFEM. A study released in 2008 looked at the flow of girls traveling to be excised between Burkina Faso and its neighbours Mali, Niger, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. Except Mali, all four countries in the study have laws against female genital mutilation (FGM), although enforcement varies widely.


Zambia: Rampant rape of schoolgirls by their teachers

2009-02-06

http://www.equalitynow.org/english/actions/action_3201_en.html

In February 2006, a thirteen year old schoolgirl, R.M., was raped by her teacher, Edson Hakasenke when she went to his house to collect her school papers upon his request. Mr. Hakasenke told her not to report the incident as she would be thrown out of school and he would lose his job. R.M. did not report the rape until several weeks later after she was treated for a sexually transmitted infection that she had contracted as a result of the rape. Her aunt/guardian filed a complaint with the headmaster. When confronted, Mr. Hakasenke claimed R.M. was his “girlfriend.”




Human rights

DRC: Rights panel condemns abuses against children

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/cjox58

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo should urgently carry out new recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to protect children from violence and abuse, Human Rights Watch and the Coalition of Congolese Non-governmental Organizations on Child Rights (CODE) has said.


Ethiopia: Jailed – judge who refused to say sorry

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/byx8mq

Birtukan Mideksa has been sentenced to life in prison. She spends her days and nights in solitary confinement in a two-metre by two-metre cell. She cannot leave it to see daylight or even to receive visitors. Previous inmates say the prison is often unbearably hot. Her crime: refusing to say sorry. The judge, aged 34, is the head of Ethiopia's most popular political party, the only female leader of a main opposition party in Africa.


Mauritania: Slavery still weighs heavily on society despite ban

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/c7xn55

During a seminar entitled "Discrimination in Inheritance" held in Tunis on January 24th, Mauritanian human rights organisations and activists spoke out against slavery, which they said is still eroding Mauritanian society. "Slavery is a painful reality in Mauritania," said Bairam Ould Messaoud, head of Mauritania-based organisation SOS Slaves. "Some families still own slaves and take them around houses and farms here in Nouakchott without the government intervening."


Senegal: UN: Press government on Habré Trial

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/coae8g

The United Nations Human Rights Council should ask Senegal to move forward on the trial of the exiled former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré, five African and international human rights groups have said. On February 6, 2009, the council will examine Senegal’s human rights record as part of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure.




Refugees & forced migration

Africa: Hundreds of migrants at risk if repatriated

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/dkvu7f

Over 1,600 migrants currently held on the Italian island of Lampedusa are at risk of being forcibly returned to their home countries. According to an official statement by the Italian Minister of the Interior on 23 January, 150 migrants have already been returned from Lampedusa since 1 January. All those on the island are at risk of being returned without access to a fair procedure for examining their asylum claims or the opportunity to challenge their deportation.


Ethiopia: UN rushes supplies to Somali refugees

2009-02-06

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29799

The United Nations refugee agency and its partners are sending staff and vital relief supplies to assist some 10,000 new asylum-seekers who have arrived in the Somali Region of south-east Ethiopia since the beginning of the year after fleeing insecurity in neighbouring Somalia. “About 150 people are now crossing the border each day and it is likely that [the] number of new arrivals will increase further over the next few weeks,” Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva.


Global: Plans to intern illegal Africans outrage Lampedusans

2009-02-05

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,605265,00.html

Residents of the Italian island of Lampedusa are rebelling against Rome. Thousands of refugees who have arrived there by boat could soon be interned on the small island -- to prevent them from disappearing into the European Union. When drama becomes commonplace, even idealists can sound callous at times. Antonino Maggiore says that he wants to build "a better world" -- for Italians, even more so for persecuted foreigners and, in fact, for everyone. Maggiore is 25, an age at which idealistic pronouncements like that are to be expected.


Kenya: Government to set aside land for new Somali camp

2009-02-06

http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/498c4dc02.html

The UN refugee agency said Friday that the Kenyan government has agreed to allocate land to accommodate the increasing numbers of Somali refugees who are fleeing to north-eastern Kenya to escape the escalating conflict in their country. The commitment came during a three-day visit to Kenya by Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Craig Johnstone, who arrived back in Geneva on Friday.


Kenya: Somali refugees put strain on camps

2009-02-05

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/JBRN-7NYDPN?OpenDocument

A growing tide of Somalis fleeing conflict at home has led to overcrowding in refugee camps in neighbouring Kenya and the United Nations does not expect the influx to ease soon, a U.N. official said. The Dadaab refugee camp in arid northern Kenya received 62,000 new arrivals from Somalia in 2008 compared with only 18,000 in the previous year, U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.




Social movements

Global: WSF: Chávez speaks to social movements

2009-02-05

http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/print/4159

Social movements in Latin America have been in the “trenches of resistance” against global capitalism, and now need to move to an “offensive,” taking concrete steps toward the creation of alternatives to capitalism, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez expressed during a speech to thousands of participants in the World Social Forum Thursday in Belém do Pará, Brazil. “Just like Latin America and the Caribbean received the biggest dose of neo-liberal venom, our continent has been the immense territory where social movements have sprouted with the greatest strength and begun to change the world,” said Chávez.


Nigeria: Chevron asks Nigerian plaintiffs for $485,000

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/bbfvgx

Despite a U.S. jury finding in Chevron’s favor late last fall in a U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco, the company is now asking the plaintiffs - all who are Nigerian villagers - to pay Chevron over $485,000 in legal costs the company incurred during the five week long trial.


South Africa: CALS statement against the use of Transit Camps (TRAs) in Cape Town and Durban

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/socialmovements/53946

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is disturbed at a growing trend in South African cities in terms of which the state forcibly removes shackdwellers from large shacks on well-located land to 'temporal housing' in transit camps (also known as 'temporary relocation areas' or TRAs) on the urban periphery. Relocation to transit camps is most often done to make way for infrastructure and development projects which will not benefit those being removed
Johannesburg, 23 January 2009

FORCED REMOVAL OF SIYANDA RESIDENTS TO TRANSIT CAMPS

CALS condemns the current government policy of using transit camps as alternative accommodation for forcibly removed shackdwellers

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is disturbed at a growing trend in South African cities in terms of which the state forcibly removes shackdwellers from large shacks on well-located land to 'temporal housing' in transit camps (also known as 'temporary relocation areas' or TRAs) on the urban periphery. Relocation to transit camps is most often done to make way for infrastructure and development projects which will not benefit those being removed.

On 27 January 2009 in the Durban High Court, 50 families supported by the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement will be contesting their forced removal by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport from Siyanda in KwaMashu, to transit camps in order to make way for the construction of the new MR577 freeway. Initially, these families were promised formal houses in the new Khulula Housing Project if they voluntarily relocated; however, due to corruption in the housing allocation process, there are no longer houses available to them and they are being forced into transit camps. Many shacks in Siyanda have five rooms, with plots where people grow food, keep chickens and run various types of small businesses. Moving to a one-roomed structure in a crowded transit camp would be disastrous for these households, and would merely serve to exacerbate their poverty.

In October 2008, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) wrote a letter to eThekwini Mayor, Cllr Obed Mlaba, urging local officials to immediately halt all forced evictions of shackdwellers within its jurisdiction, and to ensure that all Siyanda residents affected by the new freeway are provided with housing, as promised, in the Khulula Housing Project, as well as to investigate the contested allocation of these houses to residents from outside Siyanda. CALS believes that the affected Siyanda community had a legitimate expectation of being re-accommodated in formal housing, as promised to them, and the state now seeking their relocation to transit camps indefinitely is in direct frustration of that expectation. Withdrawing its promise, without substantively good reasons, is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.

Transit camps consist of small, closely-packed prefabricated or zinc structures akin to shacks, often located in areas lacking social infrastructure and amenities or economic opportunities. People are often forced to move with no proper consultation or engagement on their permanent housing options and no timelines of when and where permanent formal housing will be made available to them. The temporal shacks thus often become permanent housing. Crime, emotional and financial stress, depression and domestic abuse often increase as families face social dislocation and the disruption of social networks, as well as the loss of the albeit fragile livelihood opportunities that they enjoyed in their previous communities. Women tend to suffer disproportionately.

An amicus curiae submission made by COHRE and the Community Law Centre (CLC) in the evictions case of 20 000 Joe Slovo informal settlement residents, heard in the Constitutional Court in August 2008, focused on the socio-economic implications of their forced eviction to Delft TRAs, as well as if the TRAs constituted adequate housing. In their submissions they argued that relocating Joe Slovo residents to the Delft TRAs would leave them in a worse socio-economic position and would offer them no real security of tenure. COHRE and CLC further argued that the Delft TRAs cannot be regarded as adequate housing within the meaning of section 26 of the Constitution and that relocating the applicants to Delft TRAs would not constitute a reasonable measure within the meaning of section 26 of the Constitution, nor would it constitute the progressive realisation of the right of access to adequate housing. Judgment in this case is still pending.

Research conducted in 2007 by local NGO the Development Action Group (DAG) in Delft TRAs, showed that overcrowding was an issue and that many families were unhappy with the size and composition of their structure. Common complaints included the fact that TRA structures are made of cheap material that is easily damaged; that they are very cold during winter and extremely hot in summer; that they can be easily broken into; that they are not soundproof and very closely packed together, making privacy impossible; and that they are a health hazard. People complained that the ablution facilities were sub-standard and that the communal toilets, taps and showers were not being properly maintained and were often unusable. A large number of households had made significant improvements to their temporary structures, suggesting that they expected to live in the TRAs for an extended period of time. Indeed, the Tsunami TRA in which this research was conducted, has evolved into a semi-permanent settlement, with some families living there for over three years. It is worrying that households are forced to invest money into these temporary structures, when they have no individual title or security of tenure.

Furthermore, transit camps actually cost the state a large amount of money to erect, with private contractors benefiting and with very little benefit being derived from those forced to live in them. It is money that could be better spent in other ways, for example on in situ informal settlement upgrading.

In terms of the landmark Grootboom judgment, the state has a constitutional obligation to make "short, medium and long term" plans for housing needs. Providing temporary housing, which is clearly a stop-gap, without any undertakings or guarantees relating to what will happen to re-accommodate people after their temporary stay - and when that will happen - clearly does not comply with this requirement.

Therefore, CALS urges government departments at all levels to recognise that moving people from large, well-located shacks in established communities, to one-roomed government shacks on the outskirts of cities where their already fragile socio-economic existence is threatened, is not development and does not constitute adequate alternative accommodation or the progressive realisation of the right of access to adequate housing as envisioned in the Constitution.

Government must refrain from this practice unless as a last resort and provided there is consent from those affected, clear timelines on how long people will have to remain in temporary accommodation, and information on when and where permanent formal housing will be made available to them.

For more information on Siyanda, visit the Abahlali baseMjondolo website.

Or contact Kate Tissington (CALS) on 0722209125 or kate.tissington (at) wits.ac.za




Elections & governance

Africa: Gaddafi condemns Africa democracy

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7870431.stm

The new African Union (AU) chairman, Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi, has said that multi-party democracy in Africa leads to bloodshed. Speaking at the AU summit in Ethiopia, Col Gaddafi said Africa was essentially tribal and political parties became tribalised, which led to bloodshed. He concluded the best model for Africa was his own country, where opposition parties are not allowed. Analysts say the AU is in for an interesting year under Col Gaddafi.


Madagascar: Leader ready for talks with opposition rivals

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/d8p9vu

Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana is ready for talks with his political rivals without any preconditions but would not consider early elections, Prime Minister Charles Rabemananjara said on Tuesday in Addis Ababa. President Ravalomanana is ready to talk with his rivals on the modalities of ending the political stand-off, which escalated following an attack on a local radio and television station, followed by a prolonged political stand-off.


Malawi: Former president begins come-back bid

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/b3wr56

Malawi's former president Bakili Muluzi Wednesday presented his nomination papers to contest the 19 May presidential elections despite having served as president for two consecutive five-year terms. "The Constitution does not bar me from standing again," a cheerful Muluzi told journalists after presenting his nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission chairperson, Supreme Court judge, Justice Anastazia Msosa.


Malawi: Leader picks foreign minister as running mate

2009-02-06

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE5150KO20090206

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika picked Foreign Minister Joyce Banda on Friday as his running mate for the May presidential and parliamentary election. Wa Mutharika chose Banda, 67, who held several cabinet posts under former president Bakili Muluzi, over Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, who is respected by the opposition and donors.


Mauritania: Sanctions put on junta

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7874066.stm

The African Union (AU) has imposed sanctions, including a travel ban and a check on bank accounts, on Mauritania's military junta, it has announced. The AU says it will urge the United Nations to extend the measures so they are applied by every country. The move comes amid speculation that General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz could contest elections, set for 6 June.


Mozambique: Police arrest Renamo parliamentarians

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/c8mhts

Police have arrested two parliamentary deputies from Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, for acts of violence during the current municipal election campaign in the northern port of Nacala. According to a report in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily, Noticias, the two deputies, Luis Trinta and Simao Buti, with two other Renamo members, are accused of assaulting two of the policemen who were assigned to accompany a Renamo campaign parade.


South Africa: Elections offer fresh hope

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/ca552z

The break-up of the African National Congress and the forthcoming general election provide a unique opportunity for a realignment of forces in South African politics. Creation of the Congress of the People, a new party, will erode the ANC’s grip on power and reignite the public debate over pressing issues such as corruption, crime and poverty.


Zambia: Grumbling over constitutional review

2009-02-05

http://www.ipsterraviva.net/europe/article.aspx?id=7022

Two years into its work, the Zambia's National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is finding it difficult to get wide public acceptance. Evans Kaputo is involved in corruption advocacy with the Civic Education Network, a grouping of civic organisations in Lusaka. He is not impressed that $80 million has been set aside for the constitutional conference. "All this NCC is a waste of money. What we need to change is the way our money is spent and stiffen laws regarding theft by public servants, corruption, abuse of office and so forth.




Corruption

Gabon: Anti-corruption campaigners released on bail

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/cq3nf5

On Monday 12 January 2009 at 7pm, of the four Gabonese civil society activists – Grégory Ngbwa Mintsa, Marc Ona Essangui, Georges Mpaga and Gaston Asseko – who had been detained in Libreville since 30 and 31 December 2008, respectively, were released from jail. This release follows days of large-scale international mobilisation by both non-governmental groups and French authorities in Paris and Libreville.


Kenya: Government denies blocking UK probe

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7874704.stm

Kenya's top legal officer has denied that the government has been blocking a probe by the United Kingdom into the Anglo Leasing affair. On Thursday, the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) halted a probe into the corruption case, saying Kenya was not cooperating with the investigation.


Kenya: UK blames government over Anglo Leasing

2009-02-05

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/525110/-/u1vu3n/-/index.html

The Kenya Government failed to cooperate with the British in investigations of the Anglo Leasing scandal leading to the termination of the probe. The Serious Fraud Office on Wednesday suspended the probe due to a lack of evidence. British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire described the termination of the investigations as a sad day and called on the government to act on all senior officials named in graft.


South Africa: Zuma to face court after polls

2009-02-05

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7869186.stm

A high court in South Africa has postponed the corruption trial hearing for ruling African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma until 25 August. Outside the Pietermaritzburg court, Mr Zuma told thousands of supporters if he quit it would be like admitting guilt. The ANC leader is favourite to become president after general elections expected between March and July.




Development

Africa: Africa deserves financial bailout

2009-02-06

http://www.africanews.com/site/Africa_deserve_financial_bailout/list_messages/23043

Many African countries are threatened with collapse or becoming failed states, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has warned. He told Heads of States at the just ended 12th AU summit that if their governments do not address the effects of climate change and the global financial crisis, some half of Africa's countries could be failing within 10 years.


Africa: IMF monitoring Central Africa bank losses

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/cn6awy

The International Monetary Fund is hoping for more information on the losses suffered by the Bank of Central African States and is watching the situation closely, a senior IMF official told Reuters on Wednesday. Leaders from half a dozen mostly oil-producing central African nations ordered far-reaching audits of their central bank at the weekend in connection with investments held with France's Société Générale SA.


Africa: Responding to Accra? Donor governments' aid policy

2009-02-06

http://www.eldis.org/go/country-profiles&id=41842&type=Document

High on the agenda for developing countries at the Accra High Level Forum on aid effectiveness was a commitment to use developing country systems (alignment) and to regulate division of labour (harmonisation). Regarding alignment donor governments agreed to channel at least 50% of aid through developing country systems. As for ‘donor harmonisation’, no specifics were given except for a call for donors to ‘harmonise their assistance proactively’.


Global: Civil Society consultation on the global economic crisis

2009-02-06

http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/7311.html

In the wake of the global financial and economic crisis, the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, set up a commission of experts chaired by Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, whose mandate includes putting forward “credible and feasible proposals for reforming the international monetary and financial system in the best interest of the international community”. The Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System will present its final report in early April 2009.


Tanzania: Generating power and money

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/4zckho

The introduction of solar power systems to rural communities in East Africa is providing new business opportunities, as well as affordable and safe electricity supplies. Johari lives in the Iringa region of Tanzania. She used to work as a manual labourer, breaking rocks and selling the stones for building material. But now, after a short training course, Johari is assembling and selling small solar panels that can be used to power radios and recharge batteries for lamps and mobile phones.




Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Africa must focus on maternal, child health - AU

2009-02-05

http://www.buanews.gov.za/news/09/09020511451001

Countries in Africa should promote maternal, infant and child health and report on progress, in order to curb high death rates on the continent, according to the African Union (AU). "There are continents where women give birth and it is a pleasant experience because they are bringing life," said AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Bience Gawana.


Africa: Excellent adherence due to social networks

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/begrxx

The very high levels of adherence to antiretroviral therapy observed in some settings in sub-Saharan Africa appear to be explained by the need to preserve a network of social relationships that people with HIV rely upon to survive, rather than being a consequence of individual motivation, according to a study conducted in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.


CAR: Finally making the AIDS money work

2009-02-06

http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82778

After years of delays, HIV/AIDS funding in the Central African Republic is finally making its way to thousands of HIV-positive people in desperate need of care and treatment. Hope and excitement were in the air in 2003, and again in 2004, when the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria allocated two grants, totalling US$40 million over five years, to combat HIV/AIDS in the Central African Republic (CAR), where an estimated prevalence of 6.3 percent makes it the hardest hit country in central Africa.


Kenya: Address children’s rights in AIDS strategy

2009-02-06

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/05/kenya-address-children-s-rights-aids-strategy

The new Kenyan National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan should address rights abuses that make children vulnerable to HIV infection and impede access to care, Human Rights Watch has said in a policy proposal submitted to the government. The organization pointed out that tens of thousands of children in Kenya who need anti-retroviral treatment (ART) are not receiving it. The Kenyan National Aids Control Council (NACC) is currently preparing its new five-year strategic plan.


Nigeria: Baby poison deaths rise

2009-02-06

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7874723.stm

The death toll from a contaminated baby medicine sold in Nigeria has risen from 34 - recorded in early December - to 84, the health ministry has said. There have been 111 reported cases of children who have fallen ill after being given teething syrup "My Pikin". The poisonous syrup was discovered last November when babies began dying of organ failure across the country.




Education

Côte d’Ivoire: Pregnancy hits girls' education

2009-02-06

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82806

Sylvie Kouamé*, 17, told IRIN she had sex for money with a man she met on line in her home country Côte d’Ivoire. She needed a few dollars for school fees. She no longer needs money for school. Five months pregnant, Kouamé dropped out a few years short of graduating secondary school.


Mali: Students left behind in race for education MDG

2009-02-06

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82801

As Mali’s government makes strides toward the Millennium Development Goal of primary education for all by 2015, increased school enrolment and the resulting shortage of teachers and classroom space have blocked a growing number of students from secondary education. In 2008, some 17,000 students out of more than 80,000 who passed their secondary school exams, known as the diplôme d’étude fondamentale (DEF), were not admitted to secondary schools, according to the Ministry of Education.




LGBTI

South Africa: 3rd youth conference to empower students’ gay groups

2009-02-06

http://www.mask.org.za/article.php?cat=southafrica&id=2041

The Third National LGBTI Youth Leaders’ Lekgotla, which unites students’ gay groups from different universities in South Africa, is starting on 3 to 7 April 2009. The University of Cape Town’s gay rights group Rainbow UCT will be hosting this annual gathering and is expecting groups from about nine universities in South Africa.




Environment

Africa: Climate Change: Key issues on the road to Copenhagen

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/aug48g

African peoples’ high vulnerability to climate change stems partly from historical global inequities that have left them ill-equipped to cope with the climate extremes they are already experiencing and the food security, water scarcity, and climate-induced migration crises that these extremes exacerbate. This year’s negotiations toward a post-2012 climate agreement must recognise African countries’ need for technological and financial support to pursue low-carbon development that will reduce poverty and strengthen their resilience to the impacts of climate change.


Africa: Why humanitarians and climate scientists don't talk

2009-02-06

http://www.alertnet.org/db/an_art/20316/2009/00/30-171854-1.htm

Last May, the Red Cross office for West and Central Africa decided it wasn't going to let the flood disaster of 2007 happen again. The floods had affected over 800,000 people when torrential rains pummelled the region, destroying crops and homes. Red Cross partner, the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development, and other forecasters issued warnings for abnormally heavy rains during the 2008 wet season.


Global: Climate change hits fishing economies

2009-02-06

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82798

Eight countries - four in Africa and four in Asia - have been identified as those most economically vulnerable to the effects of climate change on fisheries in the first ever detailed study of the subject. The most badly hit countries are those where fish play a large role in diet, income and trade, and also lack the capacity to adapt to the impact of climate change such as the loss of coral reef habitats to the bleaching effect of warmer waters, and lakes parched by an increase in heat and a decrease in rainfall.




Food Justice

Global: Farmers call to restructure the food system

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/food/53950

The High Level Conference on Food Security in Madrid on the 26th and 27th of January excludes the main stakeholders in the debate on the food crisis from meaningful participation. It is a forum dominated by the World Bank, IMF and WTO, as well as transnational companies such as Monsanto, and it is an outrage that they are given space on the panels of discussion while representatives of small farmers - who produce 80% of the world's food – are left only a few minutes on the floor to give their position.
Press Release, Madrid, 26th January

Farmers and Social Movements call for a fundamental restructuring
of the global food system




The alternative exists: food sovereignty –where every state has the right to define its own agricultural policy – all that is needed is the political will to implement it


The High Level Conference on Food Security in Madrid on the 26th and 27th of January excludes the main stakeholders in the debate on the food crisis from meaningful participation. It is a forum dominated by the World Bank, IMF and WTO, as well as transnational companies such as Monsanto, and it is an outrage that they are given space on the panels of discussion while representatives of small farmers - who produce 80% of the world's food – are left only a few minutes on the floor to give their position.


International agricultural policy has been dominated by the policies of these international institutions for the last thirty years, and in spite of their pledges to halve hunger by 2015 through the Millennium Development Goals it has continued to increase worldwide, reaching over 1 billion people this year. The policies of these various institutions and transnational companies have completely failed – it is time to implement the alternative – food sovereignty.



* Small farmers and social movements from all over the world promote a model based on food sovereignty and orientated towards peasant-based agriculture and artisan fisheries, prioritising local markets and sustainable production methods. This model is based on the right to food and to the rights of peoples to define their own agricultural policies.



* The food crisis should not be an opportunity to make more money through the sale of fertilizers, agrochemicals and genetically modified seeds. Agribusinesses cannot be allowed to attempt to profit from the desperation of over a billion people. They must be excluded from dealing with the food crisis – agribusiness and international financial and trade agencies cannot be relied upon to solve a problem they themselves have caused.



* We call for an end to the development of new initiatives such as the High Level Task Force or Global Partnership. Other such initiatives in the past - such as the World Food Council and the International Alliance Against Hunger – have failed. We call for one single space inside the UN to deal with the food crisis with the full participation of social movements and small holder food producers.


There is a full declaration signed by 49 organisations – "Accelerating into disaster – when banks manage the food crisis" available online at www.foodsovereignty.org


For further information please contact:
Beatrice Gasco: +34690021802 (FR)
Fergal Anderson: +34636636756 (EN)
Ruben Villanueva: +34629164612 (ES)




Media & freedom of expression

Eritrea: Calls for urgent action over journalist's ordeal

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/c3e9ew

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for urgent humanitarian action by the international community over the plight of Dawit Isaak, a journalist and writer who has been held in Eritrea without trial for almost eight years and who is believed to be seriously ill.


Gambia: Editor faces trial

2009-02-06

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30215

Reporters Without Borders condemns the way the Gambian authorities continue to hound The Point, a privately-owned daily based in Banjul. Its editor, Pap Saine, was charged with publishing false information yesterday, two days after being arrested and then freed on bail for reporting the arrest of a Gambian diplomat. Saine is to appear in court again on 19 February.


Global: IWMF Calls for Neuffer Fellowship applications

2009-02-05

https://www.iwmf.org/article.aspx?id=827&c=press

The International Women’s Media Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2009-10 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship, which is open to women journalists whose focus is human rights and social justice. Named for the 1998 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award winner and Boston Globe correspondent who was killed in Iraq in May 2003, the fellowship allows one woman journalist to spend an academic year in a tailored program with access to Boston-area universities as well as the Boston Globe and New York Times. Applications will be accepted until April 15, 2009, and the fellowship will run from September 2009 – May 2010.


Kenya: Freelance journalist murdered

2009-02-06

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30175

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of Francis Kainda Nyaruri, a freelance journalist based in the southwestern town of Nyamira, whose decapitated body was found on 29 January in a nearby forest. He had been missing since 16 January. “We would like above all to express our deep sympathy to the victim’s family,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the competent authorities, especially Nyanza province police chief Larry Kieng, to do everything possible to establish the motive for this appalling murder and to bring those responsible to justice, keeping in mind its shocking symbolism for the Kenyan population.”


Niger: Editor sentenced to three-month jail term

2009-02-06

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30105

Boussada Ben Ali, the managing editor of the independent weekly L’Action, was today sentenced to three months in prison and fined 50,000 CFA francs (about 76 euros) for “publishing false information”. The journalist immediately appealed against the sentence but will remain in custody at Niamey prison where he has been since 26 January while awaiting the outcome of the appeal.


Somalia: Call for new blackout opposed

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/cfqmva

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has warned that a call by the United Nations Special Envoy in Somalia, Ahmed Ould Abdallah, to suspend news reporting from Somalia was an "ill-thought out and counter-productive" response to the media crisis in the country. "We oppose this move because it will not work and could make the situation even worse for journalists," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.


Tunisia: Journalists union decries perceived crackdown

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/afmmey

The National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) issued a statement Monday (February 2nd) condemning the government's confiscation of the January 31st issue of Attariq Aljadid, a newspaper operated by opposition party Attajdid Movement, and expressing solidarity with members of Tunis radio station Radio Kalima, which was shut down last Friday.


Zimbabwe: Media caught in the political vice

2009-02-06

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82775

As the gap between the fierce political rivalries of Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) narrows, there are fears that the independent media will be squeezed even more. In the past decade, while Zimbabwe lurched from one political crisis to another and the economy went into freefall, the independent media were lambasted by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government for their often critical views, and subjected to increasingly repressive media laws.




Conflict & emergencies

DRC: 335 former Rwandan Hutu fighters and their dependents repatriated

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/akdlb9

The Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) says that it has repatriated 335 former Rwandan Hutu fighters and their dependents to Rwanda in the past month alone. During the same period, the Mission has also transferred 120 Rwandan civilians to the United Nations refugee agency for further consideration as potential refugees in the Congo. As of 5the February, another 219 Rwandan nationals are awaiting repatriation at United Nations-run facilities in north-eastern Congo.


Morocco: Bad weather causes devastation

2009-02-06

http://tinyurl.com/avg7tn

Freak weather conditions continue to cause devastation in Morocco as authorities struggle to address the humanitarian crisis. A number of people have lost their lives, mainly in the countryside and in mountainous regions and areas near rivers and dams.


Sudan: African leaders talk tough on Darfur war crimes

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/bethlo

African leaders on Wednesday supported a plan to delay the execution of an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, but asked him to take steps to end rights violations in Darfur. The African leaders went beyond words and asked the Sudanese leader to accept a team of lawyers from the African Union (AU) and the Arab League to help bring perpetrators of the violence in Darfur and help carry out investigations there.


Sudan: Rebel group withdraws from South Darfur

2009-02-06

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29794

The leader of an armed group involved in recent combat in the South Darfur region of Sudan has pulled his militia out of the conflict zone as a result of the decision made by the hybrid African Union (AU) and United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to stay and protect civilians in the area. There have been renewed clashes since last month in Muhajeria involving the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups known as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army/Mini Minawi (SLA/MM).




Internet & technology

Cameroon: Government to launch telemedicine

2009-02-05

http://tinyurl.com/cajf3p

A telemedicine programme will start in Cameroon this month in partnership with several international institutions, including UNESCO, the main promoter of the project, Cameroonian scientist and economist, Jacques Bonjawo, has said. Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application of clinical medicine where medical information is transferred via telephone, the Internet or other networks.


Global: Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch)

2009-02-06

http://www.apc.org/en/node/7558

GISWatch is a groundbreaking publication, which will impact on policy development processes worldwide and could make a difference in your country if more people hear about its findings. GISWatch is an annual watchdog report which this year asks: How do we ensure access to the internet is a human right enjoyed by everyone? The report highlights the importance of people's access to information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, and where and how countries are getting it right (or wrong), and what can be done about it.


West Africa: Women and cybercrime in Burkina Faso

2009-02-06

http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?apc=a--e96160-1&x=96160

Fraud, data piracy, seeking partners on the internet: women in Burkina Faso are as much victims as perpetrators. From Ouagadougou to Banfora via Bobo-Dioulasso, and from Ouahigouya to Dori, all towns with an internet connection are affected by this phenomenon. However, the fight against this crime is in the tentative stages, if not altogether non-existent. Legislation is still under development.




Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: CODESRIA/SEPHIS Faculty Exchange Programme

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/fundraising/53773

CODESRIA/SEPHIS collaborative programme is pleased to announce the launch of its Faculty Exchange Programme. The programme is scheduled for May-June 2009 and will start off with one fellow. The basic idea of the Faculty Exchange programme is to foster knowledge and understanding by facilitating exchange of faculty and publications between two departments in different continents of the South. The objective is to create South-South awareness and curiosity among staff in educational institutions through a dynamic intellectual exchange among research traditions and networks in the South.
CODESRIA/SEPHIS FACULTY EXCHANGE PROGRAMME

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

CODESRIA/SEPHIS collaborative programme is pleased to announce the launch of its Faculty Exchange Programme. The programme is scheduled for May-June 2009 and will start off with one fellow. The basic idea of the Faculty Exchange programme is to foster knowledge and understanding by facilitating exchange of faculty and publications between two departments in different continents of the South. The objective is to create South-South awareness and curiosity among staff in educational institutions through a dynamic intellectual exchange among research traditions and networks in the South. It is believed that the comparative awareness that will result from the exchange of faculty and publications between regions of the South will contribute to the strengthening of Southern knowledge production.

Organising Institutions

CODESRIA: the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa was established in 1973 as an independent Pan-African research organisation with a primary focus on the social sciences. CODESRIA, with headquarters in Dakar, Senegal is recognised globally as the leading non-governmental centre of social science knowledge in Africa.

SEPHIS: the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development is a South-South network headquartered in Amsterdam that supports historically grounded research on development that is also multidisciplinary. Since 1994, SEPHIS has facilitated intellectual exchanges between scholars in the global South through sponsorship of workshops, lecture tours and publications.

Eligibility

• Eligible as hosts are social science and history departments in African universities.
• Eligible as visiting faculty are historians and historically oriented social science scholars from continents of the South other than Africa.

Application Procedures
The Faculty Exchange programme is based on the following principles:

• A university department in Africa with interest in inviting a colleague from another continent submits a request to CODESRIA. In other words, applications to participate in the programme are to be made only by departments/faculties and not by individuals
• Applications should include the following:
1. a letter from the host institutions taking responsibility for the proper conduct of the exchange
2. a profile of the visiting member of faculty
3. an outline of a teaching/research curriculum to last a maximum of 4 weeks
4. a budget which includes housing, airfare, insurance and a honorarium (max. of 8,000 €)
• It must be noted that the Faculty Exchange programme does not necessarily require reciprocity between universities. It is exclusively demand oriented and does not mediate for lecturers who would like to go to another university in the South for a while.

The deadline for applications (to be written in English) is 30th March 2009. An international scientific committee will examine the dossier of all candidates by the 10th of April 2009. Incomplete and unnecessarily lengthy applications will not be considered. All email and faxed applications must be accompanied by a hard copy original version sent by post.

Successful applicants will be notified immediately after the completion of the selection process. Host departments and visiting faculty are expected to submit detailed reports on their experiences during the programme to CODESRIA/SEPHIS, latest a month from the end of the exchange programme.

Additional information about the Faculty Exchange Programme can be obtained via

• The CODESRIA web site: http:/www.codesria.org
• The SEPHIS web site: http:/www.sephis.org

All applications or requests for more information should be addressed to:

Omobolaji Ololade Olarinmoye PhD
CODESRIA/SEPHIS Faculty Exchange Programme
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, angle Canal IV
B.P. 3304, Dakar, Senegal
Fax: (221) 824 12 89
Tel: (221) 825 98 22/23
E-mail: [email protected]


africa: Vacancy for a PhD position

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/fundraising/53953

In this research programme an interpretation will be offered of the relationship between the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), social space, mobility and marginality in Sub-Saharan Africa. In six case-studies (Central Chad, West-Cameroon, Central Mali, Senegal, North Angola and South-East Angola), the programme seeks to arrive at an interdisciplinary analysis of the dynamics of mobility, social relations and communication technologies.
Vacancy for a Ph.D. position.

Title of the programme
Mobile Africa Revisited: A comparative study of the relationship between new communication technologies and social spaces (Chad, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, Angola)

Programme Coordinators
Mirjam de Bruijn (ASC, Leiden, The Netherlands), Francis Nyamnjoh (Codesria, Dakar, Senegal), Inge Brinkman (ASC, Leiden, The Netherlands)

Counterpart Institute
CEIC (Centro de Estudos e Investigação Cientifica) at UCAN (Universidade Católica de Angola), CP 2064, Luanda, Angola.

Outline of the PhD project in south-east Angola

In this research programme an interpretation will be offered of the relationship between the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), social space, mobility and marginality in Sub-Saharan Africa. In six case-studies (Central Chad, West-Cameroon, Central Mali, Senegal, North Angola and South-East Angola), the programme seeks to arrive at an interdisciplinary analysis of the dynamics of mobility, social relations and communication technologies.

Title of the case-study in south-east Angola: Losing the peace? The post-war history of south-east Angola and the introduction of new communication technologies:

The historical patterns of mobility in south-east Angola were disrupted when war started in the 1960s. In the wake of extreme violence and deprivation, people tried to flee to the small regional towns, to the capital Luanda and across the border into Zambia and Namibia. Since the Angolan peace treaty was signed in 2002, a number of international development organizations have been coordinating the return of refugees and IDPs to south-east Angola. How do the returnees view the possibilities of the new communication technologies? Do they see them as assisting their own ‘development’ or do they view them as being largely outside their reach and related only to the realm of development agencies? Are the new ICTs playing a role in these newly created communities and in the reconfiguration of the mobile margins that connect south-east Angola to a range of other territories?

The candidate is expected to:
1. be prepared to carry out fieldwork (qualitative, in-depth interviews, participant observation) in the area of the case-study concerned. Knowledge of south-east Angola (Kuando Kubango province) will be regarded as an advantage.
2. be interested in combining a historical/anthropological perspective in research.
3. possess at least an average knowledge of English.
4. be prepared to travel to Leiden and Cameroon for proposal writing/training and, in case of need, for writing-up of the PhD thesis (the costs for which will be covered by ASC).
5. be prepared to attend workshops (also internationally) of the programme (the costs for which will be covered by ASC).
6. produce half-yearly reports to be send to the programme coordinators of the ASC, in which all financial aspects and the proceedings of the research are explained, inclusive of all evidence (original tickets, original receipts) of the costs made.
7. end the 3.5 years programme with a completed PhD thesis conform international academic standards.

Contract
Includes stipend of 1,000 Euro per month, research and transport costs will be covered by the programme. The candidate is expected to start immediately and be in position for 3.5 years in a full-time engagement.

Contact
Salim Valimamade, Director of CEIC at UCAN, [email protected]
Inge Brinkman, Programme Coordinator, ASC, Leiden, [email protected]


Global: Special collection of online learning tools on violence against women

VAWnet eNewsletter (December/January 2009)

2009-02-05

http://new.vawnet.org/category/index_pages.php?category_id=867

This collection provides a sampling of available Online Learning Tools with subject matter related to violence against women prevention and intervention. Materials included in this collection have four key components: they are 1) free, 2) available online, 3) interactive, and 4) self-guided. The resources listed here can be used for the purposes of staff development (by individuals), or as tools for trainers (in groups).




Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: CODESRIA Social Research in Africa: 2009 Special Session for East Africa

Fields and Theories of Qualitative Research

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53775

The 2009 session of the CODESRIA sub-regional methodological workshops will explore the conditions for the employment and validation of qualitative perspectives in African contexts. To this end, the workshops will be open to all the social research disciplines. These disciplines are uniformly confronted with broadly similar difficulties of understanding social reality and the challenges posed by techniques of data collection and analysis, which, on account of their “qualitative” nature, are suspected by some to be seriously lacking in scientific rigour.
CODESRIA
Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops for Social Research in Africa
2009 Session for Eastern Africa
Theme: Fields and Theories of Qualitative Research
Date: 10 – 14 August, 2009
Venue: Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
Call for Applications

One of the major weaknesses of contemporary social research in and about Africa is its lack of careful attention to epistemological and methodological issues. This weakness has made itself manifest at a time when the increasing complexities of the social dynamics that shape livelihood on the continent and the wider global context call for a greater investment of effort in the refinement of the procedures and instruments of investigation and analyses with a view to achieving a more accurate and holistic assessment of rapidly changing realities. But instead of such an investment of effort, we are increasingly witnessing an astonishing neglect or misapplication of theory and method on a scale and with a frequency that calls for intervention. At one level, the neglect that has taken place has comprised a serious trivialisation of basic research protocols and their reduction to a fetishistic evocation of superficial recommendations thinly disguised with ritualistic appeals to rigour that are not reflected in the analyses undertaken. At another level, methodological issues have simply been instrumentalised in ways that ensure that narrow ideological considerations and pre-determined outcomes take precedence over science. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to come across studies in which methodological questions are outrightly ignored in the name of an alleged specificity or immediacy that amounts to the exclusion of African social realities from universal debates on the validity of scientific frames of analyses. The result is that in those debates, studies produced on Africa come across as a mix of purely literary discourses without an empirical anchorage or anecdotes hidden under a “scholarly” discourse that is not only pretentious but also vacuous. Consequently, the knowledge produced is bereft of heuristic value and simply becomes an element that, wittingly or unwittingly, justifies a predetermined set of economic, political and social policies. This is clearly not an acceptable state of affairs, if only because it impoverishes African social research. It is, therefore, high time that the social research community revisited and discussed the methodological foundations of current knowledge about Africa in order first to put an end to scientific impunity as it manifests itself within and outside Africa, and give a new impulse to the African social sciences through support programmes targeted at younger researchers.

The future of young social researchers begins with an excellent mastery of core research processes and their patient application to concrete situations as demanded by their work in the field, the archives, and the library. Unfortunately, the combination of the prolonged crises in African higher education systems and the poor example set in the writings of an increasing number of Africanists who have succumbed to the temptation to take liberties with methodological rigour mean that younger African researchers are poorly served in matters of training for independent social research. It is for this reason that the CODESRIA Secretariat has decided to convene young African researchers to methodological workshops on epistemological and methodological issues in social research designed to fill the gaps in their formal and informal training. The workshops are meant to serve as a critical space that would offer experience-sharing in the basic epistemological and empirical prerequisites for rigorous scientific imagination. The workshops will not only offer insights into the current state of the art but also provide an occasion for a critical review of contemporary research procedures, tools and theories as seen from an African perspective. The major question which the workshops will address can be summarized as follows: How can the researcher productively establish a link between dominant theoretical approaches and concrete situations in the field whilst simultaneously taking into account the state of knowledge, the techniques to be mobilized, and the evolution of African societies? In answering this question, the workshops will privilege qualitative research methods and tools on the basic premise that the popular tendency to oppose quantitative and qualitative methods is due to a wrong assumption that the former offers an exactness and “hardness” which the latter is supposedly too “soft” and “fickle” to match. Without diminishing the importance of quantitative research and methods, participants in the workshops will be encouraged to explore qualitative methods of capturing African social dynamics which do not always or often find expression, fully or partially, in figures and which are, therefore, lost to those who are wedded to rigid and exclusively quantitative approaches.

The 2009 session of the CODESRIA sub-regional methodological workshops will explore the conditions for the employment and validation of qualitative perspectives in African contexts. To this end, the workshops will be open to all the social research disciplines. These disciplines are uniformly confronted with broadly similar difficulties of understanding social reality and the challenges posed by techniques of data collection and analysis, which, on account of their “qualitative” nature, are suspected by some to be seriously lacking in scientific rigour. Each workshop will have the following concerns at its core:

i) A critical assessment of the distinction between “quantitative” and “qualitative” research with particular attention to the question of measurement in the social sciences. Participants will be taken through presentations and exercises aimed at showing that the mode of processing data that is collected depends both on the field constraints encountered and the paradigmatic options of data interpretation that are available. The procedures for the “quantification” of “qualitative” approaches will also be reviewed through discussions on the distinction between the non-metrical and “comprehensive” presentation of data and the more mathematical renditions favoured by the quantitativists.
ii) A presentation of the methodological principles of “object construction” which enables the researcher to transcend the illusions of immediate knowledge and undertake a hypothetical reconstruction of social reality. This demands that the status of the researcher, as well as the systematic role of theories and tools be subjected to intense epistemological control.
iii) An assessment of various techniques of data collection and “fact-finding” instruments available to the researcher. The usual tools of qualitative research such as interviews, observation, archival studies, and the less usual ones such as photography, will be reviewed, so as to locate their potentiality for construction of successful research projects.

The Eastern Africa edition of the methodological workshops is designed for doctoral students and young, mid-career African researchers resident in East Africa and the Horn. The target countries for the 2009 Eastern Africa session are: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and TheSudan. The working language to be employed during the workshop will be English. The session will be led by a director who will be assisted by a team of three lecturers, all with an acknowledged expertise in the application of social science research methods. Senior researchers wishing to be considered for a role as resource persons are invited to send an application which indicates their interest and includes their current CV and an outline of issues they would like to cover in four lectures of two hours each. The outline submitted should be detailed enough to enable the director of the workshop compile a syllabus for the guidance of the resource persons and laureates. Apart from the actual preparation of lectures and field visits, the resource persons will also be expected to submit a bibliographic list of texts relevant to the theme of the workshop and which can be made available to the laureates.
As to the advanced postgraduate scholars and younger, mid-career researchers wishing to be considered for participation in the workshop, they are also required to submit an application that should comprise the following:
i) A letter of motivation which should also clearly indicate the area of research or topic on which they are working;
ii) A statement of their research project (maximum of three to five pages) stating clearly the problematic that is being addressed, the kinds of field research to be undertaken, the theoretical and methodological framework being used, as well as the methodological and epistemological problems encountered;
iii) A detailed and up-to-date curriculum vitae;
iv) Two reference letters, one of which must be from the thesis supervisor and the other from the head of the department in which the applicant is registered. The reference letter from the supervisor is expected to address the relevance of the research project, the state of progress of the research and the theoretical and methodological approaches used, as well as the results expected. The reference letter from the head of the department is expected to attest to the qualities and academic potential of the candidate; and
v) A letter confirming the institutional affiliation of the applicant.

Applications will be selected on basis of the innovative nature of the research question being addressed, a commitment to gender balance that is central to CODESRIA’s institutional strategy, and the desire for a geographical diversity that will, in itself, constitute an important aspect of the learning experience at the workshops. Applications must be submitted by 12 June, 2009. They should be sent to:

CODESRIA Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops,
CODESRIA,
P.O. Box: 3304, Dakar, CP 18524 – Senegal.
Tél: +221-33 825.98.22/23 — Fax: +221-33 824.12.89
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site: http://www.codesria.org


Africa: CODESRIA Social Research in Africa: 2009 Special Session for Nigeria

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53772

The Special Nigerian edition of the methodological workshops that is on offer for 2009 is designed for doctoral students and young, mid-career African researchers based in Nigeria. The working language to be employed during the workshop will be English. The session will be led by a director who will be assisted by a team of three lecturers, all with an acknowledged expertise in the application of social science research methods. Senior researchers wishing to be considered for a role as resource persons are invited to send an application which indicates their interest and includes their current CV and an outline of issues they would like to cover in four lectures of two hours each.
CODESRIA
Sub-Regional Methodological Workshops for Social Research in Africa: 2009 Special Session for Nigeria
Theme: Fields and Theories of Qualitative Research
Date: 24—28 August, 2009
Venue: University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Call for Applications

One of the major weaknesses of contemporary social research in and about Africa is its lack of careful attention to epistemological and methodological issues. This weakness has made itself manifest at a time when the increasing complexities of the social dynamics that shape livelihood on the continent and the wider global context call for a greater investment of effort in the refinement of the procedures and instruments of investigation and analyses with a view to achieving a more accurate and holistic assessment of rapidly changing realities. But instead of such an investment of effort, we are increasingly witnessing an astonishing neglect or misapplication of theory and method on a scale and with a frequency that calls for intervention. At one level, the neglect that has taken place has comprised a serious trivialisation of basic research protocols and their reduction to a fetishistic evocation of superficial recommendations thinly disguised with ritualistic appeals to rigour that are not reflected in the analyses undertaken. At another level, methodological issues have simply been instrumentalised in ways that ensure that narrow ideological considerations and pre-determined outcomes take precedence over science. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to come across studies in which methodological questions are outrightly ignored in the name of an alleged specificity or immediacy that amounts to the exclusion of African social realities from universal debates on the validity of scientific frames of analyses. The result is that in those debates, studies produced on Africa come across as a mix of purely literary discourses without an empirical anchorage or anecdotes hidden under a “scholarly” discourse that is not only pretentious but also vacuous. Consequently, the knowledge produced is bereft of heuristic value and simply becomes an element that, wittingly or unwittingly, justifies a predetermined set of economic, political and social policies. This is clearly not an acceptable state of affairs, if only because it impoverishes African social research. It is, therefore, high time that the social research community revisited and discussed the methodological foundations of current knowledge about Africa in order first to put an end to scientific impunity as it manifests itself within and outside Africa, and give a new impulse to the African social sciences through support programmes targeted at younger researchers.

The future of young social researchers begins with an excellent mastery of core research processes and their patient application to concrete situations as demanded by their work in the field, the archives, and the library. Unfortunately, the combination of the prolonged crises in African higher education systems and the poor example set in the writings of an increasing number of Africanists who have succumbed to the temptation to take liberties with methodological rigour mean that younger African researchers are poorly served in matters of training for independent social research. It is for this reason that the CODESRIA Secretariat has decided to convene young African researchers to methodological workshops on epistemological and methodological issues in social research designed to fill the gaps in their formal and informal training. The workshops are meant to serve as a critical space that would offer experience-sharing in the basic epistemological and empirical prerequisites for rigorous scientific imagination. The workshops will not only offer insights into the current state of the art but also provide an occasion for a critical review of contemporary research procedures, tools and theories as seen from an African perspective. The major question which the workshops will address can be summarized as follows: How can the researcher productively establish a link between dominant theoretical approaches and concrete situations in the field whilst simultaneously taking into account the state of knowledge, the techniques to be mobilized, and the evolution of African societies? In answering this question, the workshops will privilege qualitative research methods and tools on the basic premise that the popular tendency to oppose quantitative and qualitative methods is due to a wrong assumption that the former offers an exactness and “hardness” which the latter is supposedly too “soft” and “fickle” to match. Without diminishing the importance of quantitative research and methods, participants in the workshops will be encouraged to explore qualitative methods of capturing African social dynamics which do not always or often find expression, fully or partially, in figures and which are, therefore, lost to those who are wedded to rigid and exclusively quantitative approaches.

The Special Nigerian edition of the methodological workshops that is on offer for 2009 is designed for doctoral students and young, mid-career African researchers based in Nigeria. The working language to be employed during the workshop will be English. The session will be led by a director who will be assisted by a team of three lecturers, all with an acknowledged expertise in the application of social science research methods. Senior researchers wishing to be considered for a role as resource persons are invited to send an application which indicates their interest and includes their current CV and an outline of issues they would like to cover in four lectures of two hours each. The outline submitted should be detailed enough to enable the director of the workshop compile a syllabus for the guidance of the resource persons and laureates. Apart from the actual preparation of lectures and field visits, the resource persons will also be expected to submit a bibliographic list of texts relevant to the theme of the workshop and which can be made available to the laureates.

Among the issues that will be covered during the workshop are:
1. A critical assessment of the distinction between “quantitative” and “qualitative” research with particular attention to the question of measurement in the social sciences. Participants will be taken through presentations and exercises aimed at showing that the mode of processing data that is collected depends both on the field constraints encountered and the paradigmatic options of data interpretation that are available. The procedures for the “quantification” of “qualitative” approaches will also be reviewed through discussions on the distinction between the non-metrical and “comprehensive” presentation of data and the more mathematical renditions favoured by the quantitativists;
2. A presentation of the methodological principles of “object construction” which enables the researcher to transcend the illusions of immediate knowledge and undertake a hypothetical reconstruction of social reality. This demands that the status of the researcher, as well as the systematic role of theories and tools be subjected to intense epistemological control.
3. An assessment of various techniques of data collection and “fact-finding” instruments available to the researcher. The usual tools of qualitative research such as interviews, observation, archival studies, and the less usual ones such as photography, will be reviewed, so as to locate their potentiality for construction of successful research projects.

All interested candidates are requested to submit an application that should comprise the following:

1. A letter of motivation which should also clearly indicate the area of research or topic on which they are working;
2. A statement of their research project (maximum of three to five pages) stating clearly the problematic that is being addressed, the kinds of field research to be undertaken, the theoretical and methodological framework being used, as well as the methodological and epistemological problems encountered;
3. A detailed and up-to-date curriculum vitae;
4. Two reference letters, one of which must be from the thesis supervisor and the other from the head of the department in which the applicant is registered. The reference letter from the supervisor is expected to address the relevance of the research project, the state of progress of the research and the theoretical and methodological approaches used, as well as the results expected. The reference letter from the head of the department is expected to attest to the qualities and academic potential of the candidate; and
5. A letter confirming the institutional affiliation of the applicant.

Applications will be selected on basis of the innovative nature of the research question being addressed, a commitment to gender balance that is central to CODESRIA’s institutional strategy. Applications must be submitted by 26 June, 2009. They should be sent to:

SUB-REGIONAL METHODOLOGICAL WORKSHOPS
(Special Session for Nigeria)
CODESRIA
B.P. 3304, Dakar, CP 18524 – Senegal.
Tél: +221-33 825.98.22/23 — Fax: +221-33 824.12.89
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.codesria.sn


Africa: CODESRIA/SEPHIS Lecture Tour 2009 - Call for Applications

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53940

CODESRIA / SEPHIS programme is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Lecture Tour series. The Lecture Tour series is an international academic forum that seeks to create a space for scholars from the South to discuss and express their ideas and share their perspectives on selected themes. It serves as an opportunity for Southern institutes or universities to invite a scholar with an established reputation from another area of the South, affiliated to a historic school or specific research approach, to present a series of public lectures and seminars on chosen themes.
CODESRIA/SEPHIS LECTURE TOUR 2009

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

CODESRIA / SEPHIS programme is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Lecture Tour series. The Lecture Tour series is an international academic forum that seeks to create a space for scholars from the South to discuss and express their ideas and share their perspectives on selected themes. It serves as an opportunity for Southern institutes or universities to invite a scholar with an established reputation from another area of the South, affiliated to a historic school or specific research approach, to present a series of public lectures and seminars on chosen themes. The 2009 Lecture Tour session is scheduled for May 2009 and will cover the Southern Africa region.

The aim of Lecture Tour is to encourage the creation of professional ties, as well as a dynamic intellectual exchange amongst the different research traditions and networks in the South. The Lecture Tour provides the lecturer with an opportunity to meet and interact with colleagues and advanced research students, discuss thematic issues and academic programmes, and explore possibilities for collaboration. It also encourages the generation of debate and elaboration of critical analyses on the chosen theme, in order to promote a refined understanding of concepts which have an undeniable impact on the future of Southern societies.

In a bid to promote the development of a comparative perspective, a scholar from the host institution/country will be invited to discuss the guest lecturer’s paper and present a reflection on the same theme adapted to his/her country or sub-region. S/he will also moderate discussions on the theme, and more precisely on the lecturer’s text. The lecturer is expected to:

- Be available to for approximately three weeks to tour and give lectures/seminars
- Produce a relevant and unpublished paper, with a strong social/historical dimension, which can be published in the CODESRIA/SEPHIS series.
- Send the text of the lecture to CODESRIA at least six weeks before the actual tour starts.
- Meet with colleagues and research students, advise on academic programmes, and explore the possibilities for collaborative research.

Following the tour, the lecturer is expected to become an active member of the CODESRIA/SEPHIS network and will be encouraged to help forge strong South-South cooperative links by, inter alia, assisting with the organization of a lecture tour of her/his country/region by an African researcher. CODESRIA/SEPHIS will cover the travel costs of the lecturer and provide her/him with a daily per diem during the period of her/his tour of the African continent.

Theme - Women’s Movements in the History of the South
The lecture tour aims at contributing to the development of the South-South debate on this theme. The increasing involvement of women in the public sphere makes it necessary to open the debate and promote critical analyses on this theme. Women’s involvement in the public sphere has been mainly through Women's movements. Through this, profound and positive changes in the status and roles of women have occurred in the last 50 years. Women’s movements have been major actors in the rise of global civil society, promoting a gender sensitive approach to the resolution of vital economic, political and social processes. They have been a key force in the development of the existing international legal and normative framework for bringing to justice the perpetrators of violence against women and for the recognition by international bodies that violence against women is one of the main obstacles to development and peace.
While the importance of the role of women’s movements globally in the last 50 years is acknowledged, there is a poor record of historical reflections on women’s engagements of the public sphere in the South, at least in comparison with the abundant scientific production on this theme in the Anglo-Saxon Western world. This may be due principally to women in the South recording very little about their activism and their efforts to organise for their rights within their communities. Hence the richness and vibrancy, the centrality of the role of women and women’s movement in the key events that have defined the history of nations in the South in the last 50 years, especially post-colonial history, is unrecorded and invisible. Such alternative histories require a voice as they are a corpus of knowledge that reflect the reality of the existence of men, women and children in the South, and are a corrective prism through which developmental knowledge is interpreted and appropriated locally.

It is in order to give voice to the unrecorded histories of women’s movements in the South that the 2008-2010 cycle of lectures is consecrated to the elaboration of the theme “Women's Movements in the History of the Global South.” What is expected is a historically-grounded reflection of women’s engagement with the public sphere in the South through women’s movements. Such analysis will avoid the banalisation or limitation of the question to the issue simply of knowing whether women fulfil political responsibilities in a better or different way in comparison to men, or whether this depends more on the personal qualities of each individual, rather than on their sex. In the process of defining and implementing a strategy to promote a greater and fairer involvement of women in the economic sphere, analyses will have to take into account the intervening factors that are at play and the stakeholders that could influence those factors.

The lecturer in writing her text will also have to take into consideration issues such as a review of women’s involvement and representation in politics, in the context of the patriarchal conception of women’s role in Southern societies, and quantitative aspects and qualitative impacts of women’s representation in structures and processes of decision-making. The text will explore inclusion and exclusion processes of women into/out of the democratic processes in the Western mono-cultural conception of politics that makes a dichotomy between democracy and dictatorship, the new intellectual and theoretical context created by the crises accompanying structural adjustment programmes, as well as the efforts and attempts at renewing the practices and theories of post adjustment development and most importantly, globalisation.
The deadline for applications (to be written in English) is 15 March 2009. An international scientific committee will examine the dossier of all candidates by the end of March 2009. Incomplete and unnecessarily lengthy applications will not be considered. All email and faxed applications must be accompanied by a hard copy original version sent by post. Successful applicants will be notified immediately after the completion of the selection process.

Additional information about the Lecture Tour Programme can be obtained via:
- The CODESRIA web site: http://www.codesria.org
- The SEPHIS web site: http://www.sephis.org

All applications or requests for more information should be addressed to:

CODESRIA/SEPHIS Lecture Tour 2009
Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop, angle Canal IV
B.P. 3304, CP 18524
Dakar, Senegal
Fax: (221) 33 824 12 89
Tel: (221) 33 825 98 22/23
E-Mail: [email protected]


Africa: CODESRIA: Comparative Research Networks (CRNs)

Call for Proposals for 2009

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53941

Within the framework of its strategy for building comparative knowledge on Africa produced from within the African continent, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals from researchers based in African universities and centres of research for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs).
CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks (CRNs)

Call for Proposals for 2009

Within the framework of its strategy for building comparative knowledge on Africa produced from within the African continent, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals from researchers based in African universities and centres of research for the constitution of Comparative Research Networks (CRNs) to undertake studies on or around any of the following themes identified as priority research themes within the framework of the CODESRIA strategic plan for the period 2007 - 2011:

1. Re-thinking (African) Development;
2. Re-thinking Democracy (in Africa);
3. Engendering Democracy and Development;
4. Transitions in African Higher Education;
5. Reforming the African Public Sector: Retrospect and Prospect;
6. The Changing Political Economy of African Natural Resources;
7. African Encounters with the Global System;
8. The Popular Arts, Identity and Culture in Contemporary Africa;
9. Health, Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa;
10. Migration Dynamics and the Making of New Diasporic Communities;
11. Changing Rural-Urban Linkages;
12. New Regionalist Impulses in Africa;
13. New Institutions of Transitional Justice;
14. Conflict and Reconstruction in Africa;
15. Law, Politics and Society;
16. State, Political Identity and Political Violence;
17. Political Pluralism and the Management of Diversity;
18. Water and Water Resources in the Political Economy of Development and Citizenship;
19. Ecology, Climate and Environmental Sustainability in Africa; and
20. Transport and Transportation Systems in Africa.

The primary purpose for which the CRNs have been introduced is to encourage the development and consolidation of a comparative analytic perspective in the work of African social researchers. In so doing, it is hoped to establish a strong corpus of comparative studies produced by African scholars and which could help to advance theoretical knowledge and discussion.

The interested researchers are requested to highlight clearly the comparative question which they wish to pursue. Each proposal should include:-an introduction, a problem - a literature review, the objectives of the study - the research methodology - the results - the outline of the proposed budget and time frame knowing that the total duration of the study is 18 months from the date of launch. Furthermore the proposal should indicate, the membership of the network, including the coordinator(s) of the group; the biodata and institutional affiliation of the network members; a copy of the curriculum vitae of the coordinator(s) and members of the network; the budget outline for the activity that is proposed. Apart from the CVs of members of networks, proposals should not exceed 12 pages (font Times New Roman, size 12, line spacing: single).

Authors of proposals submitted for consideration are urged to pay close attention to the comparative methodology which they will be applying and to demonstrate a proper understanding of the challenges of carrying out comparative studies. The independent Selection Committee that will be reviewing proposals received will be mandated to eliminate all proposals that are either silent on the comparative question that will be researched and the corresponding comparative methodology that will be employed or which show an inadequate understanding of the challenges of comparative research.

Each CRN will be entitled to organise three meetings during its lifespan, one methodological; the second to evaluate the progress of the work of the members of the group and the final. Although the budget that will be approved for the CRNs to be supported will vary from group to group, prospective applicants may wish to note for indicative purposes only that the grants that have been awarded by CODESRIA in the recent past have ranged from USD10,000 to USD35,000. Similarly, although no specific format is required for the presentation of the budget for the work that is proposed, authors may wish to note that resources will be allocated by the Council to cover the following costs:
i) a methodological workshop for the members of the CRN;
ii) a review workshop at which the progress of the work of the members of the CRN will be assessed;
iii) the field work to be undertaken by the members of the network;
iv) books to be purchased for the work of the CRN;
v) the honorarium to be paid to the members of the CRN for the work undertaken.
vi) Final workshop

The size of a CRN will vary from proposal to proposal but on average, most of the groups sponsored by CODESRIA have had an average of five to six members. It is advantageous to ensure that a proposed CRN is multidisciplinary in composition, sensitive to gender issues, and accommodating of younger scholars.

For the 2009 competition, CODESRIA will be open to receive proposals up to 30 June, 2009. Notification of the result of the selection exercise will be made by 31 July, 2009. Proposals for the constitution of CRNs should be sent to:

CODESRIA Comparative Research Networks,
CODESRIA,
BP 3304, CP 18524
Dakar, Senegal.
Tel: +221-33825 98 22/23
Fax:+221-33824 12 89
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site: http://:www.codesria.org


Africa: CODESRIA: Text Book Programme: Call for applications for 2009

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53951

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to call for proposals for its revamped programme for the publication of text books for use in African universities. The programme was initially introduced as part of a broad set of objectives for achieving greater balance and relevance in curriculum development in African universities by making available to teachers and students, text books that are adapted to the African historical context and the environment of research and learning on the continent.
CODESRIA
Text Book Programme: Call for Applications for 2009

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to call for proposals for its revamped programme for the publication of text books for use in African universities. The programme was initially introduced as part of a broad set of objectives for achieving greater balance and relevance in curriculum development in African universities by making available to teachers and students, text books that are adapted to the African historical context and the environment of research and learning on the continent. In this role, it was conceived as an important element of the Council’s wider institutional mandate and publications strategy but it also helped, along side other CODESRIA publications, to assuage the book famine that afflicted the African social research community in the 1980s and 1990s. Through the revamped text book programme, the Council aims to continue to contribute to the nurturing and growth of younger African researchers brought up in a tradition of critical, engaged and rigorous scholarship premised on theoretical and methodological foundations that enable them to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of the frontiers of knowledge.

Against the background of the foregoing, African researchers are invited to submit proposals for text book projects for consideration by the Council. All those wishing to send in proposals must already be senior scholars with a proven track record of academic achievement and a demonstrable knowledge of the domain in which they wish to produce a CODESRIA textbook. In deciding which proposals to support, the Council will place emphasis on the value which is likely to be added by the project. Proposals for consideration could be by individuals wishing to be single authors or by scholars hoping to pool together a group of other contributors whose input they will then edit into a book for use in African universities. Furthermore, multi-author proposals or proposals consisting of the identification and collection into one volume of classics produced by some of the most outstanding thinkers will also be welcomed. Each textbook could either be organised around a discipline or body of disciplines, or on a specific theme. The textbooks could also either cover the entire African continent or a specific sub-region or country.

Applications for consideration under the textbook programme should include the following materials:
i) A proposal which includes a clear theoretical, methodological and pedagogic justification for the project;
ii) The curriculum vitae(s) of the project leader(s) and a bio-sketch of all the other contributors;
iii) Two copies of the publications of the project leader(s) which they consider to be the most significant and relevant to their proposal;
iv) A detailed calendar and budget for the implementation of the project.

All applications received will be examined by an independent selection committee and those which are recommended for support will be eligible for funding by the Council. For indicative purposes, prospective applicants for support within the textbook programme may wish to note that up to USD10,000 may be available from CODESRIA resources to assist them in realising their projects. To be eligible for consideration for support within the 2009 financial year of the Council, all applications should be received by 30 June, 2009. The selection committee meeting will meet in Dakar, Senegal on 27July, 2009. Applications should be sent to:

The CODESRIA Text Book Programme,
Department of Training, Grants and Fellowships,
CODESRIA,
BP 3304, CP 18524,
Dakar, Senegal.
Tel.: +221-33 825 98 22/23
Fax.: +221-33 824 12 89
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.codesria.org


Global: AAPDEP Conference, Feb. 21-22, 2009

A Call to African Engineers, Scientists and Healthcare Workers

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53943

On February 21 - 22, 2009, the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) will hold it’s second annual International Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Conference will open with a presentation by African Socialist International (ASI) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, who is credited with keeping alive the vision of Kwame Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey for a united prosperous Africa and forging a practical 21st century program for its achievement.
All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project Conference Calls for Engineers, Scientists and Healthcare Workers to Build Community Survival Programs in Africa and U.S. - February 21-22, 2009

What: Organizing Conference
When: February 21 – 22, 2009
Where: Uhuru House, 1245 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
Contact: Dr. Aisha Fields, 727-821-6620, [email protected]

On February 21 - 22, 2009, the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) will hold it’s second annual International Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Conference will open with a presentation by African Socialist International (ASI) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, who is credited with keeping alive the vision of Kwame Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey for a united prosperous Africa and forging a practical 21st century program for its achievement.

A project of the ASI, AAPDEP organizes African communities to overcome abject poverty and death from curable diseases that is experienced by hundreds of millions of Africans throughout the world, with the establishment of local programs providing sustainable electrification, rainwater harvesting, well-building, water purification, ecological sanitation, farming and community health workers training.

In the year since AAPDEP’s founding conference, it has successfully launched several projects to improve the lives of thousands of Africans in West and Southern Africa. In the coastal village of Oloshoro in Sierra Leone, AAPDEP is working with local fisherman to develop a community owned and operated commercial fishing enterprise that will feed local residents and provide an income for local youth and women. Proceeds from the fishing business will also be used to build a health center, helping to reverse a maternal mortality rate that is the highest in the world.
AAPDEP has also built rainwater harvesting systems in Sierra Leone and initiated a community health workers program to train local residents to treat and prevent waterborne diseases. In Zimbabwe, AAPDEP is working with the Ujamma Youth Farming Project (UYFP), an African youth-led farming cooperative that has secured a 100-acre plot of farmland in the city of Gweru under the Zimbabwe government's land redistribution program. AAPDEP has taken on a project to construct a 50m deep pressurized well for irrigation of a 25-acre section of the farmland, helping to support the efforts of UYFP to provide valuable training, employment, and food to the people of Zimbabwe.

AAPDEP is calling on all African scientists, agricultural specialists, engineers, doctors, nurses, and others with skills in web design, graphic arts, photography, videography, fundraising and community outreach to participate in its 2nd annual International Conference. The Conference will be used to further consolidate AAPDEP’s African Corps of Engineers Scientists and Healthcare Workers (AACESH) as an international body of skilled Africans uniquely positioned to respond to natural disasters, healthcare epidemics and humanitarian crises that arise anywhere in the African world. Working sessions will be held to strategize implementation of current and future projects, including a U.S. community farming project designed to prepare African communities for self reliance during this time of deepening economic crisis.

Dr. Aisha Fields is the Director of AAPDEP. She is a physicist whose work is focussed on using science to transform the day-to-day lives of African people. Dr. Fields declares, “Now we will no longer have to watch as our people suffer and die needlessly, hoping and waiting in vain for the mercy of others, like during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina! Africa is the richest continent on Earth, abundant in agricultural, mineral, oil and other wealth. Nevertheless, African people throughout the world live in abject poverty. This imposed poverty is rooted in an attack on Africa with the forced dispersal and enslavement of African people, colonialism and current day neo-colonialism. African people everywhere have been separated from our resources and each other while our land, labor and vast natural wealth are being used to enrich Europe, the U.S. and other imperialist nations.

“Africa’s intellectual resources have been expropriated as well, with the most skilled sector of the African population - African scientists, engineers, health care professionals and others - often using their skills to ensure that health and development abound in imperialist countries at the expense of the health and development of African communities. AAPDEP provides an opportunity for Africans to use our skills and training to uplift African communities everywhere. AAPDEP is not a charity program. It’s a revolutionary strategy aimed at achieving true self-determination for African people.”

AAPDEP’s 2009 Conference will be held on February 21-22 at the Uhuru House, 1245 18th Avenue South in St. Petersburg, Florida. For more information about AAPDEP or to register for the conference, visit www.developmentforafrica.org or call 727-821-6620.


Global: Contemporary India-East Africa relations: shifting terrains of engagement

27 – 28 April 2009. Call for papers

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53945

This conference forms part of a collaborative project between the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) and the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS). Compared to the rapidly proliferating work on China in Africa, India, the other great ‘Asian Driver’, has been rather neglected in academic and policy circles. This event will bring together a series of papers on India’s changing relations with one region of sub-Saharan Africa.
CALL FOR PAPERS

Contemporary India-East Africa relations: shifting terrains of engagement

27 – 28 April 2009


The British Institute in Eastern Africa
Laikipia Road, Kileleshwa, Nairobi, Kenya

This conference forms part of a collaborative project between the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) and the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS). Compared to the rapidly proliferating work on China in Africa, India, the other great ‘Asian Driver’, has been rather neglected in academic and policy circles. This event will bring together a series of papers on India’s changing relations with one region of sub-Saharan Africa. Many parts of East Africa have a long South Asian diasporic heritage, yet India’s engagement with the region has moved beyond these historic links in recent years. As India increasingly challenges existing architectures of economic and geopolitical power, Africa has become an important and interesting arena for Indian ambitions. The influx of Indian aid, capital and personnel, moreover, has potentially profound developmental consequences for the plethora of East African nations, as well as for their South Asian diasporic communities.

We invite papers on all aspects of contemporary India-East Africa relations. Topics of particular (but not exclusive) interest are:

Geo-political engagements
Development aid
Foreign Direct Investment
Trade
Civil society interactions
‘Good governance’ and human rights discourses
Diasporic issues
Cultural interactions
Peacekeeping and military encounters
Reactions to Indian engagement amongst different African actors

Scholars from African and South Asian nations are particularly encouraged to attend. Funds are available for some travel expenses and accommodation to this end.

Abstracts for papers (approximately 300 words in length) and any enquiries should reach Dr Gerard McCann, Department of Geography, Downing Place, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EN or [email protected] by 30 JANUARY 2009. Notification of acceptance of abstracts will be forthcoming by 13 FEBRUARY 2009.

We intend to edit a collection of papers for a special issue of an academic journal [TBC] following the conference. Articles will be subject to independent peer review. Please indicate if you would be interested in submitting your paper for publication.


Emma Mawdsley & Gerard McCann, University of Cambridge


Global: Great Lakes Conference at LSE in May 2009

Call for Papers

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53952

In September 2007, the International Humanitarian Law Project at the London School
of Economics and Political Science held a Symposium to discuss the content of the
Pact and its Protocols. The follow-up Conference on 29-30 May 2009 will focus on
the implementation and enforcement of the Protocols. Individuals who played an
integral role in drafting the Pact and Protocols as well as those responsible for its implementation have been invited to participate during the course of the first day.
The Great Lakes Pact – Two Years On
Issues of Implementation and Enforcement
Call for Papers
Academic Conference
London School of Economics and Political Science
29-30 May 2009

The Great Lakes Region in Central Africa has been the site of the most devastating armed conflicts and humanitarian crises the world has witnessed since the end of the Cold War. In various parts of the region, the legacy of colonialism, ethnic rivalry, weak state structures and opportunities for the exploitation of natural resources have given rise to a vicious cycle of violence, displacement, and institutional collapse.

The Great Lakes Pact, adopted by eleven African states in December 2006, represents the most comprehensive effort yet to address the root causes of these conflicts and lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development in the region. Within in the framework of the Pact, the member states have assumed detailed obligations in areas ranging from democracy and good governance to economic and humanitarian issues, and committed themselves to their implementation through the adoption of concrete Programmes of Action. The Pact thus comprises a complex set of interlocking and mutually reinforcing legal frameworks designed to create conditions for security, stability, and reconstruction in the region.

In September 2007, the International Humanitarian Law Project at the London School of Economics and Political Science held a Symposium to discuss the content of the Pact and its Protocols. The follow-up Conference on 29-30 May 2009 will focus on the implementation and enforcement of the Protocols. Individuals who played an integral role in drafting the Pact and Protocols as well as those responsible for its implementation have been invited to participate during the course of the first day.

The second day has been specifically set aside for the scholarly community to offer critical input and engage with those responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the Pact.

Papers are invited on questions relevant to the implementation and enforcement of
the Great Lakes Pact, the Programmes for Action and the Protocols, in particular:
The Programme of Action for the Promotion of Democracy and Good Governance,
including the
• Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance
• Protocol on Judicial Cooperation
• Protocol against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources
• Protocol on the Management of Information and Communication
• Protocol for the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination
The Programme of Action on Economic Development and Regional Integration,
including the
• Protocol on the Specific Reconstruction and Development Zone
The Programme of Action for Peace and Security, including the
• Protocol on Non-Aggression and Mutual Defence
The Programme of Action on Humanitarian and Social Issues, including the
• Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Sexual Violence Against
Women and Children
• Protocol on the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons
• Protocol on Property Rights of Returning Persons
The text of the Pact, the Programmes of Action and the Protocols can be accessed here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law/projects/greatlakes/ihl-greatlakes.htm

We will also consider submissions that critically examine the implementation and enforcement of international legal norms in armed conflicts and post-conflict environments outside the region to the extent that they may shed light on the challenges that face the region. However, substantial attention should be devoted to the implications and relevance of these experiences to the implementation and enforcement of those norms in the Great Lakes Region.

Abstracts (max. 500 words), together with a short informal biography (max. 100
words) should be submitted to [email protected] by 1 March 2009. Successful
applicants will be informed by mid-March 2009. A first draft of the final papers will be required by 18 May 2009. Please contact [email protected] with any queries.


ISA World Congress of Sociology, 11-17 July 2010

Call for presentation abstracts

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53766

The disaster of climate change is intertwined with peace and conflict at many levels, from international environmental negotiations to indigenous communities using local abilities and resources to forge connections for dealing with climate change's impacts. This session will explore these interlinks, in particular to try separate the hyperbole over climate change causing all witnessed problems from the reality of climate change exposing vulnerabilities and conflicts that have long simmered but have not been addressed. Authors are encouraged to think broadly about peace and conflict and to ensure that any presentation critically engages with contemporary discourse on the topic.
Peace, Conflict, and Climate Change (call for presentation abstracts)

ISA World Congress of Sociology, 11-17 July 2010, http://www.isa-sociology.org/congress2010
Gothenburg, Sweden http://www.goteborg.com/default.aspx?id=528

Session on "Peace, Conflict, and Climate Change"
Currently scheduled for Wednesday 14 July 2010, 14:30 to 16:00 (subject to change)
Under the Research Committee on Sociology of Disasters RC39 http://www.isa-sociology.org/rc39.htm

Please submit through my contact details at http://www.ilankelman.org/contact.html a 300-400 word abstract plus 3-5 references before the end of February 2009. Feedback will be sent before the end of March 2009, so please ensure that any spam filters will accept my reply to you. If presentation slots are still available afterwards, later submissions will be considered as they are received until all slots are filled.


The disaster of climate change is intertwined with peace and conflict at many levels, from international environmental negotiations to indigenous communities using local abilities and resources to forge connections for dealing with climate change's impacts. This session will explore these interlinks, in particular to try separate the hyperbole over climate change causing all witnessed problems from the reality of climate change exposing vulnerabilities and conflicts that have long simmered but have not been addressed. Authors are encouraged to think broadly about peace and conflict and to ensure that any presentation critically engages with contemporary discourse on the topic.


Please submit through my contact details at http://www.ilankelman.org/contact.html a 300-400 word abstract plus 3-5 references before the end of February 2009. Feedback will be sent before the end of March 2009, so please ensure that any spam filters will accept my reply to you. If presentation slots are still available afterwards, later submissions will be considered as they are received until all slots are filled.

Session Description:

The disaster of climate change is intertwined with peace and conflict at many levels, from international environmental negotiations to indigenous communities using local abilities and resources to forge connections for dealing with climate change's impacts. This session will explore these interlinks, in particular to try separate the hyperbole over climate change causing all witnessed problems from the reality of climate change exposing vulnerabilities and conflicts that have long simmered but have not been addressed.

Authors are encouraged to think broadly about peace and conflict and to ensure that any presentation critically engages with contemporary discourse on the topic. Three papers, each of presentation length 17 minutes, are being solicited, but if more than three abstracts are recommended for acceptance, then other sessions might be available for those. All abstracts will be reviewed, focusing especially on creativity and innovation, and comments will be provided to authors.

Illustrative examples of paper topics could be:

-The bitter debates over and strong alliances forged during the negotiation and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the post-Kyoto agreement.

-"Disaster diplomacy" theory and practice applied to climate change http://www.disasterdiplomacy.org/cep.html

-Whether or not the discourse over potential conflict resulting from so-called "climate change refugees" or "climate refugees" addresses the root cause of the problems that lead to migration http://www.nrc.no/?did=9268973

-Whether or not environmental management issues and treaties related to or affected by climate change, including the Antarctic Treaty System and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, could or should lead to lasting, positive diplomatic outcomes beyond environmental management--or whether more conflict will result.

Lessons being sought could encompass:

-How much does scientific and technological cooperation on climate change assist different forms of peace and conflict?

-How prominent are transboundary issues even when international relations are not the overriding influence on the political situation or the climate change affected situation?

-With early warning available now for some climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise inundating coastlines, does that assist or hinder the resolution of long-standing disputes not related to climate change?

-Will natural resources--such as water, fish, precious metals, and fossil fuels--dominate the peace and conflict implications of climate change or will people, their homes, and their identities receive deserved attention?


South Africa: The 2009 Annual Rosa Luxemburg Cape Partners Seminar

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/courses/53955

For a number of years now, particularly in the period of globalisation, trade unions have been faced with major challenges which call for strategic responses. These challenges include building trade union internationalism in the period of mobile capital, assessing relations with left political parties as these have been dragged towards the political centre, tensions between collective bargaining and defensive struggles and strategic, revolutionary unionism and so on. This, the first of a new series of Annual Conferences, hosted by ILRIG and other partners, is an opportunities for activists and analysts - trade unionists as well as those involved in social movement campaigns - in South Africa to debate experiences of organising in South Africa, and elsewhere, whilst hearing of other forms of trade unionism in South Africa and elsewhere.
New Forms of Organisation: Trade Union Forms and Organising in the Period of Globalisation
The 2009 Annual Rosa Luxemburg Cape Partners Seminar

Community House, Salt River, Cape Town
3 and 4 April 2009
Hosted by ILRIG


For a number of years now, particularly in the period of globalisation, trade unions have been faced with major challenges which call for strategic responses. These challenges include building trade union internationalism in the period of mobile capital, assessing relations with left political parties as these have been dragged towards the political centre, tensions between collective bargaining and defensive struggles and strategic, revolutionary unionism and so on. These challenges will of course be heightened in the period of the current international capitalist crisis.

Differences in strategic responses over the last 30 years of globalisation have seen sections of the labour movement seek forms of global trade unionism by championing trade union unity through the ICFTU and tactics of pressurising for reforms through the ILO and the WTO; whilst nationally, many unions have maintained long-standing alliances with labour and social democratic parties seeking to defend worker living standards. Then again in large parts of the world, notably China, there is no tradition of strong independent unions and instead there are struggles to build such a tradition underway.

But globalisation was above all a strategy on the part of capital to respond to the crisis of over-production and over-accumulation which threatened profitability from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Much has been made of the features of this form of capital accumulation – mobile finance capital, accumulation by dispossession, new roles for the state etc. Many of these features are being sharply illustrated by the current global crisis. But the restructuring of social relations that is globalisation also included quite fundamental changes to the labour process itself: from millions of workers being driven out of the labour process itself (into unemployment), to a variety of forms of externalisation and labour flexibility, part-time work, home work, casualisation and outsourcing. These changes have also seen work become increasingly feminised and more vulnerable sections of the working class – immigrants and refugees for instance – being particularly susceptible to the most extreme forms of labour flexibility.

These changes raise questions of the appropriateness of the current FORMS of trade unions and their METHODS OF ORGANISING.

Many trade unions were formed in an entirely different period of accumulation characterised by higher degrees of permanent, industrial employment. In South Africa for instance we have a model of national industrial unions defined along sectoral lines, which successfully served to build a high degree of worker unity in the 1980s. Our labour laws after 1994 explicitly championed this model and trade union organisers are well-versed in methods of organising based on signing membership via stop orders on company payrolls, sticking closely to the notion of one-industry-one-union, and decision-making processes which work through vertical national structures.

But how appropriate is this FORM for the levels of mass unemployment we have, for the near 40% of the working class who are informalised? For those who work for labour brokers and those who combine occasional work with various forms of survivalism? For women workers, especially, and for those who are the most informalised? And what challenges do these changes represent for the current METHODS of organising?

This, the first of a new series of Annual Conferences, hosted by ILRIG and other partners, is an opportunities for activists and analysts - trade unionists as well as those involved in social movement campaigns - in South Africa to debate experiences of organising in South Africa, and elsewhere, whilst hearing of other forms of trade unionism in South Africa and elsewhere.

Themes of the Conference:

The themes of the Conference are to coincide with the objectives of developing a body of work which can help revive traditions of strong, militant, workers’ controlled trade unions that are appropriate for the current historical period.

1. To explore and review the history of the emergence of the current forms of trade unionism and organising in South Africa today, in the light of the current conjuncture

2. To explore theoretical debates and case studies of the capitalist labour process, whether writ large, or in specific industries, and the challenges these pose for trade union forms and methods of organising today

3. To explore different case studies of non-industrial unionism in South Africa and internationally so as to broaden the scope of debate and offer concrete instances for evaluation.


To this end ILRIG and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation are inviting papers from any interested person.
• Expressions of Interest should be submitted by 16 February 2009
• Abstracts of papers should be submitted by 23 February 2009
• Final papers (after selection) must be submitted by 31 March 2009

Where possible, ILRIG will provide travel and accommodation for successful candidates

All communication must be directed to [email protected]



Provisional Programme

Day 1: Friday 3 April:

Morning: 10.00 – 13.00hrs

Welcome and overview of aims of conference:

Plenary

• The rise of current forms

Parallel sessions

• Experiences of organising and challenges of current forms

Afternoon: 14.00 – 17.00hrs

• Overview of SA social formation at the level of the labour market

• The changing composition of the working class: Labour process changes, labour markets, gender and nationality

Day 2: Saturday 4 April

Morning: 10.00 – 13.00hrs

Plenary:

• New Forms of organising? Engaging debates

Parallel Sessions:

• Case studies in South Africa today

Afternoon: 14.00 – 17.00 hrs

• International case studies:




Publications

Africa: Africa Policy Outlook 2009

2009-02-05

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5814

The outpouring of emotion across Africa when President Barack Obama was sworn in had as much to do with his heritage as with the possibility that he might reverse some of the Bush administration's disastrous policies. President George W. Bush trumpeted Africa as a foreign policy success, highlighting the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) as proof. He didn't mention the extremely unpopular ideological limitations on PEPFAR that he championed.


Global: 200 Years Later…

Awarded new publication on African resistance against the Slave Trade

2009-02-05

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/publications/53768

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the Event Series “200 Years Later…”, commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the official Abolition of the Maafa (Transatlantic Slave Trade), Berlin, 23-30.11.2008. It was awarded UNESCO's Toussaint Louverture Medal for its “contribution to the struggle against domination, racism and intolerance”. At the centre stands the celebration of the much neglected and still widely unknown manifold strategies of resistance of African people / people of African descent against one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind and the cultural and artistic practices they developed on the basis of this resilience.
New Awarded Publication

200 Years Later …
Commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the Abolition of the Maafa (Transatlantic Slave Trade)
Published by AfricAvenir & Werkstatt der Kulturen
Edited by Nadja Rahal

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the Event Series “200 Years Later…”, commemorating the 200 year anniversary of the official Abolition of the Maafa (Transatlantic Slave Trade), Berlin, 23-30.11.2008. It was awarded UNESCO's Toussaint Louverture Medal for its “contribution to the struggle against domination, racism and intolerance” .

At the centre stands the celebration of the much neglected and still widely unknown manifold strategies of resistance of African people / people of African descent against one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind and the cultural and artistic practices they developed on the basis of this resilience.

The publication on hand features portraits of some of the protagonists of this resistance, a specifically researched resistance timeline, as well as essays by eminent scholars such as Louise Marie Diop-Maes, Silviane A. Diouf, David Richardson, Joseph Olabiyi Babalola Yai, Howard Dodson, Horace Campbell, Rosa Amelia Plumelle-Uribe and others.

“Despite the most sophisticated strategies to destroy cultural identity, despite repeated ethnic cleansing and inhuman working conditions, despite sexual exploitation and the disintegration of their social and economic systems, Africans were able to ensure the survival of the key parts of their original cultures, due to the initiatives that they were able to take or to the negotiated spaces that they were able to extract from - or impose on - their ‘masters’. They also assimilated some of the practices of the other cultures with which they came into contact, interpreting and re-creating them as they did so.” Joseph Olabiyi Babalola Yai (President UNESCO Executive Board)

ISBN: 978-3-9812733-0-4
138 pages, full 4-colour print with 25 portraits
Price: 15€ + Packaging and Shipping (Germany: + 2,50€; Europe/World: + 5,60€)

Order Information:
Pls contact us via Email at [email protected], use the attached Fax form and send it back to +49-30-8850857 or send the form via postal service to:

AfricAvenir International e. V.
Im Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte
Greifswalder Str. 4
10405 Berlin
Germany


Switzerland and Slavery

2009-02-06

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/publications/53956

After some five years of research, Hans Fässler's book on Switzerland's links with slavery and the slave trade was published in 2005 under the title "Reise in Schwarz-Weiss. Schweizer Ortstermine in Sachen Sklaverei" (Rotpunkt-Verlag, Zurich). It has since been translated into French and been published in France under the title "Une Suisse esclavagiste. Voyage dans un pays au-dessus de tout soupçon" (Duboiris, Paris) with a preface by Doudou Diène, special rapporteur to the UN on contemporary forms of racism.
After some five years of research, Hans Fässler's book on Switzerland's links with slavery and the slave trade was published in 2005 under the title "Reise in Schwarz-Weiss. Schweizer Ortstermine in Sachen Sklaverei" (Rotpunkt-Verlag, Zurich). It has since been translated into French and been published in France under the title "Une Suisse esclavagiste. Voyage dans un pays au-dessus de tout soupçon" (Duboiris, Paris) with a preface by Doudou Diène, special rapporteur to the UN on contemporary forms of racism. The book has launched a debate on the responsibility which Switzerland shares with other European nations: towards reparations for the crime against humanity which slavery has been defined in Durban. I am now looking for an editor in the UK, the US or another anglophone country interested in publishing an English translation of my book, which contains a fair number of subjects related to an English or American historical context of slavery and the slave trade:

- emigration from the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden to the US, the import of cotton from Georgia and Louisiana.
- investments made by families from the canton of Thurgau in the Mississippi Company of John Law, founder of New Orleans.
- a trip to the US of industrial magnate Adolf Guyer-Zeller from the canton of Zürich on the eve of the US civil war, and his trip on the Mississippi and encounters with slavery.
- emigration of Swiss nationals to the US at the beginning of the 18th century, including emigration to Carolina (the so-called Carolina fever), the founding of New Berne and Purrsyburg, and the presence of painter and slave owner Jeremias Theus, from the canton of the Grisons, in Charleston.
- Louis Agassiz, the naturalist and specialist in glaciers, who emigrated to the US from Switzerland and there became one of the leading racists and one of the earliest proponents of apartheid. The daguerrotypes of Swiss-born Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) are well-known in the US literature on slavery.
- Swiss emigration to South Africa.
- the State of Berne's major investment in the South Sea Company (1719–1734) as well as Carl Ludwig von Haller's "Digression on Slavery" of 1818, which made a deep impact on Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle and his polemical Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question.
- "La Belle Chocolatière", a symbol which the US chocolate corporation Baker made into the first ever logo in industrial history.
- the defeat of the Dutch army against the rebellious slaves in Surinam compared to American defeat in Vietnam.





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