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http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_acacias.gif reports on a return to traditional building materials and methods in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso. The sad thing is that these methods were lost in the first place as obviously people built using local materials and in a way that suited the environment and climate.

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_politics.gifhttp://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_afromusing.gif The answer I reckon would be the good fuzzy gooey touchy feely collective altruistic feelings that will wash over us when we realise that China will get… “cash”. How does that make you feel? huh? does it affirm your belief that nations have an underlying sense of caring and exhibit random acts of extreme kindness, preferably dispensing with oil exploration rights to later be sold off? Makes you feel all nice and happy doesn’t it.'

Looks to me like the only thing Kenya has got out of this is the rug pulled from under their feet or possibly they have been taken for a ride along the Great Wall of China.

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_bankelele.gifBankelele has a rant about bad driving in Nairobi and comes up with the 'bad driver index'.

'While the most aggressive drivers appear to be matatus, taxis, citi hoppas, we are all to blame as regular motorists because we are equally bad drivers. Driving along the roadside, changing or creating extra lanes, doing u-turns etc.'

Apparently you can report matatus (kombi taxi) by sending an SMS to the Ministry of Transport – a great idea – but you cannot do that for regular motorists. Imagine the chaos if there was a sms number to report bad motorists in Nairobi, Cairo, Lagos, Joburg etc – the whole scheme would probably combust in a day from sheer overload of complaints!

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_uglybetty.gifWordsbody writes about the 'Ugly Betty' series which she is watching only to see a blast from the past in the form of 'Funmi Desalu's on Ugly Betty!!!' and even managed to catch a screen shot of her momentary passing. Apparently Wordsbody (Molara Wood) and Funmi were part of a London set known as the 'North West Set' – a glamorous group of Nigerians in London!

'In this episode of Ugly Betty (starring producer Salma Hayek and Vanessa Williams, who is astonishing as Wilhemina Slater), Funmi is credited for a non-speaking role, playing an assistant in a conference scene with Ugly Betty star America Ferrara. And in the following week's episode, it was a game of 'Spot Funmi' as she could be seen as one of the extras in the elaborate choreography of background office workers walking back and forth behind the main players. My curiousity piqued, I googled Funmi only to find that she's credited for a string of small roles as "Fumi Desalu" (somebody please put the 'n' back into that name! At least Ugly Betty got the spelling right). As a result, I'm now paying better attention to episodes of 'How I Met Your Mother' in case my old friend turns up one day as a 'bar waitress'.'

So if you get the chance to see any Ugly Betty repeats look out for Funmi Desalu.

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_koranteng.gifKoranteng’s Toli is one of the few blogs I love to read but never quite understand what exactly he is trying to say. In this post he writes about what must be one of the most undesirable areas of London anyone has the misfortune to live in (I await a blasting from Catford livers) – Catford Bridge. Just the mere name leaves me with a murky grey run down feeling. I used to drive through it years ago on the way to well down South. Koli has a nasty experience on his arrival in Catford…

'The fight that I stepped into right as I walked out of Catford Bridge station… As I took my first 3 steps into Catford, this was the scene… On the left: 15 or so drunk black (Jamaican?) youths. To my right: 20 white guys (football yobs?) - Liverpool had won the Champions Cup the day before beating AC Milan. I can't believe I missed that match, but that's what happens when you leave your packing and shopping to the last minute. In the middle: 10 or so policemen trying to calm things down and keep things from spiraling out of control… The dozen or so women standing outside the pub egging the fight on.

As I looked up, I saw the first punch being thrown. Thus I walked straight into a melee of about 30 people yelling at each other and exchanging furious blows… A bunch of them almost knocked my suitcase off as they fell on me in one of those pub brawl tangled scuffles. Exciting introduction to South London. 6 or so police cars began streaming into the place. Flashing lights, sirens, tangled limbs, dirty streets. Screams of women. The fighters were more methodical and mostly kept quiet as they went about inflicting damage on each other.'

I do concede that this experience could have happened anyway in the big city – nonetheless the whole thing is made worse by the sheer nonentity of Catford. One of those 'nowhere' kind of places. Someone recently told me that it was in fact the cheapest place to buy a property in London – well that explains a lot – no one wants to live there.

http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/297/blogs_blacklooks.gifBlack Looks Rethabile writing on Black Looks asks if there should be reparations for slavery.

'It comes as a bit of a surprise to some that an organisation as benign as the Church of England might have to consider such a question…But its leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, thinks it must.' So, what do you think? What kind of apology should slave drivers make? Should there be reparations? Financial reparations? If so, why?…

Based on the comments (only 5) 4 say yes and 1 comes up with all sorts of deflective reasons why there shouldn’t be? My response to his comment:

'[email protected] you completely side step the question posed by Rethablile. Your deflection of his point to that of modern day slavery and slavery that existed in traditional African societies pre the Trans Atlantic slave trade is typical of those who wish to negate the Trans Atlantic Slavery as merely a continuation of something that had been taking place around the world since ad infinitum. Your reference to Arab slavery is another method of deflecting the role played by England (a primary role I might add) in the slave trade and speaks of childish reasoning “well we weren’t the only ones” which is not what is being discussed here. These are typical examples of selective reality whereby white people cannot see Black people, because they cannot see themselves in relationship to Black people and are incapable of reflecting upon their own racist realities.'

* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, and is Online News Editor of Pambazuka News.

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