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Rumours of Bertrand Aristide’s return to Haiti, government destruction of oil refineries in the Niger Delta and the realities of life in Somaliland are among the topics featured in this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, compiled by Sokari Ekine.

Rumour has it that President Bertrand Aristide will return to Haiti on 17 March 2011. That is if the South African government does not capitulate to US demands to delay his departure – which in my mind confirms their role in his kidnapping and forced removal in 2004. As a way of explaining the US fear of President Aristide’s return, The Haitian Information Project publishes the text of his 1992 speech to the UN where he presented his ‘eight democratic beatitudes for a civilisation of peace’ – a truly inspiring and beautiful speech:

‘1:Blessed are those who defend democracy; 2:Blessed are those who promote economic growth because peace and economic poverty are incompatible; 3:Blessed are those who heroically say no to getting off scot-free, not to vengeance, Yes to justice; 4:Blessed are those who reduce arms expenditure and increase expenditure for human development; 5: Blessed are those who resist political pollution, for they will make the sun of peace shine; 6: Blessed are those who defend the truth, for they are a source of justice and peace; 7: Blessed are they who, regardless of class and race, love one another the Lavalas way. 8: Blessed are they who, on the threshold of the third millennium, discover the true face of the Haitian people.’

Justice In Nigeria reports on the destruction of ‘illegal’ oil refineries in the Niger Delta by the Nigerian government. The number of refineries has risen in response to years of exploitation by oil companies and the federal government, lack of jobs and need to create local industries:

‘Destroying illegal oil refineries dotted among the creeks of the Niger Delta is almost as dangerous for these soldiers as working here was for the young men who turned stolen crude oil into home-made gasoline........Crude oil thieves — known locally as “bunkerers” — have been a fact of life for years in Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, puncturing pipelines and costing Nigeria and foreign oil firms millions of dollars in lost revenues each year....A government amnesty two years ago for gunmen in the Niger Delta, where dirt-poor thatch-roofed villages sit among some of Africa’s biggest industry installations, brought some respite.....But rising world oil prices have pushed the cost of gasoline in Nigeria up by a third to 150 naira a litre over the past three months, increasing demand on the black market and making the illegal refineries as profitable as ever.....“The local communities raised the alarm because of the devastating effects on their waterways and farms, and complaints have also started coming from the oil majors,” said Timothy Antigha, military spokesman in the Niger Delta.’

Think Africa Press comments on the realities of contemporary Somaliland which has been presented as the antithesis of Somalia – economically prosperous and socially progressive and most of all safe. (Africa Today has an excellent analysis of Somalia and piracy by Abdi Samatar):

‘It took me about a month to realize the ugly face of poverty behind the façade of the booming and prospering town. A lot of men are jobless. Many of the young people have no education. The average wages are not sufficient to feed a family. Huge amounts of money are spent every day on qat. I would guess that two thirds of all males in Hargeisa chew Qat almost every afternoon. The impacts on the economy, the family and the individual health are disastrous. One sees a lot mentally disordered people chewing qat from morning until midnight. The public healthcare system is very basic. But the dominant and publicized (e.g. in the newspapers) announced view is that Somaliland is a successful independent country.’

Sudan Reeves reports on what he perceives as the impending assault on the Abyei region of which borders Sudan and Southern Sudan by Sudanese armed forces (SAF):

‘What’s impending is not a series of “skirmishes” but major fighting using all the military assets of the SAF, including tanks, artillery, rocket launchers, attack aircraft, and other advanced weaponey; the goal will be to take control of as much of Abyei as possible, and use this military seizure as the basis for final negotiation of Abyei’s status ( The “police” Dirdiri refers to are military elements from the south that are now protecting several locations that have been attacked by armed Misseriya militia from north of the Abyei area, possibly with the assistance of the Popular Defense Forces and regular SAF (the villages attacked include Todach, Tejalei, Maker Abior, and Noong). The UN mission in the region (UNMIS) is essentially paralyzed, and the so-called “Joint Integrated Units” (units of both the SPLA and SAF) are simply not functional. In short, the Ngok Dinka of Abyei are without protection other than from the SPLA.’

P D Braide comments on the Nigerian presidential debates which she intends to boycott. The question is why is a non-Nigerian (Jonathan Mann) co-anchoring this debate? How are we supposed to have confidence in a country which invites foreigners to host a presidential debate? Are we being told that there is only one possible Nigerian (out of 150 million people) who could only be trusted to ‘co-anchor’ the debate?. Can we seriously believe that Mann understands the nuances of Nigerian politics?

‘I have heard all manner of defences for this lunacy and started responding to them in this piece and then changed my mind and pressed delete. Even engaging in a conversation about the cons is drinking the kool aid.

‘As a Nigerian who struggles daily with diminishing earning opportunities which our dysfunctional value system contributes to, I regard a country of 150 million reaching out to CNNs Jonathan Mann to helm a NIGERIAN Presidential debate the equivalent of poking fingers into both my eyes... with pepper.

‘If they have no confidence in Nigerians and Nigeria, I need to shout out loud that I have confidence in myself. I may be frustrated, economically challenged (fancy word for impoverished middle class) and tired but I am not some idiot statistic than can be bamboozled by vanity project.’

Black Looks comments on the recent victory by South African activists in obtaining an agreement from the government to:

‘…long term sustained engagement of various government arms and civil society groups to research, develop and implement a national action plan to tackle “corrective rape” and the intersecting issues of gender-based violence, anti-LGBTI violence and hate crimes.’


* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.