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Pambazuka News 188: Have the slaves left the master's house?

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Highlights from this issue

Featured in this issue


* Editorial: A struggle for the heart and soul of the African Social Forum is taking place. Amanda Alexander and Mandisa Mbali ask if the social forums will be ‘talk shops’, ‘think tanks’, ‘arenas for planning action’, ‘campaign launch pads’ or ‘strategy and tactics seminars’.
* Comment and Analysis: Norman Reynolds on why the Khulumani case for apartheid reparations is important to human rights
* Pan-African Postcard: Debt relief in the wake of the Asian Tsunami disaster must also apply to Africa, writes Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
* Elections and Governance: The Mozambique election results are getting murkier
* Health: Rating the G7/G8’s commitment to health
* HIV/AIDS: Rolling out ART
* Environment: GM trees are not part of another world, says a new book
* Media and Freedom of Expression: Press freedom in Tunisia a casualty of the “war on terror”
* Books and Art: A review of Conversing with Africa: The Politics of Change


STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS: Nigeria has become the first country in 2005 to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, report our campaign partners. The African Union has now received a copy of Nigeria’s instrument of ratification, making Nigeria the sixth country to ratify the protocol after Lesotho, Comoros, Libya, Namibia and Rwanda.

For more information and to sign a petition for women's rights:



Have the slaves left the master’s house?

Amanda Alexander and Mandisa Mbali


The story of the poor goes round and round. But what about the story of the rich? The story not being told is that of the beneficiaries of slavery and colonialism. The story of exploitation that put us into this dispensation, commodified our own life for profit. They divided and ruled. Can we unite and live? Can we unite for the world that will be our world? Let us rise up and begin to tell this story… of why they continue to be rich, continue to plunder.

- Wahu Kaara, Kenyan feminist activist speaking at the ASF opening plenary


At the opening plenary of the Africa Social Forum in Lusaka, Zambia (10-14 December, 2004), delegates from across the continent gave varied testimonies that coalesced around a single truth: recolonisation is worse than slavery.

Activists noted Africa’s history of injustices and oppression through colonialism, slavery and apartheid, but swiftly moved on to the injustices of present-day, post-colonial Africa: privatisation and cost-recovery, wars fought over Africa’s natural resources, heavy debt burdens and conditionalities, unfair trade and disease. Contrary to dominant accounts of the continent as an almost biblically ‘cursed’ ‘basket case’ and Africans as helpless victims, delegate after delegate emphasised that Africa’s poverty, wars and disease pandemics are causally related to a global economic system that is predicated on the poverty of the many.

“The world, it would seem, friends, is at the end of its imagination”, Corinne Kumar of Tunisia and Indonesia told the assembled plenary. How much further can the tired mechanisms of domination and exploitation be stretched? Though they are continuously re-disguised, masquerading as World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) or Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) or Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), the instruments of oppression remain just as blatant for those attempting to access basic services like water, land, education and healthcare – with increasing difficulty.

Colonialism is a very old game, and is thus forced to maintain itself through substitutions – substitutions that activists are perpetually contesting. Substitutions of NEPAD for economic liberation, of incessant white tutelage for black independent praxis, of “efficiency” that benefits the few rather than the many, of a blameless past for a counter-hegemonic history, of the language of the powerful for localised terminology and stories, of dignity for the flat notion of “equality”. Kumar’s assertions were echoed by many activists throughout the Forum: it is up to the South – and Africa in particular – to champion notions of democracy that are not intrinsically tied to the market economy; to find new notions of power that facilitate, transform, and enhance; to redefine Africa through a discourse of dissent – one that decentres, disrupts and interrupts all that is dominant.

At the ASF we observed that while African civil society is not uniformly strong across all regions, trade unionists, students, women and young people are increasingly resisting neoliberalism on the continent – against the current of their politicians. At a session on NEPAD, a Zimbabwean delegate argued that African leaders, by attending G8 meetings and producing a policy document endorsed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), are revealing that they “fear freedom, as former slaves who walk back to their masters, not yet ready to leave the master’s house”.

Along with their critiques of neo-colonialism and the lack of democracy in international policy-making, African activists were increasingly outraged at the lack of democracy within the Forum structure. The ASF often replicated prevailing socio-economic, cultural and political inequalities. In particular, despite the feminist tribunal at the beginning of the Forum, women were often not given sufficient space to participate and raise feminist issues throughout the conference. Plenary sessions and panel discussions were largely devoid of meaningful dialogue and debate. The sole exception, which will be discussed later as a promising alternative, was the Feminist Dialogue, where women arranged their chairs in a large circle to form the only space in the entire forum set up for the horizontal movement of knowledge in many directions.

Why the master’s tools will never destroy the master’s house

In The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon predicted the exhaustion of third world nationalism as espoused by many African leaders (1965). Indeed, without civil society resistance Africa’s bourgeoisie and its nationalist leaders may end up becoming the ‘cheap jack’ to Western capitalism and imperialism. As one delegate argued, “the master’s tools [neo-liberal policies] will never destroy the master’s house [rich countries’ economic domination of Africa]”. Patrick Bond poses the question even more directly: will Africa aim to ‘fix’ the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and IMF or ‘nix’ them (Bond, 2000)? Or, in terms of the central problematic posed in our report, will Africa merely substitute structural adjustments for ‘homegrown’ structural adjustments such as GEAR and NEPAD? Are the foreign overseers such as the Bank and the IMF increasingly confident that they can count on local overseers to carry out their work? Has the logic of ‘fiscal discipline’ become so normalised that Africa’s ruling class has yoked itself with fiscal self-discipline?

The social consequences of structural adjustment programmes have been evident in Africa for over two decades. The very real, human costs were evident as we walked through downtown Lusaka, where crumbling infrastructure includes the broken storm drains, clogged with garbage, that periodically become breeding grounds for cholera. The Lusaka-based Namibian human rights lawyer who showed us around mentioned that as a result of cutbacks espoused in structural adjustments and a high proportion of the country’s budget going toward debt servicing, patients attending the country’s public hospitals must provide their own drips, medicine, bedding and food.

Indeed, IFI-advocated cost recovery is alive and well in Zambia: advertisements on Zambian television announced that cut-offs of electricity were immanent for defaulters over the festive season and that electricity company employees who assisted them to reconnect would be liable for prosecution. Jubilee Zambia informed us that this year just shy of a third of Zambia’s budget will go toward servicing odious debt. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that Zambia’s life expectancy has been reduced by AIDS and other preventable and treatable infectious diseases to a mere 35 years of age. The choices facing Africa’s leaders are as stark as the slogans on t-shirts worn by activists from the African Friends Service Committee: “LIFE” or “DEBT”.

The very real impacts of neo-liberal policies on ordinary African people’s lives brought debates on how African politicians and civil society organisations should relate to IFIs into sharp relief. African politicians are already engaging with IFIs and G8 countries and it was clear to many delegates that NEPAD can be viewed as the product of such engagements. In this context, an important item on the agenda was African civil society’s engagement with IFIs such as the World Bank and Bank-supported programmes like NEPAD.

On the second day, a session was held on views of “Civil Society Engagement with the World Bank” chaired by Kumi Naidoo of CIVICUS (an international umbrella body of NGOs). Naidoo outlined how CIVICUS’s board had for an eighteen-month period “…embarked on a process of canvassing and documenting civil society views on engagement with the Bank”. Naidoo described this as a “painful process” for which CIVICUS had received a great deal of criticism. Nevertheless, according to Naidoo, CIVICUS was powering ahead to hosting a “Global Policy Forum” in April 2005 bringing together the Bank and civil society, which would mark “the end” of its engagement with the Bank.

When the floor was opened, Console Tleane from the Freedom of Expression Institute of South Africa argued that CIVICUS was unfairly seeking legitimation for its engagement with the Bank at the Africa Social Forum. Tleane pointed out that the conversation seemed awkwardly placed in the agenda of the Forum – rather than scanning civil society views on working with the Bank, delegates were ready to strategize how to bring about the end of the bank by April 2005. Kenyan activist Njoke Njehu of 50 Years is Enough, a Washington DC-based NGO, argued that there have been three major civil society attempts to engage with the Bank, including the World Commission on Dams and the Extractive Industry Review – and they had all failed. The Bank’s primary objective in trying to engage with civil society is to boost its public relations (PR) and lend a veneer of legitimacy and transparency to its opaque and undemocratic operations. Indeed, Njehu stated that the Bank has a PR budget in excess of US$20 million per annum and seventy staff devoted to improving its image. She went on to question who actually funded CIVICUS’s engagement with the Bank and in fact whether the organisation was truly independent of the Bank and those who support its agendas.

A Senegalese trade unionist in the Higher Education sector argued that the World Bank’s policies had destroyed African Universities through dramatic budgetary cutbacks and cost recovery. Similarly, a Nigerian activist explained that she had attended a meeting with the Bank on PRSPs as recently as a month before and gained the impression the Bank had already decided on what policies should be adopted in the country and was merely “going through the motions” of holding a meeting with civil society activists. Year in, year out this NGO representative had been to meetings with the Bank and had seen virtually no implementation of progressive civil society organisation’s suggestions, expect at the most cosmetic level.

Veteran South African anti-apartheid and social justice activist Dennis Brutus argued that CIVICUS was still actively engaged with the Bank and so it was disingenuous to argue that it was ‘disengaging’ with the Bank, but only after a big meeting in April 2005. Njehu went on to argue that the IMF and World Bank divided NGOs into pliant ‘good’ NGOs like CIVICUS that it could ‘deal with’ and critical ‘bad’ NGOs like 50 Years that it refused to have anything to do with. If the Bank was serious about hearing civil society perspectives it would be prepared to hear very critical perspectives – even those arguing for it to be boycotted by ethical investors on the Bonds market and ultimately closed down.

Tleane argued for activists who did not agree with such engagement to protest at such meetings in a way similar to the “Not in My Name” campaign launched by left-wing South African Jews opposed to Israeli President Ariel Sharon’s policies in relation to Palestinians. One of the authors of this paper argued for 50 Years to demonstrate outside the meeting to show that not all civil society actors are in agreement with engagement with the Bank. South African Anti-Privatisation Forum activist Virginia Setshedi then led participating delegates in a protest song against collaborating with neo-colonial forces. Indeed, in an article entitled “No to World Bank-Civil Society Relations”, the African Flame, the daily ASF newspaper, reported on the session as follows:

Without a single dissenting voice, participants rejected any dealings with the Bank. The Bank’s bad record on the continent and the tonnes of evidence that indict it for the continued poverty of the African people were cited as the main reasons why any engagement will not be meaningful. The message was clear: there…[was] no way that the ASF would entertain any dealings with the Bank.

Activists in the NEPAD session came to the same conclusions on the potential of neo-liberal institutions and policies. Senegalese economist Demba Dembele’s rejection of NEPAD is based on two fundamental assumptions: that the West will never develop Africa and that most African leaders do not care about the welfare of their citizens. Pointing to the fact that NEPAD is premised on the extraction and export of Africa’s prime resources and the opening of the continent to exploitative foreign direct investment (FDI), a Zimbabwean economist characterised NEPAD as “creating a Bill of Rights for trans-national corporations”. Thus, he concluded: “our engagement will mean nothing”.

Finding our own tools: Feminist Dialogue

In breaking with the structure of other Forum sessions in which two or three panellists (usually male) addressed an audience for roughly two hours and finished by fielding a handful of questions, the feminist dialogue was constructed as an actual conversation – open to dissent and debate and allowing ideas to build off each other. Chairs were arranged in a large circle and, by the end of the session, nearly every woman and man present had spoken their mind. Unfortunately, discussion revolved around gender and feminism in our societies (of women in power having become ‘patriarchs’ and of the need for better, context-specific understandings of gender and feminism in order to avoid negative labelling, for example), but did not touch on feminism and the role of women within our own movements. The participatory form of the conversation embodied a dissent against the structuring of the ASF, and yet the critique must go further.

We know that women fuel our movements (and more isolated moments of resistance) across Africa, but they were in the minority at the Africa Social Forum because the leadership of organizations and movements (i.e. those likely to represent organisations at international forums) are men. We know that we will go back to our meetings and some women may not feel free to speak up. Essentially, we know that patriarchy and other forms of dominance are being re-inscribed within our movements for resistance.

As Shallo Skaba, an Ethiopian coffee worker stated at the Africa Court of Women, “No one is looking for women’s problems. No one considers all that women are doing”. If movements go on as they are, women’s problems will not be looked for, much less effectively organized around. One woman suggested in the dialogue that feminism is a political consciousness around power and power inequalities. Let us, then, apply that critical consciousness to the society we resist against and to the vehicles of resistance that are propelled by our energy, our sacrifices, our limited resources, our courage – but too often not by our decisions and the wisdom of our experiences as women.

Again out of character with much of the Forum, several action items were decided upon. These included gathering and sharing feminist literature from across the continent over an email discussion list and in existing publications such as Feminist Africa, the Centre for Civil Society website and research reports, and WeWrite. Feminist dialogue must be wrestled back from the (mostly Northern) academic spaces which have co-opted and subsequently come to define (and confine) debate.

Those present also strategised ways to hold women who are elected into office accountable. This is gravely needed, as demonstrated in South Africa, where Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has consistently pushed forward policies that have worsened – and ultimately taken – the lives of poor, black, HIV-positive women. In Tanzania, Fatima Alloo explained, women activists meet with each female politician upon assuming office. From the very beginning of her term – and often beforehand, during her campaigning – women activists attempt to become these politicians’ primary network and base. Since women so often identify with a system that will “protect” them, the moment that they say ‘No’, they are persecuted. Women activists can thus form alternative forms of protection, and women in high office can draw their power not from the prevailing system of patriarchal control, but from those who understand power’s underbelly.

Finally, activists called for further strategising on helping to make women economically independent. As one activist from the Gambia remarked, we must make it possible for women to get a divorce if necessary, to have some measure of financial independence. In a global economy where women produce over 80% of resources, and yet own less than 20% of them, the battle for economic sovereignty for women will be long and difficult. However, we will work to assure that women are not further exploited by our own movements, and that we create means for economic independence as we can.

Are our tools sharp enough?

Across several sessions, a number of participants asked similar questions: what are we doing to take the debates here back to the grassroots in our own countries? People are dying of AIDS in my country, aggressive cost recovery means that water and electricity are being disconnected, trade negotiations are taking place which may ruin livelihoods, how will this Forum take our struggles forward?

When we asked different delegates how the ASF meetings were organised, they could only answer with even more questions. How, for instance, were the meetings financed? How was the organising council constituted?

Activists from South Africa’s Social Movements Indaba (SMI) questioned the structure of the ASF (an un-elected, self-appointed, ‘unrepresentative’ council) and its ‘lack of political direction’. The SMI activists said they viewed the council and the ASF as biased toward NGOs, as membership of the council did not entail representivity and members of the council had to pay their own way to council meetings. A statement issued and circulated by the SMI expanded this critique:

The underrepresentation of social movements in relation to NGOs is reflected in the political content of the forum. It manifests in the persistence of the notion that the Africa Social Forum is nothing other than a space, in contrast to the perspective that it should have a programme to advance our struggle against neoliberalism (1).

The SMI then went on to argue for a plenary to allow for collective decision-making on the structure and functioning of the ASF and develop a declaration and a programme of action.

These problems are not unique to the ASF. Other social forums have been critiqued for not culminating in sufficiently concrete political outcomes that would advance the struggles of social movements. For instance, in discussing the Boston Social Forum, Peter Marcuse recently argued that there was insufficient participation of ‘grassroots activists’ (activists who were very poor, on welfare, etc.) (Marcuse, 2005 forthcoming). In general, there was an expressed need to link the BSF and other Social Forums to “action” with “concrete results” (ibid, 3). As Marcuse argues, while such forums might offer the future “nucleus” of a global social movement it is too early to speak of a global social movement focused on limited objectives and dealing with broader issues of power and social justice (ibid).

Similarly, an activist writing for on the 2004 European Social Forum held in London argued that: “[Activists] came to see if ‘another world is possible’, yet as expected [the ESF] was hijacked by people whose vision seems seriously at odds with many people involved in grassroots politics”. Many ESF activists questioned the wisdom of replacing one set of unaccountable political cronies for another.

Building our own house: From ‘space’ to action?

In order for the Social Forums to continue to have legitimacy with social movement activists they will have to move beyond merely being ‘spaces’ or ‘forums’ for debate about ‘other possibilities’ for the world and towards being forums for debating strategies and tactics and common campaigns. In essence, there seems to be a struggle for the soul of the Social Forums: will they be ‘talk shops’ or ‘think tanks’ or ‘arenas for planning action’, ‘campaign launch pads’ or ‘strategy and tactics seminars’? As the feminist session of the ASF showed, making sessions more participatory and inclusive could be an important step in allowing legitimate critiques of the Social Forums and their constituent movements to emerge. In turn, this could allow for more focussed political discussions and outcomes at the Forums.

The stakes are high in this debate. As Setshedi argued: “people are being disconnected at home, what am I doing here if it doesn’t advance their struggle?”. Or as an HIV-positive feminist activist from Zimbabwe argued, “people are dying of AIDS at home, we need to think of a common platform to campaign to improve their access to treatment”. Such activists argued that it takes precious time and resources to attend Social Forums and that they must have something to show for attending such forums.

ASF delegates rejected engagement with the Bank and NEPAD, however, it should not be forgotten that indirect approaches urging such engagement were made through civil society intermediaries. This shows that capturing Social Forums and blunting their impact is a tantalising outcome for the Bank and ‘third-way’ politicians, which only adds a further sense of urgency to debates about the political direction and future of the Social Forums in advancing the aims of social movements for socio-economic justice. It is clear that social movement activists around the world increasingly wish to ‘jealously guard’ (SMI, 2) the Social Forums against de-politicisation and an inching towards irrelevant abstraction, merely providing ‘space for debate’. Such activists recognise that if they exhaust themselves debating in ‘space’ they will not seriously threaten the agendas of the Bank or the other IFIs. And the blunter the tools of the Social Forums get, the greater the chance activists will simply dispense with them entirely.

*Amanda Alexander is a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
*Mandisa Mbali is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

* Please send comments to [email protected]


- Bond, Patrick (2003). Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets the World Bank, IMF and International Finance. London: ZED Books.
- “Endless Shit Flinging” (2004). 22 October.
- Fanon, Frantz (1965). The Wretched of the Earth. NY: Grove Press.
- Marcuse, Peter (forthcoming). “Are Social Forums the Future of Social Movements?” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
- Social Movements Indaba (2004). Statement distributed at the Africa Social Forum. 12 December.
The story of the poor goes round and round. But what about the story of the rich? The story not being told is that of the beneficiaries of slavery and colonialism. The story of exploitation that put us into this dispensation, commodified our own life for profit. They divided and ruled. Can we unite and live? Can we unite for the world that will be our world? Let us rise up and begin to tell this story… of why they continue to be rich, continue to plunder.

Comment & analysis

Khulumani’s Reparations Case and the Future of Human Rights

Norman Reynolds


The Khulumani Support Group’s reparations case under the Alien Tort Claims Act of the USA, along with the other ‘apartheid’ cases, was thrown out on September 29, 2004 by a conservative New York judge. He found that there was no violation of the law in commercial links with South Africa – an action that has drawn criticism from the South African Human Rights Commission.

Amongst the cases thrown out was the troublesome case initiated by Ed Fagan, in which he had demanded that the South African Government and companies should pay into a $20 bn "humanitarian fund".

The Khulumani case is being taken on appeal in a process that will demand that the merits of its case are more carefully reviewed and discerned. The case is viewed in the international human rights movement as the strongest case yet in enforcing international norms in respect of the behaviours of foreign multinational companies.

The Khulumani Support Group represents both the victims of apartheid who told their stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the even larger group of survivors of gross human rights violations under apartheid who did not manage to engage with the TRC process.

The Khulumani case has survived several attempts to have it destroyed. One such attempt was the request by a number of multinational corporations, supported by several governments, including the American and British, to the United States Supreme Court not to allow foreigners to file lawsuits in America for human rights violations committed elsewhere in the world. However, on 29 June 2004, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Sosa v Alverez, held that foreigners could use the Alien Tort Claims Act to institute lawsuits in the United States for human rights abuses wherever they may be committed in the world.

The Court held that "today the door is open to a narrow class of international norms" for litigants to institute lawsuits under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The Court observed, "It would take some explaining to say now that federal courts must avert their gaze entirely from any international norm intended to protect individuals." The court saw that the statute was intended, from the time of the Founding Fathers of the USA, “to have a practical effect the moment it became law." This judgment represents a significant victory for human rights globally and a milestone in the progress of the Khulumani International Lawsuit.

What are the merits of the Khulumani lawsuit? While other ‘apartheid lawsuits’ sought ‘open-ended’ redress for all black South Africans born in the country between 1948 and 1994, the Khulumani lawsuit, rather, seeks limited individual, tailored relief for identified victims from private actors – those foreign multinational corporations which violated international law and were involved in colluding with the apartheid state’s security apparatuses. With the support of these corporations, the apartheid government committed extra-judicial killing, torture, sexual assault, prolonged arbitrary detention, and multiple crimes against humanity.

It is time South Africa – government and business – treated it fairly. It represents a positive opportunity for both. Khulumani has emerged as a world leader in the struggle to advance international human rights jurisprudence – a fact that many individuals of stature and many international human rights organisations have recognised, amongst them are former Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz.

The Khulumani lawsuit is highly significant in terms of international human rights law, in particular in the advance of international customary law and the creation of a world of greater social fairness. That is why it is lodged in New York, a city that houses both global corporations and the United Nations. It is a vital test case to ensure that any person anywhere in the world who is violated by a government or a multinational business would have access to redress.

Will our media assist all South Africans to understand the importance of the Khulumani lawsuit in this struggle for justice? Could the entire country, led by our President and by business leaders committed to corporate social responsibility, embrace this struggle and in so doing recognise the legitimacy of the Khulumani Support Group’s lawsuit?

International business was pleased by the submission of the former Minister of Justice to the presiding judge as that did not distinguish between the different “apartheid” cases. Their pleasure has been misguided. Government claimed that these cases would impede the foreign investment that is still needed to redress the legacies of apartheid. In truth, it may well be that by upholding the right of Khulumani to seek redress from those companies that broke international sanctions and knowingly aided the apartheid regime, government would build greater certainty in investors and business. As Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out, “addressing corporate misconduct brings confidence to consumers and markets, creating a more positive business climate – genuine foreign investors are attracted to conditions of stability where social justice and good political, economic and corporate governance prevail.”

President Mbeki has stated that the South African government is not and will not be a party to litigation against corporations that benefited from the Apartheid system. Nonetheless, at the tabling of the TRC final report, he noted that, "the Government recognizes the right of citizens to institute legal action."

President Mbeki now has the opportunity take the ‘higher ground’ and clarify or correct the affidavit previously submitted by our government to the New York court. Such a clarification should distinguish the Khulumani case from the others and support the right of redress to American courts for all those who become the future victims of bad governments and criminal businesses. After all, the Khulumani lawsuit strengthens South Africa’s constitutional democracy by acknowledging the supremacy and universality of an international rule of law that obligates adherence to behaviours that respect basic human dignity. The Khulumani lawsuit does not seek any action that is inconsistent with government’s approach to achieving its own long-term goals, including programmes of community reparation and rehabilitation.

It is also time for South African Business to come out into the open and tell South Africans and the world that it is confident of itself and its practices, that it endorses the domestic TRC process that lies behind the Khulumani case, and that it stands tall for human rights and the redress of abuses worldwide.

As Justice Albie Sachs pointed out in his keynote address at the Human Rights and Democracy Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on December 10, 2004, South Africa represents one “shining star” in a global human rights community pervaded by an overwhelming sense of gloom as atrocities continue to be perpetrated in Sudan and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, he said, we have seen “the coming together of the best in all of us”. But he also reminded the gathering that the challenge is the ongoing construction and deepening of our democracy. The Khulumani International Lawsuit presents an important opportunity to do this. What better way to present our morally ambitious country as courageous, organised and united? Good things can only follow both domestically and globally.

* Please send comments to [email protected]
The Khulumani Support Group’s reparations case under the Alien Tort Claims Act of the USA, along with the other ‘apartheid’ cases, was thrown out on September 29, 2004 by a conservative New York judge. He found that there was no violation of the law in commercial links with South Africa – an action that has drawn criticism from the South African Human Rights Commission.

Zimbabwe: The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Epiphany Day

Sokwanele Reporter: 6 January 2004


The “Twelve Days of Christmas” is a Christian tradition. It links Christmas day (December 25) with Epiphany (January 6). “Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation”. In a Christian sense we think of God manifesting (or revealing) himself to humankind in his coming into the world in physical form in the person of Jesus. Hence the link with Christmas, marking the birth of the Christ child, and hence too the tradition that remembers, on the twelfth day, the coming of the “wise men” from the East to witness that miracle for themselves. The twelve days between are days of joyous celebration. On the twelfth day of course all the Christmas decorations come down and life returns to “normal”.

Christmas and Epiphany are essentially Christian festivals, but the event they celebrate is of universal significance – namely that the Creator of this vast, complex and beautiful universe loves each and every one of his children. In fact he has revealed that he has a special concern for the poor, the lowly and the suffering. (Jesus was himself a victim of power politics; he suffered an appalling injustice, and was tortured to death) There is therefore in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” a message of hope for all, and a challenge to all, to show a God-like concern for the victims of injustice and oppression. Which is why Sokwanele selected this time to run a series of features that relate particularly to some of those “at the bottom of the pile” in suffering, crisis-torn Zimbabwe.

Christmas 2004 marked the 20th anniversary of Band Aid, an international charity initiative that set out to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia in 1984. While Band Aid celebrates their achievements in Ethiopia twenty years ago, many Zimbabweans starve today as a result of disastrous government policies. Sokwanele’s articles over the last 12 days have explored a range of ways in which food is manipulated, controlled and exploited in our country. Furthermore, we have shown that using ‘food’ as a tool for short-term gain is an established part of the ZANU PF political tradition. While this campaign recognises the suffering of people in Zimbabwe today, it also remembers the suffering imposed on Zimbabweans at the hands of ZANU PF twenty years ago. We remind those in power that Zimbabweans will never forget what has been done in the past, nor will we forget what is being done today.

The issue of food security in our nation is one that touches all of us. Our most recent articles, focussing on the impact of HIV/AIDS on farming in the rural areas, coupled with first-hand testimony from Binga, clearly show that the promise of a “bumper harvest” is a cruel deception. ZANU PF’s current policies, which set out to monopolise all aspects of food supply and use it to intimidate the general populace into voting for it, renders any such promise a total fiction.

Ida, the 73-year-old pensioner whose story we shared on Day 6 of our campaign, should be living comfortably in her old age. Her husband had worked hard to ensure that when he died, his wife would be taken care of. But Mugabe’s economy, boasting the worst inflation rate in the world, has eroded the value of pensions with the result that hundreds of pensioners like Ida cannot afford to eat today. Yet as difficult as her life is, Ida is ‘lucky’ in comparison to Belinda’s grandmother (Day 3) who is destitute and homeless. Like many other grandmothers in our country, Belinda’s grandmother found herself with the heartbreaking responsibility of looking after her tiny HIV positive granddaughter, orphaned when both parents died while she was still a baby. Without the help of a local organisation, both Belinda and her grandmother would almost certainly have died long ago.

Will organisations like this be able to continue helping once ZANU PF’s controls all NGO activities? We caught a glimpse of how many different lives were affected by one small feeding scheme in one of Zimbabwe’s cities (Day 7). In contrast, our article on Day 4 testifies to how the one institution that is totally dependent on the government for food, namely our prisons, exposes hundreds of human beings to malnutrition and a range of other diseases as a result of paltry amounts of unhealthy food being prepared and served in the most unsanitary conditions. Is this the way of our future once local and foreign feeding schemes are closed down? If this regime cannot feed a few thousand prisoners, how is it ever going to feed the hundreds of thousands – indeed millions -- of starving people who need help today?

Or perhaps it has no intention of doing so? Our articles on Days 5 and 8 speak of extensive corruption in the food supply system, and of the deliberate manipulation of food in our country for short term political gain. These policies and practices amount to state imposed starvation.

We started our campaign by saying that starvation, regardless of political or religious persuasion, is at its core a moral issue that concerns us all. We ask again today, that you put aside your own particular political allegiances, and consider what many Zimbabweans are experiencing today in that light.
And here are some of the practical things that you can do in response to that suffering:

1. Keep yourself well informed about what is really happening so you will not be taken in by the regime's propaganda. The following websites provide Zimbabwean news from a range of sources, both international and local:;;;
2. Help others to be informed. Share this knowledge with as many as you can in whatever ways are open to you.
3. Give whatever financial or material help you can to the various local organisations that are working to feed the starving and alleviate poverty and suffering in our country. Visit for the contact details of local organisations in your area.

We thank you for your support.

* This is the last in a series of twelve features distributed by Sokwanele. To subscribe to their mailing list email [email protected] Sokwanele, which means “enough” aims to make people aware of what is happening in Zimbabwe. Visit for more information. retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way.
The “Twelve Days of Christmas” is a Christian tradition. It links Christmas day (December 25) with Epiphany (January 6). “Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation”. In a Christian sense we think of God manifesting (or revealing) himself to humankind in his coming into the world in physical form in the person of Jesus. Hence the link with Christmas, marking the birth of the Christ child, and hence too the tradition that remembers, on the twelfth day, the coming of the “wise men” from the East to witness that miracle for themselves. The twelve days between are days of joyous celebration. On the twelfth day of course all the Christmas decorations come down and life returns to “normal”.

Advocacy & campaigns

Parliamentarians’ petition for democratic oversight of the IMF and World Bank


Despite promises that developing countries should "own" IMF and World Bank policies, parliaments continue to be sidelined or undermined by these institutions. Parliamentarians and campaigners have started an International Parliamentarians' Petition (IPP) signed by legislators from both developed and developing countries, and backed by civil society groups worldwide. The IPP is a practical way to assert support for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, and to call for parliaments to be fully involved in the development and scrutiny of IMF and World Bank policies.

Pan-African Postcard

*Tsunami: Debt write-off for all

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem


It is almost two weeks since the Boxing Day tragedy of theTsunami Earth Quake that devastated countries of South Asia and to a lesser extent the two African countries of Kenya and Somalia. We are used to and have become more cynical of the media and humanitarian agencies describing every natural and unnatural disaster as 'the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen' or 'a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions', suspecting they are hyping it up in order to raise the bank balances of the agencies' accounts and extort compassion from an increasingly compassion-fatigued world.

But the huge scale of the Tsumani tragedy has blown away all cynicism and suspicions about humanitarian publicists and compassion entrepreneurs. Words can neither describe nor express the full impact of this disaster that immediately became a tragedy right in front of our eyes and most of us powerless to do anything about it once it started. Despite all the available technology, information and knowledge, nature still struck in a most menacing way humbling human beings and our historical and evolutionary arrogance that we are supreme in the universe and all that abounds in it.

The symbolic period of Christmas (and all the consumerism that has expunged most religious or spiritual meaning out of it) in which the tragedy unfolded unified many people's anxiety about God and nature.

Religious people look up to God for explanation, comfort and deliverance, but even the most religious person must ask what kind of God inflicts such catastrophe on his creation and for what sins? The non-religious and agnostics also look on helplessly and take out their frustration on God by asserting that the indiscriminate way in which the disaster struck was proof to them that God could not have been existing and not avert such huge tragedy.

The tragedy also showed the limits of science despite all the undeniable advances over several centuries: there is still plenty more to be unravelled and known in nature. We are yet to be full masters of our environment. The positive side for science though is the belief that all things are knowable, but we are limited by available knowledge and technology whereas metaphysical people believe that some things are not knowable. The ultimate truth must belong to scientific progress because its truth is accumulative through the years such that what our forefathers could not explain we now can just as what is baffling us today may not ruffle our children or their children after them.

While the scientist and the religious people wrestle with their explanations or non explanations one of the most encouraging things that has come out of the tragedy is the outpouring of genuine human solidarity, reaching out to the victims from across the world. In the midst of all these pains the unequal power relations in the world manifests itself both openly and subliminally. Would there have been such massive concern if a considerable number of Westerners were not involved? Can we recall similar outpouring of grief exactly a year ago when a similar earth quake devastated Iran killing more than 40, 000 people?

Do not get me wrong about the huge scale of the South East Asian eathquake and the untold suffering for all the victims. I cannot help feeling that were westerners not involved on such a huge scale it would not have been treated as yet another disaster that happens to hapless peoples especially in Africa.

Look at your screens and see the hands of friendship, humanitarian support and solidarity of people in the richer countries of the world mainly Europe and the USA that we see constantly. Yet solidarity is being shown even if in small but symbolic ways in virtually every country of the world. The BBC or the CNN may not broadcast them but compassion is not the monopoly of the richer countries.

In times like these it is the totality of our humanity that counts not one country or class of peoples. The popular response to the disaster has exposed how insensitive and narrow-minded governments can be not just in poorer countries but also in the richer, supposedly more democratic and enlightened of the West. The President of the World and self-proclaimed God's son, George Bush, took three days before he could make any statement. His loyal British poodle, Tony Blair, despite public clamour in Britain, remained on his holiday resort in Egypt. However the public in both countries led the way in providing support of all kinds. Now both governments are playing catch up with popular momentum and promising to match the public contributions. Bush has even recalled his father and Clinton from retirement to help him galvanise public support.

In a number of African countries there has been the usual official statements but also public concern. However, many do not have the infrastructure to convert the genuine concerns into concrete solidarity. We need to look into this because no matter how bad our situation may be there may always be some other people somewhere on this planet whose conditions may be worse off from ours. We cannot be constantly playing victims and be complacent about our and other people's suffering. We must fight against the disaster fatigue that may make us appear insensitive or inured to the suffering of others because of our own suffering. We need to build people to people solidarity between ourselves and between us and other peoples of the world. Every little bit counts towards building genuine bridges of human understanding.

In the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tragedy there is a growing debate about where Africa's case in 2005 will be given the immediacy of the situation and the genuine popular opinion in the West.

There is talk of debt write off, cancellation and full scale restructuring of the affected South East Asian countries. This is right and necessary but it needs not be a case of either / or because as Ghandi used to say: 'There is enough in the world to satisfy our need but not enough to satisfy our greed'.

Africa does not have to be devastated by earth quakes before its debt is written off, it is suffering devastation in many other forms that may claim more lives this year than the final total of those perishing as a result of the Tsumani. Powerful countries in the world should not play the poor against each other and we should not also engage in competition for compassion. Global justice should be our aim whether in the north or the south of our shared hemisphere.

* Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem is General-Secretary of the Pan African
Movement, Kampala (Uganda) and Co-Director of Justice Africa

* Please send comments to [email protected]
It is almost two weeks since the Boxing Day tragedy of theTsunami Earth Quake that devastated countries of South Asia and to a lesser extent the two African countries of Kenya and Somalia. We are used to and have become more cynical of the media and humanitarian agencies describing every natural and unnatural disaster as 'the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen' or 'a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions', suspecting they are hyping it up in order to raise the bank balances of the agencies' accounts and extort compassion from an increasingly compassion-fatigued world.

Responding to the Tsunami disaster


Grantmakers Without Borders funding list available

"Grantmakers Without Borders promotes funding for long-term social change in the developing world, but we find it impossible not to respond to the recent Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. There is no doubt that the injustice and marginalization faced by low-income communities in the Indian Ocean region are in large part to blame for the staggering number of deaths we are now witnessing. Mother Nature can be fierce, but her wrath is never so powerfully felt as where people are forced to live on the brink. At times like this it seems that all donors, no matter their theory of change, are compelled to respond. Grantmakers Without Borders has developed a list of organizations responding to the tsunami disaster for funders and donors interested in giving. We encourage you to visit our website, at, to view these recommendations and to pass the link along to colleagues and friends."

Via Campesina launches relief fund

Via Campesina ( - the global alliance of peasant, family farmer, farm worker, indigenous and landless peoples organizations, and other rural movements - calls for solidarity with the millions of people affected by the tsunami disaster and is launching a global fundraising campaign to channel assistance to affected communities of fisherfolk and peasants, for their own relief and reconstruction efforts, through grassroots organizations. Make a secure on-line credit card donation now by clicking on:

Organisations involved in relief efforts

World Health Organization / Pan American Health and Education Foundation
* Action Aid
* American Friends Service Committee (AFSC Crisis Fund)
* Care International
* Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders /
* Red Cross and Red Crescent
* Salvation Army
* Save the Children
* Oxfam
* United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef
* United Nations World Food Programme
* UN refugee agency, UNHCR
Grantmakers Without Borders funding list available

Books & arts

'Conversing with Africa: The Politics of Change' by Mukoma wa Ngugi


Publisher: Kimaathi Publishing House

Exclusively distributed by African Books Collective Ltd, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU United Kingdom
[email protected]

This is the year that UK leader Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa will finalise a report detailing Africa’s problems and how to respond to what Blair himself has described “as a scar on the conscience of the world”. The Commission has steamed ahead despite many pointing out that Africa’s problems are obvious to all and have been known for a very long time. Critics slam the Commission as meaningless while the UK and other powerful Western governments refuse to cancel third world debt, push deregulation and privatisation and fail to regulate the predatory activities of multinational companies.

Tony Blair should sit down for an afternoon with Mukoma wa Ngugi and listen carefully to the author of ‘Conversing with Africa: Politics of Change’. Judging by the contents of this book it might be that Ngugi would have a fundamental objection to granting an audience to Blair, but lets pretend that Ngugi does indeed arrive at the big black door of 11 Downing Street for an audience with the greying Blair.

Probably the first thing that Ngugi would want to make clear to Blair - and the basis for which the afternoon’s conversation over tea would progress - is that Blair is an oppressor. From this basis, Ngugi would be able to enlighten Blair as to the true motives for his Commission for Africa. Ngugi would explain to Blair that the Commission was part of Western rituals needed as a cleansing process after the “evil” visited on the oppressed.

“Because the oppressing culture can never acknowledge that strand of reality that could save them, that the oppressed are its livelihood, that without the oppressed neither the railways, the skyscrapers nor the gold would exist, that its original sin is the exploitation of another, the attempts by the oppressing culture to stand pious before God are a fallacy and a lie. But it is a lie that allows the oppressing culture to send missionaries, Peace Corp volunteers, foreign aid, all agents that in reality further this relationship without facing the fundamental relationship of exploiter and exploited.”

The fictitious meeting between Ngugi and Blair is misleading, otherwise Ngugi would have called his book ‘Conversing with Blair: Politics of Oppression’. Ngugi’s intention is not to inform the oppressor of its role in the lives of the exploited, but is rather intended as a manuscript of radical dialogue that ends with the sentence: “There is no other conceivable recourse except by revolution!” Ngugi maintains that Africa has to converse with Africa if the hand of history is to be forged into something positive. This he believes will push history on the defensive because “our words” and “our conversations” will be of a people demanding a humane existence and their rightful place in humanity (Last two sentences from back cover).

Drawing heavily on icons like Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah and Steve Biko, Ngugi critiques Africa’s relationship to history, the relationship between the oppressed and oppressor and the role of Africa’s intellectuals, while also addressing issues of nationalism, Pan-Africanism and revolutionary theory. The issues dealt with in the seven chapters are not separate essays, however, and all contribute towards a central argument that can be read as a contribution towards the understanding of Africa’s relationship towards an oppressive system and the debate over how to overcome it.

Some of the points that Ngugi makes, which hint at the arguments developed, include:

- Solutions towards Africa’s problems that are put forward but fail to tackle the fundamental relationship between exploited versus exploiter will fail. “And so what we need is new ways to learn old truths, innovative solutions to a relationship that had remained fundamentally the same,” writes Ngugi.

- Colonialism and its legacy are well understood, he argues, but the debate needs to move from what Europe has done to Africa, to what Africa can do to move towards a situation that will be conducive to change. To do this, lessons have to be taken from history. He writes: “To heal we need to use history to act on the present in order to change our future. History is at its best when used as a tool of emancipation.”

- In moving towards an understanding of oppression, the oppressed need to develop in their consciousness an understanding of the system that keeps them oppressed in terms of understanding the links between the local and the global and visa versa. “We have questioned specific injustices, but not oppression itself,” he states.

- Throughout, Ngugi demonstrates a healthy scepticism for elites and their structures and is scathing of the African Union. He sees this as part of a Pan African nationalist mythology that “needs to be debunked” and states that the AU will have to “die with the structures of neo-colonialism and dictatorships”.

- This is not to say that Pan-Africanism is not a desirable end. He writes: “As long as there is not a socialist Pan-Africanist consciousness throughout the continent, one that understands that this freedom we seek can only be achieved and sustained within a socialist Pan-Africanist paradigm, then all attempts at freedom will fail having been blinded by lack of vision.”

These brief and random extracts don’t do justice to Ngugi’s arguments, but the intention is to serve as an insight into the book and to wet the appetite for those who might be interested.

This book aims to contribute towards the debate about Africa’s future and in a subtle sense it will form part of the thousands of cogs that may eventually contribute to change. In criticism, it sometimes feels like complex arguments and academic references serve not to make points but to obscure them. In this sense, the criticism is that conversing with Africa might be furthered by a more accessible text with more practical references and examples. What is valuable, however, is that Ngugi cuts straight to the heart of the matter in exposing the oppressive relationship between Africa and the West.

Reviewed by Patrick Burnett, Fahamu

* For orders, please contact African Books Collective.

>>>>>Recent reviews in Pambazuka News:
(Click on the link and then visit the Books and Arts section)

* Blind Moon by Chenjerai Hove
* We miss you all
* The World Bank and Civil Society: Forward to the past
* Mining: Social and environmental impacts
* Faceless, by Ammo Darko

Letters & Opinions

Messages from Pambazuka News readers


Dear Pambazuka News,
Happy New Year and many thanks for the excellent work you do.
Best wishes,
Glenys Kinnock MEP

Happy New Year to you folks at Pambazuka!!! Keep the spirit alive, I love your zine!
Kristian Schmidt

Well done! Keep up the good work. I hope that 2005 will give me more time to read your news from "cover to cover". I have a vast reference library waiting to be used.
Many thanks,
Marilyn Aitken

Dear Pambazuka supporters and management,
I do wish you happy New Year and Merry Xmas. You have empowered me in many ways as you directly hit into touchy issues especially for the disadvantaged people - women, children and the poor!
Verdi Mushema

Dear Comrades,
Thanks for the regular supply of information which are so valuable when one is far away from home.
Keep well,
Eric Singh

Dear Pambazuka,
We very much appreciate your excellent service. Your plans are exciting, and your advocacy work important. We will continue to repost your campaigns on our ActionFocus page as much as possible.
Happy holiday,
Jim Kirkwood

Well Done Pambazuka…thank you for a great service…without the bells and whistles we've come to expect from mainstream news providers.
Trudy Kragtwijk

Dear Pambazuka,
So many thanks for giving me the opportunity to contribute to your excellent magazine. Believe me, it has become one of the best references on African matters. So, keep up the good work.
I am sure your influence will grow even more in 2005, thanks in large part to your coverage of the issues and challenges that matter the most to the African people.
It will be a great pleasure for me to make other contributions to your magazine to promote the cause of Africa's freedom, independence, unity and prosperity.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Warm regards
Demba Moussa Dembele

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
The KISWCD team

Thank you Pambazuka for such excellent work. As a Project Coordinator bringing together experts and practitioners to discuss, analyse and make recommendations for conflicts on the continent, your newsletter keeps me updated of what is going on including people to contact if I need further information. Thank you to all the staff and I wish you all the best for the holiday season and much success for the upcoming year!
Chineme Ugbor

Many thanks for the amazing publication. Seasons greetings to you and yours.
Robin Opperman

Thanks to Pambazuka-News too for an outstanding and well done job. Hope to continue our support. Best wishes for 2005.

Dear PZ,
A luta continua,
Steve Kibble
Dear Pambazuka News,

Women & gender

Africa/Global: A space for rights through the CEDAW committee


The committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW or the Women's Convention), has two new feminist experts from the international women's movement, Shanti Dariam and Silvia Pimentel. For women of the world this historic success will positively impact the committee's work and the advancement of women's human rights. This article analyzes the committee's work, its political impact, the implications and challenges of the process and the results of the recent elections, especially in relation to the roles played by governments and the international women's movement.

Africa/Global: Pathway to Gender Equality


A new publication, Pathway to Gender Equality, outlines how CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action can be used as a lens to understand and address the gender equality dimensions of the MDGs, which in turn can help to ensure that the pursuit of the MDGs is based on principled conviction and results in effective development. This publication offers three ways to enhance the synergy between CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the MDGs.

Africa: Women and conflict


This Amnesty International report attempts to explore some of the underlying reasons for violence against women. Evidence gathered by Amnesty International in recent years supports the view that conflict reinforces and exacerbates existing patterns of discrimination and violence against women. The violence women suffer in conflict is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and abuse women face in peacetime, and the unequal power relations between men and women in most societies. The report shows some of the ways in which conflict affects women, and the many different roles which women play in conflict. Women are not only victims and survivors, but also activists, negotiators, peace-builders and human rights defenders.

Zambia: Fighting for gender equality in the courts


In Zambia, the battle for equality between men and women is being waged on many fronts - not least concerning the sentences handed down by courts. The trial of Chrystal Denn is a case in point. In the course of her turbulent five-year marriage to Trevor, a professional football player, Chrystal suffered extensive spousal abuse. Her husband beat her up, both at home and in full view of others. After a failed suicide attempt, Chrystal finally killed her spouse in the course of an argument, in 1999. A judge sentenced her to life imprisonment for murder.

Human rights

Africa Global: UN human rights code causes controversy


The UK government is coming under heavy pressure from business leaders to reject plans by the United Nations to make multinational groups legally liable for human rights, including abuses by their suppliers and customers. The UN proposals, due to be discussed by member states on March 15, come amid widespread evidence that transnational corporations are more powerful than sovereign nations, and allegations they have misused that power.

Angola: In Oil-Rich Cabinda, Army Abuses Civilians


The Angolan army arbitrarily detained and tortured civilians with impunity in Cabinda, and continues to restrict their freedom of movement despite an apparent end to the decades-long separatist conflict in the oil-rich enclave, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released in December. In the past year, the Angolan army has subjected civilians to extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other mistreatment, as well as sexual violence. The Angolan army also denies civilians their freedom of movement. Human Rights Watch found little evidence of recent abuses committed by rebel factions against civilians, probably because of the rebels’ weakened capacity.

South Africa: Harrismith police killing follow-up


The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has welcomed the media statement released by the police watchdog body, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), announcing that investigations into the fatal shooting of Harrismith student Tebogo Mkhonza on 30 August 2004 have been completed and that three police officers should be prosecuted for his murder, alternatively culpable homicide and attempted murder. The killing followed public protests in the town against lack of service delivery.

Sudan: 24 men and 3 Children from Villages in Nyala at Risk of Hanging


During aerial bombardments on Marla village by the air forces, the armed forces arrested twenty-four men and three children from Marla, Domma, Labado and Belail villages in Nyala province, southern Darfur state, according to the Sudan Organisation Against Torture. "The men and the children were initially taken into military custody in Nyala where they were detained for 2 days. During the arrest and along the way from Douma and Marla to Nyala, the twenty-four men and three children were allegedly tortured by the armed forces. They were beaten with sticks all over their bodies, flogged on their backs and chests and kicked with military boots on both their faces and sides."

Refugees & forced migration

Chad: No big new influx of Darfur refugees yet, despite fresh fighting


Despite fears of a major new influx of refugees fleeing civil war in Sudan's Darfur region, only a trickle of people entered the string of refugee camps located in the arid wastes of eastern Chad in the last weeks of December. Despite early warnings by UN officials that Chad's refugee population of 200,000 could rise by as much as a third, with 100,000 new entrants seeking shelter in the coming weeks, aid officials said that to date there were relatively few newcomers to the 11 camps. The situation in terms of housing, food and water therefore remained stable.

DRC: Aid starts to reach the war-displaced in North Kivu


Humanitarian workers have ventured into jungles in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since Thursday to deliver food and non-food relief aid to thousands of war-displaced people in North Kivu Province, a UN official told IRIN on Tuesday. These towns bore the brunt of the latest violence between troops loyal to the Kinshasa government and dissident soldiers of the Congolese army. At least 100,000 people fled their homes for the forests during the fighting.

DRC: Christmas locked up


On 2 August this year in the UK, thirty police officers, twenty Immigration Service officers and two officials from the Department of Work and Pensions raided a factory near Bolton run by Stateside Foods, a company which makes frozen pizzas. They spent four hours checking the status of workers at the factory and arrested twenty-one people, including Alain Kimolo Kikeni. Most of those arrested were 'failed asylum seekers', from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), all countries with well-known human rights problems. The government has made it a priority to clamp down on 'illegal working' among migrants, with increasing numbers of raids on workplaces.

DRC: IDPs in Equateur province begin returning home


The first of thousands of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Equateur province returned home as part of a pilot project being undertaken jointly by the government and the UN. On Friday, 375 internally displaced persons (IDPs) left Equateur’s provincial capital, Mbandaka for their homes in and around the town of Basankusu, 240 km northeast, Social Affairs Minister Ingele Ifoto told IRIN on Monday. Almost three million people displaced by five years of war have still not returned to their homes in various parts of the DRC, despite a December 2002 peace agreement between the government and all rebel groups and the creation, in June 2003, of a government of national unity.

Sudan: Successful ceasefire monitoring in Southern Sudan


While fighting in Sudan’s western region of Darfur continues, the government of Sudan and opposition groups in the south are edging toward the end of a long civil war. Refugees International recently visited the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan where the Joint Monitoring Mission/Joint Military Commission (JMM/JMC), have successfully monitored the ceasefire for almost three years. The Nuba region covers an area of 80,000 square kilometers, about the same as South Carolina, and has a population of about 1.3 million. The population is increasing rapidly as more than 100,000 refugees and displaced persons have returned home in the last two years. The Nuba Mountains ceasefire has been a success. The Joint Military Commission might serve as a model for monitoring and peacekeeping missions in other parts of Sudan and in permissive areas and regions around the globe.

Uganda: ACT Appeal Uganda Assistance to IDPs in Northern Uganda


ACT member, Lutheran World Federation Uganda is proposing for support to expand the emergency response program for Northern Uganda for internally displaced persons in Adjumani, Katakwi and Kitgum districts. If there is reduced conflict, this project will also support resettlement and reintegration of IDPs to their respective communities. The Direct Beneficiaries of this project are approximately 290,000 internally displaced persons (of whom approximately 60% are female) and the project will give special consideration to women and children. In 2005, there is hope for peace and if this were to happen, the LWF Uganda would work with the IDPs to assist them in returning to their respective homes, albeit on a gradual basis, with close monitoring of the security situation.

Elections & governance

Mozambique: Election results get murkier


The National Elections Commission (CNE) has said that hundreds of editais (polling station results sheets) had been "stolen" and not included in the final results. It also admitted ballot box stuffing in Tete. In making its various secret "corrections", the CNE says it gave an extra parliamentary seat to Renamo in Zambezia. The admissions that two of Renamo's key complaints were valid came at a CNE press conference in which the CNE said it rejected Renamo's protest over the 1-2 December elections. The statement leaves the election results even murkier and more confused than before, reports the latest edition of the Mozambique Political Process Bulletin.

Sierra Leone: Strike suspended


Trade Unions have suspended the first general strike in Sierra Leone to be held since the civil war ended three years ago. On Tuesday the country was brought to a standstill, but shops and offices have begun reopening says the BBC's Lansana Fofana from the capital, Freetown.

Somalia: Cabinet to be named, new gov't to plan relocation


Somalia’s new leaders are to reconstitute their country's cabinet this week and then decide when to relocate their new administration from Nairobi to Somalia, a Kenyan minister said on Tuesday. "We met the Somali president [Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed] together with the prime minister [Ali Muhammad Gedi] and the speaker of the national assembly," John arap Koech, Kenya's minister for East Africa and Regional Cooperation, told a news conference in Nairobi. "They assured us that they will be appointing the cabinet this week.

Swaziland: Labour calls general strike over democracy demands


An upbeat New Year's message by Prime Minister Themba Dlamini has been rebutted by Swaziland's pro-democracy groups, with labour unions calling for a general strike in January to protest lavish royal spending and a controversial draft constitution. "Poverty has been a great enemy for both social and economic development in our country. His majesty's government has put measures in place, and I hope this will go a long way to addressing this challenge," said Dlamini in his New Year's address, without offering specifics.

Zambia: Civil society to continue agitation over constitution


Zambian civil society and opposition parties are to persist with efforts to pressure the authorities to enact a new constitution before elections in 2006, despite the government's reported willingness to renew talks. "We welcome the government's decision to set aside its 'roadmap' and to hold fresh dialogue. We have a two-pronged approach to the issue - while we will continue to dialogue with the government, our foot soldiers will continue to hold demonstrations and campaigns around the country," said Reverend Japhet Ndhlovu, spokesman of the NGO coalition Oasis Forum.

Zimbabwe: A Gloomy Election Countdown Begins


And so, another year in Zimbabwe – and in less than three months time, another election. It is a prospect that few seem to welcome. Compare the political environment in the country now to what it was ahead of the last parliamentary poll in 2000, and the lack of voter enthusiasm is not hard to understand.


DRC: Cabinet reshuffle


Eleven ministers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have lost their jobs in a wide-ranging government reshuffle - including six already suspended on corruption charges. Those ministers were accused in November of serious financial malpractice, along with the heads of a number of state-owned companies.

Kenya/Nigeria: UN to trace corrupt cash


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is to send accounting specialists to Nigeria and Kenya, to help them trace and recover money stolen by previous corrupt governments. The Vienna-based agency said it will 'conduct in-depth assessments of the institutional and legal frameworks' in these countries, making detailed proposals to 'overcome obstacles to asset recovery'. At the initiative's launch, the UNODC claimed that in the 1990s, corrupt officials in Nigeria stole and exported at least $2.2bn.

Kenya: Nothing moving in the war against corruption


Is the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) administration walking the talk or simply talking the talk? To its credit, the government has done a great deal in its attempt to lay the foundation for a successful war against graft.But the indicators on the ground are such that there is no blood flowing as a result of old corruption and new corruption seems to be bustling and sizzling within the very heart of the Narc administration, notes this opinion piece from the East African Standard.

Nigeria: How to steal an oil tanker


Two Nigerian admirals have been sacked for oil smuggling after they were found guilty of being involved in the disappearance of an oil tanker. The tanker was seized by a naval patrol two years ago as it was carrying 10,000 tonnes of crude oil alleged to have been stolen from the Delta region.


Africa/Global: Africa fears tsunami may suck aid coffers dry


Shock waves from Asia's tsunami could reverberate across Africa for a long time to come as aid workers fear the crisis will soak up donor funds and leave less help available for the poorest continent. With the tsunami death toll more than 145,000, the crisis is undoubtedly severe. Africa's woes are more long-term. Aid agencies say 6,500 Africans die of preventable diseases daily. And while all eyes turn east, attention is deflected from Africa's own crises, such as Darfur in Sudan. It wasn't meant to be like this -- 2005 was Africa's year. "We're not saying scale down aid for the tsunami, but scale up aid for Africa."

Africa/Global: Bush to change World Bank focus


World Bank President James Wolfensohn said he expects to leave his job after his term expires in June. U.S. President George W. Bush is likely to push ahead with plans this year to narrow the focus of the World Bank, analysts said, returning the international lending institution to its roots of primarily financing large infrastructure projects and doing away with the practice of handing out zero percent loans.

Africa/Global: Twin Institutions need Reforms


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank recently celebrated their 60th Anniversaries. To the two institutions, writes Douglas Ngwenya in this commentary on the Afrodad website, this was a sign that they are maturing, but to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), it was a sign that the Bretton Woods Institutions are growing too "old, devious and irrelevant". "Their mandate to provide a mechanism for the transfer of financial resources from the rich nations to the poor nations and to promote reconstruction and development is visibly vanishing into thin air. The ageing of these institutions has been at increasing misery for the world’s poorest nations." Read the full commentary by visiting Afrodad's website.

Africa: South-South Cooperation Soars


Cooperation between nations of the South will eventually trigger growth and development in some of the world's poorest countries, according to the United Nations, which marked the first U.N. Day for South-South Cooperation' in December. The world body has launched an aggressive campaign to strengthen economic and trade relations among the world's 132 developing nations.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa/Global: Committed to health for all? Rating the G7/G8


This article, published in Social Science and Medicine, reports on progress towards the goal of health for all, with specific reference to international development commitments made by the G7/G8 nations at the 1999, 2000 and 2001 summits. It argues that the limited progress toward achieving health for all derives largely from the failure of G8 nations to fulfil their development commitments. In particular, efforts to reduce poverty and economic security have been insufficient; and national governments have not been enabled to make basic investments in health systems, education and nutrition.

Africa: Rethink urged over TB treatment


In the crowded wards of African hospitals, coughs and bony bodies tell the story of a deadly return. Tuberculosis (TB), supposedly defeated 40 years ago, is back, riding on the AIDS epidemic, and the world is ill-prepared, says the relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). In its study 'Running out of Breath? TB Care in the 21st Century', MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines urges a radical rethink of the global approach to the disease. TB kills two million people every year, nearly all in developing countries. Yet TB, if detected early and treated, is curable.

Africa: The AIDS treatment era - the rollout of ART


As a result of falling antiretroviral (ARV) prices, new sources of international funding and growing political commitment, providing treatment for Africa's HIV-positive citizens is, for the first time, an achievable goal. In sub-Saharan 3.8 million people need treatment now, but as of June 2004, only 150,000 were on ARVs - less than four percent of that total. The remaining 96 percent - those parents, workers, lovers and children denied access to the life-prolonging drugs will, unless there is urgent intervention, inevitably join the other 30 million people worldwide that the pandemic has claimed.

Burkina Faso: Government needs help to increase numbers on ARV, aid workers say


Health authorities in Burkina Faso have already admitted they will not be able to meet global goals for providing antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to people living with AIDS, but aid workers say even the government's scaled-down target will be under threat if grassroots groups are not drafted into the fight. Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest countries, has pledged that 15,000 people will receive the life-prolonging ARV drugs by 2007. That would be a five-fold increase on the 2,700 patients that currently access treatment, but would fall short of the 27,000 people which the World Health Organisation said should receive medication by the end of 2005.

Ethiopia: Blindness in Ethiopian children can be avoided


There are 1.4 million blind children in the world today, of whom 320 000 live in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the causes of childhood blindness are either preventable or treatable. The causes of sight loss in 44 percent of children attending schools for the blind in Ethiopia were vitamin A deficiency and measles. These two conditions can be avoided with widespread measles immunisation, vitamin A supplements and advice on nutrition.

Mozambique: Aids council underspends budget


Mozambique's National Council for the Fight Against AIDS (CNCS) has spent less than 40 percent of the funds allocated to HIV/AIDS activities in the country in 2004. According to the local news agency, AIM, the CNCS had planned programmes costing US $17.7 million, but only $6.5 million was disbursed and used, leaving projects planned by civil society and the public sector in the lurch.

Nigeria: Use of suspended AIDS drugs probed


The National Agency for Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian's food and drug production and consumption regulatory agency, has begun investigations into the administration of some suspended anti-retroviral drugs on some people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Abubakar Jimoh, national public relations officer of the NAFDAC,was quoted as saying that some drugs de-listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) are being distributed under the national program for the treatment of the PLWHA.

South Africa: Are children bigger in South Africa’s new democracy?


Human growth is a sensitive measure of social change. In a recent study conducted by Loughborough University, UK, that looked at data from more than 3000 children born in Soweto and Johannesburg in 1990, nearly one in five of the children in the study were found to be stunted – a sign of persistent poor health and nutrition during infancy.

South Africa: Tired of the "same old" AIDS messages


AIDS activists in South Africa have called for the revision of "outdated" HIV/AIDS messages which have been circulating for years but have failed to achieve behaviour change. People require more than awareness and basic education - they need advice on how to apply their knowledge of AIDS to their daily lives. Laura Washington, facilitator of the Durban-based training organisation Project Empower, told IRIN that her group realised that tackling high-risk behaviour was "not about the condom" but about people's "social fabric", such as communication within relationships, gender imbalances and societal perceptions of sexuality.

Southern Africa: Child deaths show health crisis


When Dr Keith Bolton treated children in the 1990s, the death of a patient was still relatively infrequent. As head of child health at South Africa's Coronation Hospital in Johannesburg, Bolton saw an average of one child die each week. Now, Bolton and his colleagues see one child die every day. "In the past, death was an uncommon event in children, especially after the newborn period," said Bolton. "Now we've seen a complete reversal of the gains we made in the 1960s, '70s and '80s."


Africa/Global: Making literacy a priority


How can we address the issue of the information and knowledge society without first dealing with the fact that almost a sixth of the world's population remains illiterate, and thus excluded from the possibility of effectively participating in a knowledge-driven society? What good are the advantages afforded by the new ICTs for the more than 860 million who cannot read and write? asks this feature on the website of Choike, a portal on civil society.

Cameroon: Public vs Private: the virtues and vices


In 1993, the government of Cameroon passed a law allowing private tertiary education institutions to be established in the country. Now, almost a decade later, is this decision still viewed as the right one? That depends on who you ask. For Sammy Beban Chumbow, rector of the government-run University of Yaoundé I, certain private institutions "present a distinct threat to public universities".

Kenya: Free Education Critics Told Off


Critics of free primary education should try their business elsewhere, Education minister Prof George Saitoti has said. "This is an era of free primary education; it is here to stay since our commitment is firm. No one should allude that Government will turn back on this policy," Prof Saitoti said.

South Africa: Teachers threaten to strike


The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said it had not ruled out the possibility of action should its current pay dispute with government not be resolved timeously. Sadtu was one of four teachers' unions to declare a dispute over salaries. Sadtu spokesperson Thulas Nxesi said the outcome of the mediation process in the Education Labour Relations Council was expected "sometime this week".


Africa/Global: GM trees are not part of another world

New book from World Rainforest Movement


"The debate on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) has until now largely focused on agricultural crops and much less on genetically modified trees. This is understandable, given the fact that there are already several GM crops being commercially grown in many places of the world and given that many of them are aimed at directly or indirectly feeding human beings, whose health is thus potentially threatened. However, that does not mean that GM trees are less dangerous. On the contrary, the dangers posed by GM trees are in some ways even more serious than those posed by GM crops."

Africa/Global: NGOs Shut Out of UN Hydropower Conference


Sheltered inside the confines of the Beijing International Convention Center, hundreds of hydropower advocates and a smattering of damaffected people and their allies gathered on a crisp October morning for a three-day United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development. The organizers – the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and the World Bank – claimed to want to facilitate a discussion among a wide range of participants on the role and future of hydropower in sustainable development. However, the conference was so biased toward hydropower proponents that the meeting was more like an industry workshop than a true exchange of ideas as promoted by the World Commission on Dams. Perspectives critical of hydropower were virtually excluded and the participation of NGOs and dam-affected people was marginalized, reports the World Rivers Review, published by the International Rivers Network.

Africa/Global: Securing Development in the face of climate change


Climate change poses a potentially major challenge to social and economic development in all countries. It is widely accepted that at least part of the earth's 0.6°C warming during the last 100 years is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, caused by human activities. During this century, the world is expected to continue warming, by between 1.4 and 5.8°C. Other predicted impacts are a rise in global sea levels of between 0.09 and 0.88 metres by 2100, and changes in weather patterns, including an increased frequency and severity of extreme events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts. How can developing countries and development policies ensure progress in a changing climate?

Africa: African mining codes a race to the bottom


The World Bank, after nearly two decades of developing mining sector specific mineral codes, revising and ‘re-revising’ them to make competing mineral-endowed African countries gain ‘the most conforming country’ status, is still not satisfied. Having provided the necessary fiscal incentives, absolute security of tenure of mineral rights and fenced off the state from direct participation in mining activities, the Bank now thinks the only way mineral-rich African countries can remain more competitive is by de-emphasising environmental protection. The result is that most countries have no barriers to where and where not to mine. Forest reserves, protected sites, heritage sites, and ecologically sensitive zones are no longer barriers to mining.

Nigeria: Tsunami Possible in Nigeria


The Nigerian Red Cross Society yesterday urged Nigerians to be prepared for the possibility of a Tsunami-type calamity which took Asia, among other nations, by surprise last month occuring here. THISDAY had earlier reported some experts as warning that Nigeria’s western boundary with Cameroon was an active volcanic region. The fracture zones include Romanche (western), Chain (western flank), Charcot (more of the Niger Delta) and Cameroon Fracture Zone (Eastern Boundary of Nigeria), which the experts said, was active. "Some land mass had even been washed away unnoticed by people in remote coastal areas. The Red Cross still maintains its position that the country and its people must develop the appropriate capacity to manage and cope with high and low profile natural and man-made disasters", the society said.

Somalia: Thousands of households affected by tsunami


The tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean that struck the Horn of Africa coastline just over a week ago has affected about 18,000 households of varying sizes in Somalia, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. Many of those affected were living in small villages along the Somali coastline, particularly in the northeastern regions. OCHA, in a situation report released on Monday, estimated that 54,000 people were directly affected. In Jeriban and Eyl districts, 1,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed and around 1,200 boats ruined.

Southern Africa: From risks to rights in biotechnology


Scientists and the biotechnology industry have been crucial in determining biotechnology policies and laws. They have emphasised the protection of individual interests - both human and corporate - through tight property laws, global trade rules and narrow regulatory regimes. Within this framework, the only 'acceptable' restriction on biotechnology development is safety. Regulation focuses on containing risks through science-based assessments. Little attention has been given to broader social, cultural or development concerns or, critically, to rights. A rights based approach is key to developing biotechnology policies.

Southern Africa: Living with variable climate in southern Africa


Southern Africa has experienced severe food shortages over the past few years. These have been caused by several factors, including climate change and variability, problems with governance (including poor risk-management, and inadequate early warning systems) and wider structural issues (such as globalisation). Many parts of the region are also vulnerable to the impacts of large-scale environmental change, including land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Tanzania: Poor and Vulnerable Countries Demand Compensation


"For our countries, climate change is more catastrophic than terrorism." This was how the delegate from Tanzania summed up the stance of the world's 48 least developed countries at the 10th Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-10). The Tanzanian delegation's sentiments were echoed throughout the opening session of the conference. Almost all of the countries whose representatives took the floor expressed their satisfaction over the imminent entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.

Land & land rights

Africa: Title Deeds Not the Solution to Land Problems


In most of Africa, formal individual title deeds to land have failed to solve the problems of homelessness and insecurity of tenure among the rural and urban poor, or the mushrooming of slums in the cities. This was the gist of views aired during the recently concluded Expert Group Meeting on the new legal frameworks to land tenure, at Gigiri in Nairobi, where it was pointed out that in some African countries, less than one per cent of the land was titled. Participants from Africa, the US and Europe concluded that large-scale land titling is not a panacea to solving land tenure problems in the developing world.

South Africa: Apartheid returns to farmlands


A hunting boom driven by wealthy tourists is pushing black South Africans off the land to make way for game, generating anger that, a decade after apartheid, whites still own most of the countryside. Hundreds of commercial farms have evicted their labourers and converted into game parks, turning swaths of arable land into fenced wilderness for trophy animals such as lions and antelopes.

Media & freedom of expression

DRC: Government attempts to confine press to a "Congolese gulag" condemned


From 20 to 24 December 2004, a group of 11 journalists from various Kinshasa-based, privately-owned newspapers carried out a mission to Goma, capital of North-Kivu province, to report on the armed conflict that rages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The group also requested and was granted interviews with Rwandan authorities, including Foreign Minister Charles Morigande and President Paul Kagame. On their return to Kinshasa, however, the journalists, along with their editors, were summoned by the media regulation authority (Haute autorité des médias, HAM). (Report available in French and English)

DRC: Two journalists arrested in Kamako


Delphin Manesa and Jean Kambamba, journalists with Radio Arc-en-ciel, broadcasting out of Kamako, were arrested on 28 December 2004 by a group of police officers acting under the orders of Mutombo Tshisala, the municipality's deputy chief of police. Kamako is located approximately 180 kilometres from Tshikapa, the second largest city in West Kasaï province, central Democratic Republic of Congo. (French and English version available)

Ethiopia: Court reverses government ban on journalists' association


Reporters sans frontières (RSF) has hailed a 24 December 2004 federal high court decision to reverse a 13-month-old government ban on the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA) as a "victory for the EFJA and a step forward for press freedom in Ethiopia." But the organisation warned that vigilance is still needed in Ethiopia as the situation of its news media continues to be very precarious. (Available in English and French)

Gambia: Thousands protest peacefully at murder of journalist


Thousands of people thronged the streets of Banjul in December in a peaceful protest against the murder of one of the Gambia's leading journalists by unidentified gunmen. About 300 journalists - virtually the entire press corps of this small West African country - marched through the streets to protest at the killing of Deyda Hydara, a newspaper editor and veteran campaigner for press freedom, who was shot dead.

Tunisia: Press Freedom In Tunisia A Casualty Of "War On Terror"


In common with Algeria and the dominant African giant Egypt, Tunisia has displayed a remarkable tenacity to forge ahead without any significant policy of political reform. In ensuring that its security from so-called 'terrorist threats' is provided by the West, the regime of Zeyn al-Abideen Bin Ali has thwarted efforts by human-rights activists keen to secure fundamental freedoms. Harsh repressive measures to keep its population in check are characteristic of the Bin Ali government.

News from the diaspora

Kenyan rapper goes to jail in Sweden


Billy Okello, a Kenyan Rapper known by his artist name of “Billy Boy” has been jailed for eight months by a Swedish court after being found guilty of five separate charges namely: mishandling a Swedish woman, threatening the woman, damage to property, driving without a license and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Billy will also pay the woman a total of 28,700 Swedish crowns in compensation for damages to the woman’s property, causing her pain, violating her integrity and causing her physical and psychological trauma.

Nigeria's new celebrity class


"As a Nigerian who has lived and grown up in Britain, the way the developing world has been portrayed has always been a source of bafflement and great sadness. It seemed as if the press were obsessed with learning only about the war, the famine and the corruption. It was in this frame of mind that I happened across a magazine entitled Ovation, a celebrity magazine dedicated entirely to Nigerian endeavour and success both in Nigeria and in the diaspora."

The Role of Diaspora in Poverty Reduction in their Countries of Origin


"This paper analyzes the impact of established Diaspora on the reduction of poverty, and identifies ways in which policy interventions, especially from donors of official development assistance, might strengthen that impact. The new policy interest in Diasporas reflects a broader concern with globalization, and specifically the very recent appreciation of the volume of remittances to developing countries by emigrant workers and their descendents."

Conflict & emergencies

Africa/Global: Rich country Tsunami response 'pathetic'


The initial response by the world's richest countries to the earthquake and tidal wave disaster in Southern Asia has been pathetic. While many of these countries have poured billions into invading and bringing misery to the people of Iraq, they cannot seem to find anywhere near enough money to seriously help the mainly poor people who have been made destitute by this natural disaster, according to this article on the website of the Socialist Alliance.
Related Link:
* Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Nuclear Testing
* Tsunami tragedy blog

Burundi: Renewed fighting displaces thousands in Bujumbura Rural


Thousands of civilians have been displaced following fierce fighting on Saturday in Burundi's western province of Bujumbura Rural. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not received aid, the governor of the province, Ignace Ntawembarira, said.

Somalia: Continuation of War by Other Means?


The declaration, in Kenya, of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004 was heralded as a breakthrough in Somalia's protracted crisis of statelessness and civil strife. But the peace process has gone largely downhill since then. The Transitional Federal Parliament's choice for interim president, Colonel Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, is divisive and controversial. To many Somalis, his election represents not a step toward peace but continuation of the war by other means. Yusuf and his partners need to use their political advantage to form a genuine government of national unity and the international community needs to make clear that only if this happens will the TFG get the recognition and support it desperately seeks, said the International Crisis Group in a report released late in 2004.

Sudan: A Final Peace Accord Within Grasp


Sudan ended 2004 on a high note, with government and rebel representatives signing a permanent ceasefire and an accord that maps out the implementation of several peace protocols already concluded. This paves the way for a final agreement to end 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan – Africa’s longest-running conflict. The ceremony took place in the north-western Kenyan town of Naivasha, which has served as the venue for peace talks between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Sudan: Atrocities, Impunity Threaten Lasting Peace


Continuing atrocities in the western region of Darfur and impunity for war crimes in the south jeopardize prospects for peace in Sudan, Human Rights Watch has warned ahead of the January 9 signing of a peace agreement to end the 21-year conflict in the south. The final peace accords-known as the Naivasha Protocols for the Kenyan city where negotiations took place since June 2002-are scheduled to be signed in Nairobi by the Sudanese government and the main southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). The peace agreement lacks any provision for a truth commission, prosecutions or other forms of accountability for past abuses in the southern conflict.

Uganda: Museveni plans crackdown on rebels


President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to step up military action against rebels in northern Uganda, after a seven-week truce expired without agreement. The government says the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rejected a deal meant to pave the way for peace talks, and staged an ambush on the army. Mediators said the LRA wanted more time to study the government's proposed memorandum of understanding.

Internet & technology

How appropriate is software for developing ICT literacy in Africa?


Teacher training institutions in even the poorest African countries are slowly being equipped with computers. Increasingly, teachers are being exposed to new information and communication technologies (ICTs). The majority of school teachers are likely to work in environments without computers for the foreseeable future but in schools where ICTs are available, teachers will want to know how to use them.

Internet living Swahili dictionary


"The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary is a collaborative work by people all over the world. Together we are working to establish new dictionaries of the Swahili language - Kiswahili - both within Swahili and between Swahili and English."

New computer partnership increases access in Rwanda


Computer Aid International, a British registered not-for-profit officially launched an innovative new partnership with local not-for-profit, E-ICT, on November 29 in Kigali. By providing an affordable solution to high cost computers, the partnership aims to increase access to ICT for schools and not-for-profits.

New ICT Book Launched


No doubt, information and communication technologies (ICT) have dramatically changed the way individuals, organisations and enterprises interact. But are they a priority for development cooperation, empowerment and poverty reduction? In a new book, jointly published by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), key innovators, government leaders, development experts, grass-roots practitioners and leading CEOs offer new and often unexpected answers to this and other questions.



Women'sNet is a networking support programme designed to enable South African women to use the internet to find the people, resources and tools needed for women's social activism. Since its inception, Women'sNet has successfully implemented a number of projects as part of its mandate to support South African women in harnessing ICTs to facilitate women's empowerment through networking and special projects.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Chapel & York Information by Email


This Email-Information Service helps you find the resources you need from amongst the vast amounts of information available for charities, non-profits, & NGOs on-line. The focus is on new funding information, and international and cross-boarder funding. Recent emails have been on the Asian Tsunami with a focus on 'HOW TO HELP'. Visit the webpage and click on Email Information Services.

La Benevolencija newsletter


Since March 2003, La Benevolencija Rwanda has carried out a program based on the work of Professor Ervin Staub and Doctor Laurie Pearlman focusing on activities linked to reconciliation in Rwanda. Since the beginning of the program, Rwanda Reconciliation Radio (RRR) is implementing a unique combination of academic research methodologies, highly efficient communication techniques and down-to-earth grassroots activities. Visit their website for more information or use the email below to subscribe to their newsletter.

Youth InfoNet No. 11


YouthNet, a program of Family Health International, is pleased to announce Youth InfoNet No. 11, a one-stop source for new publications and information on youth reproductive health and HIV prevention. You can read the newsletter online.

Fundraising & useful resources

Fellowships for women journalists


The International Women's Media Foundation has called for applications to the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship, a new program that supports women journalists who report on human rights and social justice. The fellowship combines research opportunities at MIT's Center for International Studies and other Boston area universities with reporting opportunities at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Grantcraft website


GrantCraft began at the Ford Foundation, with a kernel of case studies and examples that had long served as orientation materials for new program officers. From there, starting in October 2001, we've sought out hundreds of grant makers and grantees from other organizations to add examples and insights of their own, share successes and disappointments, and draw lessons from what they've done and observed.

New publication from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance

Raising funds and mobilising resources for HIV AIDS work


This toolkit builds on the understanding that mobilising resources (primarily money) is a vital need for any NGO/CBO. It introduces an approach to planning and carrying out resource mobilisation strategically and systematically to ensure that maximum returns are gained for the least effort and that NGOs/CBOs remain true to their missions. (French version available)

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Children and Poverty: Global Trends, Local Solutions?

Call for papers


UNICEF and the Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) plan to hold an international conference April 25 through 27, 2005 on poverty in the global context and its effects on girls and boys. The conference in April 2005 will present analytical and policy papers that explore issues and trends related to children living in poverty by examining the concepts and measurements of poverty, as well as the actions needed to secure a protective, harmonious and stimulating environment for family upbringing.

Extended workshop on social history


The fourth CODESRIA/SEPHIS Extended Workshop on New Theories and Methods in Social History will be held from 5th to 25th September, 2005. The theme for the 2005 session is Gender, Ethnicity and Culture. The Workshop will be organised around the comparative experiences of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters Workshop


The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters Workshop is to be held from 2nd to 4th February 2005 in Karen-Nairobi, Kenya. The Nairobi location for the workshop is intended to facilitate participation by NGO/IO/Donor staff based on East Africa, including staff working in southern Sudan. The three day workshop will prepare participants to use the REA in disaster and crisis situations. The workshop will include discussions on the use of the REA for disasters commonly encountered in Africa. Participants will also receive a CD with an eLearning program on the REA as well as a wealth of other reference materials. The cost of the workshop will be from £260 GBP per person, with partial scholarships available. For further information or an application form please contact RedR on: email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 207 233 3116.

Social Capital Foundation conferences


The Social Capital Foundation conferences are open to all those who want to understand the world in which they live. The academic content of the conferences is excellent but the language used is clear and the conclusions are operational. Emphasis is put on lively presentations based on modern communication techniques, in order to allow congenial, interactive communication style. Speakers are scholars with a wide variety of profiles and practitioners with an established academic background.

Three month training course for refugee interpreters


The American University in Cairo, Forced Migration & Refugee Studies Program Community Interpreters Project (CCIP) is offering a three month training course for refugee interpreters speaking any of the following languages (native-speaker level): Dinka, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, Kiswahili, Arabic, Juba Arabic, Fur.


UK: 2nd Floor, 51 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA
SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio, 06 Cromer Road, Muizenberg 7945, Cape Town, South Africa
KENYA: 1st Floor, Shelter Afrique Building, Mamlaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya
[email protected]
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ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

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