Pambazuka News 242: Campaign against corruption in Kenya: A convenient smokescreen?
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. African Union Monitor, 10. Women & gender, 11. Human rights, 12. Refugees & forced migration, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. Racism & xenophobia, 19. Environment, 20. Land & land rights, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops
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Featured this week
EDITORIALS: As a corruption scandal rocks Kenya, political activist Onyango Oloo asks if it isn’t all just a convenient smokescreen
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS:
- Rights campaigners fear that efforts to restore UN leadership of human rights will derail, writes Akwe Amosu from the Open Society Institute
- Author and scholar Paul Tiyambe Zeleza argues against the cartoon crisis representing a “clash of civilizations”
- The Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network highlight the extent of Violence Against Women in Somalia
- Four years since the end of civil war, Human Rights activist Rafael Marques says peace is about all that Angolans have to enjoy
LETTERS: The debate over “just trade” continues
BLOGGING AFRICA: Sokari Ekine reports on an innovative blog mentoring programme
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul Raheem compares the furore over Salman “Rush to Die” with the current Danish cartoon anger
BOOKS AND ART: Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel writes about her latest performance experience in Nairobi
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Is the African Peer Review Mechanism helping Africa to move away from a “generation of despots”?
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: International action plan for DRC?
HUMAN RIGHTS: Exploring transitional justice options in Zimbabwe
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Remaining Sudanese detainees released in Cairo
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Three killed at campaign rally in Uganda – Human Rights Watch says 23 Feb polls will not be free and fair
WOMEN AND GENDER: Arrest of members of WOZA and their legal practitioner in Zimbabwe
CORRUPTION: Civil society mass action against corruption to kick-off
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Poultry workers too afraid to take tests in Nigeria
EDUCATION: SA university strikes against corporatisation
ENVIRONMENT: Multinationals looting Africa's diversity, says report
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Bail conditions relaxed for Voice of the People executives
PLUS: Land and Land Rights; Advocacy and Campaigns; e-newsletters and mailing lists; Internet and Technology; Courses, Seminars and Workshops; Books and Arts; Jobs.
* Can trade in the era of globalisation be 'just'? Read our issue on the subject at http://www.pambazuka.org/index.php?issue=240
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Campaign against corruption in Kenya: A convenient smokescreen?
Onyango Oloo, a Kenyan political activist and ex political prisoner, argues that there is a deepening crisis of legitimacy for the Kenyan government. The implication of key government officials in grand corruption has struck yet another nail in the coffin of the shattered and battered National Rainbow Coalition. Oloo sees corruption as driven by two factors; internally by a lack of democratic institutions, structures and culture and externally as one of the by-products of the disastrous neo-liberal policies imposed by the West and its institutions.
Africa must stand up and be counted over UN human rights issues
"Africa, which has suffered so much from human rights abuses, has the most to gain." With those words last month, Archbishop Desmond Tutu neatly encapsulated the case for African engagement on the UN's new Human Rights Council. Yet human rights campaigners are beginning to fear that current efforts to restore the UN's leadership in the human rights sector will derail, writes Akwe Amosu.
Cartoons as Weapons of Mass Provocation
Paul T Zeleza
Is the global row over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad the beginning of a “clash of civilizations”? Author and scholar Paul Tiyambe Zeleza argues not, locating the controversy firmly in the realm of politics. In this context, Muslims are challenged to find ways of defending their faith in a way that advances human freedom and decency. Those in the West, he argues, must not support aggression that hides behind freedom of speech.
Highlighting violence against women in Somalia
In Somalia, national laws, policies and procedures are not favourable to the rights of women and there is no framework to address widespread Violence Against Women (VAW). This article, from Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) Network, which comprises 28 member organisations and advocates for social change and gender equality for women in the Horn of Africa, assesses the extent of the problem and suggests solutions.
The people’s whereabouts in Angola
Rafael Marques de Morais
It has been four years of peace in Angola since the end of a decades-long civil war, but for the majority of Angolans the absence of fighting is the only benefit they enjoy, writes human rights activist Rafael Marques. Scheduled elections have been endlessly postponed, allowing the ruling elite to remain unaccountable to the population of the country while they maintain international legitimacy through corrupt use of Angola’s vast oil wealth.
America: Take back the news – confronting the rape epidemic
What is it about rape and sexual assault that causes society to blame the victim, to allow the perpetrator to escape punishment, and to largely ignore its very existence? More importantly, how can these attitudes be changed? Take Back the News works to raise public awareness about the epidemic of rape, in order to foster greater public dialogue and ultimately greater public responsibility. The new site reflects the incorporation and revamp of this anti-rape organization, including the formation of a Media Response Project to streamline communications with media outlets, and the distribution of free Community Print Project Kits that college activist groups can use to gather and publish rape survival stories.
From Salman “Rush to Die” to the Danish Cartoons
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem compares the crisis over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed with the Fatwa issued against the author Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhoolai Khomeini. Neither the West nor Islam has a monopoly on good or evil, he writes, concluding that “…freedom will be meaningless if it is completely unlimited, but living in a society also means that we have to share it with people whose ways and values may clash with ours”.
* Africa: Saa Ya Kinyumbani
The music over the PA system, when I arrive at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, is relentlessly American. Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, muzak you can’t name but you’ve heard a hundred times before in a hundred generic interchangeable locations. It sounds especially ironic to me this time, given the purpose of my trip.
16 hours ago, in the UK, I posted the following entry on my blog:
“Migritude and I are going home. To an audience that may love us or loathe us, but cannot possibly be bored or indifferent. An audience more intimately connected to what we have to say than any other in the world.
The novelist May Sarton has a line in one of her books: ‘Perhaps, in the end, this is why one is a poet. So that once in a lifetime, one can say the right words, to the right person, at the right time.’
Almost 3am now. 6am in Nairobi - sunrise, and trees erupting into bird chatter. On Kenya Airways flights, Local Time At Destination is rendered in Kiswahili as Saa Ya Kinyumbani Ya Mwisho Wa Safari.
Literal translation: Time of the home at the end of the journey.”
I grew up in Kenya during the Moi years. When those who spoke out were routinely arrested, detained without trial, beaten, tortured, exiled, killed. We read daily news stories about journalists, activists, even students, jailed for “sedition.” Every so often, our literature teacher would tell us that such-and-such a poet had been “banned” – and we dutifully crossed out their name and poems in our school text-books.
We were taught that Kenya attained independence peacefully. Without bloodshed. The slaughter of over 300,000 Kenyans in the war of independence, the subsequent betrayal of the country by the establishment of one-party rule, was never mentioned.
I grew up in a world where brown-skinned Kenyans were “the Asians” - their Kenyan citizenship and nationality subject to constant question and attack. Black-skinned Kenyans were “Africans” – the real Kenyans. Africans of other nationalities – Ugandans, Somalis, Congolese – were suspect and unwelcome refugees, invisible in public life.
Now I’m going home to do excerpts from my one-woman spoken-word theatre show, Migritude, in which I unfold voices of Kenyan women telling of rape and torture in British concentration camps during the Mau Mau years. Speak the pain of growing up brown in black-majority post-colonial East Africa. Reclaim and celebrate the dignity outsider status. Do not disguise my radical queer politics. I am terrified. I don’t yet trust that we can speak of these things, even in the new multiparty Kenya, without consequences.
And beyond that, I have no idea how Nairobi will take to spoken-word theatre. Or slam poetry. Who will come out to hear my work? June Wainaina, PR and Marketing Manager of Kwani?, the groundbreaking Kenyan literary organization that is presenting me in Nairobi, tells me: “People here have never seen anything like you. We expect to sell out your show at the Carnivore.”
When Youssou N’Dour sang at Nairobi’s legendary Carnivore restaurant in 2005, he drew a capacity crowd of 4,500. We draw slightly less. A lot less, in fact. Only 59 tickets sold (we’d projected 200). Not even enough to recoup Kwani’s costs – or pay my artist’s fee. Most glaring, and personally disappointing, is the absence of my own Asian African community, aside from a few progressive activists, journalists, and friends. We learn important lessons from this about PR, community outreach, marketing, and choice of venue. But the press is there in force. KTN, the national TV network, films the entire show. Journalists from Kenya’s two national dailies bombard me with questions after the performance. Features on me and Migritude run in the papers every day for the next four days.
And the response to Migritude from those 59 people there is nothing short of electric. They surround me on stage afterwards, almost overwhelm me with eagerness, appreciation, thoughts, questions. I am amazed at how my work has sliced through ethnic and socio-economic boundaries. Some of the most enthusiastic responses and persistent questions come from a group of MCs and b-boys, who, I am later told, were all street children until a few years ago. One of them tells me how powerfully affected he was by the integration of history, politics, economics, into my poetry. He asks: “What obstacles will I face in writing like this?”
Someone else, Asian African, tells me he was moved to tears by Shilling Love, a piece about my parents’ sacrifices. He was embarrassed by his emotion, until he looked around and saw another listener, Black African, also crying. “I have never had this experience before,” he says, “of Asian and African sharing the same tear.”
In subsequent days I do back-to-back meetings, interviews, radio spots. I am asked repeatedly for my thoughts on “Indians in Kenya.” My recurring response is: “I don’t really have any knowledge about Indians in Kenya. But I have a lot to say about Kenyans of South Asian heritage.” I watch the eyes of Black Kenyan journalists widen with sudden understanding, and it affirms my faith in the vital importance of words. I am a poet because I believe that language shapes the reality we inhabit. When we reclaim and reinvent the language used to define us, we also claim the space and power to act politically.
Some journalists tell me that they have never heard South Asian Kenyans voice the radical politics they hear in my work. I point out that just as Black Kenyans who challenged the ruling powers post-independence were exiled, imprisoned, or killed, so also were dissenting Asian Kenyans silenced – through assassination, deportation, removal of citizenship.
On the night of the show, the TV crew tells us they will run segments of Migritude on KTN’s Art Scene program the following week. Later, we hear that the director of the show was concerned about the political content. Rather than cutting it, however, she chose to delay screening until her superiors approved it. Self-censorship? Over-cautiousness? What elements of the content caused the concern? All part of the ongoing conversation about saa ya kinyumbani. What time is it right now in Kenya’s history? Has the time finally arrived when we can have these conversations?
* Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist Shailja Patel has featured at New York's Lincoln Center, and venues across the US. She has drawn standing ovations in London, Glasgow, and Nairobi. Excerpts from her one-woman spoken-word theater show, Migritude, have aired on BBC radio, NPR, the National Radio Project, and Pacifica Radio, generating responses worldwide. Migritude was recently selected for the International Women Art Festival in Vienna in 2006. (http://www.shailja.com/)
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa: Chimurenga call for submissions
Through this issue we hope to dig into and provide a platform for the medium that best brings, on the page, writing, art and ideas together - a medium still criminally unexplored these parts. However, the idea isn't to present another "African Comics" anthology, or similar missionary or developmental projects. Though Chimurenga is a very politicised space, it's also a space for pleasure. We're inviting comics creators and graphic storytellers who have produced cutting-edge work to submit some original pieces for this issue, or excerpts from work-in-progress.
Zimbabwe: Operation Murambatsvina - an artist's interpretation
When Zimbabwean artist Josiah Bob Taundi grew up in the townships of Harare he saw bulldozers as emblems of construction - machines that came to clear land for building houses and roads. But last year all this changed. Bulldozers came back to the townships and razed the very same houses that they had constructed. The Zimbabwean government called this "clean up", Murambatsvina (Operation Restore Order). While the urban demolitions were in full swing across the country, Zimbabwean artist, Josiah Taundi could not help but see the agony and pain reflected in the eyes of those that had been affected by Murambatsvina. In an effort to depict their plight he began to vividly re-construct Harare’s urban destruction.
Accelarated and shared growth in South Africa?
Thabo Mbeki's neo-liberal state of the nation address, while re-committing South Africa to market-friendly economic policies, failed to outline specific programmes to meaningfully deal with the country's worsening poverty and underdevelopment. The 'have-nots', who have suffered severely in the last ten years as a result of conservative economic policies, should therefore brace themselves for more hardship.
It is very hypocritical for parliament to have chosen the theme "All shall have equal rights"- derived from the Freedom Charter - given the sad reality that the annual opening of parliament and parliament itself are a very good reflection of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor.
The annual event has become a Hollywood-style fashion extravaganza. The SABC's fashion commentator skilfully scrutinized numerous trendy outfits worn by the elite.
Despite SA's worsening levels of poverty and inequalities, Mbeki, as a result of recent surveys, is very optimistic and hopeful that the economic policies are taking the country in the right direction. Unfortunately, reality on the ground paints a very gloomy picture.
As widely expected, economic growth and government's 'Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative' (ASGISA), featured prominently. This, and other government's neo-liberal initiatives, have seen South Africa's ruling politicians, 'prostituting' themselves to the financially well endowed corporations and the markets that they control in an attempt to attract the much craved foreign investment, with dire consequences for the masses.
ASGISA sees increased exports as fundamental for economic growth and the projected six percent annual growth rate in the next few years. However, in recent years, the country has managed to drastically increase its exports, but this has come at a heavy price for the working class. While output growth has increased, employment growth has declined in major sectors, such as manufacturing, business services, agriculture and mining.
As the Cape Town based Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) points out, export oriented growth also means increased competition which, in many instances, has meant cost reduction which leads to unsafe working conditions, retrenchments and cutting of working hours and wages.
At the expense of the poor, the ANC government has put too much reliance on the private sector. The problem with this however, is that the private sector's primary aim is to increase profitability. Private companies are not accountable to anyone but shareholders. South Africa, with its heavy apartheid induced services backlog, cannot afford this situation.
Upcoming celebrations on June 16 and August 09 marking the 30th anniversary of the Soweto youth uprising and the 50th anniversary of the women's march to the Union buildings, respectively, mean very little for the majority of women and youth who, as a result of government's policies, are confronted with extreme poverty on a daily basis.
It is estimated that 70% of the unemployed are young people. Most have never worked in their life. Only about 14% of those graduating from tertiary institutions, each year find secure employment in the formal economy. Yet, none of our so-called 'experts' see the connection between this hopeless situation and youth involvement in crime, survival sex, substance abuse, etc.
Instead, in true South African-style, the government plans to deal with the symptoms and not the causes. Mbeki mentioned a plan to improve resource allocation within the justice systerm to ensure that "crime does not pay". The fact that a large majority of those overcrowding our prisons are arrested for what most sociologists view as "poverty related" crimes is immaterial.
Because of government's strict fiscal discipline, and Mbeki and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's AIDS denial, the life saving anti retroviral drugs are only available to a fraction of infected persons - mostly women and youth - at government hospitals. Only about a hundred thousand of about six million HIV/AIDS patients are on anti retroviral medicine at public institutions.
Is it therefore not an insult and insensitive for Mbeki to suggest that we should be proud of this horrific situation?
Opposition parties, who have, in the backdrop of electioneering for the March 01 local government elections, portrayed themselves as an 'alternative' to the ANC, whilst having raised a few minor misgivings about Mbeki's speech, are in full agreement with the overall anti-poor capitalist agenda.
The failure to acknowledge that it is the top down capitalist policies of the ruling party that breed corruption and poverty, give the lie to their claims.
Certainly, there is an urgent need to conduct an intensive nationwide debate of government's economic policies that have rendered freedom and democracy enigmatic for many South Africans.
Is it not the right time then to demand an end to privatisation and outsourcing? Was the struggle against apartheid also not about decent and secure jobs? With more than eight million of the economically active population unemployed, should we not be demanding urgent steps to curb the unemployment virus?
An erosion of soul
Saman Yazdani Khan
Reading the article by Mona Prince, titled "Witness to an erosion of soul: An Egyptian woman travels to the US", was a sad yet enriching experience.
She has been brave enough to raise her voice against injustice against strong odds and kudos to her for doing that. By doing so she has further highlighted the point that fighting for justice and human rights is a global phenomena.
If US society has eroded so much that it denies its citizens the basic rights enshrined in its own constitution, then it is merely behaving just like any other dictatorial or repressive regime. It is showing its ugly side to the world now and therefore the US cannot any longer lay claim to being the champion of freedom of the individual and take a high moral ground over other nations. It has sunk too low for that.
Despite its hype about democracy and human freedom, it has exhibited that it has a soul which is no different from the many nations on this globe that regularly victimize civil society for their own petty vested gains. Now it is left to the people of this world who truly believe in justice and human rights to carry that responsibility and continue with the struggle for human justice. One such person is Mona, and I hope many find the courage to follow her example.
Can trade in an era of globalisation be just?
Good discussion. Africans need jobs so that they can get money to buy the stuff they want and free trade but not subsidized commodity imports in the form cotton, rice, and etc (paid by US taxpayers.) I believe "private capital" is better at generating jobs. Government capital creates either low productivity and or jobs for party people, Stalin's government built an ok armaments industry. Come to think of it the American economy is good at this too. Indeed this country is departing from capitalism as it is supposed to be in favor of economic hit men economics.
On BBC I heard about about a new cement plant in Southern India where there is extremely high unemployment. Construction cost: hundreds of millions, new jobs: 400!
Everywhere people are induced to leave poor but relatively stable villages and subsistence, no money, farming to try to find work and money in cities and industrial towns. They often find more and maybe worse poverty. Here in the Americas we refer to these as Maquiladoras. A byproduct of globalisation seems to be one of spreading poverty into new areas. But this outcome need not be inevitable.
I don't believe that African governments are sufficiently attentive as to what they could be doing to stimulate an emerging African market...now less talked about than a couple of years ago. Governments could strongly urge (not compel) natural resources extractors (oil drillers gold miners etc) to reinvest some of their returns from African and South American natural resources into the economies of origin, new factories, services, shopping centers. Thus stockholders would get more bang for their bucks; returns on extracting operations and on new investments in growing economies.
Unions have a critical role to play. Worker safety and child labour are big issues. I know a young man who begs in Accra who at age 7 or 8 had his arm torn off by a corn grinding machine. After a couple of years in hospital he did complete primary school. However I am also aware of an Asian company that imports soap flakes to Ghana for repackaging and local marketing. The production target on their Ghana packaging line during an 8 hour shift is 45 crates vs 165 in Asia. As a casual visitor I did not think that this was any "sweat shop". They could have been doing better while not crossing that line. And then there was the bankruptcy of Volta Garments which hired 600 workers and could not exceed making seven shirts per day versus 20-22 in Asia. Probably a lot of blame for these shortfalls has to laid on the involvement of certain unions.
And Oh! Thank God for Pambazuka News.
Can trade in an era of globalisation be just? (2)
The author barely mentions corruption which is again in the news with Kenya's watchdog fleeing the country. There are 2.9 million references on Google for 'Kenya corruption' and about half that for 'Kenya transparency.'
I think wealthy countries' perceptions about corruption in Africa are big factors in aid policies. So much assistance is crisis management instead of community development. With the H5N1 virus found in Kaduna state Nigeria, let's see how Nigerian and outside experts handle this latest health crisis. Uganda did pretty well with Ebola six years ago, but that's a very different kind of disease.
Around the blogosphere: Building bridges community style
Over the past year, the number of Africans blogging has grown. However, women bloggers are still a minority in most country blogospheres except for Kenya were there is almost a 50/50 split between men and women. To try and redress this, two Nigerian women bloggers (Oreoluwa Somolu of Ore’s Notes - http://orenotes.blogspot.com/) and Sokari Ekine of Black Looks - http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks) initiated a blog mentoring project to encourage more Nigerian women to blog. Initially the project there will be a pilot project in Lagos, Nigeria which will consist of 15 participants and 20-30 mentors and will run for 6 months. For more information and if you are interested in mentoring on the project contact sokari(at)fahamu.org
Rwandan Survivors - Rwandan Survivors (http://rwandansurvivors.blogspot.com/2006/02/survivors-this-posting-was-sent-to-me.html) publishes a moving statement by a 26 year old genocide “survivor” on her/his own suffering. S/he questions the use of the term “Survivor”.
“You are called genocide survivor but actually you are not! You just try to move along with others without any basis just like a shoot trying to grow up without roots.”
S/he goes on to urge the international community to stop debating on whether genocide is taking place or not in Darfur and Act:
“The policy of the international community is ‘No interest, no emergency’. They left people dying during the genocide then came back after to clean the bloody place with their nutritional and medical assistance to the injured survivors…Why should people waste time arguing on either if it is genocide or not in Darfur? Any second wasted results in a waste of lives.”
This is Zimbabwe (Sokwanele)- This is Zimbabwe (http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/352) considers whether the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) of Zimbabwe is involved with the infighting amongst the opposition party, MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). There are two main conspiracy theories. The first accuses the vice president of the MDC of conniving with South African President Mbeki to undermine MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The second theory is that Tsvangirai colluded with ZANU PF and betrayed the MDC by pulling out of the Senate elections in exchange for a “reward”.
Sokwanele however poses a third theory which they explain in detail:
“The view we put forward here is that both sides in the intense leadership struggle are thereby playing right into the hands of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) which not only benefits from the resulting division and confusion but actually planned it that way. And the meticulous planning began many years ago”
They conclude by calling on Zimbabweans to end the “personality cult” and stop following leaders who have proved themselves flawed.
Grandiose Parlor - Grandiose Parlor (http://grandioseparlor.blogspot.com/2006/02/bridge-in-60-days.html ) reports on a a bridge that was built in 60 days in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria.
The bridge was built by a retired engineer and the men and women of the Ozubulu village and was financed by the Worldwide Organisation of Women. Discussing his experience, the engineer, Dr Strong writes:
“For many reasons this has been a very good project to show how the people themselves can get up and do for themselves when it is obvious the government will not or can not do what they wish for a better life. Here is a marvellous bridge birthed in a jungle across a muddy river and swamp. Just as easy it could have been a school, a clinic, a library, a community palm oil processing plant, a cassava starch extraction plant, a maze of fish raising ponds, a complex of chicken houses.”
Just imagine if this was replicated across the country and across the continent?
Rantings of a Sandmonkey - Rantings of a Sandmonkey (http://egyptiansandmonkey.blogspot.com/2006/02/5-sightings-2-realizations.html) reminds us that cartoons are still very much a part of the Middle Eastern blogosphere conversations. He publishes a list of things he saw in down town Cairo for example.
“A big banner that informs the Muslim population that Denmark - all of it apparently - are going to burn the Koran - yet again - this Wednesday, and in retaliation we all should fast on Friday and then pray to god against them when we break the fast. (Not kidding!)”
And so it goes on.
AfroHomo - AfroHomo (http://afrohomo.blogspot.com/2006/02/afrohomo-memories-004-fear.html) continues his memoirs of growing up gay in Nigeria:
“In my nightmare, I am walking down a Lagos street and street hoodlums attack me with sticks and blows. Finally, they put a tire around me, douse me with gasoline and set me on fire. My mum runs towards me in tears, too late to save me from the flames…
My nightmare is not a fantasy. About three years ago, I woke up in my dorm room (during the year I spent at a Nigerian university) to screams of pain. A guy was getting severely beat-up and dorm rooms were emptying out - everyone wanted to see the show. I stood watching the beating for a while, in that horror-fascination state of mind. I stood watching until I asked one of my friends: ‘What did he do?’"
He concludes that at least he is lucky as many of his friends are probably still “walking Lagos streets, conforming on the outside but bearing dangerous secrets”. Being gay in Africa is a living torture and as he explains:
“I can't be happy as long as gay Africans live under dangly swords. Increasingly, I see GLBT activism as my life's calling. Maybe that's why god has blessed me - to fight for gay Africans that may not be able to fight for themselves. It's a scary path to tread but…”
Chippla - Chippla (http://chippla.blogspot.com/2006/02/talibanization-of-northern-nigeria.html) writes on the Tablinisation of Northern Nigeria. Kano, once a bustling cosmopolitan city, is now regressing “thanks to in no small part to Islamic religious fundamentalism” and the introduction of Sharia law:
“The federal government of Nigeria is now accusing the Kano State government of ‘seeking foreign funding to train an Islamic militia’, according to reports from the Nigerian Guardian (not archived). The Nigerian Minister of Information is reported as saying that the Kano State government is trying to turn the Hisbah into a parallel police force.”
Chippla agrees that Islam, like other religions, has a role to play in the country, but points to ”the danger of politicians hijacking religious teachings and dogma for selfish use.”
* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks, http://okrasoup.typepad.com/black_looks
* Please send comments to [email protected]
Africa: Towards More Democracy?
Henning Melber assesses the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its associated African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in relation to African leadership. While warning against praising premature trends and noting some setbacks, he maintains that there has been a greater willingness of leaders to step aside – an improvement from the “generation of despots heading cleptocratic regimes that used to be the order of the day in many more countries”.
Cote d’Ivoire: African Union team to visit soon
The current African Union (AU) chairman, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, revealed here Saturday (February 11) that the continental body will soon initiate fresh moves to find a solution to the Ivorian crisis. Sassou Nguesso made the announcement in Brazzaville three days after the AU brokered a peace agreement between Chad and Sudan. N`djamena had accused Khartoum of assisting armed dissidents who have attacked several government targets in eastern Chad.
Ethiopia: Scholar network slams AU silence
Statement by the Network of Ethiopian Scholars (NES) on the situation in Ethiopia
"The AU can and should speak out. Not to utter even a whisper is indeed a tragedy for Africa as Africa cannot afford to wait another half century to bring democracy because of a number of its brutish and self-serving rulers that are not willing to hold Africa’s interest at heart. Have not the AU heard that the EU Parliament has voted denouncing the atrocities committed by the Meles regime?"
Sudan: Increase funding for African Union’s mission during transition
In his meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday (February 13), President George W. Bush should pledge that the United States will provide necessary support so that the proposed UN mission in Darfur has both the mandate and capacity needed to protect the civilian population, Human Rights Watch said today (February 10). Human Rights Watch also called on the United States to back full financial, material and logistical support for the current African Union Mission in Sudan forces through the UN transition period, which could last nine months.
Africa: Feminist dialogues at Bamako WSF
The Association of Women in Development (AWID) interviewed Roselynn Musa, of FEMNET, about her experiences at the World Social Forum, held late January in Bamako, Mali. "As regards global issues there was some stock-taking on certain themes which were central to the World Social Forum that was held at Porto Alegre in 2004. These themes were neo-liberal globalisation, the future of women's bodies, conflict and militarism, women and peace, fundamentalisms combating gender equality and the exclusion of women from decision-making organs."
Global: 50th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold its 50th session from 27 February to 10 March 2006 at UN headquarters in New York. The Commission will focus on two thematic issues: Enhanced participation of women in development: an enabling environment for achieving gender equality and the advancement of women, taking into account, inter alia, the fields of education, health and work; and Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels. This will fit with the theme of International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8th, of "Women in decision-making: meeting challenges, creating change."
Global: Do women feature in the news?
Women constitute 52 per cent of the world’s population yet make up only 21 per cent of people featured in the news. Women are most underrepresented in radio where they are only 17 per cent of news subjects compared with 22 per cent on television and 21 per cent in newspapers. This was revealed in global research on gender issues in the news media conducted by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).
Kenya: Male sexuality in the context of socio-economic change
This paper argues that HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns have missed the point by concentrating on women's empowerment and women's ability to negotiate safer sex. Instead it asks to what extent disempowered men in East Africa are motivated for responsible sexual behaviour and HIV/AIDS prevention. Drawing on research in rural and urban East Africa, the paper discusses how socio-economic change has limited men's access to income-earning opportunities, leaving many men unable to fulfil the social roles of breadwinner and household head.
Liberia: UNIFEM pledges $500,000 to support gender ministry
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) presented its congratulations to Liberia's new President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, at her official inauguration ceremony in Monrovia on 16 January 2006, pledging US$500,000 to support the Ministry of Gender and Development, and women's organizations to promote gender equality and peace in the country. "UNIFEM is proud to have supported the Ministry of Gender and development, and women's organizing throughout Liberia to reach this truly historic achievement," said Noeleen Heyzer, UNIFEM's executive director, who attended the inauguration.
South Africa: Justice delayed is justice denied
POWA press statement
"People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) is disappointed but not surprised by today’s (February 14) postponement of the rape trial involving former deputy president Jacob Zuma. Applying for recusals of judges and postponements are common delay tactics employed by defence teams during rape trials. POWA is cognisant of the fact that the State did not oppose the application for a postponement and hopes that this postponement serves the interests of the state’s case. From POWA’s experience in dealing with other rape cases, we know that delays to the court process often have a negative impact on survivors’ emotional well-being. Some survivors will interpret the postponements and delays as a sign of the criminal justice system favouring the accused."
* Related Link:
South Africa: Zuma rape case in High Court
Zimbabwe: Arrest of members of WOZA and their legal practitoner
On the 13th of February 2006 officers of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) in Bulawayo arrested and detained about 181 ladies peacefully marching during a demonstration organised by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), a civic organisation in Zimbabwe. On the 14th of February 2006, members of the ZRP in Harare again arrested about 252 ladies marching during a peaceful demonstration also organised by WOZA. Outside the Anglican Church at the corner of 2nd Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue, Harare, members of the ZRP assaulted, harassed, and then proceeded to detain a legal practitioner, Tafadzwa Mugabe, for about six hours from about 1300hrs to 1930hrs at the Harare Central Police station. Tafadzwa Mugabe was later released without charge. Mr Tafadzwa Mugabe, a pro bono lawyer, had questioned the police officers why they had arrested the peacefully marching ladies on St. Valentine's Day.
African: Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) announced
African awardees include:
* Arnold Tsunga (Zimbabwe) represents victims of human rights abuses and campaigns for greater respect for human rights; he has repeatedly denounced the undemocratic system of justice in Zimbabwe. He has been threatened, detained, and is constantly harassed.
* Golden Misabiko (Democratic Republic of Congo) has denounced human rights violations in his country for the past 20 years. He was tortured in 2001 and had to flee the country in 2002 due to death threats. He returned to the DRC in 2005. Since then he has been detained several times and constantly harassed.
* Jennifer Williams (Zimbabwe), one of the leaders of WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise), continues to organise and lead peaceful protests against the ongoing erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe, in spite of having been arrested and beaten by the police.
Angola: Child trafficking and government denial of collective bargaining
A new ICFTU report on core labour standards in Angola, which coincides with Angola's trade policy review at the WTO, identifies shortcomings in the application and enforcement of core labour standards, in particular with regard to trade union rights and child labour. Although workers have the right to organise and bargain collectively, these rights are denied both in law and practice. Government approval is needed to form trade unions and to carry out many union activities. Civil liberties remain scarce, even today, several years after the end of the civil war.
Congo: Harmonise national laws with international treaties, NGOs urge
The government must harmonise its national laws with the various international treaties it has ratified to better protect its citizens' rights, human rights NGOs in the Republic of Congo have said. "It is important that the government makes an effort to guarantee and make directly applicable the various human rights laws and instruments," Roger Bouka-Owoko, the head of the committee that organised a conference on rights issues, said in a statement.
Global: Gay and lesbian NGOs denied recommendation for consultative status
On January 23rd the UN Committee on Non-governmental Organizations decided not to recommend consultative status with ECOSOC for International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians. The decision was criticized by the representative of Germany, who named it an act of discrimination and stressed that it was a signal sent to the world that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was acceptable. The Danish representative talking in support of Danish NGO emphasized that it worked in a professional manner and produced valuable work. Voices against recommending both NGOs for consultative status came from: Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, US, and Zimbabwe. Voices in favor came from: Chile, France, Germany, Peru and Romania. Colombia, India and Turkey abstained. Cote d'Ivoire was absent.
Guinea-Bissau: Trade unions being harassed
The trade union movement in Guinea-Bissau is having a tough time. The unions are apparently being subjected to systematic harassment. The ICFTU was concerned to learn of the repressive measures by the management of the national Water and Electricity Company (Electricidades e Águas, EAGB) against the leaders of the local trade union at the company. According to the União Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Guiné (UNTG), the ICFTU's affiliated organisation of which the EAGB is a member, the company's management suspended all the leaders of the local union following a legal strike called by the UNTG from 7 to 9 February. A statement by the UNTG to the Attorney-General, Dr. Octavio Alves, stresses the illegal and arbitrary nature of that decision.
Malawi: Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation deplores dismissal of VP
"The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) wishes to express its alarm and extreme concern over the action taken by President Bingu wa Mutharika in dismissing Dr. Cassim Chilumpha from the position of Vice President of the Republic. We consider the action to be not only unfortunate but also ill-timed and ill-advised. CHRR considers the action by government to be ill-timed because, after many months of acrimonious exchanges between the two senior-most members of government, they had appeared to have finally begun to heed the widespread appeals for the President and his deputy to try sorting out their differences through amicable means."
Niger: Court of Appeal orders the reinstatement of an unfairly dismissed union leader
The ICFTU and the WCL welcomed the news on 7 February of the positive verdict in the dispute between Diamyo El Hadj Yacouba, General Secretary of the energy workers' union (Syndicat des Travailleurs de l'Energie du Niger) and representative of the CNT (Confédération nationale des travailleurs) on the National Commission on Human Rights and Labour Standards, and his employer, the company NIGELEC. If the company respects the decision of the Appeals Court, the union leader will be reinstated and will receive back pay, bonuses and benefits dating back to the time of his dismissal.
South Africa: Sexual minorities face uphill battle claiming their rights
Too often when we talk about gender-based violence there is a deafening silence about attacks on lesbian, gay and transgender people. This is because of what their sexual orientation and/or gender identity may represent. For many, living out one’s sexual orientation if it is not heterosexual, is still not viewed as a right. Argued under the pretext of culture, religion or morality, the ill-treatment of lesbian and gay people is tacitly accepted in South African society. Hetero-sexism ensures the continued exclusion of those whose very existence challenges dominant forms of gender relations in a patriarchal context.
Sudan: Students beaten and detained
Amnesty International has learned that on Saturday, 11 February 2006, at approximately 12.00 pm, armed police and security forces arrived in 15 cars at Juba University in Bahri, Khartoum at the request of university officials. Without warning, they began beating, with batons, a group of students that were gathered peacefully in front of the Administration building. According to a credible source, the detainees have been taken to unofficial National Security detention sites known as "ghost houses", where they have been tortured. The detainees have reportedly also been deprived of food and denied access to legal counsel and their families.
Zimbabwe: Exploring transitional justice options
One of the greatest challenges in the aftermath of any violent conflict is the issue of accountability for serious human rights violations, begins this report from the Zimbabwe NGO Human Rights Forum. "Although impunity continues to characterise many post-conflict situations, since the end of World War 2 there has been perceptible progress in efforts towards securing justice and accountability and in undertakings to build polities based on fundamental rights and freedoms and respect for the rule of law." The report says that "policies of amnesia and avoidance" are on the wane while the trend to do nothing is becoming increasingly unpopular. Write to [email protected] for a copy of the report.
Africa: IGAD ministers to discuss refugees, IDP challenges
Ministers responsible for refugee affairs in Member States of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) are due to meet in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20-21 February 2006 to discuss problems of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in the region. The region has generated a total of 1.3 million refugees, a large portion of whom (695,000) are hosted in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti, Central African Republic and Egypt. The conference will also review the humanitarian crises confronted by the region, share experiences and come up with a regional plan of action to respond to challenges in protection and assistance for persons affected by displacement.
Algeria: Torrential rains leave 50,000 refugees homeless, UN refugee agency
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said it is mounting an emergency operation to assist around 50,000 refugees in Algeria, after their homes and shelters in three refugee camps were washed away by torrential rains. In a statement from Algeria, UNHCR said it was planning an airlift of around 12,000 tents, 7,000 kitchen sets, 60,000 blankets and other living essentials to the camps, which house Sahrawi refugees who fled Western Sahara in 1975.
Egypt: Remaining Sudanese detainees released in Cairo on Sunday
The last group of Sudanese remaining in detention after a protest in a Cairo park was broken up in late December, were released on Saturday by the Egyptian authorities with a promise not to deport them. After extensive interviews by UNHCR in the detention facilities, the 156 Sudanese just released were determined not to be refugees in need of international protection. However, UNHCR requested that their cases be treated on humanitarian grounds and asked that they be released and not deported.
Global/Africa: Strengthening protection of Internally Displaced Persons, the UN's role
The current period of UN reform offers an opportune time to strengthen the international response to situations of internal displacement and develop a more reliable and predictable international system to protect people uprooted in their own countries. This article calls for reinforcement of the legal framework for the protection of IDPs; the enlargement of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to encompass IDPs; robust international protection measures — including expanded international police and military capacity; and more attention to political solutions to resolve the conflicts at the heart of displacement.
Liberia: Future of returning IDPs is at critical juncture
Following Liberia’s credible elections in October 2005 there may at last be real cause for optimism for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by fourteen years of civil war. While the new government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been taking the first steps towards economic and security sector reform, IDPs and refugees have been continuing to return home in large numbers. In January 2006 the UN reported that less than 50,000 registered IDPs remained in camps – with some 270,000 already assisted to return to their home areas – and that facilitated IDP return was expected to be completed in April 2006.
Somalia: International help needed to stop people-smuggling across Gulf of Aden
Bossaso is not only the chief commercial port of Puntland, a self-declared autonomous area in north-east Somalia, but also one of the world's busiest smuggling hubs. Guns, cigarettes and drugs come in; people go out. For at least three years, thousands of Somalis, and increasingly, Ethiopians, have set off from the coastline in tiny open fishing boats hoping to reach Yemen. From there many hope to move on to work illegally in Saudi Arabia, which looms large in the local imagination as a land of riches.
Southern Africa: Regional meeting recommends action on IDPs
Of the estimated 25 million people worldwide who are uprooted in their own countries by violence and persecution, over half are in Africa. Some 2.9 million of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) are found in countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The highest numbers are in the DRC and Zimbabwe, where IDPs are in critical need of humanitarian assistance and protection. In addition, a sizeable IDP population still persists in Angola years after the end of conflict. Moreover, displacement continues to occur in a number of other SADC countries as a result of natural disasters and other causes.
Cape Verde: Incumbent president claims election victory
Cape Verde’s incumbent President Pedro Pires on Monday (February 13) claimed victory in his campaign to win re-election as head of state of the cluster of 10 islands and five islets off the West African coast that are home to less than half a million people. Voting took place in the former Portuguese colony on Sunday and preliminary results on Monday gave the incumbent president a narrow lead of 51.1 percent of the vote. In a victory speech, Pires promised to fulfil campaign commitments, including a pledge to tackle poverty and unemployment.
Somalia: Parliament will meet in Baidoa, confirms president
Somalia’s top leaders have confirmed that the country’s transitional parliament will hold its first joint meeting on Somali soil in the south-central town of Baidoa, 240 km southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, on 26 February. Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed told reporters on Monday (February 13) that he had agreed with Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi and parliamentary speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden that the parliament would meet as planned.
Swaziland: New constitution unclear on political parties
Swaziland's long-awaited new constitution came into effect on Wednesday (February 8), but analysts and political parties said it remained vague on the key issue of legalising political parties. "The constitution seems deliberately ambiguous on the issue - it could be read as an attempt to undermine any move to allow democracy to take root in the absolute monarchy," said Thabele Matlosa, director of research at the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.
Uganda: Elections unlikely to be free or fair
Uganda's first multiparty elections in two decades, scheduled for 23 February, are unlikely to be free and fair due to state intimidation of the opposition and voters, according to a leading human rights group. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report entitled "In Hope and Fear: Uganda’s Presidential and Parliamentary Polls", said the run-up to the polls had "been marred by intimidation of the opposition, military interference in the courts and bias in campaign funding and media coverage."
Uganda: Personal attacks obscure real issues as campaigns come to a close
Personal attacks among election candidates have relegated bread-and-butter issues to the backseat days before Ugandans vote in the country's first multiparty election in 26 years. With 38 per cent of the population living in abject poverty, 1.6 million people displaced from their homes by the war in the north of the country, biting unemployment in the urban areas, industries bleeding over power blackouts and international concerns over democracy and the rule of law, there are enough issues to define the February 23 Ugandan election.
Uganda: Three killed at campaign rally
Three people were killed and several others injured when a soldier opened fire into a crowd that was waiting for opposition leader Kizza Besigye at Bulange, Mengo. Police confirmed two people were killed and four injured, but eyewitnesses said a third person had died on the way to hospital.
Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai loses election appeal as opposition woes mount
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), already wracked by internal division, is finding itself more isolated in the region and at home. "I think opposition politics is going into a hiatus now, it will be a very dark and slow period in terms of opposition politics. I think civic movements are also in the process of reorganising right now, they are very much pushed on the defensive. On the whole, even though Mugabe has problems internationally, at home the opposition presents him with few difficulties," analyst Brian Raftopoulos concluded.
Global: GAP releases internal World Bank whistleblower analysis
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has released the "Vaughn Report," commissioned by the World Bank as a blueprint to modernize its inadequate whistleblower protection policies. The recommendations of noted whistleblower law scholar Robert Vaughn of American University Law School incorporate "best practices" that were already adopted by the United Nations, approved by the Organization of American States to implement its Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, and enacted last fall as U.S. policy to strengthen anti-corruption efforts at all multilateral development banks (MDBs).
Kenya: Civil Society mass action to kick off
The planned street demonstrations by the civil society to force President Kibaki to act on grand corruption kick off this week. The Name and Shame Corruption Network (Nascon), the umbrella organisation of the 76 groups, announced on Sunday that it had completed plans for the mass action.
Kenya: Ministers quit over corruption allegations
Ministers Kiraitu Murungi and George Saitoti are finally out of the Kenyan Cabinet following unrelenting pressure on President Kibaki to sack ministers implicated in corruption. Kibaki announced in a live television address to the nation that he had accepted the resignations of the two to pave way for investigations into the 16-year-old Goldenberg scandal and the Anglo Leasing affair whose details are still emerging.
* Related Link:
Kenya: Report on graft scandal made public
Lesotho: Water boss charged
The former top Lesotho official on the Highlands Water Commission, now an influential adviser on water matters with The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, has been charged with bribery involving over R1-million. This is the latest in a series of bribery and corruption trials connected to lucrative contracts around the Lesotho Highlands water scheme and the building of the Katse Dam.
Nigeria: Fraud Agency tackles fake anti-corruption officials
Nigeria's anti-corruption commission announced a crackdown Monday on conmen who have scammed hundreds of thousands of dollars by impersonating the agency's own officials. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said alleged fraudsters are already on trial in four cities for pretending to be anti-graft investigators and soliciting bribes to kill nonexistent cases.
South Africa: Court orders return of Zuma documents
The Durban High Court on Wednesday ordered the Scorpions to return certain documents seized from former deputy president Jacob Zuma and his lawyer, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio news reported. The documents were seized during raids on Zuma's homes in Johannesburg and his KwaZulu-Natal homestead, and the Durban office of his lawyer, Michael Hulley, in August 2005. They relate to the investigation into Zuma's "generally corrupt" relationship with Durban businessman Schabir Shaik.
South Africa: Threats made to shack dwellers
Two weeks ago at the Joe Slovo informal settlement, bulldozers came in and destroyed the house of an outspoken member of the community. He had invited a journalist to the settlement to talk about corruption in the housing allocation process at Joe Slovo, accusing the local community leader of giving preferential treatment to family members, and of excluding Xhosa residents from new housing.
Africa/Global: Are Donor Countries Giving More or Less Aid?
The volume of foreign aid has increased during the last four decades, albeit with interruptions in certain years. Over time, the major recipients have changed: while the share of aid to Asia has diminished since the 1980s, that destined for sub-Saharan Africa has grown. There is some evidence that, since the late 1990s, debt relief has assumed a larger share of the increased aid flows to sub-Saharan Africa. The share of technical cooperation—a component of aid that is viewed as being driven by donors—has risen.
Africa: A No-Trust Fund for Africa
Civil society groups say European Union plans to launch a trust fund to disburse aid to Africa independently of the World Bank will contribute little to eradication of poverty. The European Commission, the European Union (EU) executive, launched its plan Thursday (February 9) to fund development in Africa through the European Investment Bank (EIB), the soft lending arm of the EU. The fund, which should be operational by June, will mainly provide subsidised low-interest loans to finance water, energy, transport and telecoms infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on cross-border projects.
Africa: Russia 'may cancel African debt'
Russia may soon write off debts owed to it by 16 of the world's poorest countries, its finance minister has been reported as saying. Moscow would be willing to cancel about $688m (£394m) in bilateral debt, Russian news agency RIA-Novosti quoted Alexei Kudrin as saying. The agreement could encompass a number of African countries including Benin, Tanzania and Zambia.
Nigeria's oil hope and despair
The west African state of Nigeria is the continent's biggest oil exporter. But despite its huge energy reserves and potential wealth, millions of people live in extreme poverty. For 50 years oil has been pumped from beneath the creeks, swamps and forests of the Delta.It has earned the Nigerian government billions of pounds. Yet the communities in the Delta say they continue to live in poverty.
Nigeria: Why the UK should return Nigeria’s £1.7 billion to fight poverty
Nigeria, one of the poorest countries in the world, is in the process of giving a huge sum of money to the richest countries. UK organisations which are members of the Jubilee Debt Campaign are urging the UK government to return its share of this money to Nigeria to fight poverty. "80 to 90 million Nigerians live in poverty; only India and China have more poor. Whether Africa attains the Millennium Development Goals depends on Nigeria… Donor and creditor support is critical to maintain the momentum of reform."
South Africa: Protest against the WTO's Lamy
The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Pascal Lamy, came to Wits University at the invitation of the South African Institute for International Affairs. He was greeted by protestors inside the venue who were forcibly removed to join the picket of the event outside. The protestors continued to dog Lamy at his next engagement at the Nedlac chamber in Rosebank.
Africa: Children affected by HIV/AIDS neglected, UNAIDS says
Children affected by HIV/AIDS do not receive enough care and support, UNAIDS said last Thursday ahead of the third Global Partners' Forum in London, Reuters reports. The forum, hosted by UNICEF and the UK Department for International Development, is bringing together advocates from 50 countries and 90 international organizations to address ways to improve policies that support children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Great Lakes: Health experts plan ways of countering epidemics
Medical experts from Africa's Great Lakes region are meeting in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, to plan ways of countering epidemics in the region. Outbreaks of malaria, cholera, meningitis, dysentery and, lately, the avian influenza are some of the epidemics under discussion in the four-day workshop that began on Monday. Experts representing Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania are in attendance.
Nigeria: Poultry workers too afraid to take tests
Frightened poultry workers on Monday shunned medical examinations for bird flu in northern Nigeria, where the presence of the deadly H5N1 virus which can affect humans was reported last week. Only about 20 of the estimated 160 employees of Sambawa Farms in Jaji, Kaduna State, turned up for a medical screening conducted at a nearby clinic by a joint team of federal and state health officials. Workers told IRIN that many of their colleagues stayed away because they were frightened of being detained by authorities if tested positive.
South Africa: More nurses as colleges re-opened
In a move to address the critical shortage of nurses, several nursing colleges will be re-opened, Health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has announced. She said that her department had been contemplating the move, but that they had waited for the go-ahead from President Thabo Mbeki in his state of the nation address. “We have got to train as many nurses as possible. Even if we train too many and some leave,” said Tshabalala-Msimang at a media briefing in parliament.
Southern Africa: Armed forces to tackle impact of HIV/AIDS
The impact of AIDS on the military has been a topic African armed forces have preferred to keep under wraps, concerned with issues of national security. But in a step towards greater openness, military and civilian experts from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) gathered last week in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, as part of an advisory group to discuss a regional response to AIDS in the defence sector.
Sudan: Fifteen die of suspected meningitis in six states
More than 100 cases of suspected meningitis, including 15 fatalities, have been recorded in six Sudanese states since early January, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has reported. The agency said at least 136 cases had been reported in the states of Khartoum, Blue Nile, Kassala, Sennar, West Darfur and Gederef.
Tanzania: Free HIV tests bring dramatic results in Tanzania
Eliminating even modest fees for HIV testing can greatly increase the number of those tested in Tanzania and thereby enhance Aids-prevention efforts, US researchers have said. In a two-week pilot programme, the daily average of people tested for HIV at a clinic in Moshi jumped from four to 15 when the standard test fee of Tsh1,000 ($0.95) was waived, according to a study by Duke University Medical Centre.
Global: Education for All data available
Extensive data on Education for All is now easily accessible with the new search tool on the Global Monitoring Report website. This tool, developed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in partnership with the EFA Global Monitoring Report team, is based on the data contained in the 2006 statistical annex tables. It enables you to search by table, theme, indicator, country and region, and to export results into an Excel format.
Mozambique: New measures needed to tackle education crisis
Despite years of interventions designed to turn around Mozambique's historically poor education system, the 2006 school year has kicked off to a dismal start, sparking debate about proposed plans to solve the countries chronic teacher shortages. According to Naima Saú, Deputy Director of Teacher Training at the Ministry of Education, teacher-pupil ratios were a major cause for concern: "on average, there are 50 pupils in each class, and some teachers even have as many as 70 pupils in a class".
Rwanda: Pregnancies/STIs reduce as university accommodates females
The decision to increase female accommodation inside the campus at the National University of Rwanda has reduced the risk of contracting HIV/Aids and having unwanted pregnancies. This was observed by the President of University Women Student Association (UWSA), Judith Kazaire. Recently the university's administrative council gave a directive to have one new hostel reserved for female students joining the university.
South Africa: Turning schools into centers of care and support
Fourteen year old Lindiwe – not her real name – became very withdrawn. Initially her teacher suspected that she had had a squabble with her friend but when she sank deeper into a depression, the teacher became very concerned. A home visit by a parent, who serves on the Care and Support committee of her school revealed that not only had Lindiwe lost both parents within one year but she had been abused by her caregiver, who seemed to be more interested in her child care grant than caring for Lindiwe. As a result of this information the committee could intervene and they placed the teenager with another family, while they also reporting the caregiver to the police, who are now investigating her.
South Africa: University strikes against corporatisation
Students, workers, shack dwellers and academics at South Africa's largest teaching university, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), are now in their 5th day of a militant strike against corporatisation. Thousands have marched under the banners of education for all, decent working conditions and academic freedom. One of the university's five campuses is under heavily armed police occupation and serious clashes between police and strikers look increasingly likely.
Africa: Brazil's Lula includes Blacks on foreign and domestic agendas
The closer ties that are being forged between Brazil and the African continent is a positive development, in terms of both foreign policy and the effects on the fight against discrimination suffered by black Brazilians, Geraldo Rocha, director of the Centre for the Mobilisation of Marginalised Populations (CEAP), told IPS. The Lula administration "is on the right path," despite difficulties and shortcomings, in its attempts to overcome the discrimination that blacks have always suffered in Brazil, a country marked by extreme social and economic inequality, said Rocha.
Africa: Croatia's PM slams racist abuse
The racist abuse of African and South American players featuring in Croatia's league has been condemned by the country's prime Minister. “We are living in a century in which tolerance should be cultivated. We have to stop racist acts," Ivo Sanader told the Sportske Novosti newspaper. Cameroonian Mathias Chago and Brazilians Eduardo da Silva and Oeliton Araujo dos Santos Etto, who play for Dinamo Zagreb, were taunted with monkey chants during Sunday's match against arch-rivals Hadjuk Split. Sportske Novosti condemned the "shameful eruption of racism" during the match, which was also interrupted on several occasions when flares were thrown onto the pitch.
Africa: Multinationals looting Africa's diversity
A new report on the transfer of biological resources and traditional knowledge worth billions of dollars from across Africa shows that Kenya is the biggest loser among the three East African countries. Entitled "Out of Africa: Mysteries of Access and Benefit Sharing", it says that Kenya's biological resources have been illegally acquired by giant pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms from the West and a University in Israel in an ongoing international operation that blatantly disregards the provisions of the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
East Africa: Falling water levels spell doom for Lake Victoria
There is growing alarm over the quickly receding water levels of Lake Victoria. A new report accuses Uganda of secretly draining the lake to keep the lights on and fears that it spells an impending environmental and economic disaster to the East Africa region. The US-based International Rivers Network released a study accusing Uganda of secretly draining water from the lake to sustain its electricity grids amidst a regional drought.
Global: Bottled water, a natural resource taxing the world's ecosystem
Bottled water consumption, which has more than doubled globally in the last six years, is a natural resource that is heavily taxing the world's ecosystem, according to a new US study. "Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing, producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy," according to Emily Arnold, author of the study published by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group.
Global: WTO says Europe's GM ban broke trade rules
The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled yesterday (7 February) that the European Union and six of its member states broke trade rules by banning imports of genetically modified (GM) crops and food. The preliminary ruling, which could have significant implications for developing countries, still needs to be confirmed in a final decision next month, and can be appealed. Dulce de Oliveira, a professor of plant biotechnology and fellow of the Brazilian Research Council, says the decision could open the European market to GM products from countries such as Brazil, the world's third biggest producer of GM crops. The verdict came in response to a complaint that Argentina, Canada and the United States made in 2003 against the European Union's ban on GM imports, imposed in 1999, reports SciDev.
Kenya: People and wildlife struggle to share land and water
Elephants, buffaloes and other wild animals drink water on one side of a swamp. On the other, Maasai warriors watch hundreds of cattle graze as the tropical sun sears the parched land of this wildlife sanctuary. Balancing the needs of both sides is becoming more complex, and environmentalists fear the wildlife are gradually losing out. Kenyan officials recently bent stringent conservation regulations to allow cattle into the Amboseli National Park -- the only permanent source of water in the region -- to help the Maasai save their precious livestock from a punishing drought.
Kenya: Transit point for animal trade
Kenya has been singled out as one of the leading transit points for the illegal animal trade destined for Europe and Asia. According to a recent report titled "Ivory Markets of Europe", most of the ivory originates from war-torn countries of sub-Saharan Africa where laws against the killing of wildlife are almost non-existent. The document cites central Africa as one of the sources of ivory that passes through Kenya and other East African countries.
Namibia: Pushing for alternative power sources
Amid a looming energy crunch in Southern Africa, the Namibian government is pulling out all the stops to promote the use of renewable energies like wind and solar power. Namibia is dependant on South Africa for about half of its average daily power consumption of 200 megawatts (MW). South Africa's power utility Eskom announced in 2004 that it would be unable to provide Namibia with a steady supply of electricity in the near future. Eskom's surplus electricity supply capacity is expected to run out by 2007, as power demands in South Africa were expected to increase by 1,200 MW per annum.
Zimbabwe: Floods wash away dam wall
Construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, one of the dams set to provide water to the drought prone Matabeleland region, has been stopped following floods that swept away the dam wall and access roads at the construction site. Large blocks of stones and gravel were washed away after the Gwayi River flooded following torrential rainfall received in most parts of Matabeleland North Province.
Africa: New approaches to land management and security in Africa
Land provides the basis for agriculture and animal husbandry, which are integral features of income generation and food production in Africa. Population growth and land degradation place demands on land resources that can lead to and increase conflict. Traditional land management systems are coming under increasing pressure. Secure access to land is fundamental for food security, income generation and agriculture for poor people throughout Africa. However, increasing demands on available land means that many Africans have insecure access to land. Ownership rights are often weak and insecure, with traditional and customary land rights being rapidly diminished. Land rights are often linked to ethnic identity, economic and political power, and thus are a key issue for many African governments today.
Global: Understanding how housing and land markets work
What are the effects of policy on housing supply? Is the public sector good at producing, owning and financing housing? What impact do land market regulations have on housing affordability? Are arguments about the benefits of market-oriented and private sector approaches valid? These questions are examined in a paper from the World Bank which condenses lessons from recent research. The authors report that while some of the benefits of market approaches have been exaggerated, they are delivering welfare gains for poor people. They suggest that the common view that just establishing effective property rights will necessarily have a widespread developmental impact is exaggerated.
Global: Washington spotlight on Internet firms over China
Internet companies facing hearings before angry US legislators say they cannot on their own resist China's effort to censor the web, according to a report on Business Day's website, as posted on www.journalism.co.za But industry analysts say that even if Washington tried to enforce free-speech standards, it is likely to have little effect.
Kenya: Muslims want ties with Denmark cut
Hundreds of Muslim protesters in Garissa town gave the Government of Kenya a two-week ultimatum to cut diplomatic ties with Denmark. They were protesting the publication by a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. They also asked the Government to close the Danish Embassy in Nairobi. One person died in Nairobi on Friday during similar demonstrations. The protesters asked President Kibaki to recall all diplomatic officials from Denmark and ban imports from the country.
Niger: Journalist remains in preventive detention
The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the continued detention of the managing editor of a private weekly newspaper in Niger on a defamation charge. Ibrahim Manzo, director of L'Autre Observateur, was placed in "preventive detention" on February 2 in the capital, Niamey, local journalists told CPJ. He faces a criminal charge of defaming a local businessman. The prosecutor has asked for a two-month prison sentence and 50,000 CFA franc fine (US$91).
Zambia: Charge against newspaper editor Fred M'membe dismissed
On 14 February 2006, the state dismissed the charge of "defamation of the president" against "The Post" newspaper editor Fred M'membe. M'membe was originally charged in November 2005 and his trial was set to begin on 14 February. However, he was informed by the presiding magistrate, John Ndeketeya, that he was a free man because the state had decided not to proceed with the prosecution.
Zimbabwe: Bail conditions relaxed for Voice of the People executives
On 10 February 2006, a Harare magistrate relaxed the reporting conditions against Voice of the People (VOP) radio board members when they appeared in court for a remand hearing. David Masunda, VOP chairman, his deputy Arnold Tsunga, and board members Lawrence Chibwe, Nhlanhla Ngwenya, and Millie Phiri, all of whom are accused of operating a radio station without a licence in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), are on Z$4 million (approx. US$40) bail each.
Haiti: Preval declared poll winner
Officials in Haiti say they have reached an agreement to declare Rene Preval president, after a vote marred by claims of irregularities. The announcement was made after urgent talks between government and electoral officials, according to the Associated Press news agency. Mr Preval has alleged that "massive fraud" denied him an outright victory in the 7 February poll. The vote triggered massive street protests by Mr Preval's supporters.
Africa: US funding for "anti-terrorism" on the up
As Washington's dependence on African oil intensifies, some analysts predict the region will increasingly play host to confrontations between US forces deployed there and various insurgent groups, predominantly Islamic extremists. Last year, the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI) was allocated just 16 million dollars - pocket change compared to other U.S. military incursions across the globe. But funding for the exercises, described as enhancing regional security and stability, is expected to grow steadily in coming years.
Cote d’Ivoire: UN official meets with authorities after anti-UN violence
The UN’s top humanitarian official Jan Egeland is in war-torn Cote d’Ivoire seeking assurances from authorities that January’s anti-UN violence will not be repeated and that ringleaders of the attacks will be punished. “To those who have carried out criminal behaviour - attacking humanitarians or civilians - we are coming with a message that stimulating violence or attacking has to be punished,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said in the main city Abidjan on Wednesday.
DRC: Security sector reform urgently needed, says Crisis Group
No issue is more important than security sector reform in determining the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s prospects for peace and development, says a new report from the Crisis Group. "Two particular challenges loom large: the security services must be able to maintain order during the national elections scheduled for April 2006 and reduce the country’s staggering mortality rate from the conflict – still well over 30,000 every month. On the military side, far more must be done to create an effective, unified army with a single chain of command, rather than simply demobilising militias and giving ex-combatants payout packages."
DRC: UN Calls for £400m to End Congo's “Forgotten Crisis”
A UN donors' conference in Brussels will call for international donors to provide $681m (£400m) for an "action plan" for the DRC, three times the size of the UN appeal for the DRC in preceding years. More than 1,000 people a day die from violence in the country and since 1998 four million people have fallen victim to conflict, hunger and disease. Last year about 40,000 people a month were forced to flee their homes, most of them women and children. The UN also wants the European Union to provide troops to reinforce the embattled UN peacekeeping force of 16,000 men based in eastern Congo.
Eritrea: World Bank concerned over ongoing border issue
Colin Bruce, the World Bank country director for Eritrea, told Reuters that the decision to pursue the border issue meant that the Horn of Africa country was spending a lot on defence at the expense of other areas. The unresolved border issue with Ethiopia is weighing on Eritrea's economy and casting doubt on its ability to pay its debts, a senior World bank official said on Wednesday. Eritrea blames the international community, and the United Nations, in particular, for not forcing Ethiopia to demarcate the Ethiopian-Eritrean border under the terms of a peace deal to end their 1998-2000 border war which killed 70,000 people.
Nigeria: Helicopter attack launched in the delta
The Nigerian military launched a helicopter gunship attack on targets in the oil-producing Delta state on Wednesday, and militants threatened to shoot down aircraft unless military flights stopped. The attack was the first major military operation in the Niger Delta since a militant group staged a series of attacks against the oil industry, and hours after British Foreign Minister Jack Straw called on the Nigerian government to improve security in the delta.
Rwanda: Rwanda's ordinary killers
This paper examines the question of why so many ordinary Hutu participated in genocidal killing of Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. "I find that mass mobilisation was contingent on the fulfilment of two main conditions. Firstly it required a mindset - the internalisation of a set of historical and ideological beliefs - within the Hutu population. Secondly, it required the commitment of State institutions to the genocidal project. This commitment provided the initial trigger, legitimacy and impunity for civilian participation in an anti-Tutsi programme."
Africa: Handhelds for Health
This publication from SATELLIFE provides an overview of SATELLIFE's experiences using hand-held computers for both information dissemination and data collection and reporting. The document draws heavily on experience with SATELLIFE's largest project, the Uganda Health Information Network (UHIN). This document focuses not only on the technical aspects of setting up a handheld computer project, but discusses organisational issues and promotion of local ownership.
Global: Community-based networks and innovative technologies
Where ICT makes available critical information, financial services, and reduces the maze of bureaucracy, people benefit in terms of reduced time and resources that need to be expended. Where ICT facilitates access to information about new economic opportunities and helps avail of them, small and medium sized enterprises and cooperatives demonstrate interest. But it is not just a question of facilitating economic and social development, community radio and related technologies are, for example, also proving useful in facilitating participation and strengthening the voice of communities.
Uganda: Meeting to consolidate WSIS achievements
WOUGNET in Uganda was one of the organisers of a conference in mid-December, on a post-World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) consolidation for Uganda. Held on December 14, 2005, the conference was co-organised by the Uganda Communication Commission, I-network, Collegium for Development Studies and Uppsala University of Sweden. Overall, the Uganda conference aimed at strengthening what happened at WSIS and finding a concrete way forward to meet the WSIS targets at the national level. Specially, by way of establishing national priorities and benchmarks.
Zimbabwe: MDC factions in cyber wars
Rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) camps have started a cyber-war and ratcheted up their campaigns to demonise each other ahead of parallel congresses this month and in March. The camp led by MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda has distributed a draft constitution reportedly crafted by Morgan Tsvangirai's group.
Global: Chat hosted by TakingITGlobal and Chat the Planet
How do people turn laws into better lives? How can and how do people live their rights? Join us for a unique, one time only online Live Chat, hosted by TakingITGlobal and Chat the Planet. Experts from Rwanda and South Africa will join the Live Chat to talk about what they know from their work on bridging the gap between words on a page and a safer, healthier and more equal society.
Global: Development Deadline 2015
Development Deadline 2015 is a weekly e-newsletter from Inter Press Service (IPS) providing readers with "independent news reporting on how the Millennium Development Goals are influencing policy decisions and making a difference on the ground."
Global: United Nations Secretary-General's study on violence against children newsletter
This Newsletter highlights recent developments in the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children. As the Study moves into the second and final year of the process, the emphasis is on building the momentum and strengthening coalitions in the lead up to the release of the final report during the General Assembly, 2006, in New York. The Newsletter is distributed widely and also available on the Study web-site. If you would like to add an address to the distribution list send an email to: [email protected]
Africa: African Journalist 2006 Awards
The CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards are the longest running, most prestigious Pan African Awards for journalists in Africa. Over the past eleven years, the competition has grown in size and status. In 2005 it attracted over 1,500 entries from 40 African countries.
Africa: GenARDIS small grants
The Gender and Agriculture/Rural Development in the Information Society GenARDIS) is inviting applications for its small grants programme. Deadline for applications is 25 February 2005.
Africa: Nelson Mandela International Essay Competition
This exciting new competition established jointly by RUSI and The Brenthurst Foundation, a Johannesburg-based think tank devoted to strengthening Africa’s economic performance, with the generous support of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, aims to encourage fresh and innovative perspectives on African security and development. Entries are invited to address this critical relationship between security and development in the context of a trans-national theme or issue in Africa, or a single country case-study.
Global: Tech Museum Awards
Call for nominations
The Tech Museum Awards is a unique and prestigious program that honors and awards innovators from around the world who use technology to benefit humanity. Each year, 25 Laureates are honored at a gala dinner, invited to participate in press and media coverage, and introduced to a network of influential advisors. An inspirational and unforgettable event, the black-tie celebration will be held at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, on November 15, 2006.
Senegal: CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programm
The CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme is designed to contribute to the reinforcement and promotion of a culture of concentrated and extended reflection among African scholars. It is particularly targeted at a younger generation of post-doctoral African scholars interested in carrying out advanced research on any aspect of the African social reality, historical or contemporary. The programme is open to candidates from all disciplines of the Social Sciences and Humanities.
Zimbabwe: The World Bank Small Grants Program 2006
The Small Grants Program is calling for proposals from civil society organisations. The theme of the program is the empowerment of marginalised vulnerable groups. The activity should be completed within one year of the date the grant is awarded. Civil Society organisations working on issues of development may apply.
Nigeria: Sexuality leadership development fellowship
Call for applications
The Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre (ARSRC) calls for applications to its annual Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship (SLDF) Programme. The Fellowship is scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from July 10– 28, 2006.
South Africa: Colloquium on economy, society and culture
In cooperation with partners, the Centre for Civil Society at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal will be opening thematic research projects on 'Economic Justice' in 2006. We will launch this theme by reviewing some of the finest traditions of South African, regional and international political-economic theory and contemporary analysis, and invite you to join us. We are mainly concerned with market-nonmarket interactions and new forms of 'primitive accumulation'.
South Africa: Pan-African health congress 2006
Pan African Health is the premier African healthcare congress - incorporating a conference, exhibition, and the 1st Healthcare Award for Excellence and Innovation sponsored by Absa. The theme of Pan African Health (PAH) 2006, which takes place from 29 – 31 August 2006 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa is accessing and managing funding for healthcare initiatives in Africa. PAH 2006 will see the Africa’s leading healthcare players and role players converge on the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, to stay abreast of developments in the healthcare and healthcare funding arenas, to share information and experiences, to reinforce existing relationships and to seek out and form new relationships. Contact Jenny Wong for further information on: Tel: + 27 11 465 8871; email: [email protected] or visit www.panafricanhealth.com
South Africa: Short Course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution
In accordance with one of the aims of UPEACE to develop and increase capacity in the teaching of conflict and peace studies in Africa, we would like to invite your university/department/centre to nominate one or two staff members to participate in a short course on Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution. The course is due to be held in Pretoria from 3 to 7 April 2006 and will be presented by the Africa Programme of the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace. Only proposals submitted by people who have been nominated by their institutions or organizations will be considered.
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