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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 248: Zimbabwe: We all fall down

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

Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Books & arts, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. Racism & xenophobia, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Media & freedom of expression, 21. News from the diaspora, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. Fundraising & useful resources, 25. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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Highlights from this issue

Featured this week


FEATURED: Can Zimbabwe be put back together again?
- Remembering the father of the Kenyan trade union movement
- Women on their way to the top of African decision making
- HIV/AIDS: Making a case for strong public health systems
LETTERS: Thanks from afar and on the IMF
BLOGGING AFRICA: Blog columnist Sokari Ekine wraps up the blogosphere
- Children of Uganda, international touring dance and music troupe, reviewed
- Philanthropy in East Africa, by Connie Ngondi-Houghton, reviewed
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Explosion in Addis, calm in Mogadishu, new UN resolution on Darfur
HUMAN RIGHTS: Charles Taylor drama continues
WOMEN AND GENDER: South Africa rape trial dashes hopes for change
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: News from Benin, Burundi, Chad, DRC, Kenya
DEVELOPMENT: WTO negotiations go underground
CORRUPTION: New report on corruption in health
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Ugandan musician uses tunes to tackle HIV/AIDS
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: Comparing Israeli apartheid and South African apartheid
ENVIRONMENT: Don’t sell suicide seeds, say activists
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: Issues of land ownership, management and rights
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Concern in South Africa over coverage of Zuma trial
ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNS: Act now to end torture and displacement in Northern Uganda
PLUS: Internet and Technology; Fundraising and Useful Resources; Courses, seminars and workshops; Jobs.

* French speaking? French friends?

Read the Pambazuka News French edition by visiting Subscribe online at or send an email to [email protected] with 'subscribe French edition' in the subject line. Please forward widely!

* Can trade in the era of globalisation be 'just'? Read our issue on the subject ( and send your feedback to [email protected]


Zimbabwe 2006 - We All Fall Down

Mary Ndlovu


Every March for the last four years, Pambazuka News has carried articles describing the situation in Zimbabwe and looking at options for the future. In 2006, is there any hope for Zimbabwe? What do developments such as the split in the Movement for Democratic Change mean for the future of the country? Can Zimbabwe be put back together again?

Comment & analysis

Unquiet: A tribute to the founder of Kenya’s trade union movement

Steve Ouma Akoth and Makau Mutua


Makhan Singh is considered the father of the trade union movement in Kenya. In 1935, he formed the Labour Trade Union of Kenya, and in 1949, the East African Trade Union Congress. In this article, a foreword to ‘Unquiet: The Life and Times of Makhan Singh’ by Zarina Patel, Steve Ouma and Makau Mutua remember Singh and what his life means for present-day political life in Kenya.

Women are Africa's political hope

Emira Woods and Lisa VeneKlasen


Recently, newly elected Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became only the fourth African head of state and the eighth woman to address the United States Congress. Sirleaf asked members of Congress to think about what the returns on their investment would be when young men could trade their guns for jobs, when people could feed themselves again and when young women could become scientists and doctors. Emira Woods and Lisa VeneKlasen assess the contribution of women to politics in Africa.

HIV/AIDS: A health or development issue?

Jennifer Chiriga


In the 1980s, HIV/AIDS was a “distant” disease represented by statistical data. Now, it is the “undisputed equalizer”, infiltrating all aspects of life. Jennifer Chiriga looks at the reasons for its spread, provides some pointers on fighting it and argues for the urgent need to defend and justify the public sector and public ownership of resources when it comes to health care.

Advocacy & campaigns

Uganda: Act now to end torture and displacement in Northern Uganda


Take action to end torture of internally displaced persons in Northern Uganda. Send an email or fax to the Ugandan government, your U.S. Congressional or European Union representative, or urge the United Nations Security Council, through Secretary General Kofi Annan, to immediately be seized of the issue of civilian protection in Northern Uganda.

Books & arts

Children of Uganda

Shailja Patel


Hailed as "First Rate" and "Inspiring!" by the New York Times, Children of Uganda is an internationally touring dance and music troupe, composed of 22 young Ugandans aged 6 to 20. All the members of the company have lost one or both parents to AIDS. They live in homes and boarding schools supported by the Texas-based Uganda Children's Charity Foundation (UCCF). Children of Uganda was originally founded to teach orphaned children the songs, dances and stories that were in danger of being lost, as AIDS continues to shred the social and cultural fabric of Ugandan communities.

On opening the program for the Children of Uganda performance at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center, I was confronted by these stark facts:

- There are 2.4 million orphans living in Uganda today.

- They make up 10% of Uganda's total population, 20% of Uganda's population under 14.

- 1.1 million of them have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

- AIDS kills over 200 people a day in Uganda.

Yerba Buena's marketing materials say: "But what if the response to this heartbreak was dance and drumming, light and joy? Can art heal wounds this deep? Sometimes it's riskier to respond with joy than sorrow; the Children of Uganda invite you to take that courageous leap."

Does this make you feel a little queasy? Should anyone be required to respond to tragedy on this scale with "dance and drumming, light and joy?"

"People may think they're going to feel bad, but what they see is the antithesis of that," says Alexis Hefley, Texan American founder of UCCF. "It's an amazing production about hope and ethnic dance. It's happy and inspiring." Hefley was a banker until 10 years ago, when she visited Uganda in search of "meaning and community". She is a staunch advocate of the abstinence programs promoted by the Bush administration and Uganda's first lady, Janet Museveni. "Abstaining until you're married, then staying faithful to one partner is the most effective way to prevent HIV transmission."

The program states that Children of Uganda serve as "goodwill ambassadors for the 2.4 million orphans living in Uganda today" and "increase awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis in their homeland."

Perhaps I'm cynical, but haven't Bono, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt already cornered that market? Will greater "awareness" and "goodwill" give Africa ownership and control of its own resources, from oil to diamonds to soil to water? Create just, equitable terms of trade? Supply cheap antiretroviral drugs and accessible healthcare?

The financial goal of the tour is to raise $1.5 million for UCCF's orphan support programs, in donations and gifts from individuals and institutions. The foundation does not receive money from tickets sales of the tour, nor do any of the performers get paid. Financial statements and performance ratings for UCCF can be found on the site of independent charity evaluator:

To meet this goal, the young performers are on a 5-month, coast-to-coast tour of the US, during which they will play 31 cities in 20 states.

"If someone is tired, they don't have to dance," says Hefley. "We make sure to build in 2 days off for each 5 days of performance." The exception to this is a New York run of 7 shows in 6 days, but according to Hefley, "There are rest days going into that run, and afterwards."

A teacher travels with the troupe to monitor the education of the primary level children. The students are also given academic assignments by their teachers in Uganda. But the tour itself "is educational," according to Hefley. She cites trips to Disneyland and Universal Studios as examples of activities arranged for the children in their time off stage. And what are they like on stage?

The show is breathtaking. The New York Times is right to call it "first rate". Striking set and costumes, lighting design that enhances without dominating. The program offers the audience a spectrum of music and dance, drawing from all regions of Uganda, as well as material from Kenya, Rwanda, and the Congo. It showcases an impressive range of East African instruments, vocal styles, and complex, compelling movement.

The performers combine technical excellence with controlled exuberance to infuse the intricacy and grace of the dances with youthful power. Director Peter Kasule creates a show that allows individual personalities to emerge, from the showmanship of crowd-pleasing 6-year-old soloist, Miriam Namala to the dignity, superb athleticism, and reflective depth of the older dancers. Kasule's own charisma and stage presence are central to the show. At 24, he is a veteran performer of several Children of Uganda tours, and is currently on leave from his studies in music technology in Santa Fe. As narrator and master of ceremonies, he commands the auditorium, and the audience. He charms, beguiles and teases them into a sequence of arm movements, clapping out a harmonic rhythm, chanting in Luganda.

There are moments of delightful, subversive departure from the "traditional." As when we are told, gravely, that women were never allowed to touch African drums, as a drum touched by a woman would "lose its sound." In the very next piece, the boys abdicate the stage, the girls come on, and take over - on the drums.

So is Children of Uganda an uplifting and joyful experience? Without question.

Is it a good thing for American audiences to see these gifted and energetic performers, and to be educated about the context in which they make art? Absolutely.

Will the $1.5 million that the tour aims to raise, improve the lives of a small number of Ugandan children orphaned by AIDS? Yes.

Is it a valuable experience for young performers in any field to tour internationally, to perform on world class stages to packed houses, with state of the art production technology to showcase their talent? Of course.

Then why does Children of Uganda leave me with more questions than answers?

Consider, if you will, a parallel scenario for the US. Hurricane Katrina left 1.5 million Americans displaced, homeless, destitute. Devastated the rich cultures and communities of the African-American South. Thousands of children were orphaned. Suppose some benevolent well-meaning Nigerian banker, in search of meaning and life-purpose, decided to organize a global performing tour of orphans from Louisiana. The Children of New Orleans would tour the US, coast to coast, doing traditional dances of Creole and black Southern heritage. The tour would raise money for their own clothing, shelter, education, and the support of their "brothers and sisters" in orphanages.

Would America be able to confront itself in the shape of the Children of New Orleans? To accept that the tragedy of a natural disaster, combined with a criminal abandonment of black citizens by their own government, could become a "happy inspiring production about hope and ethnic dance?" Would the middle-class, theater-going audiences of America sit through "dance and drumming, light and joy", and emerge uplifted rather than unbearably disturbed? Or would they tremble with the exposure to their own indifference and complicity?

Dance does not destroy death or erase grief. Drums do not dissolve genocidal tragedies created from criminal indifference, corporate greed, centuries of exploitation. That the children of Uganda can still find a language of joy in their bodies, articulate it with grace and power, share it with such incredible generosity, should be a source of deepest shame and discomfort to audiences of the developed world. It should not leave them feeling good.

* Visit for more information. Shailja Patel is a Kenyan Indian poet and spoken word artist. Visit

* Send comments to [email protected]

Philanthropy in East Africa


Firoze Manji


Connie Ngondi-Houghton
Allavida £10 (outside East Africa)
ISBN 1904167101

There is a dearth of literature on philanthropy in Africa, and this pioneering work on East Africa by Connie Ngondi-Houghton should be warmly welcomed. Ngondi-Houghton starts by looking at what is meant by the term philanthropy, arguing that it has to be understood in the context of the region and its history. She believes that there is an indigenous tradition of giving, ‘an economy of affection’, which has survived the turmoil of colonization, post-colonial compromises, and the devastating results of imposed neoliberal economic policies.

The book then deals at some length with formal philanthropy in the region as it is today. She considers some of the new initiatives such as the Africa Philanthropy Initiative, the East Africa Grantmakers Association, Allavida, the Centre for the Promotion of Philanthropy and Social Responsibility (Ufadhili) and Resource Alliance, many of them driven by non-indigenous institutions. The last two chapters focus on the challenges ahead for philanthropy in East Africa, chiefly the need to link institutionalized forms of philanthropy with the long-standing traditional forms. The final chapter provides a set of recommendations on future research that is needed.

The author’s central argument is that conventional (or Western) definitions of philanthropy have ignored the rich ‘traditional African spirit of community, reciprocity and mutual aid based on the philosophy of ubuntuism’. This spirit is, she argues, ‘the spring of philanthropy among the majority in East Africa’. Many of us working in the region recognize these many forms of generosity that inspire and refresh one’s belief in humanity. I had hoped that the book would at last provide me with documentary evidence to silence the sceptics and those who hold a narrow definition of philanthropy. Unfortunately, there is little data about the scale and impact of such practices. This is a shame as I think that its absence seriously weakens her thesis.

Ngondi-Houghton argues that philanthropy should be seen as something embracing a spectrum of social and individual activities. The opening chapter begins by asserting that philanthropy is a term encompassing activities ‘motivated by the love for humanity and human advancement, and targeted towards the ends of human survival, dignity and fulfilment of all people’. It begins, she says, with the act of giving. She goes on to draw a distinction between charity and philanthropy that I found particularly helpful. Charity, she says, ‘can ameliorate’, but philanthropy ‘seeks to root out causes of poverty, suffering and inequality … it inspires and promotes individual growth as it nourishes human welfare.’

This distinction, however, is lost sight of in the remainder of the book. Indeed, what she mainly writes about is charitable giving. As the book develops, she falls increasingly shy of defining what she means by philanthropy, offering instead examples of the activities it embraces, from microfinance to scout camps, from trade union solidarity to NGOs making money from providing services where the state has retrenched in response to externally driven economic policies.

‘Philanthropy should be what the people of East Africa say it is for them,’ she asserts. While this may be different to how the West would define philanthropy, neither the Western nor the African definition is superior. ‘When viewed this way,’ she says, ‘the issue of spectrum of models, and whether a model at one end of the spectrum better deserves the name philanthropy than one at the other end, ceases to be significant.’ But the issue is not, surely, an argument about the absolute or universal definition of the term philanthropy, but rather about whether the term is used consistently and in such a way that its meaning can be communicated with certainty to the reader.

That said, I found the book stimulated me to reflect on many issues about giving and philanthropy in the region. It could have been much longer, giving the author more space to develop and explain some of her ideas. As it stands, it is full of thought-provoking observations that give you only a taster of insights that, frustratingly, are not developed further. I would also have like to have seen much more information than was provided about philanthropy in Uganda and Tanzania – the book focuses overly on Kenya. Nevertheless, it represents a major milestone for the region, a sentinel starting point for the development of a much-needed literature on the subject.

* Firoze Manji is Executive Director of Fahamu and editor of Pambazuka News. He can be contacted at firoze (at)

This article first appeared in Alliance Volume 11 Number 1 March 2006
To order: Within East Africa, contact Allavida, Email [email protected]
Tel +254 020 310 526

Rest of the world, visit

Africa: Art of the contemporary African Diaspora

April 6-June 4


"Looking Both Ways refers to the artists’ practice of looking at the psychic terrain between Africa and the West, a terrain of shifting physical contexts, emotional geographies, and aesthetic ambitions and expressions," said Laurie Ann Farrell, curator of Looking Both Ways, Museum of African Art, Long Island City, New York. "It attempts to provide insight into the Diaspora from an international perspective, revealing it through the art and stories of the artists themselves."

Global: Fourteenth annual African Diaspora film festival

Nov 24-Dec 10 2006


The African Diaspora Film Festival (ADFF) features the work of emerging and established filmmakers of color. Most important, ADFF distinguishes itself through its presentation of outstanding works that shine a different or comprehensive light on African Diaspora life and culture - no matter what the filmmaker’s race or nationality. Submission deadline for ADFF 2006: August 31, 2006 for feature length fiction films; June 30, 2006 for shorts and documentaries.

Letters & Opinions

Keeping in touch

Mary Kimani


Pambazuka News is the only way I can think of keeping well informed about African issues from this distance. Without such resources one tends to lose touch.

Reforming the IMF

Patricia McFadden


I found the piece by Hetty Kovach on the IMF "interesting" in that it seemed to be trying to say the same thing that has been said many times (and we all need to hear about the IMF's economic and political machinations as often as possible) in a new way...and maybe there was some variation somewhere. (See

However, I also was left feeling rather exasperated by the absence of a more definitive political analysis of why the IMF has consistently sabotaged the societies of the Majority South - especially African societies ( Kovach used a lot of examples from Africa, especially Southern Africa).

Now that we know the how so well, how about the why. I don't think as many people know this part of the story, nor are there enough writers willing to say it.

World Social Forum: Dates announced

Oduor Ong'wen


This is to inform all that the dates for World Social Forum 2007 are January 20-25,2007. The venues are Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Uhuru Park and Central Park. Negotiations are at an advanced stage to have the Youth Camp at University of Nairobi. Registration process begins in a few weeks.

In solidarity!

Blogging Africa

The week in the blogosphere

Sokari Ekine


Nigeria has just completed it’s latest census which does not include religion or ethnicity. Naijablog ( wonders exactly how many languages are spoken in Nigeria as depending on your source, the numbers differ. The number ranges from 250 to 500.

“The World Bank and the UN like to suggest 250 in the documents I've seen, but I heard once that there are something like 200 languages in Niger State alone. According to the Index of Nigerian Languages (Crozier & Blench 1992) there are 500 languages. I've scoured the internet and found very little of substance. There are 478 languages listed here (helpfully categorised into language group) from Abanyom to Zumbun.”

He adds that because the census does not include ethnicity, we will never know how many “living sustaining” ethnic groups there are and which ones if any are endangered.

Thea keeps painting the planet ( asks if Sudan is an “African” or an “Arab” state:

“Sudan is both in the Arab League and in the African Union…however it is more Arab than Ethiopia, and more African than Libya…Sudan is on the border line…I don't think I could call it an Arab State, and I however find it hard to call it an African country.”

Not quite sure how Sudan is more Arab than Ethiopia or more African than Libya. Without defining either – which would be a highly complex and extended task – I think this statement is meaningless and does nothing to enhance our understanding of what is either Arab or Africa. Sudan is an African country as is Libya. It falls within the boundary of the continental mass known as Africa consisting of people who are African. Sudan’s membership of the Arab League is based on the Northern Sudanese elite who speak “Arabic” as their first language. The people of Sudan are diverse in terms of their religion, language, identity and ethnicity.

Continuing with Sudan and the Arab League issue - Rantings of a Sandmonkey ( comments on why the summit was held in Khartoum given the atrocities committed in the Darfur region. He also comments on the discussions and Arab League reactions to Hamas and Israel.

“First they all agreed that in order to oppose the western zionist hegemony they will pledge aid to the Hamas Palestinian government with an amount that is 1/3 what that government needs in order to oppose the western Zionist hegemony. What about the other 2/3 you league of Arab nationality heroes? Ehh, don’t ask us. It’s not like we are Arab countries with tons of money or anything.”

With regards to Israel, the Arab League rejected Israel’s decision to unilaterally draw its own borders. He writes that the Arab League rejection is meaningless since they will not or cannot do anything about it so he concludes that the idea of “pan-arabism” is dead.

And while you are at it, shut the Arab League down as well. It’s a waste of time and money, and it does nothing. It’s time to kill it.”

The Moor Next Door ( discusses the history of religions in Algeria from paganism, to Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

“The original North Africans in ancient times, who were almost entirely Berbers, worshiped a pantheon of gods, which over time became influenced by Greek, Phoenician/Carthaginian, Egyptian, Latin and other traditions. All other religions in Algeria came entirely from elsewhere, the main imports being Judaism (which came after the Jews had been expelled from Judea and were dispersed into various areas of the Roman Empire following the Jewish-Roman Wars), Christianity (that came by way of Roman missionaries and settlers), and of course Islam (which came by way of the Arab invasion and the missionaries that followed.”

Jangbalajugbu Homeland Stories ( discusses the role of information technology in the future of Africa.

“Getting technology into the continent means giving Africans a taste of affordable and fast internet access, affordable computer systems (more than the $100 laptop), more telecommunications infrastructures and a fair share of appropriate news coverage by the world media…These will bring a remarkable growth in development. While an affordable internet would increase African content on the internet, availability of computers will facilitate the development of the young African, marginalized right now because of his inability to afford a PC, telecommunication infrastructures will attract more investors to the continent.”

Black Looks ( posts a roundup of blogs by African women over the past week. Topics range from the trial of Jacob Zuma and the daily pro-Zuma demonstrations by women against the complainant; how American women can learn from African women; and poems on homesickness in the Diaspora.

* Sokari Ekine produces the blog Black Looks,

* Please send comments to [email protected]

African Union Monitor

Africa: Military force on track


The African Union will have a 20,000-strong rapid response force in the next four years, an international meeting has been told. Regional blocs have already started assembling personnel for the unified force, said Major-General Ishaya Hassan, chief of general staff of the African Union brigade. "The brigade will then respond to African issues in an African way, since we know our complications better than any other outside brigades," he said.

Women & gender

Global: Displaced women and girls at risk


This paper aims to clarify risks leading to displacement, risk factors during displacement and risks that inhibit safe and sustainable return. The authors look at protection solutions in the context of displacement and in situations of return. Tools are presented for assessing risks and for identifying good field practices that reduce the risks displaced and returnee women and girls confront.

Global: Women's empowerment through sustainable micro-finance


This paper challenges assumptions about the automatic benefits of micro-finance for women. It argues that financial indicators of access - such as women's programme membership and size of loans - cannot be used as indicators of women's empowerment. High repayment levels by women do not necessarily indicate that women have used the loans themselves. Men may take the loans from women, or women may choose to invest the loans in men's activities.

Kenya: Schoolgirls raped on march


At least 15 schoolgirls in Kenya were raped during a night-time protest march in the central district of Nyeri. Hundreds of pupils had stormed out of school in the middle of the night to go to the district commissioner's office to demand better conditions. The BBC's Wanyama wa Chebusiri in Nyeri says three of those attacked are critically ill in hospital. The victims say as they were marching a gang of local villagers attacked them, raping at least 15 girls in turn.

Kenya: Women unveil manifesto on renewed push for leadership


Women leaders in Kenya have vowed to seek top positions in all spheres. They unveiled the Kenya Women's Manifesto to guide them towards their goal. "We are prepared to take the risk of challenging the status quo and ready to face the complex challenges that accompany our aspiration to ascend to key positions of leadership, decision-making and development in a patriarchal society," said a statement issued to during a ceremony to launch the manifesto.

Namibia: Calls for the legalisation of prostitution


When former Namibian health minister Libertina Amathila made an emotional plea five years ago for prostitution to be legalised, her cabinet colleagues, parliament and the churches shot her views down, saying they were unacceptable. Richard Kamwi, Amathila's successor, said the government would not revisit the matter, but the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) has insisted a rethink is necessary in a country with an adult HIV prevalence rate of over 21 percent.

South Africa: Rape trial dashes hope for change


The rape case against South Africa's former vice president Jacob Zuma is moving into its final days. Before the judge speaks, however, advocates of rape survivors say they are already discouraged by what they describe as the ordeal of the 31-year-old HIV-positive woman who is the complainant. "If I was raped, particularly by an acquaintance, I would not report it after this trial," said Liesl Gerntholtz, a lawyer specializing in rape and HIV/AIDS issues and executive director of the Johannesburg-based Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre.
Related Link
* Demonstration in support of the Zuma complainant,40,5,964

Tanzania: Maternal deaths on the rise


More should be done to curb maternal deaths, which have continued to rise in Tanzania in the past decade despite efforts to reverse the trend, activists and officials have said. "It is a saddening reality, but still maternal deaths can be avoided," Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Tanzania's former president, told a rally held to commemorate women and girls who died due to childbirth and pregnancy complications. Citing Ministry of Health statistics, Mwinyi said maternal deaths increased from 529 out of every 100,000 birth in 1996 to 578 out of every 100,000 in 2005. "Such a level is very high and not acceptable," he said.

Zimbabwe: ZCTU hopes to bring in sanitary pads every month


Undeterred by the hefty duty imposed on a consignment of sanitary pads donated to Zimbabwean women hit by rocketing prices, the country's labour federation plans to import them regularly. "We are going to bring the sanitary pads in every month, otherwise it is a pointless exercise," explained Wellington Chibebe, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). After an appeal on a South African radio station at the beginning of the year, the ZCTU collected 12 million pads in South Africa last month.

Human rights

Egypt: Government to lift 25-year-old emergency laws


Egypt plans to lift 25-year-old emergency laws granting security forces sweeping powers of arrest and detention that critics have long claimed are used against opponents of the regime. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif announced the move in a speech to parliament, saying the laws would be replaced by new anti-terror legislation in Egypt, which has witnessed a string of deadly attacks in recent years. Nazif said he had ordered the formation of a committee of experts to draft the new law, without saying when he expected it to come into force.

Global: Steadfast in Protest


This report presents the situation of 1,172 human rights defenders oppressed, as well as obstacles to freedom of association in nearly 90 countries This publication is an opportunity to alert the international public opinion on the situation of these men and women who, in spite of the tremendous risks they face, persist in denouncing the human rights violations they have witnessed.

Liberia: Taylor gets one way ticket to Monrovia following Nigerian escape


Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who disappeared from his residence in southeastern Nigeria one day ago, was on Wednesday detained in a state bordering Cameroon and could be expelled soon to his homeland. A top government official who asked not to be named said Taylor, wanted for war crimes by a UN-backed special court in Sierra Leone, was arrested in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, bordering Cameroon, Niger and Lake Chad.
Related Link
* Taylor, stubborn since his childhood

Nigeria: 'International fugitive' Charles Taylor must not be allowed to escape trial


Reacting to reports that former Liberian president Charles Taylor has "escaped" from his home in Calabar, Nigeria, Amnesty International said "any country in which he is found has a responsibility to arrest and surrender Charles Taylor immediately to the Special Court in Sierra Leone." The organization said that the warrant for Charles Taylor's arrest issued by the Special Court, an international court, remains in effect, and that if he has left Nigeria he should now be considered an "international fugitive".

Rwanda: Tanzania asked to prosecute genocide suspects after ICTR mandate


Tanzania is likely to take over the responsibility of prosecuting Rwandan genocide suspects whose trials under the current International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will not be completed by the year 2008. "The Tribunal's leadership has asked the Tanzanian government to complete prosecuting genocide suspects after its mandate," said Dr. Mary Nagu, Tanzanian minister of Justice in a telephone interview with Hirondelle News. The United Nations Security Council had directed the Tribunal to complete trials in the coming two years and appeal cases by 2010.

South Africa: Walking the long trail to reconciliation


For the last 10 years Anna Ngabayena has been haunted by her past. The memories of the violence she encountered as a foot soldier in the African National Congress (ANC) struggle against apartheid have plagued both her dreams and waking life. In recent weeks things had begun to change, said Ngabayena, now 42 years old. She had just taken part in a unique rehabilitation programme run by the National Peace Accord Trust (NPAT), which uses the natural environment as a means of coming to terms with a turbulent past.

Zimbabwe: Majongwe arrested for ‘driving’ Dutch trade unionists


Raymond Majongwe, the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) was arrested last week Friday on allegations of ‘driving’ a group of Dutch trade unionists and teachers visiting the country. The police say Majongwe and his four visitors failed to stop at a roadblock near the Mabvuku roundabout in the capital. Security on the day was tight as the main opposition was beginning its three-day congress at the City Sports Centre.
Related Link
* New rights body should be independent, say activists

Refugees & forced migration

Guinea Bissau: Guinea Bissau army distress Casamance refugees


Refugees from Casamance living in Guinea-Bissau villages along the border with Senegal have suffered a great loss after soldiers of the Guinea-Bissau completely burnt their dwellings, reliable sources told PANA. The Guinea-Bissau soldiers had suspected the refugees to be conniving with rebels of the Movement of Casamance Democratic Forces (MFDC), loyal to Salif Sadio against whom the Bissau soldiers have been fighting during the past two weeks, according to the sources, some of which were contacted in Sao-Domingos.

Namibia: Osire refugees denied asylum


At least 269 asylum seekers currently residing at Osire Camp have been denied refugee status by the Namibian government. The majority are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia and Uganda. According to the Chairman of the Association for the Defence of Refugee Rights (ADR) at Osire MacGoddins Lushimba, refugees received responses from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration indicating that their requests for refugee status had been rejected.

Somalia: Refugees flee to Kenya


More than 900 refugees have fled to Kenya following the recent militia attacks in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. Security personnel deployed at the Kenya-Somalia border continued patrolling the area in a bid to control the influx.
North Eastern Province CID boss, Henry Ondiek, said 1,000 refugees had surrendered themselves at the Dadaab United Nations refugee camp in Garissa District.

Somaliland: Prosperous refugees return to invest in their country


Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared (but internationally unrecognised) state of Somaliland is bursting at the seams these days with former refugees who have come back to their country, but have nowhere to live but squalid settlements, often set up without permission on state or private land. At the same time, the city is booming thanks to other returnees who are bringing home their skills learned in exile, and quite often their money as well.

Sudan: Fuel alternatives and protection strategies for displaced women and girls


The environment that surrounds refugee or internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, particularly in situations of ongoing conflict, is notoriously dangerous. Yet everyday, in hundreds of camps around the world, millions of women and girls venture out into this danger in order to collect enough firewood to cook for their families. The Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children have initiated a project to investigate methods for reducing the vulnerability of displaced women and girls to gender-based violence during firewood collection.

Uganda: Congolese flock into Hoima


More Congolese are still crossing into the western Uganda border districts following the fighting in DR Congo. Congolese have since last year fled to Kisoro, Kanungu, Kasese, Bundibugyo and Hoima districts. The latest spill over has been in Hoima through Lake Albert, which is shared between Uganda and DR Congo.

Uganda: Government urged to end war in the north


A new report by the Refugee Law Project has urged the Ugandan government to demonstrate a strong commitment to ending the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda. The report has urged the rebels of the Lords Resistance Army, the perpetrators of the war "to stop their cowardly acts of attacking and killing innocent civilians and demonstrate a sincere commitment to a peace process." The insurgency by the rebels has left several people dead and abducted while 1.6 million are internally displaced.

Elections & governance

Benin: New leader to be sworn in


Benin is preparing to swear in a new leader, this after a former head of the West African Development Bank won the second round of presidential elections held earlier this month in the West African country. Results issued by the National Autonomous Electoral Commission showed that Boni Yayi garnered an overwhelming majority of votes: 74.51 percent. His challenger, attorney Adrien Houngbedji, received only 25.49 percent. This was reportedly the first time a presidential candidate had won by such a large margin.

Burundi: Former ruling party pulls out of government


Three Burundian ministers representing the Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) in President Pierre Nkurunziza's government reported to work on Monday despite a directive by their party to pull out of government. Health Minister Barnabe Mbonimpa, Agriculture Minister Elie Buzoya and Environment Minister Odette Kayitesi have reportedly refused to comply with FRODEBU's directive to boycott their duties.

Chad: Opposition refuses to field presidential candidate


For the first time since multiparty politics came to Chad the main opposition has declined to put forth a contender in a presidential election, this time around unanimous in calling for citizens to shun the process. Incumbent President Idriss Deby risks becoming the only serious candidate. As the deadline for candidates passed at midnight on Friday only the Agriculture Minister and three representatives of political parties more or less aligned with the ruling party had submitted their names – along with President Idriss Deby - for the 3 May poll.

DRC: Civic education crucial ahead of poll, official says


Civic education ahead of elections scheduled for June is of "utmost importance" to sensitise the public for the democratic process, the head of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Independent Electoral Commission, Abbé Apollinaire Malu-Malu, has said. Speaking on Tuesday in Brussels at a hearing organised at the European Parliament, Malu-Malu said the commission, known by its French acronym CEI, had proposed a US $40-million budget to international donors for the sensitisation of the public.

DRC: Fatal transactions


Three years of transitional government in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to anything but stability and economic prosperity. The corrupt, ruling political class is, more than anything else, engaged in enriching itself. Based on investigations of the situation in the Congolese province of Katanga, the report Fatal Transactions demonstrates how members of the government, with the help of international donors such as the World Bank, have profited from the natural wealth of the Congo in recent years, at the expense of the Congolese people.

Kenya: Ministers to sign up new terms of office


Cabinet ministers in Kenya will soon sign annual performance contracts as part of civil service reforms. They will be assessed on responses to questions in Parliament, involvement in House business, adherence to budget allocations and general efficiency in service delivery. A draft of the contract, which has been prepared by the Office of the President's Cabinet office, says each minister's performance will be reviewed at the end of every financial year - on June 30.

Sierra Leone and Liberia: The prospects for development, peace and prosperity


Sierra Leone and Liberia have many things in common: They are English-speaking neighbors, home to the descendents of freed slaves (Freetown, Monrovia), have had two identical menaces in the forms of Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, have recently ended acrimonious civil wars, and have postwar presidents who were once employees of the United Nations. Notwithstanding these striking similarities, the dissimilarities of their presidents is revealed in their inaugural speeches, according to this article from World Press Review.

South Africa: Taking to the streets


The police and municipal government's crackdown on the Abahlali BaseMjondolo (shack dweller's) Movement march on February 27th was yet again a clear indication of the crisis of democracy in South Africa, reports this article on Indymedia South Africa. “The call "No land, No house, No vote" was a stark reminder of how the right to vote must be accompanied by a right to representatives who will support the legitimate demands of poor in the current political arena. This is not the case for Abahlali BaseMjondolo or many of the poor in South Africa.”

Western Sahara: Frustration mounts


Three decades on, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is still a non-country in most senses. The guerrilla war against Morocco may have ended in ceasefire in 1991, but the diplomatic effort to settle its status is stalled. Morocco has made little progress towards the referendum demanded by the United Nations and now the frustration is palpable.


Africa: New report on corruption in health


The Global corruption report 2006 documents corruption on a vast scale in both rich and poor countries, and its enormous cost to public health, reports the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation. "Each year hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned from the world's US$ 3.1 trillion annual health spending into private pockets, according to the report published on 1 February. The Global corruption report, now in its sixth edition, draws attention each year to corruption in a particular industry or sector as well as providing a broader overview of corruption across the world."

Africa: Recovering Africa's stolen money


Anti-corruption treaties are the key to getting back monies stolen from African countries, such as an estimated $10 billion embezzled by former presidents Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Sanni Abacha in Nigeria, according to a high-level West Africa Regional workshop organised by Transparency International (TI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the South African Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

Global: Corruption exposed at the World Bank


The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has hailed a 10-page investigative report focusing on corruption at the World Bank. The article focuses on extensive internal problems at the bank including how “kickbacks, payoffs, bribery, embezzlement, and collusive bidding plague bank-funded projects around the world.” The report estimates that more than 20 percent of the loans distributed by the World Bank, or $4 billion annually, are associated with corrupt practices.

Kenya: Government faces 2.7 billion suit over secret project


A Dutch firm has filed a Sh2.7 billion claim against the Kenyan government over a contentious defence contract. At issue is a Sh3.2 billion military command facility in Nairobi, constructed and equipped over two years by Nedermar Technology BV of Netherlands. The facility was among 18 projects that were questioned by the Controller and Auditor-General. Former Ethics and Governance Permanent Secretary John Githongo ordered payments for some of them stopped.

Uganda: Misuse of funds revealed as global fund inquiry quizzes ministers


A commission of inquiry has grilled Uganda's health ministers over a corruption scandal that NGOs say prevented donor money from reaching the severely sick. The commission investigating the suspension of funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars by the Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis has quizzed 130 Ugandan government officials and members of civil society over allegations of financial mismanagement and nepotism.


Africa: Body to monitor development promises


A date has been set for the launch of a body that will seek to make sure development promises to Africa are kept, Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said on Monday. The independent body, to be known as African Monitor, would act as a catalyst to bring a strong African voice to the development debate "and to raise key questions from an African perspective".

Africa: What can Africa do for itself?


Africa's profile has never been higher, says this article from The Heritage Foundation. During the past 12 months, the leaders of the G-8 agreed at Gleneagles to double aid to $50 billion by 2010, of which 50 percent would go to Africa. But more aid and debt relief is incumbent on improvements in African governance. How should Africa respond, and what is the best way for the continent to promote its own development?

Africa: World Bank approves $37 billion debt write-off


World Bank member nations on Tuesday approved a long-awaited $37 billion debt relief package for 17 impoverished countries that included ways to compensate the development lender for the write-off. The approval brings to an end months of tough negotiations among the World Bank's biggest donors over how to fund future loans by the bank's low-interest lending arm, the International Development Association.

Africa: World Bank trade programs must tackle poverty


The World Bank's trade programs may have helped open markets over the last two decades but they have not done enough to tackle poverty and boost growth in developing countries' exports, a study has found. An assessment by the institution's Independent Evaluation Group of $38 billion worth of trade programs between 1987-2004 said the bank did not pay enough attention to complimentary measures needed to cushion poor countries and help them adapt to the effects of trade liberalization.

Global: Critical WTO negotiations go underground


As the trade negotiations following the WTO conference in Hong Kong intensify, rich countries discuss many of the remaining issues in small and exclusive conferences. Focus on the Global South warns that these arrangements further undermine poor countries' ability to benefit from the Doha trade round. The publication also looks at the progress made to liberalize agricultural, non-agricultural and service markets.
Related Link:
* NGO coalition calls for Paris Club debt negotiations to be moved to Africa

Global: The new imperialism


"Accumulation by dispossession is about plundering, robbing other people of their rights. When we start to look at what has happened to the global economy for the past thirty years, a lot of that has been going on all over the place," says David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism, in this article. "In some instances, it is taking away peoples rights to dispose of their own resources, so you will find that there is resistance to that..." Read the full interview with David Harvey on his book The New Imperialsm by clicking on the URL provided.

South Africa: Blacks drive South African boom


South Africa's black middle class is driving a post-apartheid consumer boom in the country, a report has said. The group is responsible for almost a quarter of the 600bn rand ($96m) spent yearly by consumers, the University of Cape Town's Black Diamond study said. Government measures to bring the sector into the mainstream economy have helped its growth, the report added. The black middle class, making up two million of the 45 million population, is expected to grow by 50% a year.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Brain drain hits poor countries hard


Kenya is just one of many developing countries worried about the growing loss of healthcare workers, who mainly migrate to industrialised nations, according to a Kenyan doctor, in an interview with the IPS. Most of Africa faces the same problem, which has led to an estimated shortage of around 820,000 doctors, nurses and other health workers throughout the continent.

Africa: Malaria at a crossroads


Among the more than one million people malaria kills annually are hundreds of thousands of children. Most are under age five, their immature immune systems failing to control the aggressive disease. The majority of these children are from the developing world. Almost 90 percent are from sub-Saharan Africa. Killing children is not all malaria does. Economically, malaria drains the wealth of nations and households. Recently W.H.O. reported that malaria costs Africa alone $12 billion a year.

Kenya: Labs ready to handle bird disease


Modern equipment has been installed in major laboratories countrywide to help detect possible cases of the deadly avian flu in Kenya. "Equipment in Nyeri, Kabete, Mariakani, Eldoret and Kericho laboratories have been improved to help in diagnosing the virus," said Nyanza deputy veterinary officer David Wekesa. He advised the public to be alert and report any suspected cases of avian flu to the nearest veterinary offices.

South Africa: TB crisis plan targets four districts


Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang admitted that South Africa is doing “very, very badly” at curing tuberculosis at the launch of a TB crisis plan on World TB Day (24 March). Only about half the country’s TB patients are cured, while almost 7% of patients who are not cured go on to develop multi-drug resistant TB, which is hard and expensive to cure.

Tanzania: Cholera breaks out in Zanzibar


Three people have died and nine others admitted to hospital following a cholera outbreak on Tanzania's semiautonomous Island of Zanzibar, government officials said on Friday. The deaths occurred in Pemba Island, a sister island of the mainland of Unguja Island that forms Zanzibar. By Friday nine patients had been admitted to the cholera special centre, two in critical condition, Zanzibar's minister of health and social welfare, Sultan Mohamed Mugheiry, told a news conference in Stone Town, the Zanzibar capital.

Uganda: Hospital staff mistreat HIV positive mothers and babies


Uganda is highly credited for fighting HIV/Aids, however, a new report now says that infected pregnant mothers face the highest form of stigmatisation, discrimination and abuse. The rights report launched last Thursday by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative documented several testimonies from Mama Club at Mulago Hospital in Kampala. Mama Club is a psychosocial support group formed by The Aids Support Organisation (Taso) to bring the HIV positive mothers together to fight stigmatisation and to complement the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) treatment offered to them.

Uganda: Musician uses tunes to teach HIV/AIDS


Samite is a Ugandan singer and instrumentalist who uses his music to reach former child soldiers in the country and encourage them to be tested for HIV. National Public Radio reports that Samite is using his music to reach child soldiers and refugees - many of whom are HIV-positive - by gaining their trust and encouraging them to talk with him.


Global: Database for curricula around the world


The International Bureau of Education, one of UNESCO’s specialized centres, has just launched a new redesigned and updated version of its “Country Dossiers” database. This tool makes it easier for users to access a wide range of educational data and resources that focus on curriculum in over 160 countries.

Global: Girls' education - a worldwide snapshot


103 million children of primary school age are not in school; 58 million are girls. Two-thirds of illiterate adults are women. In a typical developing country, giving girls 1 additional year of schooling would save as many as 60,000 children's lives.

Global: Information use and decentralized education


This brief paper looks at the challenges of the traditional education management information system (EMIS) in meeting the need of providing information on the academic and financial performance of schools relative to other schools: expenses, resource use, education outcomes. This information is of particular importance to parents and community members, and/or local governments as a result of their increased governance and management authority of schools due to decentralised education systems.

Kenya: Parents seek overhaul of exam system


Kenyan students sit the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education. Parents want secondary school students allowed to resit only subjects in which they fail instead of repeating a whole year. They say it is unfair of the Kenyan National Examination Council (Knec) to brand the students failures even when they had failed in one or two subjects in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The secretary-general of the Kenya National Association of Parents said the current system of making students repeat Form Four was time wasting and demoralising to the candidates.

Liberia: Education in the conflict to post-conflict transition


This document considers the categories and questions for consideration when planning education within post-conflict Liberia. The authors argue that little work has been done to determine how to successfully create or recreate education systems in situations of transition from conflict to post-conflict. The authors consider how education needs to be developed from square one in Liberia. The destruction of infrastructure, including school buildings, teacher training colleges, latrines and roads poses a significant hurdle for the future of education in the country.

Niger: Implementation capacity for education sector development plans


This publication analyses the institutional capacity to implement a 10-year education programme in Niger. It is an abridged version of a fuller evaluation report entitled “Analysis of institutional capacity to implement the 10-year Education Development Programme (PDDE) in the new context of international cooperation” in Niger.

Zimbabwe: University purges students


University authorities at the National University of Science and Technology have suspended 28 students. The students at the National University of Science and Technology, have been in perpetual protest at the college since the semester started, at the massive fee increments by government which students have termed "Operation Murambashasha", and have demonstrated at least 4 times this semester.

Racism & xenophobia

Global: Being a black woman in the world


The following text is the prepared speech of Winnie Madikezela Mandela for her March 4 address to V103's Expo for Today's Black Woman held in Chicago, Illinois. "I feel greatly honored to have been invited to this august gathering. In his address to the 1900 Pan African Conference a prolific African American writer, scholar, and philosopher W.E.B. Du Bois declared the problem of the twentieth century 'as the problem of the colour line'. Indeed the 20th century has sharpened and deepened distinctions between the colonizers, the powerful, the wealthy, the developed and privileged on the one hand, and the colonized, powerless, poor, diseased, and the landless and disadvantaged on the other.”

South Africa: Why Israeli Apartheid and South African Apartheid are so similar


Israel is rapidly constructing a parallel network of West Bank roads for Palestinians, who are barred from using the many existing (and superior) routes reserved for Jews only. B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, describes this system as bearing clear similarities to Apartheid's exclusionary and isolating alternate road system that existed in racist South Africa.


Global: Climate data hints at irreversible rise in seas


Within the next 100 years, the growing human influence on Earth's climate could lead to a long and irreversible rise in sea levels by eroding the planet's vast polar ice sheets, according to new observations and analysis by several teams of scientists. One team, using computer models of climate and ice, found that by about 2100, average temperatures could be four degrees higher than today and that over the coming centuries, the oceans could rise 13 to 20 feet - conditions last seen 129,000 years ago, between the last two ice ages.

Global: Don't sell ‘suicide seeds’, activists warn


One hundred peasant and indigenous rights activists greeted delegates at the United Nations biodiversity conference in Brazil last week with chants of ‘Terminate the Terminator’. The activists were demanding tough laws against the field testing and sale of so-called ‘Terminator’ technology, which refers to plants that have had their genes altered so that they render sterile seeds at harvest. Because of this trait, some activists call Terminator products ‘suicide seeds’.

Global: Saving wildlife also saves humans


Saving pandas, gorillas or tigers, often portrayed by critics of conservation as a trivial pursuit compared to the many other problems facing humanity, not only stops endangered species from going extinct but also helps reduce poverty and improves the lives of local communities in many parts of the world, says a new report by the World Wildlife Fund.

Liberia: Union concern over concessions


The Forestry, Logging and Allied Workers' Union of Liberia (FLAWUL) has expressed its deep distaste with members of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) over what they called "a mortgaging of the future of the country." FLAWUL, in a release issued recently said: "The NTLA's passage of the bill of a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) between the Liberian government and Mittal Steel was intended to benefit few officials at the detriment of the Liberian people."

Uganda: Uganda loses forest cover


Uganda has lost 26% of its forest cover in the last two decades, according to a report released last month by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In the Global Forest Resources Assessment Report, FAO said the forest cover had reduced from 4,924 million hectares in 1990 to 3,627 million in 2005. Uganda's forest cover is estimated at 24% of the land cover and is likely to decline with increasing population that relies on agriculture for survival.

Land & land rights

Africa: Issues of land ownership, management and rights


Issues of land ownership, management and rights have significant poverty implications for rural communities in Africa generally, but are of key concern to pastoralists and huntergatherers. Although ultimate state control over land remains widespread in Africa, as either ownership (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mozambique) or trusteeship (Tanzania, Namibia), the new generation of land laws allows and promotes various forms of land transfers and tends to strengthen the land rights of foreign investors.

Angola: The right to land and a livelihood


Restoring viable livelihoods is the single major challenge facing rural communities in post-war Angola. The communities in the municipalities of Conda, Ambuim, and Sumbe (CAS) in Kuanza Sul province are meeting this challenge. Given that land is the primary asset for rural households, access to land becomes, therefore, a fundamental imperative. The current land tenure systems offer both opportunities and constraints to the improvement of women’s and men’s rights to land. This research, which has been commissioned to review the dynamics of land tenure in the CAS area, its opportunities and risks, reveals a denial of land access rights to communal farmers, whose livelihoods are centred on land.

Media & freedom of expression

Egypt: National campaign for ending imprisonment for publication offenses commences


A collective demand by editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers, media professors, and representatives of human rights organizations, to initiate a national campaign to end the possibility of imprisonment for publication offenses is finally being realized. University professors, members of the Higher Education Teaching Association, representatives from civil society, unions and political parties will participate in the campaign which is calling for the adoption of the draft law provided by the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate (EJS), annulling imprisonment sentences in opinion and publication cases.

South Africa: Concern at Zuma coverage


The Public Protector, the Gender Commission and the South African Human Rights Commission have expressed concern over the conduct of Jacob Zuma supporters and media coverage of his rape trial, according to a report on the Mail & Guardian's website. The three bodies - all set up under Chapter Nine of the Constitution and referring to themselves as the C9s - said they met on Friday to discuss events around the trial.

Tanzania: Media sued over estate deal story


Tanzanian media owner and prominent businessman Reginald Mengi and several of the journalists working in his media outlets have been slapped with a 100 billion shilling (approx. US$8.6 million) libel suit allegedly for defaming the executive chairperson of the Quality Group Limited, Yusuf Manji. The historic libel suit comes a few days after the 24th issue of the new English daily newspaper "This Day", owned by Mengi, exposed a property deal involving the Quality Group Company limited.

The Gambia: Gambian security forces seal off newspaper, arrest staff


Plainclothes Gambian security agents Tuesday sealed the offices of the twice-weekly newspaper The Independent and arrested staffers found on the premises, local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists. Most of the staff members were released after brief questioning, but Editor Musa Saidykhan and General Manager Madi Ceesay remained in custody at the end of the day.

News from the diaspora

Africa: Diaspora healthcare conference aims to find a solution to the ‘Brain Drain’ problem


The World Health Organisation (WHO) designated 2006 as The Year for Health and the United Nations has designated this year as The Year of Migration. For the African continent, the combination of the two factors can have devastating consequences. WHO reports that 2.9 per cent of the world’s 175 million population live outside their country of birth. As health professionals on the African continent migrate to western countries out of economic necessity, the loss of medical expertise is increasingly leaving a depleted health sector incapable of meeting public healthcare needs.

Africa: Football as a religious arena


War between Villages, one of four documentaries in 'The African Dream' series, is about sport in Africa and shows the annual football competition between villages in Senegal. As so much hangs on the sport, including the honour of the villages themselves, villagers turn for assistance to spiritual methods of support, not wanting to rely only on their own prowess and ability. Football on One Leg Reportage shows how the people of Sierra Leone in general are trying to rebuild their lives after the recent devastating civil war there and this film shows how a special group of youngsters are turning to football.

Africa: Peru Negro, linking the worlds of the African Diaspora


The world feels a little smaller when you watch Peru Negro. The group hails from Lima, but there's something Cuban in their drumbeats, something African in the way they whip the air with their hips and shoulders, even a bit of the American South in a body-slapping musical routine as near to the hambone as you'll see north of the Carolinas. What feels so familiar in Peru Negro's program, performed Thursday night at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center, is part of the mystery of the African diaspora, linking islands and continents and cultures in ways that resonate to this day.

Ethiopia: Ethiopian jew out to make history as Israelis vote


Mr Avraham Neguise could make history by becoming the first Ethiopian Jew to be elected to the Knesset as Israelis go to the vote. Mr Neguise, who has spent most of his life fighting for the rights of Ethiopian Jews, is the leader of a party known as Atid Echad. It is fielding 10 candidates, five of them Ethiopian Jews. The others include Rabi Yechezkel Stezer, who lives in the US. This is the first time in the history of Israel for Ethiopian Jews to run for national political office. The 100,000 strong Ethiopian community face problems of discrimination in education and jobs and racism in Israel.

Conflict & emergencies

Africa: Arms embargoes


UN arms embargoes are systematically violated and must be urgently strengthened if they are to stop weapons fueling human rights abuses, according to a report presented to the UN Security Council last week. According to the Control Arms Campaign every one of the 13 UN arms embargoes imposed in the last decade has been repeatedly violated. And despite hundreds of embargo breakers being named in UN reports, only a handful have been successfully prosecuted. This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a press release and excerpts from the new report released by the Control Arms Campaign, a joint campaign of Amnesty International, the International Action Network on Small Arms, and Oxfam International.

Africa: The quest for peace in Africa


This Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) brief assesses directions for novel and nuanced peace initiatives. It points out that in order for any peace initiative to progress, the various actors at the national, regional and international levels need to demonstrate the political will and capacity to transform the continent from conflicts and social instability to peace and prosperity.

East Africa: How guns have made Africa poor and left many hungry


A recent agreement by the seven countries of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to establish a regional emergency fund involving the private sector to fight famine in the Horn of Africa is historic. The decision is significant in that it represents the first time the countries are involving the private sector on a regional scale to fight famine. It also signifies a turning point for Igad: a realisation that Africa cannot attain food security without tackling the root causes of famine - political turmoil, civil strife and war that have made a continent that was an exporter of food 50 years ago unable to feed itself.
* Related Link
2.5 million people affected by drought

Ethiopia: Addis explosion kills one


A blast on a minibus killed one person and injured three in Addis Ababa on Monday, the first fatality in a string of mysterious explosions in the Ethiopian capital. A second blast occurred outside the gate of an abattoir in the city but no one was hurt, police said.

Nigeria: Niger Delta fights back against violence and corruption


"Nothing has changed," says Patterson Ogon, founding director of the Ijaw Council for Human Rights in the Niger Delta. "Since 1995 when Ken Saro-Wiwa was hung, [Shell's] public relations and glossy reports seem to indicate that they're doing so much in the Niger Delta. But we are still waiting to see any practical change." Over a decade has passed since the Nigerian government killed Ken Saro-Wiwa. The Niger Delta is once again making international headlines. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is a well-armed, well-organized group of youth who aim to localize control of the Niger Delta's oil wealth.

Somalia: Calm as ceasefire takes hold in Mogadishu


According to an IRIN report, the Somali capital of Mogadishu was calm on Monday as a ceasefire that came into effect after four days of heavy militia fighting continued to hold, but hundreds of families who fled their homes were yet to return, local sources said. Most of the displaced families had been living in the city's northern outskirts where the fighting was concentrated. "For the second day, the guns are silent in Mogadishu. How long that will last is a different matter," a local resident who requested anonymity said on Monday.

Sudan: Arab league should back UN protection force in Darfur


At the Arab League summit in Khartoum, Arab leaders should endorse plans to transform promptly the African Union's mission in Darfur into a United Nations protection force, a coalition of international and Arab human rights organizations have said. In addition, Arab officials should encourage their Sudanese counterparts to accept the transition to a UN force. Arab League leaders will meet in the Sudanese capital for a two-day summit. On the agenda will be the AU proposal to turn the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) into a UN operation.

Sudan: New UN resolution on Darfur represents a small step in the right direction


Africa Action has welcomed the unanimous passage of a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution requesting more rapid planning for a proposed UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur, Sudan. However, while the resolution recognized the need for greater urgency in the planning process, the Security Council has not yet committed to authorizing such a mission, and must now do so in the coming weeks. As conditions in Darfur continue to deteriorate, Africa Action emphasized the urgent need for a robust international force to be deployed to Darfur to complement and reinforce the African Union (AU) mission on the ground.

Sudan: Women and children biggest losers in the war


Depending on where you stand, you can be elated by Sudan's recent developments, or depressed by its flaws. With an annual economic growth of 7.2 per cent, it is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. But the good tidings are only visible in its capital city, Khartoum. Beyond is a different twist of neglect, want and deprivation. By December last year, over 2.7 million people were still in need of external food aid in Darfur and vast parts of Southern Sudan. "The major sufferers in all these are women and children," says Neil Turner, Programme director with the Save the Children UK's Southern Sudan project.

Internet & technology

Africa: A computer for Africa, will it work?


The new Solo computer is being developed in partnership with a group of software designers based in Great Britain. It is designed to get around the many challenges of operating in Africa. It is very tiny, just like a single card from the motherboard of a regular PC and comes with all the same ports and connectors as a PC.

Angola: Israelis bring high-tech food to Angola


An Israeli company is using the latest water-saving technology to grow fruit and vegetables in Angola, which imports much of its food after 27 years of civil war. A computer programme calculates the exact amounts of water needed, depending on temperature and humidity.

Global: Wikipedia study 'fatally flawed'


A study on the accuracy of the free online resource Wikipedia by the prestigious journal Nature has been described as "fatally flawed". The report, published in December last year, compared the accuracy of online offerings from Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Nature found that both were about as accurate as each other on science.

Mozambique: African colleges merge onto Internet fast lane


Alfonso Pene, an information technology student at Eduardo Mondlane University, spends a lot of time on the Internet researching computer programming languages. But the university's slow connection speed makes doing his homework an exercise in frustration. That is about to change as a result of an effort by six major US foundations - including the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation - to boost Internet bandwidth at African universities.

Somalia: FSAU Launches Digital Library


The Food Security Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSAU), implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and funded by the European Commission and USAID, launches it’s vast Digital Library (DILI) online. While previously accessible only from the FSAU Resource Center in the Nairobi office, DILI is now accessible anywhere in the world via the FSAU web site.

South Africa: Bar Camp Cape Town


BarCampCapeTown is an idea is to bring the South African tech/geek/creative community together under one roof in the informal "un-conference" environment. Think of it as Open-Source conferencing, this is your conference, you present, you discuss, you attend, you spread the word.

Fundraising & useful resources

Call for Submissions: Think Again


Think Again! is the title of a new initiative that seeks to instill greater understanding and appreciation for Africa. This educational text-book, think-piece, and motivational force will supplement educational programs and curricula across high-schools and universities across the United States, cutting across boundaries and misconceptions of Africa.

Congo: Creative development


AZUR Development's mission is to provide leadership in the socio-cultural and economic development of the Congo and of Africa in general. AZUR Development is participating in the socio-cultural development of the Congo and of Africa in general. As an apolitical non-profit organization, it is a space for sustainable development created for the love of work: a space for growth and creativity for those who work there. Visit their website for more information.

Global: 5th Media Law Advocates Training Programme


This intensive 3 week training programme in human rights and media law with a focus on litigation and advocacy skills is run by PCMLP in collaboration with the Open Society Justice Initiative and other organisations.

Postgraduate funding opportunities, Leeds, UK


The School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds, brings to the attention of qualified graduates funding opportunities for postgraduate study in the fields of politics, international relations, development studies and European studies.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: Bridging the North-South Divide in Scholarly Communication on Africa


As part of a joint, collaborative effort that includes research, a joint research masters degree programme, publications and dissemination, CODESRIA and the ASC have launched a series of conferences on research, documentation, publishing and dissemination in the context of the ITCs revolution.

Global: Upeace scholarships available


During the 2006-2007 academic year, the University for Peace will be providing Master's programmes in the following areas:
- Environmental Security and Peace (scholarships available)
- Gender and Peace Building
- International Law and Human Rights
- International Law and the Settlement of Disputes
- International Peace Studies
- Media, Conflict and Peace Studies (New)
- Natural Resources and Sustainable Development
- Peace Education (scholarships available)
Admission requirements, online application and detailed information about each programme are available through the link provided.

Uganda: Media and Journalism Immersion


This program is a unique gathering of journalists, photographers, marketing and public relations students who will gather in Uganda to address the misconceptions about Africa in the media. The Immersion will facilitate discussion; promote the exchange of ideas and solutions; and interact with key decision makers in Uganda about the challenges and creative solutions facing Uganda.

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