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Pambazuka News 293: Will the real Wilberforce please stand

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

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

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. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Books & arts, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Blogging Africa, 8. Podcasts & Videos, 9. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 10. African Union Monitor, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. Education, 19. LGBTI, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. News from the diaspora, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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Highlights from this issue

Featured this week


-In the 200th year since the end of slavery, Bro. K. Bangarah asks who really led the movement for abolition
- Tristen Taylor sheds some light on the politics of electricity supply in South Africa
- The faces are different, but the Nigerian elections are the same old story, says Nnimmo Bassey
- It is 50 years since Ghana's independence. Peluola Adewale appraises Nkrumahism
- John Bellamy Foster issues a warning on US militarism in Africa
- Nunu Kidane: Somalia and the US peace movement
- Responses to mis-representation in Africa
PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem reflects on Ghana at 50
BLOGGING AFRICA: Hotels for single women in Kenya, visas for Africans, and drying frozen fish in Nigeria
BOOKS & ARTS: Lindiwe Nkutha on Palestine and de-colonising the mind with Ngugi
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: News on a human rights book fair

CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Peace-keepers arrive in Somalia
HUMAN RIGHTS: New report on abuse of undocumented migrants in South Africa
WOMEN AND GENDER: Zimbabwean women still far from liberation
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: 25,000 refugees have returned to DRC
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Senegal opposition rejects poll results
AFRICA AND CHINA: China selling off Kenyan oil rights it got for free
DEVELOPMENT: Call to arms over Western governments’ farm subsidies
CORRUPTION: Liberian Ex-President charged with corruption
HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Male circumcision and HIV: a broader analysis is required
EDUCATION: Soaring tuition fees deprive Zimbabwean youth of education
ENVIRONMENT: Niger river in intensive-care
LGBTI: Out of the closet in Nigeria
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: The unfinished business of land reform in South Africa
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: AU chief supports press freedom
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Fleeing Haitian gangs set up rural bases
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: South Africa’s government goes Open-Source
PLUS: e-Newsletters and Mailings Lists; Courses, Seminars and Workshops and Jobs

* Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit


Will the real William Wilberforce please stand up?

British imperialism: Unrepentant for its crimes against humanity

Bro. K. Bangarah


Bro. K. Bangarah argues that it was a series of military, economic and political forces, as well as the actions of a group of Afrikan activists in Britain that led to the abolition of slavery - and not William Wilberforce. In the first part of this serialised article, Bangarah says Wilberforce merely claimed leadership of the movement.

Comment & analysis

The political economy of power

Tristen Taylor


The generation and distribution of power (electricity) is politically and economically driven. It is also surrounded by deception and falsehoods. Tristen Taylor explains why and how.

Nigeria: A beclouded transition

Nnimmo Bassey


Nigerian elections have always been surrounded by intrigue, corruption and violence. Nnimmo Bassey says that as the country prepares for the first elections where one civilian government hands over to another, it appears little has changed.

Ghana at 50: An appraisal of Nkrumahism

Peluola Adewale


Kwame Nkrumah: From pan-African visionary to one-party state dictator? Peluola Adewale looks back on the legacy of one of Africa's most famous political leaders.

A Warning for Africa

The war for the ‘New American Century’

John Bellamy Foster


The US is increasing its military presence in Africa under the guise of fighting the war on terror and protecting US commercial interests in Africa, especially oil, writes John Bellamy Foster.

Pan-African Postcard

Ghana at 50: Nkrumah never dies

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem


Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem returns from a weekend in Accra where they are busy preparing to celebrate 50 years of independence. For Ghana’s ruling party, the New Patriotic Party and President Kuffour the 50th anniversary celebrations are problematic. How do they celebrate the legacy of Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism when they and their forbearers opposed him. Well, they do so by having the "mother of all parties" and attempting to make political gain out of the celebrations.

Books & arts

De-colonizing the Mind

Annie Quarcoopome


Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a controversial man! I read some chapters from his Decolonizing the Mind and it was deeply thought-provoking. It made me think especially about what I want to call myself. Let me explain. Most bloggers consider themselves authors, writers. I call myself a writer. A soon to be published African writer! Am I?


Lindiwe Nkutha


what if you were a flower
and your roots were lodged
on that part of earth that
separates Israel from Palestine?

Letters & Opinions

Somalia and the US peace movement

Nunu Kidane


This year’s World Social Forum was held in Nairobi Kenya, the first in the African continent. Many who participated in it have written their accounts of the Forum, and the significance to the movement building towards another, a better world. What seemed to be missing from the accounts I’ve read is that while we were in Nairobi, the US bombed the East African country Somalia in what was falsely justified as a move to eradicate Al Queda operatives in the Horn of Africa.

In the many workshops dealing with peace and security held at the Forum, few raised the importance of our presence in Kenya, a country which has played a key role in providing support for US military offensive against neighboring Somalia.

The increasing US military role in Africa should be a concern to all of us and the January 23rd bombing of a defenseless people, while the Social Forum was on its 3rd day, should have raised alarm from the progressive peace movement. US military attack of Somalia should be seen parallel to US aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How then to explain the silence of the US peace movement on Somalia. Perhaps US-based organisations don’t have the proper analytical framework from which to understand the significance of the Horn of Africa region. Perhaps it is because Somalia is largely seen as a country with no government and in perpetual chaos, with 'fundamental Islamic' forces not deserving of defense against the military attacks by US in search of 'terrorists'.

The US has officially made known the intention to have the largest US military presence in Africa, known as AfricCom. The rationale for this of course is to curb further spread of Islamic fundamentalists presence in Sub Sahara Africa which viewed as open ground for possible Al Queda recruitment.

US political and military alliance with Ethiopia – which openly violated international law in its aggression towards Somalia, is destabilizing the Horn region and begins a new shift in the way the US plans to have permanent and active military presence in Africa.

Four days after the bombing of Somalia, one of the largest peace protest was held in Washington DC on 27 January. Somalia remained off the agenda by the expressed intent of the organizers to keep single focus on Iraq and ‘bringing the troops home’.

Does this mean the US public only responds to messages of peace as narrowly defined as securing the safety of US military personnel in Iraq? Visions of the global peace movement cannot be limited the interests and concerns for particular geographic areas and people. What drove hundreds of thousands out to the Washington DC protest in the friging cold weather is beyond self-interest and the concern for all lives, Iraqi, American, Afghani and Somali !

Somalia goes to the relevance (or irrelevance?) of Africa in US history; lack of proper framework from which to understand current political events in the continent and ways of engaging the general public.

It is bad enough that the Washington Consensus views Africa through the lens of national security concerns, or as a source of oil and other minerals. The peace movement, which speaks for all peace-loving people in the US and the world, should maintain a different perspective if we are to move towards the vision that 'another world is possible'.

* Nunu Kidane is Network Coordinator for Priority Africa Network (PAN) based in Oakland, California – [email protected]

Mis-representation of Africa

Gary Kenny


I just read the article 'The mis-representation of Africa' by Selome Araya and largely agree with its point of view. However, Ms Araya is one of the many, many people, Africans and non-Africans, who have written similar articles denouncing those campaigns and organisations that, despite being mostly well intentioned, do more to perpetuate myths and sterotypes about Africa rather than afford African peoples the dignity and accuracy of representation that any of us non-Africans would expect. What I think would be much more poignant and instructive is if writers like Ms Araya would themselves produce materials that report on African events, peoples, etc. in the manner they feel does them justice. Perhaps Pambazuka News could run a series of articles that intentionally do this. Why not run some mock ad campaigns by mocking NGOs that work to address issues in African countries but that represent those countries and peoples in the manner Ms Araya and many of us would prefer? It's called teaching by example.

* Gary Kenny Program Co-ordinator for Southern Africa Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit, United Church of Canada

Blogging Africa

Review of African Blogs

Sokari Ekine


Ugandan art, visa hassles and single women travellers in Kenya.

Podcasts & Videos

Caine Prize winner Segun Afolabi speaks to Pambazuka News

Segun Afolabi


Nigerian novelist Segun Afolabi talks to Pambazuka News about winning the Caine Prize, migration and the state of African publishing today.

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Kenya: China Selling off the Kenya oil rights it got free


There was outrage among European oil exploration companies interested in Kenya when it emerged last week that the state-owned National Oil Corporation of China — CNOOC — has quietly put out notices offering to farm out to third parties some of the oil exploration blocks granted to it by President Mwai Kibaki in April last year.

African Union Monitor

Human Rights Book Fair

Gichinga Ndirangu


The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) will hold an African Human Rights Book Fair in Accra, Ghana starting May 12 to 14, 2007

Women & gender

Ghana: Market women and micro-finance


In a bustling Ghana marketplace female entrepreneurs borrow small sums from a micro-finance institution. The loans aren't cheap--annual interest rates are around 36 percent--but a few borrowers explain how the money still helps out.

Global: UN rights chief calls for action to tackle ‘plague’ of violence against women


Progress has been made already this year in protecting human rights worldwide, such as the recent adoption of a convention against enforced disappearances and other legislation, the top United Nations rights officer has said, but she stressed that more must be done in other areas, particularly to curb the “plague” of violence against women.

Zambia: ZARD launches new website


The Zambia association for Research & Development (ZARD) has launched a new website, under its WIDNet Programme. The Women's Information for Development Network (WIDNet) is the place for information on the status of women and girls in Zambia.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe women still far from liberation


Though women in Zimbabwe are finding a greater place in the national economy, this is not necessarily translating into real growth and leadership. Zimbabwe women mastering the current crisis may lead an increasing number of households and enterprises, but still totally fail to promote their sisters to gain economic freedom.

Human rights

Global: Haitian colonel ordered to pay $4.3 million for human rights abuses


A federal jury in Miami has found Colonel Carl Dorélien, a former member of the Haitian Military's High Command, liable for torture, extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and crimes against humanity suffered by plaintiffs Lexiuste Cajuste, Marie Jeanne Jean and her two young children.

Global: New Report on Youth In Crisis


In a newly published report, ‘Youth in Crisis’ In-Depth, IRIN traces the impact of the events shaping the lives of a generation of youth rapidly reaching adulthood bearing the tragic consequences of their nations’ worst problems - from the illegal forced marriage of teenage girls in Afghanistan and Ethiopia, to the tripling of school fees and the deteriorating education system in Zimbabwe.

Guinea: A state of suspension


An explosive political crisis is subsiding. But the west African state is still caught between an ailing autocrat, a desperate people and an uncertain future, says Gilles Yabi for OpenDemocracy.

Morocco: Sahrawis organise conference on liberated land


For the first time in decades, the deserted Western Sahara village of Tifariti is reawakening to life. Located in the strip of land close to the Mauritanian desert border that is under the control of the Sahrawi pro-independence movement Polisario, Tifariti today is hosting "more than 800 delegates" participating in an international solidarity conference.

South Africa: New Report on abuse of undocumented migrants


Human Rights Watch has released a report - “Keep Your Head Down” Unprotected Migrants in South Africa - in which it details how South African officials involved in the arrest and deportation of undocumented migrant workers often assault and extort money from them, and commercial farmers employing them routinely violate their basic labor rights.

Refugees & forced migration

Botswana: Court ruling on Bushmen now available


A copy of the landmark ruling made by the Botswana High Court in the case of the Kalahari Bushmen against the Botswana government is now available online, Survival International reports. The court ruled that the Botswana government’s eviction of the Bushmen was ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’, and that they have the right to live on their ancestral land inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Chad: Funds sought for Internally Displaced


The UN refugee agency on Tuesday issued a US$6.2 million supplementary appeal to fund protection and assistance programmes for tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in eastern Chad.

DRC: UNHCR-assisted refugee returns to DRC from Tanzania top 25,000


The number of people helped by UNHCR to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Tanzania has hit the 25,000 mark. The UNHCR-assisted return programme for Congolese refugees in Tanzania began in October 2005, and as UNHCR reports, the challenges of sustainable reintegration are becoming greater as more and more people opt to return home.

Gambia: Senegalese youth jailed for Spain emigration attempt


A Gambian court ordered a month's jail term for 37 Senegalese illegal migrants that had tried embarking for Spain, after they were proven guilty to the charges brought against them.

Libya: NGO pledges to support UNHCR in North Africa


The chairman of Libya's International Organisation for Peace, Care and Relief (IOPCR) pledged on Monday in Geneva to support UNHCR's work on behalf of refugees caught in mixed migratory movements in North Africa.

Elections & governance

Senegal: Opposition rejects results


The Socialist Party (PS), which has supported the candidature of its leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng, in the recent presidential election in Senegal, has rejected the results proclaimed by the registration and voters Commission. According to Maitre Aissata Tall Sall, campaign manager of the candidate, there was a lot of fraud and irregularities during the scrutiny.

Senegal: Wade re-elected


Senegal's veteran leader Abdoulaye Wade has won a second term in the country's presidential elections, according to provisional results. But one of the leading opposition parties, the Socialist Party, which ruled the country for four decades before being ousted by Wade in 2000 elections, said it would contest the outcome of the vote.


Kenya: Crime, corruption harming Kenyan economy - UN


The United Nations says crime is hampering the growth of east Africa's largest economy by forcing businesses to spend heavily on private security services in the absence of effective policing, according to a report by Reuters.

Kenya: Sacked executives told to refund $0.12m


Two former top executives of the state-owned Kenya Reinsurance Corporation (Kenya Re) who were sacked recently to allow investigations into allegations of financial irregularities in the company may be forced to refund Ksh8.5 million ($121,400) to the corporation.

Liberia: Ex-President charged with corruption


The government of Liberia formally charged the country's former Interim President, Gyude Bryant, with theft. He led the country after the world community had sacked Charles Taylor from power and headed the transition into today's democratic regime.


Africa: Call to arms over Western governments' farm subsidies


Africa needs to develop a new global campaign that will target the attention of the public in Europe and the US, in its battle against Western governments over farm subsidies. A meeting of women parliamentarians held in Kigali last week was told that by sensitising the public in the West to the injustices caused by the subsidies, Western governments could be pressured by their own populations to act on the matter.

Africa: Kagame seeks dialogue over Nile Waters


Delegates from 10 countries in the East Africa region gathered in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, last week to mark the first River Nile Day, with most discussions focussing on the need to share water resources equitably in order to avoid conflict. The Nile Basin Initiative is supposed to benefit equally all of the countries in the Nile Basin. “Positive development in one country can have similar effects for the rest of the countries,” said Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Africa: UNDP Says African Privatisation Fails


The UNDP has published a policy research brief which draws on the findings of a UNDP-supported book, Privatization and Alternative Public Sector Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa (Bayliss and Fine, forthcoming). It analyses the effects of privatisation on the delivery of water and electricity. Its chief conclusion is that privatisation has been a widespread failure.

Kenya: Reviving the vital cotton sector


Kenya's cotton industry, once one of the country's main foreign exchange earners, declined substantially following liberalization of the sector in 1991. However, efforts are now being made to address problems bedeviling the cotton sector, including a government-led campaign under the auspices of 'Kenya Vision 2030'.

Liberia: Government takes aim at unemployment


The Liberian government has completed a short-term national poverty reduction plan to tackle the country's massive unemployment. The plan outlines four key areas of poverty alleviation, but principally centres on job creation.

Swaziland: Community gardens flourish to feed the vulnerable


NGOs in Swaziland are shifting the emphasis of their operations from handouts of donated foodstuffs to training households and communities to set up projects that produce food and generate income, to find a lasting solution to perennial food shortages.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Global: Male Circumcision and HIV: A Broader analysis is required

Joshua Ogada


There have been a large number of studies dating back to the late eighties that have looked at the correlation between male circumcision – or lack thereof – and the risk of contracting HIV. The evidence from these studies shows a relatively high reduction in the risk of infection as a result of circumcision. As is the norm, these studies have to different degrees accounted for possible confounding variables, but do not pretend to delve into the broader socio-cultural issues that attend the problem. The studies have been predominantly medical in nature, and there is still a dearth of sociological research on the subject.

In an insightful article published in the Cape Times, Professor Jonny Myers alludes to the element of cultural hegemony underlying the almost casual way in which male circumcision is being mooted. He points to the ease with which groups who have traditionally circumcised males advocate for its cooptation into the AIDS fighting arsenal. Some of the medical evidence on the benefits of circumcision has been refuted, or at least reasonably challenged over in the last few years. Among these was reduced risk of penile cancer, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and better hygiene. Today, medical reasons for routine male circumcision are not widely accepted.

To be clear, any intervention that helps the fight against the spread of AIDS merits utmost consideration. However, the more difficult to implement the intervention, the greater the efficacy standard required for it to pass muster.

One still gets the sense of a widely held misconception that those communities that do not practise male circumcision simply ‘neglect’ to do so. In fact, one could argue that not practising male circumcision is characterised by the same level of conviction as practising it. Some communities that do not circumcise males have other rites of passage that serve the same purpose. Introducing male circumcision in populations that do not practise it will require a “de-culturization” of the procedure.

A major obstacle that has characterised the fight against AIDS has been how to change deeply entrenched behaviour. How much more difficult will this be if the behaviour in deeply entrenched in cultural practises. In Western Kenya, for example, where certain communities practise ‘wife inheritance’ it has taken a serious re-orientation of cultural beliefs to make any headway. Furthermore, this has only been successful because sexual relations as a key factor in the spread of the disease are but a peripheral and dispensable aspect of the practise.

Another key consideration is how the underlying assumption that circumcision provides a measure of protection can lead to increased risky sexual behaviour. It is debatable whether the fight against the pandemic has achieved the levels of knowledge and attitudes requisite to reasonable counter this. The most successful communication campaigns have sought to minimize this risk by combining messages, for example, condom-use with abstinence and faithfulness.

Finally, this unfolding debate provides yet another unwelcome detraction from the fact that there still remains a dire need to expand basic health services to the majority who do not have it. This is arguably the biggest factor in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Yet it seems like we are about to ask for these over-stretched and ill-equipped services to add a surgical procedure to their list!

Further Reading:

Circumcision is no silver bullet in Aids fight (subscription)

Does Cicumcision reduce HIV risks?

Male circumcision: a role in HIV prevention?

AIDS: Male Circumcision ‘is the key’,,2-7-659_2044924,00.html

Swaziland: Home-based care system expanding


Home-based care in Swaziland is increasingly being relied on to compensate for the inadequacies of a public health system buckling under the weight of the country's HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Gambia: UN rep expelled after comment on president’s AIDS cure


The government of The Gambia gave the most senior United Nations official in the country 48 hours to leave the country starting Friday 23 February, following remarks she made criticising Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s widely-publicised cure for HIV/AIDS.

Global: UN warns of 'lethal' fake drugs


Fake prescription medicines are swamping developing nations with sometimes deadly consequences, a report by the UN drugs watchdog has said. The International Narcotics Control Board report says up to 50% of the medicines in these markets are fake.

Africa: Drug-maker launches cut-price malaria pill for Africa


French drug-maker Sanofi-Aventis has launched a new cheap and easy-to-take combination pill to fight malaria that could help reduce deaths from the killer disease in Africa, it said on Thursday.

Malawi: Aids-ravaged Malawi debates male circumcision


Aids-ravaged Malawi launched a two-day national debate on Wednesday on whether to adopt male circumcision in a bid to reduce the levels of HIV infection in the south-east African country.

Africa: Breastfeeding benefits may outweigh HIV risks - study


The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of virus transmission from HIV-positive mothers to their children, according to studies conducted in four African nations.

Global: Unhygienic circumcision 'increases risk of HIV' - study


The circumcision procedure itself carries a significant risk of HIV transmission if carried out under unsafe conditions, according to a study. The research, published in the March issue of Annals of Epidemiology, adds to the debate over the use of male circumcision for the prevention of HIV infection.


Africa: Calls to improve post-primary education in Eastern and Southern Africa


Experts and education officials from 20 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa are calling upon governments and development agencies to pay greater attention to the large number of children who fail to proceed to secondary school because of limited opportunities.

South Africa: Education against the odds


Thirteen years ago a secondary school in Soweto, South Africa's most populous black urban residential area, was little different from the majority of the country's schools: dilapidated, under staffed and crime ridden, with the vast majority of its students struggling to pass their exams.

Zimbabwe: Soaring tuition fees deprive youth of education


Zimbabwean parents not only have to contend with fees they cannot afford, but also with expensive essentials like uniforms, which now cost 600 times more than they did in 2006.


Africa: One step forward, two steps back for Africa's gay people


The issue of lesbian and gay Africans' human rights again came to the fore recently as Anglican Church leaders met in Tanzania amid the continuing row over the consecration of a gay United States bishop in 2003. An ultimatum was sent from the conference in Dar es Salaam to US bishops to make a commitment that same-sex unions would not be blessed.

Nigeria: Out of the closet in Nigeria


Coming out of the closet in Nigerian society, is not for the faint-hearted; it's not even for the publicity-seeking. But in October 2004, Bisi Alimi - in a first - calmly revealed his homosexuality on live television. He did so on New Dawn, a popular talk show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), in an atmosphere of transparent hostility.

South Africa: 'Out In Africa' comes of age


The Out In Africa (OIA) gay and lesbian film festival, South Africa's most popular film festival, is well into its teens. And appropriately, now in its thirteenth year, there are some big changes afoot.

South Africa: Gay couple asked to 'cover up' on flight


A British businessman and his South African partner have brought sexual discrimination claims against a major airline to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) after they were ordered by an air hostess to "cover up" while on a domestic flight earlier this month.

South Africa: Same-sex marriages 'will destroy the zulus'


The Civil Union Act, which legalised same-sex marriages, 'marked the end of the Zulu nation and its way of life'. This was the feeling at the opening of a two-day conference of the heads of Zulu warriors and maidens, organised by Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, in Durban this month.


Algeria: Fighting desertification through conservation


In May, Algeria will inaugurate a reserve around a small oasis in the south-west where plants and animals are to be protected in the service of a broader goal. Hopes are that the Taghit National Park will help stop the advance of the Sahara Desert, which already stretches across almost all of this North African country (IPS news).

Global: Are recent flood disasters the result of climate change?


It remains difficult, if not impossible, to pin particular disasters such as floods and storms to the phenomenon of climate change. For all the advances of scientists, such precise causality cannot be established. Michael Renner posits that climate change or not, “natural” disasters are of course a frequent occurrence. But it is clear that a destabilized climate system, together with other forms of environmental damage, will cause havoc more frequently.

Global: Environmental impact of livestock sector must be addressed urgently - report


The global livestock sector is socially and politically very significant, creating livelihoods for one billion of the world’s poor and accounting for 40% of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP). A report by Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD) finds that the value of the sector is countered by an often extremely high environmental impact.

Global: Soapie actors stand up for Amazon jungle


An open letter demanding "an immediate halt to the deforestation of the Amazon jungle" has been released by Brazilian television stars taking part in the Globo Network series " Amazonia, de Galvez a Chico Mendes" (Amazonia, from Galvez to Chico Mendes).

Niger: The Niger River in intensive-care


Stretching over more than 4,000 kilometres, the Niger is West Africa's longest river, and greatly threatened in the country of the same name by environmental degradation that is causing the water course to silt up, according to an IPS report.

South Africa: Culling and contraception to curb elephant population


South Africa's environment minister on Wednesday proposed contraception and some culling -- but no mass slaughter -- as part of a package of measures to slow rampant elephant population growth.

Land & land rights

South Africa: The unfinished business of land reform


Widely reported as "the first farm expropriation", the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights recently announced that it had expropriated a 25 200ha farm near Barkley West in the Northern Cape to settle a restitution claim by 471 families.

Media & freedom of expression

Africa: AU Chief supports press freedom


A delegation of concerned press freedom fighters flew to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet the continental body's Chairperson, Alpha Oumar Konaré. Mr Konaré assured the delegation of his office's support for press freedom in the continent.

DRC: Journalist sentenced in defamation case


The Kalamu Peace Court in the city of Boma, in Bas-Congo province sentenced Popol Ntula Vita, a reporter with the Kinshasa-based weekly "La Cite Africaine", to three months in prison without parole and a fine of US$6,450 in damages. The journalist was prosecuted for "defamation and damaging allegations" against Thomas Ndombasi, the local head of the public tax office (Direction générale des Impôts, DGI), and three of his colleagues.

Egypt: Court Overturns Jail Sentence for Egyptian Journalist


An appeals court in Cairo has overturned a prison sentence for an Egyptian journalist convicted of defaming President Hosni Mubarak. Ibrahim Eissa, the editor of the weekly newspaper al-Dustour, had been sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing Mr. Mubarak. The appeals court overturned the jail term but substituted a fine of almost four thousand dollars.

Gambia: Police break silence on missing journalist, deny arresting him


For the first time during the eight-month disappearance of Chief Ebrima Manneh, a reporter of the pro-government Banjul-based newspaper "Daily Observer", the Gambia Police Force officially denied ever arresting him.

Liberia: Newspaper's licence revoked, premises sealed


The government of Liberia revoked the operational license of "The Independent" newspaper in Monrovia for one year. The decision was announced at a press conference in Monrovia by acting Information Minister Laurence Bropleh. Minister Bropleh said the decision was in response to "The Independent's" publication of a photograph showing former Presidential Affairs Minister Willis Knuckles in a sex scene with two ladies.

News from the diaspora

Global: African Love Stories: Is that Not an Anomaly? - Panel Discussion


Yaba Badoe and Wangui wa Goro are joined by publisher Becky Clarke and Elleke Boehmer (chair), a specialist in postcolonial writing, to discuss the African Love Stories Anthology, a radical collection of short stories, spanning the continent and featuring challenging themes hitherto considered a taboo.

Haiti: Fleeing gangs set up new rural bases


Heavily armed gangs, fleeing Haiti's dangerous slums in the face of U.N. peacekeeper raids, have established new bases in provincial areas, creating panic in rural populations, officials and residents say.

Haiti: Poor residents of capital describe a state of siege


Nearly two months since U.N. troops began launching heavy attacks that they say are aimed against gang members in poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, roadblocks and barbed wire remain in place and the atmosphere is grim.

Conflict & emergencies

Nigeria: Gunmen abduct Lebanese worker in Niger Delta


Gunmen abducted a Lebanese construction worker near the Nigerian oil city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, police said on Wednesday. The kidnapping, at Mbiama community in Rivers state, brought to nine the number of foreigners held by armed groups in the delta, which accounts for all of Nigeria's oil production.

Somalia: First peace-keepers arrive


A small advance team of African Union troops has arrived in Somalia, say officials in the country.Police sources and airport staff in the southern town of Baidoa told a BBC correspondent that 30 soldiers had arrived in the town.

Sudan: Darfur Peace Agreement behind schedule


The implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement is heavily behind schedule. According the UN Secretary-General’s December 2006 report on Darfur, the implementation of the security protocol is behind schedule and the power and wealth-sharing commitments remain largely unaddressed. This is according to the latest briefing by Waging Peace.

Sudan: ICC names former Sudan minister in Darfur war crimes case


The International Criminal Court's prosecutor linked Sudan's government to atrocities in Darfur, naming a junior minister as a war crimes suspect who helped recruit, arm and bankroll the murderous desert fighters known as the janjaweed.

Uganda: No renewal of truce


A cessation of hostilities in the 20-year civil war between the Ugandan government and Lord's Resistance Army has expired, with no new deal in sight. BBC reports that both sides have warned that they will retaliate if attacked.

Internet & technology

Africa: Africa seeks to attract ICT investment opportunities from the US


More than twenty African countries have been invited to the United States to discuss with US investors, Africa's communications and technology needs. Participating countries are expected to include Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Global: Low-cost Internet next step in closing digital divide, officials tell UN-backed forum


Bringing down the costs of Internet access could set off the same wave of connectivity that has made mobile phone usage commonplace in developing countries, said innovators and corporate leaders from some of the world’s leading technology firms meeting in northern California with government leaders, activists and United Nations officials.

Kenya: Communications regulator intervenes in price war


Kenya's mobile phone users last week breathed a sigh of relief following a ceiling put on interconnection charges between the duopolistic mobile operators, Safaricom and Celtel. The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK),the country's communication industry regulator, capped the charges at Kshs 30 (43 US Cents) per minute.

South Africa: Government goes Open-Source


South Africa is joining countries such as Brazil, India and Uganda in implementing open-source software in all government departments -- and getting rid of widely used Microsoft Windows desktop programmes that come with expensive licences.

Uganda: New IT system to boost Uganda's rural finance


Uganda has just launched a government project to fight poverty. The project is locally referred to as "Bonna Bagaggawale" which literally means "let's all get rich." And to boost this rural financial scheme, government has also introduced a software system known as Loan Performer to ease the rural accounting system.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Burkina Faso: Knowledge-sharing for Development workshop


As a follow-up to the “Knowledge Sharing for Development: Africa Regional Program Workshop” that was held in Cairo in February 2005, the Global Development Network (GDN) will be organizing the 3rd in its series of sub-regional workshops across Sub-Saharan Africa in cooperation with the Institute of Economic and Social Policies/Centre d’analyse des Politiques Economiques et Sociales (CAPES).

Ethiopia: The African Civil Society Forum


The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), in cooperation with the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, is organizing the African Civil Society Forum “Building UN/NGOs Partnerships for Democratic Governance through the MDGs” that will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 22 – 24 March 2007.

Global: Oxford University: Masters in International Human Rights Law


The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education is now accepting applications for its part-time Master's degree in International Human Rights Law for 2007/8 admission. If you have any queries or would like to request a printed brochure, please email [email protected] Application deadline is 16 March 2007.

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