Join Friends of Pambazuka

Subscribe for Free!

Fahamu Bulletin Archive

About our Programmes

Donate to Pambazuka News!

Follow Us

delicious bookmarks facebook twitter

Pambazuka News

Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

Latest titles from Pambazuka Press

African Sexualities

Earth Grab A Reader
Sylvia Tamale
A groundbreaking book, accessible but scholarly, by African activists. It uses research, life stories and artistic expression to examine dominant and deviant sexualities, and investigate the intersections between sex, power, masculinities and femininities
Buy now

Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya

From Citizen to Refugee Horace Campbell
In this elegantly written and incisive account, scholar Horace Campbell investigates the political and economic crises of the early twenty-first century through the prism of NATO's intervention in Libya.
Buy now

Queer African Reader

Demystifying Aid Edited by Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas
A diverse collection of writing from across the continent exploring African LGBTI liberation: identity, tactics for activism, international solidarity, homophobia and global politics, religion and culture, and intersections with social justice movements. A richness of voices, a multiplicity of discourses, a quiverful of arguments. African queers writing for each other, theorising ourselves, making our ...more
Buy now

China and Angola

African Awakening A Marriage of Convenience?
Edited by Marcus Power, Ana Alves
This book focuses on the increased co-operation between Angola and China and shows that although relations with China might have bolstered regime stability and boosted the international standing of the Angolan government, China is not regarded as a long term strategic partner.
Buy now

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

To Cook a ContinentWalter Rodney
Rodney shows how the imperial countries of Europe, and subsequently the US, bear major responsibility for impoverishing Africa. They have been joined in this exploitation by agents or unwitting accomplices both in the North and in Africa.
Buy now

Pambazuka News Broadcasts

Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

See the list of episodes.


This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Back Issues

Pambazuka News 325: Justice for Mau Mau war veterans

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.

To view online, go to
Want to get off our subscriber list? Write to [email protected] and your address will be removed

If you haven’t just received the most recent edition of Pambazuka News and you are definitely subscribed, it may be that your mailbox is protected by spam filters. Please add [email protected] to your email address book, spam software whitelist, or mail system whitelist.

CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Books & arts, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. Blogging Africa, 7. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 8. Zimbabwe update, 9. African Union Monitor, 10. Women & gender, 11. Human rights, 12. Refugees & forced migration, 13. Social movements, 14. Elections & governance, 15. Corruption, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. Education, 19. LGBTI, 20. Racism & xenophobia, 21. Environment, 22. Land & land rights, 23. Media & freedom of expression, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Support the struggle for social justice in Africa. Give generously!

Donate at:

Highlights from this issue

FEATURES: Mukoma Wa Ngugi calls for justice for Mau Mau vetrans
- Mary Ndlovu exposes the truth about life in Zimbabwe
- Mphutlane wa Bofelo on the myth of Rainbowism in the new South Africa
- Onyeka Obasi reports from the Pan African Youth Leadership Forum
LETTERS: Somaliland attacks on human rights network
AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Selome Araya highlights the latest news
REVIEW OF AFRICAN BLOGS: Dibussi Tande reivews the blogs
BOOKS & ARTS: Our Delimma by Chinwe AzubuikeACTION ALERTS: IMF fails Liberia – Take action now
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Mugabe refused sale of anti-riot gear by South Africa, says MDC
WOMEN AND GENDER: Gender inequality damages the health of women and girls
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Definitive peace accord signed in Chad
HUMAN RIGHTS: International Criminal Court and CAR government sign protocol
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Thousands flee North Kivu fighting
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Kenya polls set for 27 December
AFRICA AND CHINA: China ‘opening up’ DRC for minerals
CORRUPTION: Corruption scandal paralyses Nigerian House
DEVELOPMENT: Agriculture neglected in Africa
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: Aids stripping Beninois farmers of land
EDUCATION: ‘Auntie Stella’ website updated!
LGBTI: None on Record: Stories of Queer Africa
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: Nicholas Sarkozy’s Africa
ENVIRONMENT: 20 year on, the world is in dire straits
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: New IRIN film on slum survivors
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Nightmare year in Somalia
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Timid ICT revolution in Maghreb
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

Action alerts

Liberia: IMF Fails Liberia - Take Action Now


The brutal regime of Samuel Doe ran up much of Liberia's illegitimate debt, with no benefit to the people of Liberia. Today, Liberia has a $4.5 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other creditors. During the years of civil war, Liberia failed to make its scheduled payments, resulting in huge arrears, which the IMF insists must be cleared before Liberia can enter the debt cancellation process.


Justice for Mau Mau War Veterans

Mukoma Wa Ngugi


As the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) prepares to sue the British Government for personal injuries sustained by survivors of the Mau Mau war for independence whilst in British detention camps in Kenya, Mukoma Wa Ngugi unravels the Colonial myths of Christianisation and civilization and exposes the reality of torture, murder, slavery, landlessness, dehumanization and internment.

In February 2008, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) will file a representative law-suit against Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) in the British High Court on behalf of the survivors of the Mau Mau war for independence.

The KHRC is suing HMG for “personal injuries sustained [by the survivors] while in detention camps of the Kenya Colonial Government which operated” under the direct authority of HMG during the State of Emergency (1952-60).

But to understand the law-suit in all its implications, we have to look at Africa’s historical relationship to the West and separate the image from the reality. The Enlightenment of the 1600’s sought to civilize Africans, introduce reason and logic to them, and equip them with the key to heaven through Christianization. The reality masked underneath this image was one of torture, murder and slavery.

Later, colonialism used the image of a gentle stewardship to guide Africans along until they were civilized. The reality, as the KHRC suit shows, was landlessness, torture and dehumanization, whole population internment, outright murder and mass killings.

For the Westerners and Africans alike who have sought comfort in the images, the reality difficult to take. But the reality has been well documented. Adam Hochschild, writing in King Leopold’s Ghost, estimates that 5 to 10 million Africans died as a direct result of Belgian colonization in the Congo in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. And chopping off hands, quite literally, was a form of public control.

And between 1904 and 1907, 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero population) were systematically eliminated by the Germans in Namibia. In Algeria, during the war of independence (1954 to 1962), the French routinely tortured and 'disappeared' FLN freedom fighters.

These random examples illustrate an alarmingly simple principle: One nation cannot occupy another and seek to control its resources without detaining, torturing, assassinating and terrorizing the occupied. A modern day example of this principle at work is Iraq today where torture and killings under the occupation of the United States are rampant, even though the U.S. wants to sell an image of spreading democracy.

Colonialism, Legacy and the Mau Mau

In Kenya, British colonialism followed this same principle. Caroline Elkins’ Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag and David Anderson’s Histories Of The Hanged: The Dirty War In Kenya document tortures, hangings rushed through kangaroo courts, detention camps, internments, and assassinations, not to mention psychological warfare through fear and intimidation.

Independence however did not bring justice for Kenyans - certainly not for the Mau Mau veterans. Kenyatta, even before being sworn as president in1963, had denounced the Mau Mau as terrorists. Contrary to British propaganda, Kenyatta was never a member of the Mau Mau. In an interview, Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director of the KHRC, said that:

"On coming to power, [Kenyatta] proceeded, through the land ownership policies(and practices) of his government (and himself), to betray everything that the Mau Mau had stood for and to entrench the landholding patterns established under the colony"[1]

It is not a surprise that Kenyatta by the early 1970’s had a few detentions and assassinations under his belt. In the words of politician J.M. Kariuki (assassinated in 1975), Kenyatta created a nation of ten millionaires and ten million beggars. He wanted the Mau Mau platform of Land and Freedom erased from Kenyan memory.

In 1978 President Moi took over when Kenyatta died and continued with the same dictatorial policies. Irony is such that in 1982, Mau Mau historian Maina Wa Kinyatti was imprisoned by the Moi government in the same Kamiti Prison where the British in 1957 hanged and buried the leader of the Mau Mau, Dedan Kimathi, in an unmarked grave.

It was not until the Kibaki government took over in 2002 that the colonial ban on the Mau Mau was removed. Finally in 2007 a statue of Kimathi stands on Kimathi Street, something unimaginable under the Kenyatta and Moi regimes.

But more important than a hero's acre or a monument is a reckoning with the colonial legacy of torture, dehumanization and pauperization. Mau Mau veterans that are still alive, along with their children and grandchildren, live in abject poverty, landless and without formal education.

The past and current Kenyan governments have as yet to ask the British government to at the very least issue an apology for the atrocities committed against the Kenyan people. The Moi and Kenyatta governments, dependent on Western aid and while maintaining a vicious elite system, were not in a position to pressure Britain for an apology. Or even to pressure HMG to reveal the exact location of Kimathi’s grave so that his widow, Mukami Kimathi, can bury him.

This dependent relationship has allowed the British to commit crimes against Kenyans with near impunity. Forty plus years since Kenya’s independence, the British Army still uses Northern Kenya for military exercises. As a result of leaving unexploded munitions behind, “hundreds of Maasai and Samburu tribes people - many of them children - are said to have been killed or maimed by unexploded bombs left by the British army at practice ranges in central Kenya over the past 50 years” the BBC reported [2] With the legal aid of Leigh Day and Co Advocates, 228 survivors took the UK government to the British High Court. In 2002, a settlement was reached in which the UK government agreed to pay 7 million dollars plus legal fees.

Economic Justice and Forgiveness

Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery[3] shows how Western economies grew at the expense of African slave labor. Walter Rodney in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa [4] updates the argument to include colonialism –Europe developed at the direct expense of Africa. Today we find that economic giants, Barclays Bank [5], J.P. Morgan and Chase Manhattan Bank [6] are direct beneficiaries of the slave trade.

Muthoni Wanyeki argues that “it has to be recognized that the UK (and all ex-colonisers) grew at great human expense and political-economic disruption and exploitation within the ex-colonies. It is on that recognition alone that current debates on 'aid'/'development financing', trade and investment can shift as they need to.” The call for forgiveness and reconciliation then has to rest on the realization that colonialism was first and foremost an exploitative economic relationship.

Because the former colonizers continue to benefit from colonialism, while the victims of colonization continue to live in poverty, the governments of former colonizers have a moral duty to rectify the historical wrong in the present time. On the basis that colonialism as an investment is still paying off, the British cannot argue that they are not personally responsible for atrocities committed by their parents – they have inherited the economic well-being of a colonial system. They need to do right by this history because it is living.

The British government has as yet to issue a formal apology for the atrocities it committed. In the same way that Clinton expressed shame and sorrow for slavery without offering a formal apology, so did Blair for colonialism. One can express sorrow, regret and shame for causing an accidental death, but surely this is not enough for a systematic exploitation that causes millions to suffer and die.

It should be stated clearly that the authoritarian governments of Kenyatta and Moi are guilty of suppressing Mau Mau memory. And that there were thousands of Kenyans who collaborated with the British. But it should also be said that collaborators did not create colonialism, it is colonialism that created its functionaries. The real crime is colonialism.

And because colonialism if we are to be honest with history is a crime against humanity, the British parliament should at the very least pass a bill offering a formal apology to its victims in Africa. And the apology should also make provision for restitution.

Truth, Restitution, Reconciliation and Justice

While revolutionary in attempting to heal a wounded nation, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission undermined the very concept of forgiveness and justice it espoused because it did not demand that the perpetrators address in word and deed the question of restitution. Muthoni Wanyeki on the TRC says that:

Within the human rights movement in Kenya (and in Africa more broadly), the TRC process in SA while hailed for its reconciliation potential has always been critiqued for its enabling of impunity and its lack of direct recognition of, compensation for survivors.

Even though a desired by-product, the struggle against apartheid was not waged solely for blacks to forgive whites, or for whites to ask forgiveness, but to bring economic, social and political equality for all South Africans. So then here is the irony of the TRC – the perpetrators go home to their mansions, the victims back to the township.

To put it differently, after the TRC hearings the victims go back to a life of poverty, they remain without the means to feed, cloth or educate their children. Freedom comes without the content – it’s just a name – it has no meaning. Under these circumstances, forgiveness, healing and justice cannot exist without restitution.

The British government, which had the largest empire in the world, has cause to fear losing the Mau Mau law-suit. Once it begins where it will end? In neighboring Uganda? India? Malaysia? Or Jamaica? And if the British lose, will this set precedence for the victims of French, Belgian or Portuguese colonialism? The British government knows that losing one law-suit will open closed colonial closets all over the world.

It is precisely because this lawsuit has huge implications for the victims of colonialism all over the world that it deserves the support of all those who understand that history is still acting on us and that justice cannot exist without some form of restitution even if it comes in the form of the whole truth.

Identifying the graves of the disappeared, so that their relatives can rest; the numbers of how many killed, so that nations account for their dead; the names of the guilty, so that they may be brought to justice or forgiven; initiating the return of what was stolen: all these issues resonate with formerly colonized peoples.

For Muthoni Wanyeki says that “We see this case as being part of the process of understanding and coming to terms with our past...particularly given that our past impacts so clearly and evidently on our present.” African people in the continent and Diaspora should support the Kenya Human Rights Committee by calling on the British government to account for its torture of Mau Mau detainees.

We have to become each other’s keeper of memory and see each atrocity perpetrated on the other as part our collective memory – whether we identify as Afro-Latino, African American, or African.

We have to make common cause because ultimately the struggle for the truth will not be won because the British High Court finds it just, or because the British Government decides to come to terms with its past, it will be won because victims across Africa, the Diaspora and other survivors of colonial atrocities will make common cause with the Mau Mau struggle and vice versa. Truth will come to light because we will have demanded justice and restitution before offering forgiveness.

It is only when an apology and restitution are offered, and the victim in turn forgives that for both the perpetrator and victim true healing can take place. For me, that is the truth of justice.


1. Wanyeki, Muthoni (Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director). Interview by Author via e-mail. October 15th, 2007.
2. UK pay-out for Kenya bomb victims. July 19th, 2002
3. Williams, Eric. Slavery and Capitalism. New York, Russell & Russell, 1961
4. Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington, D.C. Howard University Press, 1981
5. Barclays admits possible link to slavery after reparation call.,,2047237,00.html April 1, 2007
6. Corporations challenged by reparations activists February 21, 2002

* Kenyan writer Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Hurling Words at Consciousness (Africa World Press, 2006) and the forthcoming New Kenyan Fiction (Ishmael Reed Publications, 2008). He is a political columnist for the BBC Focus on Africa Magazine.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
As the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) prepares to sue the British Government for personal injuries sustained by survivors of the Mau Mau war for independence whilst in British detention camps in Kenya, Mukoma Wa Ngugi unravels the Colonial myths of Christianisation and civilization and exposes the reality of torture, murder, slavery, landlessness, dehumanization and internment.

Comment & analysis

Blowing Away the Rhetorical Smokescreeens in Zimbabwe

Mary Ndlovu


Mary Ndlovu presents some hard truths about life in Zimbabwe and questions those Pan Africanists who fall for Mugabe’s “anti-imperalist rhetoric”. She asks if there is hope? Yes there is but only if Pan Africanism is “turned on it’s head” and “seized by the people” away from leaders not just in Zimbabwe but across Africa who have consistently betrayed the people.

Thanks to Rotimi Sankore (Pan Africanism and the Zimbabwe crisis) for blowing aside the smokescreen which obscures the real issues in Zimbabwe for many well-wishers of a Pan Africanist persuasion. President Mugabe is very clever in his use of anti-imperialistic rhetoric to attract the loyalty of many unsuspecting supporters throughout Africa. It saddens Zimbabweans to see how easily people can be misled by words and ignore the true facts on the ground, thus failing to reach a meaningful understanding of our tragedy. Perhaps their perspective could be improved by a few hard realities:

Zimbabweans have a lower material standard of living now than they have had since the 1940's up to one quarter of the population has fled the country, due either to political harassment and torture or to inability to survive and feed their families tens of thousands of Zimbabweans are dying of treatable diseases because the health system has collapsed teachers earn less than the cost of their transport to work; their monthly salary will buy ten litres of petrol, but none can afford a car chiefs, discredited during the liberation war as supporters of the Smith regime, are being restored and elevated, imposed on the rural population as unelected leaders, and placed on the government payroll a small elite of ruling party cronies, families and relatives, without any evidence of working for it, live at a standard far beyond the expectations of most middle class professionals of the developed world Anyone who wishes to study the situation honestly will have to admit that none of this is caused by western "sanctions".

Our government has systematically destroyed an already troubled economy, for the purpose of staying in power. Rather than respond falling living standards in the 1990's by devising rational policies which could serve the people - or alternatively admitting failure and allowing the opposition to try their own solutions - the government panicked, determined to stay in power at all costs, put politics ahead of economic sense, and the whole descent into repression and chaos resulted.

It is an insult to Zimbabweans to expect that, faced with declining living standards, they would not seek to change a government which might bring them something better. Why should they be used by foreign exploiters - any more than the nationalist movement of the 60's and 70's was being used by communist meddlers?

Here are better explanations of the current Zimbabwean crisis:

There is a shortage of food because government forcibly stopped the most knowledgeable and skilled farmers from growing food there is a shortage of almost everything, including food, medicine, transport, manufactures and services because government has forced everyone to sell their goods and services at less than the production cost people are dying of starvation because government would prefer them to die than to lose control of food distribution to donors Bulawayo, a city of a million people has no water because government, since Independence in 1980, has not constructed a single new source for a population which has multiplied five times; it would prefer to kill a city which has the reputation of being an opposition stronghold those who dare to protest publicly that the situation is intolerable are arrested, battered, tortured, and thrown into lice, flea and excrement infested cells It is also true that there were poor rains in 2007. There have been poor rains before, and much of Zimbabwe is drought-prone. It is the responsibility of governments to deal with this type of problem and develop contingencies. If the government has not found out in 27 years how to deal with recurring drought, then they do not know how to fulfil their responsibilities.

Imperialists have been around for at least two centuries. If government has not found out how to deal with modern day "imperialists" (or globalisation) to protect their own people, they do not know how to lead an African nation. No amount of rhetoric is going to change the world order. But the rhetoric, along with the repression that has destroyed the economy, the society and the polity has killed a once vibrant nation full of hope. The dismemberment of families and the moral and material destruction of an entire society may have kept our government in power; it will never solve the problem of imperialism.

It is one thing to analyse what has gone wrong in Zimbabwe. It is quite another to take action which will promote positive change. Zimbabweans once (only seven long years ago) naively believed that leaders in Africa would understand the true nature of the tragedy which has struck us. No longer. It is now crystal clear that they are cast in a similar mould. Problems in their own countries stem from some of the same causes. If other governments in the region faced the same strength of opposition as Zimbabwe did in 2000 and 2002, they might look very similar to ours. We have only to watch the repression of protesters over housing and service provision in South Africa to understand the true position. Yes Mbeki may succeed in forcing some kind of accommodation between the MDC and ZANU PF. It might just improve the sad lot of Zimbabweans in some small way. But let us not fool ourselves into believing that it will promote any kind of social justice.

Opposition parties are cut from the same cloth and in countries where they have gained power have yet to show that they can deliver to the people Our nationalist movements for independence were led by intellectuals, by petty bourgeoisie, by labour aristocrats frustrated by their own lack of opportunity. They gained the support of the peasantry and the workers. But once in power they became distracted by the comforts of office, the self-importance of command and the prospect of fabulous wealth through corruption. Africa as a whole has been betrayed by nationalist movements, by governments, by liberation movements, and even by the new elite- the NGOs. So let us not expect much from our "leaders". They are not going to bring us social justice, whatever elite-pacting may take place in the secret places behind closed doors.

Where, then lies the future? Must we stop hoping and trying? Does Pan Africanism have any role to play? Of course it does. But only if we claim it away from the rhetoricians and the charlatans and the leaders who have betrayed us. We must turn it on its head and seize it for the people. Only through Herculean efforts of the social movements who demand a share of the wealth, and respect and comfort for the people will we make progress. And for this purpose we must form cross-border alliances at grass roots level to counter those alliances of corrupt leaders that the AU and SADC have become.

No one said this could be easy. Just as the liberation struggle was long and hard, so will this one be. But this time we must be more aware of the reality of not just potential but probable betrayal by leaders. We must develop new styles of leadership based on service not power and privilege. Then we can support each other across Africa, and step by careful step build a new Pan Africanism based on social justice for the people.

* Mary Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean human rights activist.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Mary Ndlovu presents some hard truths about life in Zimbabwe and questions those Pan Africanists who fall for Mugabe’s “anti-imperalist rhetoric”. She asks if there is hope? Yes there is but only if Pan Africanism is “turned on it’s head” and “seized by the people” away from leaders not just in Zimbabwe but across Africa who have consistently betrayed the people.

Democracy in Africa: Renewing the vision

Report on thhe Pan African Youth Leadership Forum

Onyeka Obasi


Onyeka Obasi believes it is up to Africa’s youth to “revive the vision” of the founding fathers of Africa’s Independence – nation building, development and democracy. In this article she assesses the recent PAYLF held in Accra in June this year.

Can Africa survive today with its present leadership? Notably, there has been a dramatic shift in the value system since 1970. Looking at what democracy means in Africa today and tomorrow, one cannot help but think about the dreams of the founding fathers of this great continent. When the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) was established, African leadership was committed to nation building. Therefore, the future of Africa will be determined by present policy formulation and agenda setting. What has been lacking from development agendas in the African context has been a systematic and unified approach to tackling the continent's challenges. Development goals often have short-sighted projections and do not conceptualize long term plans for the continent's future. A systematic and long term plan for Africa is absolutely essential for the future and the mobilization of Africa's youth is imperative to its inception and execution. It is left for the African Youth to revive that vision, bearing in mind that democracy is crucial for the economy of the continent. Key to achieving this is working towards gaining recognition in the important channels of decision making through organizing and proactive involvement. Enabling youth involvement in African political discourse must entail the appropriate training and education.

It was with this in mind that the first Pan African Youth Leadership Forum (PAYLF) was convened. The week-long, international event, held in Accra from June 18-25, 2007 brought together a diverse group of some of the continent’s committed young leaders and afforded them the unique opportunity to offer their expertise in addressing key issues relevant to the youth, democracy, and development on the continent. The international forum was organized by Friends of Africa International (FAI), an international non profit organization dedicated to promoting social justice, human rights, democracy and good governance in Africa.

During the week-long interactive debates and dialogues with key stakeholders and resource persons, the youth delegates in attendance demonstrated deep and insightful perspectives on youth issues, while offering innovative insights on best practices for promoting democracy and development. The forum concluded with the drafting of a comprehensive action plan which articulates the vision of the youth delegates of the PAYLF and which will guide the future activities of the youth network that was established over the course of the deliberations.

To read the full article, follow the link below.

* Onyeka Obasi is President, Friends of Africa International

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Onyeka Obasi believes it is up to Africa’s youth to “revive the vision” of the founding fathers of Africa’s Independence – nation building, development and democracy. In this article she assesses the recent PAYLF held in Accra in June this year.

Green Revolution my foot!

Mphutlane wa Bofelo


Forget the Green (Springbok Rugby Special) Revolution – What we need is a Red Revolution “bottom-up, participatory, accountable democracy, worker-control of the product of their labor, the socialization of land, state control and public ownership of the major means of production”

Referring to the Springbok mania that is currently gripping South Africa as "The Green Revolution" is but just another example of how the mass media appropriates the language of justice for ends that have nothing to do with the real issues represented by the struggle lexicon. As the big wigs of world rugby and corporate capital smile to the bank-and the Springbok’s victory shift the focus away from the team’s lily-whiteness, the poorest of the poor, the working class and the rural and township majority return from the merry-making ceremonies to squalid, unsafe and unhealthy living and working conditions. Reality dawns upon them that South Africa and the world is far away from the realization of the real green revolution, which among others entails:

•Sustainable development of communities through equitable allocation and distribution of power, wealth and resources and people’s participation in designing, implementing, evaluating and reviewing policies and programmes geared towards their development.

•A break from policy programmes that sacrifice labor-demands and the welfare and wellbeing of society and the environment to profit-maximization, the deity of economic growth and the tyranny of the market.

•Taking tough measures against the ravages of big industry, high finance and corporate and speculative capital on the ecosystem and the economies and cultures of peoples of the world.

•Zero-waste initiatives promoting recycling, energy conversation and nature preservation, environmental awareness programmes at the grassroots, promoting responsible motoring and encouraging the use of public transport. Making big industry to pay reparation to the communities that are victims of their environmental terror.

This green revolution will not be possible without the red revolution: bottom-up, participatory, accountable democracy, worker-control of the product of their labor, the socialization of land, state control and public ownership of the major means of production(the commanding heights of the economy) and equitable redistribution of the wealth and resources of the land. Only when this is achieved will we do way with unequal social and power relations, and therefore be able to close all the doors of prejudice, which is the foundation upon which true integration and a South Africaness that transcends the boundaries of creed, color, language, ethnicity and gender shall be built. Real integration will be possible when access to quality arts, sports and cultural facilities, social amenities and social services, quality health services and good education does not depend on the socio-economic status, and racial background of individuals or their gender.

In other words, real integration will be realized when all the socio-economic factors and institutional and structural arrangements that work against workers and the rural and urban poor, the women, the disabled and Black people have been done away with. In the absence of these conditions the rainbowism that we suddenly fall in love with when the Springboks lift up the world cup only serve to give people a false sense of unity and one-nationess which ignore class contradictions.

Most importantly, the green revolution rainbowism put the enormous gap in the quality of life of the under-classes and the elites and upper-classes, the laborers and employers, and the poor and the rich under the carpet. This is a typical example of using popular sport as an opium, feeding the masses illusions of joy and happiness that distract their attention from issues such as the lethargic pace of transformation in rugby, the fact that in material and economic terms Black people and the poor have no real stake in rugby or 2010, and that the real beneficiaries in the world cup tournaments are the rich and the propertied. We are made to forget that the chances of poor Black hawkers selling at rugby match in South Africa are zilch as much as they will not be able to be within the reach of the stadiums during the 2010 football world cup.

The phantom display of a nation united behind the green banner and the national flag will not change the fact that invariably South Africa is two worlds in one country: the world of utter want, abject poverty, rampant disease and de-humanizing and brutalizing squalor and the world of raging consumerism, shameless opulence and decadent pomp. As Steve Biko put it, integration cannot be imposed on a people, it will automatically happen when all doors of prejudice have been closed. As of now, we are far from achieving what Biko posited as the struggle’s glittering prize: bestowing upon South Africa (and the world) a more human face.

* Mphutlane wa Bofelo is a creative writer, performance and social critic, and is currently the national General Secretary of the Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa. He writes in his personal capacity.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Forget the Green (Springbok Rugby Special) Revolution – What we need is a Red Revolution “bottom-up, participatory, accountable democracy, worker-control of the product of their labor, the socialization of land, state control and public ownership of the major means of production”

Books & arts

Our Dilemma

Chinwe Azubuike


You, our gods of immortals and living Of seas and lands Of all visible and not we beseech, hear our cry this day and come to our rescue.

Our sacred weapons of pleasure are being destroyed by the day rendered useless by our overseeing Lords and Ladies of ancestral descent.

They perform a barbaric operation on our 'flesh of honour' and call it 'Female Circumcision' in the white man's language.
They mutilate our pride and say it is 'tradition' "The initiation to womanhood."

They cut us!
Oh yes, they cut us with the blade.

In the gaze of our fellows, they cut us!
At times in the secrecy of our mother's haven.
They do not concede to the tools, nor words of the physician's for our safety.
To them it has been for ages and tradition dare not be defiled.
They just cut us.

Against our will as they are wont to, for we foresee the agony and anguish.
To these we try to parry but helpless we are.
Our eyes have cried, tears of unending pain and torment They have run dry of water.
Our hearts, laden with loathsomeness we fear may burst.

They cut us! with or without our consent.
Left to bleed by their ignorance sometimes fatal to our existence.
Other times, we become plagued with illness of strange names "Infection" the physician would call it.

Again, they say it delivers us from the hands of promiscuity as we ascend the ladder of womanhood.
Such blasphemy! We think.
As if we are not bound for the act of consummation in our 'married' days.

As we watch our counterparts this day-buried deep in this sin, Sisters whom we term fortunate, cut at childbirth fortunate to have escaped the pain we feel now, we can't but wonder… "Who is fooling who?"

You, our ancestral Lords and Ladies suffer us no more we beg.
What profit do you aspire when our lives are wont to expire in this course of tradition?

Oh! What a shame.
That you who drum to our ears to revere the dignity between our legs become the ones that destroy it.

* Poetry by Chinwe Azubuike | Nigeria. © Chinwe Azubuike

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
You, our gods of immortals and living Of seas and lands Of all visible and not we beseech, hear our cry this day and come to our rescue.

Letters & Opinions

Somaliland attempting to silence human rights network

Michael Walls


Somaliland Focus (UK), an organisation set up by returned election observers and members of the diaspora, is concerned about reports that the government in Hargeisa is attempting to silence or subvert the independent human rights network SHURO Net. Reports are that the Somaliland government, particularly the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, and the Human Rights Commission, organised an extraordinary AGM inviting some Shuro-Net members from the regions.

The meeting was held on 24th October and a new Board of Directors were elected by the participants. We are not yet sure how many member organisations participated but according to Zamzam Abdi, the SHURO Net chairperson, the government is trying to get rid of the current BOD and administration and put in their place one selected by the government. The chairperson also informed us that the SHURO Net members in the regions were threatened by the Mayors of their regions that if they did not participate in the extraordinary meeting in Hargeisa, they would not be allowed to work in their regions. Those who refused made their way to Hargeisa and reported the case to SHURO Net office.

The chairperson elected by yesterday's meeting is the head of the programmes at the government-controlled Radio Hargeisa, a civil servant, who is not a member of SHURO Net. The Somaliland Journalist Association (SOLJA) declared that he did not represent them.

It is believed that SHURO Net was targeted by the government because of their calls to abolish the Emeregency Law, and for appealing for the release of prisoners including political prisoners and journalists. The heads of the 30 member organisations of SHURO Net have signed a letter declaring yesterday's meeting illegal.

Somaliland Focus (UK) is concerned that these reports mirror other recent occasions where the government has shown authoritarian tendencies contrary to its push for democratisation which we and others have been so keen to highlight. It does not make the work of organisations such as ourselves who pride ourselves on being international friends of Somaliland an easy one.

Blogging Africa

Review of African Blogs

Dibussi Tande


One of the most commented issues in the African blogosphere has been the tragic death of South African Reggae star Lucky Dube. The sadness and anger at his death has been accompanied by widespread belief that South Africa’s crime rate is spiraling out of control. As African Loft writes:

“I hope this situation brings the global media’s eyes to what is going on with young black youths in South Africa where many are turning to a life of crime to have access to the “good things of life” . Though South Africa is cited as one full of natural resources and is noted as one of the top destination of global travelers - it is still a country ridden with a high crime rate. According to data collected on crime, South Africa has the second highest rate of murder, rapes, assaults with firearms in the world.

I know that many will cite post apartheid syndrome as the reason why these crime rate is so high but I do not think that law abiding Africans or global citizens should keep on using this as an excuse. It is quite clear that there is a problem and it is up to us to find a way of solving it.”

Another hot topic has been the award of the first Mo Ibrahim Foundation Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano. Mwankole Kumushi Kulishani writes that the five million-dollar award is “an incentive to stem presidential plunder and waste” in Africa:

“The first recipient is Joaquim Chissano, the former President of Mozambique – Perhaps this will serve as an incentive to stop the plunder and waste of public money by African Presidents. If only our presidents could stomach a simpler existence!”

This view is shared by Dion’s random ramblings who thinks that the huge price money is worth every penny:

“I say well done to Mr Chissano, and well done to the generous benefactor, Mo Ibrahim. May we see many, many more examples of good, honest, integral, African leadership. We are NOT a corrupt continent, we are NOT doomed to poverty and subservience. We are African. We can teach the world another way to live.”

Meskel Square quotes a report by the Sudanese official media which states that the Dafur crisis is a “Zionist conspiracy”:

“Presidential advisor Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail said the fundamental cause of Darfur dispute was mainly an economic one. However this reason was exploited by some internal and foreign elements alleging that the dispute was between Arab and African groups. Ismail gave this statement in Doha capitol of Qatar before the meeting of higher committee for reconstruction of Darfur region.

Ismail said the Zionism has exploited the situation and alleged that the war was a genocide led by Arab elements supported by the government against African groups. However he said western countries including the United States of America have started to understand the real cause of Darfur dispute.”

“Of course, it all makes sense now”, the blogger wryly comments.

Jamii ya Kenya writes about the dissolution of the Kenyan Parliament in view of the upcoming general elections:

“Our outgoing MPs in this parliament were well paid, we now wait for the house speaker Mr. Francis Ole Kaparo to officially declare their jobs vacant for them to re-apply for their lucrative jobs. The vacant positions are 210 posts but he will be sending 222 MPs home (12 were nominated). Just like previous elections, the posts have attracted applicants from all walks of life to the variety of parties. These positions are so lucrative such that applicants don’t mind paying high non-refundable nominations fees proposed by the parties…. I can only conclude that Kenyan politics is an interesting drama that leaves people in suspense as to what will happen next.”

The drama of Kenyan politics is also the focus of Kenya Imagine which uses a video by the “Why Democracy?” global campaign as the backdrop for an analysis of Kenyan democracy:

“It's election season and the candidates and their parties are out in force putting their case to the public on why they would be best suited for government. This is democracy.

Elections are one of the most prominent institutions in democracies, being themselves the mechanism by which voters express what programmes they desire of the state and what agents they would have marshal these programmes on their behalf. Vitally also, elections are the citizen's primary means of holding their governments to account.”

Kenya Imagine however laments at the Kenyan electoral process is characterized by:

“The use of demonisation and negative campaigning, the peculiar attraction to candidates with a history of violence and coercion, the use of bribes in the electoral process and the manner in which crowds are whipped up to wholly emotive and irrational decisions.”

Paul Adujie comments on the positive aspects of Nigeria’s “Federal Character” or quota system which he compares to Affirmative Action in the United States:

“The Constitutions of Nigeria, (from 1979 to 1999) for decades now, have made provisions for a Quota System and the reflection of a Federal Character in appointment of public office holders. This in my view makes perfect sense in a diverse country and society as Nigeria. Diversity needs to be actively and purposefully encouraged and legally enforced as provided by Nigeria's Supreme law, the Constitution of Nigeria.

All states, but especially the educationally disadvantaged states, need special provisions and protections in the admission process in Nigeria's educational system, especially in higher education and the professions! All Nigerians and Nigeria will be the beneficiaries of such good policy, that encourages the grooming and nurturing of opportunities for every Nigerian from every communities in Nigeria, and particular effort should be made, in order that Nigeria does not live anyone behind, economically, socially, educationally and developmentally, this is in our national interests, its nothing to jeer or sneer at!”

Scribbles from the Den also writes about the regional quota debate, specifically at the University of Buea in Cameroon where the government seemed to have amended its position that admission into the medical school be based primarily on “regional balance” considerations and not on merit:

“So did merit really trump over the “regional alchemy” for which the University of Buea served as a Guinea Pig last year? If that is indeed the case, is the debate over regional balance finally over? If not, should merit alone determine admissions into the ‘Grandes Ecoles’ (or even into the civil service, police force, army, etc.), or should some form of ‘affirmative action’ also play a role in a country where history and geography have created regions that are lagging behind others, and where colonialism and post-colonial politics also created favored and disfavored ethnic groups? The jury is most certainly still out on this emotionally-charged debate which even countries such as the United States are still grappling with.”

* Dibussi Tande, a writer and activist from Cameroon, produces the blog Scribbles from the Den,

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

DRC: China ‘opening up’ DRC for minerals


China has signed its largest single deal in Africa with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): a $5 billion loan to develop infrastructures, mining, bioenergy, forestry and agriculture. Infrastructure Minister Pierre Lumbi said the money will be spent on building roads, railroads, hospitals, health centres, housing and universities.

Africa: China helps Africa where West failed - state bank official


China is spreading prosperity in Africa where the West failed, a Chinese bank official has said, in a sharp rebuke to critics of his country's growing role in the world's poorest continent. Li Ruogu, president of China's state-owned Export-Import Bank, key funder of China's push into Africa, said roads and radios were more urgent needs for Africans than human rights and freedom, and that China was delivering such concrete benefits.

Zimbabwe update

Zimbabwe This Week

Grace Kwinjeh


Grace Kwinjeh has begun a weekly set of summaries of powerful progressive politics for the Center for Civil Society based in Durban. Below are the links to this week's articles.

Health and Human Rights Abuses in Zimbabwe:

Defending women

Stand-off between MDC and NCA healthy for democracy

Inflation solution lies in politics

Empowerment law: UN rings alarm bells

Migrant workers worldwide sent home more than US$300 billion in 2006:

Timeline: Zimbabwe's economic decline

New prices still too little

Zimbabwe crashes currency through million-for-US-dollar mark

Is ZSE bull run losing its steam

MDC’s Mbeki talks shocker

Zanu PF, MDC sign new constitution

Zimbabwe: Eyes on Zimbabwe


"Eyes on Zimbabwe," is a project of the Open Society Institute designed to raise awareness of the crisis in Zimbabwe. In anticipation of the country's 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections, we are launching a blog/social networking outreach program intended to inform and involve as many people around the world as possible about the inevitable violence and corruption surrounding the vote.

Zimbabwe: Govt in climbdown, MDC promised full investigation into violence


The government has pledged to investigate opposition allegations of state sanctioned violence against its supporters, apparently under pressure from South Africa, which is mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis, to keep the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at the negotiating table. MDC officials, who attended a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi at his offices in Harare yesterday told journalists that the Minister made an undertaking to investigate charges by the opposition of a new wave of Zanu PF attacks against its supporters.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe refused sale of anti-riot gear by South Africa, says MDC


The Mugabe regime’s plans to acquire state-of-the-art anti-riot gear to use against the opposition ahead of next year’s elections have been foiled, the MDC says. Allegations that Zanu PF had made proposals to the South African government to buy US$1,5 million worth of military equipment came to light at a meeting convened by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and officials from the main opposition party.

Zimbabwe: President secures endorsement


As the Zanu PF power struggle rages on, President Robert Mugabe has all but secured the endorsement he desperately needs to be the party's presidential candidate in next year's elections. What remains is an automatic approval of his candidacy at the party's extraordinary congress in December, it became evident this week.

Zimbabwe: Three MDC officials abducted in Chipinge South


n aspiring MDC parliamentary candidate and two other party officials were abducted from their homes Thursday in Chipinge South and are being held at a police post manned by war veterans at Checheche growth point. The opposition officials were bundled into a white B1800 truck with no number plates by six heavily built men in broad daylight. Before startled onlookers could help, the truck was driven away at high speed.

African Union Monitor

AU Monitor Weekly Roundup

Issue 109, 2007

Selome Araya


In this week's AU Monitor, we bring you news and updates from the Pan African Parliament. Members from the European and Pan African Parliaments met in South Africa to prepare for the upcoming EU-Africa Summit. Parliament leaders stress the need for a strong parliamentary dimension when it comes to policies and decision-making; the development of a joint declaration is also in the works. In other Parliament news, the Pan African Parliament elected the Hon. Malik Al Hassan Yakubu from Ghana as its Fourth Vice-President. Also, the Protocol of the African Court on Human and People's Rights has been ratified by 23 of the 53 member states of the African Union. All state parties are being urged to rectify the Protocol to contribute to Human Rights development and protection in Africa.

In financial news, South Africa is opposed to the new generation issues in the economic partnership agreements (EPA's), including liberalisation of the services sector, investments, competition policy, and intellectual rights. Nkululeko Khumalo of the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) states, "the coercive approach adopted by the European Union on service liberalisation poisons the negotiating atmosphere". In donor news, at a recent UN General Assembly meeting, Benin's representative Jean-Marie Ehouzou urged UN-led development initiatives to develop international trade strategies in their aid policies in Africa. Ehouzou also criticized developed countries for failing to provide the resources needed to accelerate economic reforms in African countries. Further, The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) held a series of actions that coincided with the International Financial Institution (IFI) meetings in Washington, D.C. Demands from this civil society alliance include greater accountability, transparency and democratic governance in the IFI's. Lastly, in its 300.000 USD pledge to the African Peer Review Mechanism , Italy supports the African continent in managing its own economy and development efforts in the framework of NEPAD.

Women & gender

Global: Gender inequality damages the health of women and girls


Gender differentials in health related risks and outcomes are partly determined by biological sex differences. Yet they are also the result of how societies socialise women and men into gender roles. This paper published by the Women and Gender Equity Knowledge Network draws together evidence that identifies and explains what gender inequality and inequity mean in terms of differential exposures and vulnerabilities for women versus men, and also how health care systems and health research reproduce these inequalities and inequities instead of resolving them.

Africa: Fistula survivors speak out at conference


They travelled from different places across Africa—Sudan, Tanzania, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya—but their common stories brought them together at Women Deliver, a landmark conference focused on curbing pregnancy-related death and disability. As part of the Campaign to End Fistula, a delegation of six fistula survivors shared harrowing tales of childbirth gone wrong in panel events and plenaries, building awareness—on a global platform—of this preventable and treatable injury.

Global: Women Deliver conference launches new commitments


Strong new pledges of commitment to invest in women’s health came from donors, government officials, corporations, foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at closing sessions of the landmark Women Deliver Conference, which sought to mobilize political will and investment to reduce pregnancy-related deaths and disabilities worldwide. More than 1,800 participants from 109 countries cheered a final statement from the 70 cabinet ministers and parliamentarians present, who pledged to make achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 5 (improve maternal health) “a high priority on the national, regional and international health agenda”.

Sudan: Sudan benefits gender education


A five-year Gender Equity through Education Programme has been launched in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba. Launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in cooperation with the South Sudan government, a total of US $6.5 million has been earmarked for the programme.

Human rights

CAR: International Criminal Court signs protocol deal with government


The International Criminal Court (ICC) has entered a protocol agreement with the Central African Republic (CAR) setting out the cooperation and protection that the Government will provide to court officials investigating whether war crimes have taken place in the impoverished country since 2002. Bruno Cathala, the ICC registrar, signed the agreement with the CAR Justice Minister Thierry Maleyombo during a meeting yesterday in the capital, Bangui, according to a press statement released by the Court. Prime Minister Elie Doté was also present.

Global: Canada accused of trying to buy African votes against Indigenous Peoples


It was a moment more than two decades in the making and when it was over, the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed in the UN General Assembly with only four countries voting against formal adoption of the document-the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. During a press conference a week before the final vote, the African Indigenous Caucus co-ordinator accused Canada of trying to turn African countries against the declaration in exchange for aid dollars.

Zimbabwe: Police beating claims Tsvangirai bodyguard, months later


MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s long serving bodyguard, Nhamo Musekiwa, has died in South Africa from complications sustained during an assault by state security agents in March this year. The 37 year old had been guarding Tsvangirai since 1999 when the party was formed. At the time of his death he was recuperating at a hospital in South Africa. This followed the brutal assaults on Tsvangirai and several other activists after an aborted prayer rally in Highfields.

Chad: Government stops group from flying 103 children to France


Police in Chad arrested nine French people on Thursday as they were preparing to fly more than 100 children to France with a view to having them adopted, Chad's government and French diplomats said. They included the head of a group called Zoe's Ark, which said earlier this year that it intended to bring orphans from Sudan's violent Darfur region to France for adoption.

Botswana: Respect my brothers and sisters the Bushmen - Brazilian Indian leader


A renowned Yanomami Indian leader from Brazilian Amazonia has made an emotional plea to the Botswana government to let the Kalahari Bushmen live on their land, ‘in peace for the rest of their lives’. Davi Yanomami, UN Global 500 award winner, spoke today from Berlin where he is holding meetings with top German politicians.

DRC: Hidden crimes exposed


The hidden crimes of systematic detention, torture and murder committed against the opponents of the government of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by security forces has been exposed. Amnesty International (AI) that exposed the crimes in a newly published report asked the government of President Joseph Kabila to urgently and independently investigate the alleged cases.

Kenya 'Hundreds dead' in gang crackdown


Police may have killed hundreds of people in a crackdown on Kenya's notorious Mungiki gang, a rights group said on Thursday, in a growing national controversy ahead of a presidential election in December. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said it suspects police dumped hundreds of bodies in a Nairobi mortuary before lack of space forced them to use secluded bushland outside the capital.

Refugees & forced migration

DRC: Thousands flee into Uganda to escape North Kivu fighting


The latest escalation in fighting in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has forced thousands more people to flee southwards towards Goma and across the border into Uganda. An estimated 8,000 Congolese refugees who fled to Bunagana in Uganda over the weekend were still there on Tuesday morning.

Somalia: Displaced women tell tales of rape and fear


When the two buses from Mogadishu finally reached Galkayo, everyone aboard felt relieved even though the road had been paved with militiamen robbing passengers at gunpoint and five women had been raped. Once in Galkayo, the second largest city in Puntland in north-eastern Somalia, the women joined the belt of settlements sheltering displaced families that has grown around this city due to a recurrent civil conflict over the past 17 years.

Central Africa: Congolese refugees return to Equateur in growing numbers


More than 16,000 refugees have returned to their home districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) Equateur province so far this year – almost as much as in the three previous years combined. The surge in the number of returns to the rainforests of northwest DRC – almost all from the neighbouring Republic of Congo (RoC) across the Oubangui River – comes as UNHCR prepares to phase out assisted voluntary repatriation to this area in mid-2008.

Horn of Africa: Gulf of Aden crossing claims up to 66 lives


The dangerous Gulf of Aden crossing claimed more lives at the weekend when up to 66 people drowned after being forced overboard by smugglers off the coast of Yemen. The tragedy involved two smugglers' boats that left the Somali coastal town of Bossaso on Saturday with 244 people aboard, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians. The two vessels reached the Yemeni coast off Hawrat Al Shatee on Sunday, survivors said, adding that passengers were forced into deep water and many drowned.

Horn of Africa: IOM to create database for African migrants


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Sanaa is to create and manage a database that will register migrants and asylum seekers from Africa who have arrived in Yemen by sea after crossing the Gulf of Aden, according to Stefano Tamagnini, head of office. Tamagnini, who said his office was still seeking funding for the project, told IRIN the database would be crucial since it will contain all information about African migrants coming to Yemen. However, he said his office would not be in a position to manage the database for new arrivals without donor support.

Social movements

Somalia: Who is behind the campaign to smear the reputation of SHURO-Net, and why?


None of us know when we might need the services of an effective human rights organization to defend us, our families, colleagues and communities, or even our way of life. What is certain is that we will need them at some point in our lives. That is why we all have an interest in making sure that the individuals who have chosen this difficult job are allowed to do their jobs without pressure and intimidation.

Elections & governance

Kenya: Polls set for 27 December


Kenya's electoral commission has named 27 December as the date for elections. Presidential, parliamentary and civic polls will be held simultaneously and are expected to be closely contested. President Mwai Kibaki is running for a second five-year term, having won an election in 2002 to replace former long-time leader Daniel arap Moi.

Nigeria: Court removes governor of oil state


Nigeria's Supreme Court removed Celestine Omehia as governor of Nigeria's richest oil state on Thursday in the fourth major legal indictment of polls in April. The elections were meant to mark a democratic milestone for Africa's most populous country, but were so marred by fraud and violence that outside observers said they were "not credible".

North Africa: Western Sahara parties applaud UN draft resolution, maintain positions


All parties in the Western Sahara dispute are celebrating a new draft resolution unanimously adopted on October 15th by the United Nations General Assembly's Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation). At the same time, neither Morocco nor the Polisario Front appears to be backing down from their opposing positions.


Nigeria: Corruption scandal keeps House paralysed


Nigeria's House of Representatives adjourned for another week on Tuesday as warring sides in the ruling party prolonged a crisis over alleged corruption. Nigeria's lower chamber has been paralysed for weeks since Speaker Patricia Etteh, a former beautician, was found by a House panel to have broken rules in awarding contracts worth $5-million to renovate two official houses and buy 10 cars.

Kenya: Anglo Leasing billions traced to Jersey, Guernsey and Switzerland


Investec is a respected Anglo South African merchant bank listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2002 and said to be worth UK £3.5 billion (about Ksh 472.5 billion). Its Guernsey operation Investec Trust Guernsey (ITG) has become embroiled in Kenya’s Anglo Leasing grand corruption scandal.


Africa: Agriculture is neglected - World Development Report


The World Development Report 2008 calls for greater investment in agriculture in developing countries.The report warns that the sector must be placed at the center of the development agenda if the goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 are to be realized.

Africa: Limited progress in implementation of Monterrey Consensus - ECA Survey


The results of a recent survey by the Economic Commission for Africa suggest that, in general, very limited progress has been made in realizing the objectives of the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development. The release of the survey results coincides with the 23-24 October high-level biennial review of the United Nations General Assembly Plenary on the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.

Southern Africa: Water resources of the SADC: demands, dependencies and governance responses


Achieving poverty reduction and economic development in Africa based on a sustainable utilization of the continent's rich natural resources remains an unresolved challenge. Natural resources use in Africa, similar to other parts of the world, is characterized by overexploitation and unsustainable patterns.

Global: European Commission presents roadmap for negotiating trade agreements


The European Commission has issued a communication to the Council and the European Parliament on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), setting out clearly the way forward and the issues at stake to conclude these important trade pacts. The Commission sees full EPAs as essential to enable ACP states to play a full part in international trade.

Africa: Internal watchdog slams World Bank agriculture programs since 1991


As the World Bank launches its latest flagship World Development Report, this year on "Agriculture for Development," the Independent Evaluation Group's report clearly acknowledges that the Bank's engagement with the most important sector in its highest-priority region has largely been a failure.

Global: African produce to lose organic labelling


Britain's leading organic body, the Soil Association, is to ban all but "ethical" air-freighted food in a move designed to throw a financial lifeline to poor countries while cutting pollution linked to climate change. By 2011, farmers and distributors must be Fairtrade or meet the Soil Association's own ethical standards if they are to be certified for sale here, said the organisation. At present, only a "small minority" of growers in developing countries meet the new rules, but the Soil Association said it hoped they would be able to respond in time for the ban – a compromise between development and the environment.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Benin: AIDS stripping farmers of their land


Comlan Houessou certainly knows what he is talking about when it comes to the impact of AIDS on rural communities. He is a farmer in Benin who has lost everything because of HIV: the respect of his neighbours, his savings and his land. He is now fighting to rebuild his life.

Africa: Africa faces cancer ‘catastrophy’

Anso Thom


Unless urgent attention is paid to decreasing the burden of cancer, there are going to be e catastrophic results especially in Africa and parts of Asia, experts warned at a gathering in Cape Town this week. In 2000, there were an estimated 10,4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide, 6,5 million deaths from cancer, while over 25 million people were living with cancer. By 2030, it is projected that there will be 25,4 million new cases of cancer, 16,4 million cancer deaths annually and a staggering 75 million people living with cancer.

Swaziland: Israeli surgeons helping Swaziland in drive to curb HIV


Small teams of Israeli doctors will travel to Swaziland to perform circumcisions for two-week stints this year under a program organized by the Jerusalem AIDS Project and financed by Hadassah, a US-based Jewish organization, and other donors. The effort to circumcise Swazi men is being carried out in the hopes of curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS in a country with the world's highest HIV infection rate.

Africa: Women who don't have enough to eat taking more sexual risks - study


Not having enough food is associated with a higher frequency of multiple high-risk sexual behaviours among women in Botswana and Swaziland, a study published in the October edition of PLoS Medicine has found. Women who reported food insecurity in the previous year had an 80% increase in their likelihood of transaction sex, a 70% increase in their risk of reporting unprotected sex with a non-primary partner, and a 50% increase in their likelihood of intergenerational sex.

Africa: Detecting primary HIV infection without viral load test is possible - study


US and African researchers have developed an algorithm, based on rapid test results, symptoms and risk behaviours, that makes it possible to accurately detect acute HIV infection without widespread use of HIV RNA assays. Identifying acute infection has significant implications for curbing the spread of HIV infection, particularly in resource-poor settings. The findings were published the October edition of AIDS.

Somalia: Conflict frustrates efforts to manage HIV


Ongoing clashes coupled with a lack of central government control are crippling attempts to develop a national AIDS strategy in Somalia, where thousands have been displaced and are living in temporary shelters, with little access to basic healthcare.


Africa: Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) updates 'Auntie Stella' website


Are you a teenager, or do you work with young people? If yes, take a look at the updated website The ‘Auntie Stella’ website is an adaptation of the dynamic interactive tool ‘Auntie Stella: Teenagers talk about sex, life and relationships’ developed by the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) in Zimbabwe (see

Africa: Thirst for education overwhelms African universities


Demand for higher education in sub-Saharan Africa is exploding, and countries like Ghana are struggling to cope. Though sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s lowest university enrollment rates, Ghana has been forced to tackle Africa’s newest development problem — many more applicants than slots to fill.


Africa: None on Record: Stories of Queer Africa


None on Record: Stories of Queer Africa Edited by: Notisha Massaquoi & Selly Thiam WE are collecting stories of Africans from the continent and within the diasporic communities that identify as queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (QLGBT).

Uganda: PEPFAR money being used to 'promote homophobia', charges human rights group


Money from the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is funding organisations in Uganda that actively promote homophobia, a leading human rights charity has warned. In a letter to the Mark Dybul, US Global AIDS Coordinator, Human Rights Watch, expressed grave concern about “an expanding pattern of attacks in Uganda upon the human rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people”, and highlighted the homophobic activities of Pastor Martin Ssempa, a member of the First lady’s of Uganda’s Task Force on AIDS and recipient of PEPFAR prevention HIV prevention money.

South Africa: despite constitution, gays are not safe


Three weeks ago, 35-year-old Waldo Bester was found stabbed to death in Vredenburg, north of Cape Town. Although details of this gay man’s attack are unclear at present, the fact remains that he was murdered brutally in what is believed to be hate crime according to Cape Town’s Triangle Project – which is long standing gay organisation in the Western Cape Province.

Racism & xenophobia

Africa: Nicolas Sarkozy's Africa


What credibility can we afford such gloomy words that portray Africans as fundamentally traumatized beings incapable of acting on their own behalf and in their own recognized interests, asks Achille Mbembe. What is this so-called historicity of the continent which totally silences the long tradition of resistance, including that against French colonialism, along with today’s struggles for democracy, none of which receive the clear support of a country which, for many years, has actively backed the local satrapies?

Sierra Leone: Youths loot Lebanese stores over rape


Youths went on the rampage in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown on Thursday, attacking and looting Lebanese-owned shops after reports a Lebanese man had raped and killed a local woman. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of young men who broke into shops in the impoverished and densely populated east end of Freetown, walking out with mobile phones, generators, TVs and radios, a Reuters reporter said.


Global: 20 years on, world in dire straits, U.N. says


Two decades after a landmark report sounded alarm bells about the state of the planet and called for urgent action to change direction, the world is still in dire straits, a U.N. agency said on Thursday. While the U.N. Environment Programme's fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) says action has been successfully taken in some regions and on some problems, the overall picture is one of sloth and neglect.

Sahel: Foundation money to allow long term approach to water problem


A donation of US$150 million to a 10-year water project in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal and nine other countries in Africa and Central America by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation could be the start of a much-needed injection of donor innovation into the relief sector, non-governmental organisations involved in the project say.

Egypt: Ancient Egyptian industry gets environmental makeover


Air pollution is so bad in Cairo that living in the sprawling city of 18-million residents is said to be akin to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. According to the World Health Organisation, the average Cairene ingests more than 20 times the acceptable level of air pollution a day. A 2002 World Bank report estimates that pollution causes $2,42-billion-worth of environmental damage each year, about 5% of Egypt's annual gross domestic product.

Global: Global Water Initiative created in response to world water crisis


A new partnership has been launched to address the declining state of the world’s fresh water supply and the lack of access to clean water services by the world’s poorest people. The Global Water Initiative (GWI) brings together a group of seven leading international NGOs, including Action Against Hunger (ACF) – USA, CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), The World Conservation Union (IUCN), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Oxfam America and SOS Sahel – UK.

Land & land rights

Africa: Slum Survivors - new IRIN film released


Worldwide, more than a billion people live in slums, with as many as one million in Kibera, Africa's largest such settlement, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Slum Survivors, IRIN's first full-length documentary, tells some of their stories.

Global: Securing tenure and ending forced evictions


As the main agency within the UN system working on human settlements issues, UN-HABITAT is committed to the goals of enhancing tenure security and ending forced evictions. To this end HABITAT is involved in a number of initiatives to influence actors at international, national and local levels. The Global Campaign for Secure Tenure focuses on achieving slum upgrading through negotiation, not eviction; and monitoring forced evictions and advancing tenure rights.

Swaziland: Food or biofuel seems to be the question


The government of Swaziland announced this week that it would be allocating thousands of hectares to a private company to cultivate cassava for biofuel. About 40 percent of the country's one million people are facing acute food and water shortages. "The cassava ethanol project has restarted the debate on how the country should use its agriculture land," said Sipho Mthetfwa, an agriculture extension officer in Shiselweni Region in the south of the country.

Media & freedom of expression

Somalia: Murder and intimidation as "Nightmare Year" continues


The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the assassination on Friday of a leading radio journalist in Somalia where a wave of brutal and targeted attacks has claimed eight media victims this year. On the same day a number of incidents across the country suggested independent media face a new wave of intimidation.

Gambia: IFJ condemns persecution of missing journalist


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the persistent threats to the life of Yaya Dampha, a reporter with the Foroyaa newspaper in The Gambia, after him and two Amnesty International staff were arrested, detained and released for alleged ‘spying’. According to reliable sources from Banjul, plain clothes officers, believed to be agents of the National Intelligence Agency, (NIA), on Sunday, October 14, stormed Dampha’s house in Latrikunda Sabiji, about 20 kilometres from the Capital Banjul.

DRC: Community radio stations threatened by botched government decree


Reporters Without Borders has condemned information, press and communication minister Toussaint Tshilombo Send’s announcement of a ban on around 40 TV and radio stations five days ago. It has had the effect of silencing four community radio stations based in Kinshasa, while around 200 other community radio stations throughout the country are also threatened.

North Africa: Human rights activist prevented from travelling to support Egyptian journalist in trial


The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has condemned the denial of the right to travel and movement inflicted upon former prisoner of conscience, lawyer Mohamed Abbu by the Tunisian authorities. He was prohibited from travelling to Cairo to attend the trial of Ibrahim Essa, editor in chief of the independent "Aldostur". The trial is set to take place on 24 October 2007.

Liberia: Judge threatens journalists with contempt charges, jail over coverage


On 22 October 2007, Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis threatened to imprison journalists for committing such "infractions" as "misspelling his name", "giving him wrong and inappropriate titles" and "attaching his photos to stories that have nothing to do with him in their papers." Lewis made the threats in open court, with the heads of several newspapers in attendance by invitation. The session was also attended by other members of the Supreme Court.

Conflict & emergencies

Chad: definitive peace accord signed


Chad's government and four Sudan-based Chadian rebel groups signed a "definitive peace accord" in Libya on Thursday that included an immediate ceasefire, a Chadian presidency official said. The deal, which aimed to end more than two years of sporadic fighting in eastern Chad, was signed in the Libyan city of Sirte in the presence of Chadian President Idriss Deby, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the official, who asked not to named, told Reuters.

DRC: Ituri civilian populations still subjected to sexual violences, high levels of brutality


Despite an overall decrease in the intensity and recurrence of conflicts in the district of Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civilian populations there are still subjected to high levels of violence. Based upon four years of medical work in the region, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has issued a report titled "Ituri: Civilians Still the First Victims", emphasizing the persistence of sexual violence as well as the direct humanitarian consequences of military operations in 2007 during a "pacification process" in the region.

Niger: MSF halts activities in Dabaga following attack


Monday morning, October 22, five men - one of whom was armed - attacked a team of MSF workers travelling in two vehicles by road from Agadez to Dabaga, where MSF has been providing medical care at the local health post since the start of October. Following this violent incident, MSF has decided to cease activities in
Dabaga and the surrounding region because the security situation is preventing the organization from adequately carrying out its work for the people living in this area. Moreover, this incident follows the October 16 theft of an MSF vehicle that was travelling on the same road to Dabaga.

Sudan: Darfur peace talks 'doomed' after rebel leaders pull out


Peace talks aimed at ending the four-and-a-half-year conflict in Sudan's Darfur region could be doomed before they begin after the leaders of the two largest rebel groups said they would not take part. Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), has joined Abdul Wahid al-Nur, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), in refusing to take part in the talks in Libya, which are due to begin on Saturday.

Burundi: Villagers flee as rebel fighters attack splinter group's position


Fighters of Burundi's last active rebel group have for the second time in one week attacked a position occupied by a break-away faction, forcing villagers to flee their homes, a senior military official said. The evening raid by combatants of the Front National de Liberation (FNL), led by Agathon Rwasa, took place on 24 October evening on a site where the so-called FNL "dissidents" have gathered in Gakungwe village of Kabezi commune in Bujumbura Rural province.

Internet & technology

North Africa: Timid ICT Evolution in Maghreb


The Maghrib region wich is considered the richest part of the African continent is experiencing a slow uptake of ICTs. Figures released by the United Nations Development Programme in Algiers show a timid evolution of ICTs in the Maghreb region with only 2,5% of Internet penetration.

Africa: The digital gap: More than a click to put Africa online


When it comes to computing power, the gap between Africa and the broadband world is still a Grand Canyon. Only 4% of Africans have access to the internet. They pay the most in the world, around $250-300 a month, for the slowest connection speeds. E-commerce barely exists. Nigeria's 140m-odd people have but a few hundred decently trafficked websites in their domain. Blogging is a vibrant but peripheral activity.

Global: Low-cost laptop project for poor children closer to reality, says UN advocate


The ‘One Laptop per Child’ initiative, a pioneering project to give children in poor countries access to affordable computers, is in sight of becoming a reality, the United Nations advocate for the world’s most vulnerable nations has said. After watching a special demonstration of the so-called $100 laptop at UN Headquarters in New York, Under-Secretary-General Cheikh Sidi Diarra praised the scheme’s organizers for their efforts to bring the project to fruition given the sceptical response it met with at first.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Global: The Human Rights Accountability Challenge


The Human Dignity and Human Rights Caucus, a World Social Forum-related coalition of human rights and development organisations, has been organising human rights events in the framework of the World Social Forum since 2002. In 2008, the Forum will be held as a Global Day of Action in many different places around the world. At the same time, the human rights movement will be celebrating, in diverse ways, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Nigeria: Human Rights Training


Global Human Rights Leadership Training Institute, GHRLTI 2007 APPLICATION FORM DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSE Certificate Course in “Human Rights Leadership Development and Training”. 1st November – December 10th, 2007.

Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

© Unless otherwise indicated, all materials published are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. For further details see:

Pambazuka news can be viewed online:

RSS Feeds available at

Pambazuka News is published with the support of a number of funders, details of which can be obtained at

or send a message to [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line as appropriate.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Pambazuka News or Fahamu.

ISSN 1753-6839

ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

ISSN 1753-6847 Pambazuka News en Français

ISSN 1757-6504 Pambazuka News em Português

© 2009 Fahamu -