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 326: Robbing Peter to pay Paul: the Mo Ibrahim prize

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. Elections & governance, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. LGBTI, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Media & freedom of expression, 21. News from the diaspora, 22. Conflict & emergencies, 23. Internet & technology, 24. Fundraising & useful resources, 25. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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

Donate at:

Highlights from this issue

FEATURES: Issa Shivji on the misguided Mo Ibrahim prize
- Horace Campbell considers neoliberalism in Mozambique
- John Samuel on the myth of micro finance and micro politics
- Grace Kwinjeh calls for a dismantling of patriarchy in the MDC
- Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi give 10 reasons to read “A flowering evil” in Vanity Fair.
BLOGGING AFRICA: Review of African Blogs by Sokari Ekine
BOOKS & ARTS: Remebering Biafra – a review by Chiomah OruhACTION ALERTS: SHURO-Net (Somaliland): Illegal assembly held
ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Mbeki-led mediation talks called off
AU MONITOR: Selome Araya provides a weekly round up of AU Monitor activities, while Hakima Abbas reports on the actions around CSO audit of the African Union
WOMEN AND GENDER: Breaking the cycle of adolescent pregnancy
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Ugandan rebels want ICC charges dropped
HUMAN RIGHTS: Shocking details of torture of Botswana’s bushmen
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: DRC’s camps threatened by cholera
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: South Sudan may pull deputies from parliament
AFRICA AND CHINA: China’s influence in Africa – from a Chinese perspective
DEVELOPMENT: The Brain Drain: Africa staffs the West
HEALTH AND HIV/Aids: Major rise in XDR-TB predicted in South Africa
EDUCATION: Internet’s contribution to development
LGBTI: UN to host LGBT rights panel
ENVIRONMENT: Conservationists applaud Uganda
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Land redistribution moves to the front-burner in South Africa
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Swazi media face media council bill threat
NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA: Another member of Haiti’s Lavalas party kidnapped
INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: ICT no longer a luxury for Africa
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

Somaliland: Governmentally-backed illegal extraordinary general assembly

Mubarik Ibrahim Aar



Governmentally-backed illegal extraordinary general assembly

An illegally conducted extraordinary general assembly claiming to represent Somaliland Human Rights Organisations Network (SHURO-net) was conducted on Thursday 24th October in Ambassador Hotel.


The Mo Ibrahim Prize: Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Issa G Shivji


“Mo Ibrahim’s prize for a retired African president which was awarded to Joachim Chissano of Mozambique was in my view an insult to the African people.” Issa Shivji raises a number of questions around the award such as how and what is “good governance” and why is it only applied to Africa? And most importantly “for which and whose democracy they are getting a prize”.

Punishment is to deter; often to take revenge. Reward is to encourage. Rewards can also be a recognition for outstanding, usually, individual achievements. Which acts are liable to punishment and which are rewarded depends on the dominant values of society. These can differ from society to society and from time to time within same society. Issues of democracy and dictatorship, of war and peace, of governance and state administration, do not fall within the realm of a system of punishment and rewards.

Of course, victorious powers recognise their war heroes and vanquished bury their martyrs with honour. But then heroes of the victor are mercenaries for the vanquished and the martyrs of the vanquished may be terrorists for the victor. In other words, the issues of war and peace are contentious issues and can only be understood in their historical and social context. And so are the issues of democracy and dictatorship. Therefore, it is naïve, if not mischievous, to award a person – moreover with a cash prize – for bringing peace or democracy to his country.

It is even worse to cite “good governance” as an achievement for awarding an individual president of a country. What is “good governance”? Who determines what is good and bad governance? What yardsticks are applied? And why are these yardsticks applied only to Africa? Why doesn’t any one award a Norwegian prime minister for good governance or include “good governance” conditionality to lend Mr. Bush assistance or fund Martin Athissari to advise Bush on good governance? (Remember Martin Athissari, funded by the World Bank, came to Tanzania to advise President Mkapa on good governance.)

The point about these rhetorical questions should be obvious. Mo Ibrahim’s prize for a retired African president which was awarded to Joachim Chissano of Mozambique was in my view an insult to the African people. First, it is belittling African people. Dictators and undemocratic rulers exist all over the world, including the West which has arrogated to itself the right to judge others as “good man” or punish them for being dictators (Saddam Hussein).

Despots and dictators are not a monopoly of Africa. African people, like other people elsewhere, have always struggled against them. If they have attained some success in these struggles, it is their collective achievement. Their success is not due to particular qualities of any single leader. Good leaders are as much a product of our societies as are the bad ones. It is for the people to decide who is a good or a bad leader and how to award a good one and punish a bad one. I certainly cannot imagine Mozambicans (or any African people for that matter) awarding a 5-million dollar prize to Mr. Chissano. First because Chissano’s goodness itself is, I am sure, a contentious issue in Mozambique. Secondly, Mozambican people, if at all, would have awarded their leader by including him in a list of honour or putting his picture on a postal stamp. And if they had 5 million dollars to spare, they would have probably built secondary schools to produce future good leaders rather than give it away to Chissano to “live a better life” and invest in business (which is what Chissano said in a BBC interview he would use the money for.)

The worst disappointment in the prize saga has been its uncritical and unqualified celebration by scribes and even academics and intellectuals. Since this prize to a retired president was for stepping down from power or “good governance’ or bringing democracy and peace to his country, it was expected that analysts would go beyond the superficial and the obvious to a deeper understanding and explanation of issues of war and peace and democracy and dictatorships in Africa. Before we celebrate, we must understand what it is that we are celebrating. Before we applaud this prize to Chissano we must understand the history, politics and forces which underpinned war and peace in Mozambique.

The people of Africa have been involved in a long struggle against war and for peace and democracy and the struggle continues. In this struggle, they are pitted against not only their own immediate rulers but also against the erstwhile colonial and imperialist powers supporting them. Our dictators were not simply made in Kinshasa (Mobutu) or Central African Republic (Bokassa) or Entebbe (Idi Amin) but also in Washington or Paris or London and Tel Aviv. The vicious war in Mozambique was not simply waged by RENAMO but fully supported and instigated by apartheid South Africa backed by the US and western powers. Apartheid South Africa also claimed the life of the liberation leader Samora Machel and his leading comrades.

Chissano took over from Samora and under the tutelage of Washington steered the neo-liberal course. It is under this new direction that the former freedom fighters like Chissano’s family and Gebuza and others (with some honourable exceptions) began accumulating wealth and became businessmen. Chissano’s son Nyimpine, a businessman, was implicated in the murder of a journalist Carlos Cardoso who was investigating the fraudulent disappearance of 14 million dollars from the Commercial Bank of Mozambique in 1996. The story of wealth accumulation by political leaders in Mozambique is not that different from what we have been witnessing and debating in Tanzania. It is even on a larger scale. In Tanzania Mwalimu’s ghost has had greater restraining power on vultures of wealth than Samora’s in Mozambique.

As with economics, so with politics. The opening up of space after one-party authoritarianism did not just come about on a silver platter. People in Tanzania, Mozambique and the rest of Africa struggled for it. But as usual the rulers and their imperialist backers pre-empted the struggle for real democracy by imposing their own truncated version of neo-liberal democracy

So, when our leaders receive prizes for their democratic achievements we should ask ourselves for which and whose democracy they are getting a prize. Are they getting the prize for a neo-liberal democracy under which the World Bank and “development partners” (read: developed predators!) impose privatization of national assets and resources; under which their diplomats pressurize our ministers and governments to sign utterly one-sided contracts with the likes of golden sharks; under which the parliament is literally ordered to pass laws which have been drafted by their consultants like the Mining Act, under which our political leaders in a free-for-all pandemonium overnight become “wajasiria mali” and bankers and big miners? Is this the democracy for which the peasants, workers, youth, and wamachinga fought? In short, before celebrating let us ask ourselves what are we celebrating and whose music we are dancing to.

Without such critical understanding, I am afraid, we can end up celebrating and legitimizing the shaming and ridiculing of the democratic struggles and achievements of our people.

Mr. Mo Ibrahim: you have made millions of dollars from the sweat and blood of the African people. If you want to return a few million to the people, build schools, dispensaries, and water wells in the south of your own country rather than giving them to Chisasanos of this world. Do not add insult to injury by robbing (poor) Peter to pay (rich) Paul.

© Issa Shivji.

* This article was first published in THE CITIZEN (Tanzania) in Saturday Palaver and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.

* Issa Shivji is one of Africa’s most radical and original thinkers and has written frequently for Pambazuka News. He is the author of several books, including the seminal Concept of Human Rights in Africa (1989) and, more recently, Let the People Speak: Tanzania down the road to neoliberalism (2006).

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
“Mo Ibrahim’s prize for a retired African president which was awarded to Joachim Chissano of Mozambique was in my view an insult to the African people.” Issa Shivji raises a number of questions around the award such as how and what is “good governance” and why is it only applied to Africa? And most importantly “for which and whose democracy they are getting a prize”.

Comment & analysis

Joaquim Chissano and the neo-liberal virus in Mozambique

Horace Campbell


Since independence in 1975, the living conditions of the working people of Mozambique have deteriorated considerably. In 2007 the quality of life of the majority of citizens remains very poor. Mozambique ranks 168th out of 190 on UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), the lowest in Southern Africa. At the same time, there is a new class of rich capitalists in Maputo who live in luxury, says Horace Campbell.

In the book, The Liberal Virus and the Americanization of the World (Monthly Review Press, 2004), Samir Amin endeavours to show how the US project for military and economic domination has its roots in the liberal ideas of Western Europe. Amin draws attention to the plunder of the Third World, especially Africa, and the ways in which institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization fostered policies that undermined the quality of life of the world’s poor. Amin predicts the loss of more than 3 billion lives if African countries continue to pursue the West’s neo-liberal agenda, especially if poor farmers emulate the agricultural practices of North America and Western Europe.

Since independence in 1975, the living conditions of the working people of Mozambique have deteriorated considerably. In 2007 the quality of life of the majority of citizens remains very poor. Mozambique ranks 168th out of 190 on UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), the lowest in Southern Africa. At the same time, there is a new class of rich capitalists in Maputo who live in luxury. Neo- liberalism prevails at the high levels of the society while at the grassroots the poor remember the pledges of the leaders of Frelimo to provide food, shelter and water for the poor. In 1980, Samora Machel proclaimed that Mozambique would become a developed country by 1990. Yet, 27 years later, the country is becoming poorer as local and foreign capitalists continue to plunder the country.

Mozambique achieved its independence in 1975, after a period of armed struggle led by FRELIMO. Mozambique was among the Frontline states in the struggle against apartheid and colonialism. Despite pressure from the South African apartheid and Rhodesian states the people of Mozambique made tremendous sacrifices to provide a rearguard base for the liberation of Zimbabwe and later South Africa. In the face of the successful revolution in Mozambique, the apartheid government launched a Total Strategy Campaign to destroy the Mozambican society. Through their proxy army the MNR, the South Africans and the US neo-conservatives supported terrorism against the people of Mozambique. Villages were attacked, innocent women and children were massacred, and transportation and communication lines were cut while South African commandos infiltrated Maputo to kill ANC freedom fighters.

Samora Machel and Chissano negotiated with the South African government to end apartheid support for the MNR culminating in Machel and Frelimo signing the Nkomati Peace Accord in 1984. Despite this accord, the apartheid regime intensified its support for the MNR. Samora Machel was killed in October 1986 when his plane was brought down by the apartheid regime of South Africa.
The killing of Machel was the high point of the terror war waged against the people of Mozambique by the apartheid regime with support from the neo-conservative forces in the US. Up to today, the full history of this terrorism unleashed by the MNR (called Renamo) has not been fully documented. Millions were killed and displaced in the war of destabilization. In the book, Mozambique: Who Calls the Shorts, Joseph Hanlon outlines the three forms of destabilization endured by the people of Mozambique. These were (i) Military destabilization and violence by Renamo (ii) Political destabilization brought about by the attempts to impose the band of killers on the people and (iii) Economic destabilization unleashed by the International Monetary Fund and The World Bank.

The Diplomatic Skills of Joaquim Chissano

Chissano had been one of the early leaders of FRELIMO from its days as a guerilla movement in Tanzania. Chissano developed his diplomatic skills negotiating the withdrawal of the Portuguese between 1974 to 1975. At independence, Chissano was named the foreign minister of Mozambique and became known as a skilled diplomat. As long as the party was strong, this diplomacy served the interests of the liberation project in Africa. When Machel was killed in 1986 there was a choice between Marcelino Dos Santos (considered a doctrinaire Marxist by the West) and Chissano. The party chose Chissano.

Chissano proved an adept negotiator who sought to appease the West, especially the US government. By 1990, projects for delivery of health services and clean water to the poor were abandoned and the economy was opened up to ‘market’ forces. IMF-designed Structural Adjustment Policies were adopted and the state rolled back the support for the poor. Market forces meant the opening up the economy to South African and foreign capitalist. The irony of this retreat was that the same forces that had destroyed Mozambique were now being invited to invest in its reconstruction.

Once Frelimo had capitulated before Western and apartheid capitalism, the forces of reaction sought to rein in Renamo. The Vatican (which had been the most opposed to the policies of Frelimo) offered to mediate a cease fire to end the war of destabilization. This was also an effort to give a clean image of Renamo in the face of intensified struggles against apartheid. After the defeat of the South African army at Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, the apartheid regime went on the defensive. The independence of Namibia in 1990 along with the release of Nelson Mandela created a new political dynamic in Southern Africa. The peace talks in Rome to end the war between Frelimo and Renamo were drawn out to ensure that Frelimo made concessions to the forces that terrorized the people.

The United Nations sent a team for the transition to integrate the former murderers into the state structures. Such was the process of counter revolution in Mozambique that instead of arresting those who had carried out crimes against humanity, the leaders of Renamo were given the respected title of leaders of the opposition. Frelimo won the 1994 elections and Chissano became the first President of a multi-party ‘democracy’ in Mozambique.

The second element of the destabilization had been thwarted, the West and the apartheid government failed to impose Renamo with its criminal past as legitimate leaders of the country.

The victory of neo-liberalism in Southern Africa

The third element of destabilization went into full gear in 1994. This was to promote the capitalist mode of production. Mozambique and Tanzania were being punished by the World Bank and the IMF for attempting an alternative to rapacious capitalism Faced with the organized working class and the possible cross-border links between workers in Southern Africa (calling for a Charter for Human and Peoples Rights across Southern Africa), the neo-liberal organizations inside and outside Africa poured millions of dollars into projects to discredit popular forces of the poor.

South African society embarked on a virulent xenophobic campaign against Mozambicans while the media was replete with stories about ’the failure of ujamaa’ in Tanzania and that socialism had failed in Mozambique. Workers in South Africa were mobilized to think of their brothers and sisters from Mozambique as the problem, rather than the system of exploitation and looting. After an initial project of Reconstruction and Development (RDP) with plans for housing, sanitation, clean water and education for the poor, the political leadership of South Africa opted for a World Bank style-project of Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy (GEAR). Under this policy the social scars of apartheid were exacerbated by the emergence of a new class of black entrepreneurs who had become rich through the ‘black empowerment project.”

The reversal of the gains of self-determination (some would say the counter-revolution) was evident across the region of Southern Africa. In countries like Mozambique and Zimbabwe where the workers had formed trade unions and were in the forefront of the struggle for democratic rights, these same workers were now being oppressed by “black entrepreneurs.” Black empowerment and privatization were the buzz words for the new class of leaders who turned their backs on the struggle for a better life for all.

The tragedy is that it was in the countries where the poor had made the greatest sacrifices (Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe) where the new black bourgeoisie were most callous in the sellout to international capitalists.
One of the clearest examples of this betrayal is the case of the construction of the Mozal Aluminum Smelter in Mozambique. This project is owned by an international consortium led by London-based Billiton (47%) and includes South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation (24%), Mitsubishi of Japan (25%) and the government of Mozambique (4%). The project to set up this aluminum smelter was the biggest in post-independence Mozambique. The trade union was not allowed to organize the workers to participate in this project worth over US $1.3 billion.
Chissano as a diplomat

This context of reversal of fortunes for the ordinary person in Southern Africa provides a back-drop to understanding the prize given to former President Joaquim Alberto Chissano.
Last week it was announced that the former Mozambican President has won the inaugural Mo Ibrahim award for exemplary leadership in Africa Announcing the award on Chissano’s birthday, former United Nations Secretary General (and the head of the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs at the time of the Rwanda genocide) and Chair of the Prize Committee, Kofi Annan, said that '''President Chissano's achievements in bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to his country greatly impressed the committee.”

Mo Ibrahim is the archetypal successful African entrepreneur and has been lauded as a text-book success story for young Africans. Mr. Ibrahim provides best personifies the neo-liberal propaganda about “hard work, competition and the fairness of the market and new technologies. According to the media, “Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur, established the prize as a way of encouraging good governance in a continent blighted by corruption and a frequently loose adherence to democratic principles.” Not a word is mentioned about the living conditions of the people of the Sudan from where Mr. Ibrahim hails.

What is significant about the whole award process is the way in which moral imperatives of service and commitment to the poor and exploited have been overtaken by the neo-liberal discourses and the Liberal Virus. It is true that if a prize were to be given at this historical moment to a former president, none would have been more deserved that former President Chissano. After all, he had stepped down from power in 2005 and was responsible for a smooth transition to a new leader. This point was made by Kofi Annan when the prize was announced. For this Joaquim Chissano should be congratulated. Chissano is also working very hard to negotiate an end to the war in Northern Uganda between the Museveni regime and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In this regard Chissano can be distinguished from the militarists all across Africa.

But, isn’t this prize also a sign of the political retrogression in Africa? The idea of a President voluntarily stepping down is now so novel in the face of leaders such as Museveni and Mugabe that Chissano indeed stands out. Compared to Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki, and their megalomanic policies, Chissano does look good.

While announcing Chissano as the winner, Kofi Annan may have gone overboard by saying, “leadership should be the ability to formulate a vision and to convince others of that vision. It should be the skill of giving courage to accept difficult changes to make possible a longer term aspiration for a better and fairer future.”

It was also said when the prize was announced that, “the mark of a good leader is one that can inspire people to a higher standard of living, unite diverse interests and ensure subjects live in harmony, despite holding different opinions.”

It is understandable if African leaders want to pat each other on the back, and of those still alive, Chissano stands heads and shoulders above his contemporaries. But, do we have to set the bar so low for African political leadership in this era?

Neo-liberalism and corruption

One of the successes of the neo-liberal project of privatization has been to increase the export of capital from Africa. Despite efforts such as the Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) Initiative, the role of the Western financial institutions across Africa has largely been to facilitate the export of wealth. Mozambique is no exception and one of the blots on Chissano’s tenure is the privatization of Mozambique's largest bank, Banco Comercial de Moçambique.

Carlos Cardoso is among the stalwarts of the Mozambican revolution . As a fearless investigative journalist, he was committed to the principles of peace, freedom and prosperity for the people. Cardoso was looking into a US$14 million fraud connected with the privatization of Banco Comercial de Moçambique.

He was shot dead in central Maputo on 22 November 2000.

The truth about those who orchestrated and carried out the murder of this courageous journalist is still unknown. It is the hope of all who want crimes and murders to stop in Africa that those with information on criminality will assist in bringing criminals to justice. Only last week Lucky Dube was shot down while dropping off his children in Johannesburg, South Africa. Street crimes of the sort that took the life of Lucky Dube cannot be fought when crimes of theft in the banking system involving millions go unpunished. We should remember the words of Peter Tosh, “every one is talking about Crime but who are the real criminals?”
The truth is that the criminals are the leading capitalists in Africa along with their allies in the capitalist world.

The prize for the best accountant

When Chissano left office, Mozambique was seen as a country that had retreated from the old socialist model and successfully embraced neo-liberal capitalism. Social democratic ideas of providing services to the people were considered old fashioned among the young who were been fed the anti- socialist line. International non-governmental agencies now traverse the countryside in Mozambique doing the kind of work that should be done by the government. World Bank consultants are very busy ensuring that there is ‘good governance’ and ‘market reforms’. Instead of identifying the capitalists as looters and purveyors of greed, we are bombarded with the discourse on “donors.” Mo Ibrahim has elevated himself into the ranks of the “donors.”

The Mozambican workers and poor peasants remember their long struggle against colonialism. The challenge in Africa is to remember the victories of the Mozambican revolution and not to allow the World Bank discourse on ‘governance’ to erase the memories of mobilization of the people against exploitation. While the workers organize, the prize for rooting out corruption should help us to get to the truth behind the murder of Cardoso.

In the past few months, the UN established the STAR initiative to assist exploited countries recover assets stolen by corrupt leaders. The initiative was to ensure that looted assets are returned to their rightful owners,

For those who still believe in the transformation of Africa, we believe that the next prize should go to the accountant who uncovers the most money stolen from Africa by its leaders.

* Horace Campbell is Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Since independence in 1975, the living conditions of the working people of Mozambique have deteriorated considerably. In 2007 the quality of life of the majority of citizens remains very poor. Mozambique ranks 168th out of 190 on UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), the lowest in Southern Africa. At the same time, there is a new class of rich capitalists in Maputo who live in luxury, says Horace Campbell.

The delusions of power: Beauty and the beast

John Samuel


Everything small is beautiful these days. NGOs, busy with micro finance and micro politics for the poor, are small, beautiful -- and powerless. Meanwhile, the beast of markets and States can continue to dominate macro economics and politics. This neat division into micro and macro sustains the unjust power relationships that perpetuate impoverishment, inequality and injustice, says John Samuel

Small may seem beautiful. But is this beauty enough to take on the beast? These days there is a great deal of talk about micro-this and micro-that -- as if it were the most desirable thing. But can micro beauty challenge and change the macro beast of market and State? At the core of this is the question is power: what kinds and modes of power relationships shape social and economic policies? How differently does power operate in its micro and macro dimensions? How is power derived and sustained? Our predicament is that power can create the delusion of ‘empowerment’ and the subjugation of the ‘empowered’ at the same time.

Why is it that in spite of all the magic of micro credit and the perceived ‘empowerment’, the poor and marginalised fail to influence the macro politics of Bangladesh or for that matter any country? Why is the celebrated hero of micro credit ending up a zero in the macro party politics of Bangladesh? Why is it that in spite of a long history of ‘civil society’ initiatives and grassroots ‘empowerment’ by organisations like SEWA and many Gandhian organisations in the state of Gujarat in India, thousands of people were massacred in broad daylight, with the complicity of the State? Why does most of ‘civil society’ fail to respond to the uncivil behaviour of organised political forces and State power? Why is it that the so-called ‘social capital’ in southern Italy failed to counter the rise of fascism? This is where we need to understand the limitations of micro politics and micro finance.

The crux of the matter is that it is often macro power relationships and macro economics that call the shots, while micro politics can perpetuate a false sense of power. Micro politics and micro finance may offer a sense of power. But such power is no more than a delusion when it is subservient to unjust power relationships that perpetuate injustice, inequality and impoverishment. Often micro power and micro politics are simply bulldozed or consistently subverted by the macro power of the State and market -- the beasts of macro politics and economics -- deriving their power from a coercive army, a media that manufactures consent, and markets that masquerade as the messiah.

These days we hear a lot about micro finance, micro enterprises, local governance and empowerment at the grassroots level. The new stress on the rights-based approach to development, civil society action, civic virtues, community-based mobilisations and grassroots empowerment all seem to stress largely on micro and very little on macro. Micro is for the poor and excluded and macro is for the rich and powerful. Micro finance and micro politics can be subcontracted to NGOs while macro politics and macro economics will be controlled by organised corporate and market power along with the political elite. This is where the delusions of power and the delusions of development begin.

What is the problem? The problem is that while the so-called NGOs or Civil Society Institutions are busy ‘empowering’ the grassroots, establishing micro finance, strengthening local governance or ‘delivering development’, the organised macro economic and political powers continue to play their power games of macro finance, macro economics and national, international and global governance. They capture markets, natural resources or countries through laws, advertising campaigns, finance capital markets or bombs as and when they like! While every good soul seems to be focusing on the grassroots and local development or empowerment, the rich and powerful seem to be busy capturing markets, consumers and governments.

The logic of this neat division of politics and finance into micro and macro often helps to sustain and strengthen hegemonic and unjust power relationships that perpetuate impoverishment, inequality and injustice. While civil society organisations can claim the ethical or political high ground, they simply fail to influence anything about the war in Iraq or the policies of the World Bank or IMF or for that matter the nature and character of a coercive State, whether in Ethiopia or Zimbabwe or the USA.

So micro finance looks good as long as you ignore the macro finance which drives it. So we can celebrate Grameen and forget about Citibank or American Express or finance capital markets. Micro enterprises look good as long as you ignore macro economics; local governance is a favoured option as long as national and global governance continues unchallenged as the terrain of the political and technocratic elite. While influencing micro power relations and micro politics is a worthwhile effort, it is also a means of creating and sustaining delusions of power when macro politics and macro economics are left to control and manipulate power in business corporations, rich countries and their institutions.

The fact of the matter is that in spite of years of community mobilisation and grassroots empowerment and local governance in many of the countries of Asia (Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and to some extend Nepal), macro politics is often shaped by a mix of larger political forces and interest groups along with the coercive power of the army. Most of the countries in Africa and Latin America also show the same pattern. In the so-called democracies of Europe and America too the situation is more or less the same. In spite of all efforts, it is State power that decided to launch a preemptive and disastrous war in Iraq.

This is not to argue that micro politics or micro power is not important. On the contrary, micro power and micro politics are very crucial for individual empowerment and women’s empowerment at the level of family, community and local power relations. Indeed, transforming micro politics and the injustice that is embedded in gender relations and challenging feudal power structures and historical marginalisation require change in unjust and unequal relationships within the family and communities. However, the problem is that larger power structures, political forces and corporate interests are so organised in terms of their interests, networks and control over the institutions and interests of the military, market and media. The institutionalised power of macro politics can make the power of micro politics redundant in the larger power play. One of the key reasons for this is that micro politics is most of the time dispersed, disorganised and disoriented in the larger context of the political economy of power and institutions. Hence, micro politics do not translate into collective power that can challenge and change macro power and the institutions that control and reproduce such macro power and macro economies. The key reason for this is the hegemonic power paradigm that influences and shapes power relations.

At any given point of time there is a hegemonic power paradigm that operates through the political economy of institutions, interests, knowledge, technology and State. Even morality and moral tools like human rights are often defined by the political economy of the hegemonic power paradigm. Hence a moral tool like human rights is often misused in the most immoral way by those who control the power paradigm. This paradigm is still controlled by the power of military, media and markets and sustained by the State and its various institutions at the national and international level. While such a power paradigm gives incremental space to civil society or civil society organisations or social movements or NGOs (in the name of human rights or democracy) to influence public policies, this ‘invited’ or ‘designed’ space is largely within the hegemonic power paradigm. That is why such efforts have to depend largely on the goodwill of the media or institutions of the State in spite of and irrespective of their moral and political claims on behalf of the poor or citizens. In fact, one can argue that even such ‘invited spaces’ are little more than accommodative arrangements to create delusions of power for civil society.

Even international campaigns initiated by civil society or INGOs to challenge the politics of the State and market largely depend on the highly corporatised media for attention and legitimacy. Often anything that happens in cities such as Washington, New York, London or Brussels qualifies an action as ‘global’. Anything that appeared on BBC or CNN is ‘global’. Any book that is published in London or New York or reviewed in Time or Newsweek or Economist is supposed to have ‘global’ influence. Any theory or knowledge that is manufactured or processed in the Northern universities or think-tanks is supposed to have ‘global significance’. By the same token cities of the South, knowledge from the South and the media in the South are still ‘local’ or ‘national’. This too creates a false sense of power based on the location and delusions of power. Little wonder then that even civil society or NGO campaigns are vulgarised into cheap media stunts, high-profile seminars and communication circuses in the Northern cities (privileged by the hegemonic power paradigm), based more on brand- building and less on mobilising or transforming political power or power relationships at the micro or macro level.

We must understand the character and nature of the hegemonic power paradigm and challenge and change the very paradigm of the 3 Ms (Military, Media and Market) to reclaim the State as well as governance for the people and the billions of poor and excluded both in rich and poor countries. This requires a much more nuanced understanding about the uses and abuses of power and a political strategy based on a long-term approach to the power paradigm as well as social transformation.

Power is a contested concept, as much as it is about contestations. Power is also a very slippery notion, with multiple manifestations, processes and histories. The notions of ‘Power over’, ‘Power to’, ‘Power within’ and ‘Power with’ often capture different dimensions and modes through which power operates, transforms and manifests itself. Power can have both positive and negative connotations. Power can be visible or hidden. It can have symbolic as well as institutional dimensions. Power is often negotiated through and by different social, political, economic and institutional dimensions as well as through cultural, historical and technological modes. The questions are how power is derived, how it is used, how it is manifested and how it is reproduced or regenerated. The ‘how’ aspect of power is often more important than the ‘what’ and ‘why’ aspects.

Power can manifest itself in terms of aesthetics, coercion, consensus, control or networks. The power to create can in many ways signify the primordial notion of power and often the very basis of the omnipotence of the notion of God is derived from the ‘power to create’. Later on, religions as formal institutions transformed this ‘creative power’ to the ‘power to control’. Power can be termed the process, instruments and ability to create, communicate, choose, decide, influence, convene, sustain, control and destroy. Power has an individual as well as institutional dimension. The personal is indeed political. However, it is the institutions of family, religion, State and market that often define, sustain and reproduce power relationships. Often such institutions legitimise the ‘control’ and ‘coercive’ aspect through ‘power over’. Patriarchy is the most manifested form of power as control. Power is often derived from and through guns as well as gender; books as well as battalions; ethics as well as economics; religions as well as rockets; tactics as well as technology; liberty as well as law; love as well as language; crime as well as punishment; people as well as profits; media as well as mediation; war as well as peace; values as well as visions; community as well as creativity; advocacy as well as armies; missionaries as well as markets and democracy as well as desires. In fact, a hegemonic power paradigm operates through the control of all these modes as well as expressions of power. It operates through the control and coordination of the military, law and order, technology and even the political economy of desire (the manufacturing of new desires and demands through advertisements), democracy (by corporate funding of political parties and political elites), human rights and civil society initiatives (either through State patronage of development aid or through corporate funding). Hence the Knowledge of Power is as important as the Power of Knowledge.

The delusions of power through individual empowerment or through the empowerment of the consumer to choose, through the empowerment of local governance or through the ‘invited’ space for civil society, can give a false sense of hope about the whole project of development and human rights. It is far less complicated to address the micro dimension of power. Hence, the hegemonic power paradigm (which is patriarchal in nature) will not have much of a problem initiating affirmative action in favour of women’s political participation and leadership in local self-government. This is the same for other excluded groups. However, there is tremendous resistance to allocation of 30% or 40% of seats in a nation’s parliament for women or excluded sections.

It is the same with NGOs. As long as NGOs are small and beautiful, the hegemonic power paradigms of the State or market will not have any problem supporting micro credit or micro enterprises. The fact of the matter is that most NGOs or Civil Society Organisations derive power from their institutional sources and through communicative action based on moral premises. However, the very institutional and communicative sources are often located on the periphery of the State, market and media. This is true of fundraising as well as of media strategies. Such a sense of power derived through institutions, networks, communicative action, knowledge and technology can be effective to a certain extent at the very grassroots level through community mobilisation or delivery of the service. With the advent of information and communication technology and media-driven campaign strategies, they may also have a visible presence or profile at the global level. But such presence and ‘invited spaces’ do not necessarily mean the power to influence or change. Because of the very character and nature of the institutional premises, located in markets as well as in the periphery of the State, many such initiatives can at best be progressive reformism or token instrumentalism. Hence, unless such Civil Society Organisations think of a new political strategy as well as political theory and praxis of action at all levels of micro and macro power relationships, the chances of transforming the hegemonic power paradigm are few. In fact, after 25 years, many of the present local and ‘global’ initiatives for change may prove redundant. Many of these small and beautiful efforts and institutions may very well be swallowed by the beasts of market and State.

In fact the major challenge for the present hegemonic power paradigm comes from the emergence of postmodern identity politics. The notion of ‘class’ is getting increasingly mixed with ‘identity’. Unprecedented urbanisation, migration, inequality, combined with the new markers of identity based on location, religion and ethnicity can unleash new political forces that can subvert the present state of the hegemonic power paradigm. This can very well be reactionary political forces as distinct from a progressive or transformative political force. The new identity politics has individual, micro and macro dimensions as well as the subversive capacity through new forms of military action and terror tactics. This poses a great challenge to both the beauty and the beast.

At the moment the beauty and the beast seem to have established a complacent and conciliatory relationship based on mutual benefit and the desire for self-preservation. Such a complacent coexistence of the beauty and the beast creates the delusion of power as well as development as the beast is busy bombing the lives and livelihoods of the people. However, the new identity politics and the new hegemonic power paradigms at the global, national and international level may rock the applecart. The beast may change colour and even language. It may shift its primary location from Washington to elsewhere. However, the beauty cannot afford to be complacent with ‘micro’ power. There is indeed a need to create something big as well as beautiful that is relevant at the local, national and international level.

There is a need for a new renaissance and a new flowering of creativity in the form of new poetry, cultural expression and politics to build a new aesthetics of power and empowerment that can be relevant both at the micro and macro level. Small may be beautiful. But all beautiful things do not necessarily need to be small -- particularly when there is a beast that can easily swallow the small beauties of civil society at their convenience for either breakfast or dinner. We need to outgrow the delusions of power and confront the hegemonic power paradigm by creating new sources of power and politics, through broad-based mobilisations, new forms of communicative actions, new forms of local and international alliances, new forms of knowledge creation, distribution and reproduction and new forms of democratisation. We need a new imagination to go beyond the three-year project cycles or five-year thematic strategies of ‘empowerment’ to build a new vision for a new world -- a just and joyful world -- through new actions and through innovative institutional approaches. Delusions of power lead to delusions of development. And such frustrations may lead development actors to go in search of new approaches and strategies for poverty eradication, without being able to challenge and change the hegemonic power paradigms that perpetuate inequality, injustice and consequent impoverishment.

This piece was first published in InfoChange News & Features, June 2007

* John Samuel is a human rights activist and is currently International Director of Actionaid, based in Bangkok.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Everything small is beautiful these days. NGOs, busy with micro finance and micro politics for the poor, are small, beautiful -- and powerless. Meanwhile, the beast of markets and States can continue to dominate macro economics and politics. This neat division into micro and macro sustains the unjust power relationships that perpetuate impoverishment, inequality and injustice, says John Samuel

Dismantling Patriarchy in the MDC

Grace Kwinjeh


Grace Kwinjeh argues that unless the MDC is prepared to “dismantle the exhausted patriarchal model of liberation” the new Zimbabwe will simply be a continuation of the old albeit with different faces.

"I appeal to my fellow war veterans not to let your suffering be used by selfish and greedy politicians who caused your suffering. This will not benefit you at the end of the day. Comrades, you should stand up and be a watchdog of the government. If you do not, you will have fought for nothing," freedom fighter and former independent MP Margaret Dongo. But after first being elected in 1990, Dongo almost didn't make it back into office. She lost in the 1995 elections as an independent candidate after rampant voter fraud in her district had been engineered to ensure her defeat. When she set a nationwide precedent by taking the government to court, many called Dongo "mentally unbalanced" and said she was simply carrying a grudge against President Robert Mugabe.

The Republic of Dongo: Parliamentarian Margaret Dongo, By Joyce Jenje-Makwenda, Zimbabwe History has a way of repeating itself in mysterious ways. The Secretary General of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Tendai Biti recently signed a letter dissolving the Women's Assembly of the party. The same heroic Biti 12 years ago, joined other activists in fighting Zanu PF's intransigence, when the party fired vocal politician Margaret Dongo - from its ranks. With the support of pro- democracy activists Dongo challenged Zanu PF in the Harare South constituency and the courts and won.

Activists united in Harare South to campaign for Dongo, for many reasons with the main one being she had been a voice of reason within the Zanu PF structure saying things (her crude description of Mugabe loyalists) " Mugabe's wives" could not say.

"I'm saying this because I was in that parliament. I endured a lot of hardship under a one-party monopoly. You stand up and try to reason with him, and one tells you, "You are a bitch, go and cook in your house." Or tells you to sit down, that you are a minority..." said Dongo in an interview with Frontline World.

Thus she became a symbol of defiance against a system many feared and at the time thought was invincible, as has been the case with most post-colonial African States. She lit a candle of hope that the one party system could be challenged and dismantled, bringing the possibility of new political organisations with a different value system to that of Zanu PF.
I want to posit here that the Harare South battle should therefore be viewed in the context that it was an extension, of the whole process that led to the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in 1998 and subsequently the MDC in 1999.

It is however important to rewind this particular tape a little bit to understand the dynamics that played themselves out at the time within Zanu PF and their relevance to the political discourse today, within the MDC. I will use various theoretical positions and traditions to explain Dongo's battle in view of what Lucia Matibenga is up and against in the MDC vis-à-vis the question of intra-party democracy and women's empowerment as a pre- requisite of good governance.

Writing in the Financial Gazette of 11 October, Clemence Manyukwe gave an account of some of the victims of Zanu PF's internal dictatorship among them are Dzikamai Mavhaire and his famous "The President must go" speech, Frederick Shava, and Edgar Tekere. While all these have since been neutralised or silenced none made a mark in our collective conscience the way Dongo did.

The battle in Harare South was important and still has a relevance to us today especially for those whose political activism was then propelled by Dongo's victory. What was the principle behind the overwhelming support for Dongo's battle against the Zanu PF'chefs'? It was a brutal and lonely fight for Dongo. Zanu PF put all its resources in campaigning for Vivian Mwashita who had been Dongo's best friend. They had the control of the media, government resources, top politicians went into Harare South to de-campaign Dongo. Senior Zanu PF female politicians for their own political survival took sides with the men.

It is against this background that Matibenga's battle in the MDC, is important for us activists who were inspired and greatly influenced by Dongo in our political activism. The above scenario is repeating itself in a rather bitter manner. Reading Biti's statement after the High Court ruling on Matibenga's challenge of her committees dissolution, in which he claimed 'victory' and 'vindication', my heart sank. The statement represented several tragedies and dangers for those of who have been engaged in the protracted struggle for democracy.

While our interpretation of the judgement passed by the High Court is that only the Women's Congress can dissolve its leadership, the MDC leadership seems to have their own.

The first concern is to do with moral leadership, what lessons can the MDC learn from the 'struggles within the struggle' during the war of liberation as documented by the late Masipula Sithole? Sithole does not rule out the possibility of conflict in political organisations, however what matters is how the leadership responds and handles the conflict. The 70's 'struggle within the struggle' claimed lives, one of them of highly esteemed politician Hebert Chitepo. How were these developments a precursor of the kind of party Zanu PF is to today? Dictatorship? Violence?

"The Zimbabwe liberation movement has been torn apart by tribalism and regionalism, but rarely will this be admitted in public by the leadership and organisations in question, preferring distant Marxist ideological explanations. Those who may be tempted to think ideology is the answer to tribalism and regionalism will do well to remember that in both 'bourgeois' and 'proletariat' societies, national cohesiveness and consciousness are achieved through power sharing and management of representative institutional structures," wrote Sithole.

In a prophetic letter after the assassination of Chitepo his brother Ndabaningi said, "I cannot be indifferent to the death of a man such as Chitepo for political expediency. It is immoral and wrong. I am in this struggle because of moral quality otherwise I would have nothing to do with it."

Is there a moral value in Matibenga's struggle within the MDC? The late Sithole answers this by saying "In the long run, morally right actions will triumph over politically expedient actions. Just watch and see." Indeed we have not only watched but many of us are victims of that Zanu PF system of dictatorship and tyranny which birthed itself during our liberation struggle.

Still on the leadership question writing after being sacked as South Africa's deputy minister of Health, Nozizwe Madlala – Routledge said in an article entitled " Seeking servants of the people", 'When we choose leaders, we need not give up our own power by putting them on pedestals that distance them from those that they lead. We need not accord them hero worship or fear them so much that we cannot tell them what we think or feel, that we can only tell them what they want to hear. We need not allow them to think they have the last word and that they may not be challenged. True leadership is about giving people the feeling that they can be heard, regardless of who they are and how junior they may be."

The uneasy feeling one gets in supporting Matibenga's cause is of being at war with the leadership with the consequence of serious political backlash.

I want to argue further that the MDC is faced with these problems because of the failure to dismantle the exhausted patriarchal model of liberation as espoused by Horace Campbell and others . A model whose main characteristics are sexism, dictatorship and cronyism, the way the nationalists integrated themselves into the colonial systems, the MDC and other social liberation movements such as the Movement for Multi-party Democracy in Zambia have become hybrids of these models.

Of this system Campbell says, "instead of liberation becoming the foundation of a new social order, the militarist and masculinist leadership turned the victory of the people into a never ending nightmare of direct and structural violence."

The failure to break from colonial and nationalist politics can be described as another instance of what Frantz Fanon called 'false decolonization' or 'political decadence'. "In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial country identifies itself with the decadence of the West. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end."

Fanon goes further to say and this explains the prevailing status of the MDC, "It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness, or the will to succeed of youth."

And so Biti goes further to state in his statement, "Contrary to the opinions of others, the decision was not based on patriarchy, chauvinism or contempt of the feminist movement." What Biti seems not to understand is that the authority he has to actually write this statement derives itself from patriarchal privilege, one that he and his cohort do not have the ideological sophistication to articulate in order to dismantle it. That is the tragedy. Thus the commission investigating the conduct of the women's assembly for instance is made up of three men in a party that is blessed with so many well meaning and capable women. Biti sees nothing wrong with this. Not to mention again that the National Executive and National Council of the party were never informed of this decision.

In fact like Dongo and Mwashita in Zanu PF then, MDC women are placed in the ridiculous situation of acting like wives in a polygamous union. Those in such unions will tell you that when you ' talk too much', you are denied conjugal rights and other benefits until you behave. And so measures are put in place in the MDC system to regulate the behaviour of leaders especially how women respond to patriarchy and chauvinism. Even more telling is the fact that their opinions are regarded as those of 'others' they are not part and parcel of the party's common vision and understanding, of what constitutes intra-party democracy on the one hand the emancipation of women on the other.

The fact that the 'feminist movement' is just another and not part and parcel of the revolution as advanced by great revolutionaries like, Oliver Tambo or Thomas Sankara who said, "May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half of the people are held in silence.' Or Samora Machel who said, "The idea that we can wait until later to emancipate women is wrong, because it means leaving reactionary ideas to grow so that they are harder to fight later."

The great pan - Africans proposed a liberation model that sought to restore black woman of her dignity so viciously stripped of her by the settler colonialists. Their concept of revolution was not just political for instance placing certain men in power it was also social, meaning a total break-down of all institutions of power and oppression.

Just to advance my thesis further on the relationship between intra-party democracy, women's emancipation and good governance, I will use the example of Mozambique's FRELIMO which has produced not just some of the greatest women in Africa, lets take Graca Machel, but one of the best governments too. Fresh from winning the inaugural 5-million-dollar Mo Ibrahim Award for African Leadership, former President Joaquim Chissano, denounced autocratic rule saying it has no room on the African continent anymore.

For the MDC women I will leave them with the advise of late the nationalist Oliver Tambo to ANC women in 1981, "Women in the ANC should stop behaving like there was no place for them above the level of certain categories of involvement. They have a duty to liberate us men from antique concepts and attitudes about the place and role of women in society and the development and direction of our revolutionary struggle."

And so I will conclude by saying the fact that today when we speak out we are 'othered' called 'whores' and have to defend what we stand for gives us an insight into the 'New Zimbabwe' we are fighting for.

* Grace Kwinjeh is a visiting scholar with the Centre for Civil Society and writes in her personal capacity.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Grace Kwinjeh argues that unless the MDC is prepared to “dismantle the exhausted patriarchal model of liberation” the new Zimbabwe will simply be a continuation of the old albeit with different faces.

Books & arts

Remembering Biafra: A literary review

Chioma Oruh


In the quest of understanding the causations of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), otherwise known as the Biafran war, I stumbled upon an interview with Chinua Achebe, a prolific Igbo writer that is best known his book Things Fall Apart (1958) that has earned over twenty honorary doctorates and several international literary prize.[1]

In understanding this brief yet complex war of the Eastern tribes of the colonial territory - which later became the Federal Republic of Nigeria – it was important for me to get under its skin, so to speak. Getting-under-the-skin of Biafra implies that there were causes much deeper than secession from the Federal Republic of Nigeria, yet in order to understand the struggle for a nation separate from Nigeria, it is critical to include the well known driving force of control over the oil territories and the policies that disenfranchised, and continue to disenfranchise, the various populations of Eastern Nigeria.

It is also necessary to understand the thick layer of the divide-and-conquer strategy, as used by the British, which stimulated negative relations and undermined any unity efforts that would have taken place between Nigeria and the proposed sovereign nation of Biafra. Resting at the core of this getting-under-the-skin analogy is the cancer filled causation of corruption that assisted in the political and social unrest that attributed to the senseless massacres of the Igbo that lived in the North and Western regions of Nigeria – a major factor in the logical conclusion for the formation of the separate nation of Biafra. All of these factors were addressed by this leading writer, poet and intellectual, Chinua Achebe, in an interview conducted in 1968 by Transition - just a year into the three year arms dispute that was to follow the Biafran legacy, a dream tainted by bloodshed in the infancy of neo-colonialism.

Massacres in Nigeria

This interview started our with Chinua Achebe recounting the trauma he felt from the reality of war by stating, “…you got used to sleeping with the sound of shelling and all the other things…I only realized how nervous I had become when I got out to London about three weeks ago. The first sound of an aeroplane I heard and my first reaction was to take cover.”[2] Shortly after this chilling prelude, he starts an even more devastating story of killing sprees that defined his life as an Igbo in post colonial Nigeria:

"…between May and September 1966, there were massacres in Northern Nigeria, and not only in the North, but also in the West and Lagos. People were hounded out of their homes, as I was from my house in Lagos and we returned to the East…"[3]

It is in this retreat to the East that Achebe reported as the involuntary organization that began the necessity for a separate nation of Biafra. According to Achebe, this necessity for a separate nation did not begin in an egotistic desire to divide and create a separate world for he mentioned that “[Igbos] went out in the spirit of this experiment of one nation,”[4] and that the settlement outside of the indigenous Eastern region was a voluntary move to work as one nation.

In further support of this argument, Achebe stated,

"The original idea of Nigeria had its base from the leaders and intellectuals from the East, and they had, with all their shortcomings, this idea to build the country as one, and a long time this has been the paradox of the situation. It was the Easterners who were pressing for one Nigeria. The first people to object were the Yorubas. Awolowo came and created the Action Group on the basis that the sons of Odudu were the founders of the Yoruba people. Eventually the Northerners took it on and developed their own Northern Peoples’s Congress. This was supposed to be the national party, yet it refused to change its name from Northern to Nigerian People’s Party, even for the sake of appearances…So you had a possibility for tribal conflict accentuated by the power struggle in the political scene."[5]

The most devastating part of these massacres, as Achebe described, was the Nigerian governmental support against this movement to annihilate the Igbos,

"…if it was only a question of rioting in the streets and so on, that would be bad enough, but it could be explained. It happens everywhere in the world. But where you had a plan in detail – mass killing which the Government – the Army, the Police, the people where there to protect life and property – brought against the people they were supposed to protect – this is to me something quite terrifying."[6]

In another report of these massacres, more fittingly described as genocide, C. Odumengwu Ojukwu described in detail the events leading to the final retreat to the East,

"From police reports, I know that the May, 1966, riots claimed more than 3,000 lives. Indeed, the police reports say 3,300. I know that on the first night in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, 670 people were killed. I know also that in Kano, also in the North, on the same day of the riot, we lost over a thousand people, including women and children. International Press Conference, Enugu. October 11, 1966" [7]

It is with these recounts that I began to question the true motivations that led to this seemingly obvious state-sponsored acts of violence, a trend that Africa will see time and again in the successive tragedies of Rwanda, Somalia and, most recently, in Sudan. It is here the excavation of layers of debris of understanding the effects of colonization begins for me, and with the help of Chinua Achebe (amongst other brave souls that took it upon themselves to tell this story), my comprehension is learned through Biafra.

Divide and conquer

The term ‘divide and conquer’, rooted in the Latin words divide et impera, can be understood in its modern usage in computer science as splitting a large system into manageable components.[8] Ironically, this system that works well for the computer technology currently craved by contemporary African countries seeking development was a major tool of implementation and sustainability of colonial rule. As Walter Rodney describes in his famous book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1973):

"…the gap in levels of political organization between Europe and Africa was very crucial. The development of political unity in the form of large states was proceeding steadily in Africa. But even so, at the time of the Berlin Conference, Africa was still a continent of a large number of socio-political groupings who had not arrived at a common purpose. Therefore, it was easy for the European intruder to play the classic game of divide and conquer. In that way, certain Africans became unwitting allies of Europe. Many African rulers sought a European ‘alliance’ to deal with their own African neighbour, with whom they were in conflict. Few of those rulers appreciated the implications of their actions. They could not know that Europeans had come to stay permanently, they could not know that Europeans were out to conquer not some but all of Africans. This partial inadequate view of the world was itself a testimony of African underdevelopment relative to Europe, which in the late 19th century was self-confidently seeking domination in that part of the globe."[9]

It is with this science that Biafra found itself a victim of divide and conquer. In Achebe’s reporting of the involvement of the former colonial master, Britain, during the Nigerian Civil War, he lamented that, “…my position would be that [Britain] has no right to supply arms to Nigeria, in these particular circumstances and especially on this scale.”[10] In the truly invisible nature of divide and conquer, it was difficult to fully implicate the British as allies of the Nigerian Army as Achebe explained, “They will try to refute your charge by technicalities: they would say, for instance, that they are not sending any airforce pilots or any Royal Navy personnel; they are merely seconding them to the Nigerian Navy or Air Force.”[11]

The strategy of divide and conquer was also used in efforts to build divisions between the various tribes of Eastern Nigeria. As Achebe responded to a question posed about the alleged ill-treatment of non-Igbo groups that reside in the Eastern region,

"A very good example of propaganda. Rather than go into any special pleading, I have made the position quite clear, if anyone things that these minorities would rather not go among the Biafrans, it is quite a simple procedure to go and ask them through plebiscite, and if they want to go with Nigeria…my own personal belief is that if you did hold this plebiscite you would find that these people would not want to go with Nigeria."[12]

Unfortunately, divide and conquer continues to play an active role in Nigerian politics as there has not been a president from the East since before the Biafran War and this continues to inspire organized efforts at secession such as the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) due to charges of discrimination and marginalization as evident in federally mandated policies towards issues that concern Eastern Nigeria.[13]

The oil factor

Nigeria’s first oil-cargo was exported in 1958 from the Oloibiri oil-field (located in present day Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region), under the sponsor of the Shell-BP Development Company of Nigeria, jointly financed by the Royal Dutch Shell group and British Company.[14 Shortly following this discovery, the Nigerian government granted 10 oil exploration licenses to five companies - Shell-BP, Mobil Exploration Nigeria Incorporated, Amonsea, Texaco and Nigerian Gulf oil – and in 1965 commissioned the first oil refinery to be located at Port Harcourt, also in the Eastern region of Nigeria.[15]

By the beginning of the Biafran war, Nigeria was already a major oil producing nation with its production of more than 152 million barrels per annum being extracted from the Eastern region.[16] The desire to keep control of this lucrative oil business was a motivating factor for the British involvement in supplying Nigerian Army with arms against Biafra.

Achebe explains his belief that oil was a major factor in the arms struggle in Nigeria,

"…Well, I think there are many economic reasons. It is probably clear to them that Nigeria will be the worse for not having the place now called Biafra, not only in terms of natural resources but in human resources. But more, there is the glamour with oil. I think this is by far the most important reason…"[17]

Unfortunately, Achebe’s assertions would be proven correct and made evident in the policies taken after the end of the Biafran War. In May of 1971, a year after the end of Biafra, the Nigerian national Oil Corporation (NNOC) was set up as a government agency empowered to engage in all phases of oil industry from exploration to marketing – this being a formation of a powerful governmental union between the ministry of petroleum and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).[18]

By the mid 1980s, under the leadership of the military leader President Babagida, NNPC would re-organize itself into six semi-autonomous units known as sectors in a bid to privatize oil and under the pretenses of encouraging revenue, Nigeria would sell oil at a cheaper rate than other member of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) – hence making way for inflation that has led to the disparities of lack of economic compensation in the present day conflicts in the Niger-Delta region on claims that the indigenous tribes are not receiving reparations for the privatized oil drilling by foreign corporations.[19]

Biafra: A dream tainted by blood

Towards the end of the interview, Achebe remembered the enthusiasm that came as a result of Tanzania recognizing Biafra as a sovereign nation. He recounted, “it was a fantastic day….the streets were filled with people dancing and singing. For the first time in months you found dancing again, and the radio was playing Tanzanian music…the gesture meant nothing in military or material terms but it assured us – the effects it had on us – was electric.” [20]

It was with this innocent desire for autonomy that inspired millions of tribes-people of Eastern Nigeria to believe in this liberation and waited for the world to support them in their desire for freedom and independence…a call that would be answered in trickled and faint responses. As Ojukwu reported,

"The Biafran problem, to most major powers, is a nuisance. They would rather not have to deal with it in a world already gripped with the Vietnam war, economic crises, monetary crises, election fever here and there. There is an initial resentment against Biafra for leading them into another problem when they have got so much to deal with…"
Address to delegation of World Council of Churches, Umahia, March 28, 1968.[21]

Biafra was isolated. There were only five countries in the world that officially recognized Biafra: Gabon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Zambia.[22] A big part of this isolation was due to the lack of media coverage of this case due to the state-sponsorship of the atrocities towards the people of the East, particularly the Igbos. Achebe recounted the bombing in the center city of Aba that happened in the presence of twenty foreign journalists just arriving and how that event broke the news and successive international protests at the injustice imposed on the people of the East.[23]

As a descendant of two ex-Biafran soldiers, my mother and father, this story stings with the remembrance of a tragic time in our people’s history. However difficult of a subject that this matter may be, it is necessary to remember how situations like this arise so as to be part of efforts to stop them from happening again. Unfortunately, Africa finds herself in many other conflicts that resemble Biafra and it is with this knowledge that I take the time to remember the root causes that stem in public policies towards certain groups, primarily on ethnic bases. As Biafra served as the sound bell for one of the most tragic consequences of the colonial tool of divide and conquer in its neo-colonial manifestation, so must of its memory serves as a reminder that in 2007 African nations still suffer from this type of seemingly invisible rule. As Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, prophetically noted the five point of neo-colonialism in 1965:

•It continues to actively control the affairs of the newly independent state

•In most cases neocolonialism is manifested through economic and monetary measures. For example the neocolonial territories become the target markets for imports from the imperial centre(s)

•While neocolonialism may be a form of continuing control by a state's previous formal colonial master, these states may also become subjected to imperial power by new actors. These new actors include the United States or may be international financial and monetary organizations

•Because of the nuclear parity between the superpowers, the conflict between the two take place in the form of "limited wars." Neocolonial territories are often the places where these "limited wars" are waged.

•As the ruling elites pay constant deference to the neocolonial masters, the needs of the population are often ignored, leaving issues of living conditions like education, development, and poverty unresolved. [24]

The consequences of going against the grain of neo-colonialism were expressed by Chinua Achebe in his concluding statements at the end of this published interview on Biafra as he affirmed, “I have no intention of being placed in a Nigerian situation at all. I find it untenable. I find the Nigerian situation untenable. If I had been a Nigerian, I think I would have been in the same situation as Wole Soyinka is – in prison.” [25]

It is with this reflection on neo-colonialism that I also conclude this review with the hopes in remembering Biafra because I realize my part in the efforts to recognize the bigger picture of what has gone wrong for Africa since the 1960s, the supposed era of independence. This remembrance is not aimed at the continuous tensions inspired by divide and conquer tactics but as an invitation to look at Pan Africanism despite the scars and wounds with sympathy towards all other African nations that have fallen prey, and continue to fall prey, to the divisive effects of neo-colonialism.

1] “Chinua Achebe Profile” found at
2] Chinua Achebe on Biafra” by Achebe, Chinua. Transition No. 36 (1968), pp. 1-38. Durhan, NC: Duke university Press
3] Ibid, pp. 32
4] Ibid, pp. 32
5] Ibid, pp. 33
6] Ibid, pp. 35
7] “On Genocide,” Random Thoughts of C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, General of the People’s Army by Ojukwu,Chukwuemeka O. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Incorporated, 1969.
8] Divide et Impera: A Computational Framework for Verifying Object Component Sustitutability by Nordhagen, Else K. Olso, Norway: University of Oslo, Department of Informatics, November 1998
9] “Europe and the Roots of African Underdevelopment: 4.4 The Coming of Imperialism and Colonialism”. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Rodney, Walter. London: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications, 1963.
10] Achebe on Biafra, pp. 35
11] Ibid, pp. 36
12] Ibid, pp. 37
14] “Oil Policy in Nigeria: A Critical Assessment” by Nwaobi, Godwin Chukudum. Abuja: Quantative Economic Research Bureau, 2005.
15] Ibid
16] Ibid
17] Achebe on Biafra, pp. 33
18] Oil Policy in Nigeria, 2.0 “Nigeria’s Oil History”
19] Oil Policy in Nigeria, 3.0 “Oil Policy Evaluation”
20] Achebe on Biafra, pp. 37
21] “On the World,” Ojukwu.
23] Achebe on Biafra, pp. 35
24] “Neocolonialism” by Yew, Leong, Research Fellow, University Scholars Programme of Singapore.
25]Achebe on Biafra, pp. 37

* Chioma Oruh is a Doctorate student at Howard University in Washington DC.

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
In the quest of understanding the causations of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), otherwise known as the Biafran war, I stumbled upon an interview with Chinua Achebe, a prolific Igbo writer that is best known his book Things Fall Apart (1958) that has earned over twenty honorary doctorates and several international literary prize.[1]

Africa: The African Union: Challenges of Globalization, Security and Governance


A comprehensive examination of the work of the African Union (AU), with special emphasis on its capacity to meet the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms. Samual Makinda and F. Wafula Okumu show how Africa and, in particular, the AU can effectively address the challenges of building and sustaining governance institutions and security mechanisms only if they have strategic leadership. They also analyze current debates on, and criticisms of, leadership in Africa and examines key options for overcoming the constraints that African leaders face.

Letters & Opinions

Top Ten Reasons to Read Vanity Fair’s Article - A Flowering Evil

Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi


In the essay, A Flowering Evil, by Mark Seal that appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine (2006), we learn that there are two types of people living in Kenya — the White landowners and the Black, 'lawless, immigrant' Kenyans. Earlier this year it was announced that Julia Roberts will star in a movie to be shot in 2008 inspired by this essay. Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi deeply believe Kenyan White landowners should speak for themselves. Using direct quotes, they offer you the top ten reasons why you should read the full essay.

1) You get to know the true nature of the African.

“When I ask one Lake Naivasha landowner and his wife if the cure was more violent than the crime, he hands me a thick and wicked whip. "That's hippo skin," he says. "It hurts. The only thing these people respect is fear. The only way we can live here is by having them fear us." "For the Kikuyu the closest word to respect is 'I fear you,'" adds his wife.

2) You learn about the true Africa and things to avoid.

"Nothing happens halfway here. Everything is wild, violent, savage," a local woman tells me as the sky explodes in a thundering deluge and the mourners crowd around the bar in a tent after the memorial service. "People live dangerously in Africa," says another. "They crash planes, get killed by wild animals, have disastrous love affairs. My husband's mother got bitten by a hippo. A woman we know got hit by a train."

3) You learn about African marriage customs.

“Joan Root stood out, as did David Chege, who soon replaced his torn T-shirts and moldy swimming trunks with mitumba clothing, the second hand apparel that arrives in Africa by the bale. He took Joan's maid as his second wife, a badge of honor in a country where status is gauged by the number of wives a man has, and returned to poaching, although a much subtler form of it”…“He was a wily Kikuyu," says Joan's friend and former tenant Annabelle Thom of David Chege. A resident of the Karagita slum, Chege was a polygamist with two wives and four children.”

4) You learn about European marriage Customs.

Yet over time Alan entered into a relationship with Jenny Hammond, a married woman with two children, with whom Joan and Alan had been long time friends.
"I had an affair with Jenny, which was pretty tumultuous, but after a while I realized that I wanted to be with Joan," Alan tells me. "I had actually given Jenny a settlement and found her a place to live. She didn't want to go back to her husband, and she wasn't too happy that I'd decided to go back with Joan. But she accepted that.

5) You get to see the real eco-system, nature in the wild—Africans, wild animals and those that bravely tame them.

Her diary became filled with despair: sleepless nights, staff betrayals, neighbors getting robbed and shot, and, always, the insatiable needs of black Naivasha. "Isaac came to request a loan to buy [a]donkey to cart water," reads one diary entry. "Gave him a lecture about having seven children but loaned him 7,000 [shillings, or $96] for a start." Leopards killed her Thomson's gazelles, Masai tribesmen sent her and other white landowners menacing letters saying that they should "vacate Naivasha"—which the tribe still claims to own—and her increasingly undisciplined Task Force was falling apart.”

6) You Learn the Real African History.

“Decades before wildlife films such as March of the Penguins, Joan and Alan Root pioneered filming animal migrations without interference from human actors…They introduced American zoologist Dian Fossey to the gorillas she would later die trying to save, took Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis over Kenya in their balloon, and covered much of Africa in their famous single-engine Cessna…”

7) You get to learn about Lord Delamare’s Grandson Tom Cholmondeley.

Tom Cholmondeley in “2005 was arrested but never prosecuted after he had shot a plainclothes Masai game warden whom, he later explained, he had mistaken for a thief on his land. In May of this year, [2006] encountering a group he insists were poachers, who had bows and arrows and a pack of dogs and were hauling an impala across his land, Cholmondeley took aim again. He killed a black man who worked as a stonemason, and has been jailed and charged with murder.”

8) You get to see why for Tom Cholmondeley Justice is Blind.

"Desperate measures for desperate times," says Cholmondeley as he drives me across his vast acreage, [83,000 acres] where fat warthogs run in circles and where poachers can find plenty of places to hide.

"The balance of power had turned completely in their favor," says Tom Cholmondeley, who once watched the Task Force chase a poacher into a swamp, from which they later pulled his buffalo-mauled remains.

9) You see the other side of colonialism in Kenya and learn it was not all about hunting the Mau Mau.

“Joan was beautiful," remembers Parker, who was with four fellow soldiers on weekend leave from the Kenya Regiment in 1955 when they dared one another to ask out Nairobi's five prettiest girls, "whether we knew them or not." Parker chose Joan Thorpe, the tall, shy blonde who had an almost magical way with animals.

10) The article contains the best research on the African continent and its future.

"Welcome to Africa," a young, white big-game hunter says to me by way of consolation over drinks one midnight in Nairobi, insisting that this was just one more tragedy in a country full of them, and urging me to delay my return to the U.S. and go deeper into the continent. "We can investigate French forces fighting for control of oil in Chad, the war over conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone, the slaughter of the local Pygmy people by foreign tribes in the Congo, and the Chinese raping the rain forest. That," he says, "is deepest, darkest Africa."

* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
In the essay, A Flowering Evil, by Mark Seal that appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine (2006), we learn that there are two types of people living in Kenya — the White landowners and the Black, 'lawless, immigrant' Kenyans. Earlier this year it was announced that Julia Roberts will star in a movie to be shot in 2008 inspired by this essay. Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Nducu Wa Ngugi deeply believe Kenyan White landowners should speak for themselves. Using direct quotes, they offer you the top ten reasons why you should read the full essay.

Blogging Africa

Review of African Blogs

Sokari Ekine


Oro, Gbenga Sesan’s blog reports from the Africa Connect conference behind held in Kigali Rwanda. The statistics on Africa’s internet usage and broadband take up is clearly depressing and there is an urgent need for governments to take action as Gbenga writes:

“the two-day event has the opportunity of bringing to the fore, the need for urgent action in meeting Africa’s connectivity needs. The present story is clearly sad — less thank 4% of Africans currently use the internet, and broadband penetration is below 1%! — but with some political will from the governments, innovative business models from the private sector, sustainable and bottom-up action from the civil society, targeted and collaborative research by the academia, news emphasis on the urgency of the task by the media and cooperation (the sincere form, not the usual pity party) from the international community, Africa will be well on its way out of this embarrassing situation”
$3billion has been pledged so far towards connectivity in Africa but as Gbenga states, will he and others walk away from this conference like all the others only to repeat the same words 6 months down the line in yet another conference?

My Private Cashbah writes in favour of socialised medical care in the United States. She compares her medical situation to that of fellow New Orleans blogger who also has cancer. Unlike Bint who has the benefit of medical insurance, “As the Tumor Turns” does not and relies on the public hospital system.

“I'm privileged. I have healthcare coverage. I've had it for several years now. Lymphopo does not. So, while I am able to go to whatever hospital I need in order to get prompt treatment, she has to wait months just to have a basic mammogram at the local public (i.e. free) hospital. I go to see my doctors and if they want me to be seen by another doc or have some kind of test done, as long as it's fairly early in the day, all they have to do is make a single phone call and the hospital will have that other department squeeze me in that day so that I don't have to make a second trip.

At the public hospital, even if she has had all of her tests done by the time her next doctor's appointment is scheduled, if for some reason the test results aren't back or have been misplaced (something that happens with frightening frequency), she can sit there for the hours it takes to go through the check-in procedure only to be told that there isn't anything they can do about it except reschedule her appointment--for another few months later. I know. I've been a patient there.”

Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman find herself between a rock and hard place as on the one hand she is tired of “being from the begging bowl people” and the “peculiarly distorting effects of the aid industry”. However as she clearly points out. The “rock” - Kenya is on the verge of elections yet
“our considered response is to regress into ethnic factions whose rhetoric is so predictable as to be actively boring”

On the other hand – the hard place....

“Here’s the problem, though. The part of me that dearly wants to tell the patronising, condescending, pitying, self-indulgent, largely ignorant and frankly annoying western do-gooders that they can shove their plans and projects up the nearest sweet-spot is forced to stop and recognise that I am not about to go and build a school in any rural community anywhere in Africa anytime soon. There we have it: I am not about to do it, and I am not planning on doing it, and they—aforementioned condescending, pitying, etc.-- are. Were I a mother with school-age children in one of these communities targeted by the aid industry, then, what would be more compelling for me—a principled objection by a fellow-African who makes much more money than me but isn’t inclined to share it, or a scheme to build clinics, schools and etc. proposed by foreigners who moreover have the money to back it up? This is not rocket science: principled objections do not pay rents or school feels, ever. Choosing between my principled zero dollars, and the patronising million dollars doesn’t even take a second’s thought—Show Me The Money.”

Egyptian Chronicles takes issue with this year’s annual celebration of the Battle of Alamein as all the “usual representatives of Allies and axis countries” attended the event. She is more concerned with those people living today that are suffering from the consequences of WWII namely the landmine victims

“Yes I am talking about the Land Mines victims in Egypt specifically the victims of land mines in the western desert , the place of Alamein battle.
Both parties in the war planted thousands even millions of land mines in our desert during the great war after all it is not there land and it did not and it does still cost anything , you can plant a land mine for 100 $ but if you want to demine a land mine from a specific area you have to pay thousand of dollars , the thing that would be very costly to a country like Egypt , not to mention the advance equipments for demining may not be available to us.
For decades now Egypt has paid a lot from these land mines alone and she has paid heavily till now for decades whether from humanly or economic
Hundred thousands of Egyptians who live in the western desert were either killed or injured badly and suffered till the end of their lives and nobody cared for them ,generations after generations suffered and are still suffering from those hell pieces under their own land.”

Kid’s Doc in Jos comments on the BBC report “HIV Treatment Failing in Africa” and asks readers if they agree pointing out some facts about HIV treatment
“is it a “failure” that 61% of patients are alive and continuing treatment after two years in a program taking antiretroviral (anti-HIV) drugs?

“The study includes reports published between 2000 and 2007. Do the results take into account any changes in during that time? That is, are programs more or less effective now than they were 10 years ago? Is there enough information to know? Again, I haven’t read it yet but it’s a good question to consider as you read.

No Longer At Ease is furious over the report that a French charity took it upon themselves to kidnap 100 children from Darfur and hand them over to French families.

“The people who did this will eventually be freed, France will interfere on their behalf saying that the whole thing was a well intentioned misunderstanding (and perhaps pay some money). The "charity" will also have many chances to repeat the same in other poor African countries. This what the French human rights minister had to say about:
I can understand the families, the French families who wanted to save children. But I don't understand why an association decided, alone, to bring them to Paris. That's why we completely disapprove of this initiative.
What? this is not an "initiative" and the French families didn't want save the children, this is simply criminal. This time they caught it, but I can help but wonder if there has been successful attempts before.

The kids were obviously Muslims but were going to be sold to non-Muslim families, adding to the gravity of what might have been waiting for these poor kids.This is a sad, but expected, climax to the "adopting an African child" fashion in the West.”

One does wonder if this is a first or something that has been taking place over the past months or even years. The audacity and arrogance not to speak of the illegality of removing children against their will and their community. The charity in question should have its status removed and surely there has been a crime committed here that the French courts can prosecute?

Andile Mngxitama writing on Black Looks considers how important and significant the recent world cup victory by the South African Rugby team the Springboks. Looking at the victory, Andile sees it as a victory against transformation, and a victory of the acceptance of the abnormal as normal in South Africa.

"The national rugby team in its compositions and victories is a perfect metaphor for our country and the place of blacks in it. We cheer for our defeat from the touchlines. Imagine if you knew nothing about SA and watched the world cup on TV, you would be forgiven for thinking that actually we are a white country which has the accident of having a smiling black president.
“South Africa is a white country populated a by an impotent invisible black majority. I wonder what other African countries think about us? And the black Diaspora? What do they think about it? Since 1994, our Rugby team could only produce two black players for the national team. Incredible!
But there is also another element in the picture which can be now be more clearly seen, ours is a country which thrives on superficiality and a devastating lack of a perspective which is centred on the valorisation and well being of blacks. Blacks in this country want to celebrates their “own goals”, to borrow from a sporting metaphor. We are perhaps one of the few peoples on earth who believe we can derive freedom from placating those who stubbornly refuse to give up any of their ill begotten privileges and power. Are we blacks not asking for the contempt of whites, when we fail to exercise the massive political power we currently wield to change things around? But more importantly are we doing posterity a favour?

Just how superficial our so called commitment to transformation is was displayed in the build up to the finals when the Bokke victory was almost certain. Our president apparently told Jake White “forget the politics and win it”, White says that was a “big statement”. Hereby a mandate was given against transformation. The Young Communist League an outfit which purports to be pro poor, also wanted a piece of the cake, they simply anointed the team “Comrade Bokke”.

* Sokari Ekine is online editor of Pambzuka News and author of Black Looks blog:

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

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Africa: Chinese influence in Africa: a Chinese perspective


This report published by the European Network on Debt and Development examines China’s role as a donor in Africa. It explores Chinese views on such issues, including their response to concerns expressed about the increased cooperation with Africa. The authors argue that China’s assistance to and cooperation with Africa is changing the rules of the game and threatens to leave by the wayside those governments, institutions and organisations which do not act strategically . Possible ways forward are proposed:

Zimbabwe update

Zimbabwe: Mbeki led mediation talks called-off


Mediation talks between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC have been postponed temporarily, dealing a new setback to efforts to find a lasting solution to the country’s crippling economic and political crisis. The Thabo Mbeki led talks were called off on Wednesday night due to the death of Patrick Chinamasa’ son, who was reportedly studying at a college in Michigan, United States. A source told Newsreel from Johannesburg that Chinamasa’s son, who was 23 years old, died in his sleep on Wednesday, the day the talks resumed in Pretoria after a month long break.

Zimbabwe: Blowing away the rhetorical smokescreeens


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.

African Union Monitor

AU Monitor Weekly Roundup

Issue 110, 2007

Selome Araya


This week's AU Monitor brings news and critical analysis of the African Union. An editorial from the Africa Agenda criticizes the "Grand Debate on the African Union" as failing to look at the challenges facing the formation of a united continental government or follow through with commitments. The analysis therefore concluded that " It is up to civil society groups, activists and other proponents of the Union Government of Africa to work towards the realisation of Africa's redeeming dream by putting pressure on the African Union and the Heads of state". In other AU-related news, a resolution put forth by leaders from Ghana and South Africa at the International Conference on Traditional Leaders urges the AU to establish a Forum of African Traditional Leadership as an organ of the AU.

In regional news, ECOWAS held its first business forum in Accra, Ghana, in an effort to develop strategies for improving regional business operations and greater regional integration. The intent of the forum was to devise strategic plans to develop a common market, improve investment, and address common currency issues. Further, ECOSOCC elections of civil society organizations are being held this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In peace and security news, the AU/UN Deputy Joint Special Representative Designate updated the Peace and Security Council on preparations to deploy the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) . Further, addressing the pending Darfur peace talks in Lybia, AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare urged all Sudanese parties to "demonstrate the necessary spirit of compromise and extend full cooperation to the AU and the United Nations." However, the UN announced the postponement of the scheduled Darfur talks for three more weeks. It is hoped that during this time, more rebel chiefs will come to the table. In other security news, private military contractors (PMC's) pledge an attempt to improve security measures in Africa, something they claim the UN missions and state militaries have failed to accomplish. In food security news, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is encouraging policy-makers to recognize the benefits of using biofuel to increase food security and agricultural production in Africa.

In Pan-African news, at the conclusion of the 4 th meeting of the Ministerial Bureau of the 5th Pan-African conference in Namibia, African ministers pledged to improve governance and public administration on the continent. The ministers will present the African Public Service Charter to the AU, in hopes that it will be used as a standard for all countries to evaluate efficacy and ensure alignment in public service matters. Further, Ochieng' Ogodo reports on the need for 'good laboratory practice' in African labs in order to produce quality data, develop new medical drugs and technology, and improve product development initiatives.

In economic news, a group of German NGO's has taken a public stance against economic partnership agreements (EPA's), stating that the trade negotiations mostly benefit European corporations and harm the economy of local producers. Lastly, despite his country's long-lasting colonial ties in Africa, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's announced his attempts of "normalizing" France's relationship with Africa; however, it was acknowledged that there must first be a recognized shared interest in order for France to gain support in this initiative.

Peoples’ Audit Update

Hakima Abbas


On the heels of the High Level Panel’s invitation for e-submissions, the AU Monitor urged African civil society and citizens to contribute to the process of a “Peoples’ Audit of the AU”. This week, the AU Monitor brings you the perspective of Charles Mutasa, AFRODAD Executive Director and Deputy Presiding Officer of ECOSOCC, which provides critique and analysis of ECOSOCC, along with a policy brief from AfriMap that provides recommendations for open, democratic and transparent AU policies and processes as well as a call from the Peoples’ Hurricane Relief Fund for the AU to increase its outreach, support and contribution to the African Diaspora.

Furthermore, heeding the call for a written submission before the completion of the panel’s first draft of their report, a joint preliminary civil society statement was formulated and endorsed by over twenty civil society organisations and coalitions working in over thirty countries. The high-level panel extended the days on which they were to convene, according to their working agenda, in order to hear the submission which was presented by a delegation of civil society representatives: myself, Hakima Abbas of Fahamu’s AU Monitor initiative, Eyob Balcha of Afroflag Youth Vision, Faiza Mohamed of Equality Now and the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR), and Alioune Tine of Recontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO).

During the meeting, we delivered the joint statement and provided reference documentation, including, the CSO Accra communiqué and the executive summary of the report Towards a People-Driven African Union. The floor was then given to each civil society representative to elaborate on the recommendations of the statement based on their areas of expertise. Eyob Balcha delivered a statement from a youth perspective in which he recommended the creation of an AU institutional framework through which the participation of African youth is mainstreamed in continental decision-making processes, including the inclusion of youth representatives in national delegations; the creation of a permanent continental youth body responsible for engagement with sub-regional and national youth initiatives; and the practical implementation of the agreed decisions and provisions of the African Youth Charter.

Following Eyob’s presentation, Faiza Mohamed offered recommendations and insight to the panel from a gender perspective. She recommended that the Commission be provided a mandate to monitor and report on the implementation of AU decisions by member states and that the AU consider imposing sanctions on member states that do not deliver on their commitments to ratify and domesticate the AU/OAU protocols. Also, noting that the Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD) is under-resourced and that it has been a year since the position of director of the Directorate remains vacant, she urged the review panel to investigate the effects of such a lack of leadership on programs. She also recommended that the fifty-fifty gender balance policy of the African Union be strictly and promptly implemented at the Commission and that Member States be urged to consider implementing this gender balance in its representation at the Permanent Representatives Committee and Executive Council of the African Union.

Lastly, Alioune Tine addressed the panel regarding the need for democratic participation and governance with in the African Union. He noted the difficulties civil society have had in accessing important information, in obtaining visas for participation in AU summits and other meetings and the lack of public spaces within the AU compound itself (comparing the space to the United Nations building). He sited as an example of lack of information that, despite his organisation being a member of ECOSOCC, he was unaware, until his arrival in Addis, of the continental elections taking place on Monday October 31st. He noted that an example of successful partnership between civil society and the AU was participation in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, he also noted that the criteria for observer status that requires organisations to be funded with a majority of resources derived from its membership is not realistic for most African NGOs. Finally, Alioune noted that the AU must take into further consideration geographic and linguistic spread in all its meetings so as to ensure that nobody is excluded based solely on our colonial experiences.

As the floor was opened to questions from the panel, further elaboration was requested and provided on access to information via the website, which we considered largely insufficient. For example, amendments to the consultative act are not available on the AU site and the ECOSOCC website is not up to date. In addition, it was noted that the media should have stronger interface with the AU so that information is popularised at the national level not just through the Internet (to which many do not have access) but also through TV, radio and print. The panel was reminded that the legitimacy of civil society is often based on a public mandate and that while we do not equate civil society with citizenry, we believe that a strong civil society interface with the AU will enable greater implementation of decisions at the national level. In addition, the panel were made aware of the public consultations that were held in ten countries in advance of the Accra summit that informed the CSO communiqué from Accra. In terms of ECOSOCC we brought attention to the fact that the Interim President of the General Assembly was not given official space to present her report at the last summit and that such disregard by Heads of States reflects badly on the potential policy influence of the council. More detail was presented regarding SOAWR activities and organisations as an example of how successful civil society engagement can push AU treaty processes forward and drive national implementation. In regard to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, we noted that there is a civil society coalition that has been very active in driving ratification and that complimentarity is needed vis a vis the protocol of the Court and the Commission – indeed, that it is necessary for there to be a thorough review of the complimentarity of treaties and protocols across the board. Lastly we remarked that civil society itself has taken the lead to strengthen our engagement with the AU, citing as an example that the AU Monitor was set up by a range of civil society organisations, though now led by Fahamu, to provide news, information and analysis to a broad range of organisations and citizens across Africa.

The Chairperson noted civil society’s commitment to engaging the audit process and reiterated that further documentation would be welcomed throughout the process. He also ensured us that the recommendations and ideas from civil society and citizens would be duly taken into account in the drafting processes.

Women & gender

Global: Breaking the Cycle of Adolescent Pregnancy


Pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications are the number-one killers of 15-19 year old girls worldwide. This report highlights the issue of adolescent pregnancy among married and unmarried adolescent girls (10-19 year olds), especially those living in poverty. It draws attention to current trends, as well as the social, economic, and health consequences of adolescent pregnancy not only for the girls themselves, but for their families and countries.

West Africa: Girls' Adolescence in Burkina Faso: A Pivot Point for Social Change


As closer attention is paid to the lives of adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, girls are found to be clearly disadvantaged, compared with their male counterparts. In Burkina Faso 74 percent of girls aged 15-19 cannot read (INSD and ORC Macro 2004).

Nigeria: Death of a Husband

Chinwe Azubuike


It is one of the greatest misfortunes that can befall a woman at any point in her life - to loose her husband. No matter the length of time she spent with him in matrimony, the grief and sorrow she experiences cannot be quantified.

Ghana: Permission for Domestic Violence: Marital Rape in Ghanaian Marriages


On February 22, 2007, the Ghanaian Parliament passed the long awaited Domestic Violence Act (DV Act). Although the original bill specifically prohibited marital rape, parliament bowed to public pressure and removed the provision, leaving husbands free to rape their wives with impunity. Marital rape constitutes a violation of women's human rights. The Ghanaian parliament should act immediately to expressly make marital rape a crime, writes Nancy Kaymar Stafford in this forthcoming publication.

Sierra Leone:Mass rally in support of survivors of conflict's sexual violence


At a mass rally held in Makeni in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, Amnesty International members and hundreds of other local activists called on the newly elected government of Sierra Leone to commit to ensuring justice and full reparations for the tens of thousands of Sierra Leonean women who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Sudan: Women say Darfur peace won't work without them


The Darfur peace talks in Libya may have got off to a disappointing start with a boycott by key rebel factions. But activist Safaa Elagib Adam made sure she was there to push for better representation for women from the outset. As a veteran of the last round of talks in Abuja, the secretary general and gender adviser of the Khartoum-based Community Development Association knows she faces an uphill struggle. She was one of only four women representing civil society last weekend in Libya, and says there were no women on either the government or the rebel delegations.

Human rights

Botswana: Torture of Bushmen - shocking details


Shocking new details have emerged of the torture and beating of a group of Bushmen in Kaudwane resettlement camp, Botswana. Fifteen men were arrested in late September for hunting, and at least ten of them were tortured. The incidents bring the total number of Bushmen arrested for hunting this year to 53. During this time the government has not issued them with a single permit to hunt on their land, despite Botswana’s High Court ruling in December that its refusal to issue permits was unlawful.

Rwanda: Don't send genocide suspects to Rwanda - AI


Amnesty International has urged governments not to send anyone suspected of crimes during Rwanda's 1994 genocide to be tried in the country, saying it had serious concerns over the justice system. The central African country wants suspects in the 100-day slaughter of 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus to be transferred to its custody.

Africa: Western adoptions of African children 'are modern day slavery'


Wandia Njoya writes, I feel partially vindicated by the decision of authorities in Chad to charge six French nationals, members of the French humanitarian organization L’Arche de Zoe (Zoe’s Arc), with kidnapping of children from Chad destined for adoption in France. I wish the six faced a more serious charge such as child trafficking or slave trade (banned two centuries ago), but for now I’ll appreciate these charges as a minor victory.

Rwanda: UN Tribunal's most wanted still elusive


Félicien Kabuga has a reward of several million dollars on his head, and tops the list of fugitives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Yet, he's managed to escape justice for years. The ICTR was set up in Arusha, northern Tanzania, by the United Nations in 1995 to bring high level perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide to justice. Between 800,000 and a million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the Central African nation over a period of about 100 days in 1994.

North Africa: Genocide investigations into Morocco's Sahara occupation


Top Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón has ordered the opening of an inquiry into allegations of genocide in the Moroccan-occupied territory of Western Sahara. The Western Saharan plaintiffs are also looking for accountability for the 542 Sahrawis that Morocco made "disappear" during the war with the Sahrawi pro-independence movement Polisario Front from 1975-1991, according to the group "Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State" (ASVDH).

Refugees & forced migration

DRC: Refugee camps threatened by cholera


A cholera outbreak in Congo's eastern city of Goma is raising fears of an epidemic among tens of thousands of refugees in camps, aid workers said on Thursday. Fighting between government soldiers, Tutsi insurgents, Rwandan Hutu rebels and local Mai Mai militia has forced more than 370,000 to flee villages in North Kivu province this year.

Sudan: Cease Darfur Camp Evictions


The government of Sudan’s recent forced relocation of civilians in South Darfur is a serious violation of international law and could be the prelude to new attempts to dismantle certain civilian camps, Human Rights Watch has warned. Sudan’s government should cease the relocation operation, immediately confirm the whereabouts and well-being of those who have been moved, and allow the African Union Mission in Sudan, the United Nations Mission in Sudan, and humanitarian agencies access to all displaced persons, whether they reside in camps or other locations in Darfur.

Somalia: UN official urges access for relief aid as tens of thousands flee fighting


As crisis worsens in Somalia, where 88,000 people fled their homes in recent days adding to a total displaced population nearly ten times that amount, the top United Nations humanitarian official there today called on all parties to facilitate access by aid workers to civilians in need of assistance.

Uganda: Across the airwaves comes reassurance to go home


Still hale and hearty at 75, David Olanya takes a break from digging in his garden to explain his joy at getting a new home and plot of land, more than a decade after he was forced on the run by fighting between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government. "We needed to move out and farm in our lands and produce our own food. That's why we are here," said Olanya, a father of five. It was the news that it's now safe to move around Gulu and Amuru districts in northern Uganda that prompted Olanya to leave Anaka camp for internally displaced people (IDP), a haven his family had called home for so long.

Chad: UNHCR gets eastern Chad's chiefs and officials talking


Talk your way out of tensions, that's the message the UN refugee agency conveyed in a recent workshop for community leaders and local authorities in strife-torn eastern Chad. Conflict resolution and peaceful co-existence were the key words in a three-day workshop supported by UNHCR, its partner Eirine and the Association Chefs Traditionnels du Tchad (ACTT) and held in Abéché University earlier this month.

Chad: Agencies help 103 abducted children


The UN refugee agency and two key partners have been busy over the past week responding to the urgent needs of 103 young children caught up in an abduction scandal in the eastern Chad town of Abéché. The Chad authorities have detained and charged several Europeans, including members of the French aid agency Children Rescue/Zoe's Ark, in connection with the alleged abduction of the children, who are currently being looked after in Abéché's orphanage

Elections & governance

Sudan: South Sudan may pull deputies from parliament - VP


The government of south Sudan might pull its deputies out of the national parliament if Khartoum does not make more progress towards meeting southern demands, the vice president of the region said on Thursday. The southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) withdrew its ministers and presidential advisers from Khartoum two weeks ago, saying the central government had failed to carry out key parts of a north-south peace agreement, signed in 2005.

Western Sahara: Security Council extends UN’s mission through April 2008


The Security Council has extended through next April the mandate of the United Nations mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which has been in the Territory since 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council called on the parties “to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to engage in substantive negotiations.”

Togo: Court confirms ruling party victory in legislative poll


Togo's Constitutional Court has confirmed that the ruling party won a majority in the 14 October election, after the main opposition party had contested the results, charging fraud. On 30 October the Court said the ruling Rally of the Togolese People party took 50 of 81 seats in the poll, seen as pivotal to the country's regaining favour with the international community after years of isolation.

Zimbabwe: Report: Mugabe ignores Mandela's plea to step down


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, in his 27th year of rule, is ignoring approaches from former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela to step down, reports have said. The usually reliable weekly Zimbabwe Independent, quoting unnamed sources, also said that former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan had tried to meet with Mugabe to discuss his retirement, but he too had been ignored. No comment could be obtained from Mugabe's office.


Africa: The Brain Drain: Africa staffs the West


Africa is losing its brightest to the First World, writes David McFarlane. Less than 10% of doctors trained in Zambia since its independence in 1964 are still in the country: the other 90% have migrated, mainly to Europe and the United States. No less staggeringly, there are more Sierra Leonean-trained doctors in Chicago alone than in the country itself and cash-strapped Benin provides more medical professionals to France than there are in the whole of its own health system.

Africa: EPAs 'will destroy African economies'


The economic partnership agreements (EPAs), proposed by the European Union (EU) to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, constitute a "neo-colonial instrument" which will destroy the economic and social basis in African states, according to some German non-governmental organisations. European opponents of EPAs say that, in general, the trade negotiations between the EU and the ACP countries have been driven predominantly by European corporate interests and those of a few privileged business elites in ACP countries.

Côte d'Ivoire: Rebuilding lives in the aftermath of armed conflict


Eighteen-year-old Beatrice Kouado is bent over her paper pattern in concentration, painstakingly guiding the yellow thread back and forth in regular, even stitches as she learns the art of tailoring. Beatrice was one of the lucky ones selected for the training programme, after her father heard it on the radio.

Kenya: Project may boost biofuels in East Africa


A new project to develop an integrated sugarcane facility in Kenya could be a boost for biofuels production in east Africa. The Ngima Project at Homa Bay on the shores of Lake Victoria (‘‘ngima’’ is the word for ‘‘life’’ in the local Luo language) is looking to foster a dual export and domestic system of sugarcane production, concentrating on both white sugar and biofuel production.

Africa: Macroeconomic policies should support the achievement of the MDGs - report


An alternative macroeconomic framework oriented towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Sub-Saharan Africa is known and feasible. Currently, the effects of neoliberal reforms have been counter-productive with non-intervention leading to increased volatility of nominal exchange rates. This report published by the IPC finds that In fact, inflation-targeting is particularly detrimental to expanding investment which helps accelerate growth and human development. Another major obstacle to effectively implementing MDG-based macroeconomic policies is the underdevelopment of financial institutions.

Health & HIV/AIDS

South Africa: Study predicts major rise in XDR-TB


Without new interventions, cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) in rural South Africa will increase dramatically over the next five years, according to a study. The research was published last week (27 October) in The Lancet. The study, which modelled the effect of various infection control measures on the spread of XDR-TB in the rural community of Tugela Ferry in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, suggests that infection rates will increase from 194 cases in 2007 to an estimated average of 234 cases a year by 2012.

Zimbabwe: Government’s latest HIV/Aids statistics questioned


Experts on HIV/Aids issues were on Thursday questioning the authenticity of recent figures released by government which suggested that epidemic’s prevalence rates were dropping. The government on Wednesday released new statistics that showed that the HIV/Aids prevalence rate has declined from 18,1 percent to 15,6 percent over the past four years. The Ministry of Health was quick to claim the “victory” as a “reflection of the unrelenting campaign by the government”.

Africa: Not enough research to treat TB-HIV properly, say experts


Health systems cannot properly diagnose, treat, or contain the co-epidemic of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) because not enough is known about how the two diseases interact. A report by leading global health experts warned that the largely “unnoticed collision” of the global epidemics of HIV and TB has exploded to create a deadly co-epidemic that is rapidly spreading in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa: High risk groups equally important in early and advanced epidemics


Multiple sex partners, sex for pay, and sexual coinfections (particularly genital herpes, or HSV-2) continue to act as major risk factors for HIV transmission in Africa, according to a systematic review of 68 separate epidemiological studies conducted over the past 20 years. The analysis, published in the October 2007 issue of PLoS One,, found that these factors have remained significant over time and have not declined in importance as HIV prevalence becomes higher in the general population.

Africa: The macroeconomic framework & the fight against HIV/AIDS


This AFRODAD report highlights how HIV/AIDS has become a leading cause of death in the African continent. It not only constitutes a serious constraint to growth and stability of most African economies and societies, but has actually begun to destroy the hard-won development.

Africa: Are HIV/AIDS funds being used effectively in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia?


Donor funding for HIV/AIDS has skyrocketed in the last decade: from US$ 300 million in 1996 to US$ 8.9 billion in 2006; yet, little is understood about how these resources are being spent. This paper analyses the policies and practices of the world’s largest AIDS donors as they are applied in Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia.

Southern Africa: HIV-induced famine's impact on agriculture


Hunger and HIV/AIDS are reinforcing each other in Southern Africa, "leading to a potentially tragic new level of famine", says a book published by a regional agricultural think-tank. The World Bank's annual report, released last week, also raises concerns over the pandemic's impact, pointing out that most people affected by HIV and AIDS depend on agriculture.


Africa: Can internet in tertiary education contribute to social and economic development?


Poor internet connectivity is one of the serious underlying causes of the digital divide between developing and industrialized countries, and is hampering the transition to the global information society. The recent emergence of national and regional research and education data communication networks in parts of the developing world have shown large benefits arising from collaboration amongst tertiary education institutes, says Anna Bon of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Côte d'Ivoire: Educating children on the job


Nibon Soro and Kartenin Silué, two children living in the Korhogo region of northern Côte d'Ivoire, should be in school. But, farm duties -- and their family's poverty -- stand in the way of education. The two, both under 10, drive the draught animals that help with ploughing. "We really want to go to school, but our father says that he doesn't have the money to educate us, and there is no-one to help him in the fields either," they told IPS.


Global: United Nations to host LGBT rights panel


Following the launch of the groundbreaking Yogyakarta Principles earlier this year, the United Nations will be hosting a panel discussion next month to explore discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The event, which will bring together non-governmental organisations, UN representatives and state delegates, is an initiative co-sponsored by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Global: Prominent Ugandan activist Victor Mukasa joins IGLHRC


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) welcomes prominent Ugandan activist Victor Juliet Mukasa as our new Research and Policy Associate for the Horn, East, and Central Africa.

Uganda: Ugandan lgbt form IDAHO chapter


Gay rights activists in Uganda have come together to create a Chapter of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) and take part in a landmark debate organised by Queer Youth Uganda. The climate for LGBT people in the country is extremely hostile, and attacks from the media, religious groups and the government are commonplace. Despite this, more than 100 activists and supporters gathered in the capital Kampala to debate the way forward for gay rights in Uganda.


Uganda: Conservationists applaud Uganda


Conservationists have applauded the Ugandan government’s decision to drop its plan to give away a third of Mabira Forest Reserve land for sugarcane plantations. Ugandan government bowed down to pressures from wildlife activists and publicly announced conserving Mabira.

Africa: Global environment has radically changed, report


The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) produced by the United Nations Environment Programme was launched on 25 October 2007, with the key message that the world has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. The launch of the report was conducted simultaneously in about 40 cities across the world, including Johannesburg, South Africa and Port Louis, Mauritius. Both countries are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Land & land rights

South Africa: Land redistribution moves to the front burner


The South African government has revealed that less than 5 percent of white-owned commercial agricultural land has been redistributed since the demise of apartheid in 1994, making the target of having 30 percent redistributed by 2014 seem almost unachievable.

South Africa: Government housing project excludes poorest of the poor


Thousands of the poorest residents in Cape Town, South Africa, are facing eviction from an informal settlement to make way for a government housing project. About 20,000 residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement near Langa, a township about 15km from Cape Town along the N2, the main access road to and from the airport, are opposing their forced removal to Delft, about 20km northeast of the city, because they say it would reduce their standard of living further and make it difficult and more expensive to travel to the city for work.

Media & freedom of expression

Swaziland: Media Faces New Media Council Bill Threat


The Swazi media faces a new threat following a call by Parliament for government to pilot the contentious Media Council Bill within eight weeks. A Parliament Select Committee recently constituted to probe Times Sunday editor, Mbongeni Mbingo, on charges of contempt of Parliament, whilst clearing Mbingo on the charges, called on government to pilot the Media Council Bill within eight weeks of the adoption of its report by Parliament.

Africa: A New Publication on Media Legislation in Africa


With support from UNESCO, a publication on media legislation in Africa has just been released, result of a research undertaken by a team of African scholars, coordinated by Professor Guy Berger, Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

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.

Nigeria: Journalists harassed by governor of northern state


Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the way governor Ali Modu Sheriff of the northern state of Borno has hounded journalists for the past 10 days. After criticising his lavish spending, James Garuba of the Tribune, Michael Olabode of This day, another privately-owned daily, and several other reporters were arrested twice last week by the State Security Service, the main domestic intelligence agency, and then placed under its daily control.

Niger: Aïr Info correspondent freed after six days in police custody


Daouda Yacouba of the privately-owned fortnightly Aïr Info has been released after being held for six days at police headquarters in the northern city of Agadez. He has not been charged. Yacouba was arrested on 25 October in Ingall, a town to the west of Agadez where he works as the Agadez-based Aïr Info’s correspondent. The police did not explain why he was arrested but they questioned him about his articles and his alleged links with the Tuareg rebels of the Niger People’s Movement for Justice (MNJ).

News from the diaspora

Haiti: Member of Lavalas Party kidnapped


Dr. Maryse Narcisse, member of Haiti's National Commission of the Fanmi Lavalas Party, has been kidnapped. Dr. Narcisse and her driver, Delano Morel, were abducted near her home in Port-au-Prince. Dr. Narcisse is a medical doctor and long-time advocate for democracy in Haiti. She has been in the forefront of efforts to provide community-based health care and education for all Haitians.

Haiti: Origin of AIDS - Haiti Action Responds


US Report on the spread of HIV/AIDS claims one Haitian immigrant in 1969 is the cause of the spread of AIDS in the US.Leslie Fleming responds on behalf of Haiti Action.

Conflict & emergencies

Uganda: Rebels "ready to make peace" but want ICC charges dropped


For the first time since taking up arms almost 20 years ago, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has sent a peace delegation to Kampala. But the rebels and Ugandan government remain poles apart on the key issue of International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments against top LRA leaders.

DRC : Bringing Peace to North Kivu - New ICG report


North Kivu is again a crucible of conflict in Congo. Since fighting resumed between the insurgents of Laurent Nkunda and the national army in December 2006, over 370,000 civilians have been displaced in the province. Due to the failure of the latest attempt to integrate Nkunda’s troops into the army, the crisis has become much worse since May 2007. UN attempts to impose a ceasefire and appoint a special envoy to mediate have failed.

Sudan: UN-African Union peacekeeping force launches operations in El Fasher, Darfur


The United Nations African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation for Darfur (UNAMID) has begun operations at its El Fasher Headquarters in what the senior UN official there called a milestone for the strife-torn Sudanese region. “It is a great day for the United Nations and the African Union, the day of UNAMID's launch, which was only an idea three months ago but now it is a profound reality,” said Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur.

Somalia: Battles rock Mogadishu, refugees flee


Battles broke out again in the Somali capital on Friday killing at least one, wounding four and stoking the nation's humanitarian crisis after nearly 90,000 people fled days of fighting earlier this week. Ethiopian forces supporting Somalia's interim government are trying to crush Islamist-led rebels. A Reuters witness said clashes resumed before dawn in the heart of the coastal capital.

DRC: Demobilise child soldiers, free minors held by military courts, says MONUC


MONUC, the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has called on the army to demobilise all child soldiers in its ranks and hand over any minors held by military tribunals to civilian jurisdiction. "We believe there are almost 200 minors still present in various FARDC [regular army] brigades currently deployed in North Kivu," MONUC spokesman Kemal Saiki told reporters on 31 October.

Somalia: Malnutrition increases as humanitarian emergency worsens in the Shabelles


About 10,000 children are severely malnourished and at risk of death in the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions of Somalia as food prices experienced a sharp increase and the ongoing conflict hindered access to those affected, early warning agencies said.

Internet & technology

Africa: ICT no longer luxury for Africans, says Kagame


Gone are the days when Africans used to see Information and Communication Technology as a luxury, President Paul Kagame has said. “In just ten years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone has become a basic necessity in urban and rural Africa,” Kagame said yesterday. He was addressing hundreds of top government and telecoms industry leaders who are attending a two-day high-level Connect Africa summit at Serena Hotel in Kigali. The meeting is attended by six African Heads of State, including Kagame.

Global: "$100 laptop" hits $200


A computer developed for poor children around the world, dubbed "the $100 laptop," has reached a milestone: Its price tag is now $200. The One Laptop per Child Foundation, founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte, has started offering the lime-green-and-white machines in lots of 10,000 for $200 apiece on its Web site (

Rwanda: Government to buy into the One Laptop per Child project


President Paul Kagame has indicated to the One-Laptop-Per-Child project that government will buy laptops from the new sales promotion scheme 'Give 1 and Get 1' (GIGI), RNA has learnt from a senior official behind the plan. Starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child - the brain-child of American Prof. Nicholas Negroponte will be offering a 'Give 1 and Get 1' (G1G1) promotion. For US$399, a person in a developed country will be purchasing two XO laptops. One that will be sent to a child in a developing nation and one that will be sent to their child at home.

Africa: African cities to be connected with broadband


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have agreed to collaborate on interconnecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012. The announcement comes after Dr. Hamadoun Touré the Secretary-General of the ITU announced that one of the summit goals was to interconnect all African capitals with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012 as well as interconnect major African cities by 2015.

East Africa: Reform taxation laws on Telecommunications


In a report released by Deloitte, East African mobile operators loose a third of their revenues to governments by way of taxes and other government tariffs. The Deloitte study suggests that if Rwanda for example goes on to impose the proposed 10 percent excise tax on mobile telephones, it would have the second highest tax rate in Africa, behind Uganda

Africa: 9.1billion Euros for Euro-Africa-ICT partnership


The European Union has set aside a total sum of 9.1 billion Euros for funding of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based research on the continent through the EuroAfrica-ICT Strategic Partnership. The partnership, which is part of the Seventh EU Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7) is a project that would last till 2010 and is driven by activities of the European Commission, Directorate General of Information Society and Media and is aimed at exploring the potential for a deeper and broader Science and Technology (S&T) cooperation on ICT between EU and the sub-Saharan Africa region.

Africa: Civil society calls for new governance to make internet accessible to Africans


Convened by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on the 28th of October 2007, civil society groups have called for new forms of corporate governance to develop the ICT infrastructure in Africa. These new forms should “ensure the interests of all stakeholders, but above all, the interest of African consumers and citizens,” the statement insists. The Kigali statement by African civil society delegates, academicians, researchers, consumer interest groups, and internet service providers is made in light of the Connect Africa Summit taking place in that same city on the 29th and 30th of October 2007.

Fundraising & useful resources

Global: CALL FOR PAPERS: WID Working Papers Special Edition on Sexual Violence and Conflict


The *Working Papers on Women and International features article-length manuscripts by scholars from a broad range of disciplines. It disseminates materials that are at a late stage of formulation and that contribute new understandings of women\'s economic, social, and political position amidst change. The series focuses on the relationships between gender and global transformation and publishes reports of empirical studies and projects, theoretical analyses, and policy discussions that illuminate the processes of change in the broadest sense.

Africa: Call for Papers: The African Journal of Agricultural Research (AJAR)


The African Journal of Agricultural Research (AJAR) is currently accepting manuscripts for publication. AJAR publishes high-quality solicited and unsolicited articles, in English, in all areas of agriculture. Instruction for authors and other details are available on our website Prospective authors should send their manuscript(s) to [email protected]
AJAR is also seeking for qualified reviewers as members of its editorial board. Please contact me if you are interested in serving as a reviewer.

Africa: Speak Africa interactive workspace


A special Speak Africa virtual space ( has been set up for exchange of ideas amongst children and youth around the Cairo Plus V meeting. Like the overall Speak Africa strategy, the Speak Africa space is not branded with any agency, NGO or partner logos, and as such is an open forum for partners to contribute, share information and develop an infrastructure that will be easily extensible to other youth events, but more importantly to the SpeakAfrica platform as a whole.

Global: Sport for a Better World


Ashoka’s Changemakers and Nike have partnered to open a worldwide search for leading innovations that use sport to improve community, accelerate development and drive social change. Organisations are invited to submit their proposals until January 8, 2007. The Changemakers online community will vote for three winners from approximately 12 finalists who will be selected by our panel of judges. The three winners will each receive $5,000. All groups and sports enthusiasts can join the online Changemakers community to make suggestions and recommend resources that will help refine and strengthen the strategies presented by competition entrants. For more information on entering, the online review, and voting please visit the following website:

Africa: Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Program - Invitation for Applications


The Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellowship Program was founded in 1993 at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., in order to train women's human rights lawyers from Africa who are committed to returning home to their countries in order to advance the status of women and girls throughout their careers (see LAWA Goals). Over 50 women's human rights advocates from Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe have participated in the LAWA Program, and we hope to include Fellows from additional countries in the future. The application deadline for the 2008-2009 LAWA Fellowship Program is November 30, 2007.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: 5th International Congress of the African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS).


The Kenya Physiological Society (KPS) and the African Association of Physiological Sciences (AAPS) invite all scientists involved in basic, clinical and biomedical research to participate in this historic congress to be held at Chiromo Campus, University of Nairobi in Kenya. The theme of the Congress is "Physiological Sciences and Development in Africa".

CODESRIA – SEPHIS Collaborative Programme: Extended Workshop on Social History - Postponement


The fifth CODESRIA/SEPHIS Extended Workshop on New Theories and Methods in Social History that will be held in Dakar, Senegal, has been postponed to 3-21 March 2008.

Global: Feminisms in transnational perspective


The aim of this course is to explore and discuss various ways of articulating and affirming the voice as a powerful agency of social change. The registration deadline is December 15, 2007. All applicants shall receive notice of admission results by February 10, 2008.

Global: Global Forum on Human Resources for Health - Announcement and Call for Papers


The Global Health Workforce Alliance will convene the first-ever Global Forum on Human Resources for Health from 2-7 March 2008 in Kampala, Uganda. As Africa is the worst affected by the health workforce crisis, it is a demonstration of commitment and solidarity that the first Forum will be organized in Africa.

Global: SexPolitics: Reports from the Front Lines - epublication


You are invited to join and commemorate the e-publishing of SexPolitics: Reports from the Front Lines, edited by Richard Parker, Rosalind Petchesky and Robert Sember. SexPolitics is a collection of analytic case studies from eight countries—Brazil, Egypt, India, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam—and two global institutions—the World Bank and the United Nations—which aim to document and interrogate the global shaping and shifting of sexuality policy and politics.

London: Human rights defenders from Nepal and Zimbabwe speak'


Speakers: Mandira Sharma and Arnold Tsunga
Chair: Dr Jenny Kuper
Date and time: Tuesday 6 November, 12.30-1.30pm
Venue: New Theatre, East Building, LSE (click here for a How to get to

South Africa: The 11th AWID International Forum on Women's Rights and Development - Call for participation


The Association for Women's Rights in Development is an international membership organisation that works to strengthen the voice, impact and influence of women's rights advocates, organizations and movements internationally to effectively advance the rights of women. From November 14-17, 2008, up to 1,500 women's rights leaders and activists from around the world will converge on Cape Town, South Africa at the 11th AWID International Forum to discuss the power of movements.

Tanzania: National Training on Gender and Organization Development


Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) is a non Governmental Advocacy Organization which promotes gender equality and equity principles, women’s empowerment and social transformation within Tanzania and beyond. Begun in 1993, TGNP has adopted the following strategies: participatory methodology and animation; networking coalition building and outreach, policy analysis and advocacy; action-oriented participatory research and collective action; scholarly analysis, media engagement and popular literature; and capacity building and training.

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 -