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Pambazuka News 416: American dreams, Palestinian nightmares

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CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Books & arts, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 8. Zimbabwe update, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Elections & governance, 13. Corruption, 14. Development, 15. Health & HIV/AIDS, 16. Education, 17. LGBTI, 18. Environment, 19. Land & land rights, 20. Food Justice, 21. Media & freedom of expression, 22. News from the diaspora, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 26. Fundraising & useful resources, 27. Courses, seminars, & workshops

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Highlights from this issue

FEATURES: Paul T. Zeleza on Obama and the promise and challenges from the world citizenry

- From the archives: Mahatma Gandhi’s prescient perspectives on the Israeli-Palestine conflict
- Annar Cassam on Israel road to madness
- Demba Moussa Dembélé argues for Palestinian right to resist
- Alan Singer looks at the future of struggle in the United States
- Issa Shivji in conversation with Marc Wuyts
- Bethany Ojalehto and Qaabata Boru on a Kanere refugee free independent press
- Rob Cook looks at the Liberian refugees protest in Ghana

ACTION ALERTS: Keep up on the Zimbabwe crisis with Pambazuka News Zimbabwe Alerts

PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD: Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem on Obama and our responsibilities

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CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Beijing reaffirms its African agenda
CORRUPTION: Guinea calls corruption hearings
DEVELOPMENT: A new approach to development
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Food shortages threaten ARV adherence in Kenya
EDUCATION: Zimbabwe teachers vow to remain on strike
LGBTI: Global LGBT youth network launched
ENVIRONMENT: Caterpillars threaten Liberia
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: Tanzania slows down EAC integration over land concerns
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MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Somali journalist released
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The dawn of the Obama era: In memory of the ancestors

Paul T Zeleza


The Obama era has begun. Like millions of people in the United States and around the world today I sat glued to the television watching the historic inauguration, relishing the man and the moment, its substance and symbolism. Tomorrow, of course the hard work starts and the harsh realities facing the new president will break today's magical spell. America's daunting challenges will puncture the bubble of messianic expectations invested in the young president. The extraordinary euphoria that has gripped this nation and parts of the world is obviously unsustainable, and it will inevitably evaporate in the predictable whirlwind of stumbles, setbacks, even scandals, not to mention the structural obstacles, the systemic imperatives of this mighty but beleaguered capitalist country and imperial power that will constrain bold changes, truly progressive transformation.

The challenges are immense indeed: ending two foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have depleted the nation of treasure and trust and abandoning the misguided commitment to "war on terror" which even Britain one of America's staunchest allies thinks is a mistake; managing the economic crisis and administering an effective stimulus package that will halt the economic recession and restore growth; expanding access to health care and improving the quality of education and overcoming the inequities of the prison industrial complex that has devastated African American and other minority communities; pursuing sound and sustainable domestic and global environmental policies; and promoting smart foreign policies and allegiance to multilateralism. The biggest challenge facing President Obama is how to manage the relative historic decline of American global supremacy in a world of new emerging powers and growing intolerance against authoritarianism whether within or between nations; in short, a more global and nationalistic world impatient with the old injustices and hierarchies of power and well-being and hungry for development, democracy, and self-determination.

The indefatigable anti-apartheid and human rights campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it best on January 19th at a congregation of black leaders from around the world convened by the Congressional Black Caucus to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He urged the new President "not to squander the promise of this moment, and to return America to the moral high ground once again. ‘The world is waiting for America to be a leader once again, but not an America of bully-boy tactics,' he urged.... ‘A leader that says, ‘Climate change is here, let's not pussyfoot around'...An America that won't tolerate abominations like Guantanamo Bay. No!...Torture is torture, the world is waiting for an America that says, ‘No to torture!' An America, he continued, that ratifies the International Criminal Court, sending a message to despots in places like Zimbabwe, Sudan, Burma and Tibet that ‘there is no impunity, there is nowhere for you to hide.' If the impending inauguration of Obama is possible, Tutu said, then so is all of this. ‘God has been waiting,' Tutu said, ‘to hear us say: Yes We Can!'

From his inaugural address, which invoked some key moments and motifs of American history, and crossed generational and racial divides, it is clear President Obama understands many of these challenges and he is eager to confront them as effectively as possible. The speech was more somber than soaring; eschewing the false optimism beloved by American presidents and politicians, he called for a new era of responsibility. He painted a grim picture of the problems facing the country: "That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

He called for bold and swift action and strongly repudiated the policies of the Bush administration and the ideological bickering of the past few decades: "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government. Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good."

Finally, he promised a new compact with the world: "And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.... To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

Only the next few weeks and months and years will tell whether these promises will be kept, whether the faith placed in the Obama Administration by millions of people in the United States and around the world for transformative change is misplaced or not. The scholar in me does not expect profound changes in the conduct of America's domestic and foreign policies. But I celebrate the new president nonetheless. I have noticed many of my scholarly and activist colleagues and friends share the same ambivalence, a kind of cautious excitement. Excitement that the long history of struggle has brought this country to the point of having a black president, and caution that many of the country's structural features and deformities will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. Given the ugly weight of race in American history, the election of President Obama diminishes the symbolic and substantive stranglehold of race on American society and political economy. That is to be welcomed.

But this is a day for rejoicing, not prognosticating the future. In the words of Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, "this is the day for which so many prayed, so many marched and so many more sacrificed. This is a day of jubilation and celebration. This is the day to rejoice and recommit ourselves to restoring the American dream for us all.... Yes, of course, racism still exists in America. But if a black man can become president of the United States of America, then aren't all Americans now free to believe they can achieve any goal they set for themselves?" It is for these struggles and promises that this is indeed a historic day. In one of the most memorable lines in his address, President Obama reminded his audience of the historic gravity and possibilities of the moment: "why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

A point stated with understated astonishment by Rupert Cornwell in the British paper, The Independent: "The most powerful man in the world is black.... Let us savor history today. Tomorrow for Barack Obama the hard part begins - the small matters of largely reinventing his country, trying to bring a semblance of order to an ever more turbulent world, and staving off economic Armageddon.... Today in one sense is a destination, the end of a journey lasting 233 years, from the very foundation of a country with its own original sin of slavery. There have been many milestones along the road: among them emancipation, Jackie Robinson and the integration from 1947 of baseball which truly was then the national pastime. Then came the 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown vs Board of Education, that desegregated America's schools, followed by the great civil rights acts of the 1960s. The dream set out 45 years ago by Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - at the opposite end of the Washington Mall from where Mr Obama will speak today - may not have been entirely realized. The color of a person's skin still does matter in America - but how far America has come."

This is a deeply emotional moment for African Americans, unimaginable for centuries, inconceivable to their ancestors who endured the indescribable savagery of slavery and segregation, astounding even to the post-civil rights offspring often hindered by the abiding bigotries and excuses of low expectations. This day is a tribute to their struggles, their unshakeable faith in their humanity, their hopes that they could shift the trajectory of their nation's cruel history. Their slave ancestors built the Capitol where the new president was inaugurated and the White House where he will be living for the next four years and perhaps eight. It was in these buildings that the drama of African American subjugation and emancipation were played out, where new chapters of the American story were written in blood and tears, where European dreams and African nightmares confronted each other generation after generation.

Connecting the two sites is Pennsylvania Avenue, which has been, as The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday, "the scene of hate, oppression, possibility and progress." The paper observed that the new president's triumphant motorcade "will retrace the path of Ku Klux Klan marches and roll past the ghosts of hotels and movie theaters that used to turn away people like him.... This historic stretch, bookended by the Capitol on one end and the White House on the other, has witnessed many of the milestones that made an Obama presidency possible. The Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were signed here. But it's doubtful that even a Harvard-educated wonder can get his arms around the scope of the civil-rights drama that has played out on this 1.2-mile slice of real estate. There are places more infamous for their scars - Selma, Birmingham - but none capture the sweep of the story the way Pennsylvania Avenue does, where laws were passed to enslave people and laws were passed to free them, and at least a dozen of Obama's predecessors would sooner have considered him a piece of property than a peer."

It is a poignant coincidence that President Obama's inauguration came a day after the Martin Luther King Day. The Obama presidency was made possible by the civil rights movement symbolized by Dr. King's leadership. Writing in The Washington Post, Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III, stated, "Forty-five years ago, my father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., proclaimed his dream for America ‘that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.' His words, spoken in Lincoln's shadow on Aug. 28, 1963, will echo profoundly on Jan. 20, 2009. The ideals that Abraham Lincoln and my father championed will advance when Barack Obama takes the presidential oath of office." But the civil rights leader concluded with a somber thought: "As bright a day as Nov. 4 was in our nation's history, it is important to remember that Barack Obama's election is not a panacea for race relations in this country. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, yet segregation ran rampant for a hundred years. Blacks were given the right to vote in 1965, but it took 43 years for an African American to rise to the nation's highest office. Though it carries us further down the path toward equality, Barack Obama's election does not render my father's dream realized."

This caution was echoed by one of Dr. King's lieutenants and trail blazers for President Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, in which he asked: "What would Dr. King, who spent much of his life changing conditions so that African-Americans could vote without fear of death or intimidation, think of the rise of the nation's 44th president? I can say without reservation that he would be beaming. I am equally confident that he would not let the euphoria of the moment blind us to the unfinished business that lies ahead. And he would spell out those challenges in biblical terms: feed the hungry, clothe the naked and study war no more. Dr. King spent his 39th birthday working.... That's the model we should follow this week - and beyond. We should celebrate the election of our new president. And then we should get back to work to complete the unfinished business of making America a more perfect union."

Clearly, President Obama owes much to Dr. King, but he is not the latter's predictable heir. The two not only belong to different generations, what President Obama himself calls the Moses and Joshua generations, they represent different political projects, that of revolutionaries seeking to get in by breaking the barricades of exclusion and reformists trying to fit in by shifting the furniture within. President Obama lacks Dr. King's burning moral and political fervor to overhaul American society and politics; his drive is to run the country more efficiently. For Dr. King, racism, poverty, and war were intertwined, American imperialism abroad and racism at home reproduced each other. But President Obama seems wedded to maintaining American power, albeit with softer gloves than the bare knuckled arrogance of the Bush-Cheney Administration. Warns Michael Honey: "Like Lyndon Johnson, Obama risks his domestic agenda by getting bogged down in a quagmire in Afghanistan." Already his lukewarm reaction to the Israeli invasion of Gaza is cooling enthusiasm for him in some parts of the world. Reports William J. Kole: "Muslims want to know why Obama hasn't joined the chorus of international criticism of Israel's Gaza offensive. Last week posters of him were set on fire in Tehran to shouts of "Death to Obama!"

President Obama confronts progressives with challenges they didn't face with the manifestly banal and uncompromising President Bush. They must go beyond making predictable critiques if they wish to influence the new administration, to keep its feet to the fire in carrying out some of its own more enlightened campaign promises. They need to constantly engage both his administration and America. To quote John Nichols: "Obama knows not just the rough outlines of the left-labor-liberal-progressive agenda, but the specifics. He does not need to be presented with progressive ideas for responding appropriately to an economic downturn, to environmental and energy challenges, to global crises and democratic dysfunctions. He has, over the better part of a quarter century, spoken of, written about, and campaigned for them."

He continues: "The way to influence Obama and his Administration is to speak not so much to him as to America. Get out ahead of the new President, and of his spin-drive communications team. Highlight the right appointees and the right responses to deal with the challenges that matter most. Don't just critique, but rather propose. Advance big ideas and organize on their behalf; identify allies in federal agencies, especially in Congress, and work with them to dial up the pressure for progress. Don't expect Obama or his aides to do the left thing. Indeed, take a lesson from rightwing pressure groups in their dealings with Republican administrations and recognize that it is always better to build the bandwagon than to jump on board one that is crafted with the tools of compromise. Smart groups and individuals are already at it."

He concludes with a pertinent historical analogy: "Franklin Roosevelt's example is useful here. After his election in 1932, FDR met with Sidney Hillman and other labor leaders, many of them active Socialists with whom he had worked over the past decade or more. Hillman and his allies arrived with plans they wanted the new President to implement. Roosevelt told them: ‘I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.' It is reasonable for progressives to assume that Barack Obama agrees with them on many fundamental issues. He has said as much. It is equally reasonable for progressives to assume that Barack Obama wants to do the right thing. But it is necessary for progressives to understand that, as with Roosevelt, they will have to make Obama do it."

As I watched the dignitaries from the three branches of government coming to be seated for the inauguration, the members of Congress and the Senate, justices of the Supreme Court, and some of the prospective cabinet secretaries the audacity of the moment was unmistakable: the new black president will be accompanied by only one black justice, the widely despised Clarence Thomas, and one black senator, Roland Burris, Senator Obama's briefly contentious replacement nominated by the impeached Illinois Governor. The contrast between the white faces of power and the colorful sea of people, estimated at nearly two million who stretched for two miles over the Washington Mall and all across the capital, was palpable.

The two images underscore the symbolic significance of this moment that American history had turned, if not a new chapter, at least a new page. The festive crowds had turned out to witness history, to celebrate history, for their rendezvous with history. Their ecstasy on the mall and across the nation was as infectious as it was intense, almost unprecedented and not seen in the inaugurations of any of President Obama's immediate predecessors. That did not stop the pundits from trying to find parallels in past inaugurations, many settling on the mystique of John F. Kennedy, another youthful president with a beautiful family, and much promise. Indeed, for Matt Bai, the inauguration of President Obama marks the end of "America's 50-year quest to find a truly transformational leader" a la Kennedy.

It is easy to be cynical about such theatrical political events as the inauguration, the ritualized performance in the American transfer of power. The claims trotted by pundits and the new president express the typical bombast of American exceptionalism. Writing yesterday, the astute British journalist, Gary Younge , puts it this way: "Not for the first time, ridiculous claims will be made for this particular historical moment. Some will say this could not happen anywhere else, without acknowledging that putting one in three black men born at the turn of this century in jail could not happen anywhere else either. A black man in the White House seems so unlikely precisely because a black man in prison, dead or impoverished is so much more likely. Some will claim that Obama's advance shows that anyone in America can make it, regardless of race or class, without acknowledging that, in fact, class fluidity and racial uplift are in fact in retreat, and have been for several years. And yet others will insist that a black face will help promote US interests abroad, without acknowledging that the face of American foreign policy for the last eight years has been Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Those who hold that America is a land of boundless opportunity and relentless progress are no fans of fact or history."

But rituals and celebrations are the poetry in the prosaic lives of individuals, families, communities, and nations, the spice that seasons human existence. The explosive fervor for President Obama is not to be derided. To quote Younge again: "For those on the left who have sneered at this joy, tomorrow is their last chance to join the rest of the people whose liberation they claim to champion. Anxious to get their disappointment in early and avoid the rush, they have been keen to point out the various ways in which Obama will fail and betray. Their predictions may well prove correct. The best is not the same as adequate. He has been elected to represent the interests of the most powerful country in the world. Those will not be the same interests as those of the powerless. And yet, in the words of Friedrich Engels: ‘What childish innocence it is to present one's own impatience as a theoretically convincing argument.' Obama was the most progressive, viable candidate possible in these circumstances. A black American, propelled to office by a mass popular campaign pledging income redistribution and an end to torture and the war in Iraq, has defeated the Republicans and is about to replace the most reactionary president in at least a generation."

The millions of Americans and others around the world who are rejoicing at Obama's accession to the presidency are not simply overjoyed by Obama's personal success, although many are, nor are they delusional optimists, although some may be, but they are also, in the most elemental sense, projecting their own hopes and dreams for different lives, for better futures. Younge again puts the point most eloquently. "The global outpouring of support for Obama suggests a constituency for a world free of racism and war, and desperate to shift the direction of global events that is in dire need of leadership and an agenda. Dancing in the streets tomorrow afternoon doesn't mean you can't take to those same streets in protest from Wednesday. As one African-American activist said shortly after election day: ‘As much hell as we've caught over the past few hundred years, we should enjoy this one.'"

President Obama starts office with incredible support, with approval ratings of 83%! The poll ratings are simply dizzying, higher than for any incoming president in recent memory. Writes Jonathan Freedland: "79% [of Americans are] optimistic about the next four years, according to the New York Times, a degree of goodwill that trumps the numbers that greeted the previous five presidents." As befitting America, his image has become a hot commodity, stamped on all manner of merchandise. The new president serves, as political leaders and cultural icons tend to especially in moments of national crisis and angst, as the canvas upon which millions of people yearning for change seek to rewrite their collective lives. The fact that they are likely to be disappointed is not an argument against the dreams themselves, nor does it invalidate the struggles that made this moment possible.

The presence of President Obama also recasts struggles and representations of the African diasporas in various parts of the world. We are all familiar with the electrifying impact of President Obama's election in countries in the Americas and Europe with large and often marginalized African diaspora populations. The excitement extends to Asia including Iraq, the burial ground of American imperial hubris, where the country's estimated 2 million Blacks have apparently made Barack Obama a model to follow to follow. Even in India, according to Lakshmi Chaudhry , where Indians of African descent tend to be racially despised, the country has "been overwhelmed by the undisguised pleasure of seeing a brown-skinned underdog triumph against all odds over a white establishment.... Many Indians believe Obama's victory makes all things possible for people of color everywhere - including the many American grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins who, thanks to globalization, are part of the Indian extended family."

In another insightful article, What Obama Means to the World, Gary Younge reminds us of the special role African Americans have occupied in the global political and cultural imaginary, facilitated by the very global standing of the United States, as victims of oppression and beacons of redemption against American imperialism and racism, as powerful producers and custodians of American popular culture. The progressive image of African Americans was severely damaged by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, who became the black faces of "the most reactionary US foreign policy in at least a generation. When Secretary of State Powell addressed the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in September 2002, he was jeered...." President Barack Obama reprises the more heroic image and role of African Americans.

But he does more: his rise challenges Europe and other multiracial societies to look hard at their own histories and societies. "Political conversation in France, Britain and Germany, in particular, went almost effortlessly from how to keep immigrants out to how descendants of (mostly) immigrants could ascend to the highest office in the land - or why they could not... In almost every instance the simple, honest answer to the question ‘Could it happen here?' was no. The Obama story was indeed about race. But at its root it was essentially about white people. Would they vote for him? Would they kill him? It's not clear whether white Europeans would be any more comfortable with electing a black leader in their own countries than some Republicans were here. Having basked in a smug state of superiority over America's social, economic and racial disparities, Europeans were forced by Obama's victory and the passions it stoked to face hard realities about their own institutional discrimination, which was not better or worse - just different...."

As is well known in Europe, "To this day ‘immigrant' and ‘nonwhite' are often used synonymously in France. Indeed, given the conflation of immigration and race in Europe, the fact that Obama's father was an immigrant was in some ways as significant as the fact that he was black. In that sense every country potentially has its Obama, depending on its social fault lines. For the broader symbolism of his win has less to do with race than with exclusion.... [Obama's] central appeal was not so much that he looked like other Americans as that he sounded so different - and not just in comparison to Bush. For if Obama represents a serious improvement over his predecessor, he also stands tall among other world leaders. At a time of poor leadership, he has given people a reason to feel passionate about politics. Brits, Italians, South Africans, French and Russians look at Obama and then at Gordon Brown, Silvio Berlusconi, Thabo Mbeki, Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin and realize they could and should be doing a whole lot better.

In conclusion, Younge observes: "Much of this is, of course, delusional. People's obsession with Obama always said more about them than him. Most wanted a paradigm shift in global politics, and, unable to elect governments that could fight for it, they simply assigned that role to Obama. His silence during the shelling of Gaza, however, was sobering for many. As a mainstream Democrat he stands at the head of a party that in any other Western nation would be on the right on foreign policy, the center on economic policy and the center-left on social policy. Come inauguration day, that final symbolic set piece, the transition will be complete. The rest of the world must become comfortable with a black American, not as a symbol of protest but of power. And not of any power but a superpower, albeit a broken and declining one. A black man with more power than they. How that will translate into the different political cultures around the globe, whom it will inspire, how it will inspire them and what difference that inspiration will make will vary. From inauguration day people's perceptions of Obama will no longer hinge on what he is but on what he does."

Whatever indeed happens under the Obama Administration, its inauguration today has already changed the face of American politics. The African ancestors brought to these lands in chains are watching, but for once, probably with a smile. The long struggle for citizenship among their descendants has entered a new age, the Obama era.

*Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is editor of The Zeleza Post where this essay first published.

*Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza does a reflective round-up on the different opinions surrounding President Obama’s inauguration. Zeleza argues that “The biggest challenge facing President Obama is how to manage the relative historic decline of American global supremacy in a world of new emerging powers and growing intolerance against authoritarianism whether within or between nations; in short, a more global and nationalistic world impatient with the old injustices and hierarchies of power and well-being and hungry for development, democracy, and self-determination.” That Obama has reached outside the race and national boundaries in an unprecedented way is not in question and the essay goes to emphasize the different ways different peoples in different parts of the world are responding to Obama - both as a challenge and as a promise.

Comment & analysis

Mahatma Gandhi on Israel and Palestine

Religious acts cannot be performed with bayonets and bombs

Mahatma Gandhi


With Palestine still facing brutal Israeli action, our attention has been drawn to a pair of articles on Zionist politics and the Palestinian plight written by Mahatma Gandhi in the period immediately preceding the creation of the Israeli state. Entitled simply ‘The Jews’ and ‘Jews and Palestine’ and written in 1938 and 1946 respectively, these articles outline Gandhi’s sympathy to the Jewish cause yet strong desire not to see Palestinians wronged. Deeply sceptical of the morality behind marginalising Palestinians through the formation of the Israeli state, the father of the Indian nation argues a more morally-legitimate course would be to insist on the just treatment of Jews wherever they are born and bred.

Israel’s march to madness

Questioning the sanity of the ‘promised land’

Annar Cassam


cc. Amir Farshad Ebrahimi
Following Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s visit to French President Nicolas Sarkozy at beginning of the year, Annar Cassam questions Israeli’s self-identity as a member of the ‘free world’. Heavily critical of the state’s self-appointed role as a bastion of Western values restraining savage Arab hordes, Annar Cassam explores the parallels between current Israeli action and the history of the destructive, pseudo-civilising mission pursued by erstwhile Western colonial powers, underlining the power of ‘master race’ and ‘promised land’ ideologies in paving the way for domination. "Exactly like the Afrikaners," she writes,"the Israelis have come to Palestine from Europe with convictions about their own uniqueness and superiority which they have imposed on the local inhabitants on pain of death and destruction. The Jewish ‘homeland’ may have started out as a refuge for the persecuted but it has now become a law unto itself, a fanatical fortress to which no international standards and obligations apply."
Following Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s visit to French President Nicolas Sarkozy at beginning of the year, Annar Cassam questions Israeli’s self-identity as a member of the ‘free world’. Heavily critical of the state’s self-appointed role as a bastion of Western values restraining savage Arab hordes, Annar Cassam explores the parallels between current Israeli action and the history of the destructive, pseudo-civilising mission pursued by erstwhile Western colonial powers, underlining the power of ‘master race’ and ‘promised land’ ideologies in paving the way for domination. "Exactly like the Afrikaners," she writes,"the Israelis have come to Palestine from Europe with convictions about their own uniqueness and superiority which they have imposed on the local inhabitants on pain of death and destruction. The Jewish ‘homeland’ may have started out as a refuge for the persecuted but it has now become a law unto itself, a fanatical fortress to which no international standards and obligations apply."

Upholding Palestine's right to resistance

Demba Moussa Dembélé


cc. Mateus
Since 27 December 2008, the Zionist state of Israel has embarked on an unprecedented onslaught against the residents of Gaza. The massive bombings have killed over 500 Palestinians and injured over 2,500 more. The Israeli air force has targeted hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, universities, mosques, and even markets. As with previous attacks, the Western media has carried fallacious reports, echoing the Israeli government’s official claim to be responding to, and defending itself against, Palestinian rocket attacks. The Gaza strip has been under both sustained military attack and an inhumane blockade for the last two years since Hamas’s victory over Fatah.
Since 27 December 2008, the Zionist state of Israel has embarked on an unprecedented onslaught against the residents of Gaza. The massive bombings have killed over 500 Palestinians and injured over 2,500 more. The Israeli air force has targeted hospitals, schools, roads, bridges, universities, mosques, and even markets. As with previous attacks, the Western media has carried fallacious reports, echoing the Israeli government’s official claim to be responding to, and defending itself against, Palestinian rocket attacks. The Gaza strip has been under both sustained military attack and an inhumane blockade for the last two years since Hamas’s victory over Fatah.

Towards a civil rights movement successor

From Martin Luther King to Barack Obama and beyond

Alan Singer


cc. Black Heritage
Questioning the validity of the linear from-Martin-Luther-King-to-Barack-Obama interpretation of the US civil rights movement featured within many mainstream channels, Alan Singer argues that the emphasis should in reality be on the role of mass participation in engendering progressive social change. In turbulent times of severe economic downturn, the author insists, it is up to individuals to provide the energy and momentum needed for climbing the mountains of social justice on the horizon.
Questioning the validity of the linear from-Martin-Luther-King-to-Barack-Obama interpretation of the US civil rights movement featured within many mainstream channels, Alan Singer argues that the emphasis should in reality be on the role of mass participation in engendering progressive social change. In turbulent times of severe economic downturn, the author insists, it is up to individuals to provide the energy and momentum needed for climbing the mountains of social justice on the horizon.

Reflections: An interview with Issa G Shivji

Issa G. Shivji and Marc Wuyts


cc. Quarsan
In this interview conducted by Marc Wuyts, Issa Shivji, one of Africa's revolutionary scholars long before the term public intellectual became vogue, shares his intellectual history, his analysis of Ujamaa, his take on the land question in Africa and the state of African political economy and much more.
In this interview conducted by Marc Wuyts, Issa Shivji, one of Africa's revolutionary scholars long before the term public intellectual became vogue, shares his intellectual history, his analysis of Ujamaa, his take on the land question in Africa and the state of African political economy and much more.

Support KANERE for an independent refugee press

Bethany Ojalehto and Qaabata Boru


cc. IRIN
Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE) is an independent news magazine produced by Ethiopian, Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan, Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan journalists operating in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. KANERE urgently seeks the support of international organisations and advocacy groups everywhere, as the group is facing pressure from local organisations that do not fully support an independent refugee press.
The Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE) is an independent news magazine produced by Ethiopian, Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan, Somali, Sudanese and Kenyan journalists operating in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. KANERE urgently seeks the support of international organisations and advocacy groups everywhere, as the group is facing pressure from local organisations that do not fully support an independent refugee press.

Liberian refugees protest in Ghana

Rob Cook


cc. Miss Bax
Do refugees have a rights, or are they eternally bound to the status of victimhood and homelessness, asks Rob Cook. The severe crackdown and mass deportation by the Ghanaian authorities over a protest by Liberian refugees who demanded a larger say has highlighted the ineffective solutions provided by UNHCR, whose reaction is evidence of an outdated mode of thinking towards the problems affecting refugees around the world, the author argues.
Do refugees have a rights, or are they eternally bound to the status of victimhood and homelessness, asks Rob Cook. The severe crackdown and mass deportation by the Ghanaian authorities over a protest by Liberian refugees who demanded a larger say has highlighted the ineffective solutions provided by UNHCR, whose reaction is evidence of an outdated mode of thinking towards the problems affecting refugees around the world, the author argues.

Pan-African Postcard

Obama cannot be our Saviour: We have to save ourselves

Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem


While calling on Obama to “pursue a policy change that we can believe in” Tajudeen also argues against our seeing Obama as a messiah who will solve all of the world’s problems. Rather his election should give “both Americans and the rest of us a chance to look at things afresh and probably find a solution that we can all live with even if it may not be perfect.”

Books & arts

Forced Displacement: Why Rights Matter?


Uprootedness, exile and forced displacement, be they due to conflict, persecution or even so-called \'development\', are conditions which characterize the lives of millions of people across the globe. While the international community has largely been concerned with refugees crossing borders to flee persecution, violence, impoverishment and brutal regimes, less attention has been paid to internally displaced populations. This book problematises both policies and rights frameworks in processes of displacement, while bridging the divide that exists between refugee and development induced displacement studies.

Kenya: All set for first Film Awards


The maiden Kenya Film and Television awards would be taking place early this year. Stakeholders in the film industry said they are bent on witnessing the event being organized by the Kenya Film Commission. The annual event is to celebrate and recognize excellence in production of local Kenyan movies and stars. At the moment the Commission is receiving entries from prospective award winners.

Senegal: Pre-FESPACO activities begin in Dakar


Activities leading to the 21st edition of the Panafrican Cinema and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), scheduled for 28 February to 7 March in the Burkinabe capital, began here Thursday, according to a press communiqué by the organisers transmitted to PANA. The two-day programme will feature a news conference, an exhibition on the late Senegalese filmmaker, Ousmane Sembène, and a number of films relevant to the FESPACO whose theme is "African cinema: Tourism and Cultural heritages".

UNPROTECTED: Palestinians in Egypt since 1948


Based on personal interviews with Palestinian families, Oroub El-Abed examines the effects of displacement and the livelihood strategies that Palestinians have employed while living in Egypt. The author also analyzes the impact of fluctuating Egyptian government policies on the Palestinian way of life. With limited basic human rights and in the context of very poor living conditions for Egyptians in general, Palestinians in Egypt have had to employ an array of both tangible and intangible assets to survive.

Letters & Opinions

A world without conscience

Matthew Panamkat


I agree fully with Ochieng M. Khairallah in his assessment of A world without conscience. In no area of human endeavor is there a trace of honesty and truth. If anyone feels he has a good conscience, it must surely be the play of a bad memory. Of all things, religion seems to have jettisoned conscience altogether.
Respect the

Be fair and balanced!

Liza Bennett


In Obama and US policy towards Africa Horace Campbell writes:

"Obama, unlike many of his predecessors, has the opportunity to recognise the rights of the Palestinian people to real self-determination."

Unlike most of his predecessors? That sentence alone makes your article laughable. Somehow Bush, Clinton, and the rest had less of an opportunity to do the right thing than Obama? Please tell us how. Look, we get that you don't like Obama (or are envious of him? resentful?), but please at least attempt to write a fair and balanced article.

Your bias is glaringly apparent. For the record, I too am in favor of BDS.

Change in Africa

Abel Desalegn


Obama and US policy towards Africa by Horace Campbell is a great article and I would love to be part of this movement to unite Africa. Please send me an email on what I can do to help Africa move in to Change that we all believe in like President OBAMA said.

Empty neocolonial politics

Lennox Odiemo-Munara


Horace Campbell’s Mamdani, Mugabe and the African scholarly community is a timely and necessary call on the African person to seriously reflect the Zimbabwean condition in the light of the so-called neocolonial/neo-imperialist politics.

While we do not deny the horrors of these 'neo-influences', we sadly underline the tendency to over-emphasise them and the failure to see Mugabe & Co.'s ugliness. I was participant in the CODESSRIA Conference, and, yes, the argument by Mamdani, Shivji... (lead proponents of the Statement) about Zimbabwe seemed intellectually so strained (a colleague saw it as vacuous!).

Of course to talk of military intervention in Zimbabwe is naive, but to continue praising Mugabe's banal conceptualisation of 'independent Zimbabwe' is surely a madness.

Ideology is a skeleton that desperately needs flesh!

Françoise Gerard


A very beautiful and meaningful article about Thomas Sankara, Sankara 20 years later: A tribute to integrity, by Demba Moussa Dembélé…However, as a woman with a specific female sensibility, I suffer to read about "the masses" and the word "révolution" every ten words. To me it is an old "wooden tongue" which carries too often the abstraction of each human being. Ideology is a skeleton that desperately needs flesh


Gacheke Gachihi


I salute you comrade Horace Campbell: Obama and US policy towards Africa. I agree with your great advise for progressive forces in Africa to organize to bring social change in Africa. The agenda for Reparations very crucial to Africa recovery as the modern imperialism is build on blood and slave labour of African people and the people of the south.

The issue of illegitimate debt will be also a concern for Obama administration. We must in Africa dismantle also the instruments of Imperial control , that World Bank, IMF and many others. The Congo story is horrible. I hope Obama as he confesses the atrocities caused to his Grandfather in Kenya by British colonial forces will extend the same touch to the people of Congo … and also offer apologies for the historical injustices committed to Africa by the past USA regime.

The Obama administration must start with accounting on evils committed by USA security agencies in the World ...But time will tell the jury is out for Obama...But we must organize and organize!

Solidarity is not automatic

Mohamed Cassam


In response to Black American politicians vote for War on Gaza by Glen Ford:

I have lived in the US for 45 years, and conclude that the majority of white (Christian) Americans remain racists. While there is less racism toward African Americans, the bias against Muslims and especially Palestinians has grown tremendously, orchestrated by the Jewish lobby. Blacks are Christians, totally influenced by the pro-Israeli media, are anti Palestinians.

In other words they are as American as the whites and so the CBC reflects this. Just because American blacks suffered under the whites does not at all make them sympathetic to those non Africans who suffer even more so under white imperialism.

The essence of humanity

Lennox Odiemo-Munara


Simiyu Barasa ‘s Kenyan women targets of violence reminds us of the extreme care we ought to take as human beings to ensure that sanity is an everyday leitmotif in our existences.

Haply, in every sense, recoursing back to Immanuel Kant, even in the most desperate of our conditions, to reaffirm that we still cherish the 'essence of humanity' and aspire towards a 'highness'.

Toward peace

Fred Smilek


In response to Respect the Kenyan constitution and mediation process: It is great to see them making strides towards peace.

Victory or loss?

Syd Warren


In response to Horace Campbell’s Cuito Cuanavale: A Tribute to Fidel Castro and the African Revolution:

Hopefully our younger generation have a little more integrity that Horace Campbell. If they do some independent research they'll know Campbell is lying. Fidel Castro is at least more honest. At the end of 1988 he gave a two-hour speech to a full Council of State meeting in Havana. The speech was also broadcast in its entirety on Cuba's domestic radio and television services. Here are some highlights of Castro's speech:

# The next day (13 January 1988) the SADF mounted a strong attack east of the river at Cuito, along a very extended frontline defended by three FAPLA brigades - the 21st, 59th and 25th. There was a 5km gap between the brigades. South Africa dislodged the 21st brigade and the other brigades were threatened. # St Valentine's Day, 14 February, South Africa launched its big offensive against the 59th brigade. The South African's smashed through the lines, marched through the 5km gap between the 21st and 59 brigades and began to surround the 59th brigade. Castro said: "A very difficult situation emerged. They could have gone as far as the bridge and cut off three entire brigades." [Note: Castro seems to be a smart guy. The initial plan that was planned for January was to do just that! One deliberate, phased attack by the two SADF mechanised battalion groups would have resulted in the three FAPLA brigades being cut off, routed and destroyed. Pretoria in its "wisdom" countered this approach and opted for a battle concept that relied on a cautious approach over a protracted period].

# Castro continued: A Cuban tank battalion together with FAPLA tanks launched a violent counter attack. The counter attack stopped the SADF but in the process the Cuban/FAPLA company lost all seven of its tanks and 14 Cubans were killed. The three FAPLA brigades retreated towards the river. [Note: Campbell's version would have the SADF basically defeated at this stage with heavy losses].

# Castro sent a cable to General Ochoa (he was executed for his poor performance) saying: "I will not hide from you the fact that here we are bitter over what happened because it had been foreseen and words of caution were issued on several occasions. We insisted on the readjustment of the frontlines for almost one entire month." [Note: Again Castro is correct and honest - 21 brigade suffered heavy losses and was dislodged on 13 January].

# The situation was extremely dangerous for the FAPLA brigades. Castro sent a cable on 20 February which warned that if South Africa broke through the line of defence, the Angolan forces would find themselves with their back to the river and would face casualties from drowning, attacks and the prisoners could be countless. # Castro said he could not understand why, since 14 February, only two battalions of 21st brigade had gone West of the river, whilst about 3500 FAPLA soldiers were still on the East. "What will happen if tomorrow the enemy breaks through the lines and used all ist strength against the river area,"? Castro raged.

This account by Castro concerning the routing of the three brigades, including very heavy losses inflicted on 59 brigade can easily be verified from the recorded speech. The largely ineffective attacks by the SADF in March 1988 to force all or most FAPLA/Cuban forces West of the Cuito river is well-known. By then, the heart of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale had been won by the SADF (from a purely military strategic and tactical perspective) and the stand-off between the two forces would go on for a few months, from which no victor emerged. Of course the geo-political situation led to the demise of apartheid, but then, who's defending apartheid?

Campbell hopes to re-write history. However, Castro, in his bid to boost his own "heroic role" in the Cuito battle, confirms the hiding given to FAPLA/Cuba and gives us a pretty accurate military historical view.

Viva Castro!

Who won?



In response to Horace Campbell’s Cuito Cuanavale: A Tribute to Fidel Castro and the African Revolution: Unfortunately there are a tremendous amount of lies being floated on Cuito and the ramifications of Cuito. Fortunately one can at least find the accurate records of what came out of Cuito by looking at the original UN resolution 430 and the final signed outcome of Resolution 430. By simply reading the history of resolution 430 you can immediately see that it was not the Cubans that won the day for the liberation of Angola, Namibia and even South Africa.

Instead those racist South Africans were able to overturn resolution 430 to ensure that Namibia would be a democratic multi party system based on a capitialist economy and the same for Angola. The reality for all to see is that it was the racist South Africans that changed Angola to a multi-party democracy (based on capitalistic economy), Namibia and South Africa while ensuring that the last bastion of communism (Cuba) was evicted from Africa.

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Africa left to face commodity price storm storm largely on it own


The first has to do with commodity prices. The second is the seeming retreat from Africa of investors and entrepreneurs from China, which is surprising. Until recently, it appeared that Africa's dependence on commodity exports would not hinder its economic rise. Growth rates of more than 5 percent for the last few years have been fuelled by the large increases in international commodity prices.

Beijing reaffirms its African agenda

Sanusha Naidu


Amidst the deepening international financial crisis, China’s foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, allayed African fears that Beijing would be downscaling its trade and investments across the continent. Speaking during the final leg of his African visit in South Africa, Yang confirmed that China ‘would continue providing assistance to African countries’. He also added that Africa was not insulated from the global credit crisis and therefore by working together in international meetings, China and African governments can lead the way towards reforming the international financial architecture and contribute to global economic stability.

China ever more implicated in dispute settlement


China has lost its first ever WTO dispute on auto parts and faces a new challenge on alleged export subsidies to a broad range of consumer goods. On the offensive side, Beijing has initiated a case against US countervailing duties on steel and other products.

Construction of economic and trade cooperation zones proceeds smoothly


The work to establish three to five economic and trade cooperation zones in Africa has proceeded smoothly, China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said recently. The China-Africa Development Fund, aimed at encouraging and supporting Chinese enterprises investing in Africa, has also already invested nearly 400 million USD.

India plans to triple trade with Africa, deepen ties


India expects to triple trade with Africa over the next five years to reach $100 billion, officials said on Wednesday, as it tries to strengthen ties in a region where Asian rival China has made rapid inroads. Despite an economic slowdown, India is planning a slew of projects in agriculture, small industry, mining, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), oil pipelines, chemical industry, power generation and transmission among others.

India Tanzania Joint Commission meeting


The Seventh Session of India-Tanzania Joint Commission on Economic, Technical and Scientific Cooperation was held in New Delhi from 13-14 January 2009. The Indian delegation was led by Mr. Nalin Surie, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs and the Tanzanian delegation by Hon. Prof. David H. Mwakyusa, MP, Minister of Health & Social Welfare of Tanzania.

Kenyan contractors to reap from ban on Chinese firms


Four Chinese contractors have become the latest casualties of a global purge on corruption in World Bank-funded projects with a huge impact on Kenya’s construction scene. Caught in a corruption muddle that was instigated by a construction tender award scandal in the Philippines are two Chinese companies — China Road and Bridge Corporation and China Wu Yi — that control a significant share of the Kenyan construction market.

Obama and China – small clouds on bright horizon?

Stephen Marks


For Stephen Marks, given the interdependency between the United States and China, President Obama will have to tread carefully on trade as well human rights issues. He cautions there is a “danger of mounting economic crisis converting into political instability in which the smallest miscalculation, in Washington or Beijing could have unforeseen consequences.”

Sanctions against Chinese firms causing jitters


The World Bank’s decision to shut out four Chinese firms from taking part in any of its projects around the world is likely to draw a cold reaction from African countries, many of which have turned to the Far East for economic partnerships. Political analysts say the World Bank’s move against the firms – three of which have lucrative infrastructure contracts in Kenya – is bound to be interpreted as a move against China’s growing political and economic clout in Africa by Western economic powers.

Zimbabwe update

Cholera moves to rural areas


The cholera epidemic has continued to rage out of control across the country with the official death toll fast approaching the 3000 mark – and the mortality rate is not expected to slow down any time soon. Within just a week the reported, and therefore official number of deaths, has increased to 2744 and the new figures come as international aid agencies have expressed fears that the threat has taken over the country’s rural areas.

Hunger strike for Zimbabwe change


Archbishop Desmond Tutu is among activists in southern Africa who have launched a fast and hunger strike in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. The new Save Zimbabwe Now movement says African leaders must abandon the policy of quiet diplomacy and recognise there is no legal government in Zimbabwe.

More die of cholera


Over 2,700 people are reported to have now died in Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic - a 20% rise in a week, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) says. WHO says about 50,000 people have been infected with the preventable disease. The start of the rainy season could lead to even more infections, as water sources become contaminated, aid workers have warned.

Regime plans forced removal of Chiadzwa villagers


Plans are afoot by the regime to forcibly remove 5000 villagers from the Chiadzwa area in Manicaland province, to facilitate unfettered access to the diamond fields. Newsreel learnt on Thursday that a meeting between Governor Christopher Mushowe and some chiefs and headmen from the area is set to be held on Saturday. Almost all those invited, including the provincial administrator and district administrator for Marange, have close links to the Mugabe regime.

SADC to balme for deaths in Zimbabwe - Machel


"The blood of those dying on daily basis in Zimbabwe will be laid on the feet of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leadership as they are failing to undertake duties they are elected to do" said rights activist Graça Machel in Johannesburg. Machel who is also a member of elders's group who were barred from entering Zimbabwe last Novemember by the Mugabe regime was speaking at the launch of a regional fasting that is meant to last for three months over the Zimbabwe crisis. Organisers of this fasting period believe 'politicians alone could not solve the crisis.'

WOZA leaders in court for remand hearing


On Thursday, a Bulawayo magistrate set aside a ruling on a case against the leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), who are facing two ‘nuisance’ charges for organizing demonstrations. Jennie Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were arrested in October 2008 and June 2008 and were charged under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act and Miscellaneous Offences Act respectively.

Women & gender

Africa: Banking on African women


"We are not waiting. We are moving", says Pilda Modjadji, a founding member of the Pankop Women Farmers Forum in Mpumalanga, South Africa. "We mean business." The Pankop group, which now has 300 members, started with the humble goal of growing fruit collectively and using the proceeds to supplement family diets, raise incomes and pay school tuition fees. But the women quickly realized that the village offered few job prospects for graduates — their children were going off to the cities.

Liberia: Three strikes - Female, HIV-positive and unemployed


In Liberia unemployed women who are HIV-positive face three hurdles to job security: a tough post-war economy, gender discrimination and demands at home aggravated by HIV, say social service providers and some HIV-positive women. While up to half of the estimated 100,000 HIV-positive people in Liberia are women, “little is known about how HIV is affecting vulnerable populations [women, youth, rural residents, orphans and children]”, according to a 2008 government report.

Morocco: New petition, bill drive change in domestic violence law


With a domestic violence bill currently under review by the government, Morocco continues to lead the Arab world in its defence of women's rights. In addition, the Union of Women's Action (UAF) organised forums across Casablanca on Saturday (January 17th) to raise public awareness of violence and to lobby local groups to protect victimised women.

Mozambique: Government repatriates Zimbabwean sex workers


A narrow hallway leads to a makeshift wooden counter where a shelf displays a few empty beer cans and soft drink bottles; a side door opens to a corridor with a series of bedrooms, almost all of them occupied. This is the 25 de Setembro Social Centre, one of the largest brothels in Chimoio, capital of Mozambique's central province of Manica.

Sudan: Dafur women saved from attempted abduction


A group of Darfuri women was saved from the hands of bandits who are believed to have been on a mission to take them hostages or possible war slaves. The Un reports said troops from the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, tasked with protecting civilians and suppressing the bloody conflict in the region, foiled an attempted abduction of several women who had strayed outside a makeshift camp in the war-torn western flank of Sudan.

Human rights

Africa: Advocating for minority rights


The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the subsequent African human rights treaties do not consider minorities as a legal category recognised in African human rights law. This guide outlines regional opportunities for minority rights protection in Africa, highlighting the legal as well as the institutional framework that is in place

South Africa: Unlocking the power of constitutional rights


South Africa's constitution is often celebrated for its protection of social and economic rights; but how readily can this protection be invoked by the most vulnerable? This question is one that may be considered at the first ever World Conference on Constitutional Justice, taking place in Cape Town on Feb. 23-24. Senior legal personnel from 93 countries will discuss the influence of constitutional courts on societies around the world and the development of global human rights jurisprudence.

Uganda: Activists plan Geneva summit for democracy, human rights and tolerance


East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), as part of a multinational coalition of 25 human rights organizations, will gather leading human rights, democracy and anti-racism activists from around the world for a summit in Geneva on April 19, 2009, on the eve of the U.N. Durban Review Conference, and today launched a new interactive website to publicize the event.

Uganda: Court keeps death penalty


Uganda's Supreme Court has ruled in a case involving more than 400 death row inmates that the death penalty is constitutional. However, it said that hanging was cruel and recommended that parliament consider another means of execution. The judges also said it was unreasonable to keep convicts on death row for more than three years.

Uganda: Mandatory death penalty ruled unconstitutional


The Supreme Court of Uganda upheld the judgment of the Ugandan Constitutional Court on Wednesday, that the mandatory application of the death penalty is unconstitutional. However, the court ruled that the death penalty per se remains constitutional, rejecting both Government and death row prisoners’ appeals.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: 15 drown in Gulf of Aden


Two smugglers' boats carrying Somalis and Ethiopians have capsized in the high seas separating the Horn of Africa and Yemen, leaving at least 15 people dead and a dozen missing, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said. The boats were transporting 270 people when they foundered in separate incidents over the weekend in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

East Africa: Congolese displaced by Ugandan rebels to receive UN aid


The flood of Congolese civilians fleeing raids by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are in dire need of food, shelter, medicines, clothes and other aid items, and United Nations’ relief will begin reaching them tomorrow despite immense logistical challenges, the Organization’s refugee agency has said today.

Elections & governance

Ghana: President unveils initial list of cabinet


Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills on Thursday released the initial list of the names of his cabinet and gave an indication that he would fulfil his pledge of 40 per cent of them being women. The list, which included a blend of old and new faces, has been forwarded to parliament for vetting.

Kenya: Kibaki names ally Kenyatta as finance minister


Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki named a close ally, former trade minister Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday as finance minister of east Africa's biggest economy. Former finance minister Amos Kimunya stepped down last July over the controversial sale of a luxury hotel, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing. On Friday, Kibaki returned Kimunya to the cabinet as his new trade minister.

Kenya: MPs to consider poll court


Kenya's parliament is reconvening shortly, two months before it was due to end its recess to pass legislation setting up a poll violence tribunal. The court will seek to try the ringleaders of the unrest that broke out after the December 2007 elections. This was the recommendation of a commission of inquiry into the clashes.

Mauritania: Party nominates presidential candidate


One of Mauritania's political parties, the Alternative Party, has nominated its president, Mohamed Yehdi Ould Moctar Hacen, as its flag bearer in the 30 May 2009 presidential election in the country, the party said in a statement here Thursday.

Nigeria: Main opposition party disowns presidential candidate


Nigeria's main opposition Action Congress (AC) has disowned its presidential candidate in the 2007 general elections and party chief Atiku Abubakar, after he paid a well-publicised visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday. In a statement issued in the capital city of Abuja Wednesday, AC said while it could not decide who its members can visit or determine their friends, the visit was not in the overall interest of the party.

Senegal: President's son to succeed him


The first son of Senegalese president, Abdoulaye Wade, is reported to have entered into active politics to succeed his father. Long standing rumours that Karim Wade would be taking to his father's heels settled when he decided to contest the seat of mayor of Dakar.

West Africa: "Broke" Ghana spends lavishly on ex-presidents


The New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration approved lavish benefits for outgoing President John Kufuor, parliament heard on Monday, a move critics said could burden the country's struggling economy. The package, approved on the previous parliament's final day, gives each former president two furnished houses, six chauffeur-driven cars, a tax-free payment linked to time served in office, as well as money for entertainment and foreign travel.


Guinea: Government calls corruption hearings


Guinea's new military government has summoned several ex-ministers and business leaders to appear before a commission investigating graft claims. Some 14 people, including the former ministers for sport and finance and the ex-chief of protocol under the late president, have been called.

Kenya: Probe into missing oil imports begins


Kenyan authorities have launched an investigation into the disappearance of $100m in oil imports as part of a corruption scandal that threatens to disrupt fuel supplies to east Africa. According to the Kenyan energy ministry, the oil was allegedly released – and sold – without the authorisation of the banks and trading houses that financed it.

Mozambique: Government identifies corruption as its most dangerous problem


The Director of Mozambique's Central Office for the Fight Against Corruption, Ana Maria Gemo, warned on Tuesday "corruption is not the only ill that undermines the development of the state, but it is certainly the most dangerous". Giving a lecture to an audience of over 500 in Maputo on "Corruption as an obstacle to development", Gemo said what is often referred to as "petty corruption" is widespread and "makes life impossible for citizens".


Africa: A new approach to development


What causes the continued endemic poverty in Africa - a continent rich with natural resources? This paper also argues for a historical materialist approach, which exposes the condition of widespread routine poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and inequality to be a modern world-historical product, the outcome of five centuries of global capitalist expansion under relations of imperialism. The author attempts to reach an alternative approach to the development of the African society.

Africa: African renewable energy attracts attention


The potential for renewable energy development in Africa is growing as both investors and regional leaders seek a new clean energy frontier. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the continent could become a "gold mine" for renewable energy due to abundant hydro, solar and wind resources. This is because the continent has substantial new and renewable energy resources, most of which are under-exploited.

Africa: Laying Africa’s roads to prosperity


From outer space the vast Cahora Bassa hydroelectric complex on the Zambezi River in Mozambique is easy to see. Originally built by the Portuguese colonial authorities and later transferred to Mozambican ownership, the dam has huge turbines that generate enough electricity to power millions of homes and businesses in South Africa and the surrounding region.

Ghana: "Beware of World Bank praises"


The new government of Ghana has been warned to be mindful of the World Bank and other international donors' eulogies. Anthony Akoto-Osei, former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, urged the Atta-Mills government to remain focused on its agenda. The former minister said the government should not rely exclusively on advises from global financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, saying they throw around loans that may tie down the country in circles of debts.

Kenya: Government signs deal with Qatar to make airport African hub


The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has signed a Shs 27.3 billion (US$ 350 million) deal with Qatar’s Afro-Asia Investment Corporation (AAIC) for the development of a high class airport hotel and a conference centre. Signing the deal at the KAA offices, Managing Director, George Muhoho, said the investment was in line with the ongoing expansion programme at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.

Nigeria, Dubai ink $16b oil infrastructure deal


Nigeria and Dubai have signed a preliminary agreement worth $16 billion to develop oil and gas infrastructure in Africa’s top crude producer, officials said. The deal will see Dubai World Corporation (DWC) wholly-owned by Dubai emirate, investing in projects in the restive Niger Delta, Africa’s oil and gas heartland, which accounts for nearly all of Nigeria’s around 2.0 million barrels of crude per day.

South Africa: EDC meeting promotes cooperation between Dubai and Gauteng


The Dubai Export Development Corporation (EDC) met with a delegation from South Africa to explore bilateral trade opportunities between the emirate of Dubai and the Province of Gauteng. The South African delegation was led by Her Excellency Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, the South African Consul General and Mr Blake Mosley-Lefatola, CEO of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (GEDA) and included several other high ranking Gauteng officials.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Better education improves health of mothers and children


A new UNICEF report reveals there is still much to be done to reduce infant and maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Failure to improve care for pregnant women and newborns threatens to undermine progress on all health-related development goals. "Newborn deaths account for up to 40 percent of all under-five deaths around the world," UNICEF Chief of Health Peter Salama told IPS in Johannesburg.

Kenya: Food shortages threaten ARV adherence


Makueni District Hospital in eastern Kenya has recorded a significant drop in the weight of several of its HIV-positive patients in the past three months, which nutritionists ascribe to severe food shortages across much of the country. "We have a large number of patients with a BMI [body mass index, a measure of nutritional status] below the healthy cut-off of 18.5," Fransiscah Yula, a nutritionist at the hospital, told IRIN/PlusNews.

Malawi: Rains expose poor sanitation


Zimbabwe - where cholera has claimed more than 2,700 lives so far according to the Red Cross - is not the only southern African country facing increased disease as rains set in across the region. Malawi is also battling a cholera outbreak which has killed 19 people since the onset of the rainy season, an unusually high death toll. Up to 485 cases of the epidemic have since been registered and treated.

South Africa: Crisis looms on Aids drugs


The government’s AIDS programme is heading for a funding crisis, deputy chairman of the South African National AIDS Council Mark Heywood has warned. Speaking to members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU’s) advisory committee on HIV/AIDS in Parliament yesterday, Heywood said the government had failed to budget in line with the cost estimates laid out in its National Strategic AIDS Plan (NSP). The five-year plan was launched 18 months ago, and put a R45bn price tag on meeting its targets, which include treating four-fifths of those in need by 2011.

Swaziland: Patients fail to adhere to TB treatment


Every five minutes she gives a hacking cough. Ndlaleni Ndzinisa (70) says she has continuously suffered from tuberculosis for the past five years. Because she cannot afford to pay for transport to the nearest hospital, she has repeatedly failed to adhere to her tuberculosis (TB) treatment. Ndzinisa’s doctor, Franklin Ackom, says it is highly unusual that she has not been diagnosed with the difficult-to-treat, multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extremely-drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which are strains that are resistant to treatment by first-line and second-line drugs, including Isoniazid and Rifampicin.

Togo: Moving past HIV


The government estimates that nearly 180,000 people in Togo are HIV-positive as of 2008 – about 3.2 percent of the population. Some 60 percent are women, and almost 13,000 are children under 14. In December 2008, one month after the government made life-saving antiretroviral medication (ARV) free, IRIN met with some people living with HIV in the capital Lomé.

Uganda: Scores dead as meningitis epidemic strikes


At least 35 people have died in a meningitis epidemic that has hit several districts in western and north-western Uganda over the past two weeks, a health ministry official said. "Cumulatively we have recorded 47 cases of meningitis with 13 dead in Hoima District," Paul Kaggwa, a spokesman for the ministry, said. "Another 150 cases have been reported in Arua, with 18 dead, and 14 in Masindi, with four deaths."


Africa: African research collaborations must be fair and equal


Research collaborations with African institutions must be equal, fair and meaningful, says Damtew Teferra. Africa's capacity for research and creating knowledge has always been the most marginalised and least competitive in the world.

Zimbabwe: Teachers vow to remain on strike


Striking Zimbabwe teachers on Thursday vowed to remain on strike until the government pays them salaries foreign currency, a teachers union said. "Our industrial action continues unless we are paid 2,200 US dollars per month,"Takavafira Zhou, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president said at a media briefing.


Global: Global LGBT youth network launched


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer young people from all over the world can sign up to send and receive messages with other activists. Members will be encouraged to share their experiences, ideas and expertise, and to work together to solve problems and run projects. The working languages of the list are English, Spanish and French.

South Africa: ANC elections manifesto disappoints gay community


Some gay rights groups and individuals are disappointed by the ANC’s 2009 Elections Manifesto which they say is mum on issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. According to these groups the manifesto, which the ruling party claims was drafted in consultation with the people of South Africa, considering their input, fails to address issues facing the LGBTI community such as hate crimes and homophobia, despite a submission made by this community at the party’s Polokwane Conference in 2007.

Uganda: Court ruling affirms lgbti rights


Ugandan gay rights activist Victor Mukasa is pleased with Judge Stella Arach’s December 23 ruling which he says affirms the rights of LGBTI people in Uganda. Arach’s ruling, citing constitutional violations of rights to privacy, property and fundamental rights of women, was a result of a case filed by Mukasa and Oyo Yvonne against Ugandan Attorney General after an “illegal” raid at Mukasa’s home four years ago.


West Africa: Hordes of caterpillars threaten Liberia, possible risk to wider region


In what is being described by the United Nations as Liberia’s worst plague in 30 years, hordes of caterpillars are destroying crops and vegetation in northern areas of the country and posing a major threat to the already precarious food security situation in the country and the wider region. The situation in Liberia is a national emergency and is likely to escalate into a regional crisis involving neighbouring Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, according to the Representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia, Winfred Hammond.

Land & land rights

Global: Fuelling exclusion? The biofuels boom and poor people's access to land


The global oil crisis together with the need to look for cleaner sources of energy due to massive climate change impact has boosted the use and production of ‘biofuels’ as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This has been translated in a huge demand for ‘biofuels’ from the rich world – especially the country members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who account for 56% of the planet’s energy consumption – that is being produced in the South, especially Latin America and South Asia.

Tanzania: Slowing down EAC integration over land concerns?


In its objections to proposed land and passport regulations at the latest East Africa Legislative Assembly session, Tanzania reveals a longstanding reluctance to fully commit to an accelerated regional integration in the East African Community (EAC). However, is this really about land? What are the options for Tanzania – in or out?

Food Justice

Africa: Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund makes its first grants


The first six grants have been awarded by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), totalling about $6.5m and covering over five countries, including Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Malawi. The estimated number of rural households expected to benefit from this round directly total 1,240,000.

Africa: Massive hydro scheme for Africa's food, energy security focus of UN Forum


A senior United Nations official today told a meeting of African ministers that harnessing the continent's largely untapped water resources is critical in feeding and providing for its people, as delegates consider a multi-billion dollar, long-term irrigation and hydroelectricity program.

Africa: Reducing food insecurity in East and Southern Africa


There is an increase of food crises and hunger emergencies in Eastern and Southern Africa, caused by a combination of climate change, conflicts and political factors. The complexity of today’s hunger in Africa means there is no simple answer for how to eradicate it. This paper focuses on these two regions and tries to illustrate some of the factors that contribute to food insecurity.

Global: UN votes on right to food


By a vote of 180 in favor to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee approved a resolution on the right to food. The resolution "consider(s) it intolerable" that more than 6 million children still die every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the world's present population.

Media & freedom of expression

Global: Towards an emergency news agency?


The 2005 World Disasters Report stated that “information is a vital form of ait in itself [since] disaster affected people need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter. Information can save lives, livelihoods and resources. ”As we know only too well, information is often one of the first casualties in crises: crippled communications and shattered transportation links present significant obstacles. Communication with beneficiaries is rarely high on the priority lists of many relief responders.

Global: UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize


Inviting member states, regional and international organisations, and professional and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the field of journalism and freedom of expression to nominate candidates for the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. The US$25,000 award honours a journalist or organisation that has made a notable contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom anywhere in the world, especially if this involved risk. The prize is awarded every year on World Press Freedom Day. Deadline: January 31 2009

Nigeria: Journalist escapes attack


Reporters Without Borders has voiced its concern after armed men burst into the apartment block of Janet Mba, editor of the magazine The Scroll in Arepo in Ogun State in south-western Nigeria. She escaped attack because she managed to call the police before they could strike. The worldwide press freedom organisation recorded at least 10 cases of physical assaults and eight cases of threats against journalists in the country during 2008.

Nigeria: Judicial police to probe journalist murder


The investigation into the murder of Paul Abayomi Ogundeji, journalist on the privately-owned daily Thisday, and member of its editorial committee, has been handed to the judicial police, regional authorities in Lagos State said on 20 January. The journalist was shot dead in the Dopemu district of the capital Lagos on 17 August 2008 as he was returning home in his car.

Senegal: Media gets a taste of taser


A French weapons firm has acknowledged for the first time that it has sold stun-guns to Senegal, where they have been reportedly used against journalists covering football matches and political protests. At least twice during 2008 Senegalese reporters complained that they were attacked by police clutching tasers -- electronic devices that can immobilise the person at whom they are aimed.

Sierra Leone: IFJ Condemns recent wave of threats and attacks on journalists


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the recent wave of threats and attacks on journalists in Sierra alone. Three journalists, namely Gibril Gottor of Radio Kollenten in Kambia, Alex James of Citizen Radio in Freetown and Mama Jalloh of the United Nations radio in Freetown have all received threat messages as a result of their work.

Somalia: IFJ welcomes release of journalist


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the release of Somali journalist, Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi, after 146 days in captivity. Photojournalist, Abdifatah Mohamed Elmi, was abducted on August 23, 2008 with two foreign journalists, namely Amanda Lindout of Canada and Nigel Brenan of Australia. Elmi's two drivers, Mohad Isse and Marwali were also abducted.

Zimbabwe: Newspapers licensed to sell in foreign currency


Zimbabwe media organisations have been licensed to sell their newspapers and other products in both local and foreign currency. With effect from 22 January 2009, a copy of The Herald was selling at US$1 or the equivalent in pound sterling, pula or rand. The Zimbabwe dollar price would be determined by the market rate of the day. On the same day, the weekly privately owned Financial Gazette also started selling its 22-28 January edition at US$2 a copy.

News from the diaspora

Brazil: The high price of clean, cheap ethanol


Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with the fuel of the future - cheap ethanol derived from sugarcane. It is considered an effective antidote to climate change, but hundreds of thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.

Conflict & emergencies

DRC: Nkunda arrested


Congolese Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has been arrested in Rwandan territory after he tried to resist a joint Rwandan-Congolese military operation in eastern Congo, the operation's joint command said on Friday. The arrest of Nkunda, who has led a Tutsi rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 2004, occurred during a joint Congolese-Rwandan military operation launched this week to hunt Rwandan Hutu rebels operating in Congo.

DRC: UN assessing impact of rebel violence on Congolese civilians


The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been terrorizing the Haut Uélé area of Orientale province in north-east DRC in recent months. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), along with partner agencies, visited affected areas from 16-17 January to help them set up an appropriate humanitarian response. In Faradje, the team assessed the damage to property and spoke to those remaining in the town following the deadly LRA attacks, noting the need for protection and psychosocial assistance for civilians.

Kenya: National food emergency grips


As Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announces a national emergency and declares that 10 million people don’t have enough food to eat, results of an International Rescue Committee survey show that an alarming 22% of children under five are malnourished in one part of the country worst affected by the food crisis. The IRC’s survey in Kakuma division, Turkana north, found that almost 40% of local people were surviving on just one meal a day. Malnutrition rates among children under the age of five were 22% — that’s much higher than the 15% rate which the World Health Organization uses to determine an emergency situation.

Sudan: African states bolster Darfur peacekeeping force


African states will contribute additional troops to the United Nations, African Union Hybrid force in Darfur (UNAMID) in the coming months, with an advance party expected from Tanzania, the force said Wednesday. Some African states, among them Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria are expected to deploy hundreds more troops within the next two months as part of the Mission's efforts to speed up deployment in Darfur to ensure better safety and protection of local civilians, UNAMID said.

Sudan: UN, AU to ramp up deployment of peacekeepers in troubled Darfur


Hundreds more troops will arrive in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region within the next two months in an effort to boost protection of civilians, the African Union-United Nations mission there, known as UNAMID, has said. Additional troops are expected to arrive by March from Egypt, South Africa, Senegal and Bangladesh, and later this year, further troops will arrive from Nepal, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia, UNAMID said.

Internet & technology

Africa: Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA) Awards


Recognising the work of African governments in the effective use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for public services delivery. Initiated by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Canada Fund for Africa, the award is an effort to create greater awareness on the role of ICTs in public services and the development process within the framework of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). Deadline: January 31 2009

Africa: The contribution of ICT to development and poverty reduction


This report looks at the ways in which ICTs can contribute to development and poverty reduction. It explicitly reviews and builds upon research conducted by the FAO in 2001, which sought to document the uptake and impact of ICTs in small communities. This research asked whether these communities had been able to take ownership of, and appropriate ICTs for their own benefit.

Africa: What can Africa learn from India’s IT miracle?


The South-South Experience Exchange Facility is a new multi donor trust fund that promotes the idea that the development successes in one country can be replicated in another. The trust fund has identified other areas suited for this financing including managing commodity windfalls; developing efficient tax systems; adapting to new technologies; creating social safety nets that benefit the poor; and trade integration and investment climate.

Ethiopia: The elephant in the room slows down ICT development


The Ethiopian Government was one of the first to embrace the use of ICT as a way to change Government and improve the efficiency of the economy. The country has a burgeoning ICT sector but it is being held back by the impact of Government policy. However laudable the Government’s intentions, there is an overwhelming mismatch between its rhetoric and the results. Our correspondent takes a look at the elephant in the room that isn’t being dealt with.

Global: Tech awards


Awarding innovators from around the world who use technology to benefit humanity. Individuals, for-profit companies, and not-for-profit organisations are eligible to apply. The purpose of the Tech Awards programme is to inspire future scientists, technologists, and dreamers to harness the power and "promise of technology to solve the challenges that confront us at the dawn of the 21st Century". Deadline: March 27 2009

Libya: Web access leap


Libya's only internet service provider is launching its first commercial wireless network which it says is one of the most advanced in the world. The state-owned firm said only a handful of countries have rolled out the advanced internet connection known as WiMax on such a wide scale. Libya Telecom and Technology aims to start with WiMax coverage, including a mobile feature, in 18 cities.

Nigeria: Chinese company to replace failed satellite


The Chinese Great Wall Industry Corporation is to replace Nigeria's first-ever communications satellite, which failed in orbit 10 Nov. 2008, according to local media reports. The agreement to replace the satellite, tagged 'NigComSat-1', was signed by the Chinese firm and the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited 12 Dec. 2008.

South Africa: Tata-led consortium to build optical fibre network


The Tata-led Neotel consortium and mobile phone giant MTN South Africa have signed an agreement to jointly build a 2 billion rand ($202 million) 5,000-km optical fibre network that will connect all major centres across this country.

eNewsletters & mailing lists


Newsletter for the African Agroecological Alternatives to the Green Revolution


AAAGRrrr! is an e-newsletter for information on African agroecological alternatives for food sovereignty: the right of all people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. This newsletter provides updated information on AGRA- The Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa, a $500 million project to re-introduce the decades-old Green Revolution into African food systems. This new Green Revolution is being led by seed and fertilizer companies, is targeting traditional African food crops, and plans to prepare African agriculture for the widespread introduction of genetically modified seeds.

Pambazuka News will feature extracts relevant for Africa from this newsletter in our new section Food Justice.

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: SLUM-TV Video Competition


Soliciting 3-minute videos on the subject of how you would prepare for a stay in one of the largest African slums, Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya, if given the prize of a visit. The award is a 10-day stay, "all inclusive", in Mathare, where this Slum-TV project is based. Interested participants need to respond to a video available online (please see the full posting for details). Responses need to be in a video format. Deadline: February 21 2009

Global: Change the game for women in sport - Ashoka Changemakers


Join Ashoka's Changemakers competition "GameChangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport," a search to identify sport innovations that challenge the barriers girls and women face around the world. Submit your entry by February 11, 2009 at to take advantage of the funding opportunities and global exposure, while contributing to the next big change!

Global: Excellence in Media Award for Global Health


Awarding a journalist (print, electronic, and/or visual) who has in the prior year most effectively captured the essence of a major issue in global health and conveyed it to a broad audience. The Global Health Council recognises the vital role played by the media in informing the public, as well as decision-makers, and seeks through this award to highlight the important contributions to understanding and action made by the winner of the award.
Deadline: January 30 2009

Global: Grants for Human Rights and International Justice


Seeking organisations to expand and strengthen the network of human rights organisations in Nigeria, Mexico, and Russia that provide the basic infrastructure for a national human rights culture based on the rule of law. Grants are awarded only to organisations that define clear objectives for their work and measures of progress toward those objectives. The foundation provides multi-year support. Deadline: Rolling deadline.

Kenya: Digitizing Kenya - Wajibu: Volume 24, Issue I

Call for submissions


WAJIBU: a journal of social and ethical concern, is a Kenyan journal that has been published in Kenya for the past 22 years and has subscribers not only in Kenya but in various other countries in Africa and abroad. We invite submissions on all aspects of how digital technology is shaping public discourse, culture, politics and economy in Kenya.

Southern Africa: Southern African Journalists' Bursary


Offering a bursary to as many as 6 young Southern African and as many as 5 young German journalists. The Southern African-German Journalists' Programme is an effort to shape an integrated understanding of another country and region and to foster relations between Africa and Germany. Deadline: January 31 2009

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Africa: CODESRIA Small grants programme for thesis writing 2009


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce the seventeenth competition under its Small Grants Programme for Thesis Writing. The grants are designed to contribute to the development of the social sciences in Africa, and the continuous renewal and strengthening of research capacities in African universities through the funding of primary research conducted by post-graduate students and professionals.

Egypt: Advanced International Refugee Law

AUC 2009 Summer short courses


The course will cover various advanced topics in international refugee law. Topics to be covered include ethical and professional obligations while representing clients undergoing refugee status determination; the "nexus" requirement of the refugee definition; the expanded grounds for protection under the OAU Convention and UNHCR's mandate; the possibility of socio-economic "persecution"; the distinction between prosecution and "persecution"; the non-refoulement and expulsion provisions of the Convention; refugee rights guaranteed by the Convention; and, the interaction between the Convention and domestic and international human rights protections.

Egypt: International law on migrant and refugee women and children

AUC 2009 Summer short courses


This course aims at giving the students a thorough overview and understanding of international law instruments pertaining to migration movements and to migrant and refugee women and children in particular. The course will have a human rights focus. The course will be structured around an examination of two groups and their rights; women and children. No single international treaty governs migration and migrants’ rights, but that does not mean that there is no “international migration law”.

Egypt: Meeting the Psychosocial Needs of Refugees

AUC 2009 Summer short courses


In this course, participants will increase their understanding of the psychosocial and mental health issues of refugees and learn how to implement effective interventions. Topics will include: Review of international research about the psychosocial and mental health consequences of war and violence; Implications for working with various cultures and contexts; Skills for assessment of need; Culturally sensitive interviewing skills; Methods for working with translators; Introduction to individual, family, group and community interventions; Overview of methods for monitoring and evaluating the impact of intervention; and Specific mechanisms workers and organizations can use to minimize staff burnout and maximize organizational effectiveness.

South Africa: Issue 6: Gender, Diversity, Elections and the Media

Call for submissions


The sixth edition of the Gender and Media Diversity Journal will focus on the topic of “Gender, Diversity, Elections and the Media.” This topic is particularly relevant given the large number of elections happening in the SADC region in the next few years, the August 2008 signing of the SADC Gender Protocol (which includes commitments from leaders to 50% women in decision-making), and Gender Links’ ongoing work with media and politicians around gender and elections. Submission of abstract: 2 February
Deadline for submission of commissioned articles: 2 March
Deadline for revisions: 20 March

Uganda:Invitation to the Inaugural Beyond Juba distinguished lecture series


We are writing to invite you to join us in the upcoming inaugural Beyond Juba Distinguished Lecture Series, which will be held on Wednesday, 28 January, 2009 from 2:30pm to 5:00pm at the Faculty of Law Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala.

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