Pambazuka News 429: Zuma on the verge of victory
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Announcements, 4. Comment & analysis, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. African Writers’ Corner, 8. Blogging Africa, 9. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Social movements, 15. Elections & governance, 16. Corruption, 17. Development, 18. Health & HIV/AIDS, 19. Education, 20. LGBTI, 21. Environment, 22. Food Justice, 23. Media & freedom of expression, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops
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Highlights from this issue
- William Gumede on the SA election results
- Lesbians under attack in Kenya
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS
- Jacques Delpechin on proposals for eliminating DRC
- How transparent tax can turn Africa's mineral wealth into development
- AFRICOM - fuelling war, or making peace?
- Henning Melber on Nujoma at 80
- On women and liberation in Zimbabwe
- SA elections - failure of the morality ticket
- Squabbles continue around Mgingo island
- Maina Kiai and Paul Muite on challenging the Kikuyu oligarchy
- Questions the IMF must answer
- UN Special Rapporteur on realising the right to food
- Award nomination for Kenyan human-rights activist
- America must help Africa reform the IMF
- Tajudeen on diplomacy and the Migingo dispute
AFRICAN WRITERS’ CORNER
- Storyteller Sarudzayi Barnes on how to get published
- Pirates in Somalia and gay outings in Uganda
- China changes its approach amidst global economic crisisZIMBABWE UPDATE: Engaging the inclusive government
WOMEN & GENDER: Call for men and boys’ inclusion in gender policy
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Darfur rebels sentenced to death
HUMAN RIGHTS: DRC child soldiers to be released
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: 35 drown in Gulf of Aden tragedy
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Africa, don’t sign away resources
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Arrests over Guinea-Bissau ‘coup plot’
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: South Africa faces treatment-funding shortfall
CORRUPTION: FBI to help probe murder of anti-graft czar
DEVELOPMENT: IMF updates World Economic Outlook for 2009
EDUCATION: Combating low literacy levels in West Africa
LGBTI: Kenya’s gays demand protection
ENVIRONMENT: World’s major rivers drying up
FOOD JUSTICE: Food prices remain high in developing countries
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Gambia disrupt radio show
INTERNET& TECHNOLOGY: Cameroon opens telemedicine centre
PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs
*Pambazuka News now has a Del.icio.us page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit http://del.icio.us/pambazuka_news
Assault on lesbians in Nairobi
Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya in solidarity with Minority Women In Action are profoundly concerned about the increasing violence, discrimination and violation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersexes and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals' rights in Kenya. In particular we vehemently condemn the unjust and unconstitutional acts occasioned against Ms Faith Onyimbo on the early morning of Saturday 18 April 2009 at Florida 1000 on Nairobi's Koinange Street.
Faith was leaving Madd House on the morning of 19 April with a friend (who will remain anonymous). As they were walking through the exit, a woman shouted out behind them 'ma lesbians'. Faith didn’t recognise the woman and they got into a verbal confrontation, during which the woman hit her with her bag and went off to go back upstairs. Faith and her friend followed the woman, later identified to them as Constance Sirikwa Rukia, and saw her being hidden in the changing rooms by the bouncers. Faith went to ask the bouncers why they were hiding the woman when they should be kicking her out for disturbing them. The bouncers held each of Faith’s hands and attempted to throw her out. Upon seeing that she was being held by the bouncers, the woman then hit Faith on the head with a bottle that she’d been holding and Faith fell down, bleeding heavily.
The bouncers then attempted to allow the woman to escape in a taxi but were unable to get away due to the interventions of patrons of the establishment and some taxi drivers. Faith was driven to the central police station with Constance and the two bouncers, with her friend following them behind. She remembers the woman saying in the taxi, 'You’re still a fucking lesbian and there’s nowhere you’ll take me.'
Upon arrival at the police station, the woman was taken inside and her freind was told to rush Faith to hospital as she was still bleeding heavily. They left the two bouncers talking with police officers. Faith was admitted to Nairobi hospital and had surgery yesterday morning to get stitches on her forehead.
As a matter of urgency, we demand that the Kenyan government, its agencies and all civil society and human rights defenders take cognizance of the social exclusion, intimidation, violation and abuse of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersexes and Queer (LGBTIQ) community’s human rights.
We demand that:
- The Kenyan police investigate, arrest and take due process to litigate on the allegations brought forward from the 18 April incident to ensure that justice is done and all the perpetrators are held to account for their actions.
- The judicial system takes due procedure in providing legal and social redress mechanisms for all victims of violence with strict emphasis on all forms of gender-based violence, while taking into account sexual orientation and gender identity.
- The government of Kenya ensures that all Kenyan citizens, with emphasis on sexual minorities, are protected from subjective attacks and hate crimes, by adhering to national, regional and international standards around human rights, as depicted in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Yogyakarta principles.
- The government of Kenya, as part of its responsibility, takes into serious account the increasing threats and attacks on the LGBTIQ community and pledges to promote and protect all human rights with strict measures to mitigate the increasing risk faced by sexual minorities.
- The government of Kenya takes the initiative to toughen the penalties on sexual violence and abuse to include the protection of citizens from discrimination and violation of LGBTIQ human rights.
Furthermore, we petition civil society and all human rights defenders and their networks to add their voices in condemning these inhumane acts of subjection to humiliation and violence.
For further information, please contact Alix Mukonambi and Pouline Kimani.
- Pouline Kimani
- Minority women in action (MWA)
- The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Zuma on the verge of victory
Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) will win the country’s poll today after successfully turning this election into a face-off with well-off blacks and whites on the one side and the black poor majority on the other, rather than what should it have been: a referendum on the government’s record in power.
With exceptions, after 15 years in power, little has changed for most black South Africans, who still living in appalling poverty, joblessness and homelessness. Yet Zuma will be voted in by most poor black South Africans, for whom little has changed since the country first became democratic in 1994. During this campaign, Zuma has successfully portrayed himself as ‘poor’ himself and made his personal marginalisation by the administration of former President Thabo Mbeki – of which he was deputy president and a close ally until he was sacked for alleged corruption in 2005 – at one with the marginalisation of the poor and their issues.
Zuma ousted Mbeki as party leader in 2007 following a fierce leadership struggle over control for power, rather than substantial differences over policy or ideology. Zuma has, in the perception of many poorer black South Africans, in fact managed to successfully dissociate himself from the failures of the ANC government, blaming them solely on Mbeki. Throughout this election campaign, he has portrayed his camp, now in charge of the ANC, as an almost entirely different party. Zuma's strategists have successfully portrayed him and the leadership of this now dominant ANC faction as ostensibly more ‘pro-poor’ and ‘democratic’ and less ‘corrupt’, and as a group which will ultimately govern far more effectively once in government. Furthermore, those at the helm of Zuma’s campaign have portrayed themselves as the victors of an epic battle against the ‘corrupt’, pro-business and black middle-class and ‘pro-white’ wing of the ANC, as represented by Mbeki. In fact, Zuma has successfully tapped into a dramatic change in the mood of South Africa’s poor black majority living in despair in sprawling shantytowns across the country. This group, forgotten by the elite, has now run out of patience, and is now demanding economic dividends of South Africa's democracy. Some poorer South Africans are blaming democracy itself for their marginalisation, rather than government incompetence, leadership's indifference and infighting within the ANC for their problems.
In contrast, those empowered by the new democracy have been the few connected to the ANC leadership and the black and white middle-classes. This reality has been at the heart of spontaneous violent protests by poorer black communities against the government's failure over the past few years. To many poorer black South Africans, Zuma has successfully portrayed the 16 formidable corruption charges against him as ‘manufactured’ by Mbeki and rich blacks and whites opposed to the success of a poor ‘peasant’ from Inkandla, the rural hamlet in KwaZulu Natal where he was born and where he has now built a luxurious mansion. Never mind the fact that he had been a close ally of Mbeki until he was fired in 2005, and a leading member of the black elite, who have become rich because of their ‘connectivity’ to the ANC.
As president, Mbeki – with Zuma's acquiescence prior to the two of them falling out in 2005 – routinely used democratic institutions and agencies to trip up opponents. The National Prosecuting Authority dropped corruption charges against Zuma early this month, claiming a political conspiracy between leading prosecutors in the timing of the charges, but emphasising that the case against him remained solid. Notwithstanding the motives for laying the charges, a previous court ruling said that a prosecution for wrongdoing remains valid as long as there are grounds for it. In his election campaign Zuma has also successfully portrayed the abuse of democratic institutions by the Mbeki administration – of which he was a part until 2005 – as intended to trip up opponents, arguing that these institutions' attempts to derail him, ‘a poor peasant’ and the ‘champion’ of the poor, from becoming president represent a broader symbol of the marginalisation of the poor.
As a ‘champion’ of the poor, Zuma spends more than a million rand a month on his personal security. Of course, Zuma’s rise to power as leader of the ANC as the first person not to come from a middle-class background is an inspiration in itself. Zuma’s anti-constitutional statements, such as his comments that he can see by the way a woman sits that she is looking for sex, that a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV/Aids-infected person can cure one from getting infected, and that criminals enjoy far ‘too much’ in the way of human rights, have been brushed away.
In the campaign to drop the corruption charges against Zuma, the ANC leadership has closed down the crack anti-crime unit that brought the charges without consulting parliament, which should have decided the issue. The leadership has also daily attacked critical sections of the media and judges who ruled against Zuma, saying last week for example that South Africa's highest court, the Constitutional Court, is ‘not God’. His supporters have launched a drive to purge all Zuma critics in the ANC, government and state-owned companies. Critics are labelled as ‘coping’ in reference to being with COPE (the Congress of the People) – even if they are not – formed by ANC members opposed to Zuma’s election as ANC leader, before being purged. Zuma and some of his supporters have also subtly played the ethnic card, encouraging some fellow Zulu speakers to support him merely because of the fact that he is a fellow Zulu speaker, rather than on his record. During the Mbeki administration, partisan intellectuals denounced critics of the former president as they tried to ingrain themselves with him. Alarmingly, the same his now happening under Zuma, with some of the country’s black and white intellectuals, many of whom were marginalised by Mbeki for being critical of his undermining democracy, uncritically rallying to Zuma’s side.
In this campaign Zuma has raised expectations among the poor to a level of fever pitch. There have been a lot of promises of new policies and institutions, but little detail of the contents of these, let alone a timetable for when promises will be delivered or the costing of programmes. The breakaway from the ANC last year to form COPE has opened up the political space dominated by the ANC since 1994. Yet COPE, like all the other parties, has not focused on the issues of the black poor whether in the townships, rural areas or shantytowns, the group whose support is crucial to winning elections. They have been unable to undermine Zuma and the ANC’s message that they are part of a rich black and white cabal opposed to the black poor.
COPE and the current main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), have lambasted Zuma’s compromised morals and attacks on democratic institutions, criticism which may resonate with the black and white middle-classes but which is falling on stony ground among those living in shacks and without jobs or food. The poor have clung desperately to Zuma’s promises of free healthcare, education and social grants, which are of course desperately needed but about which the president-in-waiting has given no details. Not even the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Zuma’s ally, has pledged its support to him to deliver targets and clear timeframes. South Africa is about to face the full brunt of the global financial crisis, with rising job-losses across the economy. Zuma will take over an economy in decline after almost a decade-long boom with economic growth averaging 5 per cent over the past five years.
Yet neither the ANC nor opposition parties have proposed any remedy with timeframes on how to tackle the country's social problems. Right now the glue holding the different groups within the ANC family together is not a consensus over policy, the direction of the country or any particular ideology but rather simply the desire to get Zuma elected president. On the way to capturing the presidency of South Africa, Zuma has amassed a disparate coalition of interests by promising each group what it wants to hear through often diametrically opposed promises. The reality is that some groups promised heaven and earth are going to lose out. Disappointed expectations and infighting within the Zuma coalition over how to address South Africa’s urgent problems under a Zuma presidency may trigger another fracture of the ANC.
Zuma is unlikely to have the same honeymoon period that previous ANC governments enjoyed. Likewise, if Zuma does not deliver, the poor will turn against him in the same way that Mbeki was ousted. In scenes reminiscent of 1980s apartheid South Africa when black communities in the townships protested over government neglect, in 2005 the residents of a poor black township called Khutsong burnt down government buildings and physically attacked local ANC politicians whom they accused of failing them. There are going to be Khutsongs all over South Africa if Zuma does not deliver immediately. How Zuma will respond to such pressure to deliver in an economic downturn will determine the future of South Africa. Mbeki did not mind using state institutions to crush such dissent. Zuma’s supporters hope and pray he won’t do the same or worse.
Zuma’s initial actions are not encouraging. Not yet formally in power, Zuma has copied many of the bad things of the Mbeki era he had previously distanced himself from. But Zuma can yet be successful and prove his detractors wrong if he uses his power to harness the talents of all South Africans – from all races, whether critical of him or not – rather than rewarding incompetent cronies, dodgy financial backers or those from the same ethnic group. His will be a challenge to not simply talk glibly about defending the country’s constitution, democratic institutions and values, but to actually do so in his everyday behaviour. As Zuma assumes the presidency, he will do well to take the warning of former ANC stalwart Mac Maharaj to heart: 'It is actions that are going to inspire confidence.'
* William Gumede is author of the bestselling Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Mohochi nominated for human rights award
Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) welcomes the nomination of Sam Mohochi, executive director of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) for the prestigious Front Line Award 2009.
KPTJ is a coalition of Kenyan civil society organisations and individuals who came together in response to the political crisis Kenya was thrown into following the disputed presidential results of the 2007 elections. Working under sometimes difficult circumstances, members of KPTJ assisted in the search for middle ground positions to establish what had happened with the elections as a basis for ending to the violence and, thereafter, made significant contributions to support and inform the National Dialogue and Reconciliation process. Members of KPTJ also played a leading role in providing support to various processes agreed on by the National Dialogue and Reconciliation process, such as the Independent Review Commission (IREC) and the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence (CIPEV).
The IMLU, for which Mohochi works, has been an important member of KPTJ and Mohochi’s own contribution to the work of KPTJ at the time was outstanding. Mohochi took personal risks in standing up for what KPTJ believed to be right and in the best interests of Kenya. In doing so, he inspired others involved in similar work. The period following the end of the political crisis still presents personal peril for human rights defenders, including the assassinations of those involved in documentation of extrajudicial executions. Despite this, Mohochi has continued to defend human rights defenders and advance human rights. IMLU’s work in Mount Elgon, documenting widespread torture and extrajudicial executions as well as its documentation of forensic evidence from victims of the post-elections violence were invaluable in helping KPTJ develop its analysis and advance clear positions as to the way forward.
As colleagues of Mohochi, who know him well and have had the opportunity of working closely with him during a difficult period in Kenya’s history, we express our unreserved pleasure in and support for the decision to nominate him for the award. We commend Mohochi’s courage and humility, two qualities that have made him effective in what he does.
Please also find attached responses to the news of his nomination for the award from the KPTJ listserve, which also demonstrate the esteem in which he is held by his peers.
MEMBER ORGANISATIONS OF KENYANS FOR PEACE, TRUTH AND JUSTICE
KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and East African legal, human rights, and governance organizations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, convened in the immediate aftermath of 2007's presidential election debacle.
Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG)
Bunge la Mwananchi
Centre for the Development of Marginalised Communities (CEDMAC)
Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION)
Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD)
Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for Women (CREAW)
Coalition on Violence Against Women
The Cradle-the Childrens Foundation
Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)
East African Law Society (EALS)
Foster National Cohesion (FONACON)
Gay And Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
Hema la Katiba
Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU)
Institute for Education in Democracy (IED)
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya)
International Centre for Policy and Conflict
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
Kenya Leadership Institute (KLI)
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)
Kituo cha Sheria
Muslim Human Rights Forum
The National Civil Society Congress
National Convention Executive Council (NCEC)
Release Political Prisoners Trust
Society for International Development (SID)
The 4 Cs
Urgent Action Fund (UAF)-Africa
Our congratulations to Sam!
His exemplary courage, commitment and focus are at last coming to someone's notice. I am reminded of that time early last year when anxious to save the life of colleague Gacheke Gachihi, one of his juniors, he drove into the thick of last year's violence at Huruma and proceeded to single handedly load Gacheke's belongings onto the IMLU pick-up amidst baying for their blood by the mob. A great man taking great personal risks. Hongera!
Al-Amin Kimathi, Executive coordinator/chair, Muslim Human Rights Forum Al-Amin Kimathi
This is great news as it were. Sam is well deserved of this long overdue nomination!
Paddy Onyango, The 4Cs Kenya
This is great! Muhochi deserves the award.
Kawive Wambua, Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO)
HONGERA. It is well deserved. Though these ought not to be the awards we should be looking forward to. I hope the award serves as a notice to the murderous and recalcitrant regime that the world is watching!
Haron Ndubi, executive director, Haki Focus
Bunge La Mwanainchi members, Human Rights Defenders around the country we network with, are sincerely grateful that the work of IMLU is now being recognized, we have been concerned with the IMLU workers who risk every time we at Bunge are being harassed / attacked be it by the grand corruption government or the illegal colonial police system. Sam Muhochi this is just a beginning we hope God will always stand by you people, those who defend others are rightful children’s of God.
Patrick Kamotho Githinji, Bunge La Mwanainchi
Congratulations - well deserved.
Mwalimu Mati, CEO, Mars Group Kenya.
...that's great...and well deserved! Hope you get it Sam!
L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC)
I have never met Sam but I have seen his works and that of IMLU through personal experience. I have been arrested twice protesting against corruption and other injustices and in both cases; IMLU has been very swift to provide legal and medical support in case of police brutality. Congrats IMLU and Sam for the great works. This kind of support always makes Human Rights defenders stronger and more encouraged to fight for justice.
Fwamba Nc Fwamba
From IMLU and as Staff, we envelope our congratulation and support to Sam and Workers of IMLU for their consistent in documenting human rights violations and defending the human rights defenders even with short coming that come with human rights work challenges. Aluta continua.
Gacheke Gachihi, IMLU
IMLU and Sam – Kenyans who know this award wish to be associated with your work in shielding human rights defenders and this award is not an end but a booster to human rights advocacy. The world human rights movements are with us. IMLU and Sam I hope you will be in the list of globally recognized human rights defenders – well done.
Fatuma Ibrahim, commissioner, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
Hats off to Sam and IMLU!! You‘ve done us proud, not just through the award but also through the work IMLU does. You have been there for human rights defenders when many would rather run and it’s great that this has been recognized internationally.
Njeri Kabeberi, executive director, Centre for Multiparty Democracy
Sam has been a pillar of the human rights movement and is an excellent choice for the award.
George Kegoro, executive director, The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ- Kenya
Congratulations. Mohochi deserves the award.
Erasing Congo at the stroke of a pen
This has been written in response to There is no Congo, written by Jeffrey Herbst (provost of University in Ohio) and Greg Mills (director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation). 
With a stroke of the pen, two academics, Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst (MH) have offered their solution to the problems affecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Just pretend that it does not exist. In the process they offer us a short cut version of what they describe as lying at the origins of its troubles, but they go further than the 1885 Berlin Conference did. Their exercise is the crowning touch of a long history of predation they claim to be denouncing. In the end one should understand their solution to serve more the interests of those they associate with than the average Congolese person. MH illustrate how the history of the victors gets to be written. But, one does have to ask, which kind of victory is this, which seeks to maim, torture or kill every victim while training – consciously and/or unconsciously – every one to become a vulture?
PREDATION OR SEARCH FOR SECURITY?
As one reads the essay, one is not sure what is worse: Their contempt for an area which is home for more than 60 million people, or their way of shortcutting history to serve their objective. Their objective is clearly in line with the earlier piece written by Herman Cohen. In both cases, history mattered little except for twisting it so as to serve their central motive: Change the borders of the DRC, split it among its surrounding countries and in the process promote market predatory economics as the solution to everything. In both cases, the central idea is to promote the interests of Rwanda, which has been anointed as the best manager/protector of global corporate mining/predatory ventures in Central Africa.
When speaking of Rwanda’s interests, they identify them under the label of security and not predation, but given the genocide, security could be misunderstood as the security of the victims of genocide. To be sure it is that, but also much more: Securitise, eternalise profits. The term predation is generally used for the bad guys, i.e. the Congolese themselves and their external allies who remain unnamed (but who have been named in at least two UN reports). It is clear that the Rwandans and the country’s ruling clique have become the chosen people of those who, since the Berlin Conference, continue to determine the conditions under which Africa and Africans must exist or not exist. Doing so with the help of Africans seems to have become the best way to soften the full impact of predation.
PREPARING THE GROUND FOR A FINAL SOLUTION ON THE DRC?
The authors would of course claim that all they are offering is a conceptual/theoretical framework for looking at the DRC, one which will provide the ground for their solution, a final one. In Herman Cohen’s case, this idea meant focusing on forgetting the long history that has brought the DRC into this quasi non-existing state. Their solution stems from the same kind of mindset which led to the Berlin Conference in 1885, but they seem unable to see the similarity. As often occurs with processes of conquest, they would like to operate on a tabula rasa, one that, one could pretend, is starting from zero, as if history has never meant anything. This solution is going much further than the previous ones: Negate the history of the Congolese people, negate their existence, wipe them off the map. In one bold stroke, pretend that the Congolese never existed. In short, it could also be looked at as a suggestion for going back to the drawing board favored by the Nazis and which led to the Second World War.
MH’s essay is the product of a typical mindset, one which draws its inspiration from European–US based perception that their interventionism in African and world affairs has always been for the good of everybody. At least that is the pretension. But, just as typically, the piece is one that is illustrative of the direction in which the above mindset has been heading: Get rid of segments of humanity which they view as the source of dysfunctionality. That is what they mean when they suggest that the way to think forward about the DRC is through the lenses of ‘order and development’. Rwanda and its allies will be called upon to intervene in a process that will bring security on the one hand, and order and development on the other. The Congolese will be expected to lie down, and submit. Failing to do so will bring down the wrath of the militarised wing of this theoretical proposal. This is a variation of what the Western allies of Israel have been pushing in Palestine/Gaza.
As the so-called financial crisis unfolds, there will be increasing temptations among the major powers to push for solutions that would remove or discount those people considered dispensable. The process of determining who those people are has been under way for quite a while. Names and labels will change, but the objective will not: Ignore the voices of those who see themselves as part of humanity, but who refuse to be treated as if they are not part of it. Ignore the voices of those who question the definition of the current crisis as a financial one. This so-called financial crisis is much more than that, even though its appearance seems to tell otherwise. Intense focus on the financial side of the equation prevents everyone from looking at other aspects, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, automatically gives a free hand to those who have appointed themselves as the only ones who know, i.e. the very ones who are eager to make sure that we do not look at their responsibility in the building, and, unfolding of, the crisis itself.
As long as the predatory system could feed on the DRC as it is, no one called for its disappearance, even if the very process itself was eating away at the core of its substance, its people. MH are so fixated on the negation of the Congolese people and their history that they seem to be unaware of the consequences of their call for getting rid of an entity which, according to them, has become too costly. But again, the entity is much more than its name – the nation-state. That there is no state in the common sense of the word in the Congo has been known for a long time. How everything was done to make the DRC what it is today has a history which the authors chose to ignore and only recount parts of it. At the same time, they are not interested in showing how predation worked from slavery (not mentioned) through the Leopoldian, colonial and neo-colonial regimes. That is the way predation priests like to recount history – selectively. It is not unlike the story of Haiti: The objective is to make the victims responsible for their own situation, while at the same time extracting from them (or their land) what was thought to be due. In the case of Haiti, enslaved Africans did something which should be celebrated by humanity as the birth of a new era. Instead, they were forced to pay compensation for what the slave masters and the plantation owners ‘lost’. How France got away with compensation is still beyond comprehension, but it has been evaluated at €20 billion.
But, as seen through the passing of a law calling slavery a crime against humanity (Loi Taubira, May 2001), some within the (French) financial and political establishment in the 21st century, seem to have begun to understand that a massive criminal wrong had been committed on Africans, for centuries. However, given what was done to President Aristide in 2004, it is equally clear that the same establishment is not willing to face the full consequences called for by the passing of the law. At the time of his ousting, President Aristide had been calling for restitution (of the above €20 billion),which is not the same thing as reparations. France’s participation in the ousting of Aristide (along with the support of Canada and the US, among others) sought to make sure that it regained the moral high ground without having to pay for it. And at the same time it made sure that Haiti pass through the IMF and the World Bank solutions for its reconstruction, i.e. let the institutions in charge of maintaining predatory rules get Haiti back on track. This would ensure that Haiti continued begging to the West and retained its label of ‘the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere’, while, at the same time, the same West (and their Haitian elite allies) shall continue to demonstrate its humanitarian side through charity, as they understood it.
NEGATIONISM IS NOT JUST ABOUT DENYING THE HOLOCAUST
When the history of the Holocaust is denied as it is, unfortunately and regularly, by the negationists, uproar and outrage follow, as they should. But when the history of Africa and Africans is recounted while ignoring huge chunks of it, it seems to bother no one, including the political leadership in Africa where, one would think, the uproar might be the loudest. Why? Here, one could only raise questions. Some of them follow.
Could it be that, for so long, Africans having counted for nothing, in the eyes of the leaders of the world (used to be called the Free World) that they (the Africans) have come to believe that they do not count? And that the only way they think they will count is through a behaviour that is approved by those who decide who counts and who does not. Since the day of the overthrow of slavery in Haiti, the beneficiaries of the most predatory system ever invented by humanity have ensured that only they and those committed to maintaining this system will benefit from it. Long before the Mobutus of yesterday, there were Mobutus who had been more than willing to sell their own relatives in order to become wealthy and powerful in the eyes of those who, back then, were treating Africans as though they did not exist as human beings. Given this kind of precedent and given that in some legal systems slaves came to be known as three-fifths of humans, it looks as if MH are offering to treat Congolese as less than three-fifths.
The authors might consider this an unfair assumption. Yet the unstated logic of their argument can only lead any Congolese toward one conclusion. One has to presume that, from where they stand, they have completely assimilated the rules put in place on how to decide who counts and who does not. Whether they are aware of it or not, MH are refining the rationalisation for increased predation on those who have endured it the most.
One of the authors, Greg Mills, works in South Africa. It is more than 10 years since the end of apartheid, and yet, in that land, one can see the ANC (African National Congress) police doing to South Africans, in particular to the shackdwellers (especially in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg), exactly the same thing that was done to non-whites during the apartheid days. One would think that the entire power structure of South Africa would be outraged by this kind of treatment. No. So the predatory mindset is deeply imbedded, so deeply that to react against it is perceived as an anomaly. Yet, one has to ask, shouldn’t it be the normal thing to do, to rise up against the predatory mindset wherever and whenever it manifests itself?
Is it not the role of any part of humanity to protect all of its members without distinction? Didn’t the Second World War break out because someone dreamed of a final solution against people he considered responsible for all of the problems confronted by another group of people? When the DRC is wiped out, which one will be next? Somalia? Darfur? Madagascar? Sudan? The Niger Delta people? The San in Southern Africa? Chad? Central African Republic? The poorest of the poor in all of the African countries? Clearly the authors will balk and claim that this a complete misreading of their article. I would submit, however, that if MH were to re-read their own piece from the Congolese stand, they might even conclude that this response is mild in the extreme.
A long time ago, Cheikh Anta Diop, the late Senegalese archaeologist/historian/philosopher/linguist/nuclear physicist did argue for the elimination of colonial borders, but for him the argument was from the perspective of uniting against the predators, not for the purpose of carrying out their wishes. In the DRC, despite the wars, scholars have noted that the general sentiment within the population is for keeping the country united. In the name of which kind of democracy would MH argue against the desires of the majority of Congolese people? Or could it be that as Fukuyama did for history, our writers have reached the point of finding democracy too cumbersome and would like to declare it obsolete?
DRC AND THE MULTIPLE WAYS IN WHICH THE VICTORS RE-WRITE HISTORY
Victors often run into difficulties with their victories. In the case of the DRC, doing everything in order to prevent Patrice Lumumba from actually governing at the time of Independence (30 June 1960) led not just to his assassination, but also to a self-propelling destruction of a country, which went beyond the wildest expectations of Lumumba’s enemies. Soon, the DRC will commemorate its 50th independence anniversary. Its political leadership sees its role as being defined by the very capitals Lumumba stated which, sooner or later, would stop writing the history of the DRC. Several US presidents received Mobutu as a ‘great friend of the US’. Mobutu’s posthumous press, however, is generally far from such adulatory praise. Indeed even MH have to show their low esteem of a man who once was lionised by the Western leaders and press.
The contempt of the writers, even though they might defend themselves against this, goes much deeper than they realise. As with many African histories written from an accounting perspective, there is a tendency to just pick on those bits and pieces which are convenient for the needs of the narrative at hand. In this instance, making the case for just ‘writing off’ an entity as if it were a piece of property whose losses were impacting too negatively on the performance of the larger operation. From an accounting perspective, one which Moïse Tshombe (Lumumba’s enemy and the secessionist leader of Katanga province who was also a businessman) and, later, Mobutu understood very well. Although formally a colony, the Belgian Congo had been treated by its owners and managers as a vast plantation, which is to say, from a mindset better suited to those who owned both slaves and plantations, and who had made their fortunes through slavery and the trading in slaves. More formalistic historians will balk at the suggestion that Belgium was involved in the slave trade. That is not the point. The point of this essay is to try and trace the mindset of members of humanity (i.e. MH) whose understanding of humanity has been framed, fostered by those who are eager to make sure that history, any history, is recounted from the perspective of the wealthiest segments of humanity. However, there are moments in history, as in fables, when the most powerful will be forced to beg for help from the weakest.
SHOULD ONE THINK ABOUT DECLARING ‘THERE IS NO USA’?
In a paragraph which starts with a crocodile tear – ‘Congo is rightly notorious for being one of the most pathological instances of the European division of Africa’ – MH end it with the sentence which reads as their reasoning for their own sentencing: ‘The country is the region’s vortex; when it has failed in the past, its neighbours have often gone down with it’. Therefore, better get rid of it. Given what the US financial banditry has done to the world, would the authors suggest that we should be thinking about getting rid of the US? If this sounds outlandish or any other adjective between that and madness, then I submit that any reasonable person might reach the same conclusion with regard to their suggestion about the DRC.
One would still have to explain how and why reasonable academics have arrived at such a conclusion. As a hypothesis for further thinking I would like to quote from two places in Aimé Césaire’s work. First from his poem ‘Batouque’ where he writes something which captures the current times:
‘When the world shall be a tower of silence
Where we shall be the prey and the vulture’
(Aimé Césaire. 1970. Batouque, in Les armes miraculeuses, Gallimard, Paris, p. 64)
And then from his tragedy, Et les chiens se taisaient (And the dogs kept quiet), in which one learns about what happens to rebels when they have gone beyond the limits set by the masters of the system (then slavery). At the very beginning of the play, the words come from the mouth of an echo. Let the words from the echo conclude this piece. Some readers might feel hurt. That is part of the price extracted by true healing:
‘Architecte aux yeux bleus
je te défie
prends garde à toi architecte car si meurt le Rebelle
ce ne sera pas sans avoir fait clair pour tous que tu es le
bâtisseur d’un monde de pestilence
architecte prends garde à toi
qui t’a sacré? En quelle nuit as-tu troqué le compas
contre le poignard?
architecte sourd aux choses clair comme l’arbre mais
fermé comme une cuirasse chacun de tes pas est une
conquête et une spoliation et un contresens et un
Bien sûr qu’il va quitter le monde le Rebelle ton monde
de viol où la victime est par ta grâce une brute et un
architecte Orcus sans porte et sans étoile sans source
et sans orient
architecte à la queue de paon au pas de cancer à la parole
bleue de champignon et d’acier prends garde à toi
(Aimé Césaire, (1970) Et les chiens se taisaient , in Les armes miraculeuses, Gallimard, Paris, p. 74)
I defy you
Beware architect, for should the rebel pass away
It will not be without having made clear for everyone that you are
The builder of a world of pestilence.
Architect beware yourself
Who ordained you? In which night did you exchange the compass
For the dagger?
Architect deaf to crystal clear things like a tree but
Closed up like an armour each of your steps is a
Conquest and a destruction and counter sensical and an
Of course he shall leave the world the Rebel your world
Of rape where the victim thanks to your graciousness is a brute and an
Architect Orcus entryless, starless and sourceless
Architect with a peacock tail with a cancerous amble madly in
Love with soft and steely words beware yourself
[Free translation, JD]
* Jacques Depelchin is CAPES Fellow (2007-9) (Brasil) and co-founder of the Otabenga Alliance for Peace, Healing and Dignity
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
 ‘THEY’ stands for any of the following: bankers, financiers, the richest of the rich, academics in search of approval from those who consider themselves the crème de la crème of humanity. In his Discourse on Colonialism, Aimé Césaire had pointed out the close affinities between colonialism and Nazism. I am arguing that the mindset denounced by Aimé Césaire has grown more virulent today than it was then.
 Many thanks to Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Erroll Henderson and Pauline Wynter for reading and commenting on a previous draft. This does not mean that they agree with the final version. Just as I was sending off this essay, the DRC minister for Communication and Media, and government’s spokesperson, Lambert Mende Omalanga had responded to the same article, but I was unable to locate a website source for it: ‘RDC: Les Prédateurs ont la dent dure.’ Try [email protected]
 See: New York Times, 16 December 2008. Later reasserted by President Sarkozy in a slightly modified version, but just as predatory in its intention.
 One should never forget that conquering processes have been at the birth of some of the most murderous roots of capitalism, and they have continued to be an integral part of its reproduction.
 Doing a tabula rasa of history has been one of the most important practices of the conquering mentality. The conqueror establishes where history begins. Before the conquest, by definition, there was no history worth remembering or recounting. One of the most recent theorisers of this way of looking at history is of course Francis Fukuyama. If history is erased, so is responsibility.
 In one of his essays on the DRC, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba went even further by pointing out that, in a sociological sense, there is no Congolese society because a society is one which is organised as a community for the purpose of taking care of itself, but Wamba does not go from there to then suggest that the solution would be to pretend that the Congolese people’s existence and framework for existing, the State, should be wiped off the map.
 See Open letter to Ban Ki-moon by Richard Morse, http://www.counterpunch.org/morse04012009.html
 For example, as has been revealed by the BBC (see by Mike Thomson, presenter http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7984436.stm) about how the allies wanted the liberation of Paris to appear as an ‘all white’ affair even though more than 60 per cent of the troops under the General de Gaulle’s command were from Africa. In this case, the allies were all in agreement to negate the contribution of the African soldiers. This information came to me as I was finalising this essay. Clearly it deserves better than finding itself in a footnote. History-fixing from the perspective of those who were ruled not to be winners is a work in progress. This call for a piece titled ‘The history of humanity is not an all white affair’.
 At the same time, without apologising for the negationists, it is high time to move away from the Holocaust as the sole standard of reference for human suffering, because its tacit acceptance has been, in part, the reason why historians have not been able to let go of the logic imposed by history as framed by victors.
 The list is much longer. For the purposes of this exercise, a suggestion will suffice. It would be an excellent exercise to begin to build a list of questions to be submitted to the current rulers on the continent, as we go through the next 15 years of 50th anniversary celebrations of independences (2010-2025).
 And proclaimed as ‘nothings’ or worse, providing one of the basis for slavery.
 See the DVD on Pambazukanews website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZWIZX_8ub8
 See Herbert Weiss ‘The Enduring Idea of the Congo: Public Attitudes, the Nation, and the State’, with Tatiana Carayannis, in Ricardo Laremont, ed., Borders, Nationalism, and the African State (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Press, 2004). My thanks to Erroll Henderson for this reference.
 MH might say that they are not historians. Maybe, but their piece, even if it is not history does seek to convey how they look at the DRC, during a span of years. Their reference to the Leopoldian ‘red rubber’ regime conveys disgust and horror. That reference is also emblematic of how they understand the relationship between the history of a state and the history of the people living in that geographical area. Surely, the history of the Congolese people goes much further back than the history of the Congo Free State as put together by the then king of Belgium.
Breaking the resource curse
How transparent taxation and fair taxes can turn Africa's mineral wealth into development
December 2008 saw a ‘perfect storm’ hit international metals prices, bringing the five-year international metal price boom to an abrupt end. The combined collapse in demand for metals and sharp drop in the demand of institutional investors for commodity-based assets have slashed copper prices by up to two-thirds, and gold prices by up to a third from their peaks in July 2008.
The metals price bust has dealt a blow to the mining tax reforms undertaken in a few mineral-rich African countries in the past two years. Emboldened by the metals price boom, governments in Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo have amended their mining tax legislation or contracts with mining companies to increase the revenue they collect from mining rents. They did so partly under public pressure – African citizens have been all too aware that while the ‘good times were rolling’ for the global mining industry, they saw no increase in mining tax revenue to governments or spending on their basic development needs.
The poor balance sheet of mining tax revenue in times of record high metal and mineral prices has motivated African and international non-governmental organisations to collaborate in commissioning a study on mining taxation and transparency in seven African countries. The countries are Ghana, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Each country study examined past and present mining tax laws, tax rates and the forces driving tax changes, and compared the tax terms of mining contracts with national tax laws.
The central argument made by the report is that African governments have not been able to optimise the mining tax revenue due to them before the 2003 to 2008 price boom; neither have they been able to capture the anticipated windfalls during the price boom. This argument is grounded on two main reasons: i) Mining companies operating in Africa are granted too many tax subsidies and concessions; and ii) There is high incidence of tax avoidance by mining companies conditioned by such measures as secret mining contracts, corporate mergers and acquisitions, and various ‘creative’ accounting mechanisms. These two factors, coupled with inadequate institutional capacity to ensure tax compliance, contribute in large measure to diminishing the tax revenue due to African governments. In turn, they diminish the contribution of mineral resource rents to national development. This explains the high preponderance of income poverty indicators in mineral endowed African countries and communities in mining areas. To reverse this trend and ensure the maximisation of mining tax revenue for national development, the report recommends reforms of policies, laws and institutions that govern the financial payments made by mining corporations to national governments.
Mining companies claim that they need to be compensated for the unique risks they face, such as price booms and busts, through special tax exemptions and concessions. But these tax subsidies, together with tax avoidance and alleged tax evasion practices by mining companies, have robbed African treasuries of millions of dollars of foregone tax revenue from the mining industry. Fuelling these losses has been a lack of transparency and oversight of the financial remittances from mining companies to government institutions, coupled with the inability of government institutions to audit the complicated accounts of multinational mining companies.
HOW TAX SUBSIDIES AND TAX AVOIDANCE ARE DRIVING DOWN REVENUES FROM MINING
This report argues that African governments have failed to collect the additional rents generated by mining companies before and during the price boom because i) they have given tax subsidies to the industry and ii) mining companies have been pushing for tax breaks in secret mining contracts, amounting to an aggressive tax avoidance strategy. As a result, the citizens of mineral-rich countries continue to live in poverty, and are in some cases subject to violent conflict fuelled by the wealth generated from mineral resources, as is the case today in the eastern DRC. To break this ‘resource curse’ and turn mineral wealth into revenue for development, the laws, policies and institutions that govern the financial payments made by mining corporations to national governments need to be reformed.
In the report, estimates are given of the revenue foregone by the governments of Malawi, South Africa, the DRC, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Zambia as a result of the special tax breaks given to companies in secret contracts or in the mining tax laws promulgated in these countries since the 1990s. In Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania, the report estimates that lower royalty rates have cost or will cost treasuries up to US$68 million, US$359 million and US$30 million a year respectively. In Malawi and Sierra Leone, tax breaks granted in mining contracts have cost or will cost treasuries up to US$16.8 million and US$8 million a year respectively. In the DRC, the tax exemptions in a single mining contract have cost the treasury $360,000 a year.
African mining tax regimes are a mix of secret and discretionary tax deals, as well as tax laws enacted through parliament. Most mining tax laws dating from the 1990s have lowered taxes considerably to attract new foreign direct investment into the sector. This shift to lower taxes has been promoted by the World Bank in all its client countries in Africa as a means to revitalise the mining sector. Many of these laws allow ministers to negotiate tax deals with individual mining companies at their discretion, often leading to lower royalties, corporate taxes, fuel levies, windfall or other taxes than those stipulated in the law. At their worst, contracts may completely exempt companies from any taxes or royalties, as was the case in a number of the mining contracts signed between private companies and state-owned enterprises in the DRC between 1997 and 2003.
TRACING THE LEGACY OF WORLD BANK-DRIVEN MINING TAX REGIMES
This report traces the history of mining tax regimes in Africa since independence, throughout the booms and busts in international metal prices. It pays particular attention to the drive of the World Bank to open up Africa’s mining sector to foreign private investors since the 1990s, which has shaped subsequent mining tax regimes in all its client countries. Next, the report argues that revenue is the key development benefit from mining, which explains why an equitable and transparent mining tax regime is of paramount importance if mining wealth is to translate into future development.
The core of the report investigates the tax subsidies given to mining companies in mining tax laws and contracts, and gives estimates of some of the costs of these exemptions. These subsidies take the form of lower tax rates and higher and faster tax deductible capital allowances. It then investigates the tax avoidance strategies used by mining companies, focusing primarily on the negotiation of tax breaks in secret mining contracts. This tax avoidance strategy is in contravention of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, to which many of these companies claim to ascribe. Some mining companies have also been accused of illegally evading taxes – in Tanzania a government-commissioned auditor has alleged that the country’s four main gold mining companies have over declared their losses by millions of dollars.
HOW TO INCREASE THE REVENUE COLLECTED FROM MINING ACTIVITY
To reverse the ‘paradox of plenty’ characteristic of many mineral-rich societies in Africa, whereby countries with the most natural resources are often the poorest and worst governed, two major changes are needed. First, the process of creating tax regimes and mechanisms of tax payment need to become transparent. This transparency requires equal opportunities for citizens to monitor payments, receipts and the utilisation of mineral tax revenues. To contribute to such transparency, a new international accounting standard, requiring all multinational companies to report on their remittances to governments and their profits and expenditures in each of the countries where they operate, needs to be established. The International Accounting Standards Board is presently discussing whether or not to introduce such a standard for the extractive sector. This would be an important systemic reform which would enable governments and citizens to track where companies pay tax, and how much. This would make it more difficult to shift profits between subsidiaries of different companies. Second, African mining tax regimes need to be reformed to ensure that African governments are able to collect a fair share of mining rents to fund their national development plans. In some countries, this would require an increase in the rates of royalties and other taxes; in others this would require prohibiting the practice of negotiating tax breaks for individual companies in secret contracts.
There is a real danger that the crash in international mineral commodity prices coupled with the reduction in international finance available for new mining investment could set back the mining tax reforms underway or recently enacted in countries like Tanzania and Zambia. In Zambia, the minister of finance announced in his budget speech at the end of January 2009 that he will reverse a tax amendment passed in parliament less than a year ago, introducing a new windfall tax. In Tanzania, the minister of finance has failed to implement any of the tax increases recommended by a presidential commission tasked to review the country’s mining tax regime in his June 2008 budget speech. However, he did introduce a turnover tax on companies declaring losses three or more years in a row, directly aimed at mining companies.
Too many African governments are still unwilling to open up their tax deals and tax receipts from mining companies to public and parliamentary scrutiny. Transnational mining companies have also been pushing for tax exemptions, and fail to report what they earn and what they remit to government in each jurisdiction where they operate. The credit crunch and its impact of a reduction in finance available for mining investment are set to motivate governments to continue such secret deals. The crunch will also give mining companies the moral instrument to demand more exemptions. These are systemic and political complications that threaten the reform agenda.
The report argues however, that both systemic and political solutions are needed to increase mining revenue and transparency. At the systemic level, a new international financial reporting standard is needed, which all companies registered on stock exchanges will need to implement. It should require them to report on their financial operations and remittances to government and other structures on a country-by-country basis. This will allow citizens and parliaments to monitor the financial flows between parent companies and subsidiaries, and detect tax avoidance practices.
African governments also need to revise their company acts to require the subsidiaries of multinational mining companies incorporated in their jurisdictions to publish the financial information required by the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). This will ensure that privately or state-owned mining companies, such as the growing number of Chinese state-owned or financed mining companies, are required by national law to publish their profits and losses and remittances to government and other structures.
To African governments:
- Collaborate with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to develop and publish an easy-to-use guide on mining taxation. The guide should cite best practice and detail the purpose, costs in foregone revenue and benefit of each type of tax instrument and tax concession.
- Review their company and financial laws to require all extractive industry companies to use the EITI template in their annual financial reports by law.
- Stop the practice of granting tax exemptions to mining companies in mining contracts. All mining tax rates and terms should be legislated in the substantive law and merely confirmed in mining development agreements.
To African parliaments:
- Pass laws that require mining development agreements to be ratified by parliaments, as is the case in Ghana and Sierra Leone, and be made public.
- Push for a new international accounting standard that would force companies to report on their profits and expenditures, with taxes, fees and community grants paid in each financial year on a country-by-country basis.
To the International Accounting Standards Board:
- Adopt a new international accounting standard for extractive industries, which requires them to report on their profits, expenditures, taxes, fees and community grants paid in each financial year on a country-by-country basis.
To bilateral and multilateral donors:
- Scale up their financial assistance to African governments to improve their capacity to monitor and audit the accounts of mining companies, and to review their mining tax regimes. African governments should be free to use this finance to purchase legal and other technical assistance from any service provider of their choice.
* This article is an executive summary of a recently published report. The full report is available at http://www actionaid.org/docs/breaking the curse full report...pdf.
* This report was edited by Kato Lambrechts, with contributions from Abdulai Darimani, Claude Kabemba and Wole Olaleye. The core findings of the report are based on research conducted by Mark Curtis, Tundu Lissu, Thomas Akabzaa, John Lungu, Alastair Fraser, Laurent Okitonemba, Dona Kampata, and Patrick Kamweba. Alex Cobham, Rachel Moussie, Paul Valentin, and Richard Murphy have provided comments. The report was published by Southern Africa Resource Watch, TWN-Africa, Tax Justice Network for Africa, ActionAid and Christian Aid.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/
AFRICOM: Making peace or fuelling war
Part 1 of a two-part essay
Daniel Volman and William Minter
At the end of President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony, civil rights leader Reverend Joseph Lowery invoked the hope of a day 'when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors'. No one expects such a utopian vision to materialise any time soon. But both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have spoken eloquently of the need to emphasise diplomacy over a narrow military agenda. In her confirmation hearing, Clinton stressed the need for 'smart power', perhaps inadvertently echoing Obama's opposition to the invasion of Iraq as a 'dumb war'. Even top US military officials, such as chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, have warned against overly militarising US foreign policy.
In practice, such a shift in emphasis is certain to be inconsistent. At a global level, the most immediate challenge to the credibility of change in foreign policy is Afghanistan, where promised troop increases are given little chance of bringing stability and the country risks becoming Obama's 'Vietnam'. Africa policy is for the most part under the radar of public debate. But it also poses a clear choice for the new administration. Will de facto US security policy toward the continent focus on anti-terrorism and access to natural resources and prioritise bilateral military relations with African countries? Or will the United States give priority to enhancing multilateral capacity to respond to Africa's own urgent security needs?
If the first option is taken, it will undermine rather than advance both US and African security. Taking the second option won't be easy. There are no quick fixes. But US security in fact requires that policymakers take a broader view of Africa's security needs and a multilateral approach to addressing them.
The need for immediate action to promote peace in Africa is clear. While much of the continent is at peace, there are large areas of great violence and insecurity, most prominently centred on Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia. These crises require not only a continuing emphasis on diplomacy but also resources for peacemaking and peacekeeping. And yet the Bush administration has bequeathed the new president a new military command for Africa (the United States Africa Command, known as AFRICOM). Meanwhile, Washington has starved the United Nations and other multilateral institutions of resources, even while entrusting them with enormous peacekeeping responsibilities.
The government has presented AFRICOM as a cost-effective institutional restructuring and a benign programme for supporting African governments in humanitarian as well as necessary security operations. In fact, it represents the institutionalisation and increased funding for a model of bilateral military ties – a replay of the mistakes of the Cold War. This risks drawing the United States more deeply into conflicts, reinforcing links with repressive regimes, excusing human rights abuses, and frustrating rather than fostering sustainable multilateral peacemaking and peacekeeping. It will divert scarce budget resources, build resentment, and undercut the long-term interests of the United States.
Shaping a new US security policy toward Africa requires more than just a modest tilt toward more active diplomacy. It also requires questioning this inherited security framework, and shaping an alternative framework that aligns US and African security interests within a broader perspective of inclusive human security. In particular, it requires that the United States shift from a primarily bilateral and increasingly military approach to one that prioritises joint action with both African and global partners.
AFRICOM IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
Judging by their frequent press releases, AFRICOM and related programmes such as the navy's Africa Partnership Station are primarily focused on a constant round of community relations and capacity building projects, such as rescue and firefighting training for African sailors, the construction of clinics and schools, and similar endeavours. 'AFRICOM is about helping Africans build greater capacity to assure their own security', asserted Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Theresa Whelan in a typical official statement. AFRICOM defenders further cite the importance of integrating development and humanitarian programmes into the programme's operations.
Pentagon spokespeople describe AFRICOM as a logical bureaucratic restructuring that will ensure that Africa gets the attention it deserves. They insist AFRICOM won't set the priorities for US policy toward Africa or increase Pentagon influence at the expense of civilian agencies. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August 2007, Whelan denied that AFRICOM was being established 'solely to fight terrorism, or to secure oil resources, or to discourage China,' countering with '[t]his is not true.'
But other statements by Whelan herself, by General William 'Kip' Ward, the four-star African-American general who commands AFRICOM, and Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, his military deputy, lay out AFRICOM's priorities in more conventional terms. In a briefing for European Command officers in March 2004, Whelan said that the Pentagon's priorities in Africa were to 'prevent establishment of/disrupt/destroy terrorist groups; stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction; perform evacuations of US citizens in danger; assure access to strategic resources, lines of communication, and refueling/forward sites' in Africa. On 19 February 2008, Moeller told an AFRICOM conference that protecting 'the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market' was one of AFRICOM's 'guiding principles', citing 'oil disruption', 'terrorism', and the 'growing influence' of China as major 'challenges' to US interests in Africa. Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee on 13 March 2008, General Ward echoed the same views and identified combating terrorism as 'AFRICOM's number one theater-wide goal.' Ward barely mentioned development, humanitarian aid, or conflict resolution. US official discourse on AFRICOM doesn't engage with parallel discussions in the United Nations and the African Union about building multilateral peacekeeping capacity. Strikingly, there was no official consultation about the new command with either the United Nations or the African Union before it was first announced in 2006.
In practice, AFRICOM, which became a fully independent combatant command on 1 October 2008 with its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, is built on the paradigm of US military commands which span the globe. Although AFRICOM features less 'kinetic' (combat) operations than the active wars falling under CENTCOM in Iraq and Afghanistan, its goals and programs are more conventional than the public relations image would imply. The Pentagon now has six geographically focused commands – each headed by either a four-star general or admiral – Africa (AFRICOM); the Middle East and Central Asia (Central Command or CENTCOM); Europe and most of the former Soviet Union (European Command or EUCOM); the Pacific Ocean, East and South Asia (Pacific Command or PACOM); Mexico, Canada, and the United States (Northern Command or NORTHCOM); and Central and South America (Southern Command or SOUTHCOM), as well as others with functional responsibilities, such as for special forces and nuclear weapons.
Before AFRICOM was established, US military operations in Africa fell under three different commands. EUCOM handled most of Africa, but Egypt and the Horn of Africa fell under the authority of CENTCOM (Egypt remains under CENTCOM rather than AFRICOM), while Madagascar and the island states of the Indian Ocean were the responsibility of PACOM. All three were primarily concerned with other regions of the world that took priority over Africa, and had only a few middle-rank staff members dedicated to Africa. This reflected the fact that Africa was chiefly viewed as a regional theatre in the global Cold War, as an adjunct to US–European relations, or – in the immediate post-Cold War period – as a region of little concern to the United States. But Africa's status in US national security policy and military affairs rose dramatically during the Bush administration, in response both to global terrorism and the growing significance of African oil resources.
The new strategic framework for Africa emphasises, above all, the threat of global terrorism and the risk posed by weak states, 'empty spaces', and countries with large Muslim populations as vulnerable territories where terrorists may find safe haven and political support. This framework is fundamentally flawed. No one denies that al-Qaeda has found adherents and allied groups in Africa, as evidenced most dramatically by the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. But Islamist ideology has had only a limited impact among most African Muslims, and even in countries with extremist Islamist governments or insurgent groups (such as Algeria, Sudan and Somalia), the focus has been on local issues rather than global conflict. Counter-insurgency analysts such as Robert Berschinski and David Kilcullen have warned that 'aggregating' disparate local insurgencies into an all-encompassing vision of global terrorism in fact facilitates al-Qaeda's efforts to woo such groups. Heavy-handed military action such as air strikes that kill civilians and collaboration with counter-insurgency efforts by incumbent regimes, far from diminishing the threat of terrorism, helps it grow.
While AFRICOM may be new, there's already a track record for such policies in programmes now incorporated into AFRICOM. That record shows little evidence that these policies contribute to US or African security. To the contrary, there are substantial indications that they are in fact counterproductive, both increasing insecurity in Africa and energising potential threats to US interests.
EXAMINING THE RECORD: SOMALIA
The most prominent example of active US military involvement in Africa has been the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Speaking not for attribution at a conference in early 2008, a senior AFRICOM official cited this taskforce, which has taken the lead in US engagement with Somalia, as a model for AFRICOM's operations elsewhere on the continent. In October 2002, CENTCOM played the leading role in the creation of this joint taskforce, designed to conduct naval and aerial patrols in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the eastern Indian Ocean, in order to counter the activities of terrorist groups in the region. The command authority for CJTF-HOA was transferred to AFRICOM as of 1 October 2008.
Based since 2002 at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, the CJTF-HOA is comprised of approximately 1,400 US military personnel – primarily sailors, marines, and special forces troops. Under a new five-year agreement signed in 2007, the base has expanded to some 500 acres. In addition, the CJTF-HOA has established three permanent contingency operating locations that have been used to mount attacks on Somalia, one at the Kenyan naval base at Manda Bay and two others at Hurso and Bilate in Ethiopia. A US Navy Special Warfare Task Unit was recently deployed to Manda Bay, where it is providing training to Kenyan troops in anti-terrorism operations and coastal patrol missions.
The CJTF-HOA provided intelligence to Ethiopia in support of its invasion of Somalia in December 2006. It also used military facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya to launch air raids and missile strikes in January and June of 2007 and May of 2008 against alleged al-Qaeda members involved in the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia. At least dozens of Somali civilians were killed in this series of air attacks alone, and hundreds wounded. These were only a fraction of the toll of the fighting during the invasion, in which hundreds of civilians were killed and over 300,000 people displaced by mid-2007. By the end of 2008, over 3.2 million people (43 per cent of Somalia's population), including 1.3 million internally displaced by conflict, were estimated to be in need of food assistance. The US air strikes made US backing for the invasion highly visible.
These military actions, moreover, represented only part of a broader counterproductive strategy shaped by narrow counter-terrorism considerations. In 2005 and 2006, the CIA funnelled resources to selected Somali warlords to oppose Islamist militia. The United States collaborated with Ethiopia in its invasion of Somalia in late 2006, overthrowing the Islamic Courts Union that had brought several months of unprecedented stability to the capital Mogadishu and its surroundings. The invasion was a conventional military success. But far from reducing the threat from extremist groups, it isolated moderates, provoked internal displacement that became one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, inflamed anti-US sentiment, and even provoked the targeting of both local and international humanitarian operations.
In short, Somalia provided a textbook case of the negative results of 'aggregating' local threats into an undifferentiated concept of global terrorism. It has left the new Obama administration with what Ken Menkhaus, a leading academic expert on Somalia, called 'a policy nightmare'.
EXAMINING THE RECORD: THE SAHEL
Less in the news, but also disturbing because of the wide range of countries involved in both North and West Africa, is the US military involvement in the Sahara and Sahel region, now under AFRICOM. Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara (OEF-TS) provides military support to the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) programme, which comprises the United States and 11 African countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. Its goals are defined on the AFRICOM website as 'to assist traditionally moderate Muslim governments and populations in the Trans-Sahara region to combat the spread of extremist ideology and terrorism in the region.' It builds on the former Pan Sahel Initiative, which was operational from 2002 to 2004, and draws on resources from the Department of State and USAID as well as the Department of Defense.
Operational support comes from another taskforce, Joint Task Force Aztec Silence (JTFAS), created in December 2003 under EUCOM. JTFAS was specifically charged with conducting surveillance operations using the assets of the US Sixth Fleet and to share information, along with intelligence collected by US intelligence agencies, with local military forces. Among other assets, it deploys a squadron of US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft based in Sigonella, Sicily.
In March 2004, P-3 aircraft from this squadron and reportedly operating from the southern Algerian base at Tamanrasset were deployed to monitor and gather intelligence on the movements of Algerian Salafist guerrillas operating in Chad and to pass on this intelligence to Chadian forces engaged in combat against the guerrillas. In September 2007, an American C-130 'Hercules' cargo plane stationed in Bamako, the capital of Mali, as part of the Flintlock 2007 exercises, was deployed to re-supply Malian counter-insurgency units engaged in fighting with Tuareg forces and was hit by Tuareg ground fire. No US personnel were injured and the plane returned safely to the capital, but the incident signalled a significant extension of the US role in counter-insurgency warfare in the region.
These operations illustrate how strengthening counter-insurgency capacity proves either counterproductive or irrelevant as a response to African security issues, which may include real links to global terrorist networks but are for the most part focused on specific national and local realities. On an international scale, the impact of violent Islamic extremism in North Africa has direct implications in Europe, but its bases are urban communities and the north African diaspora in Europe, rather than the Sahara–Sahel hinterland. Insurgencies along the Sahara–Sahel divide in Mali, Niger and Chad reflect ethnic and regional realities rather than extensions of global terrorism. The militarily powerful north African regimes, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, have very distinct experiences with Islamic extremism. But none have a record of stability based on democratic accountability to civil society. And associating all threats to security in Nigeria with the threat of extremist Islam is a bizarre stereotype ignoring that country's real problems.
In his November 2007 paper on AFRICOM, cited above, Berschinski noted that the United States and Algeria exaggerated the threat from the small rebel group GSPC (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), officially allied with al-Qaeda. A scary, if geographically inappropriate, headline in Air Force Magazine in November 2004 heralded the threat from a 'Swamp of Terror in the Sahara.' The emphasis on counter-insurgency, Berschinski argues, has disrupted traditional trade networks and allowed local governments to neglect the need for finding negotiated solutions to concerns of Tuareg areas and other neglected regions. In the case of Mali, Robert Pringle – a former US ambassador to that country – has noted that the US emphasis on anti-terrorism and radical Islam is out of touch with both the country's history and Malian perceptions of current threats to their own security. The specifics of each country differ, but the common reality is that the benefits of US collaboration with local militaries in building counter-insurgency capacity haven't been demonstrated.
Cases to the contrary, however, aren't hard to find. In Mauritania, General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz overthrew the elected government in August 2008, leading to sanctions from the African Union and suspension of all but humanitarian aid from France and the United States. US aid to Mauritania for the 2008 fiscal year that was suspended included US$15 million in military-to-military funding, as well as US$4 million for peacekeeping training, and only $3 million in development assistance. More generally, the common argument that US military aid promotes values of respect for democracy is decisively contradicted by what resulted in Latin America from decades of US training of the region's military officers. If democratic institutions are not already strong, strengthening military forces is most likely to increase the chances of military interventions in politics.
With at least a temporary withdrawal of Ethiopian troops and the election of moderate Islamic leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed as president of the transitional Somali government, there is at least the option of a new beginning in that country. But no one expects any quick solution, with all parties internally divided (including the insurgent militia known as Al-Shabaab) and international peace efforts distracted by multiple agendas. There will be a continuing temptation to continue a narrow anti-terrorist agenda, even if this path is now more widely recognised as self-defeating.
In the region covered by Operation Enduring Freedom Trans Sahara, the conflict in Chad, where the World Bank abandoned efforts to ensure accountability for oil revenues, is still intimately tied with the larger conflict in Darfur to the east, as well as with the legacy of Libyan intervention. Although the United States has deferred to France in active military and political involvement in Chad, it has also supported President Idriss Déby, who has been in power since 1991 and changed the constitution in 2005 to allow himself another term. Despite attacks by rebels on the capital in February 2008, Déby retained control with French military assistance. In northern Niger, uranium resources threaten to provide new incentives for the conflict with the Tuareg minority reignited there and in Mali since 2007. Mali is generally seen as one of West Africa's most successful democracies, but it's also threatened by Tuareg discontent, which requires a diplomatic rather than military solution.
Of particular strategic importance for the future is Nigeria, where US military concerns of anti-terrorism and energy security converge. As Nigeria specialists Paul Lubeck, Michael Watts, and Ronnie Lipschutz outline in a 2007 policy study, the threat to Nigeria from Islamic extremism is wildly exaggerated in statements by US military officials. In contrast, they note, 'nobody doubts the strategic significance of contemporary Nigeria for West Africa, for the African continent as a whole, and for the oil-thirsty American economy.' But the solution to the growing insurgency in the oil-rich Niger Delta isn't a build-up of US naval forces and support for counter-insurgency actions by the Nigerian military. The priority is rather to resolve the problems of poverty, environmental destruction, and to promote the responsible use of the country's oil wealth, particularly for the people of the oil-producing regions.
Currently, US military ties with Nigeria and other oil-producing states of West and Central Africa include not only bilateral military assistance, but also the naval operations of the Africa Partnership Station and other initiatives to promote maritime safety, particularly for the movement of oil supplies. In recent years, United States military aid to Nigeria has included at least four coastal patrol ships to Nigeria, and approximately US$2 million a year in other funds, including for the development of a small boat unit in the Niger Delta. According to the State Department's budget request justification for the 2007 fiscal year, military aid to the country is needed because 'Nigeria is the fifth largest source of US oil imports, and disruption of supply from Nigeria would represent a major blow to US oil security strategy.' In fact, maritime security is a legitimate area for concern for both African nations and importers of west African oil. Piracy for purely monetary motives, as well as the insurgency in the Niger Delta, is a real and growing threat off the west African coast. Yet strengthening the military capacity of Nigeria and other oil-producing states, without dealing with the fundamental issues of democracy and distribution of wealth, won't lead to security for African people or for US interests, including oil supplies. Likewise, a military solution can't resolve the issue of piracy in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
The threats cited by US officials to justify AFRICOM aren't imaginary. Global terrorist networks do seek allies and recruits throughout the African continent, with potential impacts in the Middle East, Europe, and even North America as well as in Africa. In the Niger Delta, the production of oil has been repeatedly interrupted by attacks by militants of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). More broadly, insecurity creates a environment vulnerable to piracy and to the drug trade, as well as to motivating potential recruits to extremist political violence.
It doesn't follow, however, that such threats can be effectively countered by increased US military engagement, even if the direct involvement of US troops is minimised. The focus on building counter-insurgency capacity for African governments with US assistance diverts attention from more fundamental issues of conflict resolution. It also heightens the risks of increasing conflict and concomitantly increasing hostility to the United States.
* This article was originally published by Foreign Policy In Focus.
* Daniel Volman is the director of the African Security Research Project and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. William Minter is the editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin and co-editor with Gail Hovey and Charles Cobb, Jr. of No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950–2000 (Africa World Press, 2007).
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Where others wavered: Nujoma at 80
On 12 May 2009 Sam Nujoma turns 80. As the outstanding Namibian leader for half of a century, he personifies like no one else in the country’s contemporary history the patriarch heading the family. This analogy not only corresponds with the title Founding Father of the Republic of Namibia, as conferred upon him by parliament after his retirement as head of state, it also links to the distinct notion of family ascribed to by the liberation movement.
Raymond Suttner, an ANC (African National Congress) underground activist serving as a political prisoner the longest period in South African solitary confinement, deals with this in his 2008 published book The ANC Underground in South Africa. The liberation organisation represented a distinct notion of family. There was a general suppression of ‘the personal’ in favour of ‘the collective’. Individual judgment (and thereby autonomy) was substituted by a collective decision from the leadership. Such 'warrior culture, the militarist tradition' according to Suttner 'entailed not only heroic acts but also many cases of abuse and power' – not least over women.
Suttner based his study on interviews with activists both in exile and on the home front. He concludes, 'Any involvement in a revolution has an impact on conceptions of the personal. Given the overriding demands for sacrifice and loyalty to something greater than oneself, it leads invariably to a negation of intimacy.' Put differently, the intimacy of the family was replaced by the leader maximo as the alter ego.
Not surprisingly, Sam Nujoma, as the political father figure of Namibian independence (mothers are conspicuously absent), personifies in a particularly pronounced fashion such a role model. He prefers posing as a military (rather than a diplomatic) figurehead and displays the virtues of an uncompromising man, with the emphasis firmly on 'man' rather than 'human'. Testimony to this is the memory culture cast in stone and metal at the Heroes Acre, built in a similar fashion to the one in Harare by the same North Korean company at the outskirts of Windhoek 10 years into independence. The cultivation of the military liberation gospel is revealing. The massively oversized statue of the ‘Unknown Soldier’, as well as the physiognomy of the leader in the relief, leaves no doubt about the intended connotation. Subtleties were never a virtue of Namibian political culture.
Just as enlightening as this monumental symbolism is the content of Nujoma’s autobiography, Where Others Wavered, which served as screenplay for the hitherto by far most expensive film financed by Namibian taxpayers’ money (not for local producers but Hollywood professionals). Significantly, a quote from the struggle days was chosen as the programmatic title of Nujoma’s life history, which ends with independence (although published almost a decade into the sovereign republic). The leitmotiv tells it all: 'When the history of a free and independent Namibia is written one day, SWAPO [South West Africa People's Organisation] will go down as having stood firm where others have wavered: that it sacrificed for the sacred cause of liberation where others have compromised.'
An in-depth, exclusive interview with Nujoma in the magazine ‘New Africa’ of November 2003 confirms this particular liberation perspective. When asked why – as his biography claims – he had sent all three of his sons into battle, he answered: 'The struggle was supposed to be fought by all Namibians.' When the interviewer enquired what would have been done had they all been killed, Nujoma responded: 'Well, but the liberation of our country was supposed to be done by all Namibians irrespective of birth.'
The combat mindset leaves neither room for doubts nor for true mourning. The interviewer refers to the Cassinga massacre, in which the South African army bombarded a refugee camp in southern Angola in the late 1970s, as 'a very emotional event'. In response, Nujoma offers a vivid description of the gruesome attack:
'On 4 May 1978, the Boers sent a wave of Buccaneer aircrafts over Cassinga. The first bombs they dropped were filled with poisoned gas, biological weapons, that destroyed the oxygen in the air and made our people collapse. The Boers then sent a second wave of Mirage jetfighters to strafe the camp and set it ablaze. They then sent yet a third wave of helicopters that dropped paratroopers into the camp. They proceeded to shoot and bayonet our people who had not already died from the bombing. As you correctly stated, they killed more than 1,000 and injured many more. They even took some of our people away.'
Again there is no indication of empathy. But the interviewer continues: 'When something like this happened during the struggle, how did you feel? Did you cry? Have you ever cried?' Nujoma’s full response: 'Well, we were then in New York negotiating with the apartheid regime and the Western Contact Group made up of Canada and Germany (as non-members of the Security Council) and France, Britain and the US (as members). So we just walked out of the discussion and returned to Africa. We re-organised ourselves and intensified the armed struggle.'
It was as if the struggle was a technical matter, mere surgery, involving no human beings and to be executed by inanimate dummies. The rhetoric of liberation can be rather invasive. It has its framework set in the paradigm of victory and/or defeat, and leaves no room for empathy, not to mention grief and tears. This was possibly – and sadly so – even necessary to stand any chance of survival and ultimately become successful in ‘the struggle against the Boers’. Such testimony might also offer some insight into the process of how victims, as liberators, might turn into perpetrators when in control and wielding power. They gave away their humanity and in return expected unconditional loyalty from others to a kind of struggle, which remains an everlasting act of patriotism and service.
In such a mindset is no space for retirement. One can leave office but will remain a leader with responsibilities. It might well be that such first-generation anti-colonialists are necessary, even though they at the same time reflect the limits of liberation and the price at which national sovereignty comes to many among the people.
Formal self-determination in a sovereign state does not equate individual liberty and freedom (not to speak of social equality in economic terms!). But it has shifted the struggle for true emancipation. We owe it to the Sam Nujomas in this world that we have reached this next, so much less violent phase, fighting for rights. They sacrificed their humanity for others, but expected others to sacrifice theirs too. Will history absolve them?
* Henning Melber is the executive director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala, Sweden. Melber joined the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) in 1974. A shorter version of this text will be published in the May issue of Insight Namibia.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Silent song: Women and Zimbabwe’s liberation
The 18 April 2009 is a special day, when our nation Zimbabwe celebrates 29 years of hard-won independence from colonial rule. A nation celebrating the gallantry of its daughters and sons who shed their blood, suffered, were imprisoned and struggled until victory was indeed certain.
I reminisce about the meaning of this day to my late mother, Rozaria Marumisa Dizha, who was born 1923 and passed away in 2006. An ordinary Zimbabwean like any other woman, she contributed the best she could, with the means she had, towards the liberation of the country. She gave her daughters and sons to the liberation, some serving as prisoners of war and others skipping the borders. Like other villagers, she provided food and financial contributions for the survival of the comrades’ (‘war vets’) during the war. In the wee hours of the day, with volume turned low, she listened the voice of Zimbabwe on radio. Women’s role in the liberation struggle remains a silent song, yet many of us recall vividly, that women and their daughters agonised and organised like every other Zimbabwean.
Mbuya Rozaria watched that day in 1978, when her whole village was bombed, all the houses were torched, and many children, women and men were wounded. The Rhodesian army was after the guerrillas who had been seen in the area, it is rumoured. Within days all the schools in the neighbourhood were closed, only to re-open at independence. Mbuya Rozaria joined in burying the dead, her own people. She nursed and consoled the sick and bereaved. She did not lose heart, but remained part of the many ordinary Zimbabweans who supported the struggle.
In 1980, she was one of the many and thousands of rural women who walked the many miles to cast their vote. It would be the first time for Zimbabwean black women to vote. Voting for independence, voting for President Robert Mugabe! I was young then, but I danced in the village as we listened to the radio and heard the election results. I did not know that 28 years later, we would hold our breath again for over three weeks, waiting for yet another election result, uncertain and with fear. We cried, as we knew that our family members scattered far and wide will come home again, and we will be a whole family again.
We danced to the festive village drums (jiti) all night, going from village to village, welcoming the comrades coming home, with life, independence and some flashy goodies. Soon after independence, the young men and women who had been fighting the war of liberation were back home. Most of the prisoners of war were released. Those were happy days. Many young women were swept off their feet by the recently demobilised combatants, who were an enigma unto themselves. Oh the early eighties were sweet moments for us, as girls old enough to understand the intrigues and dynamics brought by this wave of change and its possibilities. Today’s young Zimbabwean girls are desperately looking for education, employment and hope.
In 2009, I look back and wonder what this independence celebration would have meant for my late mother. She would have clung to her rosary in prayer, saying as many Hail Marys as she could, as a devout Christian and Catholic who knew that her God is a caring and loving shepherd. She might have been disappointed. She would have been sad that schools are not fully functioning; that hospitals have no drugs; that we had a cholera crisis. She would not have understood why we have to use the US dollar, South African rand or Botswanan pula. She could have asked many questions, would have swallowed her disappointments, and urged the younger ones to do something, so that life is better and more meaningful. She would still be listening to the radio and attending church as before.
She died at home in 2006, at her son’s house in Murewa. At that crucial moment two of her beloved daughters present said, ‘Amen’. The family could afford her hospital fees, but the healthcare system had collapsed. She was a home-based care case. Today is a far cry from her independence dreams. Years earlier, she had buried her grandson to AIDS, then her son, another son and a daughter. She had cared for them all at home. She had been to hospital with them, only
to be advised, ‘Ambuya (granny), its best for you to care for your child at home.’ These were the signs of the catastrophic economic, humanitarian and health crisis in Zimbabwe. She buried her children with dignity, in the village, next to their late father’s grave. She stood with her daughters-in-law, held her grandchildren and whispered that it will be okay, that they should strive to remain in school. She smiled and knew she had given her best, to her country, her children and her God. She was ready to sojourn into the afterlife.
As we celebrate the 29 years of Zimbabwean independence and remember the life of the late Mbuya Rozaria Marumisa Dizha, we honour many ordinary women who gave birth to a new nation. Just like any other veteran of the struggle, we salute them and give them our respect. We owe them the basics that they fought for. Freedom. Life with dignity. Respect. Recognition. Prosperity. Health, education and above all the affirmation that every Zimbabwean deserves recognition as a heroine or hero. A status conferred within one’s own heart.
In prayers, we ask for the soul of the late Mbuya Rozaria Dizha to rest in perpetual peace as we ask the leadership of today to respect that which was dreamed by many Zimbabwean women and men who served with humility and invisibility. These are the heroines whose names may never be mentioned in the list of honourable members laid to rest at the National Heroes Acre.
* Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda is a founder of Rozaria Memorial Trust and general secretary for the World YWCA.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
No trumping Zuma on morality ticket
South Africa is an interesting country, a young democracy of almost 15 years. It moved from being a pariah of nations to a beacon of hope, an institution of democracy with a very liberal constitution with a bill of rights. My opinion is that that is where problems start for this young democracy, because whilst ‘rights’ became entrenched in the constitution, reciprocal ‘responsibilities’ were not, leaving these to fate.
People feel that for instance, criminals have more rights than law-abiding citizens. Children, have been given more ‘rights’ in the constitution than parents, such that it is difficult to discipline your child without falling foul of the law.
The ‘freedom of speech and expression’ has left a media that is unrestrained, tabloid in nature and killed genuine investigative journalism. There are many examples. Laws relating to self-defence and protection of property are all very unsatisfactory to the citizenry. While you may have a licensed firearm, you cannot use it to shoot a burglar running away with your goods under arm, as the law says he is not a threat to your life. Corporal punishment was abolished at schools and at home, such that teachers and parents feel helpless against rogue kids.
A large section of the population feels that the abolition of death sentence was wrong, as was the legalisation of gay marriages and termination of pregnancy laws that allow even young girls of 12 years to legally have an abortion without parental permission. All these make some people feel that South Africa has gone down on morals and family values. But all these are constitutional imperatives protected under human rights, and there are institutions which act as watch dogs like the Human Rights Commission.
THE POLITICAL CLIMATE
The general elections on 22 April are a huge test of character for this democracy. The dominant ruling ANC (African National Congress) has had problems internally which led to a split after the former president Thabo Mbeki was ‘recalled’ within 6 months of his last tenure of office, leading to the creation of a splinter political party called COPE, the Congress of the People. Even this name was a subject of contest with the ruling party, but the courts allowed it to stand. The media and opposition parties have been hoping for this split for a long time.
This COPE splinter group initially relied on the organisational infrastructure of the ruling party, which quickly dried up as leaders had to resign immediately from ANC. Now, in the meantime, the ANC president Jacob Zuma has had long-standing legal problems, under corruption, money-laundering, fraud and tax evasion charges etc. This has been a boon for the opposition parties, including the newly formed Cope Party, to campaign under the ‘morality’ and corruption-free banner. The latter went to the extent of co-opting a Methodist bishop (Mvume Dandala) as their presidential candidate, leaving the founder president Patrick Lekota as its president outside Parliament should they win the elections.
Zuma benefited from a bungle in the investigations and processes of gathering information by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which had been disbanded in favour of a more integrated police force, and was under new management. But opposition parties feel that the ruling party did this to stop their president Zuma's legal problems.
It is now history that subsequently, the acting NPA head, after learning of recorded tapes conversations between former head of investigating prosecutor and former head of the NPA, decided to drop the charges. In my opinion again, this move deprived the opposition parties of their battle cry on corruption and what to say to the electorate. Then the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) came up with a ‘Stop Zuma Campaign’, which has failed to ignite any imagination except to attract negative reaction of ‘racism’ against them. So, what are the opposition left with now to counter ANC strength in the polls? Nothing.
The DA is essentially seen as the white minority party interest that does not cater for the majority, poor black masses. It is the opposite of the ANC, with its legacy of struggle heroes and liberators, with a trump card in Nelson Mandela. Now, opposition parties and media tried to make false claims about Mandela being ‘bullied’ by the ruling ANC, when he in his frail frame, attended an election campaign rally in the Eastern Cape. They claimed, falsely, that he was uprooted without his permission and medical team.
Just this Sunday 19 April, in the final victory rally, in which the ANC in a show of force and strength filled to capacity two adjacent stadiums – Ellis Park and Johannesburg stadium – Mandela again appeared in person, though his message, which was beamed throughout the country, was pre-recorded. The opposition parties must have shivered seeing so many people openly rooting for the ANC, just two days ahead of the elections. My take is that the DA, COPE and all the other hopeful opposition parties have to look to other elections, not this one in two days time. Jacob Zuma will be president of the Republic of South Africa from 23 April 2009, when the results are announced.
* Alfred Mafuleka is an educator in Cosatu’s education department
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Squabbling over Migingo
It was Abraham Lincoln who said, 'The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter anyone from the support of a course we all of us believe to be just.'
I write this knowing that Kenyans are up in arms to reclaim Migingo Island, but the thrust with which we are embarking on this mission puts a straight point on whether we are ready to form an East African Federation also. Might we be playing into a set-up trap to show Africans cannot be one thing, cannot unite even to salvage their own problems?
Economically, resources worldwide determine the politics. Those who know this are moving towards the formation of trading blocs with respect of member states, along of course with strong leadership. Such trade blocs are becoming large free trade zones or at least near free trade zones formed by one or more tax, tariff and trade agreements. Typically trade pacts are defined in such blocs to specify formal adjudication bodies, and these may include even more democratic and participative systems where governments facilitate processes to ensure civil commons have space to conduct businesses, interact and share with fair competitions.
According to the theory of comparative advantage, trading blocs are created because countries are moving towards a specialisation in the production of particular goods and services. Countries are reduced to producing goods and services in which they have a comparative advantage.
Assessing how Kenya and Uganda have been competing – especially on foreign direct investments since 2000 and global signs suggesting that Kenya is a failed state suffering from a clear failure to implement its National Accord – there might be more than meets the eye on the issue of Migingo Island. Our failed leadership will have to take the blame for this issue, but it is ordinary Kenyans who will suffer more.
Furthermore, it is common economic sense that countries produce and export goods which represent a lower opportunity cost of production than those of other nations. This means countries specialising in the production of any goods can form a group of nations as a whole to produce and therefore consume a greater quantity of each product. With regard to Kenya and Uganda, the economic wars we have had since the collapse of the East African Community in 1977 have been over who should be the regional market leader. The effect of this has been that all options have now been closed with the result that none of these countries can survive on their own. They are all consumer economies with no major production lines of their own. Over 80 per cent of the companies dictating the Kenyan and Ugandan economies are foreign-owned! If any shift happens, then it would favour the country showing relative stability, so to speak.
Again in the theory of production and consumption, as countries become more specialised in the production of goods, it becomes necessary to trade with countries that need these goods or that have resources that are not available in theirs. Kenya and Uganda have similar climates, relying heavily on agricultural production and fisheries. Even if they have oil, they will have to depend on the countries of the West to exploit it. There appears to be a bigger contention than what we are being told and though both countries were British colonies, the consequences might be weightier for Kenyans than Ugandans.
As the rest of the world becomes a set of global villages and nations become more specialised while building up their economies and protecting their markets, of major concern is the extent to which African countries are being embroiled in boundary issues, poor leadership, violence, the formation of militia groups, the politics of tribal chiefs and failed judicial systems. Countries are increasingly becoming interdependent and dependent on their trading partners. Where is Kenya headed to with its failing leadership?
Smaller countries like Kenya and Uganda – with fewer resources in terms of land, capital and limited technology but with an excess of labour – are generally less powerful than larger nations. The need therefore to develop economic alliances to gain more buying and selling power is strong, hence the need to build a regional trading bloc rather than fight over Migingo Island.
Our leaders, scholars and all the communities of East Africa should wake up and lead this region away from petty agendas unless they want to ensure that the East African Federation flops. It is the bigger picture that moves the world!
* Stephen Musau is the executive coordinator of Release Political Prisoners (RPP) of Nairobi, Kenya.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Challenging the Kikuyu oligarchy
Maina Kiai and Paul Muite
In Kenya, politics has hinged on the pre-eminence of ethnic identity since 1964; and today ethnicity has been elevated beyond all other identities and interests. We reject this notion totally and completely. None of us chooses the identity that we are born into, but as we grow older we take on various identities that make us who we are and determine our interests. We are of the Kikuyu ethnic community – and take pride in our language, culture and norms – but we are far more than that. We see ourselves as Kenyan first and foremost, with a national outlook and perspective.
But we have suffered for this view, being called ‘traitors’ and ‘disloyal’; even receiving credible death threats.
Since 2004, it has become apparent that what NARC (National Rainbow Coalition) stood for, nationally, has been seriously eroded. Mwai Kibaki declared in his campaigns he was for zero tolerance on corruption; yet he seems to be condoning it. He had stated that he would operate a meritocracy, with due regard to the diversity of Kenya; yet his appointments to the most sensitive and crucial offices are tilted to one ethnic group and its relatives. He had asserted that he would change Kenya from the dark days of the Moi years, raising our hopes and aspirations; but he was soon recruiting Moi’s people – especially if they were his kith and kin – to crucial positions in public service. Patronage and fear has been used. Simply put, his 2002 rhetoric was exactly that – rhetoric – and now we are continuing ‘business as usual’.
For us, it does not matter what ethnic group the leadership comes from: We expect and demand a government which has the interests of the nation at heart, which is fair, honest, effective, accountable and transparent. And we expect the government to follow the law, especially with regard to human life, and fundamental rights. We challenged Daniel arap Moi on these issues. We can challenge anyone interested in being president of Kenya, including Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua and Uhuru Kenyatta. Why can’t we challenge Mwai Kibaki?
We know what we have fallen foul of is something larger than ‘political opposition’ or ‘dissent’. It is a bigger problem that the Kikuyu community and its allies must urgently confront.
It is the issue of ‘speaking with one voice’. This is the question of blind ethnic loyalty to decisions made by some wealthy old men (there are no women here) who determine the leadership of the community and convince us, mostly through trickery and fear, to follow. There is nothing democratic or progressive about it. They do it on their own, and without our input, behind closed doors and in clubs where the majority of the Kikuyu can never get access. These are the Kikuyu oligarchy, and they are dangerous because they work on the assumption that the rest of the community, and indeed the country, are fools and can be taken for a ride. It is a fatal road we drive along. Their decisions, cloaked in forged assumptions of ethnic nationalism and pride, are never about the good of the nation or even the good of the community. It is all about themselves, and extending their hold and power over Kenya for their own selfish benefit.
With the elevation of ethnic politics in Kenya, this behind-closed-doors community trickery is dangerous and unacceptable within any community. But we are addressing ourselves to the Kikuyu community at this point, because the power, assumptions and suspicions of the Kikuyu political elite is at a critical crossroads and could destroy this country.
‘Speaking with one voice’ suggests that because of our ethnic heritage we have the same values, interests and ideals, and we should therefore accept the things that these old men, sipping single malt whisky after a game of golf, decide for us. But nothing could be further from reality. In fact, critically assessed, this class – conservative, corrupt and chauvinistic – has nothing but disdain for the majority of Kikuyu, who are poor and struggling, and pay for their arrogance and mistakes. If they did care for poor ordinary Kikuyu, then some of the things that have happened over the last few years would never have been condoned.
Consider the following. It is during the time of a Kikuyu president, with a Kikuyu minister for internal security, a Kikuyu intelligence chief, a Kikuyu head of CID (Criminal investigation department), a Kikuyu PS in internal security, when there are extra-judicial killings of poor young Kikuyu men, claimed to be Mungiki. More than 600 cases are documented of these deaths in 2006, and hundreds more disappeared. For the sake of argument, lets assume they were Mungiki, despite the fact human rights defenders are sure that more than two-thirds of them were not. There are laws that govern these matters. Why were they not used? Killing poor young Kikuyu men, illegally, does not solve the problem of Mungiki. It shows utter contempt for the poor. It shows us that although we are expected to ‘speak with one voice’; the Kikuyu community is certainly not one. There is the powerful, old class and there is the ‘other’ Kikuyu.
We doubt that there has ever been such a large-scale state-sponsored killing of Kikuyu since the emergency period or during the clashes in the 1990s; yet none in the oligarchy has uttered a word in protest or shock. The silence – from the president down – speaks volumes about the view of the poor.
And consider this. When the post-election violence started in January 2008, these same Kikuyu men were in control of the security apparatus. They decided it was better to deploy security to Uhuru Park, to prevent Raila Odinga and his supporters from gathering there, than to stop the killings of Kikuyus – mostly peasants – in Eldoret. We know for a fact that emissaries were sent to State House and Harambee House to plead that the Kenyan airforce be deployed to fly jets over the affected areas to ward off the invaders and others who had targeted the Kikuyu in Eldoret. But these suggestions were rebuffed. The effect is that peaceful protests at Uhuru Park were prevented, and security forces concentrated on killing opposition demonstrators in Western Kenya, at the cost of hundreds of lives in Rift Valley, and the destruction of property worth millions belonging to the poor.
And last but not least: Listen carefully to the old guard, and some of their new recruits. They put the entire community at risk with reckless and derogatory comments that undermine national unity. Comments like ‘the stock exchange is not a fish market’ are arrogant and demeaning to everyone, and exacerbate perceptions that the Kikuyu leadership feels superior, and needs to be taught a lesson. Unfortunately, because this leadership is inaccessible and far removed, these lessons are ‘taught’ – tragically – to the ordinary Kikuyu who are more accessible, rather than the leadership.
We are all diminished by stereotypes and chauvinism. We would dismiss the attitudes of old men with humour, but for the fact their destructive views translate directly into the significant state power they wield.
Expecting us to speak with one voice does not protect our interests. It protects theirs. Statements that assert – as Minister John Michuki recently did – that the state has no obligation to explain why it conducted an illegal act in raiding the Standard Group, show a dangerous attitude. His mindset is essentially that if something is done by the state, it cannot be wrong. So if the state kills, say 2000 people in the name of ‘state security’, we should not ask questions? It is instructive that John Michuki was in charge when a number of killings by the state have occurred – young Kikuyu men pre-election; in Western Kenya during the post-election crisis; in ‘security operations’ in Mt. Elgon and Mandera – and there has been no accountability.
This mentality is not new in Kenya. It was the prevalent attitude of the colonial government, the Kenyatta government, and Moi’s government. Now we have that old political class, dangerously entrenched by a sense of ethnic ‘entitlement’. Kikuyus should realise that this does not bode well for the nation, let alone their community.
But this attitude is not just the prerogative of powerful politicians; it has also affected the middle class and ordinary Kikuyu. There is a dangerous sense of victimhood and entitlement.
The feeling of victimhood is now deeply entrenched in the community – and understandably so, given the colonial emergency, the clashes in the 1990s, and the post election violence in Eldoret – but it is coupled with a sense of entitlement and superiority over other communities, expressed in attitudes that the Kikuyu are somehow superior; that they work harder than other Kenyans; that they have more financial and entrepreneurial sense than others; and are better able to govern than others. It is also expressed in derogatory assumptions and stereotypes about other communities.
This is foolhardy, a recipe for disaster and chaos: Once we start ranking people and communities, we will be ranked ourselves. It has made our position precarious, and if we don’t start asking questions of this ‘leadership’, we will only have ourselves to blame if the current tensions explode.
This is the time to re-think and reject the old class, whose interest is now focused on ensuring that their sons (never daughters) take over from them as the ‘leaders’ of the community. These ‘sons’ have no skills or vision to lead, just a sense of entitlement in the ‘family’ business. This is not just contemptuous of the ordinary Kikuyu, but also of the entire nation. It assumes that they can continue to maintain this charade, cloaking their personal interests as community interests.
We should learn from the experiences in other countries. Look at the demons and forces unleashed in the Balkans by Serbian leaders who continuously highlighted what they described as the Serbs’ historical grievances, as well as their ‘specialness’, playing on that for their own political ends. But even closer to home is Rwanda. Can any of us, here in Kenya, forget what happened there? By whipping up anger about historical injustices against the Hutu majority, and emphasising the ‘right’ of Hutus to rule, Hutu leaders facilitated the genocide. And always, it is the ordinary Hutus who paid the price for not questioning received ‘wisdom’.
This is a moment of truth for the Kikuyus as a whole. We recognise that much of what we have said may not be be palatable to many. It will, in fact, be painful. But these are truths we cannot run away from. Let us have a robust debate, but one that is based on what each of us has analysed for him or herself.
If there was ever a time for change and challenge, it is now.
* Maina Kiai is chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Paul Muite is a lawyer and senior counsel.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Questions the IMF must answer
Many aspects of today’s global economic crisis are yet to be understood and require research and debate.
Among serious people, however, a few other critical aspects are clear enough to permit vital intervention. In particular, two tentative conclusions must be spared fruitless debate that will wreck, if not snuff out, lives in places like Africa by delaying much needed action.
The first conclusion is that this economic tsunami is very dangerous – big, damaging, and worsening fast.
The other is that it is manmade – a failure born of consequential human errors. What just failed is a very specific ideology, a slim bundle of certain precise notions and recommendations for running countries politically, economically and therefore socially. After flying high for at least 40 years, that ideology’s crash became undeniable in the US in September 2008, just as Senators McCain and Obama turned in for the presidential race's homestretch. In its rise and sudden fall, the ideology mimicked the sub-prime loans that triggered the fall: wildly popular for a while then unmasked as toxic. Rooted in political economy, the ideas tap into legitimate public frustration with bureaucracy and politicians. The result is that the ideology's intense hostility toward the state – that is, toward government – is unmistakable. In the UK and the US these notions took off thanks to two eloquent and gifted politicians, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. What made the dogma especially popular was Thatcher's and Reagan's pithy, bumper-sticker phrasing: 'Government is the problem. Keep it small, out of our lives and out of the market. Give private enterprise a free hand. End all deficits. Deregulate. Privatise. Cut taxes. Cut spending.'
This ideas-package has many names. Neoliberalism, the Washington consensus and laissez-faire capitalism are three. With their views coloured by the ancient but still consequential Paris–London hyper-rivalry, the French and other sceptical western Europeans love calling it the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism.
If it has many names, neoliberalism has even more critics. Recently, the critics' diagnosis of the crisis’s causality was explained, quite brilliantly, by Mikhail Gorbachev. The critics’ take on laissez-faire? Snake oil. Fraudulent dogma.
Whether snake oil, Anglo-Saxon conspiracy or something altogether wonderful, laissez-faire roared out London and Washington (especially after the Soviet Union disappeared in 1989 and socialism was sent reeling) to dominate most of the globe – China, Africa, south-east Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, eastern Europe and Russia.
In China, Deng Xiaoping's government in 1978 made a deliberate, voluntary and sovereign decision to embrace neoliberalism.
Africa’s embrace, in contrast, has been anything but voluntary or sovereign. Rather, the Washington consensus has been forcefully rammed down screaming African throats by the continent’s self-described 'development partners'. The force-feeding and protests reached a crescendo in the 1980s once Reagan arrived in the White House.
In this African ramming, the head of the ramrod has been none other than the IMF. It, among Africa’s development partners, has been the most relentless in demanding the adoption of laissez-faire. (It has peddled the snake oil most heavy-handedly, if you like).
Exhibit A is the fund’s ruthless war on budgets for free education, an unambiguous investment, across Africa. One predictable result? The street children swarming African cities today. Consider Ghana. For just under 20 years beginning in 1981, Jerry Rawlings ruled Ghana with an iron hand. After an initial fruitless flirtation with Cuba and the Soviets, he turned to the West. The asking price was that he swallow neoliberalism, hook, line and sinker. Education in particular was devastated. When University of Ghana students protested, troops and police assaulted them and closed the campus, and Blaine Harden, a Washington Post reporter, lambasted the students. The IMF's reaction? It dubbed Rawling's Ghana its 'star pupil'. Today, the African city most overrun by street children may well be Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Exhibit B would be the fund’s pitiless imposition of massive retrenchment (translation: firing) of civil servants. Exhibit C? The many IMF-riots that erupted across Africa and the brutal crackdowns in response unleashed by IMF-backed dictators. The fund’s zeal in privatising every state enterprise it could find in Africa is exhibit D.
One could produce many more exhibits showcasing policies – on water, healthcare, investment regimes, free trade, imports, exports, currency devaluation, debt and taxes – that the IMF dictated across Africa and the protests they unleashed, but you get the picture. And that picture is crystal clear: the IMF has been the most ardent, true believer in (and the most uncompromising imposer of) laissez-faire, the dogma whose catastrophic failure is roiling Africa and the globe right now.
Since today’s crisis resulted from human mistakes, the solution must lie in learning, acknowledging, re-thinking and swiftly correcting the errors.
Commendably, major global players have started down this road and are publicly recognising failure. While attending the 2 April London G20 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy observed: 'Since Bretton Woods, the world has been living on a financial model, the Anglo-Saxon model… Clearly, today, a page has been turned.' Two weeks earlier, his host, Prime Minister Gordon Brown had made the same point: 'Laissez-faire has had its day. People on the centre-left and the progressive agenda should be confident enough to say that the old idea that the markets were efficient and could work things out by themselves are gone.'
And serious American leaders have kept pace with the Europeans and others. In his most authoritative speech, the 20 January inaugural address, President Barack Obama announced a new ideological era: 'The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.'
Nor is it just politicians. In October 2008, Alan Greenspan, arguably America’s most celebrated central banker, confessed publicly to Congress: 'Yes, I’ve found a flaw [in laissez-faire]… I’ve been very distressed by that fact.' On his part, staunch conservative economist, Professor Gary Becker, the 1992 Nobel economics laureate, wrote in March 2009: 'The failure of financial innovations such as securities backed by subprime mortgages, problems caused by risk models that ignored the potential for steep falls in house prices and the overload of systemic risk represent clear market failures.' And with the 7 April speech in Washington, D.C., by Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, even Wall Street financial gurus have begun inching toward contrition and confession.
What about corrective measurers in the US? The $750 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was the first step in what seems a long, open-ended American retreat from laissez-faire dogma. With TARP, the US administration decisively violated the laissez-faire taboos of 'no government economic role' and 'no deficit spending' and began rescuing distressed financial corporations. The rationale is compelling. Saving the financial system prevents the collapse of America’s economy, and with it, the entire socio-political system. The president who committed this giant heresy? None other than Mr Dead Certain, George W. Bush, the self-described 'ideological son of Reagan'. Barack Obama has not only continued Bush’s TARP, he has added on three other humongous market interventions of his own: stimulus, a bank bailout and financial re-regulation. Here is the most astonishing aspect of Washington's decisive rejection of neoliberalism: the American people approve. As a result, Reagan’s disciples and heirs have not convincingly argued against, much less blocked, these swift federal government interventions. And intervening has increased President Obama's popularity.
To my mind, the words and actions of all these global political and economic leaders combine to deliver one simple lesson: in finding solutions to the crisis, a change of heart, the discarding of a stale ideology and fresh thinking are what is required.
This point is vital so I will rephrase for emphasis: if one is serious about weathering our manmade economic tsunami, one must start in the mind, by recanting and discarding those discredited economic dogmas that got us in trouble.
Has the IMF done such recanting? Has the enforcer of failed laissez-faire dogma across Africa acknowledged, re-thought and began swiftly correcting its errors? The public evidence says it has not. Specifically, the Fund has not admitted mistakes and has not done any soul searching in public. It most certainly has not publicly rejected toxic neoliberal ideology.
This failure to recant publicly is why the 2 April decision by the G20 to triple the IMF’s finances is so dangerous, especially for Africa.
'When in a bad hole, stop digging.' This aphorism, beloved in Washington, is appropriate here. Africa is in a terrible neoliberal hole dug for decades by the IMF. Yet the G20 seems to be asking the fund to dig three times more furiously. Why not stop digging?
There is a second way to visualise the danger Africa faces. Think of the fund as a vehicle loaded with a vital cargo of, among others, African economies and therefore lives. The G20 has just decided to triple the vehicle's engine power. However, the fund is still headed down the same wrong laissez-faire path. This is a boulder-strewn path ending at the bottom of a steep ravine. And it is the very path that Bush, Obama and Congress have all scrambled to turn the US economic vehicle away from. A question though: what prevents the IMF from doing three times the damage that decades of its force-fed policies have already done to Africa?
Some might answer thus: 'Last month, March 2009, in Washington, the fund adopted important changes.' My response: 'True enough.' But though welcome, those reforms were confined to governance and the marginal easing of harsh loan conditionalities. As the fund's own 24 March report noted: 'Governance reforms are necessary but not sufficient to enhance the Fund's legitimacy, effectiveness and accountability.'
It is therefore astounding that the three extra sets of reforms that the report called for – quota adjustments, a financial resources increase and enhanced expertise – made no mention of rethinking the Washington consensus. Clearly, the changes already made, as well as the new ones requested, do not approach the deep IMF philosophy change that we actually need.
A second answer might claim that the fund abandoned laissez-faire before last month's governance reforms. If so, other questions gush out. Precisely when and where did the IMF discard the Washington consensus? Why? What reasons were adduced? What economic philosophy has replaced neoliberalism within the IMF? How, by whom and through what process was this new ideology arrived at? And what input did the street children and other poor Africans have?
These questions are matters of life and death for Accra’s street children – especially its pubescent girls – and for a billion poor Africans. I am convinced they would have demanded straight answers, had they had a voice in London on 2 April. But they did not. So the G20 did not get them the needed answers.
Consequently, they must now look to Capitol Hill. That is where Congress will hold hearings on giving the IMF America’s share, a US$100 billion line of credit. This places special responsibility on New York Congressperson Gregory Meeks, who will chair the initial subcommittee hearings. He and a few other colleagues (John Boehner, Steny Hoyer and Barney Frank) have an unprecedented opportunity to help Africa by extracting straight, unambiguous answers from the IMF.
Should Congress too fail, President Obama would become Africa's last hope in making the IMF talk straight.
So Mr President, respectfully, before letting the IMF get the US$100 billion line of credit, please consider saying to the fund: 'I do believe in capitalism. And I did call Reagan consequential. Even so, I have turned away from Reagan-initiated, laissez-faire neoliberal capitalism. Witness my stimulus, my bank rescue plan and my re-regulation of the financial system. As I said in Denver and elsewhere, those stale dogmas have landed America and the world in a very bad place. Why then are you still wedded to laissez,faire? You are not? Great, what have you replaced it with? What economic philosophy do you believe in now?'
Those few words of yours, Mr President, would become strong rope ladders, sooner rather than later. And I guarantee you many, many street kids now languishing in Kibera, in Accra and elsewhere would use them to climb out of their African slums. They (and I, who very narrowly missed becoming a street kid) would be eternally grateful. Many thanks.
* Formerly the executive director of Africa Action and of OSIWA, Nii Akuetteh currently analyses Africa policy and issues from Washington, D.C.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Realising the right to food
Olivier De Schutter
At last, the idea is gaining ground that the right to food, as an enforceable human right, should be at the centre of our efforts to reform the global food system – a system which the ‘global food crisis’ of 2007-2008 has shown to be fragile particularly in the face of shocks such as a peak in the prices of oil, a sudden shift in demand, or speculative behaviour on the commodities markets.
The United Nations Organisation on Food and Agriculture (FAO) now considers adding governance and the right to food as a third track in their efforts to combat hunger, in addition to providing emergency help in times of crisis and to promoting investment in agriculture. The right to food was also central to the High-level meeting on food security for all, convened in Madrid on 26-27 January 2009 by Prime Minister Zapatero and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. In his closing remarks to this conference, which sought to assess the progress made seven months after the High-level conference on world food security held in Rome on 3-5 June 2008, the secretary general pleaded for inclusion of the right to food in the work of the High-level task force on the global food crisis, ‘as a basis for analysis, action and accountability’.
At its core, this reference to the right to food means that in order to effectively combat hunger and malnutrition, producing more or increasing aid will not suffice. It is equally important to ensure that those who are hungry or malnourished are identified, that they are specifically targeted by support agricultural and social schemes, and that no individual in need is left out. It is equally important that – as recommended by the FAO voluntary guidelines for the progressive realisation of the right to food, which the 187 member states of the general council of the FAO have agreed to – states put in place national strategies mapping the groups which are most vulnerable, clearly allocating responsibilities across different branches of government, setting benchmarks and imposing timeframes, and empowering independent institutions, including courts, in order to enhance accountability.
Any hungry person is a person whose right to food has been violated. At least 20 states in the world today, including Brazil, India and South Africa, or more recently Ecuador (in 2008) and Bolivia (in 2009), recognise the right to food in their constitutions. A growing number of states also have adopted a framework law which protects the right to food. In April 2005, with the passing of a food security and nutrition law, Guatemala became the first country in Latin America to include such a law in its domestic legal system. In Brazil, the federal organic law on food and nutritional security (LOSAN) implements the national system of food and nutrition security (SISAN), which brings together a number of policies aimed at combating hunger, including policies designed to support family agriculture, to improve access to food and water for those in need (for instance through a low- income restaurant programme, food banks, community kitchens, or cisterns), to feed children in schools, or to improve storage of food in rural areas. In Indonesia, the ‘food law’ (7/1996) recognises the right to adequate food for all, covers food security and food safety, and allocates institutional responsibility. In July 2008, Venezuela adopted the ‘organic law on food security and food sovereignty’, article 8 of which recognises the right to food. In addition a number of other countries, like Mozambique and Honduras, are in the process of elaborating and adopting legislation on the right to food.
These developments are not merely of symbolic value. Instead, they operate the shift from the proposition that ‘we need to have policies that achieve food security’ to the proposition that ‘each individual must be granted a remedy if his/her right to food is violated’. On 25 September 2008, following the example set a few years ago by the Indian supreme court, the supreme court of Nepal issued an interim order according to which the government of Nepal had to supply immediately food to 12 food-short districts. This would not have been possible had the interim constitution not included a reference to the right to food. Guaranteeing the right to food turns beneficiaries of relief schemes into rights-holders, and those implementing public programmes into duty-bearers. Both the legitimacy and the effectiveness of public programmes to tackle hunger are improved as a result.
We should resist the temptation to reduce the ‘third track’ to improved governance – or to the removal of institutional obstacles to the implementation of strategies to achieve food security which would risk failing, for instance, because of corruption or because of an inability of the central government to monitor the implementation of such strategies at local level. This would be a serious mistake for two reasons.
First, it devalues the notion of the right to food as a human right. The right to food means that victims must have a right to recourse mechanisms; that governments must be held accountable if they adopt policies which violate that right; and that courts are empowered to protect this right. It is not about good governance. It is about empowerment and accountability. It is about participation of those directly affected in the design and implementation of the policies that affect them.
Second, in the current efforts to address the global food crisis, the right to food should not be simply a ‘third track’ supplementing the two other tracks. Instead, it should constitute an overarching principle: it should guide our efforts, whether these relate to short-term support measures (the first track) or to rural development and support to agriculture (the second track). In responding to the global food crisis, it is easy to move from the symptom – prices which have suddenly peaked – to the cure – produce more, and remove as soon as possible all supply-side constraints. Once we define the objective, namely the realisation of the right to food, we must ask a very different set of questions: Will the measures we adopt to boost production benefit those who are food insecure, or will they simply mean a return to low prices, which will only further discourage small-scale farmers and marginalise them further? Are these measures addressing the needs of all those who are in a situation of food insecurity and vulnerability ? Will these measures reduce, or instead increase, the dualisation of the farming sector?
The comprehensive framework for action, the result of the cooperation of the UN executive agencies, working with the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, is in many ways a remarkable document, listing a wide range of policy options which States are invited to explore in order to achieve improved food security. Yet, it could be built upon – and I believe, further improved – by using the right to food as a tool for analysis, as suggested by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Such an analysis would start by exactly who the vulnerable are, and why they are food insecure. These one billion hungry people belong to three main categories: first, smallscale farmers and other self-employed food producers such as pastoralists, fisherfolk and persons living from the products of the forest (60 per cent of the hungry); second, landless agricultural workers (20 per cent of the hungry); and third, the urban poor (the remaining 20 per cent). A rights-based approach to the global food crisis would require that we pay equal attention to all these categories, and that we ensure that their entitlements are adequately protected. Since hunger is not the result of too little food being produced, but rather of marginalisation and disempowerment of the poorest, who lack the purchasing power they need to procure the food that is available, guaranteeing such a protection should be a top priority.
The first vulnerable group, smallholder farmers, is made up of approximately 500 million households (over 2 billion individuals). Reinvestment in agriculture has been on all lips since the food price crisis. But it is the need to protect their livelihoods that should inform our approaches to supporting agricultural production. Fifty-eight governments have approved the conclusions reached in April 2008 by the international assessment of agricultural knowledge, science and technology for development (IAASTD). This review notes that ‘Technologies such as high-yielding crop varieties, agrochemicals and mechanisation have primarily benefited the better resourced groups in society and transnational corporations, rather than the most vulnerable ones. To ensure that technology supports development and sustainability goals strong policy and institutional arrangements are needed (...)’.
The first Green revolution – as developed in Latin America after 1943 and as launched in the 1960s in South Asia – was very successful in improving yields. This however sometimes came at a high social and environmental cost, and the productivity gains themselves were not always sustainable in the longer term. I am encouraged that much care is being taken to avoid repeating the mistakes of the first Green revolution, and the IAASTD conclusions are an indication of this new awareness. At the same time, less attention has been paid until very recently to the comparison between Green revolution concepts and alternative models of agricultural development. Failing to consider the diversity of models that can be supported could lead to miss great opportunities. As stated by the Windhoek high-level meeting African agriculture in the 21st century: Meeting challenges, making a sustainable green revolution (Namibia, 9-10 February 2009): ‘Governments, in cooperation with the research community and with support from the international donor community, should undertake rigorous comparative assessments of alternative agricultural models and cropping systems’. This should be seen as complementing the 2003 Maputo Declaration target of raising the share of national budgets devoted to agriculture and rural development to at least 10 per cent. Indeed, the progressive realisation of the right to food is not merely an issue of raising budgetary allocation for agricultural development. It also requires that Governments opt for the orientations more conducive to the realisation of the right to food, by carefully balancing the existing options against one another.
An analytical framework grounded in the right to food can guide such choices. Greater attention should be paid in the future to public policies which may significantly increase yields, thus increasing the incomes of farmers, without further dualising the farming system, and without contributing further to soil depletion. In Tanzania, the western provinces of Shinyanga and Tabora, were used to be named ‘the desert of Tanzania’ by President Julius Nyerere. Yet, starting in the late 1980s, the use of agroforestry techniques and participatory processes allowed some 350,000 hectares of land to be rehabilitated. The agroforestry system (Ngitili) led to an increase in incomes of US$500 to each household every year, a large sum in rural Tanzania. The increased use of trees in agroforestry schemes thus improved farmers’ access to food and the resilience of farming systems, especially important in the context of climate change. In Malawi, in 2005, some 100,000 smallholders benefited to some degree from the use of fertiliser trees. Where maize is intercropped with a nitrogen-fixing tree, an average 3.7 tonnes a hectare can be produced – compared to just 1.1 tonnes on plots without such trees; yields could further reach 5 tonnes with small additions of mineral fertiliser. This successful experience led in 2007 the Government to launch Malawi’s Agroforestry food security programme, funded by Irish Aid, and targeting over 42,000 farming households. This programme now benefits around 1.3 million of the poorest people in Malawi whose ability to produce food has increased with a minimal investment of financial resources.
Similar examples exist for the many other types of sustainable agricultural practices that are commonly referred to as agro-ecological farming approaches. The UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) as well as other agencies have all recently published reports that demonstrate how these models should and could be scaled up. In many cases, they are less costly and more sustainable, less risky and more productive than fertilisers. Moreover, the relationships between these agro-ecological approaches and the human right to food have been established. First, these sustainable farming approaches are adapted to the complex environments where some of the most vulnerable groups live. Secondly, the management processes that lead to them are most often participatory processes, which involve the affected vulnerable groups in order to guarantee sustainable results, a strategy consistent with a rights-based approach. Third, these techniques improve the resilience of farming systems to climate change and to peak oil – two developments which, as we know, will directly impact those who are already most vulnerable today.
The right to food should not only guide strategies at national level which are empowering, improve accountability, and ensure adequate targeting of public policies, including agricultural policies. It also should help us establish an international framework which enables such national efforts to realise the right to food. As we all know, the current multilateral trading system is heavily skewed in favour of a small group of countries, and is in urgent need of reform. In agriculture, in particular, trade-distorting measures – obstacles to market access for developing countries, domestic support schemes for OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries’ farmers, and export subsidies – have led many governments and most development agencies to neglect agriculture. The world is now paying the price for this neglect.
Yet, simply removing the existing distortions will not suffice. I have recently returned from a mission to Benin, a country in which 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture, and where the main export crop is cotton. The difficulties smallholders in Benin face result from insufficient storage facilities; poor access to markets, due to a lack of infrastructures; insufficient rural extension services; almost no access to credit; and, for many, insecure rights on the land they cultivate. These farmers are far less competitive than OECD producers before Doha; they will remain so after Doha. A country such as Benin must be allowed to protect itself from import surges, which in the past had damaging impacts on the viability of agriculture and the agro-food sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, and which will continue to have damaging impacts in the future if countries, such as Benin, cannot shield their farmers from international trade competition. Benin, like many other countries of the region, has for too long been encouraged to sacrifice its long-term interest in building a robust and diversified agricultural sector able to feed its population, for its short-term interest in specialising in cotton production, in a context in which it could procure low-priced food on the international markets.
The Government of Benin has now shifted its efforts in order to diversify agriculture. Will this be sufficient? Benin has a population of 8.5 million, the regional integration in the CEDEAO (Economic Community Of West African States) and in the UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union) is making slow progress, and in the industrial sector, other countries have achieved economies of scale in specific lines of production before Benin was able to achieve this. It is therefore likely that, as a result of the emerging international division of labour, Benin will have no choice but to remain locked into the production of raw commodities from agriculture, and will have to buy from abroad the manufactured products it needs. We all know that such a strategy enables a country neither to capture a fair share of added value in the food chain, nor to create a sufficient number of jobs. Yet, both are necessary for any state aiming to realise the right to food for urban poor, firstly through the development of robust social protection schemes, and secondly, through the building of an industrial sector that provides job opportunities with decent wages. In other words, if the current trading system is not reformed, trade will remain asymmetrical and work against the long-term interests of countries such as Benin; the terms of trade will continue to fall; and dependency on foreign aid will persist.
This, I believe, is not acceptable. Individuals and peoples have a right to development. Agriculture itself can only flourish if, in the same country, workers in the urban centres can receive high wages in the secondary or the tertiary sector – not only to absorb the workforce, but also to constitute a market for the agricultural products on a national and regional basis. The 1.2 billion slum dwellers are among the worst affected by high prices of food, since they buy all the food they consume, and their situation will only be addressed by coherent long-term development policies. The right to food, in its international dimension, should lead us to recognise this basic fact: without development – and locking countries into agriculture only runs against development – countries will be subjected to a new form of colonialism some refer to as ‘welfare colonialism’, in which they are aided to produce for the global markets, but in which they are not allowed to imitate the paths others have followed towards industrialisation.
Finally, it must be reminded that, today, trade is mostly done not between states, but between transnational corporations. If our collective aim is a trading system that works for development, including the human right to food, the role of these actors also must be considered. The expansion of global supply chains only shall work in favour of human development if this does not pressure states to lower their social and environmental standards in order to become ‘competitive states’, attractive to foreign investors and buyers. All too often, at the end of supply chains, agricultural workers do not receive wages enabling them their right to adequate food. The ILO estimates that the waged workforce in agriculture is made up of 700 million women and men producing the food we eat but who are often unable to afford it. The vicious circle created by the current globalised competition must consequently urgently be addressed both at the global level and the national level. We should ask ourselves, for instance, how the relevant ILO conventions could be better implemented in the rural areas – which all too often labour inspectorates are unable to monitor effectively – and how those working on farms, often in the informal sector, can be guaranteed a living wage, and adequate health and safety conditions of employment.
It is very likely that in November 2009, a summit on world food security will be convened in Rome. The stakes are considerable, and so are the hopes raised. We should not measure its success by the amounts of funds committed to supporting agriculture. Although aid is hugely important in the current context, the massive violations of the right to food are not caused by the lack of aid. They are caused, at their root, by a system which is unfair both to developing countries, which for too many years have been hurt by an inequitable international economic system, and to small-scale farmers in these countries, forgotten from public policies, and unable to secure remunerative prices from their crops even when they manage to move beyond subsistence farming. Yet, I am hopeful that things will change significantly in the next few months. Bold and innovative proposals have emerged in the public debate. The November Rome Summit should examine these proposals carefully. It should go beyond aid, and address explicitly a number of questions which, we now have learned the hard way, we cannot ignore further:
- First, how can states be supported in the design and implementation of national strategies for the realisation of the right to food, including through the adoption of framework laws ensuring accountability of governments to those whose rights are violated?
- Second, which assessment can be made of different models of agricultural development, as regards their impact on the right to food?
- Third, how can trade be redesigned in order to ensure that it will serve development, as a condition for the full realisation of the right to food?
- Fourth, how can the situation of agricultural workers be improved, particularly as regards their right to a living wage and social protection?
- Fifth, which incentives or regulations are needed to ensure that transnational agri-food companies contribute to the development of the countries they source their supplies from, and to the realisation of the right to food?
The daily and massive denial of the right to food has its source, not in an insufficient quantity of food produced, but in a system of production whose limits have now become clear. The temptation of return to business as usual is as strong today as it has been when, in the past, we have been confronted to similar crises. This means more food, and lower prices; but it also means unsustainable inequalities both between and within countries, with the impoverished countryside providing cheap food to the cities, and massive rural exodus as a result. That temptation must be resisted. Instead, a new system should be put in place, building on the ruins of the old. I look forward to working with all governments and other stakeholders to that end.
* Olivier De Schutter is the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Change at IMF overdue
Dear President Obama,
I observed and listened keenly during the recently concluded G20 Summit and your Town Hall meeting in Strasbourg, France. I appreciate the message that the global economic crisis must be addressed holistically and with partners across borders, sectors, and populations to curb the practices in greed, excess, and exploitation. As part of your message, you acknowledged that poverty in developing regions is deep and has the possibility of breeding hopelessness. I venture to say the levels of poverty are inhumane and have placed an entire generation in peril. It is therefore a disappointment that one of the recommendations of the G20 Summit is to inject significant funding into the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to rectify the endemic poverty in developing regions.
One of the things I admired about your book Dreams from my father is how you aptly captured the cultural, economic, and political dynamics in Kenya during your visit to your family. You were detailed and accurate in descriptions of how histories of colonialism, quasi-independence, corruption and lack of people-centred policies in Kenya were impacting even members of your family. These realities must be linked to the disastrous policies of the IMF across the African continent.
By its own admission, the IMF has implemented inappropriate economic policies in Africa that have left the continent worse today than it was 30 years ago. The studies, data, and analyses have been shared and debated widely. If the G20 prioritises new funding to the IMF to address an economic crisis, which in Africa dates 20 years, the IMF’s philosophy and modalities must change. Many Americans, including myself, listened attentively to your message of change during your presidential campaign and your inauguration speech. As an African living in the US, with many other Africans and Africa activists working on political and economic advocacy, we want to dialogue with your administration to address how change can come to the IMF and other instruments of economic policy that the US supports. We are responding to your invitation to be part of the Change agenda by doing our part. We invite the administration to avail itself of the alternative economic proposals that will enable Africans to live a life of dignity and purpose. Africa’s wealth in natural resources is not reflected in its infrastructure, food availability, educational institutions, and overall well-being of its people, yet those resources benefit the West immensely. In order for Africa to regain its dignity and emerge from its perpetual ‘developing’ status, we must adopt strategies of scale that depart from how IMF has traditionally worked. We call upon African leaders to be accountable, and we invite your administration to broaden its view of the possible strategies needed to reverse economic deprivation in Africa.
Africans in America want to be part of the Change agenda. Along with the magazine covers of your Change agenda that we have in our homes and offices, we would love to add a cover that says ‘Change Has Come to the IMF’.
* Muadi Mukenge is the regional director for sub-Saharan Africa at the
Global Fund for Women, a board member of Priority Africa Network and
advisor to New Field Foundation.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
The Migingo dispute: Will diplomacy work?
If you read the Kenyan and Ugandan papers or monitor other regional media it would be understandable if you conclude that both countries are about to go to war over a disputed island that is about the size of half of a standard football field, with little room for supporters to watch a match even if it was a 5-a-side. Why would two countries with very warm relations in recent years, who are both committed to further regional integration through an expanded East African Community, who are both members of several regional multilateral organisations (including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)), and members of the African Union go to war or escalate a border dispute to this level?
I think the explanation for the ease with which the African state is more prone to violent dialogue, as opposed to the peaceful, diplomatic and political settlements of disputes, has to do with the fact that these are states artificially built to satisfy other people’s interests and which are largely unchanged in their anti-people character decades after independence. Otherwise we have to ask ourselves why states that cannot defend their own people from hunger and disease are ready and able to go to war whatever the cost in human and material terms. That is why almost anything threatens the state in Africa, and it has to prove its sovereignty in the negative. This unfortunately leads the citizens for whom the state could not provide basic services to mobilise around a kind of frenetic nationalism.
There are differences between the reaction of Uganda’s and Kenya’s political leadership that show the mentality and political culture of both countries. Kenya has publicly held out the position that this conflict can and should be resolved diplomatically and politically. Uganda says the same but in a way typical of the manner in which President Yoweri Museveni and the NRA/M (National Resistance Army/Movement) came to power: prepare for war while talking peace. The former’s political base is essentially civil while the latter’s essential nature is military.
But the reaction of the media in both countries contrasts with the political responses. In Uganda the media is not that gung ho whereas the Kenyan media is spoiling for war and quite critical of what they see as a weak response from President Mwai Kibaki’s administration. Maybe Ugandans are used to President Museveni’s militarism and therefore it is not that surprising that UPDF (Uganda People's Defence Force) soldiers are occupying the disputed island because many critics will say the same forces have occupied Uganda since 1986 anyway.
Indeed, Uganda has virtually been at war with all its neighbours at one point or another with the exception of Kenya and Burundi (though many in Bujumbura may dispute this!). But Kenya is not known for interstate militarism even though its internal politics has been very violent with ethnic clashes and high profile assassinations, culminating in the violent post-election disputes of 2007–08. So while Kenya’s political elite are violent towards each other in their battles for supremacy they seem to have kept it within their borders, whereas Uganda’s political violence is historically externalised. So why is the Kenya media so militant? Partly because they are already frustrated with the Grand Coalition government for its non-delivery and in particular President Kibaki’s ‘hands off’ approach to many controversies. The president is infamous for remaining quiet in the face of burning issues to such an extent that at times there is an impression that the country is on autopilot. Migingo merely provides yet another opportunity for the media and the wider public to vent their spleen, this time using the threat of aggression by their gun-totting neighbours to whip up patriotism.
It is really sad that our patriotism and nationalism are brought out mostly in the negative. Where is the patriotism of the media in the face of the high- and low-level corruption destroying the country, compromising the delivery of services, the maintenance of roads and leading to deaths in badly maintained hospitals? Where is the media's patriotism in an aspiring middle-income country where 10 million citizens face mass hunger and starvation despite ample food? Why is the media not waging war against corruption and hunger? Hunger in Kenya is not due to a lack of food but rather the fact that the poor do not have the resources to buy it. Middle-class professionals and the indolent political elite, who do not produce anything and merely milk the country dry, have money to buy any food they want, whereas poor and powerless farmers cannot farm due to drought and cannot eat due to lack of economic means. Where is the patriotism in this?
If militarism really works President Museveni should have annihilated Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), as he has repeatedly declared for more than 10 years now. As they say, unfortunately a leopard cannot change its spots. This conflict needs to be resolved through legal, diplomatic and political means however. President Kibaki has been pressured into ‘vowing’ to defend Migingo, but ‘defence’ does not and should not mean going to war. It is not a sign of weakness to give politics and diplomacy a chance. All conflicts on this continent eventually are resolved by negotiations, even if one side ‘wins’ militarily. A military confrontation would be a setback for the fast-tracking of East African integration, something of which President Museveni is a key champion.
* Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem writes this syndicated column in his capacity as a concerned pan-Africanist.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
He who rides the tiger
In their continued posturing about what their sides of the coalition deserve or what the opposite side does not deserve, one reads Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga's cavalier flirtations with calamity. This seemingly comical political game about demands for VIP toilets and red carpet receptions belies a real danger of Kenyans yet again mounting a tiger, only to find ourselves on top of an animal they we can neither control nor get rid of.
When the 1963 constitution was revised by Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta and his cronies to allow for the wholesale theft of land, resources and opportunities, the country mounted its first tiger in the shape of ethnicised governance, corruption and impunity. The title of 'professor of politics' of Kenya’s second president, Daniel arap Moi, was little deserved and had nothing to do with political acumen. In his deputy role to Kenyatta, Moi recognised systemic corruption as an effective way of shoring up political support and ensuring the continued subservience of parliament, judiciary and security units, and excelled at it. Where the KANU (Kenya African National Union) government displayed acumen for this theft of public resources, the subsequent NARC (National Rainbow Coalition) government displayed genius. The grand coalition has since discarded pretences to accountability and within 12 months has engorged itself on famine-relief maize, public assets such as the grand regency, and strategic energy assets to name but a few.
It was once easy to dismiss the now-dreaded Mungiki sect as a bunch of snuff-demented revisionists. Politicians took advantage of the abject poverty among the sect’s followers and used them to unleash violence on voters and political opponents. Armed gangs and our political leadership have since become inextricably intertwined to the extent that ridding the country of the Mungiki menace requires expunging the current political class. Highly unlikely. We now find ourselves a nation atop another beast we can neither control nor dismount.
If we recognise the equitable sharing of power by Prime Minister Raila and President Kibaki as the government business that can hold up cabinet deliberations, then we legitimise the relegation of government business from that of regulating business and providing services to that of handing out power and control like candy. Meanwhile, urgent and fundamental reforms that could avert ethnic violence and foster development and justice are treated as residual.
Tragic as the current clamour for power and control is, it is not the worst that can happen. It is very likely that under subsequent governments the clamour for power and control will override government’s business and responsibilities to the extent that it becomes the way our country will be governed. Permanent secretaries will be appointed on the basis of their political inclinations and be accountable not to Kenyans but to their political patrons, and where judges serve, it will be in the interests of their political benefactors, and not justice. Revenue officers will use tax waivers and exemptions to pay homage to their party leaders. That will be a tiger that is impossible to control and lethal to dismount. We had better rethink climbing it.
* Job Ogonda is the executive director of Transparency International Kenya.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
 On 6 April, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga complained on national television about the lack of due protocol for his office, as demonstrated by a tattered carpet and the lack of a mobile toilet when he was on an official tour. On 17 April, Raila and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) counterparts declined to attend a scheduled cabinet meeting, urging President Mwai Kibaki to instead convene a coalition meeting.
Save Africa from hyena culture
Did you know that hyenas have intelligent hunting skills? 'They surround a toothless old hyena at the edge of the thorny hedged cattle kraal and bite it so hard that the only escape is to push through the sharp thorns. Once an opening is created; an army of fierce hyenas will go into a meat grabbing spree', narrates Songol, a lady residing in Baringo district of Kenya's Rift Valley. Mostly associated with cowardice, hyenas will bite off cows' udders and goats' bowels before they even seek to kill their prey. Hyenas also scavenge for food from graves and feed on the leftovers by lions and cheetahs.
Now, something happened in Africa. Our old kingdoms and chiefdoms were hunted down in the late 18th century to produce modern states. On their departure, the hunters (colonialists) left a big carcass that we literally refer to as governments. Employing the hyena strategy and armed with axes and machetes, African elites have been fighting over the carcass the mzungu hunter left for over 45 years now. No time has been spent by Africans on sharpening hunting tools and moving deep into the forest to get their own animals. They have all taken up the hyena instinct of scavenging what the colonialist left behind.
Reports from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa that corruption absorbs up to 30 per cent of most African countries' gross domestic product (GDP) – and that the continent loses US$148 billion a year – must serve as a wake up call to our 'hyena culture'. So fixated are we on looting and collaborating with those who plunder Africa that instead of pushing for productivity and cutting down on lavish expenditure on political elites, we simply play hyena games on people's earnings. Taxes are increased not to offer services to Africans but simply to feed the carcass-chopping frenzy.
A young breed of hyenas is springing up and learning the art of circling old the ones for another meat-grabbing spree! The crime rate has soared as unemployed youth seek relevance in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. The outlook is not promising when one considers the fact that Africa's youth are sinking deeper in alcohol consumption. According to The Sunday Nation (5 April 2009), an estimated 70 per cent of young Kenyans under the age of 29 are abusing alcohol. That is a threat to the energy and minds needed to join the productive sector. It has become common practice to meet young people in bus parks and public places demanding 'ashara' or 'kinde' (10 shillings) to enable them to submerge their frustrations in alcohol.
As political elites fight for spoils in government, mineral concession contracts and land leases, they neglect the need to build Africa-focused institutions that ought to nurture more game for hunters. According to the African Commission, close to two-thirds of the African population is below 25. The figure is projected to hit slightly over 650 million by 2015. Imagine 650 million hunters unleashed on the African forest, a forest that is continuously being plundered and destroyed by political elites feeding on 54 carcasses! If the young men who beg for kinde got hold of loaded AK-47s and machetes, what would be the result? As if to add fuel to the fire, companies are being taxed to help run expensive government programmes, forcing them to lay off another team of professionals. The mix is a time-bomb!
Faced with a financial crisis and economic slowdown, countries that command 85 per cent of global economic output assembled in London last week to come up with strategies to safeguard their interests. Should Africans, the African Union and African countries continue with business as usual under the circumstances? To paraphrase US President Barack Obama, the threat facing Africa offers a great opportunity for people to offer leadership.
The time is up for Africa to defer to those who simply bring home meat from a carcass that other people once hunted as leaders. Africa cries for institution-building that will reframe our minds to reclaim youth's place as an asset in society rather than a threat. Institutions would make it easier, say, for Africa to develop a sound policy around alcohol and to avert the threat posed by substance abuse on the continent. Too much focus on external assistance has destroyed local investors by driving the majority to informality and forcing our minds to neglect our abilities to harness nature to our advantage.
If Africa does not take quick steps, the continent will be faced with two types of future leaders: those who watch too many TV soap operas and movies and who become mere celebrity political leaders; and those voters hooked on demanding kinde. The kinde and celebrity leadership will provide a perfect avenue for the continent to be sold in exchange for exotic whisky, mirrors and guns. In such a scenario, an external hyena need not use an old guard to gain entry, it can simply walk in and grab yummy meat! Let us get rid of the hyena culture and save Mama Africa.
* James Shikwati is the director of Inter Region Economic Network.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
The natural storyteller
An interview with Sarudzayi Barnes
Conversations with Writers
Conversations with Writers: When did you start writing?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I started writing when I was doing lower sixth form at Harare High School in 1990. I participated into a short story writing competition facilitated by the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU), which was based at the University of Zimbabwe, I think, but I am not sure. A few months after the competition, I received a prize of $50, which was a lot of money then. The judges invited me to go to the CDU because they wanted to encourage me to take writing seriously, and they also wanted me to develop the story further, but I ignored them. I did not go, I cashed my cheque and blew it on something else.
In 1996 I wrote a play called ‘Sarudzayi’, which I set at the University of Zimbabwe (U.Z.) campus, because I thought U.Z. students were detached from real life out there. As students, we lived in a fantasy-land, expecting well-paying jobs, driving good cars, renting or owning immaculate flats or homes.
When I graduated with my BA in 1995, I was posted to teach in a rural school in Mavhuradonha, at Mavhuradonha School, that’s when it hit me that a university degree was not a passport to good living. But luckily for me, I soon left that job and got a better and more challenging job with the National Archives of Zimbabwe. I decided to re-write the play ‘Sarudzayi’, but sadly I could not get a publisher. I wanted the play to be turned into a ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation) television drama, and I gave a guy called Shoko my manuscript, and he just disappeared with it when he left the ZBC. My hopes were shattered, so I turned my mind away from writing.
In 2002, when I was already living here in the UK, I decided to write Zimbabwean folktales. I wrote about twenty of them (I still have the manuscript), and I began hunting for a publisher. I gave it to a friend, who said the way the folktales ended was too violent and no publisher was likely to publish them. Because I usually ended the folktales with the wrong doer being punished, either being chased from the village, becoming insane or being killed, just like we were told these stories. I was frustrated and put the manuscript in a suitcase under my bed.
I was participating in a demonstration at the Lords Cricket Grounds in London in May 2003, because we wanted the England Cricket Board to boycott cricket games with Zimbabwe, and because I was one of leaders of the demonstrators, a guy called Ian Noah came to interview me. By then he was working for Intermedia Press, or I think it was his company – I really don’t know. We spoke about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and I told him about my desire to write something about Zimbabwean politics. He gave me his business card and said he would love to work with me, guide me on the project and help me by publishing my book. So I came back to Coventry full of ambition and hope, that at least I found someone who could help me air my views through writing. I started working on How Mugabe Mugged Zimbabwe (and Made Mugs Out of the Rest of the World), a title Noah suggested, straight away. I was documenting things from a journalistic point of view, so Ian Noah advised me to put a bit of analysis into the book. I approached a Zimbabwean academic called Collin Zhuawu, who has a Masters in International Relations, and together we worked on the book. We signed a contract with Noah, the book was due to be published on 10 December 2003 as print-on-demand, but that’s when we last heard of Ian Noah. We phoned his mobile several times and left several messages until we got tired, but he did not return our calls. The book appears on online bookshops but we never managed to buy copies of the book. I don’t really know what happened. Ian Noah was very keen to see the project succeed, and many of our friends who ordered the copies never got to get any, so I don’t really know what happened to Ian Noah. I don’t think he sold any copies at all. Whatever happened, I think, was something beyond his control, because he was a genuine person. Again after the failure of this project, I shelved writing, but in 2007 I decided to write again, because I had learnt about self-publishing. I thought of what could be a more pressing issue among my fellow Zimbabweans, then decided to write about problems faced by Zimbabweans who emigrate to the UK, South Africa, Canada, Australia and America etc, for both political and economic reasons, how they are leaving children to fend for themselves in Zimbabwe, or husbands and sometimes wives for many years while they work and send money to their broken families. I thought about things like immigration issues, HIV and AIDS because the whole separation process brings in temptations. I also realised that HIV and AIDS are things many Zimbabweans are not comfortable to talk about, yet it’s something affecting us. So I wrote The Endless Trail and paid Author House £635 to have it published. They gave me 20 copies for free, and they sell my book through the website.
My book was published on 13 March 2008. I was thrilled when I received the first copy. I went everywhere with it, showing anyone who cared to listen or to see it. But there are some people, I thought they were my friends, whom I gave free copies and up to now some of them haven’t even bothered to read the book! That’s when I realised that a lot of Zimbabweans don’t have a reading culture. I told myself that if I am to continue writing, I should aim to make my writings international and not Zimbabwean centred.
In July this year I decided to register my own self-publishing company,The Lion Press Ltd, so now I self publish my books and I also help other writers to get published. On 30 September 2008, I published The Village Story-Teller: Zimbabwean Folktales (which is basically that manuscript I had put in my suitcase in 2002 because I could not find a publisher). I improved on the stories and published them. The book has been well received by African children here in the UK, some African-American children as well, who got the copies through my friend who is a talk-show producer, Fritz Kanyile Ka-Ngwenya of the www.afrodisakshow.com. The book has been well received.
Conversations with Writers: How would you describe the writing you are doing?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I write about what I see everyday. I fictionalise things that I see or hear. So my work is a kind of socio-economic history. In The Endless Trail I wrote about real historical events, the formation of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), the 1998 and 1999 ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions) mass stay-aways, the queues for fuel, the tense political situation in Zimbabwe leading to the brain-drain.
I wrote about how Zimbabweans in the UK see Gatwick as Maenzanise, where everyone works side by side, the Zimbabwean educated and those who were selling crafts in neighbouring countries or vegetable vendors; former house-maids now working side by side with their former employers in nursing homes and factories.
Conversations with Writers: Who is your target audience?
Sarudzayi Barnes: Initially I wanted to target Zimbabweans and other Africans. Now I write for everyone, and I have changed my writing language and style as well, because in The Endless Trail I wrote a lot of Shonglish to retain the African-ness flavour, now I write standard English for all communities to read.
Conversations with Writers: In the writing that you are doing, which authors would you say influenced you most?
Sarudzayi Barnes: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Alexander Kanengoni, Alexander McCall Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kei Miller (especially), Andrea Levy, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiongo.
I love Caribbean literature and I want to write my next book in Jamaican Patois. Kei Millerwrites about everyday in Jamaica. He writes about the plight of gay people, gangsters, Rastafarians, oppression etc. I am a Rastafarian Sistren myself, and I kind of identify with a lot of things he writes about. When you read his books it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction. When people read The Endless Trail they ask me if it’s a true story, and I say, no, it’s fiction, and still they want me to tell them what happened to Jenny, because I leave them in suspense, and I say I don’t know. So they want me to serialise the book. So now I am working on Just Another Day, which a sequel to The Endless Trail.
Conversations with Writers: What are your main concerns as a writer?
Sarudzayi Barnes: It is very difficult to get published. If you do self-publishing, marketing is another big hurdle to cross. Unless you are well known and well connected, you can easily become frustrated. People generally look at your book if it is published by a very big company. To make matters worse, it is difficult to get a wider African readership. They would rather read Danielle Steel than look at a fellow African writer, and it’s worse if they know you. They judge you by your appearance. I am not really bothered about making money through writing books, because I have realised that one can’t make a living from writing alone unless you become big like J. K. Rowling, so I will continue to write, work hard and self-publish, give a few free copies away and sell a few. One day my turn will come. Someone out there will realise my talent and who knows? Besides, when I write, it’s a legacy for my children.
Conversations with Writers: How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I write about things I see and hear. That influences my writing. I studied history, and I write social history through fiction.
Conversations with Writers: What are the biggest challenges that you face?
Sarudzayi Barnes: The biggest challenge is writing something which is appealing to my readers. I overcome this by circulating my manuscripts to a few people of different backgrounds to get their opinion. In The Village Story-Teller: Zimbabwean Folktales I asked a few children to read my stories and asked them to jot down comments. So I got five children between seven years and 13 years to review my book, all from different backgrounds.
Conversations with Writers: How many books have you written so far?
Sarudzayi Barnes: How Mugabe mugged Zimbabwe (and made Mugs of the Rest of the World) by Sarudzayi Chifamba-Barnes and Collin Zhuawu (Paperback, 10 December 2003).
The Endless Trail (Author House UK, March 2008).
The Village Story-Teller: Zimbabwean Folktales, The Lion Press Ltd, UK, September 2008 by Sarudzayi Chifamba-Barnes, Lynne Sykes, and Jeffery Milanzi.
Conversations with Writers: Do you write everyday?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I don’t write everyday. I might go for weeks without writing. I write when I feel the urge to write, like a mother giving birth when she feels the urge to push. If I plan to write something, I sit by my computer and only end up playing Mahjong Solatire online. I end when I feel that my head is empty. I don’t stop until I empty my ideas on paper. I can go for the whole day or night, or just for an hour or less. It depends.
Conversations with Writers: How did you choose a publisher for your latest book?
Sarudzayi Barnes: My latest book is The Village Story-Teller. I self-published it under my own publishing company, The Lion Press Ltd, because I don’t want to go about looking for a publisher again. I want to control my sells, my profits or my losses. I like it. The disadvantage is with marketing. I am not good at marketing. I am good at telling stories.
Conversations with Writers: Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?
Sarudzayi Barnes: Everything was cool with me. I work with a team of illustrators and I use the same editor. Raising money for production costs is the only difficult thing, but I have a steady job even though I don’t like it.
I enjoyed writing the stories, because I am a natural story-teller.
Conversations with Writers: What sets the book apart from the other things you've written?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I wrote it for children, especially African kids in the diaspora because I realised that with the amount of work we do here, it’s a ‘shift’ all the time and parents don’t have time to tell their children those kind of stories we were told under the moonlight in an African village. So I have kind of assumed the role of the village story-teller.
Conversations with Writers: What will your next book be about?
Sarudzayi Barnes: I am writing a sequel to The Endless Trail, which focuses on the daily challenges faced by people in Zimbabwe, health issues, political issues and social issues.
I am writing about the challenges faced by the HIV-positive main character, Jenny, in her day-to-day life in Zimbabwe: The challenge of caring for two HIV-positive daughters, one who was raped by Tito, the gardener and infected with HIV when Jenny is in the UK where she is working as an illegal immigrant, and the other daughter who acquired HIV through mother-to-child-transmission. Through Jenny, I want the world to understand the plight of Zimbabweans who struggle to survive for each day. That’s why my book is called Just Another Day.
Conversations with Writers: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
Sarudzayi Barnes: To get Lord Chris Smith (former culture secretary under Tony Blair’s government) to write a review for my book. I felt highly honoured. And also to get Terence Ranger, who is a professor at Oxford University, to write a review for The Village Story-Teller: Zimbabwean Folktales. I feel highly honoured. It’s not easy to get such big names to sit down and write a review for a book. It is encouraging. Also to see people reading my books. Its a great achievement. And just to see and touch the book itself and tell myself, this is me, this is my work! Its a great achievement.
* Sarudzayi Barnes runs publishing company, The Lion Press Ltd, which specialises in African and Afro-Caribbean children's stories and other African and Afro-Caribbean literature genres.
* This interview was first published in Conversations with Writers.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Aboard a rudderless ship
What happens when a state (Somalia) becomes a rudderless ship? This week's roundup of blogs by Sokari Ekine suggests that it is not just Somalia that is without direction. Abductions in Zimbabwe, the outing of gays and lesbians in Uganda and the election of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa all call into question the direction of the leadership and status of human rights across the continent says Ekine.
What happens when a state (Somalia) becomes a rudderless ship? But it’s not just Somalia that is without direction. Abductions in Zimbabwe, the outing of gays and lesbians in Uganda and the election of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa all call into question the direction of the leadership and status of human rights across the continent.
Somali pirates still continue to occupy the African blogosphere and this week Rosemary Ekosso adds her $1 worth to the discussion. I say $1 as it is one of the better posts on the subject. Rosemary takes us back to 1991 and the collapse of Somalia into ‘lawlessness and statelessness’ and the division of Somalia into Somaliland and Somalia. She goes on to ask the rhetorical questions ‘what happens when a state becomes a rudderless ship’ – the answer is ‘bad people step in’ which is only part of the Somali equation. The other part is the dumping of nuclear waste and the stealing of Somali tuna. She goes on to suggest that it is not just the Western powers doing ‘bad things to Somalis’ but also other Africans.
‘Foreign powers doing bad things to Africans are very often helped by other Africans. Just look at many of the continent’s so-called leaders. In fact, Africans doing bad things to Africans are very often helped by other Africans, sometimes even by the victims of the bad things. Who helps to rig elections in Africa? Ordinary people who suffer as much from the depredations of dictatorial regimes but are bamboozled into thinking that they are protected by their ethnic or regional affiliation with the corrupt dictatorships. But before you sink into Afropessimism and start wringing your hands and saying we are a cursed race, remember Marshall Petain of France and Vidkun Quisling of Norway. Remember Oswald Mosley and Lord Haw-Haw.’
Kahenya posts the second in his two-part rant (I can’t really call it anything else but clearly there is much anger) against Africans (Kenyans and Ethiopians in particular) in the diaspora.
‘I’m very disappointed in the diaspora ‘cause its full of haters. And its sad because when they talk about we, they refer to them and their adopted country folk. Which is ok, cause we don’t really need them back here, we are doing just fine. This is to the Kenyan and Ethiopian haters. Kenyan haters cause you have been trying to fuck our game up and Ethiopian haters cause when I wrote the first post, you nearly murdered me on the net. And also offline’
Ishmail Dhorat reports on the ANC debate hosted on Twitter last week. Obviously it is now over but I thought it worth reporting on because it is the first time that I am aware of a political party in Africa using the social web to host a debate. However as one of the commentators rightly points out, this is not really such a huge step because most ANC supporters don’t have access to the internet and aren’t aware of Twitter.
‘It’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve heard. You’re saying this is a huge step because “they are making an effort at real engagement”. The point is, with whom? Not the majority of their supporters sitting at home, not knowing what the internet is, let alone Twitter. I don’t see this ‘publicity stunt’ getting them any new supporters. Do you honestly think they will make compelling arguments, say anything intelligent?’
This is Zimbabwe reports on the Zimbabwean government’s plans to revoke the bail given out to three political abductees who face torture whilst in custody.
‘As hard as it may be for people outside Zimbabwe to believe, torture in our country is actually illegal – but not something the State or the state-controlled media appear to give much weight too.
We have just received an email received from someone who has spoken to Chris Dhlamini – one of the abductees still hospitalised for torture injuries sustained while he was in custody – and it highlights the extreme anxiety the article has produced in the three.’
Project Diaspora comments on the recent online celebrity stunt by Ashton Kutcher who went into compete with CNN to bring the number of his Twitter followers using the carrot that he will buy 10,000 mosquito nets if he gets to 1 million followers. TMS Ruge (the blogger) points out the flimsy nature of stunts like these which are short lived and do not enable or empower the people who are, in this case, affected by malaria.
‘The solution to malaria, much like varied solutions to ending our addiction to aid, can be found within Africa. My problem with the strategy of dealing with malaria employed by Malaria No More, Nothing but Nets, et al is that it erodes the ability of local capacity to deal with this problem. It is also not infinitely sustainable, and dare I say it, smacks of paternalistic ethos. It’s a band-aid on a gashing wound. It’s the “fly-to-Africa-and-adopt-a-brown-baby-instead-of-investing-in-a-sustainable-business-that-can-help-the-entire-family” syndrome. Africa’s capacity to tackle these issues is vastly eroded by a Western celebrity culture of “look at me, look at me, I am saving Africa”-ism, and the misguided notion that Africans can’t do anything for ourselves, therefore it is the West’s right to do things for us.
Sure bed nets keep you from being bitten, but what are we supposed to do when we are not under the nets.’
Black Looks reports on the repeat outing of lesbians and gays by Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper.
In this despicable act of pure hatred 50 gays and lesbians are named and described with some even publishing their home address, occupation and car type. A number of those mentioned are human rights activists and members of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). The horrific thing about this piece of vicious cheap journalism is it puts all the named people at risk of loosing their jobs, their homes and being ostracised from their families. It is also of great concern that they can publish names like this with impunity. I hope that one of the many human rights organisations operating in Uganda including the Ugandan Human Rights Commission will take up this vile act and sue the paper.
Moving on to a lighter note, Cameroonian blogger, Dulce Camer has a feature post with an interview with musician, Blick Bassey.
‘Blick was born in 1974 to parents of the bassa tribe of Cameroon and grew up in Yaounde, the capital town where the dominant languages are English & French. By the age of 17, he created his first music band named the Jazz Crew with their sound being a fusion of African melodies, jazz and bossa nova. With this, they quickly became a very sought after band in town.’
* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Another way to build a foothold
How will the global economic crisis impact on China’s African involvement? Till now discussion has focussed on whether the impact will be positive or negative. Claims that China’s involvement will continue or even grow have been countered with signs of a scaling down of previous commitments in a number of countries, especially DRC and Guinea.
But some pundits have been going beyond this debate to argue that the crisis is seeing a change in the nature of China’s involvement, in line with the more adventurous perspectives that the crisis is opening up for China globally.
Dr Martyn Davies of the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch argues that the crisis will speed up China’s African investment . ‘Chinese financial institutions are now investing capital on the continent in a counter-cyclical manner, financing Chinese companies that, in most cases, are venturing abroad for the first time’ he claims. ‘As Western capital is now leaving emerging markets, including Africa, it is being supplanted by Chinese investment in hard infrastructure’.
Broad packages which bundle up infrastructure investment with aid and commodity purchases help Chinese firms enter African markets and gain a foothold. This is helped by what Davies calls ‘a new risk model’ which differs from that of Western investors thanks to the state-owned structure of Chinese banks. This enables investments which, Davies argues, are ‘arguably invested in a manner that is more suited to the needs of developing economies’.
A major actor here is the recently-launched US$5 billion China-Africa Development Fund [CADF], set up to fund Chinese firms investing in Africa. As well as traditional sectors for Chinese investment such as infrastructure and mining, it is also targeting commercial agriculture and industrial parks.
‘There are now four “official” zones that have been endorsed by the PRC government – in Mauritius, Egypt, Nigeria and Zambia. There are many more examples of the emergence of Chinese commercial clusters on the continent in at least eight other African economies. All of these zones are focused on beneficiation and local assembly manufacturing.’ Davies reports.
Riaan Meyer of the China and Africa project at the South African Institute of International Affairs also sees an expanding role for Chinese finance in Africa. ‘Chinese banks currently focus on financing energy, resources and infrastructure projects in Africa, but I predict they will move into other areas. These banks, especially the Bank of China, are already involved in trade finance,’ he adds. ‘Given the growing Chinese investment and associated presence in Africa, it is the logical next step that they move into other areas of commercial banking.’
Bright Simons, from the Accra-based think-tank IMANI, also sees a
shift in the focus of Chinese financing. ‘Rather than focus on the infrastructure behemoths that earlier Chinese inflows helped to put up, the CADF will emphasise entrepreneurial opportunities in a wide range of sectors where private-sector African operators could engage with their Chinese counterparts under the eagle eye of the state-appointed fund managers’ he predicts.
A shift by the fund to a more hands-on strategy was predicted this week by the CADF’s general counsel Mark Fung. ‘ We want to be less passive and more active’ he told a hedge fund conference in Hong Kong.
As he explained, most of the fund’s current investments, which range in size from US$5 million to US$25 million, are so-called ‘passive investments’ as the fund does not currently have the resources or expertise to take an active part in the management of its projects. The fund typically seeks 8-10 year-long investments, and is prohibited from taking majority stakes.
Significantly, Fung also claimed, in response to well-known concerns about the record of Chinese firms on environmental standards, that the CADF was one of the first Chinese funds to insist on an environmental assessment of the projects it invests in.
But how is the inclusion of farmland among the CADF’s investment areas to be squared with this week’s statement by China’s deputy agriculture minister Niu Dun, that China has ruled out joining the growing trend of outsourcing food production by investing in overseas farmland?
‘We cannot rely on [investments in] other countries for our own food security,’ Mr Niu told the Financial Times in an interview at the Group of Eight’s first meeting on agriculture. ‘We have to depend on ourselves,’ he said in the first comments on the subject by a senior Chinese policy maker.
The Chinese statement certainly seemed at odds with the consensus of the G8 meeting. Two of the UN’s leading food agencies - the Food and Agricultural Organisation [FAO] and the International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD] were
quoted as approving the potential of cross-border farmland deals in boosting global food supplies and food security – though the conference also approved the idea of a code of conduct for such deals.
The Minister’s statement also appears to be at odds with the finding by the Barcelona-based NGO GRAIN that ‘the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms in which China has recently bought a stake, ‘’has already invested several hundred million dollars in the agricultural sector, mainly in buying farmland in areas like south of the Sahara’’.’
This may be another example of the well-known tendency for Chinese firms and investors on the ground to pay little heed to their government’s official policy statements. But there is not necessarily any contradiction. While the Chinese state might well not see land purchase overseas as a solution to China’s need for national food security, that does not mean that Chinese investors along with their other partners, might not see farmland as a sound commercial investment for the future as food prices continue to rise.
The difference is certainly meaningful for China. But it need not make much difference for those in Africa concerned for issues of food sovereignty.
* Stephen Marks is research associate and project coordinator with Fahamu's China in Africa Project.
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/.
Engaging the inclusive government
After nearly a year of seemingly endless talks brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Zimbabwe’s long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed a coalition government in February. Opposition entry into government is a landmark development, and broad segments of the population are optimistic for the first time in years that a decade of repression and decline can be reversed.
Talks to save unity government in trouble
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai tried to put on a brave face Wednesday by suggesting that talks aimed at resolving outstanding issues in the unity government had not reached a deadlock. But events so far show his optimism is misplaced. Crippling the coalition are issues around the fact that Mugabe stripped off the communications sector from a ministry controlled by the MDC, the delay in swearing in Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett, fresh farms invasions, the continued detention of political prisoners and the appointment of governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries.
UK pledges £15m humanitarian support
A £15m package to help the people of Zimbabwe has been announced by International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander. This critical humanitarian aid will mean increased support for the country’s health system, greater access to clean water and more support for struggling farmers in Zimbabwe.
Africa: First ladies make pledges on Maternal health, HIV and education
The African First Ladies Health Summit concluded with a commitment by these influential women to use their positions to improve maternal health, stop the AIDS epidemic and promote girls’ education. The two-day summit attracted first ladies from more than a dozen African nations and a wide range of supporters from diverse organizations and corporations.
Africa: Uganda embraces low-tech test for cervical cancer
In Uganda, a fast, cheap diagnostic test based on vinegar is invigorating the battle against cervical cancer. Health activists are raising money to put it in a mobile clinic and health officials are eyeing a national rollout.
Liberia: More children surviving, more women dying in childbirth
The number of women dying in childbirth in Liberia has nearly doubled since the 1980s, according to a recent UN report that has policymakers calling for urgent attention to reproductive healthcare. While the report shows encouraging trends in infant and child survival, it puts maternal mortality at 994 women per 100,000 live births in 2007 compared to 578 in 1987.
South Africa: Call for men and boys' inclusion in gender policy
Gender activists are calling on the new South African government to improve the country’s gender legislation. Current gender policies focus on women, ignoring the rights, roles and responsibility of men and boys, they say. "Not a single political party has made gender equality part of their manifesto, let alone focused on how they might involve men and boys in achieving this," said Bafana Khumalo, co-director of the Sonke Gender Justice Network, an NGO working with boys and men. "This has to change with utmost urgency."
Tunisia: Rights activist warns of decline in gains
Bochra Bel Haj Hmida is a lawyer, women's rights activist, and former president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women. She has been one of the fiercest opponents of she regards as the oppression of Tunisian women regarding inheritance. Hmida is also responsible for saving dozens of young people from the gallows in 1984, when she met former president Habib Bourguiba and his wife Wassila and convinced the president to issue a pardon.
DRC: Child soldiers to be released
Plans are under way to release more child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a UN envoy has said at the end of a one-week visit, urging an end to ongoing violations against children in a humanitarian crisis engulfing the country’s east.
Nigeria: Judge denies Chevron’s request of $485,000 from villagers
Judge Susan Illston has denied Chevron Corp’s request to recoup over $485,000 in costs associated with a human rights case filed by Nigerian villagers. The corporation said the plaintiffs owed them the costs - including the cost of photocopies and deposition fees - after they were found not liable last fall. However, the judge disagreed.
Rwanda: Rwandan in US arrested over alleged genocidal activities
A Rwandan man living in the United States state of Kansas was arrested on Thursday in connection with the 1994 genocide in his home country, the US Department of Justice said. Lazare Kabaya Kobagaya (82) was arrested on charges of lying on his naturalisation fraud and misusing his alien registration card, officials with the Department of Justice said.
Somalia: Donors should address accountability
Donor governments meeting in Brussels this week should ensure that pledges of assistance to Somali security forces and African Union troops in Somalia will not contribute to human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch has said.
Sudan: Revise repressive press law
Sudan's parliament should make major changes to a draft press law to ensure that it protects freedom of speech as guaranteed under the Sudanese constitution and international law, Human Rights Watch has said. The proposed law, to be debated this week in parliament, is among 21 laws the two parties in the Government of National Unity have agreed to revise.
Horn of Africa: Thirty-five drown in latest smuggling tragedy
Thirty-five people drowned after one of two smugglers' boats carrying more than 220 passengers across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia capsized off the coast of Yemen's Abyan region. "This is one of the worst incidents to occur in the Gulf of Aden in recent months," said Leila Nassif, head of the UNHCR office in Aden. "Unfortunately, more and more people are so desperate in their countries of origin that they are ready to put their lives in jeopardy to change their situation."
Somalia: Piracy must not divert attention from humanitarian needs
As the latest piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia grab headlines and international donors meet in Brussels to discuss the security situation, attention and funding must not be diverted from the humanitarian crisis facing hundreds of thousands of Somalis, says the International Rescue Committee.
Somalia: Relief agencies urge Obama to step up aid
Six aid agencies have urged the Obama administration to consider humanitarian needs in its policy review on Somalia. As the latest piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia capture the world's attention, humanitarian organizations warned that the country remains in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis. More than three million people are in need of emergency assistance inside the country and half a million Somali refugees have fled to neighboring countries.
Sudan: Number of returnees tops 20,000
The number of Sudanese refugees returning home from Uganda this year with the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has topped the 20,000 mark. This brings the total number of people helped home by UNHCR since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended Sudan’s long-running north-south civil war, to nearly 150,000, including 85,000 from Uganda. An additional 160,000 others have repatriated on their own from neighbouring countries.
Africa: ‘Africa, don’t sign away resources’
African nations must stop signing away their natural resources in skewed deals with foreign firms, the African winner of the 2009 “Green Nobel” prize said in an interview. Ona, a wheelchair-bound Gabonese activist, has won the African 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize for a decade of activism to protect the Congo Basin Rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the world.
Global: Canadian Advantage – for whom?
Not long ago, a young Nova Scotian woman working in Guatemala told me how she found herself in a bus being blocked by local people protesting the destructive operations of a Canadian mining company in their community. Fellow passengers advised her to pretend she was American; Canadians were not welcome.
Guinea Bissau: Arrests over coup 'plot'
Two army officers in Guinea have been arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup, security sources told the BBC. The arrests were made as new military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was preparing to make his first trip out of Guinea since seizing power in December. He led a bloodless coup after the death of Lansana Conte, who had ruled the West African country since 1984.
Mauritania: Six candidates to run for president
Six candidacies have met the deadline to submit their papers to the Mauritania's Constitutional Council, and are now set to contest the 6 June presidential elections in the country, official sources told PANA. Gen. Mohamed Ould Aziz, leader of the military junta that overthrew democratically-elected President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi last August, was the first to submit his papers.
Nigeria: Opposition commends Yar’Adua over 'no troops' decision
In a rare move, Nigeria's main opposition Action Congress (AC) has commended President Umaru Yar’Adua over his decision not to deploy soldiers to South-west Ekiti state for Saturday’s governorship election re-run. In a statement issued in Lagos, the party described the President’s decision as perhaps ''the single most overt act he has taken in furtherance of his administration’s rule of law mantra and commitment to free and fair elections."
Nigeria: Opposition slams electoral body over election observers
Nigeria's most vocal opposition party, the Action Congress (AC), has criticised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its failure to accredit "credible observer groups" for Saturday’s governorship re-run in South West Ekiti state. In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said INEC’s decision to accredit "only the groups that catch its fancy", rather than those widely acclaimed as credible, could be a signal to how the commission would conduct the elections.
South Africa: ANC gains over two-thirds of vote
The African National Congress (ANC) is heading for a decisive victory in South Africa's general election, taking more than two-thirds of the vote so far. With more than 12 million votes counted, the ANC has 67%. The major opposition parties are trailing well behind - the Democratic Alliance with 16% and the newly formed Congress of the People (Cope) has 7.6%.
West Africa: Nigeria warns against power grab in Togo
With Africa once again experiencing unconstitutional takeover of power as witnessed recently in Mauritania, Guinea and Madagascar, Nigeria has won against a similar development in Togo. The warning was issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Ojo Maduekwe, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Togo, which is embroiled in what the Minister termed ''leadership tussle epidemic''.
Burundi: FBI to help unravel murder of anti-graft czar
Agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are expected in Burundi to take part in investigations into the unresolved assassination of the Vice-President of the Observatory to Fight Corruption and Economic Malfeasance (OLUCOME), Ernest Manirumva, government sources told PANA here. The gesture of the US government was described by Burundi's Public Prosecutor, Elysée Ndaye, as a "guarantee of transparency" in the search for truth about the masterminds, perpetrators and motive for the crime, which aroused global emotion.
Kenya: 'It's our turn to eat'
Michela Wrong’s latest book “It’s Our Turn to Eat: the Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower” has stirred controversy in Kenya. Through the struggles of anti-corruption whistleblower John Githongo, Wrong examines how corruption has plagued the country. Transparency Watch spoke with Wrong about the themes behind her book: identity, history, cynicism and integrity.
Zimbabwe: Hypocrisy over Reserve Bank cars exposed
The battle between the Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank over the allocation of cars to MPs has left ministers open to charges of hypocrisy by the legislators as they have more than two vehicles each while trying to block their colleagues in parliament from taking any from the central bank.
Angola: Government to invest $8.6 billion to bolster industry
The Angola government is considering over US8.6 billion investment to boost the transformation of the industry between 2009 and 2012, Angola's deputy-minister for industry Kiala Gabriel has announced. Mr Abriel said the amount will be channeled to various sub-programmes like those of reconstitution of the human capital and creation of infrastructures to support the development.
DRC: Continuing displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the number of civilians uprooted in continuing raids by the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the Lubero area of North Kivu over the last seven weeks has risen to over 100,000. A series of concerted attacks carried out by the rebel group against civilians in the villages of Luofu, Kirumba, Kanyabonga and Kayna near Lubero, 170 kms north of Goma, have left a trail of death and destruction and caused recurrent displacement.
Global: General Assembly agrees on terms of UN summit on financial crisis
The United Nations will convene a global summit in June to assess the impact of the world economic crisis on development, after the General Assembly agreed on the arrangements for the conference. “In the midst of the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression, we now have the opportunity and the responsibility to search for solutions that take into account the interests of all nations, the rich and the poor, the large and the small,” Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto stated after the 192-member body adopted a resolution on the 1 to 3 June summit.
Global: IMF updates World Economic Outlook for 2009
The global economy, which is experiencing the most severe recession since World War II, is projected to shrink by 1.3 percent in 2009, with a slow recovery expected in 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports in its April World Economic Outlook (WEO) released on Wednesday. Although the rate of contraction should ease from the second quarter of this year, output per capita is still projected to decline in countries representing 75 percent of the world economy. It is expected that growth will re-emerge in 2010 at a pace of 1.9 percent, which is sluggish in comparison to past recoveries.
Global: World Bank to launch stimulus for developing nations
Moving to combat the spiraling economic downturn in developing countries, the World Bank will unveil a major initiative today to almost double financing for road, bridge and other infrastructure projects from Latin America to Eastern Europe, allowing poorer nations to create jobs in a manner similar to the stimulus programs underway in the United States and other wealthy countries.
Global: Glaxo to launch final-stage malaria vaccine trial
GlaxoSmithKline Plc is about to start final-stage clinical trials of the world's most advanced malaria vaccine, which could reach the market within three years, the British-based drugmaker said on Friday. If successful, Glaxo believes its Mosquirix vaccine has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of deaths and prevent tens of millions of cases of malaria in Africa.
South Africa: Doctors' strike spreads ahead of crucial meeting
Public sector doctors are preparing for a national strike should government fail to table satisfactory salary proposals at today’s (Friday 24th) crucial bargaining council meeting. On Thursday, doctors at Chris Hani Baragwanath, the biggest hospital in the country, joined at least 24 other hospitals in industrial action by declaring an immediate go-slow.
South Africa: South Africa faces treatment funding shortfall
South Africa will face tough choices in the years ahead as its government strives to extend treatment to all who need it through the public health system, a leading health economist told the Fourth South African AIDS Conference earlier this month. Dr Susan Cleary, the director of the Health Economics Unit at the University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine, outlined the financial dilemma that South Africa will face in the coming decade as the number on HIV treatment grows.
Southern Africa: Rate on cholera infections continues to slow
The cholera epidemic in southern Africa continues to abate, but international and local health authorities stress the need to remain vigilant, the United Nations has reported. “Overall, the duration and magnitude of the epidemic underscores the need for strengthening surveillance, preparedness and underscores plans in all countries,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Swaziland: TB- 'Indeed we have a problem'
The Swazi government's slow response to a fast-growing tuberculosis epidemic has eroded the possibility of controlling it. Themba Dlamini, the National TB Control Programme manager, says there has been a nearly ten-fold increase in the last 20 years from about 1 000 TB cases per year in 1987 to over 9,600 cases in 2007. Swaziland also has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate; people living with HIV/AIDS are significantly more vulnerable to catching tuberculosis.
Zambia: Malaria deaths down by 66% – WHO
The World Health Organizat ion (WHO) has announced that Zambia had achieved a major reduction in malaria mortality through accelerated malaria control activities, joining several other African countries in the crusade to eradicate the disease. Malaria deaths reported from health facilities have declined by 66% in Zambia and this result, along with other data, indicates that Zambia has reached the 2010 Roll Back Malaria target of more than 50% reduction in malaria mortality compared to 2000, said WHO.
Zambia: Sanitation backlog to blame for high child mortality
Dehydration caused by severe diarrhoea is a key cause of infant deaths in Zambia, a country with one of the highest child morality rates in the world, according to a new report by Zambia’s health department. This will not change until government makes a major effort to improve access to clean water and sanitation throughout the country, health experts say.
Guinea Bissau: Teachers' strike continues
The strike by teachers of the four main senior high schools in Bissau entered day four on Thursday, sources close to the Education Ministry told PANA. A similar strike on 19-20 March, observed by 95 per cent of teachers all over the nation, had earlier disrupted the school calendar. "Classes only began in January and have been interrupted by several strike actions of teachers. We have not learnt anything this year. It is better government cancels this school year,” Mr. Pansao Blaté, a final year student of the Agostinho Neto Senior High School, said.
West Africa: Combatting world's lowest literacy rates
Illiteracy rates in West Africa are the highest in the world, cramping development and weakening citizens’ power to effect socio-economic and political change, say education agencies, who are calling on governments and donors to step up literacy and education efforts. Sixty-five million West African adults – 40 percent of the adult population – cannot read or write according to a new study, 'From closed books to open doors – West Africa's literacy challenge'.
Kenya: Call for submissions - Writing Queer Kenya
We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don't exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do. We want Kenyan stories by Kenya-based and Kenya-born queers. About everything. We want writing about the dailyness of our lives, the good, the bad, the weird, the indifferent.
GRANTS/FELLOWSHIPS/AWARDS/CALL FOR PAPERS/JOBS
Call for Submissions - Writing Queer Kenya
We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don't exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.
We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don’t exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.
We want Kenyan stories by Kenya-based and Kenya-born queers. About everything. We want writing about the dailyness of our lives, the good, the bad, the weird, the indifferent. If you have lived it, we want to hear about it. We especially want to reach beyond Nairobi, Mombasa, and other cities to all corners of the country. And we know the rest of Kenya, Africa, and the world wants to hear these stories as well.
We have three distinct formats. Choose what appeals to you.
1. Interviews: Tell us your story. Get in touch with us and we’ll arrange an interview. We value your time and your confidentiality. Not sure you want to meet us directly? We have phones and email and all manner of ways to make this happen.
2. Letters to Kenya: Write (or unearth) a 500-1,000-word letter.
To whom? Parents, pastors, the government, best friends, former friends, present lovers, former lovers, the person you really want to tune. Get personal, get intimate. Say what you really want to say!
3. Personal narratives: Write (or unearth) a 2,500-3,000-word narrative about the dailyness of being queer. The high points, low points, the endless plateaus, the quick glances, indrawn breaths of desire, domestic thrills, sexual boredom, beginnings and endings. If you write it, we’ll consider it.
All submissions should be typed, double-spaced, and submitted electronically to [email protected] If you can’t type, don’t want to, or can’t get hold of an email program that functions, get in touch with us. We can help.
How You Can Contribute
1. Get the word out. Convince your friends with hidden manuscripts or stories that must be shared to un-closet them.
2. Send us encouraging emails. We need your good wishes, your fabulously good wishes.
3. Volunteer time! We need all the help we can get.
4. Take ownership. We’re editing, sure, but these are our collective stories.
April 30, 2009: Deadline to Receive Submissions June 30, 2009: Selected Contributors Contacted Publication: December 2009.
Questions? We’re glad to answer. Please contact us at
Kenya: Gays demand protection after attack
The gay community in Kenya is demanding justice, protection and that government takes into serious account, increasing threats and attacks of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) people in that country. This comes come after a brutal attack of a lesbian in one of Nairobi’s prominent nightclubs, Madhouse, by a woman unknown to the victim, violence which the country’s gay community says was clearly motivated by homophobia.
Senegal: Government frees HIV workers imprisoned for being gay
The court of appeal in Senegal has freed nine gay men imprisoned in January 2009 for “acts against nature and the creation of a criminal organisation.” An international outcry followed the convictions of the men, who were members of an HIV prevention organisation. They were arrested at the home of an HIV outreach worker near the Senegalese capital Dakar in December 2008. Condoms and lubricant were confiscated by the police as evidence of “improper and unnatural acts.”
South Africa: Queer muslims to tackle Shariah on sexiual minorities
Queer Muslims can expect much more than just spiritual upliftment during The Inner Circle (TIC)’s Annual International Retreat starting on 24 - 27 April in Cape Town, they are in for educational empowerment and recreation too. The impact of the Shariah on gender and sexual minorities in Africa is this year’s theme which, according TIC, was inspired by a rise in queer related incidences in Africa such as the fact that homosexuality is illegal and carries a death sentence in 12 Northern states that impose the Shariah Law.
Global: World Bank climate investment funds undermine climate and gender justice
Climate change is widely considered to be one of the gravest threats to the sustainability of the planet's environment, the well-being of its people and the strength of its economies. Mainstream scientists agree that the Earth's climate is changing from the build-up of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide, that result from such essential human activities as electricity generation, transportation and agriculture.
Global: World's major rivers drying up
Some of the developing world's largest rivers are drying up because of climate change, threatening water supplies in some of the most populous places on Earth, say scientists. Researchers from the US-based National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) analysed data combined with computer models to assess flow in 925 rivers — nearly three quarters of the world's running water supply — between 1948 and 2004.
Senegal: Can "green charcoal" help save the trees?
An environmental NGO in northern Senegal is about to go to market with “green charcoal” – a household fuel produced from agricultural waste materials to replace wood and charcoal in cooking stoves. Given that Senegal’s trees are disappearing, finding viable alternatives is a must, a Ministry of Energy official says. At least half of Senegal’s 13 million people rely on wood and charcoal for household fuel, while 40 percent relying on petrol products like butane gas, the ministry says.
Senegal: Dakar to host regional workshop on environment
A three-day regional workshop aimed at strengthening the competences of executives in the fields of environmental communication, advocacy and leadership opens in Dakar on Monday. The workshop to be held under the auspices, Enda-LEAD Afrique, an NGO, is to train "ambassadors" to improve their exchanges with staff of various ministries about the importance of sustainable management of the environment and natural resources for economic and social development, and the importance of the integration of links between poverty and the environment.
Global: Food prices remain high in developing countries
High food prices persist in developing countries despite an improved global cereal supply situation and a sharp decline in international food prices, FAO has warned in its latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report. This is creating further hardship for millions of poor people already suffering from hunger and undernourishment.
Morocco: Public in outcry over soaring prices of food
The cost of vegetables, fish, and white meat continues to rise in Morocco. With inflation starting to bite, citizens see the price spike as incomprehensible and exorbitant. The price of some items has almost doubled within one month. These include chicken and sardines, which are very popular with Moroccans. The market price of chicken and sardines has risen from 14 and 10 dirhams respectively at the beginning of March, to 20 and 19 dirhams respectively.
Algeria: Bouteflika urged to reverse Algerian press freedom abuses
Many Algerian journalists and human rights lawyers recently told CPJ that the siege on independent journalism has gradually intensified over these past three years and that your government seemed increasingly inclined to use harsh measures to silence and punish critical journalists.
Gambia: ECOWAS asked to intervene on the missing journalist case
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has pleaded with the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to meditate with the Gambian authorities in a case of a missing journalist, Ebrima Manneh since 2006. According to a letter from RSF addressed to Dr Mohamed Chambas, the president of ECOWAS, the president’s involvement will convince the Gambian leadership to shed light on the whereabouts of the missing journalist.
Gambia: Police disrupt radio show, briefly detain two journalists
On 16 April 2009, Moses Ndene and Kebba Yorro Manneh, two sports journalists of privately-owned FM station City Limit Radio, were arrested and briefly detained by the Gambian police for allegedly criticising the administration of sports in the country.
Libya: Gaddafi launches legal action against three newspapers
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has described the complaints made by the Libyan Embassy in Rabat against three Moroccan newspapers - namely, "Al-Masaa", "Al-Garida Al-Oula" and "Moroccan Events" - as a threat to freedom of expression and the press in Morocco which must be confronted.
Swaziland: Senators threaten to charge local media with contempt of Parliament
Senators in the Swaziland Parliament have threatened to charge the local media with contempt of Parliament following stories about an altercation between the Senate President and a Senator.
Zimbabwe: Journalists blast government media stakeholders’ conference
The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, comprising the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, MISA Zimbabwe and the Africa Community Publishing Development Trust, has heavily criticised a proposed government media stakeholders’ conference which is littered with anti press freedom participants.
DRC: UN envoy told of revenge attacks
A recent deadly attack by Hutu rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has left five children dead and hundreds of homes burned to the ground, village leaders have told the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUC).
Kenya: Crackdown after deaths
Kenya's president has vowed to punish the perpetrators of an outbreak of violence that left at least 29 people dead in a central town on Monday. Mwai Kibaki described the killings in Karatina as "heinous crimes" and "a matter of great concern" to Kenya.
Sudan: Darfur rebels sentenced to death
Eleven members of a Darfur rebel movement have been sentenced to death by a Sudanese court in relation to a 2008 attack on Khartoum. The court passed the ruling on the members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Wednesday.
Africa: Pan African e- Network: a model of “South- South cooperation”
This project deals with the Pan- African e- Network Project launched by the government of India on 26 February 2009 as a part of its ‘aid to Africa’ programme. This project connects the nodal centres in India with 53 nations of Africa through the use of electronic information and technology (ICT) and provides tele-medicine and tele-education to its African counterparts. The pilot project in Ethiopia launched in mid 2007 whereby connectivity between educational and medical centers of excellence in India and Ethiopia was launched has proved to be a success.
Pan African e- Network: a model of “South- South cooperation”
This project deals with the Pan- African e- Network Project launched by the government of India on 26 February 2009 as a part of its ‘aid to Africa’ programme. This project connects the nodal centres in India with 53 nations of Africa through the use of electronic information and technology (ICT) and provides tele-medicine and tele-education to its African counterparts.
The pilot project in Ethiopia launched in mid 2007 whereby connectivity between educational and medical centers of excellence in India and Ethiopia was launched has proved to be a success.
The tele-education and tele-medicine projects bear testimony to India’s commitment and transfer of skills and technology and aims to change peoples lives through bridging the digital divide between them and their African counter parts within the framework of ‘South- South co-operation’. The good will generated by the project through its use of soft diplomacy will certainly help India further its economic and strategic diplomacy as well.
Key words: Pan African e- Network, Information Communication and Technology ( ICT), digital divide, tele-medicine, tele-education, South- South co-operation.
The former President of India, Dr. A.J.P Abdul Kalam, at the inaugural session of the Pan- African Parliament held at Johannesburg, South Africa proposed the ambitious e- network scheme, the Pan African e-Network project,1 that aims at bridging the digital divide by connecting 53 nations of the African continent through an international under sea fiber cable connection and via a satellite and fibre optics network. The ambitious project proposes to make available tele-education and tele-medicine through the use of electronic information communication and technology (ICT) and thus share India’s cutting edge quality education and health care with its African counterparts despite the distance between India and the African continent. It addition it also has provision for internet videoconferencing as well as supports e- governance, e- commerce, infotainment, resource mapping and meteorological services. ( See <www.panafricanenetwork.com/portal/aboutPtoject.jsp>)
The project showcases India’s proficiency and core competence in the ICT sector. It was aptly described as a ‘shining example of South-South cooperation’ by the Minister of External Affairs, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, at the inauguration of the project on 26 February 2009. This unique venture certainly is an example of genuine cooperation between two long standing partners, India and Africa. What is remarkable about this undertaking is the high priority that it accords to two social sectors, education and health, that touch the lives of people- of each and every individual who resides in the rural as well as the urban parts of the continent. The project comes at a time when the African countries are hit hard by conditionalities imposed by international donors the since the 1980s. In their attempts to keep the inflationary pressure at bay the African states have had to slash their spending on the social sectors such as health and education. The state support given to hospitals and educational institutions has been reduced and this has worked to the detriment of schools and heath clinics/hospitals. With reduction of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank monies in recruitments and salaries, there has been a massive outflow of skilled personnel to mainly European countries over the past several years. Further, there has been a reduction in overseas financial aid from traditional donors such as Europe and America in the wake of the current global recession. The reliance on overseas development assistance (ODA) to fund state budgets is unfortunately high is several African countries. The financial set back due to the drying up of funding sources is compounded by a decrease in the demand for and decline in the prices of African commodities and this has led to the plummeting of export earnings. The general de-acceleration in trade and investments and the increase in trade deficits have further reduced the monies available for investments in the social sector. Due to the above stated reasons, African governments have been unable to meet their budgetary commitments in the two main social sectors, health and education. Thus, the initiative of the Ministry of External Affairs under its ‘Aid to Africa’ programme comes at an opportune time for the African continent.
About the Project
The network: The project, a joint initiative of the Indian government and the African Union, was approved by the Union Cabinet of India on 5 July, 2007 at a budgeted cost of rupees 542.90 crores. This includes the expenses for supply, installation, testing and commissioning of hardware and software, end to end connectivity, satellite bandwidth, operational and maintenance (O&M) support for extending tele- education and tele-medicine services to 53 African countries for a period of five years through the implementing partners Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), a TATA enterprise, on a turnkey basis. It is hoped that in the coming five years the project will be fine tuned and will be continued through the auspices of the Africa Union.
In the first phase of the project eleven African countries -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon Ghana Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, and The Gambia, will be connected via a satellite Hub Earth Station at Senegal and a high tech data Centre along with a studio for relay and transmission at the office of the TCIL, the implementing partners for the project. A total of 33 countries have signed the agreement with TCIL to be linked up via the project. In addition to the eleven countries mentioned above the other countries are Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is expected that other countries will join the project in the coming months. In the second and third phases, it is proposed that 18 more countries will be connected by the end of June 2009.
An International Private Leased Circuit (IPCL) would connect the proposed hub station in Senegal with a submarine cable landing station in India. The data Centre in India will connect with seven Indian Universities, namely; the Indira Gandhi Open University (IGNOU), Delhi University, New Delhi, University of Madras, Chennai, Amity University, Noida and Indian institute of Technology, Kanpur (located in the state of Uttar Pradesh), the Indian institute of Science (IIS), Benguluru, Karnataka and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani in Rajasthan, through optical fibre based connections.
The network envisages the telecast of medical education and offers online medical services through tele -consultation by linking the twelve super specialty hospitals in India selected through their expression of interest that include; the All India Institute of Medical Science ( AIIMS), the Escorts Heart Research Centre and Moolchand Hospital, New Delhi, Apollo Hospitals and Sri Ramchandra Medical College and Research Centre located in Chennai, Care Hospitals in Hyderabad, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences situated in Kochi in the state of Kerala, Narayan Hrudalaya and Manipal Hospital at Bengaluru in the southern state of Karnataka, KEM Hospital in Mumbai, Fortis Hospital at Noida and Santosh Hospital at Gaziabad, both in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, with learning centers and hospitals in Africa.
At present the African Union has short listed three leading regional universities and two regional hospitals for participation in the e-network. These include, the Makerere University, Uganda ( east Africa), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology- Ghana ( west Africa), University of Yaounde, Cameroon ( Central Africa), Ebadan Hospital, Nigeria ( west Africa) and the Brazzaville Hospital, Democratic Republic of Congo (Central Africa). In Africa, 53 e- learning, tele-education centres, tele-medicine centres and VVIP communication nodes for hotline connection between Heads of States (i.e., one in each country) are being set up by TCIL. 2
Scope and outcome of the project: Under graduate and post graduate courses in sunrise sectors such as human resources, international marketing, business administration, tourism management and finance investment and analysis are being offered by the Indian counterparts. In addition, diploma and certificate courses in subjects that have current relevance and demand in the market, such as database and information systems, networking and operating systems, electronic instrumentation, accounting, child care and HIV/Aids and language courses in Arabic, English, French and German, are being taught through e- connectivity.
Pilot project: Ethiopia volunteered to be tested for a pilot project and the e-network project was formally inaugurated on 6 July, 2007 in the country. Connectivity between the IGNOU and the tele-education Centers at Addis Ababa University and Haramaya learning Centers in Ethiopia and the Black Lion and Nekempte Hospital in Ethiopia with Care Hospital in Hyderabad, was established. The first batch of 34 Ethiopian students pursuing an MBA programme from IGNOU, New Delhi since 2007 would be completing their course in June 2009. The two Ethiopian hospitals have received on- line medical consultation from medical specialists of Care hospital in the southern state of Hyderabad in India.
Over a period of five years it is proposed that the project will benefit 10,000 students; 5000 for diploma and certificate courses, 3000 for under graduate and 2,000 for post graduate courses.
As a part of the tele-medicine project, live consultation is being offered for one hour every day to each of the 53 members states of the African Union in eighteen medical disciplines such as cardiology, neurology, urology, pathology, oncology, gynecology, infectious diseases/HIV/Aids, ophthalmology and pediatrics etc. In addition offline consultation for five patients per day from selected hospitals has been provided for. The project also offers skill upgradation through sharing of information with the medical personnel in the African countries through its continuing medical education (CME) programme. 3
Conclusion: The tele-education and tele-medicine projects bear testimony to India’s commitment and transfer of skills and technology to their African counterparts within the framework of ‘South- South co-operation’. The provision of telemedicine to hospitals in Africa including to those situated in remote areas through mobile clinics provides the much needed access to global quality medical expertise to rural Africa through Indian hospitals that have now earned a formidable reputation in the global health market. The African countries can branch out from their nodal connections and network with other rural or distant educational or medical centers and thus cut costs and time on travel for the recipients of this unique service. The project will also help Africa achieve its targets vis a vis the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) in education and the health sector
Indian educationists and doctors are committed to this new partnership in the spirit of the earlier days of non- alignment and it is hoped that it will reinvigorate the emergent New Asian African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). The project also is also an example of the fact that support structures such as this e-network venture can effectively counter the reduction in social spending such as those under the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs). It certainly is in the interest of Africa and other countries of the South to build such counter hegemonic models of ‘South- South cooperation’.
This project will certainly arouse interest and curiosity among Africa watchers. India bashers may see this initiative as based on vested self interests, for example, to seek the critical support of its African counterparts in its efforts to bid for a place at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and to shore up India’s stand at other regional and international fora such as the Non Alignment Movement (NAM), G-77, G-20 and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and as a desperate measure to counter the dragon.
India probably cannot counter the sheer magnitude of investments made by the Asian giant China, mainly because it does not have such deep pockets, but it certainly can engage in Africa in a non intrusive manner that works to the mutual advantage of the two partners. It must be reiterated here that India like China is certainly interested in trade and investments in strategic sectors and the resources and markets that Africa has to offer, but wishes to do so within the framework of partnership and co-operation that is developmental, sustainable and touches the lives of ordinary people in the African continent The project was endorsed by the Dean of African Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of Sudan to India in 2005 thus;
the Pan African e- Network is the biggest project in South- South Cooperation. I t is giving Africa- India relations a new substance and content. I t is not only bridging the digital divide, it is bridging the hope divide between the have and the have nots…
The good will generated by the project through its use of soft diplomacy will certainly help India further its economic and strategic diplomacy and also counter the intensifying and menacing presence of China in the region. The strong presence of the Indian Diasporas in several African countries will also help leverage brand India.
The e- network project that aims to change lives of the African peoples through the use of ICT has several opportunities and challenges. It has barely taken off and will probably face teething problems like any newborn does. The project is indeed novel and people-oriented but its achievement will lie in its successful implementation.
Africa has the opportunity to use the services of Indian technical experts to improve their ICT connectivity and expand further from their main nodal connections to the remote areas. The African Union (AU) has the immense task of steering the project in a direction that best suits the needs of the users, carefully monitoring the progress and evaluating the advantages and shortcomings of the project, so that they can be overcome over the next five years when the onus of running the project will be entrusted to the AU. The ultimate test of the project lies in evolving this government-to-government model into a sustainable model of private-public partnership which is cost effective and affordable for the common man.
Cameroon: First telemedicine centre starts
The first ever telemedicine centre in Cameroon has gone operational. Known as Genesis Telecare, it was inaugurated in Yaounde by the Secretary General in the Ministry of Public Health, Professor Fru Angwafor III. Prof. Fru Angwafor III said the initiative is a major step towards reducing longstanding problems in the health sector. Telemedicine provides a timely remedy to the numerous difficulties encountered by medical practitioners and patients, he noted.
Africa: Women's Peacemakers Program
Made possible through a generous grant from the Fred J. Hansen Foundation, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice's (IPJ) Women PeaceMakers Program invites four women from around the world who have been locally involved in human rights and peacemaking efforts. Women accepted into this program are seeking ways to further their peacemaking efforts in their home countries.
The Women Peacemakers Program
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
University of San Diego, California, USA
Fall Residency: September 14 – November 6, 2009
2009 Women PeaceMakers Program application period:
April 1 – June 1, 2009
Applicants are invited to participate in a residency program for women engaged in peacebuilding and human rights. The Women PeaceMakers Program at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) involves learning, teaching, and taking the time to narrate a personal, unique story of peacemaking. Along with scheduled time when the Woman PeaceMaker will work in small groups and/or one-on-one with her peace writer, there will be programs in which she will share with others her experiences from her respective country and conflict setting with others. She will learn from and explore new skills and ideas with fellow PeaceMakers. Through better understanding of individual human rights advocacy and peacebuilding work, the program seeks to build greater cross-cultural understanding, and to document the challenges and successes of women who have been involved in peacemaking efforts.
Those who are accepted into the Fall 2009 program will be expected to spend eight weeks at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) at the University of San Diego in San Diego, California. Over that time, their experiences will include the following:
• Collaborating with a Peace Writer and film team to document personal stories through writing, video, and audiotape.
• Sharing experiences of peacemaking and human rights advocacy with the IPJ community of students and faculty through small group discussions and “Conversations” with Women PeaceMakers that are open to the general public.
• Participating in “Bearing Exquisite Witness: Artistic Tributes to Women’s Struggles for Peace with Justice” September 24 – 26, 2009, a three day event featuring award-winning films, visual arts exhibits and live performances by nationally renowned playwrights and musicians.
• Learning and networking through roundtable discussions, Women PeaceMakers will meet with local and national women leaders involved in human rights, political action, and peacemaking efforts, forming networks and gaining resources to be called upon for international peacemaking and post-conflict planning processes.
• Renewing personal commitments to their work and taking time to reflect in a safe and nurturing environment that promotes new learning and an authentic exchange of ideas.
• Additional activities may include visiting local governmental and nongovernmental organizations, guest lectures, and other public engagements.
Program Cost & Fellowships
There is no cost for participation in the Women PeaceMakers Program. The program will provide fellowships to four qualified applicants. This funding is to be used for 1) local transportation (airfare to and from San Diego provided); 2) living expenses (other than housing, which is provided); 3) incidentals. The Women PeaceMakers Program encourages applicants to seek supplemental funding from local sources, although the funding provided by the IPJ for those selected will be sufficient for the full eight weeks.
Housing will be provided at the Casa de la Paz, "The House of Peace," on the campus of the Institute for Peace & Justice, University of San Diego. The Casa de la Paz is a private residence adjacent to the Institute for Peace & Justice that overlooks Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Invited Women PeaceMakers will have the opportunity to rest and reflect in this beautiful, peaceful, and supportive setting.
Experiences during residency may include:
Documenting and Publishing Stories of Women PeaceMakers
It is important to document and make available the stories of Women PeaceMakers. It is essential that peacebuilding and human rights experiences and lessons learned be communicated to others. These documents and films (short videos, documentaries) will encourage women in other trying situations or future generations to become more engaged, giving them an opportunity to learn from the work of PeaceMakers engaged in creating a more just and peaceful society.
Each Woman PeaceMaker will work one-on-one with a Peace Writer and film team to document her personal story and involvement in peace efforts. These stories will be in written form and will include video recording and audio taping. PeaceMakers will spend the majority of their first month in residence working on the documentation of their story. The information will be published and archived by the IPJ.
To read previous PeaceMaker narratives please visit:
“Conversations” with Women PeaceMakers and Forums
“Conversations” with Women PeaceMakers and Forums are open to the public to highlight the work of resident peacemakers and their personal experiences. Our visiting experts explore the intersection of conflict and gender and the challenges facing Women PeaceMakers. Specific topics may include:
• Their role as women in peacebuilding
• Involvement of women in official peacemaking processes generally
• Gender-mainstreaming for civil society development
• Developing support systems for women serving in leadership roles
• Identification of post-conflict issues that require women's input and participation
• Establishing unbiased legal or reconciliation processes
“Bearing Exquisite Witness: Artistic Tributes to Women’s Struggles for Peace with Justice” September 24 – 26, 2009
A three day event featuring award-winning films, visual arts exhibits and live performances by nationally renowned playwrights and musicians.
Women PeaceMakers' Roundtable Discussions
Participants will meet regularly to discuss their experiences. Through reflecting on her own practices and human rights work, each woman will give voice to her own view of peacemaking and help identify the themes that emerge from shared experiences. Together they will identify areas where more information or knowledge is needed to enable women to successfully collaborate and gain access to peacemaking processes.
Facilitated dialogues will encourage participants to explore, articulate, and document their own stories. Cultural, economic, and political factors shaping the lives of women who are engaged in work for a more peaceful, responsible community will be noted and their personal paths and recommendations recorded. The group discussion will be a source of support for each participant and a place to affirm the vision of a just peace through the work of Women PeaceMakers.
Participants will be encouraged to network with other women and men working in the field. Meetings may be organized for Women PeaceMakers Program participants to visit women politicians and human rights advocates, resource centers for humanitarian action such as Survivors of Torture, media outlets, legal aid societies, and counseling centers for immigrant rights. San Diego city tours and other social opportunities will be extended as well.
Women PeaceMakers Application
Women PeaceMakers Program of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
University of San Diego, California, USA
Fall Residency: September 14 – November 6, 2009
How to apply to become a 2009 Woman PeaceMaker
In order for your application to be considered it must be post-marked on or before June 1, 2009 and received by June 4, 2009. Applicants selected for consideration will be notified by June 15, 2009; successful candidates will be notified by June 29, 2009. All applications must include:
1. The completed and signed 2009 Application Form. (2 page form included here)
2. A two-part statement in a maximum of 8 pages that explains your personal objectives and gives an outline of your story. This should include:
a. An explanation of why you are interested in participating in the 2009 Women PeaceMakers program. Incorporate your personal goals with your understanding of how this unique program can benefit your work. (no more than 4 pages)
b. A summary of your own peacemaking story. (no more than 4 pages)
Note: You may substitute a videotape (maximum of 10 minutes) in which you provide the information requested in a and b above.
3. A resume or curriculum vitae or a listing of your peacemaking and work activities and educational background. There are no educational requirements for this program, but we would like to know about your formal as well as informal education. (no more than 3 pages)
4. Two letters of reference with contact information should be provided in the 2009 Application Cover Form.
5. The completed and signed 2009 Women PeaceMakers Self-Assessment Health Form. (2-page form included here )
Mail completed application to:
Women PeaceMakers Program
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
E-mail: [email protected]
If sending the application via email to [email protected] please fax a copy of the completed and signed
Self-Assessment Health Form and the 2009 Application Cover Form.
IMPORTANT: Your application will not be considered “complete” or reviewed until the signed health forms and cover application forms are received.
Please keep a photocopy of your completed application for your records.
We will not be able to send back any of the materials we receive.
Women PeaceMakers Program of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
Fall Residency: September 14 – November 6, 2009
As printed in passport (Last) (First) (Other)
Date of Birth: ___________________________________________________________
Email Address: ____________
Mailing Address: ________________________________________________________________
(Country) (Postal Code)
Phone: __ Fax:_________________________________
Organization Address: ________________________________________________________________
(Country) (Postal Code)
Phone: __ Fax:_________________________________
Have you ever had your story documented before? Please explain. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If accepted into the program you will be paired with a Peace Writer who will document your story in English. Are you willing to work with a Writer who may not be fluent in your native language? ______________________________________________________________________________________
Do you have experience in inter-cultural communication? Please explain. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
How many years of peace-making experience do you have? _______________________________________________________________________________________
--- Application Form: Page 2 ---
Please assess your competency in English, both written and verbal, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being highest): _______________________________________________________________________________________
Have you ever shared an accommodation with a woman from a different region of the world than where you are from? Are you willing to share a two bedroom apartment with another PeaceMaker from a region of the world and cultural background other than your own?________________________
Do you hold a United States Social Security Number? If so, what is it? ___________________________
When was the last time you were in the United States; what type visa were you issued and what was the length of your stay?__________________________________________________________________
Please list your international travel (destinations, length of stays and purpose of travel) for the past five years: ______________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________
Are you willing to share your story with a public audience and participate in all program-related activities, talks, forums and field trips? _____________________________________________________
Do you have any other travel planned during the dates of the Program (September 14 – November 6, 2009), if so where and when? _______________________________________________________________________________________
How did you hear about the Women PeaceMakers Program? __________________________________
Did you apply for this program in the past? _______________________________________________
Certification That My Answers Are True
My statements on this form and any of the attachments are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that falsification of any of my answers will lead to the rejection of my application or immediate dismissal from the program.
2 references are required. You MUST submit letters from each of the persons you list below.
Applicant Name: ____________________________________________________
Title and Organization: ______________________________________________________________
In what capacity do you know the person providing your letter of reference?__________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________
Email Address: _____________________________________________________________________
Mailing Address: _______________________________________________________________
Phone: __ ___ Fax:_______________________________
Title and Organization: ____________________________________________________________
In what capacity do you know the person providing your letter of reference?________________
Email Address: ______________________
Mailing Address: _______ ______________________
Phone: _ Fax:______________________________
Women PeaceMakers Program of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
Fall Residency: September 14 – November 6, 2009
SELF-ASSESSMENT HEALTH FORM
(As printed in passport) Last First Other
Date of Birth: ___________________________________________________
When and for what reason did you last consult a physician? ______________________________________
What diseases, ailments or injuries have you had in the past five years? If any of these resulted in hospitalization, please give details as to when, why and the duration of the treatment. ______________________________________________________________________________________
What is your current status with regard to the illness(es) / condition(s) above? ________________________
Are you currently seeing a physician and/or undergoing treatment? If yes, please detail below.
What allergies do you have, if any? Are you currently undergoing treatment? Please detail. _____________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
If you are currently on any prescription medication other than oral contraception please write the names of the prescriptions in the follow space. ________________________________________________________
Are there any foods or substances which, for medical or personal reasons, you do not eat? If so, please give details. ________________________________________________________________________________
Do you have difficulty walking 4 blocks on flat terrain without experiencing shortness of breath, leg, joint, muscle or chest pain? ____________________________________________________________________
Do you have difficulty climbing two flights of stairs while carrying groceries or other items? ______________
My statements on this health form and any of the attachments are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that if I am chosen as a 2009 Woman PeaceMaker at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice I am required to have this health form verified by a licensed physician who is familiar with my health history.
Signature of applicant: ____________________________________________________
Global: African Women’s Peace and Security Fellowships
The Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s College London together with the Africa Leadership Centre (ALC), is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women for 2009/2010. These Fellowships1 are intellectual and financial awards for personal, professional and academic achievements, as well as the recognition of future potential.
African Women’s Peace and Security Fellowships
School of Social Science and Public Policy
Conflict Security and Development Group
Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women
The Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s College London together with the Africa Leadership Centre (ALC), is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women for 2009/2010. These Fellowships1 are intellectual and financial awards for personal, professional and academic achievements, as well as the recognition of future potential.
From October 2009, the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women will be delivered by CSDG and the ALC, which is a partnership of King’s College London and Kenyatta University, Nairobi.
The ALC aims to build a new community of leaders generating cutting edge knowledge on peace, security and development. To this end, the ALC undertakes to do the following:
- Create an enabling environment for ideas that are grounded in African realities;
- Provide space for interaction with role models;
- Build capacity for independent thinking;
- Expand the knowledge base to develop transformational ideas that can be developed to create visions of change;
- Create opportunities to transfer knowledge to achieve multiplier effects for communities;
- Connect with processes nationally, regionally and globally, especially in the field of peace, security and development; and
- Build lasting partnerships that will maintain an African-led vision of change.
In addition, the programme of the ALC is guided by its core values, which are as follows:
- African-led ideas and processes of change.
- Independent thinking.
- Recognition of youth agency.
-Pursuit of excellence.
The Fellowships bring together African women in the early stages of their careers to undertake a carefully designed training programme in conflict, security and development. This training is followed by an attachment to an African regional organisation or a Centre of Excellence to acquire practical experience in the field of peace and security. It is intended that this project will train African women to develop a better understanding of African peace and security issues in order to increase their participation in conflict management processes and other areas of security concerns for Africans.
The Purpose of the Fellowship
The Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women are designed to expose young professional African women to the complexities of conflict, security and development. The exposure is to equip them for careers in this field by developing their expertise to generate African led ideas and processes of change for addressing challenges on the African continent. The Fellowships especially aim to ground this expertise on peace and security in the pursuit of excellence and integrity.
The Fellowship is conceived against a number of background factors. First is the comparatively low number of African women exposed to rigorous academic writing and policy analysis in the field of peace and security especially as compared with those involved in human rights and development issues. Second is the need to assist African women to meet the demands of the Beijing process and more recently the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that calls for the inclusion of women at all decision making levels in “all national regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts”.
This Fellowship is aimed at challenging the existing tendency that seems to reinforce the male dominant discourse on conflict and security related matters. It will also develop the network of African women scholars working in the field whilst linking them with the peace and security mechanisms of relevant institutions.
This is a one-year Fellowship, divided into two 6-month phases. The first phase will be delivered at the ALC, Nairobi and King’s College London. Particular aspects of the programme will be delivered at King’s College London in London. These include orientation, institutional visits and simulation seminars. The core of the training will be delivered at the ALC in Nairobi and will be led by CSDG, King’s College London and ALC Senior Fellows and designated mentors for the programme consisting of renowned international experts in the field of peace, security and development.
During the training, the Fellows will be encouraged to engage critically with the discourse on conflict security and development in Africa. They will also visit and study institutions working in the field of peace and security in Africa and Europe. This phase will end with a simulation seminar series during which mock conflict management situations will be practiced. In the second phase, Fellows will be attached to an African regional organisation or Centre of Excellence to undertake practical work in the field of peace and security including peace and conflict management processes.
Terms of the Fellowship
Successful Fellows will have the status of full time students on the post-graduate non-degree programme at King’s College London and the Africa Leadership Centre, Nairobi. They will be required to obtain UK and Kenyan student visas for at least six months and they will be subject to the immigration rules of the UK and Kenya. The immigration rules for the UK can be accessed on the King’s College London web page for obtaining student visas: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/international/preparing/visas/ Conflict Security and Development Group, School of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College London 2
African Women’s Peace and Security Fellowships
Additional information on studying as an international student at King’s College London is available on the College’s webpage for International Students:
Please contact the Kenyan Embassy/High Commission in your home country for the relevant procedures to obtain a Kenyan student visa for the Fellowship period of one year.
The position is funded* and will include a stipend of $1,000 per month for the first 6 months based in London and Nairobi. In addition, a sum of $1,000 will be made available to Fellows upon their arrival on the Fellowship Programme to assist with settling in expenses. Fellows are strongly advised to make all necessary accommodation arrangements prior to taking up their positions on the Fellowship Programme. In addition, the Fellowship programme will be responsible for all Fellowship related travel and accommodation costs, to and from home country, between Nairobi and London, for institutional visits and to and from attachment location.
For the second phase of the Fellowship to be based in Africa, Fellows will have a stipend of $1,000 per month, exclusive of medical insurance expenses; in addition to a $500 one-off allowance to enable them settle in to their respective countries. Fellows are expected to find their own accommodation during this phase also.
It is important to note that this financial support is for individual researchers. It does not cover dependants and it is not intended to support family members. Successful candidates will need to make alternative arrangements to cover the costs of dependants before arrival on the Fellowship Programme. Under the UK and Kenyan Immigration laws, prospective Fellows must satisfy the relevant authorities that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependents before arrival in the UK and Kenya (taking into account the stipend to be provided by the Fellowship Programme).
The Fellowship is a full time appointment and Fellows are expected to make a full time commitment. Given the intensive nature of the programme, including its short 6-month phases in different locations, as well as necessary extensive travel, successful applicants that are expectant or nursing mothers will be advised to defer their admission to the Fellowship Programme.
The offer of the Fellowship is subject to successful candidates obtaining visas to cover the 6-month duration of the first phase of the Fellowship in the UK and Kenya. Failure to obtain a visa to enter the UK and Kenya automatically invalidates the offer of Fellowship with no consequences to the Fellowship Programme. Successful applicants will be required to undergo medical examinations at recommended venues prior to taking up their positions. It is a condition of the Fellowship that Fellows shall return to their base or home countries at the end of the Fellowship. Please, note that any deviation from the Fellowship, except as may be lawfully authorised by King’s College London, shall affect a Fellow’s immigration status. Please consult the British Embassy/High Commission and Kenyan Embassy/High Commission in your home country for more information.
- Be female citizens of an African country, with valid travel documents.
- Have knowledge of, or experience of women’s rights, gender and development issues.
- Must be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa
- Demonstrate commitment to the core values of the programme and the Africa Leadership Centre.
- Must have a relevant organisational base and be endorsed by an organisation with which they have been involved for at least two years. Exceptional candidates without such organisational ties will be given special consideration.
- Have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations.
- Hold a Master’s degree or Bachelors with an equivalent level of professional experience.
- Must be fluent in spoken and written English.
To be considered for the Fellowship please e-mail or post the following documents to Eka Ikpe at [email protected] or Eka Ikpe, Conflict, Security and Development Group, King’s College London, Strand Bridge House, 138-142 Strand, London, WC2R 1HH, UK by 17:00 hrs, Monday 4 May 2009:
- A letter of application detailing your relevant experience
- A supporting statement detailing why you think that this Fellowship is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues no longer than 2,000 words
- 2 letters of recommendation(To be received directly from the Referees by the deadline of 17:00 hrs, 4 May 2009)
- Recent curriculum vitae
- Two samples of your written work (maximum 5,000 words) with a one page abstract
Please ensure all documents are sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message (separate emails for the same application will not be accepted) or as a single post package and that your name is indicated at the top right hand corner of every page of all documents submitted.
Due to the large volume of applications received it may not be possible to contact all applicants that have not been short listed. Hence, if you have not received a response from CSDG by 24 July 2009, please assume that you have not been shortlisted on this occasion.
* This project is supported by a range of funders including the Foundation Open Society Institute, King’s College London Alumni, UK Department for International Development and King’s College London. It is subject to continued funding support from all funders.
Nigeria: CEPACS/DAAD Scholarship
The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS), University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, invites applications from international students into its M Sc Programme in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies for the 2009/2010 academic session.
MSc HUMANITARIAN AND REFUGEE STUDIES
The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS), University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, invites applications from international students into its M Sc Programme in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies for the 2009/2010 academic session.
About the MHRS
MHRS is an 18-month course that includes 3-month internship. This professional degree programme is specially designed to meet the professional needs of individuals, groups and agencies that are involved in humanitarian activities and refugee management in complex emergencies. Target groups include, armed forces personnel, police and prisons services, government officials and policy makers, staff of international humanitarian agencies and local and international NGOs, scholars and researchers, media executives, and human rights advocates.
Candidates seeking admission into the MHRS must have satisfied the first-degree matriculation requirements of the University of Ibadan, i.e., 5 ‘O’ Level credit passes at one sitting, or 6 at not more than two sittings (including English), or their equivalent from other recognized universities. Besides, candidates must possess, at least, Honours degree from any of the following: humanities, social sciences, science, law, or any of the cognate disciplines obtained from accredited universities.
Scholarships are available for 6 international students each year. To qualify, applicants must:
· Be from an African country (not Nigeria);
· Be aged 36 years or below at the time of application,
· Possess a First degree from a recognized university (Second Class Honors Upper Division).
Dr. T. Ayo Hammed (Ag. Director)
Tel: +234 (0) 803 3599586
Email: [email protected]
A more comprehensive information about Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS) or the Masters in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies (MHRS), may be accessed through the University of Ibadan (Postgraduate School) website, www.ui.edu.ng; or obtained from the Acting Director of CEPACS, Dr. Ayo Hammed, as indicated.
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