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    Open Letter to Pope Francis

    Raise your voice against institutional racism in the G-20 and the World Bank

    Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.


    c c AFP
    At “the premier forum for global economic and financial cooperation", Europe and North America occupy 9 of the 20 seats. Asia has six. Latin America three and the Middle East one. Africa, representing 16 percent of the world population, occupies one seat. In the World Bank, systemic racism has kept Black people out of influential positions.

    Your Holiness,

    Speaking of the ills of economic and social exclusions you stated that "Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the 'exploited' but the outcast."

    I cannot think of a more compelling prophetic voice than yours to speak against institutionalized racial discrimination in global organizations such as the World Bank and against the virtual exclusion of over a billion Africans from global economic forums such as the Group of Twenty (G-20).

    The G-20 bills itself as "the premier forum for global economic and financial cooperation" and proclaims that its overarching objective is to "lift growth across the developed and developing world to benefit people in all countries." Each item in the G-20 agenda has a far- reaching impact on all regions, most importantly on the poor in Africa.

    The systemic inequality in representation of different regions in the G-20 is shocking. The rich in Europe and North America account for 14 percent of the world population and occupy 9 of the 20 seats at the coveted G-20 table. Asia has six seats including Australia. Latin America has three and the Middle East has one. Africa, which represents 16 percent of the world population occupies one seat - South Africa. The average per capita income for Sub Saharan Africa is $3,300, a very different economic reality than what South Africa represents with $12,500 per capita income.

    The poor in Africa are segregated out of the G-20, whose purported vision statement is to "build an inclusive and sustainable global economy for all." The virtual exclusion of Africa from the G-20 has far-reaching consequences in the day-to-day economic management of African countries because the G-20 controls 75 percent of the voting power in the World Bank. The 47 Sub Saharan African countries that account for 25 percent of the Bank's member countries are allotted 5.4 percent voting power.

    No voice in the World Bank boardroom means no role in its administration. The World Bank website shows 1732 Bank-financed projects, of which Africa accounts for the largest regional percentages both in terms of the number of countries and projects. Yet, people of African origin are excluded from positions of influence in the institution.

    Out of the 126 "lead economists" that are scattered throughout the Bank as top technical experts of general economic issues, only two are black (1.6 percent). Similarly, according to the Bank's 2015 diversity index, blacks account for 1.4 percent of the professional cohort in the Development Economics vise presidential unit. This is where the Bank's strategic decisions are formulated. As Justice for Blacks noted, "Africa is orphaned and put under guardianship in the World Bank."

    Six World Bank reports attribute the exclusion of Africans from influential technical and managerial positions to "systemic racial discrimination." As Dr. E. Faye Williams, Chair of the National Congress for Black Women, noted, "A simple Google search will confirm the racial injustice, producing several pages of articles with shocking titles that seem to describe another era or a faraway place."

    The problem resides in the sovereign immunity that the Bank enjoys. The institution exists outside of the jurisdiction of national courts. Victims of discrimination are confined to an internal Administrative Tribunal - an entity that neither recognizes nor honors the due process rights of blacks.

    In a recent case that triggered a worldwide uproar, the World Bank required a widely praised African to manage a high-profile international program from behind the scenes, while fronting a white consultant to the outside world as the program's manager. The African was told "Europeans are not used to seeing a black man in a position of power."

    Since the Bank's personnel policy did not allow consultants to perform managerial duties, the white consultant was used as a front to keep the African out of the limelight. Noting the dehumanizing practice, the Bank's Peer Review Panel reported to senior management that the Bank's actions "cannot be explained by business reasons" and strongly recommended that "the Bank immediately enter into binding mediation.” The Bank ignored the recommendations. The Bank's former Senior Advisor for Racial Equality, the Chief Ethics Officer and the Ombudsman pleaded with several senior World Bank officials to address the dehumanizing treatment, but to no avail.
    The degrading treatment was intolerable, causing the African psychological stress and physical illness. As part of his complaint the African filed five medical certificates, including a report by a certified psychiatrist and hospital records. Sadly, he learned that the Tribunal does not consider medical certificates filed by a black complainant of racial discrimination. In contrast, the Tribunal routinely considers medical certificates filed by white claimants. The issue is not the validity or lack thereof of the medical reports under consideration. Rather, the issue is an inexplicable judicial practice of treating black and non-black complainants differently.

    Having systematically suppressed over 100 material facts supporting the claimant's allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation, the Tribunal ruled that the Bank's actions were justified by business reasons. Adding insult to injury, the Bank terminated the African. In a separate ruling the Tribunal found his termination "unlawful and an abuse of discretion," but ruled that he should not be reinstated because "he has criticized his managers" and "has made no secret of his contempt" for the status quo.

    The only black judge on the Tribunal's panel sent the aggrieved staff a written apology, acknowledging that he did not agree with the Tribunal's judgment on his racial discrimination case, but still voted with the other two judges because he "did not find it fit then to dissent." He wrote: "I was not yet ready for such a momentous step" of voting his conscience against the status quo.

    Clearly, the judge failed to perform with fidelity his judicial duties that he was bound by oath. This is a violation of due process. Nonetheless, the Bank's official position, as articulated by the its Chief Counsel, is that "Allegations of due process violations by the Tribunal are not cognizable under the statue of the Tribunal." Moreover, the Chief Counsel requested the Tribunal to sanction the African for criticizing the Tribunal's unjust judgment.

    It is this culture of institutionalized injustice that triggered the formation of the DC Civil Rights Coalition. The case also resulted in an unprecedented intervention of the US Treasury Department, the US Board of Director to the World Bank, the Chair of the US Senate Appropriations Committee, the US Congressional Black Caucus, African Diaspora organizations, and leaders of over 500 faith- based organizations. None met with success.

    How Rampant is the problem? The Bank's former Senior Advisor for Racial Equality is on the record that his office alone received and reviewed over 450 cases of racial discrimination in just five years. Another World Bank report puts the figure much higher. A simple extrapolation of the 450 figure over 20 years yields 1800 cases of discrimination (some file as many as 7 cases). Yet, not a single claimant has prevailed.

    Since 1997, The Bank's African Board of Governors have been pressing senor management to change this dehumanizing culture. Unfortunately, their meager collective 5.4 percent voting power is not enough to enforce change. The leaders of the G-20 countries who are in control of the lion's
    share of the voting power are indifferent, if not complicit. When those who wield power lack the moral imperative to act, religious leaders carry the burden of espousing the causes of those who are powerless to fend for themselves.

    Your Holiness,

    Institutional racism represents a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More importantly, it is a sin against the Will of God. I write on behalf of those whose human dignity has been breached and whose cries for justice have been ignored to urge you to appeal to the Bank's powerful Board of Governors to establish a high-level external commission to investigate the Tribunal for human rights violations.

    I humbly ask of Your Holiness, also, to speak against the exclusion of over one billion Africans from the G-20. Representation on a global body such as the G-20 should not be determined solely based on economic power. Adding Nigeria, the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, along with another African country will provide the G-20 moral legitimacy and conscience as a forum for global economic governance.

    I await for your blessed actions in high hopes and unshakable faith.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
    Founder & President
    930 East 50th Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60615
    Phone: (773) 373-3366 * Fax: (773) 3733571

    Justice for Blacks requests African Civil Society Organizations to Support Rev. Jackson by Signing a Petition. Those who support it can send an email to Mary Bialose at [email protected], including your name, title and organizational affiliations.



    * Please do not take Pambazuka for granted! Become a Friend of Pambazuka and make a donation NOW to help keep Pambazuka FREE and INDEPENDENT!

    * Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

    Change will come, but not now

    Tesfaye Yosef


    c c GLV
    Africa's second most populous nation after Nigeria, Ethiopia, goes to elections on 24 May. The ruling party, in power since 1991, is guaranteed a landslide victory. In the iron-fisted autocracy where no alternative voice is allowed to be heard, the only question is by what percentage they will “win” this time.

    I am eagerly waiting for this election to be over. Not that I buy a single bit of what American diplomat Ms. Wendy Sherman said about a ‘free and fair election’ or a ‘growing democracy’, discourse that angered very many Ethiopians who live and know the story otherwise. Also not because I expect any win by the opposition, or some sort of change whipping us with surprise. Not any time soon.

    As essential as they are, I am skeptical about Ethiopian elections considering what they have brought to the country in the past – mostly fear, violence, confusion, dissatisfaction and forced exile for a number of citizens. It has been 10 years since the bloody 2005 elections. And this is the fifth time the nation will be voting since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991.

    The 2005 Ethiopian elections (the third national elections) mark a significant timeline in the lives of Ethiopians and changed the way elections are perceived. The parliamentary and regional elections were the most competitive in the history of the country. The campaign period witnessed high-level public debates; the contending political parties were given an unprecedented level of access to state media outlets, including live broadcasts of the debates. According to some observers, “The government did so, on the basis of a false assumption that they would gain a large majority in the election. The government was both under international pressure to liberalize the media and they also wished to deny the opposition any opportunity to delegitimize their victory through claims of irregularities during the campaign period”[1] . High voter turnout at public rallies marked the pre-election period, and most observers hailed the whole process as peaceful, except for minor irregularities and intimidation of supporters of the opposition.

    The paradox came when the ruling party declared it had won enough seats in the parliament to form the national government and then followed this with a month-long ban on demonstrations in the capital, Addis Ababa. That came way before the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) had finalized the counting of votes. The opposition on the other hand declared fraud and vote rigging and asserted that they had achieved victory.

    A wave of protests hit the capital, quickly spreading across the nation. Clashes with the security forces cost the lives of civilians. Opposition party leaders and supporters were arrested and charged with treason. The ruling party did not have the time to reflect on what to do differently to be as popular as some of the opposition parties of the time (apparently that is what competition should do for conscious competitors) or reach to the root causes of the bitter rejection of the election results. Instead, they concluded that nothing good could come out of opening up of the political and social spaces. The beginning of that election time had made many Ethiopians to believe that democracy had finally visited the land. But Doomsday arrived and many lives were lost; dreams were shattered. That experience still gives us the chills – we want to fast-forward.

    I recently read a piece on the Huff Post on why Ethiopians should vote that put three reasons forward. I am up all for empowerment and the exercise of agency, while I think it is much more than a matter of patriotism and willingness to sacrifice a couple of hours to take part in the exercise. It is a matter of survival for many, especially those who have the 2005 elections and its aftermath experience as a fresh memory: the intimidation, the arrests, and the alleged grudge the government to this day holds against the various localities where it lost. It is also easy to recall that the infrastructure boom in Addis Ababa only came after 2010 election, the claimed 99.6% win by the ruling party. But I don’t agree with the assertion that big gestures of voting for the opposition will send a signal to the government and encourage it to work harder, and better– it will rather make the lives of many people difficult in all ways, as the writer clearly put it, “Politicians know who votes each election”.

    Another reason why I want the election fever to be over is the ‘sunny’ government of EPRDF’s fresh round of propaganda overdose that we can’t live without it; the economy is growing at double-digit, and farmers are becoming millionaires, etc. There are the celebrations to indoctrinate the public on the need to be grateful to the government and to submit to the hard-won power after a long and tiring armed struggle. And the mind games played on the people by calling the opposition demons (or similar names – Interahamwe or ISIS in 2005 and 2015 respectively) and the threats that voting for them will bring an end of this great nation (This may be just a campaign tactic, but seriously speaking, it is more of a scare than anything else).

    And, out of curiosity, does the public really care for an economy that grows in some bizarre digits only the government and IMF understand, but doesn’t reflect in the lives of the people who barely make it to the end of the month with their meager earnings? How does a country with 85% of its population living in rural areas and earning their living through farming have a government that takes pride in a handful of successful farmers? (Ethiopia is the second most populous African nation after Nigeria. Its population is around 94 million). But, above all, isn’t there some sort of job description for the people in power: building roads (rail or other), providing for the public, making life better, ensuring security (human or otherwise), among others? This if-it-wasn’t-for-us narrative is getting too old now; with actually not much to show for it.

    We are taught and expected to appreciate elections, as they have the potential to turn things around, generate unity at the national or sub-national level, with clear intentions of allowing the public to have a say in matters that determine the way their lives function and decide on whom to perform those functions. But in this ancient and great nation called Ethiopia, democracy is just a tag on the official name of the nation; it is not a practice.

    According to official reports, around 36 million out of 43 million people of voting age had registered to cast votes by Sunday. This is a good indicator for rising public participation. But unless those who register are well informed and educated on their rights, and not relying on the winks by the local cadres, it defeats the purpose of exercising one’s democratic right freely. Have the electorate been given the opportunity to identify whom they would like to vote for? Of course yes! The majority of the people are subjected to the ever boring and redundant propaganda produced by the state controlled media, therefore their choice is nothing but EPRDF. If the indoctrination will not be enough, there will be the National Electoral Board and local observers to take care of the outcome after the casting of the ballots.

    The Ethiopian government always pretends that it is not authoritarian; but then again Stalin and Mao had parliaments and constitutions full of guaranteed rights. The whole purpose of that and every other part of the government is to maintain the selected few in wealth and power, by all costs. That is all. The private media lives under constant threat and harassment. Civil society organizations perform on a tightrope. Political dissent is silenced in a systematic way. The social and political space is too tight and suffocating. It is actually a worrying matter that the only means for the public to speak back to its leaders is through the untrusted and feared ballot boxes, which are very much orchestrated, open to manipulation as a final resort, if the constant brainwashing, propaganda and mostly the signal of ‘with us or against us’ doesn’t bear the desired fruit.

    For a new comer in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa shows the face of a police state. There are armed forces on the streets, gesturing that something is coming up – it is only the election. In a democratic state, election time would be an easy period for festivities and happiness, not so much uncertainty and fear. In a recent detailed account on Elections in Ethiopia: Beyond Winning (And Losing), Tsegaye R. Ararssa confirms that: “The fear that grips the state on the eve of election is thus the fear of loss of control over the violence that keeps the state together, the fear of loss of power by the minority. In a sense, it is the fear of democracy, the fear of majority rule. Democracy means the end of Ethiopia, as we knew it so far. It is the end of authority to use force as a way of governing”. This gives us food for thought about when this will end and democracy actually become a friend, not a foe of Ethiopia and its people.

    To conclude, keeping in mind that this is a country where very level headed and professional journalists like Tesfalem Woldeyes and young and energetic bloggers like the Zone9ers and others are in jail for saying what they witness everyday, it is refreshing to come across new online platforms dedicated to the 2015 election. One of them is the election2015 site and facebook page with sober, well-researched and referenced continent. This adds a new dimension to the election debate and overall discussion, by providing not only information, but also a mock poll ahead of the election in order to exercise one’s right without any fear and hindrance. Fingers crossed, these and other platforms will remain open and functioning at least till the end of the election and even further, to let the public (at least those who have access to the technology) know what has been going on, including the poll results.

    I want to fast-forward to the time when the nation would have passed through all the fear and uncertainties and made it to a bright day, when the majority of its people will exercise their full rights and potential, not only in the once-every-five-years elections, but in the economic, social and cultural spheres of every day life.

    * "Tesfaye Yosef" is a pen-name. The author of this article is an Ethiopian citizen living in Addis Ababa, whose full details we cannot reveal due to the Ethiopian government’s extensive ruthless repression of critical voices.


    [1] Stremlau, N., & Price, M. E. (2009). Media, Elections and Political Violence in Eastern Africa: Towards a Comparative Framework. Oxford Center for Global Communication Studies.

    They are selling records of African history

    Kwame Opoku


    c c PZ
    Unique historical evidence of the ancient cultures of a continent is being put up for sale on the open market in Europe. Yet in the countries of Africa where these priceless treasures belong, there is little public interest in the matter.

    The auction house Dorotheum in Vienna has issued a catalogue announcing a forthcoming auction of cultural artefacts from Africa, Asia and Oceania on 26 May 2015.[1] Among the many African items to be sold are pieces of Nok (Nigeria), Komaland (Ghana) and many other interesting pieces. The impressive array of African artefacts once again confirms the accepted fact that Europe has more valuable African artefacts, mostly looted, than Africa itself. Very few museums in Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Cape Town, Lagos Luanda or Maputo could assemble such a collection.

    As with previous auction sales announced by Dorotheum, the provenance of most of the announced items leaves a lot to be desired. The objects are mostly said to be from “private collection in Austria”, “Belgian private ownership” or “private German collection”. Such descriptions do not help in tracing the history of these artefacts to the date of offer for auction. Several items are said to be from the private collection of the late Dr. Ludwig Leopold who was involved in many cases of restitution of Nazi-looted artworks. [2] We were very surprised that in the case of one object offered for auction, it is stated that the object was purchased and that the relevant receipt is available for inspection. [3] The auctioneers must be encouraged to offer such information and more precise details.

    As many readers will know by now, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has put certain African artefacts on its Red List for Africa. [4] These artefacts are said to be so important for understanding African civilizations and history that they should under no circumstances be exported outside their countries of origin or be put on sale:

    “The looting of archaeological items and the destruction of archaeological sites in Africa are a cause of irreparable damage to African history and hence to the history of humankind. Whole sections of our history have been wiped out and can never be reconstituted. These objects cannot be understood once they have been removed from their archaeological context and divorced from the whole to which they belong. Only professional archaeological excavations can help recover their identity, their date and their location. But so long as there is demand from the international art market these objects will be looted and offered for sale.”

    Terracotta from Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana (Komaland), Mali, Niger and Nigeria (Nok) are all on the Red List (See the Annex).

    Some readers may be surprised that the historical evidence of the ancient culture of a continent is being put for sale on the open market in Europe. Many European dealers do not seem to have a conscience that it is wrong to sell the looted artefacts of others. Nor have the European governments been always very active in preventing looting or selling of the cultural artefacts of others. Indeed in the past the European rulers were the prime movers of looting expeditions such as the so-called Benin Punitive Expedition. Recent acts of violent destruction of cultural objects have awakened some people and governments to discuss ways and means of preventing such acts. But has this led to serious reflection and conclusion that you cannot deal effectively with present acts of barbarism if past acts of similar nature are not also condemned? Should the rapacious past be allowed to cast its evil shadow on the barbaric present without any counter-measures?

    But if Westerners are not worried by the sale of historical evidence of ancient African civilizations, what about Africans? Those responsible for the preservation of cultural artefacts in countries like Nigeria and Ghana do not seem to be overly worried. They do not seem to express themselves publicly on such issues outside their own circles.

    Readers may recall the so-called Geneva row where Swiss scholars openly criticised the exhibition of looted African terracotta which included many items on the ICOM Red List.[5] As far as I can recall neither the [url=file://localhost/G/]Ghana National Commission on Culture[/url] nor the [url=file://localhost/G/]Nigerian Commission on Museums and Monuments[/url] publicly took any stand on the issue. They all seemed to be involved more in quiet diplomacy, if at all concerned. The general public seems to be entirely excluded from being informed of the outcome of such diplomacy. In Nigeria, people are being misled by information that the policy of quiet diplomacy has resulted in several restitutions when in fact what has happened is the return of items seized by the customs and the police of some western States in the normal course of their duties. None of the famous and well-known Benin bronzes has been returned as a result of diplomacy, quiet or loud. [6]

    It is interesting to note that while the Westerners are shouting from rooftops their determination not to return our looted artefacts, African representatives seem to be whispering in the living room their desire to have the looted objects back. Have those in charge of preserving African cultural artefacts tacitly accepted the robbery and sale of our national treasures? There seems to be friendly relationships between Africans in charge of cultural artefacts and their counterparts in the Western countries. But who benefits more from this relationship? [7]

    Readers will recall the acrimonious controversies between the Nigerian Association of Archaeologists and the researchers from the University of Frankfurt, Germany, that had been permitted to excavate at the Nok sites. The Nigerians accused the Germans of taking away Nok pieces to Germany and the latter responded that the pieces were taken away for further study. The subsequent exhibition of newly discovered Nok sculptures in Germany rather than in Nigeria shocked many observers. The National Commission on Museums and Monuments did not come out of this controversy with a flattering image. [8]

    The lack of interest by many African States in reclaiming their looted artefacts has been explained by a former director of Museum of Ethnology, Stockholm with reference to Nigeria as follows:

    “There are many ways to develop relationships besides returning museum objects. Informally, it also appears that different kinds of collaboration that are currently in progress are more important to Nigerian museums. That might explain why Nigeria has not registered any formal demand for the return of the Benin collections, but has preferred to engage in dialogue and cooperation with museums that have Benin collections. It seems Nigeria is chary of bringing the matter to a head. How does one otherwise explain that the National Museum of Nigeria was willing to lend its extensive and unique collection of Ife art to the British Museum for a special exhibition 2010,without demanding reciprocity?” [9]

    As far as I can tell, there have not been any comments on the above statement by Prof. Wilhelm Ostberg, former Director of the National Museum of Ethnology, Stockholm, who undoubtedly knew what he was talking about. Does the cover of silent diplomacy also extend to sales of evidence of African history as described by the ICOM Red List of Africa?

    The continued looting and selling of historical artefacts of African cultures without any comment or reaction by guardians of African culture can only encourage further forays.

    1. Dorotheum,Stammeskunst/TribalArt,Afrika,Nordafrika&Orient,Asien, Indonesien, Ozeanien, Sudamerika. Dienstag, 26 Mai 2015. See also“Auction of African Art by Dorotheum, Vienna: But What Are the Provenances of the Artefacts?

    2. Story - Illicit Cultural Property | Tag Archive | Egon Schiele,

    3. Catalogue, p. 93, Songye, DRKongo, “Kifwebe-Maske.”

    4. Red List of African Archaeological Objects- Red List – ICOM

    5. K. Opoku, Let Others Loot for You: Looting of African Artefacts for Western Museums.

    6. K. Opoku, What we understand by “Restitution”

    K. Opoku, The Man of Conscience who Returned his Grandfather’s Looted Benin Bronzes

    7. K. Opoku, “Will Nigeria Finally Raise Restitution of Benin Artefacts at Unesco Intergovernmental Committee?” Idia and Others Must Return Home: Training Courses are no Substitutes for Looted

    K. Opoku – “Benin Plan of Action for Restitution . .8. K. Opoku, “Newly Discovered Nok Sculptures Exhibited for the First Time not in Nigeria but in Germany”

    Pambazuka, Nigerian archaeologists protest German exhibition of looted ...

    9. Wilhelm Ostberg, The Coveted Treasures of the Kingdom of Benin”, p.68, Whose Objects, catalogue of exhibition at the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 2010, Etnografiska museet (Museum of Ethnography) ANNEX Extract from Red List of African Archaeological Objects- Red ICOM

    Time for radical makeover of the MBA

    Dhiru Soni, Ahmed Shaikh, Anis Karodia, Joseph David, Marvin Kambuwa and Malcolm Wallis


    c c RBS
    Business education in Africa is in dire need of an overhaul. The new focus should be on training managers who are acutely aware of the issues of ethics and governance, environmental and resource sustainability, justice and fairness with a view to creating successful and globally sustainable societies.


    It is that time of year when Finweek, a weekly magazine that focuses on business and investment issues, publishes its review of MBA programmes in South Africa. The primary audience is business executives and investors. The annual review has become a compass bearing point for managers, leaders and executives of finance houses and potential MBA students.

    In this article we argue that the review, whilst being a useful guide for business executives and prospective MBA students, does not deal with the more substantive curricula and policy issues confronting the critical management and leadership skills needs of South Africa, specifically, and Africa, generally. We further contend that the time for a radical makeover of the MBA is seriously wanting and that a task force composed of members of the Association of African Business Schools, the Council on Higher Education (CHE), captains of industry, students and civil society organisations be constituted to undertake a major review of the MBA programme, particularly within the framework of globalisation, the post-crisis global economy, the Africa rising narrative, emerging and frontier markets, the knowledge economy and the new National Development Plan for South Africa. Within this context, the task force should also investigate the questions of epistemology and oncology of management studies, and what the scaffolding of the new MBA curriculum might be and what its theoretical and philosophical foundations should be. Essentially, a review of ‘fit for purpose’ of management education is urgently required.


    The world is changing and perhaps more importantly, we are being globalised. The new phenomenon has engendered an expanding mobility of people, access to knowledge across borders, increased demand for higher education in developing countries, growing world-wide investment and increased requirements for adult and continuing education. As globalisation continues on its march to dominate almost all aspects of our lives, including commercial transactions, our understanding of the new phenomenon and how it impacts commerce and business education needs to be critically understood.

    The process of globalisation has contributed to the integration of the contemporary world order through the flow of technology, economic activity, knowledge, values and ideas. The IT revolution, in particular, has impacted the production and dissemination of information and the use of knowledge in ways hitherto unknown. Through the process of globalisation we experienced an explosion of knowledge, where infinite amounts of information became available. The knowledge thus gained knows no frontiers and is borderless. It is the new ‘knowledge society’.

    The concomitant new knowledge that was forged out of the process of globalisation and the new knowledge society required a new epistemology and pedagogy for it to be properly contextualised and understood. The resultant new resource-rich knowledge environment, therefore, required the use of new technologies based on electronic information services (libraries and other data repositories) that contributed significantly to the acquisition of this new knowledge.

    Until the birth of the new knowledge production milieu, knowledge was uni-linear and involved the kind of science traditionally undertaken at universities and other research facilities. This type of knowledge production was referred to as ‘Mode 1’ science and was cognitively coherent and conceptualised in linear terms. The shift to the new knowledge production arena, now commonly referred to as ‘Mode 2’ production, is much more widely distributed, socially complex and multi-linear. In essence what this means is that the new knowledge explosion has made it almost impossible for a single cognate or discipline-based knowledge field to embrace or understand the complexities of life. It now requires interdisciplinary knowledge production – ‘Mode 2’ knowledge.

    The globalization of the economy and its concomitant demands on the workforce require a different education that enhances the ability of learners to access, assess, adopt and apply knowledge, to think independently, to exercise appropriate judgment and to collaborate with others to make sense of new situations. Globalisation is not the only factor behind the changes that are affecting education and likewise it is not the only factor that motivates the local interest groups that formulate policy. Nevertheless globalisation has posed challenges of a hitherto unknown nature to nation states and much of the seemingly recent, never-ending change in education is a corollary of these challenges.

    This new knowledge environment requires a team effort, which bridges the narrow silo-based knowledge production. Therefore, understanding the explosion of the new knowledge unleashed by globalisation, ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production, requires specialists from across cognate fields of knowledge to work together as teams or networks to understand the complexities of life. As a result, collaborative research (as exemplified in the new ‘network society’), often with an increasing number of participants, is becoming the norm for the new arena of knowledge production.

    The objective of education in a period of globalisation is no longer simply to convey a body of knowledge, but to teach how to learn, problem-solve and synthesize the old with the new.


    In a similar fashion, the Master of Business Administration (MBA), a flagship education programme for the business world, must transform itself. The core curriculum of the MBA needs to be renewed to educate for a new context of ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production. Besides advocating for a critical makeover, the new MBA should champion an epistemology and pedagogy that firmly and strategically outline a new pathway for teaching and learning.

    The graduate of the transformed MBA will not only be an innovative entrepreneur, manager and leader for the 21st century, but also:

    • an individual who comprehends the true meaning of education – that it is not an event, but rather a lifelong process;

    • a trailblazer addressing some of the key problems and challenges of economic development;

    • someone who is multi-skilled and has transferable skills;

    • a person who is sensitive and capable of leading industries and organisations, with an intrinsic understanding of the relationship among business, society and political economy;

    • one who is acutely aware of issues such as ethics, apposite governance and environmental sustainability with a view to creating a socially just society;

    • someone who understands that business does not operate in a vacuum, but is inextricably linked to government and civil society;

    • a person who understands the complexity of the real world within which business operates and is able to use multi-disciplinary approaches to deal with the challenges and problems;

    • an individual who is able to grasp the differences between management and leadership and make the ‘leap’ when challenged;

    • a person who is well balanced in terms of the analytical (IQ) and social and emotional aspects (EQ);

    • someone who is able to think critically;

    • a leader who is able to solve problems under the real world conditions where the luxury of time is almost non-existent and demands are extensive; and

    • one who is humble enough to listen carefully to all stakeholders and their concerns and is able to use the information gleaned from them to bring about appropriate solutions.

    Finally, the prime purpose of the new MBA is to change existing mindsets. The student of the new MBA programme has to embrace integration. The new MBA graduates will have to know more about ‘how to integrate’ than about ‘how to construct’. Rote knowledge and memorisation would not be as useful as the ability to examine and integrate new information. However, the task of reforming the existing MBA will not be easy. It requires a difficult balancing act between the intellectual and the emotional. If we are to create a new business paradigm out of the chaos of a global financial crisis to which business schools contributed in no minor way, we will need to take a long, hard look at how business education is taught in our schools.

    To do this, business schools need to challenge their own orthodoxy wherein the view of business and society is rooted in the survival of the fittest. They need to focus on the social consequences of their actions and accept responsibility for the business excesses of recent years. What is required is a narrative of common interest to combat the mantra of selfishness, especially one that appeals to the sense that leadership is for all, not for the few. Business as usual is no longer an option.

    The curriculum of the MBA will have to consider the complexities of the new knowledge environment and ensure that the silo-based approach to teaching and learning gives way to a multidisciplinary approach. Inputs from the social and natural sciences in understanding the complexities of life emerge as an imperative. The MBA graduate will be expected to understand that global economics, for example, has to be contextualised within the realm of global sociology and politics, as well. In addition, MBA graduates will have to think globally and act locally. As a result, global socio-economic and political perspectives become integral to business and leadership.

    Unlike in the past, armed with new knowledge production skills, it is now possible for an MBA student to observe and learn about analogous collaborative phenomena outside the mini cosmos of a single higher education axis, such as the global sourcing of goods and services and just-in-time manufacturing. Likewise, advances in information and communication technologies encourage the emergence of entirely new ‘communicative cultures’ that are highly interactive, intuitive, more visual and spontaneous, and are very different from the academic culture that has dominated intellectual ‘Mode 1’ knowledge production in the West, for the past couple of centuries.

    Similarly, within the context of a changing South Africa and the narrative of Africa rising, it is essential for a business leader, an entrepreneur or an MBA graduate to understand the inextricable complex business relationships of both the ‘local’ and the ‘global’. For just as much as the ‘local’ is important, a sense of what is happening globally is critical. Global political economy has become intensely complex and unlike in the past, today, global human-made phenomena affect almost every locality in the world, even the remotest village. The recent 2008 financial crisis is a case in point.

    In a recent article written by some of the authors of this article, ‘Africa Rising: Doing Business in Africa’, special mention was made of the importance of culture and its specific nuances in African trade. Unless the MBA graduate begins to understand the impact of the complexities and the intricacies of culture on almost all aspects of life in Africa, many business ventures in Africa will not succeed. In terms of the ‘Mode 2’ knowledge, business cannot be as usual. The core of the MBA curriculum needs to provide skills to manage different aspects of business and expose the student to real world business situations.

    The future MBA curriculum should also look more deeply into the issue of culture on and how it impacts entrepreneurial behaviour. Entrepreneurial theories today include assumptions such as self-interest maximisation. ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production, however, informs us that this may not be universally true. The values and motivations in some emerging economies, for example, include an emphasis on the welfare of others, maintaining the status quo, maintaining networks and relationships which may change the implications of assumptions on an individual, especially in terms of self-interest maximisation.

    In preparing an MBA curriculum to meet these demands, business schools must go beyond the concept of ‘Mode 1’ knowledge production. Business schools are increasingly compelled to foster a multidisciplinary approach to global problems and challenges and inculcate in students a mindset that is flexible and responsive so that they can deal with complexity, uncertainty and inequality inherent in the world today. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with business schools to use the MBA to offer graduates the insights and capabilities to build better organisations. If business schools are unwilling or unable do this, then they risk becoming obsolete and their MBA curriculum will lose it relevance.

    On another front, for emerging economies, the need to include the new knowledge production is even greater. Africa, for example, needs leaders who can make their economies less dependent on the sales of raw materials and rapidly advance them toward manufacturing of goods without destroying social and environmental capital in the process – in other words, becoming agents of local beneficiation. The current curricula of most MBAs with ‘Mode 1’ knowledge production skills do not come close to matching the new need. The task of embracing the new mode of knowledge production and ensuring that business leaders and professionals have the skills they need to take their companies forward into a developing a sustainable economy is potentially the most pressing challenge that South African business schools are likely to face over the next few years. Consequently, the new MBA curriculum will have to be geared toward educating students about the need to adapt in the current marketplace in order to stay relevant and not rely on old silo-based knowledge structures, especially when everything about modern business is changing.

    In the case for emerging economies, Africa’s included, the conventional MBA programmes will have to make way for entrepreneur-focused programmes, where the skills of finance and accounting, marketing, as well as effective leadership, are integrated and taught in terms of the new epistemologies and pedagogies that ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production demands. Finding opportunities for young people is a critical challenge for Africa, where 62 percent of the population—more than 600 million young people—is below the age of 25. Entrepreneurship must be an integral part of every aspiring MBA graduate. The new curriculum necessitates imparting not only the technical skills of entrepreneurship, but also the mindset of the entrepreneur.

    Given the major transformation that has occurred in terms of globalisation, the explosion of knowledge, the resultant network and knowledge societies and ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production, the new MBA should provide:

    • a sophisticated understanding of the influence of political, social, legal and regulatory, environmental, demographic and technological impacts on companies;

    • familiarity with legislation and formal programmes that support ethical conduct;

    • exposure to companies with high levels of integrity and responsibility;

    • dynamic learning opportunities that require integrating multiple perspectives and managing ambiguities and dilemmas at the global and individual level;

    • practical experience working through responsible business decision making;

    • greater awareness of business tools and principles with social dimensions, such as socially responsible investment criteria, social entrepreneurship and innovation;

    • exposure to an array of models of the corporation, including corporate governance structures and models of the corporation vis-à-vis society at large;

    • an appreciation for the interconnected nature of business operations with government and community and the skills to engage these external stakeholders in constructive dialogue;

    • interdisciplinary thinking across the current silos of marketing, finance and
    accounting, operations, organisational behaviour, and strategy;

    • an ability to understand and deal with trade-offs between multiple competing business and other imperatives

    • practice in decision making in the face of imperfect or incomplete information and under conditions of great transition
    The philosophy of the new MBA must be steeped in the quest to develop business managers who are sensitive and capable of captaining industries and organisations with an understanding of the relationships among business, society, the political economy and the planned development trajectory of a country. Intrinsic in this philosophy is the focus on developing managers who are acutely aware of the issues of ethics and governance, environmental and resource sustainability, justice and fairness with a view to creating successful and globally sustainable societies.

    Therefore, the cornerstone of the new MBA programme's philosophy will be one that nurtures creative problem solving. It will seek growth not only in creativity, but more importantly, train managers who can develop the creative abilities of those in their employ. Furthermore, the new MBA will insist that its graduates possess a global perspective. As the world's economies grow continuously, thinking globally is much about opportunity as it is about competition. Since the new MBA is about management that behaves ethically, quality decision-making requires that managers consider what is ‘good’ and ‘right’ for all stakeholders, from a well-thought-out set of principles. In this respect, the new MBA graduate should be challenged to consider creating a business system responsive to the greater, rather than the minority’s, good. This opens the door for business schools to look at shaping managers not for business alone but for shaping successful and progressive societies.

    The recent financial crises have brought to the fore the issues of business ethics in managers and question the very nature of over-zealous capitalistic paradigms. What is clear is that an MBA cannot be totally seen as one size fits all. Essentially a review of ‘fit for purpose’ is required.

    It will also be vital for business schools to embrace new technologies to help their graduates prepare for an increasingly global business world. The new technologies help connect students with their professors, with one another, and with business leaders with whom they might not otherwise be able to interact. In addition, students must learn to become familiar with the various technologies being used by businesses worldwide.

    Historically the divide between business and the state was clear – they were far from being complimentary to each other. This position, however, has turned full tide toward a close relationship between state and business, especially in the context of a development state of emerging economies. The reason for noting these two concepts is that business schools need to realign traditional academic content to allow for the unfolding of more recent developments.

    Thus, within the context of globalisation, knowledge explosion and ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production, the emergent MBA has to aim at developing a student’s intellectual ability, executive personality and entrepreneurial and managerial skills through an appropriate blend of business and multidisciplinary education. In addition, it needs to provide students with business education of globally recognised best practices with flexibility of their adaptation to indigenous entrepreneurial and societal context.

    Globalisation of management education reopens decades-old debates and layers upon them new complexity, broader scope, and greater scale. Given the pace and direction of change, it seems inevitable that the future global field of management education will differ vastly from what it is today. Leaders in academia, business, and government need to understand the consequences of these imminent changes. The general mission of business schools is to educate and prepare talent to serve customers, firms, and markets. As the field of business administration evolves, the academy must evolve as well. The reality is that this change is not evolutionary, of a slow and silent nature. In some respects it is discontinuous, fast, and prominent. Such change has called for nimble response by firms and their leaders. The same response is required of the academy. Business schools mirror the profession they serve. The spectacular globalisation of business since World War II has created a significant demand for administrative talent educated in the challenges and opportunities of globalisation.


    The challenge that most global business school educators face is designing visionary new agendas to cultivate a revision of humankind with the view of generating the learners’ intellect necessary to cope with the complexity of globalisation as an evolving new reality. The emergence of globalisation is making educators’ task more challenging than ever it was.

    Likewise, in the African context, business educators need to critically understand the development growth path and the skills needs of their respective countries. It is necessary to understand their histories, especially in terms of education. The legacy of colonialism is deeply etched into almost every aspect of the African education system. Without going into a detailed account of colonial history, let it suffice to mention that the extraction of natural resources by the colonial powers did not require a skilled labour force. During the colonial period, education was never a priority in any African country. It was only after independence that most African countries began to chart a new path in terms of their education systems. This opens the door for business schools to look at shaping managers not for business alone but for shaping successful and progressive societies, through the understanding of social and development issues.

    The Association of African Business Schools together with the CHE and other relevant stakeholders must address the issues of why the traditional MBA that universities produce limits graduates and how these numbers can be increased to deal with the acute and chronic shortage of managers and leaders in South Africa, generally and throughout Africa as a whole. There is an imperative to establish a ‘task team’ to chart a new curriculum for the MBA education—a curriculum that is not only in consonance with the skills and talent requirements of the continent, but one that can also provide a broader scaffolding for strategic management and leadership.

    The charting of a pathway for a more relevant MBA, specifically in view of the nascent development trajectory of South Africa and the narrative of Africa rising is too important to be left to chance. Business education as usual is no longer an option.

    *The authors are senior academics and Researchers and are affiliated with Regent Business School, South Africa.

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    How should Economics be taught?

    Vincent Navarro


    c c YT
    As currently taught, Economics specializes in branches of the tree without understanding the nature of the forest. Absence of the study of the political and social context, determined historically, makes the subject an apologetic message for current power relations, leading to poor understanding of economic phenomena.


    Vincent Navarro is currently a professor and the director of the Public Policy program both at University Pompeu Fabra, Spain, and John Hopkins University, USA. Being one of the most internationally cited researchers in the field of social sciences, Vincent Navarro is an economist, political theorist and sociologist who has been widely recognized for challenging neoliberal approaches to the study of economics. Together with professor Juan Torres, he is the author of the controversial electoral program put forward by Podemos, where they advocate for a strong public sector and welfare state, as well as a move away from an economy based on speculative industries like construction. Love-him or hate-him, Navarro’s strong opinions have been able to shake the current economic academia and Spain’s political scenario. This interview was conducted by students at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, one of the leading schools of economics in Europe.

    Q. There is little doubt that neoclassical economics has contributed to a very large extent to the study of economics and social sciences. Nevertheless, it seems that this neoclassical school of thought has monopolized the economic syllabus in top Universities around the United States and Europe, leaving alternative economic perspectives ignored.

    You suggest in a number of articles that many of the economic policies that are being implemented currently in Europe come from specific power relations within the Eurozone (European Central Bank and the IMF against antiausterity movements in Greece, Spain, etc.). In relation to the study of economics, how does the lack of teaching about institutions and politics in the economic curriculum, as well as the lack of debate against the foundations of neoclassical theories are limiting our understanding of today’s economic and political scene?

    NAVARRO: One of the major problems we encounter in the production of economic knowledge is its excessive disciplinary approach. Actually, the academic institutions are usually divided by departments based on disciplines, one of them being economics. The reality that surrounds us, however, cannot be understood following the disciplinary approach. The understanding of our realities, including the economic ones, calls for a multidisciplinary analysis, with the understandings of the historical, political and social forces that shape and determine that reality. In order to understand the current Great Recession, for example, we have to understand how power—class power, race power, gender power, national power—is produced and reproduced through political institutions, as well as social and cultural ones. In other words, we have to comprehend how power relations shape the governance of our societies, including their economies.

    The current economics, for the most part, do not do that. They specialize in branches of the tree without understanding, or even less, questioning, the nature of the forest. Moreover, they have given great emphasis to the methods, depoliticizing the realities of the economic phenomenon. Today, modern economics is used as a way of confusing and/or ignoring the political realities that shape the economy. Currently, most of the major economic problems we face are basically political.

    You cannot understand, for example, the current crisis in Europe without understanding the decline of labor income, and, thus, of domestic demand; this is the result of the changing power relations—primarily class power relations—that have occurred in the last thirty years. You can also not explain the crisis without understanding the enormous influence of financial capital on the European Central Bank. To try to explain reality by referring to the working of the financial markets as a point of departure is profoundly wrong and naïve. Financial markets have very little to do with markets. It was enough for Mario Draghi, the President of the European Central Bank, to speak a sentence, to reduce the interest rates dramatically.

    The absence of the study of the political and social context, determined historically, makes current economics an apologetic message for current power relations, mystifying, hiding, and/or confusing the understanding of the economic phenomena. It is not surprising, therefore, that the critical traditions within economies are completely ignored or marginalized. It is predictable that current economists did not perceive the arrival of the current recession, which is a Great Depression for millions of Europeans. Only analysts from critical traditions were able to predict it. And we did it.

    Q. Kevin O’Rourke mentioned: “One of the most important things that a bit of history gives you is a sense of the importance of context. A model will work very well in some technological or institutional context, but not in others. (…) If the only thing that economic history does is to protect us from the one-size-fits-all merchants, it would still be worth the price of admission”.

    The Financial Crisis of 2008 highlighted the importance of historical and social contexts when it comes to economic analysis. Indeed, it illustrated what happens when society forgets history and how the implicit guarantee from Government encourages risk. In this sense, there is a general sentiment that Universities are just teaching ahistorical economic models that are abstracted from specific norms and values that are subject to cultural and historical locations. To what extent do you think we should acknowledge history of past financial crises in the economic curriculum, and how could we achieve this? Furthermore, if it was the case that economic faculties are neglecting economic history as an essential subject in their syllabus, what are the roots of this? Does it come from a clash of interests between economic and political powers and Universities, or was it a slow transition towards a neoclassical orthodoxy led by the academia?

    NAVARRO: The current emphasis on methods and its analysis of the economic reality without looking at the political context that determines it is a consequence of changes in the power relations in our societies. The apologetic function of current economies of the current power relations explains its lack of relevance. What we have been seeing since the 80s has been the enormous growth of income derived from capital, and the decline of income from labor. This has resulted in the drastic growth of inequalities.

    But those who derive their income from capital have enormous influence on value-generating systems, including the media and universities. This is extremely clear in the US but is happening also in the European universities. Today, the influence of financial and economic institutions in the production of knowledge is enormous. They fund research, support economic journals, and shape, to a large degree, the academic culture in the area of economics. It is very similar to what happens in medicine where the pharmaceutical industry has a major influence in shaping clinical knowledge and practice.

    In my over 50 years of academic life, never has the 1% (those who derive their income from capital) had as much influence in shaping the knowledge of economics. The situation in Spain is even worse than in the US, due to the lack of public funds for economic research. The major research institutions are funded by major banks or major corporations. This explains the dominance of the neoliberal ideology in most academic forums, journals, and major media.

    Q. It has been seen over the past years that banks and financial institutions have taken advantage of some of their costumers when selling their services (as seen with the preferentes and mass evictions in Spain, etc.). Furthermore, some economic concepts are becoming a requirement to understand today’s economic situation. Indeed, much of the population is voting specific policies without really knowing the potential consequences of such policies, neither the interests that lie behind them. Considering now the general population instead of the academic world, to what extent is general economic education important for democracy and how the government/media/education institutions could try to improve economic education?

    NAVARRO: The influence of what now is called the 1% on society affects all institutions that reproduce information and knowledge, from the major media in a country to the university, and now including the entire educational system, starting with the schools. The expansion of the teaching of economics to the school systems in an intent to expand a vision of reality that is in accordance with conventional wisdom in a country, the wisdom shaped by the 1%, and its allied classes (which includes approximately another 10% of the population).

    Q. The importance of and the ways to achieve a plural media independent from public institutions and economic powers has been subject of intense debate over the past years due to its relevance to democratic quality. As an example, Prat and Strömberg (2011) suggest that to achieve this plural and independent media we need to encourage financially independent outlets. McChesney and Schiller (2003), however, focus on the importance of public media as a way to insulate outlets from being controlled by corporations.

    In the economic program that Podemos presented, of which you are one of the authors, you suggest that there should be a “separation by law between the property of financial groups and communication outlets, thus ensuring the independence of all media companies from the government and large corporations” (page 10). Furthermore, you mention that there should be a “legislation that provides a minimum quota of independent public media outlets”, by which “no company could take more than the 15% of the total media market” (page 10).

    Many people would question these policies, arguing that independence and quality in media markets are not necessarily achieved by constraining private companies and expanding public media outlets. Many examples of private media outlets that are independent of private corporations can be given, such as The Guardian, The New York Times and even La Sexta in Spain. How would an increase in the presence of public media outlets improve the independence of media from economic and political powers in Spain? Isn’t the problem of media independence about a casta that operates both at the private and public level?

    NAVARRO: Today, financial capital—primarily banks and insurance companies—have the dominant voice in the major media. In Spain this is obvious. All major media are in deep debt and are in the hands of the banks. It is because of this that Professor Juan Torres and I indicated in our economic proposals for the new party Podemos that that linkage should be discontinued, because it enormously limits the necessary ideological diversity that should exist in any democracy. Today, there is no such diversity in Spain.

    But that situation is not unique in Spain. I have lived for many years in the US, teaching at the Johns Hopkins University for over fifty years, and the ideological diversity is also very limited in that country. Rarely, if ever, will you see intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky in the major media. Incidentally, I have to correct you regarding the New York Times in the US and La Sexta in Spain. The largest groups of members in the Editorial Board of the NYT are related to insurance companies and banking. This explains the hostility of that daily to the specific single-payer proposal for reforming health care in the US. This proposal, put forward by the left of the Democratic Party and the labor union would be a model of the health care system that already exists in Canada, and would eliminate the private health insurance within the publically funded system.

    And La Sexta is owned by economic and financial interests that also fund some of the extreme right-wing media, like La Razon. They allow some space for the left, but always in a very limited way. They expose those critical voices because they realize that the audience increases when critical voices are allowed. But the major owner supervises the production and do not leave much space for progressive forces.

    Q. The economic program of Podemos also argues that it would encourage the presence of little and medium size companies to foster employment creation.

    The Economist published an article called “Supersize me” (21st February 2015) arguing that a lack of larger firms in Spain means fewer jobs and a less resilient economy. In particular, it mentions that “bigger firms tend to be more resilient in hard times than smaller ones. In Britain, for example, large companies – those with more than 250 workers – provide almost half of all private-sector jobs, compared with just a quarter in Spain. The Círculo de Empresarios calculates that if Spain had the same mix of firms as Britain, it would have lost half a million fewer jobs since the global financial crisis.”

    From this perspective, what is attractive about medium and small size firms in an economy with such high unemployment rate, and what makes big corporations not a good option to overcome the challenges that Spain is facing today? How would this influence unemployment for young people?

    NAVARRO: The major economic problems existing in Spain are not the size of the enterprises. Most of the largest Spanish enterprises used to be public enterprises that were privatized and run by friends of the governing parties. Many of them are less efficient than they were when they were public. Some of the major private banks that have run into major problems have been banks that used to be public. And even public banks were forced to act as private banks. And that is one of the major problems. Private banking in Spain is far too large. Spain is the country in the European Union with the smallest public banking sector. It is also one of the countries where it is most difficult to get credit. This, and the lack of demand due to the large reduction of wages (the lowest wages in the EU) and cuts in public expenditures (the lowest public expenditure in the EU) are the causes of the recession and limited recovery.

    The greatest need in Spain to restructure the economy, changing its dependency on sectors very prone to speculation, like construction. Also, contrary to what the 1% in Spain claims, the public sector is very underdeveloped. If Spain would have the same percentage of adults working in the welfare State than Sweden, will have about four million more people working then are working now.

    Q.: Lastly, what do you think is Spain’s biggest challenge today from both an economic and political point of view and what can we do to overcome them?

    NAVARRO: The very limited democracy that exists in Spain. The transition from dictatorship to democracy in Spain took place in conditions very favorable to the conservative forces that controlled the State and the media. As a consequence, the Spanish state has a very limited democracy and underfunded welfare state. There is a need for a transition from the dramatically insufficient democracy to a real democracy, with active participation of the citizenship in the governance of the country.

    * This interview previously appeared in CounterPunch.


    McChesney, R. and Schiller, D., 2003. The Political Economy of International Communications Foundations for the Emerging Global Debate about Media Ownership and Regulation. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

    Prat, A. Strömberg, D., 2011. The Political Economy of Mass Media. Econometric Society World Congress.

    Kevin O’Rourke on history:

    The Economist, 21st Feb 2015. Supersize Me.



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    The wretched of the sea

    Hamza Hamouchene


    c c IBT
    The securitisation of immigration control has failed to solve the migrant crisis because it ignores the root cause: a global system that puts profits before people.

    Every year, thousands of people risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean in fragile boats, fleeing war, poverty, persecution, and misery in order to reach the shores of Europe and the possibility of a better, safer life.

    Sadly a significant number of the hopeful perish in their attempts—drowning when their flimsy vessels capsize or sink—or end up in humiliating camps and prisons in southern European countries, waiting to be deported and returned, their dreams shattered.

    What sets this year apart in the ongoing tragedy is the sheer scale of migrant deaths. More than 1,500 migrants have drowned so far—50 times more than last year. This explosion in mortality is attributable in part to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali, which are driving ever greater numbers of Africans, Syrians, and even migrant workers from South Asia, to seek refuge in Europe.

    At the same time, Italy has discontinued its Operation Mare Nostrum rescue program due to its cost, and despite its deep culpability in the crisis the European Union has refused to pick up the baton, preferring to let migrants drown—as a deterrent in their view to the unwanted people considering coming to fortress Europe.

    The unofficial EU ‘let them drown’ policy was illustrated by a British minister at the Foreign Office, Lady Anelay, in October 2014: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” she said, explaining that these generated “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.”

    These undesirable migrants come not only from poor and war-torn countries, but also from countries like the North African giant Algeria, which praises itself on being a beacon of stability in the region, and which harbours vast oil and gas reserves.

    Despite its wealth and stability, it is nevertheless one of the biggest countries producing what Algerians call Harraga—‘illegal migrants’ in the Maghrebi language.


    The EU’s enthusiasm for deterring migrants has been apparent for years. Since 2001, carriers that fail to check the validity of travellers’ passports and visas are subject to sanctions and heavy fines.

    In September 2007, seven Tunisian fishermen were indicted and and had their boats confiscated by an Italian judge for “support of illegal immigration.” The fishermen had dared to save a boat transporting passengers to Lampedusa (Sicily), preventing it from sinking as stipulated by maritime rules.

    Until recently, European countries externalised the protection of their borders to authoritarian regimes in North Africa. For example, according to the 2008 Berlusconi-Gaddafi agreement, Italy could send African immigrants back to Libya without screening them for asylum claims, thus violating international human rights obligations, and in return Libya received sweetheart economic deals.

    In fact, Italy agreed to pay Libya a five billion dollar reparations deal over its 1911-43 colonial rule, in the form of Italian investment over 20 years. At a conference in Italy in 2010, the Libyan leader also declared that Europe would “turn black” unless it was more rigorous in turning back immigrants, which according to him would cost €5 billion a year.

    Despite the chaos and mayhem caused by the NATO intervention in Libya, the country is still a key transit point for illegal migration from [url]Africa[/url] to Europe. A significant number of the black Africans living and working in Libya find themselves forced to escape to Europe because of the deep instability as well as the vicious racism they face.

    Morocco has also zealously played its role as guardian of fortress Europe. In 2005, twenty people from sub-Saharan Africa died trying to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border fences at Ceuta and Melilla—some by falling, others by asphyxiation, and still others shot by the Moroccan army. In 2008, 30 people (including four children) drowned off the shore of Al-Hoceima (northeast of Morocco), after law enforcement authorities punched holes in their inflatable boat.

    This delocalization and militarisation of immigration control is perhaps best epitomised by the European Union agency Frontex, created in 2005 to intercept migrants between African shores and the Canary Islands, as well as in the Sicily canal, regardless of the violation of fundamental rights such as the right to asylum.

    Frontex also participates in the return of these individuals from EU member states to third countries in what they call ‘Joint Return Operations,’ which have increased considerably in number (2,152 persons returned in 2013, compared with 428 in 2007).

    The agency’s budget is steadily increasing: from €6.3 million in 2005, it rose to nearly €42 million in 2007 and had topped €97 million by 2014. Funds mainly come from the European commission and Schengen associated countries.

    Despite its growing budget and military and surveillance equipment, everything indicates that deaths in the sea have not diminished. If anything, these obstacles push the clandestine migrants to take even more dangerous routes.

    Frontex is now being put forward as the replacement for the Operation Mare Nostrum rescue program, with European leaders declaring that they need to crack down on smugglers, reinforcing the securitisation and the militarisation narrative rather than looking at the structural causes of the crisis.


    Algeria is also playing along with its European neighbours in the ‘war on migrants.’ In 2009, it made ‘illegal immigration’ a punishable offence. The law stipulates that any Algerian leaving the national territory in an illegal way will get a jail sentence of two to six months.

    In 2014, 7,842 illegal border-crossings were detected in the western Mediterranean region (areas on the southern Spanish coast and the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla). Most of the migrants were from western Africa (Cameroon and Mali in particular), but Algerians and Moroccans were among the top ten nationalities, especially at the sea border. Until 2013, Algerians were topping the list through this maritime route (it was second in 2014, after Cameroon).

    According to the 2015 Frontex annual risk analysis, Algeria was ranked amongst the top ten nationalities in detected clandestine entries at border crossing points (BCPs) in 2014. Algeria was also ranked eighth in terms of people exceeding their legal period of stay within the EU.

    More strikingly, from November 2010 to March 2011, 11 percent of the 11,808 irregular migrants intercepted in Greece by Frontex were identified as Algerians, behind Pakistanis (16 percent) and Afghans (23 percent). These alarming statistics were even more surprising because the number of Algerian migrants exceeded those of Morocco by a factor of two and were six times greater than Tunisians, despite the unrest in these two countries after the Arab uprisings.

    The Algerian Harraga follow numerous maritime routes from Algeria to reach Europe: one from the coasts of Oran (west Algeria) towards continental Spain, one (less developed) links the shores of Dellys (100km east of Algiers) to the island of Palma de Majorca, and another connects the eastern coasts (Annaba and Skikda) towards the Italian island of Sardinia. They also use other routes through Tunisia, Libya and Turkey.


    All social classes are touched by the phenomenon of illegal migration: working class people, the unemployed, and university graduates, even doctors and engineers. Algerians leaving the country illegally are mainly unemployed or under-unemployed youth, men as well as women.

    The question of why Algeria produces so many young migrants—more so than places with even bleaker economic prospects—is not easy to answer. But I will attempt here to explore it, highlighting the nature of the political system in Algeria as well as some of the socio-economic developments in the last three decades.

    Harga (the phenomenon of migrating illegally) literally refers to the verb ‘to burn’ in Arabic. Figuratively it means to overcome a restriction, like going through a red light or jumping the queue or, in this case, crossing borders and seas.

    In a way harga represents the pursuit of a future that had come to a dead end in the home country. It is a means to overcome the restrictions on freedom of circulation imposed by the EU to escape the precariousness of unemployment and the hegemony of clientelist and oligarchic networks associated with the ruling regime in Algeria—in a nutshell everything that makes life unsustainable. The aim is to realise a life project that does not seem possible to achieve in the home country given present conditions.

    One inhabitant of a marginalised and working class town in eastern Algeria, Sidi Salem in Annaba, reflecting upon his precarious situation and desperate life, said to his Harrag brother: “I lost the keys to my future in a cemetery in Algeria called Sidi Salem.”

    Illegal immigration from Algeria is also the logical consequence of more than three decades of economic restructuring and trade liberalisation, which has decimated the productive and job-generating economy, leading to massive unemployment and the perpetuation of a rent-seeking mentality relying on oil and gas exports while importing everything else.

    To understand harga it is necessary to couple it with the concept of hogra in Algeria. Hogra means contempt, disdain, exclusion and also describes an attitude that condones and propagates violence against the many, the laissés pour compte (the forgotten and marginalised masses).

    Due to the restrictions on freedom of expression and association and also because of the lack of spaces for entertainment, art and creativity, young people feel suffocated, humiliated, without dignity—foreigners in their own country. The only horizon they can see is the one beyond the sea.

    ‘Civil society’ in Algeria is weak and fragmented, partly due to the traumatic civil war of the 1990s but also because of the ongoing stifling of political expression. Algerians face huge difficulties in setting up organisations or even getting authorisations for meetings and conferences if they are perceived to be critical or political in nature. Moreover, cultural production is still under the oppressive patronage of the official authorities, which always try to co-opt and kill creativity in the bud to avoid any form of subversion.

    In that respect, it is an act denouncing authoritarianism, a culture of contestation coming from a social group that feels marginalised and neglected. The powerful message of the youth to the ruling classes in Algeria is “Roma wella antoma”, meaning “Rome rather than you”. They also say, “We’d rather die eaten by fish than eaten by worms.”

    Instead of reindustrialising the country and investing in Algerian youths who risk their lives to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean in order to escape the despair of being marginalised, the Algerian authorities offered financial support to the IMF, the neo-colonial tool of plunder that crippled the economy in the first place.

    In fact Algeria submitted to the neoliberal prescriptions of the IMF in the form of two structural adjustment programs (1992-1993, 1994-1999). While the brutal civil war was raging, these programs were pursued with all the disastrous consequences they had on the population: huge job losses, a decrease in purchasing power, cuts to public spending, increasing precariousness of salaried workers, opening up of foreign trade, and the privatisation of public companies. This is indeed shock doctrine and disaster capitalism at work.

    Despite all the risks taken by clandestine migrants, the appeal of Europe is preserved by the Edenesque aura around it that is maintained by those who reach the other shore. Despite the difficulties, misery, exploitation, and racism Algerians are subjected to in the EU, it is anathema for them to say: we failed. How can they not succeed after all they’ve done to leave their beloved country, a country that has forsaken them and how can they be a disappointment to their dear families?

    Harga is only a reflection of what has become of Algeria and other African countries five decades after independence, with anti-national ruling elites only content with enriching themselves, and satisfying foreign capital.

    To borrow the eloquent words of the late Latin American writer Eduardo Galeano, it seems that the ruling elite has no interest whatsoever in determining whether patriotism might not prove more profitable than treason, and whether begging is really the only formula for international politics. Sovereignty is being mortgaged by the Algerian regime, which has abdicated to its foreign masters.

    People in Algeria and elsewhere in the global south immigrate because their countries’ economies are failing them, due to the ongoing capitalist exploitation and western imperialist domination that go hand in hand with repressive and corrupt regimes.

    The immigration tragedy that we saw last April in the Mediterranean will go on as long as the entrenched authoritarian structures of power and oppression are still in place, as long as the looting of our natural resources is underway by means of unfair trade deals and outside military interventions, as long as the profoundly unjust system we live in continues subjugating our countries and maintaining their subaltern positions as exporters of cheap natural resources and markets for rich countries’ industrialised products.

    Tragedies of this scale will continue unless we do away with the domination and exclusion of the wretched of the earth and the damned of the sea. It is necessary and urgent to engage in the struggle for global justice against a system that puts profits before humans.

    * Hamza Hamouchene is an activist and President of the Algerian Solidarity Campaign based in London. This article previously appeared in Open Democracy.



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    Fortress South Africa

    Jane Duncan


    c c TIA
    Like the richer countries of the North that are adopting tougher controls to stem the migration of people from the more impoverished, conflict-ridden South, South Africa is employing similar tactics. But this approach is futile, unsustainable and anti-people.

    South Africa is emerging from the most severe spate of xenophobic attacks since 2008, although the attacks have never really stopped. What lessons need to be learned from the latest attacks, and what needs to be done to prevent similar attacks from taking place in the future?

    A key problem is political leaders’ ongoing ambivalence towards foreigners. Many lapse into the temptation to scapegoat foreigners for a range of social ills, to deflect attention from their own performance. Who can forget ANC Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s blaming of foreign-born left activists for fomenting unrest in the platinum belt?

    In a more recent case of xenophobic foot-in-mouth, Mantashe argued for a ‘clear relationship between locals and foreigners’, and for refugee camps to make it easier to document foreigners.

    Mantashe is not the only person to raise the need for tighter controls of foreigners: King Goodwill Zwelithini issued an elaborate set of instructions to traditional leaders to increase surveillance of foreigners in areas falling under their authority. Their views are clearly shared by many in government.

    Underpinning these statements is an exclusive ‘us-and-them’ nationalism, premised on sealing South African identity up from influences from the rest of the region. Mantashe and Zwelithini have essentialised South African national identity for self-serving reasons. Yet the lessons of nation formation throughout Africa show that these identities are not frozen in time; in fact, people juggle identities all the time.

    It is of the upmost importance that political leaders are not allowed to lapse into national chauvinism. Instead, they should promote an inclusive approach to nation building, which is capable of evolving and incorporating regional influences.

    Then there are basic rights questions. The rights to freedom of movement, and to seek a better life elsewhere, are fundamental human rights. They stand above narrow national boundaries; that is why they are universal. Official arguments that rights belong to nationals only ring hollow. Yet the South African government continues to ignore this basic fact.

    South Africa is not the only country seeking to tighten border controls. The richer North is adopting tougher controls to stem the migration of people from the more impoverished, conflict-ridden South. Thousands of Africans and Arabs continue to risk (and lose) their lives in desperate boat trips across the Mediterranean or South Americans across the Rio Grande. South Africa is adopting the same futile, unsustainable approach to the migration question; namely to turn itself into a fortress.

    Despite many officials mouthing platitudes about the need to stop violence against foreigners, the reality is that xenophobia persists in society because it is embedded in the state. For as long as this is the case, tragically, outbreaks of violence are likely to recur.

    The government practices doublespeak on the question of xenophobia. It condemns the attacks out of one corner of its mouth (after initially denying their xenophobic nature), and promotes discourses of exclusion out of the other. This it does by framing migration as a problem to be controlled, rather than as a basic human right and a resource capable of enriching a country’s socio-economic life.

    Rather than addressing the underlying factors driving migration into South Africa, the government is turning migration into a national security threat, requiring the intervention of the security cluster. It is pursuing a more securitised response to the immigration question by deploying more troops to the border, and expediting plans to establish the Border Management Agency to strengthen South Africa’s border security.

    Recent policing interventions have reinforced in the public mind the xenophobic relationship between foreign nationals and crime. The troops have also been deployed to various hotspots, ostensibly to assist the police in stemming the xenophobic violence and to root out crime through the controversial Operation Feila.

    There are signs that the army has used xenophobia as a cloak behind which to harass the very foreign nationals they are meant to be protecting, and suppress dissent in areas like Thembelihle informal settlement. This is unsurprising: the coercive capacities of the state are not politically neutral. In moments of crisis, they are often deployed in the ruling elite’s narrow self-interest, rather than the universal interest.

    It has become apparent that there is a deeper political agenda afoot in the government’s response to the xenophobia question. There can be little doubt that the government under Jacob Zuma wants to increase the coercive capacities of the state. This it wants to do to exert control over increasingly restive populations - foreign and local - through a combination of surveillance and brute force.

    But it needs consent to expand the security cluster’s powers, which is proving increasingly difficult to obtain as the state uses more violence against its citizens. So it has to create moral panics to convince voting citizens that they are under threat and in need of protection.

    The government cannot use terrorism as a reason, as countries in the North have done, as South Africa faces no major terrorist threat. Crime has proved to be a useful reason, and now xenophobia provides them with another reason.

    Violence against foreign nationals serves a broader political purpose, as do the threats of greater surveillance. It keeps them insecure, which makes their presence in the country more precarious, and more exploitable.

    Furthermore, since the 2008 attacks, foreign nationals in South Africa have become much more organised. Some have engaged in physical self-defence to protect themselves against the most recent attacks.

    After all, the criminal justice system has a dismal record of bringing the perpetrators to book, which has exposed its systemic biases against those the state has branded problem populations: immigrants, striking workers, unemployed protestors, shack-dwellers. In response to this development, the state is asserting its authority on the pretext that it has to maintain a monopoly on the means of violence.

    Not enough attention has been paid in media discourses to understanding xenophobia as a social phenomenon, and the work that the concept is being made to perform in South Africa. Xenophobia is not an irrational set of beliefs; it plays a regulatory role in that it creates the conditions for continued unequal exchange in Southern Africa, to the benefit of South Africa.

    The government is securitising and militarising its borders to prevent labour from Southern Africa from entering the country; yet South African capital is allowed to roam freely in the region. So there is a Pan-Africanism for capital, but not for labour.

    However, there is one exception to this general rule. South Africa does encourage immigrants who have scarce skills to work in the country: an employment regime, which reinforces the country’s warped ‘high-skills, high-wage’ economy. So government is prepared to look the other way on the immigration question if it serves the neoliberal agenda.

    The official argument for limiting the freedom of movement of foreigners is really an argument to maintain, and intensify, unequal exchange between South Africa and the region. South Africa’s wealth is built, in part, on extraction of surplus value from the region.

    Now it wants to prevent those who contributed to making what South Africa is today from benefiting from the country’s relative prosperity. South Africa cannot be a contributor to the problem of regional instability, and then complain about it.

    Although anti-xenophobia messages play an important role in reducing social conflict, xenophobia cannot be eradicated simply by calling on people to change their attitudes to foreigners. These attitudes are underpinned by an exploitative system that benefits from prejudice and violence. Unless the system is changed, the material base for xenophobia will continue.

    One of the most unexamined contributors to the xenophobic violence is the official obsession with borders. The need for countries to have borders has become so self-evident that their necessity has reached the level of commonsense. Yet many African nations have emerged from colonial boundaries, which imposed irrational divisions on previously united communities.

    These boundaries do not serve the interests of the region’s most oppressed and exploited - including in South Africa – whose destiny must be a shared one that lies in unity rather than division. The most sustainable, socially just response to xenophobia is to open the region’s borders to migrants, rather than to seal them up even more. But regional integration needs to take place on terms set by labour, rather than capital.

    The counter-argument will inevitably be that integration is unworkable, as South Africa does not have the resources to support such a decision. However, arguments that foreign nationals are stealing South African jobs and dominating the informal sector are not supported by recent research. The size of the migrant community in the country is relatively small, and South Africa’s capital-intensive growth path is the biggest contributor by far, to local job losses.

    South Africa is on a fundamentally wrong path when it comes to dealing with xenophobia. Politically, it is important to recognise that the ANC is a divided house on the integration question, but in the wake of the most recent attacks, the securocrats seem to be winning the battle against the democrats. Only when it moves away from tightening borders, will the attacks stop. Progressive movements throughout the region, and in fact the world, should settle for nothing less.

    * Jane Duncan is a Professor of Journalism at the University of Johannesburg. This article was published by SACSIS.



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    “White savior” status quo remains intact

    Fairouz El Tom


    c c STC
    This year's ranking of NGOs shows that most are based in the West although they carry out their activities in the Global South; are disproportionately headed by white men, and many continue to display stereotypical and patronising images of Africans as poor and needy victims.

    Teju Cole wrote that a white saviour is someone who, “supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening”.

    Global_Geneva recently released the third annual Top NGO ranking, and unfortunately, it’s more of the same. In 2013, I reviewed the Board profiles of the previous ranking, focusing on their gender balance and diversity, and links to the tobacco, weapons and finance industries. The findings were troubling. Many of the listed NGOs were not adequately diverse or representative, and over half had links to the above industries.

    This year’s ranking reveals similarly disturbing trends. Though 78% of the activities of the NGOs listed take place in the majority world, the ranking remains skewed towards NGOs headquartered in the West (64%). This once again sends signals about who has value and expertise, and reinforces the fallacy that citizens of Western countries are best equipped to change the world.

    c c PZ

    Diversity continues to lag. Women and men of European origin are still over-represented in leadership positions (over 60% overall and by gender). The representation of women is still relatively low (40%, of whom 63% are of European origin). More disturbing, however, is the lack of ethnic diversity.

    c c PZ

    The statistics on Africa[1] and Africans (including the diaspora) are once again particularly disconcerting.

    • Only 5% (26) of the 500 NGOs listed have their headquarters in Africa, yet 33% of activity takes place in that region. Of those 26, only 7 are in the top 100 and most (9) are found in the last tier (401-500).
    • Only 4% of CEOs are of African descent.
    • People of African descent are the only group in which there are fewer male than female CEOs. This implies an institutional bias against black men.
    • In the regional rankings, only 25 NGOs have been selected for the top African ranking compared to 100 each in Europe, North America and Asia/Australasia. Moreover, of the 25, 8 are outside the African continent (2 in Bahrain, 3 in Israel, 3 in Jordan).
    • Many NGOs continue to display stereotypical and patronising images and videos that portray Africans in particular as poor and needy victims devoid of agency.

    In addition, a large proportion of the ‘top’ NGOs continue to appoint leaders who are not representative of the communities and groups they claim to serve, and retain links to corporate interests that appear to be inconsistent with their mandate or public identity.

    As with the previous ranking, a number have Board members as well as funders with links to the tobacco, finance and weapons industries. Some, such as Room to Read for instance, pride themselves in such links: ‘Our leadership team is comprised of veterans of such venerable corporations as Goldman Sachs…’.

    Others are partnered with corporations that have been accused of human rights and environmental violations: for example, Akshaya Patra with Monsanto to provide food for children, Care with Cargill to combat poverty, Vital Voices with Walmart to increase economic opportunities for women, Injaz-al-Arab with ExxonMobil to mentor Arab youth. The International Crisis Group receives support from corporate members of its International Advisory Council, including Shell and Chevron.

    Some also have affiliations with individuals whose political or professional record is arguably inconsistent with the mandates of the NGOs they serve: examples include the International Rescue Committee (Henry A. Kissinger, Condoleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright, Overseers), the International Crisis Group and ONE Campaign (Lawrence Summers, Board member), and Operation Blessing (M. G. ‘Pat’ Robertson, Board member).

    The rather broad failure of many of the listed NGOs to have representative leaderships is reflected in some of their publicity statements and attitudes. Some exhibit slogans that offer absurdly simplistic solutions (‘You can cure starvation’ – Concern Worldwide; ‘Change the World in 4 clicks’ – Ufeed). Others display hubristic attitudes (S.O.U.L. Foundation says that its President represents ‘a new generation of young American activists who are quickly growing into a group of enthusiastic non-profit entrepreneurs and leaders who are choosing a piece of the world and changing it’; GreenHouse’s ambition is ‘trying to save the world by developing new models of social change to better people’s lives’). FAME World even adopts a disturbingly traditional missionary approach: it takes ‘Christ to the unreached and underserved’ but provides no assistance to non-Christian organisations.

    We are all incoherent. Recognising this, where is the line between incoherence and deceit?

    As individuals, we can easily deceive ourselves into believing that we do not perpetuate global inequities and discriminatory attitudes we claim to oppose. Organisations are no different. When NGOs are challenged to meet standards of integrity and fail to do so, they start to fit Teju Cole’s definition of white saviours.

    International aid and advocacy is a multi-billion dollar industry and the corporate structures of the largest NGOs increasingly resemble those of large businesses. At the same time, NGO appeals for public support and public money rely heavily and distinctively on their claim to moral authority. Given this, it is entirely reasonable to expect NGOs to demonstrate their institutional integrity, including accountability to those they claim to serve. Unfortunately, Global_Geneva takes neither of these criteria into account. By choosing to rank so many NGOs in the manner it does, Global_Geneva and those who support it reinforce paternalist models of decision-making and governance that should be challenged rather than lauded.

    * Fairouz El Tom is creative director at Plain Sense in Geneva, and conducts independent projects on issues related to diversity and ‘otherness'.



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    Is Africa’s ‘resource nationalism’ just big business as usual?

    John Childs


    c c BDA
    Governments, most prominently those of Sub-Saharan countries, have argued for huge tax hikes on mining, oil and gas contracts in the name of the national interest. But beyond the rhetoric, resource nationalism is a cover for a business-as-usual bias.

    Big mining firms in the Democratic Republic of Congo are worried. For the past decade they’ve made good money from the country’s huge reserves of cobalt, diamonds, gold and copper, and now the government wants to grab more of the action: a document leaked to Bloomberg reveals plans to raise royalties and profit taxes, and increase the state’s share in any new ventures.

    This is so-called “resource nationalism” in action, and the DRC is far from alone in seeking greater economic control of its natural resources. The state is back, the theory goes, and it’s taking on the multinational. From Scotland to Namibia, Zambia to Ecuador, resource rich nations throughout the world are rhetorically reclaiming gas, oil and minerals as their own.

    The trend is widely reported as the enemy of trade, investment and energy security alike. In the UK, for example, the Telegraph called it a “spectre” and government economists have labelled it as both a “threat” and “anti-competitive”.

    On the other side of the coin, governments argue they are simply ensuring foreign businesses don’t unfairly benefit from resource extraction. Take Zambia, for instance. The landlocked African nation is a major copper exporter yet most of the population still lives below the poverty line. After the government looked to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational mining firms, one senior politician defended the move: “The situation is win on one side – only the shareholders are winning; the people of Zambia are still in abject poverty”.

    The question of whether resource nationalism really is something to be feared is therefore a whole lot more complicated than it would first seem, for the three following reasons.


    Governments, most prominently those of Sub-Saharan countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea or Tanzania, have argued for huge tax hikes on mining, oil and gas contracts in the name of the “national interest”. However, move beyond the rhetorical strength of such statements and resource nationalism is less the enemy of big business than a cover for a business-as-usual bias towards the interests of neo-liberal, foreign investment.

    In Tanzania for example, recent discoveries off the coast of East Africa have led to predictions that the region will become one of the world’s biggest exporters of natural gas. As a result, “nationalist” laws are currently being drafted which begin: “Natural resources found in Tanzania belong to the [Tanzanian] people”.

    At the same time, however, a recently signed memorandum of understanding between the UK and Tanzania promises, according to former foreign secretary William Hague, to “offer significant opportunities for British businesses in the energy sector”. Indeed, BG Group, as well as Norway’s Statoil and other big players have already been granted licences. The state is striking back in rhetoric only; it is business that still holds the real power.


    Like a game of Risk, our idea of national control tends to be fixated on owning resources found within neatly defined borders. In today’s world however, this doesn’t make sense.

    Better technology, modelling and visualisation techniques means extraction frontiers are constantly being moved further afield and deeper underground. Mines such as one in [url=]Mponeng, South Africa[/url], can reach nearly 4km deep and have more than 230 miles of tunnels, all to mine a 30-inch wide seam of ore. This should complicate our understanding of the idea of resource nationalism. How, for example, do we make sense of competing, contemporary claims to the deep sea off Namibia or Papua New Guinea? Similarly, questions over resources and sovereignty might even make us ask who owns the moon?

    Finally, geopolitical debates over extraction rights in the Arctic provide further worrying evidence of the ways in which national and private interests are always in competition. In all cases, the physical and metaphorical boundaries of the nation state have to be questioned as law tries to keep pace with technological advancement.


    Whatever the context, resource nationalism makes its claims by promising a country’s citizens “fair” and equally-distributed access to its resources. However this fails to account for politics. Mining and oil contracts are often negotiated in secret. Protests against these deals can be suppressed through state sanctioned force, and “national” policies often marginalise groups based on account of gender, race or sexuality. It is precisely this sort of identity politics which sparked violence over sovereignty in Mtwara, Tanzania, where the region’s population claims that they are marginalised from a policy that favours the urban elite hundreds of miles away.

    The “national interest” never means the same thing to everyone within a nation: different people place different values on nature and its resources. Brazil’s recent draft bill aiming to “nationalise” the Amazon is a good example – made at a governmental level, it doesn’t necessarily consider the views of indigenous communities.

    And the idea of the “national interest” can’t adequately describe this complexity. From “African” oil to “Scottish” gas, those that fear “resource nationalism” would do well to remember this and not overly simplify the debate.

    * John Childs is a lecturer in International Development and Natural Resources at Lancaster University. This article was previously published by The Conversation.



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    Comment & analysis

    Cuba, a shining example of innovative research

    Peter Anyang' Nyong'o


    Despite a crippling US blockade lasting more than five decades, the Cuban revolution has stayed intact. Cubans have curiously excelled in technological development and innovation where much more advanced countries have achieved dismal results.

    When Jesus was born in Nazareth many years ago and rumours had it that he was the long awaited Messiah who would bring salvation to humankind, many did not believe the rumours. The more skeptical ones even wondered how a tiny and nondescript village like Nazareth could produce a world historical individual. The die-hard skeptics posed the question: Can anything good come from Nazareth?

    In 1958 the Cubans, led by Fidel Castro’s Communist Party, rebelled against American imperialism, got rid of the American stooge Batista as their president, and sent his repressive state bureaucrats and business tycoons into exile in the US. They landed in Florida, hardly 100 miles from the Cuban coast. For 55 years these Cuban exiles and their offspring have been trying to overthrow Castro and his communist regime; for 55 years the Cuban revolution has stayed intact, watching the Americans across the Florida channel with the stubbornness of a he- elephant.

    Starved of American technology and denied the American market, the Cubans have had to do with 1949 Chevrolet cars as their taxis and to import American technology via Canada when necessary. In other words, the Cubans have survived by their wits, becoming world champions in boxing and hosting one of the world’s best resourced athletics university.

    But that is not all. The Cubans have curiously excelled in technological development and innovation where much more advanced countries have achieved meagre results. I first visited Cuba in 1983 when I was teaching in Mexico. I was part of a Mexican youth delegation on a friendly visit to Cuba. We visited many projects, but the most fascinating to me were the medical institutions which gave excellent free service to the people from the village to the centre in Havana the capital. The Cuban government had turned the former multi-storey Bank of America building into a national referral hospital where Cubans received most advanced health care ranging from brain surgery, organ transplants to cancer treatments. That was in 1983.

    Several years later, when I was Minister for Planning and National Development, the Cuban ambassador to Kenya, Pedro Pedroso, invited me to visit Cuba now as a government official. I again took keen interest in the Cuban health system and requested to take a complete physical health examination at the hospital I had so much admired in my youth.

    The experience was phenomenal. But I also visited two very fascinating institutions: the Cuban Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering where I learned that medical science and pharmacology cannot really advance without the two related branches of research: biotechnology and genetic engineering. It was in this institute that Cuban scientists discovered various vaccines that made the preventive health care in that island so effective. A Cuban baby received seven vaccinations while in the womb. Such a baby comes out with the iron fist to fight the world’s many infant maladies much better than other cohorts in the rest of the earth.

    We were then taken to visit Labiopharm, the government’s national pharmaceutical agency which uses the scientific output from the Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering to make actual drugs, vaccines and other related products for use in the health care system. Labiopharm also impressed me with its own research aimed at using sugar, the main cash crop in Cuba, to produce various byproducts such as detergents, perfumes, alcoholic drinks, vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

    I came back to Kenya and went back once more to Cuba, this time taking with me the two managers of Chemelil Sugar Factory and South Nyanza Sugar Mills. I wanted them to see how sugar can be used as a base for industrialisation beyond the well known byproduct of power alcohol that Brazil has excelled in. When the two managers came back to Kenya, they presented papers at a workshop at the Windsor Golf and Country Club for the sugar fraternity in Kenya. From then on I was expecting something revolutionary to come from that sector. Nothing happened beyond the workshop. I was terribly disappointed.

    As fate would have it, in 2008 I became the Minister for Medical Services in the Coalition Government. I thought I now had a wonderful opportunity to put in practice what I had seen in Cuba as a youth and as a planning minister.

    I once more visited Cuba and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with my colleague there, setting out cooperation between our governments in the areas of pharmaceuticals, research and human resources development. When I got back I presented a Cabinet Memo to my colleagues proposing the setting up of a Centre of Excellence in health care which would set off with two key components: oncology and genetic engineering. I knew that research on biotechnology was already going on in other centres like KEMRI in Kenya. My colleagues shot down the idea, arguing, among other things, that “what Kenyans needed were more health centres and dispensaries: not esoteric things like the Minister is proposing.” These were the words of a medical doctor-turned-politician and then cabinet minister.

    I learnt later in 2011 that the Cuban Centre for Molecular Immunology had discovered a vaccine called CIMAVAX against lung cancer and through their National Immunisation Programme would soon make lung cancer history in that little island. I did not believe it. Having myself been smitten by the envenom tongue of cancer, I was deeply frustrated that I never made headway in establishing a research centre for oncology and genetic engineering here in Kenya. We are a much bigger population with an education system capable of attracting all kinds of brains from all over the world: why are we such midgets in the fields of scientific discovery and innovation?

    When President Barack Obama recently opened relations with Cuba, the Americans were quick to look for CIMAVAX to be tested in their research laboratories for possible approval by the FDA for use in the US. As Kenyans, we have had relations with Cuba from time immemorial, but our “national idiocy” has not given us the opportunity to benefit from the achievements in that little island. Like the bigots in ancient Palestine, we keep on asking: “Can anything good come from Cuba?” When Obama comes here in July, let someone in the higher echelons of government ask him that. He will definitely explain why he wanted to accomplish the task of normalising relations with Cuba before his term is over. He has left a legacy for the US for which he will long be remembered while some of us remain mere footnotes in the history of our nation.

    * Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a professor of political science, the senator for Kisumu County in Western Kenya. He writes a weekly column in the Sunday Standard.



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    Presidents in designer suits, citizens in rags

    Burundi, a mirror of the leadership crisis and legacies of war in the African Great Lakes

    Namakula E Mayanja


    The twin forces of poor leadership and collective war trauma seem to be pushing the Great Lakes Region into endless conflict, creating a self-perpetuating circle of power-chasing and abuse. Namakula E. Mayanja considers why this is the case, and what the region needs to break this vicious cycle.

    "Unless Africans from all levels of society recognize and embrace the challenge of leadership, Africa will not move forward…Leadership is not simply a matter of filling the top positions in a government, institution, or private business. Indeed, not every person in a leadership position is truly a leader"[1] .

    "Perspectives on political leadership in Africa vary from the ‘criminalisation’ of the state to political leadership as ‘dispensing patrimony’, the ‘recycling’ of elites and the use of state power and resources to consolidate political and economic power. [...] African leaders rule failed states that have acquired tags such as ‘corruptocracies’, ‘chaosocracies’ and ‘terrorocracies.’"[2]

    One thing that strikes whenever armed conflicts erupt in the Great Lakes Region (GLR) and the whole of Africa is the leadership crisis and struggle for power. What is happening in Burundi is not about president Nkuruziza maintaining power, but about the current crisis of leadership in Africa. This crisis is the root cause of the ongoing wars and conflicts in the region, and until addressed, peace and stability will remain elusive. In 1992, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda published, What is Africa’s problem? In chapter two, he highlights the ‘price of bad leadership’, which indicates that it is indeed the leadership crisis that is Africa’s problem. Who pays the price? When nations experience armed conflicts and wars, external efforts in peacebuilding rely on quick fixes such as signing peace accords; peacekeeping; rapid ‘democratic’ elections and/or power sharing; demilitarization, disarmament and reintegration; strengthening government institutions and markets. Little or no attention is given to the leadership crisis and the need to train leaders who respect the dignity and rights of others; whose goal is the betterment of all people and not personal aggrandizement, the interests of their cronies, or their ethnic group.

    Equally, little or no effort is invested in ensuring integral development that includes healing the human heart or memory from the legacies of war. Witnessing the atrocities of war leaves an inerasable scar in the mind and heart of a person, and potentially to hardens the heart towards suffering. When this happens, the risk for further atrocities increases. Witnessing ones family being killed, being raped, jumping dead bodies while escaping the war, or being forced to kill, which is the case of many child soldiers, kills the soul. The end of war/armed conflict leaves individuals and societies ravaged. War affects real people. The gravity of the conflict is measured in terms of number. It is hardly remembered that behind every number is human life. The experience of war is hardly understood by someone who has never witnessed one.


    The GLR has known war, is devastated more than the rest of Africa, and continues to feed the war industry while its citizens languish in poverty. Burundi, one of the world’s poorest nations, which according to the 2013 Global Human Development Index ranked 180 out of 187 countries, became famous because of the ethnic wars that have recurred since 1961 to the present. In the ethnic violence of 1972, thousands of lives were lost, while others went into exile. In1993, the Hutu-Tutsi protracted animosity saw the first democratically elected president Melchior Ndadaye assassinated and many people were killed, while many more sought refuge in other nations. In 1994, Cyprien Ntaryamira was also killed in a plane crash alongside the Rwandan president. The present power struggle may soon be ethnicized. It is a phenomenon common in Africa that indigenous elites politicize ethnicity for their personal interest. When will civilians learn that when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers? It baffles human understanding to note that as far as the presidential term limit is concerned, the national constitution holds only during the years prior to the election year. When their term is ending, presidents use dubious means to alter the constitution to maintain their power. Bribing parliamentarians and killing civilians are common, albeit unacceptable, strategies used by these leaders. If the leader does not respect the constitution, how can he or she be expected to rule a country respecting the rules of law, justice, and accountability? It then becomes questionable whether African rulers are ‘Presidents, Patrons or Profiteers?’[3]

    Since 1885 when King Leopold II controlled Congo as his personal property, authoritarianism, terror, violence, exploitation and slavery have marked Congo’s history. During his reign, more than 10 million people died and countless women were raped. These atrocities continue but sadly the present day perpetrators are local African leaders, rebel groups, and governments of the neighbouring countries. Recent wars and conflicts (those since 1997) in the Congo have resulted not only in the rape of bodies and resources, but of the nation itself. More than 6 million people have died and it is estimated that 45,000 die monthly; thousands are raped while children and youth do not escape being recruited as child soldiers, porters and sex slaves. The suffering that the Congolese people experience, especially in the eastern part which is rich with minerals and other natural resources, is unimaginable. Congo is ranked among the poorest and most underdeveloped countries, yet it has the potential to become both an African and global power engine. The leadership crisis has weakened the Congolese state and its institutions, allowing the plundering of its resources and these atrocities to go on – so far, for 130 years.

    In 1994 when the Rwandan genocide claimed more than 800,000 lives, power was a denominating factor disguised beneath ethnic polarization. President Kagame has been in power since 1994. As is the trend, the elections exposed the worst of African leaders. Prior to the 2010 presidential elections, opposition leaders, journalists, and dissident military officers were jailed. Jean-Leonard Rugambage, a journalist who criticized the pre-election crackdown, was assassinated in front of his house. Other opponents went into exile. Such a dictatorial and violent political machine implicitly forces civilians to dance and to smile even when they would have done otherwise. According to Reyntjens, stability and peace in the GLR is threatened by Rwanda, and by turning a blind eye to her “hegemonic claim in eastern Congo, the future stability of the region remains in doubt. Rwanda may once again, in the not too distant future, become the focal point of regional violence.”

    Uganda, which became so famous during Idi Amin’s brutal rule, has experienced more than ten civil wars. The recent civil wars include conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, and the Ugandan government (1987-2007) during which around 100,000 people were killed, 2 million displaced and 70,000 children and youth abducted and forced to become soldiers, porters, or sex slaves. Kony is still at large. Before president Museveni came to power, he waged a bush war (1980-1986) that left thousands dead, especially in the Luwero triangle.

    Kenya was stable until 2007, when a power struggle and manipulation of ethnic differences led to the post-election violence that claimed over 1000 lives, and about left 600,000 displaced. Tanzania remains the only country in the region that has not yet experienced a civil war. In all these nations, even where there are no outright gun exchanges, inequality and structural injustices abound; a general malaise best illustrated by the Animal Farm quote: ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

    The region is trapped in wars because power is constantly pursued by those who would acquire the role of a political leader, even when they donot have leadership qualities. In 1918, Max Weber pointed out that politics should be a vocation. I fear that the prevailing trend of viewing politics as a business for personal aggrandizement has blinded us to the idea of politics as a vocation, to the role of power in politics, and subsequently to the essential role of leadership. Leadership and power are key issues that the region must grapple with. It is crucial to address the root causes and not just the symptoms. Thus the key issue in Burundi is not about having president Nkunziza in or out of power, or ethnic differences; rather, it is about addressing the systems of power and leadership. It is a common phenomenon that before a leader comes to power they promise heaven, only to turn out as tyrants, profiteers, and power thirsty plunderers of their nations. Watching Burundians escaping for their lives, one is taken aback by the impoverishment manifest in their bodies, and the poverty levels gauged by what they wear and carry. Yet the leaders are in suits, and driven in posh cars and planes. This phenomenon is not alien to other nations in the region. What type of leadership is this? We are faced with a high level of moral decadency where people with blood on their hands, those who empty national coffers, and use national resources for personal aggrandizement, hold leadership positions.


    Another underestimated issue in peacebuilding efforts is the inerasable mark left by taking part in war, as a perpetrator or witness of war atrocities. In post conflict societies, efforts are normally put on political-structural reconstruction and rarely on rehabilitating people. Armed conflicts affect the human psyche enormously. Those who witnessed the Rwandan genocide bear it out in books such as ‘Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda’ by Romeo Dallaire, and ‘We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda’ by Philip Gourevitch. The movie ‘American Sniper’ illustrates a soldier’s experience of Post Traumatic Disorder (PSTD). If solders experience PSTD, what of the civilians who witness war atrocities? What about former child soldiers, children (and now adults) who have witnessed their parents hacked to pieces? In the GLR there are villages full of the skulls, mass graves, and bones that are found in forests, farms and bushes. How do the residues of incessant wars affect civilians? Could it be a contributing factor to the protracted conflicts, that people are becoming immune to violence? How can people be healed from what they have witnessed?

    The long-term impact of war is unimaginable and it carries on for generations. A child born to a woman who was raped during war remains a legacy of war to the mother, to him or herself, and to the entire society. Rape exposes the vulnerability of a society. They live with that legacy all the way through life. The soldiers who kill will hardly have peace. They suffer from PTSD which affects them, their families and their entire society. People who are witness to the atrocities of war are susceptible to trauma. The psychological trauma of people affected by war is not often talked about, documented or tackled in efforts towards post-conflict social reconstruction. If the wars in the region have lasted for over 130 years, or happened after independence, then generations of civilians who have either witnessed or are directly or indirectly traumatized by war are the majority. This is a legacy to society, with the potential to engulf societies and the entire region in further conflicts. The GLR remains a ticking time bomb unless measures are devised to heal societies. We are liable to see more wars. Any leader who encourages any form of violence is destroying societies, and poses grave dangers.


    Leadership training, especially of the young, and education for peace and conflict resolution in order to establish a culture of peace must become major components of the education curricula. The young need to de-learn violence and relearn respect and love for the dignity of the human person. They need to know from an early age that gun culture destroys us, and is liable to make African nations poorer, if not creating more villages of skulls.

    Leaders in the GLR need to follow the rule of law and be accountable to the people. The onus is also on the African Union to organize leadership training for African leaders. It is only by strengthening leadership that Africa will develop. With the current leadership crisis, the region is enriching war industries in the developed nations while impoverishing and killing innocent civilians.

    It is also crucial to revisit the outlook on politics and power. African politics should not be perceived as a source of personal enrichment, but as a service for the common good. The rule of law must be upheld at all costs, including presidential term limits. No one must be above the law. The judiciary should be impartial and not controlled by the executive.

    The minds of leaders - especially those with military backgrounds (as held by four heads of state in the GLR) - need to be demilitarized. The region needs peaceful leadership, and not war constructors. Peacebuilding efforts need to integrate healing for those who have witnessed war atrocities.

    Faced by all the protracted conflicts and endemic violence in the region, it is crucial to extend the analysis, establish the root causes, and treat not only the symptoms but the cause. In the final analysis, without discrediting the role of the international community, solutions to the region’s wars and instability lie in internal transformation, and not in externally devised solutions.

    * Namakula E. Mayanja is Ph D candidate, University of Manitoba, Canada.

    [1] Maathai, Wangari (2009) The challenge for Africa. New York: Pantheon Books. P. 111
    [2] Van Wyk, Jo-Ansie (2007) Political Leaders in Africa: presidents, patrons or profiteers? ACCORD P. 3
    [3] Ibid.
    [4] Reyntjens, Filip (2009) The great African war : Congo and regional geopolitics, 1996-2006. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 286.



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    International Museum Day: The advancement of learning and culture

    Rene Wadlow


    Museums allow objects to speak, to bear witness to past experiences and future possibilities and thus to reflect on how things are and how things might otherwise be.

    18 May has been designated by UNESCO as the International Day of Museums to highlight the role that museums play in preserving beauty, culture, and history. Museums come in all sizes and are often related to institutions of learning and libraries. Increasingly, churches and centers of worship have taken on the character of museums as people visit them for their artistic value even if they do not share the faith of those who built them.

    Museums are important agents of intellectual growth and of cultural understanding. They are part of the common heritage of humanity, and thus require special protection in times of armed conflict. Many were horrified at the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad when some of the oldest objects of civilization were stolen or destroyed. Fortunately many items were later found and restored, but the American forces had provided inadequate protection at a time when wide-spread looting was predicted and, in fact, was going on. More recently, we have seen the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in the museum of Mosul by ISIS factions. Today, there is deep concern for Palmyra as ISIS and government troops battle near Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Conserving a cultural heritage is always difficult. Weak institutional capabilities, lack of appropriate resources and isolation of many culturally essential sites are compounded by a lack of awareness of the value of cultural heritage conservation. On the other hand, the dynamism of local initiatives and community solidarity systems are impressive assets. These forces should be enlisted, enlarged, and empowered to preserve and protect a heritage. Involving people in cultural heritage conservation both increases the efficiency of cultural heritage conservation and raises awareness of the importance of the past for people facing rapid changes in their environment and values.

    Knowledge and understanding of a people's past can help current inhabitants to develop and sustain identity and to appreciate the value of their own culture and heritage. This knowledge and understanding enriches their lives and enables them to manage contemporary problems more successfully. It is important to retain the best of traditional self-reliance and skills of rural life and economics as people adapt to change.

    Traditional systems of knowledge are rarely written down; they are implicit, continued by practice and example, rarely codified or even articulated by the spoken word. They continue to exist as long as they are useful, as long as they are not supplanted by new techniques. They are far too easily lost. Thus is is the objects that come into being through these systems of knowledge that ultimately become critically important.

    Thus, museums must become key institutions at the local level . They should function as a place of learning. The objects that bear witness to systems of knowledge must be accessible to those who would visit and learn from them. Culture must be seen in its entirety: how women and men live in the world, how they use it, preserve and enjoy it for a better life. Museums allow objects to speak, to bear witness to past experiences and future possibilities and thus to reflect on how things are and how things might otherwise be.

    Early efforts for the protection of educational and cultural institutions were undertaken by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) a Russian and world citizen. Nicholas Roerich had lived through the First World War and the Russian Revolution and saw how armed conflicts can destroy works of art and cultural and educational institutions. For Roerich, such institutions were irreplaceable and their destructions was a permanent loss for all humanity. Thus, he worked for the protection of works of art and institutions of culture in times of armed conflict. Thus he envisaged a universally-accepted symbol that could be placed on educational institutions in the way that a red cross had become a widely-recognized symbol to protect medical institutions and medical workers. Roerich proposed a “Banner of Peace” − three red circles representing the past, present and future − that could be placed upon institutions and sites of culture and education to protect them in times of conflict.

    Roerich mobilized artists and intellectuals in the 1920s for the establishment of this Banner of Peace. Henry A. Wallace, then the US Secretary of Agriculture and later Vice-President was an admirer of Roerich and helped to have an official treaty introducing the Banner of Peace − the Roerich Peace Pact − signed at the White House on 15 April 1935 by 21 States in a Pan-American Union ceremony. At the signing, Henry Wallace on behalf of the USA said “At no time has such an ideal been more needed. It is high time for the idealists who make the reality of tomorrow, to rally around such a symbol of international cultural unity. It is time that we appeal to that appreciation of beauty, science, education which runs across all national boundaries to strengthen all that we hold dear in our particular governments and customs. Its acceptance signifies the approach of a time when those who truly love their own nation will appreciate in additions the unique contributions of other nations and also do reverence to that common spiritual enterprise which draws together in one fellowship all artists, scientists, educators and truly religious of whatever faith.”

    As Nicholas Roerich said in a presentation of his Pact “The world is striving toward peace in many ways, and everyone realizes in his heart that this constructive work is a true prophesy of the New Era. We deplore the loss of libraries of Lou vain and Overdo and the irreplaceable beauty of the Cathedral of Rheims. We remember the beautiful treasures of private collections which were lost during world calamities. But we do not want to inscribe on these deeps any worlds of hatred. Let us simply say : Destroyed by human ignorance − rebuilt by human hope.”

    After the Second World War, UNESCO has continued the effort, and there have been additional conventions on the protection of cultural and educational bodies in times of armed conflicts. The most important is the 1954 Hague Connection for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

    Museums help to build new bridges between nations, ethnic groups and communities through values such as beauty and harmony, that may serve a common references. Museums also build bridges between generations, between the past, the present and the future.

    Therefore, on this International Museum Day, let us consider together how we may advance the impact of beauty upon the world.

    * Rene Wadlow, President and a representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens



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    Advocacy & campaigns

    May 23 march against Monsanto


    For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.

    Food Sovereignty Ghana, a food advocacy movement, hereby serves notice to embark on a public march as part of a worldwide event comprising millions of marchers. This march is being organized in collaboration with the Kanyan Akuafuo Kuo Society, and is scheduled to take place in two locations: Accra and Goaso.

    There are currently over 300 marches scheduled to take place around the world.

    Out of respect to the Ga Traditional Council annual ban on drumming and noise making, which always precedes the Homowo festival, we have decided to organize a silent march in Accra and a more animated one in Goaso.

    The details of the march are as follows:


    Date: Saturday 23 May, 2015

    Start Time: 9:00am

    Route: From the Obra Spot, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, through the Nsawam Road to Mallam Atta Market.


    Date: Saturday 23 May, 2015

    Start Time: 9:00am

    Route: From the premises of NananomFM, through Goaso Municipal Street to Kukuomu Mmem T-Junction, to Goaso Market.

    #MarchAgainstMonsanto #Accra #Ghana


    On May 23, 2015, activists around the world will, once again, unite to March Against Monsanto.


    Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects. In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interest and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GMO products. Recently, the U.S. Congress and President collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.

    For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup. Monsanto’s GMO seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have caused colony collapse among the world’s bee population.

    What are solutions we advocate for?

    Vote with your cedis by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto owned companies that use GMOs in their products. Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier. Rejecting the UPOV-compliant Plant Breeders' Bill Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs. Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc. Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets. Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly. We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.

    We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison.

    For Life, the Environment and Social Justice!

    Edwin Kweku Andoh Baffour
    Communications Directorate,
    Contact: Tel: +233 503 895 751

    Books & arts

    "I could have died at any moment"

    New documentary profiles the political struggles of a young political activist in Swaziland

    Peter Kenworthy


    The film describes the fight for democracy and socio-economic justice in the tiny sub-Saharan country through the eyes of Bheki Dlamini, a young activist and leading member of Swaziland’s largest banned political party

    “One police officer came with a plastic bag and put it over my mouth and nose, and pressed very hard so that I couldn’t breathe. I could have died at any moment”, Bheki Dlamini says looking at the camera, close to tears.

    The scene is from a new documentary, “Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute monarchy”, made by award-winning Danish investigative journalist Tom Heinemann.

    The film describes the fight for democracy and socio-economic justice in the tiny sub-Saharan country through the eyes of Bheki Dlamini, a young activist and leading member of Swaziland’s largest banned political party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).


    Bheki never misbehaved as a child, his father says. He always did his chores at home. He got up at five in the morning and walked the 10 kilometres to school from his home in the rural town of Mpofu in northern Swaziland, and studied hard to fulfill his academic promise.

    In fact it was at university, while studying Sociology and Public Administration, that Bheki really started questioning the doctrines and cultural codes of Swazi society.

    “University changed my perception and how I looked on society through the different and diverse views from other students and lecturers who have been out in the world”, he says.


    Bheki chose to act on his new-found beliefs by amongst other things helping organize civic education for poor and illiterate people in Swaziland’s rural areas.

    But Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III, not only demands total loyalty from his citizens, most of who survive on less than a dollar a day from handouts from the UN. He also makes sure that meetings that are deemed “political” are disrupted by police, who harass and beat up activists like Bheki, many of whom are subsequently tried with terrorism for trivial “offences” such as shouting “viva PUDEMO” or wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt.

    After having had his home ransacked and been detained on several occasions, Bheki was arrested in 2010, tortured, and charged with terrorism for allegedly having committed arson against an MP and a police officer, crimes that he and his colleagues said he could not have committed.


    Bheki was in prison for nearly four years. He was kept in a filthy cell, no larger than five by twelve metres, 24 hours a day with up to 40 other inmates.

    When the trial finally began, all charges against Bheki were quickly dropped and he was released. But as Bheki told the large crowd that had gathered outside the courthouse to great him upon his release, “I am moving out of the small prison into the bigger prison”.

    A few months later he was forced to flee Swaziland, when the police tried to arrest him after he had given a speech on Mayday.


    “In life we face challenge”, Bheki’s father says in the film. “But it is how we respond to these challenges that will either make us or break us”.

    And Bheki has chosen and stood by his response, even though it means he has had to flee Swaziland to live at a secret location in exile, away from his
    family. Or that he will almost certainly be arrested, tortured and charged with treason if he returns home.

    “No matter what they do to me the fight continues” he says, unflinching and looking straight into the camera. “The state is afraid, so if we can push much harder it is going to succumb to our pressure”.


    “Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute monarchy” premièred on May 20 in Copenhagen. The documentary will be screened on Danish national television channel DR2 on the 2nd of August. It has been submitted to several film festivals, including the Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival and Movies That Matter.

    Bheki Dlamini is the President of the Swaziland Youth Congress, the youth wing of PUDEMO. He currently lives in exile at a secret location in South Africa. The Swazi police’s torture of him by way of “severe beatings and suffocation torture” was mentioned in Amnesty International’s 2011 Annual Report.

    Tom Heinemann has won the Danish Outstanding Investigative Journalist of the year award twice, and has been runner up for Journalist of the year in Denmark three times. In 2007 he won the Prix Italia in the current affairs selection.

    * Peter Kenworthy is a journalist working for Afrika Kontakt.


    Vacancy: Director of Programs, Trust Africa

    Location: Dakar Senegal Deadline: 30 May 2015


    Trust Africa


    c c TA
    The goal of the Director of Programs is to manage the programs of TrustAfrica (convenings, grant- making, knowledge generation and provision of technical assistance) working under the supervision of the Executive Director and in close collaboration with All Staff.

    Suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for a vacancy that has arisen at TrustAfrica.

    Position Title: Director of Programs

    Reports to: Executive Director

    Supervises: All Program Staff & Consultants

    Liaises with: All Staff

    Job Location: Dakar, with regular international travel

    Deadline for application: 30 May 2015

    About TrustAfrica: TrustAfrica is an independent foundation that works to secure the conditions for democratic governance and equitable development on the continent. We work principally through collaboration and partnership with like-minded institutions and donors. Led by Africans, we convene agenda setting dialogues, catalyze ideas and provide grants and technical assistance to organizations working to advance these goals.

    Purpose of the position: The goal of the Director of Programs is to manage the programs of TrustAfrica (convenings, grant- making, knowledge generation and provision of technical assistance).

    Specific Responsibilities

    Working under the supervision of the Executive Director and in close collaboration with All Staff, the Director of Programs will:

    1. Lead a team of Program Officers in the formulation and implementation of TrustAfrica projects.

    2. Actively provide support to the Executive Director in fundraising and networking for TrustAfrica’s benefit.

    3. Regularly convene key players from across Africa and the Diaspora to make recommendations for projects to support.

    4. Evaluate grant proposals (including the capacity of potential grantee organizations) that emerge from convenings, and prepare grant recommendations for the Board of Trustees to award grants in support of projects and initiatives that meet the requirements of TrustAfrica.

    5. Represent TrustAfrica at high level international and regional forums.

    6. Together with other staff, communicate TrustAfrica’s mission and program priorities to appropriate audiences, including potential grantees, donors, governments, and the media.

    7. Actively seek and implement program collaborations with other donor agencies in order to enhance TrustAfrica’s mission.

    8. Contribute towards TrustAfrica’s ongoing knowledge generation efforts through own writing, technical assistance and strengthen new opportunities.

    Qualifications and Skills

    1. A good graduate degree (preferably at PhD level), and at least five years of successful grant-making experience at the international level.

    2. Strong commitment to TrustAfrica’s core values of equity, transparency and integrity.

    3. The position requires the following core competences:

    • Strong analytical skills;

    • Initiative and team leadership skills;

    • Frequent contact with partners and consultants, and maintain strictly professional relationships with them;

    • Willingness to travel frequently within and outside Africa;

    • Strong oral and written communication skills and fluency in English and French;

    • Sound judgment;

    • Strong interpersonal skills, a helpful and personable attitude, an evident desire to assist staff and grantee-partners, and the ability to accept and act on constructive criticism;

    • Careful attention to detail;

    • Good computer skills;

    • A strong knowledge of programming strategies;

    • Ability to balance a large number of tasks, accurately set work priorities and meet deadlines, anticipate problems and show initiative in solving them.

    How to apply

    Interested candidates should submit the following application materials in English: a cover letter, a detailed CV describing your professional experience, and contact information for three references.

    Only complete applications will be considered.

    Applications can be submitted to: [email protected]

    Please include your telephone number and Skype in your cover letter and indicate the job title in the subject of your email.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. No phone calls please.

    TrustAfrica is an equal opportunity employer. Women and individuals from Africa and the diaspora are encouraged to apply.

    Fahamu - Networks For Social Justice

    Pambazuka News is published by Fahamu Trust Limited.

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

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    ISSN 1753-6839 Pambazuka News English Edition

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