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

The Inagural 2016 Pan African Colloquium, Barbados

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Pambazuka News 744: Dreams of cures: SDGs, oil and ICTs

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UN Millennium Development Goals replaced by new ‘distraction gimmicks’

Patrick Bond


cc LF-UN
The ubiquitous ‘development goals’ chosen by the United Nations – first Millennium (MDGs) in 2000 and now Sustainable (SDGs) – were and are and will be a distraction from the real work of fighting poverty done by social justice activists, including Africans.

Last weekend in New York heralded another of the annual UN heads-of-state summits at which inappropriate targets, processes and evaluation systems were reconfirmed. Politicians joined multilateral bureaucrats to congratulate each other for hitting many of the MDG targets during the 2000-2015 period. Now there are 17 new SDGs with 169 new targets and more than 300 indicators to aim for by 2030.

But since most state elites are not truly committed to these, the big question is whether SDGs can motivate activists working in the trenches against the systems of power that create poverty, hunger, disease and climate change. The UN, in contrast, shies away from considering or attributing causes, preferring to focus on symptoms.

As a result, the poverty-creating and ecology-destroying features of the world economy will proceed entirely unhindered by UN hot air. Tellingly, there are no concrete mandatory greenhouse gas emissions-cut goals in the SDG “13 – Climate action,” which simply encourages the Paris UN climate summit in December to adopt voluntary pledges. These are, frankly, useless. Mandatory cuts are vital if catastrophe is to be avoided.

And illustrating the UN’s bean-counting contortions, the very first SDG is, “by 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.” That measure comes from heartless World Bank economists, and gives us a 2015 world poverty count of just 1.2 billion people. But what if you need not just food but minimal healthcare, a roof over your head and clothing? The UN Conference on Trade and Development says the target should be $5 per day.

At one invaluable watchdog group, “The Rules,” Jason Hickel debunks: “The drafters of the SDGs know this fact. So why stick with the discredited $1.25 measure? Because it’s the only one that will allow them to get anywhere near their goal of eradicating poverty by 2030. If we measure poverty by the more accurate $5/day line, the total poverty headcount rises to 4.3 billion people, more than 60 percent of humanity.” That’s 370 million more people than in 1990.

Here in South Africa, World Bank economists claimed late last year that at $1.25/day, extreme poverty rate is suffered by just 16.5 percent of our 55 million residents, half what it was before considering state grants to children and the elderly. Moreover, added the Bank, “Thanks to effective use of fiscal policy to achieve redistribution, the Gini coefficient on income falls from 0.77 to 0.59,” a fib obvious to anyone aware of the vast state corporate welfare benefits which Bank staff brazenly ignored.

Bank statistics were then repeatedly used by a local gaggle of neoliberals to drum-beat for greater austerity, and so in February, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene obliged by shrinking the real value of grants by 3 percent. Yet at the same time, a poverty rate of 53 percent was calculated by StatsSA using $1.88/day as the bare survival level. A few weeks ago, University of Cape Town researchers counted $2.50/day costs of 2100 kilocalories of food and other essential expenditures and reckoned that poverty is closer to 62 percent.

“Torturing the data until they confess” is what neoliberal poverty experts apparently feel is necessary in defence of their dark arts. In 2006, Africa's leading political economist, Samir Amin, described MDG-talk as “intended to legitimize the policies and practices implemented by dominant capital and those who support it, i.e., in the first place the governments of the triad countries [US, EU and Japan], and secondarily governments in the South.” As for MDGs cutting extreme poverty and hunger by half, said Amin, “This is nothing but an empty incantation as long as the policies that generate poverty are not analyzed and denounced and alternatives proposed.”

In the journal Gender & Development, Caribbean political economist Peggy Antrobus of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era renamed MDGs, Major Distraction Gimmicks. For feminists, said Antrobus, “the exclusion of the goal of women’s sexual and reproductive rights reflects the power of the forces of religious fundamentalism.” The MDGs’ focus on the outcomes masks the process, she told an interviewer for Alliance: “We ought to be helping people to understand how these things are the consequences of structures that are profoundly unjust.”

She continued: “the current macro context in which these MDGs have emerged contains the twin demons of religious and economic fundamentalism. Both have at their core the subordination and exploitation of women’s time, labor, and sexuality for the benefit of patriarchal power on the one hand, and capitalism on the other. “

But the point here is that creative people constantly fight neoliberalism, racism, patriarchy and climate catastrophe, even if the UN ignores them and their efforts. Likewise, in our critique of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) a decade ago, my colleagues Dennis Brutus, Virginia Setshedi and I pointed out that its opening newsletter was silent on “organic anti-poverty activism in the Global South, such as – in no particular order – labor strikes, popular mobilizations for AIDS-treatment and other health services, reconnections of water/electricity, land and housing occupations, anti-GMO and pro-food security campaigns, women’s organizing, municipal budget campaigns, student and youth movements, community resistance to displacements caused by dam construction and the like, anti-debt and reparations movements, environmental justice struggles, immigrants’ rights campaigns, political movements to take state power, etc, etc.”

We continued, in a critique that applies even more to the UN, “It’s as if the formidable recent upsurge of unrest – 1980s-90s IMF riots, high-profile indigenous people’s protests since Zapatismo in 1994, global justice activism since Seattle in 1999, the Social Forum movement since 2001, anti-war demos since 2001, autonomist protests and the Latin American left’s revival – never happened, don’t exist, aren’t worthy of acknowledgment much less integration and amplification.”

Since then, add the North African uprising and the Occupiers of 2011, the rise of the Southern European and Irish left (and maybe in the UK and US too, judging by electoral trends), the anti-race/class/repression movement in the US, NGO campaigning against illicit financial flows, climate campaigners against major polluters, anti-extractivist struggles across the South, and more recent mass protests against socio-economic injustice and authoritarianism in Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, India, South Africa, Turkey and so many other sites of struggle. At such moments you can count on World Bank and UN officials to run in the other direction.

Another direction the SDGs dare not venture towards is asking why poverty and ecological chaos are repeatedly reproduced as the flip side of wealth: in short, uneven development. In ‘hacking’ the SDGs, The Rules campaigners ask three uncomfortable questions that SDGites dare not consider: “How Is Poverty Created?; Who’s Developing Whom?; Why Is Growth The Only Answer?”

Hopefully these are the questions that journalists and the general public also start asking their national poverty officials. And hopefully the tough critiques from The Rules and scholar-activists such as Amin and Antrobus are given more air time. Otherwise, without attention to poverty causality, without the activists who make social change possible, and without intellectual critics unintimidated by officialdom’s back-slapping, these SDGs are unsustainable distractions whose definitions of development and environment continue being twisted beyond recognition.

* Patrick Bond is professor of political economy at the University of the Witwatersrand and he also directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society. This article previously appeared in Telesur.



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The Burkina Faso coup: An(other) opportunity to rethink the nation-state

Joshua Myers


cc RT
The supposedly self-evident idea that the nation-state is the logical form of political organization for the destruction of colonialism and for the remaking of African lives is patently false. True African liberation will not occur within the colonial structures of power erected by – and inherited from - Empire.

However the situation in Burkina Faso is resolved, it is unlikely that the logics of the nation-state that guide African political formations will be questioned. The “instability” of African nations is not only the product of neocolonial legacies; it is the product of the idea of the nation-state itself. That is, the nation-state—especially the former colonial ones—exists primarily to protect the sanctity of capital; they are fundamentally anti-human. That these constructs are unquestioned reveals the fallacies of any notion of a “postcolonial” moment when we consider that African ways of knowing have been effectively eliminated from ways of governing African people. The mind is still colonized; the “body” is only following.

What the latest coup d’état—and its reversal—has offered us is an opportunity to think about human existence beyond the nation-state, beyond the imperial constructions of what is possible. It is significant that Burkina Faso, a country that was effectively reimagined under Thomas Sankara’s anti-capitalist vision, stands at this moment in “crisis.” It is a crisis made possible by the betrayal of the deeper work of reimagining began under Sankara. And it is also the crisis of Haiti, of Brazil, of South Africa and other African states. For it is the crisis of the idea of the state, and more concretely, it is a crisis of consciousness.

African thinkers the world over are faced with the task of imagining new possibilities. What has become clear is that making what Mario Beatty has recently called the ideological rupture, though necessary, is not nearly enough. As Beatty claims, thinkers like Cheikh Anta Diop remind us that we must also break from the epistemological logics that have structured our misery; or Euro-modernity. That requires a fundamental rethinking of the supposedly self-evident idea that the nation-state is the logical form of political organization for the destruction of colonialism and for the remaking of our lives. And here is where Diop’s call for the restoration of historical memory becomes paramount.[1] For Africans have created forms of human organization that preceded the notion of the nation-state and necessarily offer ways of imagining us out of the colonial and the neocolonial. Notwithstanding the misguided debates about whether “precolonial” African societies were “stateless,” what is clear is that these formations did not mirror what exists today. While it may be true that we “can’t return home,” this is certainly not an excuse to accept the conditions of statehood that exist today as the only possible future.

One of the clearest commentators on both the restoration of African historical consciousness and the imposition of Euro-modernity is Jacob Carruthers. In an essay entitled, “An Alternative to Political Science,” Carruthers reminds us, among other things, that the concept of “politics” informs the nature of the modern nation-state. And within its “nature” lies the kernel of inequality.[2] But for African peoples, Carruthers argues, the wisdom of African governance might better guide our actions on our own behalf. As an Egyptologist who views the legacy of our ancestors as lessons for the present, the work of Carruthers as well as Diop show us that the past is not to be understood simply as an relic, an artifact for our museums. In the colonized mind, the perfection of the Western state model and its corollary, liberal democracy, is the best we can hope for and achieve (this explains the incorporation of indigenous models within the machinations of the state; much more might be said about the politics of these kind of usages of traditional power). However, with an historical consciousness that extends beyond Euro-modernity, we can see beyond these claims and better understand why its failures, its contradictions so consistently manifest themselves in our struggles to create a new world where Africans can flourish.

Another seminal thinker on these issues is the political theorist, Cedric Robinson. His work has charted new ways of thinking about radical African politics and has done so at the level of structural analyses of Western constructs. In his ruminations on Pan-Africanism, Robinson once argued that when we consider the significant struggles that animated the national liberation movements that ushered in “flag independence” in the middle of last century, the subsequent history of these movements reveals the “nation-state” as an “undeserving venue” of that energy, a “vessel” that compromised the genuine revolutionary imaginations of political Pan-Africanists.[3] Undeserving, largely because what we call African countries are not political formations that are imagined as vehicles for human freedom. It is necessary to quote him at length:

“Yet even a casual glance through our historical era will confirm that the domestic political cultures of nation-states are animated by irrational impulses which tend toward ethnic domination or in the extreme ethnic cleansing; and their most constant external impulse is expansionism. This deceit was the second modernizing mission appropriated by political Pan-Africanism, so it should not be surprising that we can now add the names of numerous African tyrants to the list of their Western counterparts. But it is clear that political Pan-Africanism was an insufficient if not mistaken mission, so no matter the particular perversions of the Charles Taylors of today, more profoundly they are the heirs of a flawed, misconceived past. Our contemporary rapacious hyenas are not blameless but they did not organize the feast.” [4]

In their stead and in the then (c. 1996) assumptions attached to the idea of the “withering of the nation-state,” Robinson offers the notion a “Pan-African commonwealth,” which would have at its core the sense that African humanity transcends the imperial borders of Euro-modernity and questions of human survival necessitate a structure that resists the logics of those borders.

While Samir Amin and others have challenged the notion that the state’s disappearance is imminent, it is still necessary for African people to develop Pan-African political organizations that might achieve the objectives which animated the visions of those ancestors, “renegade revolutionaries, genuine Pan-Africanists”[5] who viewed global African liberation as more important than “national interests.”

If the core of the militaristic, the fundamentalist, and the anti-human resistance movements which label themselves “anti-Western” is this misguided understanding of the state, then our energies might be more usefully spent engaging and supporting those movements which continue to approach the African future from the standpoint of decolonization. Achille Mbembe’s recent piece offers a genuine critique of the amorphous sorts of theorizing attached to the recent decolonization movement in South Africa and of the kinds of expressions of psychic release that often attend these moments. Yet it seems what is left undone is the kind of work that goes beyond the critique-of-the-critique model, which seems to envelop so much of postcolonial thought. Mbembe’s approach assumes “whiteness” is the origin and end of that which is to be grappled with. But what of the grounding philosophies that made possible the event of “whiteness”? Is the idea of “multiracial democracy” itself a product of these same philosophies? Though left largely unsaid, perhaps guiding Mbembe’s project is a desire to see a program of decolonization move Africa consciousness away from the very ideological and political strictures which made the dehumanization of Africans necessary. If this is so, the deep conceptual work of rethinking the state might be one of many new projects that would better position Africa to free itself from the sources of its colonialism. It seems implausible that aping the so-called Asian miracle of Malaysia and Singapore would get us to that point.[6]

The upshot—if there is one—is that we are in a position where our imaginations do not have to be limited to the philosophical and political visions of Otto von Bismarck, John Locke, or Thomas Jefferson. We now have thinkers able to access the knowledge necessary for reconnecting Africans to our own ancestral visions which might guide our own future possibilities, our own political formations, our freedom. What a time to be alive, indeed.

* Joshua Myers teaches Africana Studies at Howard University. He is a board member of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations. He can be reached at [email protected]


[1] See Diop’s, African Origin of Civilization (1974) and his Black Africa: The Economic and Cultural
[2] This essay appears in his Intellectual Warfare (1999).
[3] Cedric Robinson, “In Search of a Pan-African Commonwealth,” Social Identities 2 (1996): 165.
[4] Ibid, 163.
[5] Ibid, 166.
[6] Mbembe: “We are also in control of arguably the most powerful State on the African Continent. This is a State that wields enormous financial and economic power. In theory, not much prevents it from redirecting the flows of wealth in its hands in entirely new trajectories. As it has been done in places such as Malaysia or Singapore, something has to be made out of this sheer amount of wealth – something more creative and more decisive than our hapless “black economic empowerment” schemes the main function of which is to sustain the lifestyles of the new élite.”



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#PunchBack: Behind the crisis in Burkina Faso


cc AL
The hugely unpopular failed coup in the land of Thomas Sankara represents a clash between retrogressive forces supporting the status quo and the popular struggles of determined citizens demanding an end to imperialist dominance of the country's public life by France and its allies. For more, watch Pambazuka's new video blog #PunchBack

The 8th Pan African Congress: Between opportunism and rejuvenation

Zaya Yeebo


cc PAC
On 9 July, 2015, the Local Organizing Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress presented its final report to President John Mahama of Ghana. Zaya Yeebo presents his personal reflections of the 8th Congress held in Accra in March, 2015, observing that the Congress sought to revive the Movement, to reaffirm its anti-imperialist, anti-neo-colonialist nature and helped to define a path for the continued growth and regeneration of African economies and politics.

The 8th Pan African Congress held in Accra Ghana from 4 – 7 March, 2015, was a wakeup call to Africans interested in sustaining a wave of people-based Pan Africanism. A Pan Africanism of the people. It also revealed deep crevices in the politics of the movement between the emerging voices of opportunism and those seeking the movement’s rejuvenation. However, opportunities were lost as the clamour for generational change in leadership were spurned by people hanging on to a mind-set which is hostile to change and any generation of ideas.


For 21 years, the secretariat of the Global Pan African Movement based in Kampala, Uganda, went into hibernation, in spite of continuing support from the Ugandan government and from the late Muammar Gaddafi of the Libyan Arab Peoples’ Jamahiriya. Within this period, the movement remained rudderless and without ideological direction and clarity of its purpose. This was a major source of concern to many Pan Africanists, who sought other avenues for mobilisation.

It was therefore a welcome move when Honourable Ruth Tuma, the former head of the Kampala-based secretariat of the Global Pan African Movement, convened a meeting of the remaining rump of the International Governing Council and some individuals to Kampala in May 2013 to discuss a revival of the Pan African Movement. Most of those invited did not turn up for the meeting. The May 2013 meeting in Kampala therefore had the task of reviving the Secretariat and the institutions which had sprung up after the 7th Pan African Congress in 1994. The 2013 Kampala meeting was concerned with three things: a strategic plan for the Secretariat, the need to revise the Constitution of the movement, and a review of the decisions arrived at the 7th Congress. Most people agreed that the time had come for a revival of the PAM which had gone into paralysis following the 7th Pan African Congress. Following the Kampala meeting, a decision was taken by the PAM Secretariat to formally engage with the Africa Union. A draft Memorandum of Understanding between the PAM and the Africa Union was proposed and circulated as part of the process of widening the reach of the PAM and its secretariat.


These processes provided the momentum to preparations for the 8th Congress. In recognition of these efforts, the 8th PAC Concept Note stated in inter alia:

“Emanating from the AU Summit of May 2013 was the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration. This historic Declaration emphasized the responsibility of African Heads of State and Governments to act together with our people and the African Diaspora to realize our vision of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance. More specifically, the Declaration committed AU Member States to, amongst others: Accelerate African Renaissance by ensuring the integration of the principles of Pan-Africanism in all AU policies and initiatives; Strengthen AU programmes and Member States institutions aimed at reviving our cultural identity, heritage, history and Shared Values; and Promote people to people engagements including Youth, women and civil society exchanges in order to strengthen Pan-Africanism”.

The efforts at reviving the PAM Secretariat and of organising a Congress gained momentum at an Africa Union/UNDP event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where issues relating to the revival of the Movement and the relationship between the Movement and the African Union were discussed in great detail. This meeting, attended by leaders of the continent, and from the Diaspora, pushed the process a notch further. It was at this point that the idea of a follow up 8th Pan African Congress gained momentum. Another landmark of this meeting was the clamour of the youth for a clearer definition of pan Africanism, its purpose, and a generational change of leadership. What occurred was nothing less than a rebellion. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Pan African Movement at this meeting was unable to match the intellectual vibrancy or honesty of the youth, or give political direction to eager youth who were thirsting for knowledge and nourishment in the midst of multi-faceted problems facing the continent.

It dawned on some of us that the Movement was headed for complete collapse unless some action was taken. This realisation necessitated some action. As a result, some of the delegates from Ghana, i.e. Mr. Kwasi Adu, Charles Abugre, Kwesi Pratt and this author and several others, realised that the momentum would be lost unless some country stepped forward to propose that it could host the 8th Pan African Congress. This group therefore proposed that the Government of Ghana could be approached to support the hosting of the 8th Pan African Congress. At this point, there was no counter suggestion or proposal that another country could be approached to host the 8th Congress. For some of us therefore, the train had left the station, and Accra was its final destination for the 8th Pan African Congress.

Another conference organised by the UNDP in Accra in 2013 provided another opportunity for further discussions on the framework for the 8th Pan African Congress. A side event at this meeting discussed issues relating to the 8th Pan African Congress: number of participants, the Commissions, leading discussants and so on. The idea of regional meetings was also floated and discussed, but no group stepped forward to provide resources for hosting them. Another meeting organised by the UNDP/AU in Johannesburg in 2013 provided another opportunity for further discussions on efforts to revive the Pan African Movement, how to ensure generational change, and how to mobilise resources.

The hosting of the 8th PAC was revisited in Accra in September 2013 when Major General Otafiire Kahinda, current chair of the Pan African Movement (he has been chair for over 22 years), was invited to Accra to deliver the annual Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lecture. His presence provided another opportunity for a discussion of the 8th PAC. Another meeting called by the Kampala secretariat in 2014 further discussed and issued a ‘Political Call’ for the 8th PAC. The Call also invited suggestions and ideas from Africans all over the world for the congress. To a large extent, therefore, the 8th PAC was based on a wide range of consultations with different interest groups including governments, regional institutions, youth groups and stakeholders across the continent.


The comments and reactions generated by the ‘Political Call for the 8th Pan African Congress’ and the accompanying Concept Note reflected a certain mind-set within the Pan African Movement, that the 21 years following the 7th Pan African Congress had been a lost period. The Movement had lost direction, lacked ideological and political leadership and had become victim to the sort of factional, ethnicised and monetised politics that Africa has become hostage to.

First, a faction emerged which claimed that by asking African governments, particularly, the Government of Ghana, and the Africa Union (AU) to support the Congress, the Movement was surrendering itself to the “control” and possible manipulation of “neo-colonial” Governments and the Africa Union. This faction also had some objections to the participation and leadership role of the Africa Union in the Congress.

I could not come to terms with a Pan African Movement or Congress which explicitly excluded the participation of African governments, the AU, the Non Aligned Movement and other state parties (if they wished to participate in the Congress) because they are essential partners in achieving objectives of the Pan African Movement. Apart from the 5th Congress which occurred when most African countries were under colonial rule, the 6th and 7th congresses received support and solidarity from both the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments respectively. Some of the leading lights of the Pan African Movement like George Padmore, and Du Bois subsequently supported Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah when he became first President of the Republic of Ghana. Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta was also a leading light in the Pan African Movement, and rose to become the first President of Kenya. So there has been an organic link between the anti-colonial movement, political activism and the Pan African Movement. That these activists rise to the highest level of Government does not make them any less Pan African. Why was the 8th PAC slated for Accra any different?

Secondly, some elements within the Movement were also opposed to the participation of African civil society organisations in the Congress as ‘movements’. This position is a reflection of the arrogant and factional nature of the Movement, which recognises ‘professors’ and leaders of some civil society organisations and UN staff, but not the mass movement in Africa. It begs the question whether African mass movements, including civil society, community-based organisations, rural development organisations, farmers groups, youth groups, and peasant associations and NGOs should be denied the opportunity to play a leading role in the Pan African Movement. I argued strongly against the clamour for the exclusion of African civil society and NGOs from the Congress.

The role of the mass movement in Africa in both the colonial and anti-colonial struggle cannot be sacrificed on the altar of personal ego and the hypocrisy of those who collect donor funds by day and condemn donors at night. It is also through civil society and the mass movement in Africa that the democratic route is taking roots in Africa today. In Kenya, Ghana, Burundi, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and indeed throughout Africa, the mass movements including NGOs led the ousting long-standing rulers who refused to yield to democratic demands of their people. In Kenya, civil society and the mass movement led the movement for constitutional reform; and in South Africa are leading the campaign against xenophobia. Should the PAM ignore these forces of change, and to what purpose? Any pan African agenda which ignores these groups is headed in the wrong direction.

Another effort to stymie the 8th Congress was from a group I will call ‘the without us in the steering wheel, there can be no Congress’ group, mainly from ‘North America’ and the Diaspora who claimed they had not been ‘consulted’. This idea of ‘non-consultation’ was hyped up; letters were sent to the Government of Ghana and the AU claiming that the 8th Pan African Congress could not take place without the Diaspora, even though there had been no effort to exclude the Diaspora or any group for that matter. The opposition to the 8th Congress in Ghana also tried to use the Ebola epidemic and another excuse for not holding the Congress in West Africa.

Underlying these arguments is the refusal by some Africans and Diaspora-based activists to understand the significance of where Africa is today, and the sort of Africa we want’. In all these anti-Congress manoeuvres inside and outside Ghana, one could not rule out the hands of imperialism, particularly, that of the United States and other western interests.

The question is: is it possible to build the ‘Africa We want’; eradicate poverty, address issues of disempowerment and marginalisation of women and youth, and build solidarity with progressive movements across the world without the participation of citizens organizing in different forums? Can African youth show solidarity with the youth in America and Europe under siege by forces of racism without the Africa Union and OUR governments?


It later became obvious that these objections had been manufactured by voices and interest groups who wanted the Movement to remain in its ‘Rip Van Winkle’ mode. More than this, the main factor underlying the flurry of dissenters to the 8th PAC was about the issue of generational change of leadership and the possibility that the Kampala-based Secretariat would move to Accra if there was a successful 8th PAC. This would have involved accountability from Kampala. At this stage this issue of transition had not been raised by the LOC in Ghana because the Government of Ghana had not been consulted. But some elements associated with the 7th Pan African Congress panicked because of the implications of the 8th Congress.

A successful 8th Congress would have had to discuss the issue of leadership transition and the move of the PAM Secretariat from Kampala. This could not have happened without some form of accountability and transparency following the 7th PAC, and the way the Movement had been managed for the past 21 years. This created panic and anxiety among those who would have been called upon to account for their stewardship of the Pan African Congress since the 7th Congress and setting up of the Congress secretariat in Kampala.

In spite of these protestations, the Local Organizing Committee launched the 8th Pan African Congress in Accra in February 2015. Major General Kahinda Otafiire, chairman of the Pan African Movement, not only attended but also chaired the event. That would have been his fourth visit to Accra to discuss the 8th Pan African Congress. However, the issue of transition and the clamour for generational change among African youth was a major source of concern for some leaders. As a result, a day before the Congress, some elements decided to downgrade the Accra Congress to a mere ‘consultative’ meeting. This was yet another attempt to stymie the 8th Congress. The attempts to sabotage the 8th Congress by people claiming to be ‘leaders’ of the Pan African Movement, and to ensure that issues of transparency, and accountability arising out of the 7th Congress were not raised.


In spite of all these attempts at sabotage, the Accra based Local Organising Committee (LOC) chaired by Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jr. and the representative of the President of Ghana, Lt. Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey and the LOC Coordinator, Kwasi Adu, worked tirelessly to ensure that the process of organizing the 8th Congress was participatory and inclusive. Invitations and calls were sent through various social media outlets, thereby attracting a lot of interest from youth desirous of seeing a new Pan African Movement. This process ensured that participation was pan African, global, inclusive, representative and participatory.

In the end the Congress was fully supported by the Government of Ghana, friendly countries, individuals and organisations. It attracted 284 delegates from 33 countries from all over the world – Africans and people of African descent. The opening ceremony attracted the head of state of Benin and a vice president from the Republic of Iran. Many African countries sent official delegations to the Congress. These underlie the importance which many African institutions attach to the Pan African Congress. Sometimes, failure to acknowledge a successful outcome because it makes one uncomfortable, even when success is stirring you in the face is a mark of dishonesty. The 8th Congress was able to galvanise youth and women from across the Pan African world. The Congress resolutions reflect some of the concerns of the various social forces, the groups and the wide ranging nature of participation.

It became apparent at the various sessions of the Congress that the youth were clamouring for generational change. The leadership of the PAM had not anticipated the mood of despair and the disappointment at the lacklustre performance of the Kampala secretariat and its inability to provide leadership and political/ideological direction for the Movement, and the resulting rebellion. Unable to provide cogent arguments to support the near decline of the movement, and short of ideological clarity about the state of the movement and its inability to provide leadership, some elements resorted to the use of financial inducements to tame the restless youth who were agitating for transition.


What was the 8th Congress supposed to achieve? The 8th Congress sought to revive the Movement, to reaffirm the anti-imperialist, anti-neo-colonialist nature of the Movement and help to define a path for the continued growth and regeneration of African economies and politics, and to enable the youth to define the ‘Africa we want’. In essence, to restate the call by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah for the “total liberation and unification of Africa under an All Africa Union Socialist Government”.

The 8th Congress was a call to the youth of Africa to demonstrate their commitment to African unity, build as people-based pan African Movement for this era. In the end, it demonstrated that the youth of Africa are ready to take over the mantle of leadership from the remnants of the 7th Pan African Congress; that they recognise the ‘paradigm shift’ in the Movement, but also recognise that the Movement has relevance. It is, however, sad that the old remnants of the 7th Pan African Congress see neither the ideological shifts, nor the need for a generational change in the Pan African Movement. In essence they demonstrated a reluctance to see the need for generational change and a rejuvenation of the Movement.


The Pan African Movement has always prided itself with its ideological clarity and committed a core of activists working tirelessly to respond to the needs of Africa at various points in time. Each Congress therefore defines its role and progress for the continent and the Diaspora. Financial inducements have never been the motivating factor or the basis for a call to duty. The current woeful state of the Pan African Movement is a reflection of the state of African institutions. It is bedeviled with inertia, lack of political direction, has no ideological leadership, and remains in limbo. The result being that it cannot respond to crucial continental and global issues such as the death of African youths in the Mediterranean Sea, xenophobia in South Africa, and increasing poverty in the midst of plenty. It could not even respond to the NATO invasion of Libya even though the late Col. Gadhafi had been its financier for several years. Those who claim to be at the helm lack commitment to the cause of African Unity; but most worrying of all, are not willing to be accountable. These tendencies also betray a certain lack of understanding of the ideological and the foundational roots and clarity about the origins, motives, objectives and ideals of the Pan African Movement. In my view, any African can organise a Pan African Congress.

However, this requires a certain level of willingness to work with all Africans, and not to seek to exclude any African or people of African descent. It also requires some level of ideological clarity and understanding of the basis for the Movement, honesty, transparency and accountability. The Pan African Movement has radical, anti-imperialist and socialist orientations. However, the Movement is supported by people with different and varying political perspectives; it should operate like a broad movement of people.


The 8th Pan African Congress in Accra came in the heels of a similar Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa. Both Congresses were hugely successful, and provided an opportunity for the youth who have never been part of the Movement to learn about Pan Africanism. There can be a third, a fourth and fifth 8th Congress. What matters is that these Congresses offer concrete solutions to pan African problems. These Congresses should lead to generational change of leadership both in terms of ideas and the movement’s political direction. The Movement has also to offer some intellectual leadership and foster understanding of where it has come from, and offer space to debate not only politics, but also issues concerning the environment, society, gender and exploitation of African resources.

Most important of all, the Movement has to be an avenue for ALL Africans and people of African descent the world over, for complete transformation of Africa into ‘the African We Want’. So far, we are far from creating that world. For the PAM to remain relevant, it must address issues of concern to the youth and marginalised women, the masses of Africans in refugee camps, and those in failed societies under the risk of foreign invasions and attempts by western powers to recolonize Africa.

These debates are vital and will help push Africa forward, but they cannot take place under a canopy of intolerance, naked aggression and corruption. The intellectual road map and guidance for an effective, anti-imperialist, progressive, and anti-neo-colonial Pan African Movement is on-going with seminal works by leading Pan Africainsts like Bankie Bankie Foster (see ‘Sustaining the New Wave of Pan Africanism’, 2010); Professor Kwasi Prah and many others. These contain very useful insights and thoughts for the future. We need to deepen the ideological debate about the future direction of the Movement in the struggle for a free Africa.


All Pan African Congresses from the 1st to the 7th have been used to address issues relevant6 to the needs of the continent. The 8th Pan African Congress sought to address issues relevant to Africa today: youth unemployment, the environment, the abuse of women and girls, the continued exploitation of Africa’s resources; the role of the Africa Union in the march towards continental integration, and regional economic blocs. In the era of the social media, the Movement is presented with unique opportunities and challenges to use these platforms to improve communication; re-brand itself in a progressive light and help to create the new Africa. These require new methods of mobilisation to engage as many forces, factions, and groups as possible. The Movement must re-awaken Africa.

It may not sound churlish to suggest that only those with an open mind, the understanding and ideological clarity about the future of Africa; and see the Movement as a leading forces for change can exploit these opportunities. But above all, it must speak truth to power.

The 7th and 8th Congresses revealed deep cracks in the Pan African Movement due to our failure to learn, to be accountable and transparent, but above all, to be true to ourselves as Africans. If truth be told, the Movement needs intellectual renewal. However, leading lights must not allow the narcissim of small differences to take centre stage, much to the disadvantage of those who seek rejuvenation.

Writing for Pambazuka, Veli Mbele quoted the The Azanian scholar, Pumla Gqola, in her book, ‘A Renegade Called Simphiwe’ who argued that:

“...It is important that a critique of power not end with reaction, but that it goes further to imagine something new, more exciting, and more pleasurable. Picture what we can create if we dare to give ourselves permission to imagine freely. It is important to create alternatives just as it is important to speak truth to power”. (Veli Mbele, Pan-Afrikanism and the quest for Black Power today, 2015-06-03).

The Movement should move away from meaningless Congresses and respond in a more positive, progressive and radical way to the undercurrents which threaten to drown Africa. It is never too late. The struggle continues.

* Zaya Yeebo is Director of the Accra-based Pan African Institute. A journalist and writer, he was a member of the Local Organising Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress.



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Maximizing the benefits of oil and water discoveries in Turkana, Kenya

John O. Kakonge


cc NMG
Kenya’s newly discovered oil is located in a part of the country marked by extreme poverty, high levels of illiteracy and insecurity primarily arising from years of neglect by successive governments. With the discovery of large water reserves as well, hopes in the region are high that life is set to improve for the people. But how can these dreams be realised?

Turkana County, in the extreme north-west of Kenya, is a semi-arid area that suffers from low rainfall, high temperatures and frequent droughts. The Turkana people, who are traditionally pastoralists, face constant problems in finding sufficient water and grass for their cattle, especially during the dry season. To complicate their lives still further, they are locked in an interminable and longstanding conflict with their neighbours, the Pokot, for water and grass.

With the discovery of huge deposits of oil and a large aquifer of water within their land the Turkana's fortunes should change for the better: the finds could transform the county economically, socially and politically. This brief paper will examine some of the challenges that the Turkana will have to address if they are to maximize the positive returns of their oil and water


Given that the county is semi-arid, climate change is one of its biggest challenges. The increase in temperatures since the 1960s has resulted in a decline in the amount of water in the Omo River and Lake Turkana, which has added fuel to the conflict between the Turkana and their neighbours (Powers, 2011). Fortunately, the discovery of a major aquifer means that there are good prospects for the removal of one source of this violent competition between neighbouring peoples, once the county and the national governments are able to provide and share sufficient water not only for livestock but also for irrigated agriculture and other uses. The availability of water should also encourage more of the Turkana people to take up mixed economy farming and, possibly, irrigated farming: the introduction of a modern livestock industry would build on the skills that most Turkana already have as pastoralists.

There is no doubt that Turkana will not benefit properly from either oil or water if the problem of guns is not solved. Currently, according to Powers (2011), every Turkana male over 17 years has an AK47 automatic rifle. The men claim that guns are essential for the protection of their livestock and their families against raids by the Pokot from the south, Ugandans from the west and Sudanese and Ethiopians from the north and east. Until these threats are countered disarmament will be strongly resisted. Turkana is the largest county in Kenya, has a low density of population, possesses few roads and, having been sidelined since colonial days, very little infrastructure. To establish effective government control over the area is a huge and expensive project with the problems compounded by the discovery of oil, uncertain borders and Islamic fundamentalists. The county government should work with the national government to disarm the Turkana and their neighbours but the county needs a military presence and a rapid-response police force to protect its borders.

Turkana has the lowest literacy rate of any county in Kenya: to build a competent labour force will take the county more than a little time. In this connection, the funds coming from oil and gas should enable the county to establish both vocational and technical colleges to serve students from Turkana and neighbouring counties. In addition, as in other countries, some students can be sent to other countries to train foinr specialized courses, especially for the upstream oil and gas industry. The planned training opportunities should include areas such as small and medium businesses with an emphasis on hospitality, logistics, distribution and marketing and the needs of the petro-chemical industry.

Another of the county’s priorities should be to make it more accessible and to link it to all the parts of the county by constructing modern roads and highways. Without proper infrastructure, the cost of exploiting the oil and water will be very expensive. Moreover, since the discovery of oil and water a number of meetings, workshops, seminars and research initiatives have been carried out and they all appear to agree on these key needs: good infrastructure to link Turkana to the rest of the country and good roads to link the villages which are scattered far apart. Fortunately, the local newspaper The Star reported on 11 September 2015 that the 960 kilometer Eldoret-Turkana-Juba road has now been launched and that major road link will promote the economies of West Pokot and Turkana and South Sudan.


The challenges of building the capacity required to implement government service delivery to all citizens are not limited to Turkana. Many other African countries have deprived regions with very low human development indicators and limited capacity. In Namibia, for example, with the support of UNDP, UNV, donors and the private sector, in 2002 the government developed a programme known as “UN Volunteers to Build Capacity in Namibia”. This programme aimed to recruit more than 1,000 UN Volunteers (national and international) for five years. The national volunteers were recruited from the local university and advanced colleges of education. The government itself invested extensively in the programme and also identified students for training from the deprived regions. Given that Turkana is one of the most deprived counties of Kenya and the comparable conditions, with a desert environment, sparse population and lack of roads, perhaps the Namibian experience can be instructive.

One expectation nursed by Turkana residents is an increase in the number of jobs for local people. Constrantas (2014) points out that, of the 1,772 employees employed by the Tullow Oil Company’s sub-contractor drilling in Turkana, half were locals and half came from outside the county. This percentage looks impressive until one is told most of the local recruits occupied unskilled or semi-skilled jobs: Kenyans from other regions occupied the skilled and managerial jobs while expatriates filled the specialized oil-industry jobs.

The Turkana County leaders must take a pragmatic approach to raising awareness among parents of the need to send their children to school irrespective of their gender. Currently the entire northern part of Kenya has a shortage of teachers, with those coming from elsewhere returning to their home areas after the Garissa University College terrorist massacre in April 2015. Turkana County will have somehow to attract professionals from other counties to not only come and teach in their schools and colleges but also work in other sectors including water.


Another expectation of the Turkana people is that the government will eliminate insecurity in the area. According to Weru (2012), the people in Turkana are praying that an oil fund becomes real and provides the funds needed for this action. They fear that otherwise Pokot cattle rustlers will become a continuing source of instability and they fear that their enemies may try to claim ownership of the land near oil installations. Lastly, they fear that the explosion in the supply of small arms will turn their age-old conflicts over water and pasture into an existentialist crisis. They feel that the discovery of oil will bring different and complex problems.

As Twayigize (2013) reports, the nation was caught by surprise when Turkana residents took to the streets and stormed a UK oil exploration firm’s office demanding jobs: the company was forced to halt operations for a while. This reflects another form of insecurity in the county, namely its high poverty index. At 98 per cent it means that the county is the most marginalized and least developed of all. Unless the Turkana are made fully aware of the benefits that they will get from oil exploration, in particular employment opportunities, as Weru (2012) argues, conflict is likely to continue.

Another issue which can cause insecurity relates to what Greenspan (2014), quoting, I. Angelei of Friends of Lake Turkana, describes as “information trickling down very slowly and sometimes does not get to local communities, which creates an environment for conflict”. This is very important, particularly in a place where the communities have access to arms easily. In view of the above, Greenspan (2014) suggests the urgent need to create a space for the local engagement of county leaders, local leaders, women, youth and others on how to deal with te past marginalization and underdevelopment of the county. More important, it is vital to continue consolidating the existing conflict resolutions ( i.e. Lokiriama Peace Accord of 1973) among the leaders and elders of Turkana, West Pokot and Baringo to protect the borders and prevent any invasion, especially of Turkana. This is of critical importance, given the disclosures of government authorities that over 200,000 guns are in illegal hands in the region. Besides, Cordaid (2015) acknowledges that ‘this cannot be achieved overnight or through heavy-handed and costly security operations, but instead requires a more serious commitment to meaningful consultation and negotiation with affected communities’.


It is to be hoped that the discovery of oil deposits and a water aquifer will be a blessing for the Turkana, and that both national and county governments should address environmental issues forthwith to ensure that no pollution from oil spills affects the water aquifer. The ISS and HansSiedel Foundation 2012 seminar warned that soil and water pollution from oil spills can result in long-term degradation of the environment: the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is sadly instructive in this regard. Unfortunately, the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) carried out for blocks 13T and 10BB were not shared with the community (Constantaras, 2014). This was confirmed at the meeting held by the Chief of Lokichar location, community elders and the Tullow Kenya EIA Team. The community also raised concerns that Tullow had erected fences without the consent of the pastoralists who grazed their animals in the area and they queried possible contamination of water sources.

Several studies ( Weru 2012, Constantaras 2014 and others) confirm that the oil industry will create few jobs for the Turkana people but will disrupt their natural way of life and destroy their livelihoods, grazing lands and ancestral shrines, all in return for meagre compensation. In addition, the EIA prepared by the Earthview Geoconsultants Ltd. and commissioned in 2012 by Tullow Oil acknowledged that since 1970, 30 exploratory wells have been drilled and there have been no adverse impacts reported. Moreover, the measures proposed in the EIA report to mitigate the environmental and social impact indicated in the environmental management plan (EMP) are considered more than adequate and effective to safeguard any negative consequences. On the contrary, according to Mutch (2012), the challenge has been a clear lack of will to implement the EIAs and EMPs of major environmental oriented projects in East Africa and they sit on shelves, unread.

Critics argue that the Water Act of 2002 and EMCA of 1999 provide no significant policy framework for the management of underground water resources. Obiero (2013) points out that Kenya has no clear guidelines when it comes to the safety and contamination of water resources from oil drilling or even separations in the case of oil spills. In a report of 8 August 2014, however, the Daily Nation newspaper maintained that oil recovery can be safely achieved by ensuring that counter-measures are in place to prevent, detect and arrest any oil related disasters.


For Turkana to address its development challenges such as famine, poverty, poor infrastructure, impassable roads, high illiteracy among women, lack of schools and shortage of hospitals, its leaders need to exhibit a degree of political unity. For example, in an article carried by The Star dated 10 September 2015, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga during his visit to Lodwar (the county headquarters of Turkana) praised the Governor for the work that he is doing to ensure the provision of basic services such as water, health care, and education. He urged the Turkana MPs to work together, to be objective and to avoid the cheap politics of dividing the people. But on 8 September 2015, the Turkana MPs criticized the Governor and his government for wasting resources on organizing a Turkana County Tourism and Cultural Festival on 27–30 August 2015.

The MPs felt that the Turkana county government did not have its priorities right (Wamalwa, 8 September 2015). Because the standard of living in Turkana is regrettably low with extremely difficult conditions, the unity of Turkana politicians and local leaders, irrespective of their political affiliation, is critical in addressing these challenges. Thus, taking into account the limited local capacity of the county, politicians and the local leaders should ensure that county priority programmes and the externally funded ones are well coordinated and implemented. Besides, the continuing conversation on oil and water should involve women and young people, to break out from the society’s patriarchal mindset.

For example, a study carried out by AfDB (2009), it was observed that societies in Turkana are so male-dominated that, among the Gabbro for instance, the opinion of a four-year-old boy has the same weight as that of a 25-year-old woman. This should change. Moreover, strong political partnership by Turkana leadership will place pressure on the central government to ensure that an appropriate level of resources is invested in the county to avoid any perception of marginalization.


Another significant challenge that the county of Turkana will face is the need for revenue-sharing and the application of an allocation formula once oil and gas production goes commercial. There are good and bad examples of revenue allocation and distribution from which the Turkana government could draw lessons. Among bad examples are Nigeria, Venezuela and Angola; good examples include Malaysia, Qatar and Indonesia. Having oil or gas can reduce the incentive to develop other sectors –resulting in what is sometimes termed the “Dutch Disease”. Successful oil-producing countries ensure diversification of their economies. The good news is that with the discovery of water Turkana County can diversify into irrigated agriculture that will increase food production and create employment opportunities.

Strong institutions have helped some countries make steady progress in the oil and gas sector (Paltseva and Roine, 2011). In this case, it will be a national oil company that will be in charge of oil and that will work closely with the county government to ensure transparency and accountability and thereby avoid the dreaded “resource curse”. A good example in this respect is Petronas in Malaysia, which is a parastatal but which the government has left to operate as a private company. The profits from Petronas operations are put into the development of various regions of the country. Generally speaking, the more successful countries are those that have been transparent with the revenue that they earn and have made this information easily available to citizens: the population can thus hold their government accountable for effective use of the money. According to Transparency ONE (2011) only 11 countries worldwide have satisfactory transparency standards in oil, gas and mining, and none of those are in Africa. Those countries include the United States, some countries of the European Union and Canada.

An open and fair sharing mechanism between Turkana county and the rest of the country is possible even though there is no perfect mechanism for sharing oil and gas revenues in developing countries. Perhaps, as Fengler and Schulze (2012) suggest, the example of Indonesia where oil is extracted from the remote province of Papua, which has a large land mass but few people, is relevant to Turkana. Papua province has been receiving more revenue than other areas of Indonesia, proportionally speaking.

Again, whatever works in one country or place may not necessarily work in another. It is up to the national government and Turkana county government to arrive at a practical, equitable and transparent mechanism to share the anticipated oil and gas revenues.


Turkana is fortunate in that it can learn from the experiences of other countries that have performed well in comparable situations. Examples that come to mind include Israel (for water), Namibia (as outlined above), and Botswana (for diamonds). Insecurity is a complex issue because it touches on many elements, but the most important means of tackling the problem is to improve the human development indicators (which are directly or indirectly sources of insecurity) namely, education, health, environmental, employment, and poverty. There must, however, be a general awareness that the issue of security is the responsibility of every individual citizen both of Turkana and of its neighbouring counties.

The government must devise an inclusive mechanism that will disarm the whole of North Kenya. In addition, as in the case of Liberia, Diaz (2003) acknowledges that-- properly empowered women can play an important role directly or indirectly in establishing and maintaining sustainable peace in the area.

Turkana has a very high illiteracy rate that will take years to address but implementing projects to benefit the Turkana will first and foremost depend on the availability of qualified local people. The suggestion by Ng’asike (2015), that perhaps both the national and county governments should consider introducing so-called “barefoot colleges”, is interesting and recognizes the lack of infrastructure and other related problems.

What is most needed here is a high level of transparency in sharing oil revenue resources, data on oil and water discoveries and the recruitment procedures for both local and national personnel, and awards of oil and water procurement contracts. The Turkana people have suffered for years in their arid and semi-arid environment and it is their right in the near future not only to maximize the revenues coming from oil but also from water. That said, however, as an industry oil – unlike water – has a reputation that is far from salubrious. If it is not handled with the utmost care, it can have disastrous consequences for an economy and inflict irreparable damage on the environment.

* Dr. John O Kakoge is Kenya’s former ambassador to UN Office in Geneva and other International Organizations.


1. African Development Bank Group (2009), Socio-Economic Analysis and Public Consultation of Lake Turkana Communities in Northern Kenya (Final Draft Report). Accessed 12 September 2015
2. Constantaras,E( 2014)Tulow oil Sub- Contractor employee data reveal contracting driven by market forces, not economic policy in Turkana: Accessed 10 September 2015
3. Cordaid (2015) Oil Exploration in Kenya: Success Requires Consultation.
4. Cummings, R (2013) Kenya: Could Oil discoveries in Turkana (analysis). Think Africa Press: Accessed 31 August 2015
5. Diaz, J ( 2010)Liberia: Women Key to uneasy peace forged in 2003, The San Francisco Chronicle, 12 December 2003
6. Fengler, W and Schulze, G (2012) will oil be a blessing or a curse for Kenya? can/will-oil-be-a-blessing-or-a-cu: Accessed 30 August 2015
7. Greenspan, E (2014) Will oil bring promise or peril to the communities of Turkana? Accessed 11 September 2015
8. Mutch, T (2012) East African oil and Gas: proper environmental planning needed to avoid environmental disaster. Accessed 17 September 2015
9. Ng’asike, L (2015) Opinion: Turkana Country by 2015/16 Budget is good-But. 12 September 2015
10. Obiero, R (2013) will Turkana’s Aquafer be a blessing or curse? Accessed 12 September 2015
11. Odhiambo, R (2015) Sh54bn Eldoret-Juba road project begins. 12 September 2015
12. Paltseva, E and Roine, J (2011) Are Natural Resource Good or Bad for Development. Accessed 14 September 2015
13. Powers, JC (2011) Climate Change and he Turkana and Merille conflict, ICE case Studies No. 238: Accessed 3 September 2015
14. Transparency ONE (2011) Transparency-Challenge Accessed 13 September 2015
15. Twayigize, WA (2013) Turkana oil Discovery and Lessons to be learned from other countries affected by conflict minerals. Accessed 12 September 2015
16. Wamalwa, N (2015) Raila hits back at Nanok critics n Turkana trip. Accessed 14 September 2015
17. Wamalwa, N (2015) Turkana MPs Dismiss Cultural Festival as? Waste of resources’. Accessed 14 September 2015
18. Weru, A (2012) Kenya: Oil, Hope, Fear. 10 September 2015



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Terror as method: A journalist’s search for truth in Rwanda

Lara Santoro


cc BBC
Intimidated for exposing the dark secrets of an African regime out of control, Canadian journalist Judi Rever drew the line at having the life of her own children threatened.

Night was falling when Judi Rever got to her hotel in downtown Brussels in July 2014. In the dimming light, the Canadian journalist was able to make out two Mercedes—both black, one clearly armored—parked so close to the entrance that she pictured some celebrity holding court at the Novotel, and cursed her luck.

But the lobby was clear and there was no line at the reception. The reporter gave her name, handed her passport, and watched the receptionist rise slowly to his feet. “Welcome to the Novotel,” he said, “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Next, Rever saw a man in a dark blue suit approach. Laying a faintly cologned hand on her shoulder, he whispered: “Judi Rever?” Stunned, the journalist nodded. “My name is Denis Ledure. I am the head of the Close Protection Services,” a branch of the Belgian Secret Service “I am here because we have reason to believe that the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels constitutes a threat to your security.”

What followed was the confirmation of every scrap of journalism Rever ever put together on Rwanda, a speck of a country associated with brave recovery from genocide but, to the reporter’s expert reckoning, the single most sinister military dictatorship in Africa instead.


Rwanda was the reason Rever was in Brussels to begin with. Half a century after Belgium’s exit from the African colonial scene, Brussels was still a natural destination for Rwandans with money. Some of them were happy laying low in the suburbs, but others were sufficiently unhappy to stick their neck out and point Rever in the direction of a story or two. Nothing big: an inconvenient truth here, a blossoming scandal there. But as Rever’s reputation began to grow, the quality and the level of the information changed, and the reporter found herself tapping into a vein whose existence she had stumbled into years prior as a novice.

“War crimes,” she says, “Horrible atrocities. Huge numbers of unarmed civilians killed,” by the very people credited with suffering the genocide of 1994 and putting an end to it before rolling up their sleeves and rebuilding the country from the ground up—all in a feat of self-abnegation comparable to the Jews putting Germany back together after the Holocaust.

That these people might be collecting public praise one minute and gunning down entire populations the next seemed implausible at first. The genocide had produced a set category of victims, the Tutsi ethnic minority, just as it had produced a set category of perpetrators, the Hutu ethnic majority. In a reversal of circumstance that had the world practically weeping with relief, the Tutsi were now in power, having just escaped mass murder, yet keen to move past it.

But everywhere Rever turned, she ran smack into a mirror reality, a shadow field in which the victims had killed just like the executioners. The Tutsi, it seemed, had dropped their fellow humans as fast as the Hutu, only at different times and in different places. It looked as if two types of killing had gone on at the same time: one in the public eye, the other away from it; the first recognized and reviled, the second unseen, unheard, untold.

In the first type—the type that got the Turnley brothers of Magnum repute scrambling to the same corner of the world—the Hutu had massacred the Tutsi in acts of collective folly so beyond the pale that western reporters stopped trying to make sense of them, conjuring ancient tribal hatreds instead.

The second type was different only in two respects: how organized it was, and how few people knew about it.

Rever was part of a virtual cabal, the vast majority of them scholars. As far as the general public was concerned, Rwanda was a success story, one well worth financing although the tab was far from cheap. At close to a billion dollars in aid a year, the central African nation was in a recipient class of its own, well ahead any other African country in terms of dollars per capita.

On the surface of it, the return on the investment had been solid. Rwanda had posted growth rates of seven percent. Literacy rated had soared, infant mortality rates had plummeted, and fertility rates had been cut in half. The government offered universal health coverage. Kigali, the capital, had acquired a distinctly un-African feel. With its perfectly manicured lawns, its noise-levels regulated by law, it could, pass for Geneva on a hot day.

But a growing number of scholars and of economists warned that beneath the facade, progress had been minimal, that some of the numbers did not add up, and that in the villages people were just as poor as before. Yet every year, as a sort of mea culpa for the genocide no one did a thing to stop, donors kept sending money with no strings attached.

This lack of accountability, says Rever, made Rwanda “one of the world’s most expensive mistakes.” Out of obstinacy, nerve, and the most admirable of all journalistic traits—inexhaustible moral indignation—she’d kept digging, and publishing.


Rwanda is exactly the size of Maryland, a microbe on the African map. Rever’s notions of it, when she acquired them, bypassed the place entirely. Unlike most high school kids, she had actually read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Later, out of curiosity, she’d looked Congo up on a map and she’d seen Rwanda pushed up against it like an insect to an elephant. She had seen that it produced coffee. And tea. Bananas, too.

Over time, she picked up a couple of other significant facts. The country had one of the highest population densities in the world and poverty so extreme that only an act of God was judged capable—by common dictum—of lifting it. It had an eighty-five percent Hutu majority historically indentured to a fifteen percent Tutsi minority. The relationship had been reversed at independence, in 1962, when the Hutu exercised the right to vote for the first time.

Numbers don’t lie: the day the polls closed, Rwanda became a Hutu nation. The bottommost Tutsi stayed put. Those that could, however, got out. The richest went to Belgium, France, francophone Canada; the rest settled directly across the border in Burundi, Tanzania, Congo and, most significantly, Uganda. A single generation later—in what remains the shortest incubation period of any armed repatriation effort—the sons of the Ugandan group showed up at the border with guns.

At the time of the genocide, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had been in Rwanda for over three years. To the outside world, they were Tutsi, just like the bodies piling up in churches and schools were Tutsi. In reality, the two were like night and day. The former were rich, comparatively speaking; the latter poor. The former had degrees; the latter were illiterate. The former had come to Rwanda to fight; the latter just wanted to be left in peace. To the media, the RPF professed the desire to share power with the Hutu.

In private communications Rever was able to track, the group betrayed the determination to regain what the older generation had lost: power, at all costs.


Not only had Rever never heard of the RPF when it invaded Rwanda in October of 1990, knifing a lone guardsman and gunning for the capital Kigali, she’d never met anyone who had. In that, she was like ninety nine percent of the world’s population. She remained blissfully unaware of the group’s existence for the next four years, a fact that allowed her to remain correspondingly clueless about their progress on the ground.

Later she learned that in three-plus years of fighting, the RPF had cut off a major road to the capital, freed the inmates in the town of Ruhengeri, snuck up on the regular army from behind, occupied some territory and lost it, but that their real accomplishment had been to send an impressive bunch of fast-talkers to round after round of peace talks with the Hutu in Arusha, Tanzania.

By common, if reluctant, consensus, brain-power is not in short supply in the RPF. Professor Alan Kuperman of the University of Texas at Austin refers to the top echelon of the RPF as “the smartest bunch of people I have ever met.” No longer a fan of the group, whose leadership he interviewed at length in the immediate aftermath of the genocide, Kuperman cannot help concede that “they are smarter and more articulate than anyone in Washington.”

When push came to shove, the RPF’s ability to talk itself out of a military impasse produced the most extraordinary of all results: a power-sharing agreement in which a group representative of a fifteen percent minority netted forty percent of all army posts. The agreement was signed to general applause in August of 1993, a UN force 2,500 strong dispatched to implement it.

Then, on April 6, 1994, as Rever shared a meal with the man who would become her husband, the president of Rwanda was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile that tore through the fuselage of his private jet as it came in for landing in Kigali.

Juvenal Habyarimana wasn’t just the president: he was the physical embodiment of Hutu emancipation from Tutsi rule. Tall, broad, brash, he was the proud son of one of three ancient Hutu principalities that had held their own against the Tutsi. In the eyes of a nervous majority, he was the last effective barrier against the Tutsi menace. With him gone, every bit of propaganda served up by Hutu extremists bore its fruit. Barricades went up in Kigali within minutes of the plane crash. Hutu and Tutsi were carded and separated—the first to live, the second to die.


Rever was in Paris between jobs with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Radio France Internationale was spitting out reports 24/7. “I was getting half the story but I did not know it,” she says. The other half took her another twenty years to nail.

First, she says, she had to “wake up to the nature of the group” by witnessing scenes of extreme brutality in Rwandan occupied Zaire in 1997.

Next, she had to suffer severe intimidation, like having her bedroom window strafed by gunfire after she filed a radio report accusing the RPF of straight-up butchery from Kisangani, a town in Zaire solidly under RPF control.

Finally, she had to translate her understanding of what she calls “a bunch of criminals” into hard evidence of wrongdoing. She was at the Novotel in Brussels to do just that.


As Rever herself admits, the numbers never interested her. Scholars like Kuperman have long insisted on an equivalency, suggesting that the half a million killed in the genocide of the Tutsi matches the half million Hutu murdered by the RPF in secrecy. But as soon as Rever heard the term “double-genocide”, she left the numbers to the academics and went after “eye-witness testimony, by which I mean people who were present and could describe who did what to whom and when.”

Her sources never wavered on the subject. Without fail and without exception, they pointed to the same high-ranking, high-flying, stylishly attired, and, for the most part, strikingly good-looking members of the RPF, now in the government or the army. On paper, the two consortiums were separate. In reality, they converged as inexorably as the sides of a triangle.

Perched at the very top of the pyramid was none other than the man that Tony Blair and Bill Clinton had tripped over themselves to introduce at black-tie events in Aspen and Davos: Paul Kagame, the skeletal army general whose metabolism was assumed to be formidable until his aides had to admit he had no taste for food.

Kagame’s alleged appearance at the site of one of the earliest massacres—a deliberate affair culminating in the strafing of a crowd in a stadium in Byumba, a town twenty miles north of Kigali—was the central piece of a puzzle Rever had been trying to solve for years. The reporter had six interviews lined up in Brussels the day she got there. One of them had to do with Byumba.


Byumba is a typical Rwandan town, consisting of a couple dozen shops built out of cold concrete on either side of the road snaking north from Kigali. All around it, though, is what the Rwandans call ‘the beloved land’: a vision of endlessly receding hills, of blazing greens and reds, of morning mist so thick it snakes up the tallest trees, festooning God’s own sleeping quarters, or so the saying goes. At any elevation, the sight is heart-stopping.

In Byumba, by contrast, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. The road—paved and passable—is the town’s main distinguishing feature, along with a wheat processing plant and a stadium, a sad-looking enclosure the length of a single soccer field.

In the stadium, on the night between the 24th and the 25th of April 1994, the RPF staged its first large-scale massacre. By the estimate of Human Rights Watch, which published the first mention of it in 1999, it was a large operation, one targeting “several hundred” Hutu.

The numbers have since been revised by a factor of ten. A commonly accepted estimate is now in the range of several thousand Hutu, all of whom were supposed to be dead by sunrise.

Very unusually for a piece of machinery as slick as the RPF, Rever learned, something went wrong. Almost certainly there weren’t enough people for the job. Whatever the reason, enough Hutu were still alive by sunrise for the operation to risk slipping into chaos.

Fear ran like raw voltage up the command chain. On that occasion, and on that occasion alone, it took nothing short of an unscheduled appearance by Kagame to get things back on track.

Rever knew that Kagame’s policy vis-à-vis the massacres typically involved “driving to the other side of the country”. She knew that no other mass killing had seen the shadow of the man. This made Byumba “the only mass murder traceable to him”, she says. “For two reasons: first, because he was seen outside the stadium the day after the massacre by anywhere between fifty to sixty of his men”; and, second, because when some survivors were found attempting an improbable escape on all fours, his bodyguards heard him say, “Finish them off. And clean this up.”

Rever had this particular piece of information from one of Kagame’s bodyguards, a man who had reinvented himself radically and now lived a quiet life in North America. He’d been with Kagame during the RPF’s initial takeover of Byumba. He’d also been at the boss’s side on the night of the massacre, so he didn’t have much useful information to relay in terms of who organized what or when. The bodyguard did say that the private homes closest to the stadium had been taken over by teams of eight men each assigned on rotation to the massacre. But, he said, he was personally not involved, having been stationed with the other bodyguards—and of course Kagame himself—in a home about two miles away.

As the bodyguard told it, one of the men on his detail had a reputation as a good football player. “Don’t worry,” Kagame assured the player upon arrival, “There will be a lot more room to play football when we’re done here.”

Rever needed more—hence her trip to Brussels.


Rever did not know it but her travel plans, when she made them, weren’t exactly top secret. Her itinerary had been discussed in conversations to and from the Rwandan embassy in Brussels while Belgian intelligence was listening. But according to one of Rever’s sources, Belgian intelligence took no action until a very specific exchange involving a former Rwandan diplomat was intercepted.

The diplomat, Didier Rutembesa, had been kicked out of South Africa in the wake of the sensational murder of Patrick Karegeya, a Rwandan spymaster turned opposition leader, in January of 2014. After finding Karegeya’s body in a Johannesburg hotel, the South African government gave Rutembesa forty-eight hours to leave the country. Shortly thereafter, the Belgian foreign ministry denied him diplomatic accreditation.

Then, one day, according to a high-profile Rwandan dissident monitored by Belgian intelligence whom Rever spoke with, Rutembesa was overheard telling a Rwandan operative in Belgium that he could be counted on to “lay a trap” for Rever upon her arrival in Brussels.

Unable to denounce the man’s intentions publicly or even privately, the Belgians put Ledure on the case. (A spokesman for Belgium’s civil intelligence and security service, the VSSE [Veligheid van de staat], stated that the department was not in a position to comment and could “neither confirm nor deny” that Rever had been placed under protection.)


The threat level to Rever had been rated “severe”—a level 3 of a possible 4. “This is all I am allowed to share with you,” Ledure told Rever before plucking a contract out of thin air and laying it out on the coffee table for her to sign.

Fighting the urge to call her husband with a hysterical plea to locate their two girls, ages 12 and 7, Rever picked up the piece of paper and read it. In two paragraphs flat, the Kingdom of Belgium placed an armored vehicle and the same bodyguard assigned to Salman Rushdie at her disposal for the entire duration of her stay. The bodyguard would precede Rever everywhere she went. He would also spend the night in the room next door, ready to jump at the slightest noise. If Rever chose to reject the terms of the contract to protect the anonymity of her sources, the Kingdom of Belgium would understand. It would let her carry on with her work while finding itself “absolved of all legal responsibilities”.

Ledure, a man with a full head of white hair and “unusually empathetic eyes”, says Rever, stood up to stretch his legs. Watching him cross the lobby of the hotel, the reporter was overcome by two distinct emotions: fear, principally, but also guilt on a level she had never experienced before.

“It was my husband,” she says.

A scientist naturally inclined to caution, Rever’s spouse had endured years of quixotic pursuits on the part of his wife. He had watched her return from the newly renamed Democratic Republic of Congo at the beginning of their marriage with raging post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two children and countless memories later, he had come home to find her putting the finishing touches on a story in which she accused none other than Patrick Nyamvumba, a Rwandan general at the head of the United Nation’s force in Darfur, of murdering thousands of Hutu civilians in the shadow of the genocide.

Five days later, he’d found himself shopping around for a state of the art alarm system. Someone had called the home phone and left a message simulating gunfire. In between rounds, the voice of a stranger asked: “Do you want to know my name? I’ll tell you my name….”

It was the name of their youngest daughter.


The Montreal police officer who responded to Rever’s panicked call that night had never heard of Rwanda either, other than in hazy connection to the genocide. “She kept asking me which Rwandan made the call,” says Rever, “I kept telling her I did not know.”

It was only a matter of time before the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which offered no comment on this story, got involved. According to Rever, a federal member of parliament weighed in, too, and the municipal police took on periodic patrol duty around Rever’s house. New routines were put in place for both girls, with Rever’s youngest smuggled in and out of separate entrances at school.

Eventually things settled down. No more calls were received, no more messages left. Spring turned to summer and the tension in the household began to lift. Then, out of the blue, Rever announced she was headed to Brussels. Her piece on Nyamvumba had had a measurable effect. All sorts of people were paying attention now. None of them had any intention of talking on the phone but some considered meeting with her in person in Brussels.

One of them claimed to be a former member of the RPF’s High Command battalion.

High Command defectors were like great white sharks, you simply didn’t run into them. They were either six feet under or long gone. But Rever had been told about his older sister, Esperance Mukashema, a polyglot who had fled Rwanda after denouncing the murder of the archbishop of Kigali by RPF troops and now lived in the Netherlands. Rever had heard of the family, too. They were well-connected Tutsi urbanites that had prospered under Habyarimana despite their ethnicity. They owned a football club in Kigali. The youngest of the bunch, Theo, had made the national team. He had been expected to go to university but he had broken his father’s heart and joined the RPF when they’d first crossed the border from Uganda. He’d fought at Kagame’s side for over a decade, stationed first in Mulindi, the abandoned tea planation that served as the RPF’s headquarters, then just about everywhere else. He’d fled Rwanda in 2001, after being called into Jack Nziza’s office.

Nziza was the most feared man in Rwanda by then, cause for greater alarm than Kagame himself. Just as skeletal, just as ashen, with a lazy eye and a propensity toward long, debilitating silences, Nziza had been in charge of internal security from the very beginning and had survived purge after purge only by doing the purging himself. At the end of what seemed a casual conversation but wasn’t, Theo realized he was being shadowed.

He had voiced quite a few doubts by then. “Interior Tutsi” such as himself, while absolutely critical when the RPF was militarily outnumbered, were being marginalized with increasing nonchalance. As he told Rever, “when all was said and done, I stood face to face with the fact that we had been sacrificed as a group,” not only in the genocide, whose victims were for the most part “interior Tutsi” who had never left Rwanda, but in every political and administrative decision made since.

The country belonged to a very specific sub-category of Tutsi: anglophones from Uganda at the top, anglophones returned from Canada or the United States just below that. Francophones returned from Burundi were slowly making their way up largely thanks to Kagame’s wife, Jeanette, who was born and raised in Burundi. The rest were little more than a nuisance.

Having witnessed no less than a dozen disappearances in his time, Theo had made a few quick arrangements for his family and gotten out through Burundi. He now lived in Spain, but he would make the effort to meet with Rever in Brussels.

With her husband pacing nervously behind her, she had packed her bags. Now, here she was, in Brussels, staring at the guy the Belgians called when Salman Rushdie came to town. With a sigh, she signed the contract and gave it to Ledure. The following morning, when her husband rang, Rever gave new meaning to the word “omission”.


Theo Murwanashyaka was strangely fluid in body when Rever met him, curiously comfortable in a plain white T-shirt, worn jeans and white baseball cap. She’d forgotten that he’d been a professional football player. She’d also forgotten that he had been in Europe for over half a decade. They met at a hotel and he laid out his credentials for her.

He had provided testimony for Jean Louis Bruguiere, the French special prosecutor who indicted Kagame for the downing of Habyarimana’s plane. “When Kagame took the decision to kill Habyarimana,” he told Rever, “he made the decision to sacrifice our parents, our brothers and sisters.”

The mystery of Habyarimana’s assassination has never been solved, but scholars like Filip Reyntjens, the leading authority on modern Rwanda, believe the blame lies with the RPF, which profited from the chaos unleashed by the genocide and captured Kigali.

Theo also provided testimony against the RPF at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Soon thereafter, he had been contacted by magistrates in Spain and placed under witness protection there.

Spain is an improbable thorn in Kagame’s side. The French have a long history of involvement in Rwanda but the only thing Spain can claim in relation to the small central African country are nine dead Spaniards—one killed during the genocide, the rest after. But Spain is a big fan of the principle of universal jurisdiction, which gives any country the right to pursue any person suspected of a crime against humanity. Some of the dead Spaniards bore signs of torture so the State launched an inquiry.

At the start of 2008, after years of work and volumes of eyewitness testimony, judge Fernando Andreu Merelles fired off forty international arrest warrants—spraying the entire upper cadre of the RPF in one sitting. Nothing came out of it, except the relocation of some pretty big guns by Rwandan standards to the sunny side of the Alps. Armed with information, they hoped to receive state protection. One of them was Theo, who had since taken up residence in Barcelona.

“So,” Rever asked him, “Can you talk about Byumba?” At his assent, Rever placed her digital recorder on the table.

“When were you in Byumba town?” she asked, and hit record.


Rever’s husband wasn’t at the airport when she flew back. He wasn’t at home either. She’d finally told him about Ledure and he had reacted by prophesying “a pine box” in her future. The trip to Belgium had been, in Rever’s own words “a trip,” with the security circus making some of her sources paranoid, making her paranoid, even though, as her bodyguard put it, she had reason to be paranoid. “Believe me,” he’d said while holding the door for her one day, “This stuff costs money.”

But it had paid off largely thanks to Theo. Now she needed another trip, this one to Spain, to another Rwandan in the witness protection program: a former member of the Military Police (MP). A lawyer with ties to US, Canadian, and Belgian intelligence communities had warned her that Kagame was aware of her trip to Spain. “Be careful,” he’d said in a Skype message, “Stay away from Europe. And if you go to Africa, you’re dead.” Instead of triggering the usual wave of panic, the message brought on the first surge of true defiance Rever had ever experienced.

“I thought: what can happen to me in Spain? What can possibly happen to me in Spain?”

Two days spent listening how men, women and children had been blasted and bludgeoned to death took care of that question. At the end of a marathon session, Rever felt sick to her stomach, sick to where, she says, she started “seeing double”.

Yes, the former MP said, Kagame was in Byumba; his presidential guard was everywhere. And yes, some survivors had in fact crawled over of the fence. How many, asked Rever? “About twenty,” her source said.

Which accorded with what she’d gotten from Theo in Brussels.


It was coming together. The details Rever had extracted from three different sources, two with the High Command battalion, one with the Military Police, matched. The story they told was one of fundamental cool in which the complexities of mass-murder—from crowd control to body disposal—were ironed out as they arose, with nobody losing sight of the final objective: ethnic cleansing at its least complicated.

Historians like Reyntjens point out that in the face of unrelenting hostility, mass-murder became a “mode of governance” for the RPF: a way to make things clear from the very start. “The RPF killed to terrorize,” says Reyntjens. “And they succeeded.”

But Rwanda was severely overpopulated, too, and there were, at that point in time, an awful lot of Tutsi living like second class citizens in neighboring countries—a lot of nieces and nephews and cousins and uncles, all waiting to come back. The concept of lebensraum, or living space, developed more as an abstraction by the Nazis, held no nebulous theoretical allure for the RPF. Lebensraum came before food as a necessity, for the simple reason that, in Rwanda, no land equals no food.

After moving some of its most trusted people into the largest and finest homes in Byumba, recently become Command HQ, the RPF turned them into sleeping and feeding quarters for two platoons subdivided into teams of eight men each. The men weren’t necessarily pals but they’d seen each other around. Most of them were anglophones raised in Uganda. All, without exception, were Tutsi without a drop of Hutu blood.

The first thing they did was leave the Hutu who had gathered in Byumba without food or water for three days. The Hutu, roughly three thousand in number, were barely able to stand by that point. Most of them were refugees, some twice or three times displaced already. They’d surrounded the town hall and were waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Theo called them vas nu pieds, piss-poor peasants who couldn’t afford shoes. He described them as a meek multitude “who would have obeyed anyone in a position of administrative power,” never mind people with guns.

“I thought for sure we were going to let them go,” said Theo, who was stationed outside the stadium.

At around seven in the evening, when it got pitch black, he saw dozens of men fan out soundlessly and he heard the first grenade explode.”

Instead, he watched them file into the stadium, picking up assorted pots and pans on the way in. He watched the smoke from cooking fires and imagined them passing maize and water around, their jaws relaxing—hope rippling like an undercurrent from one end to the other of the stadium. Then he watched Col. James Kabarebe, head of the RPF’s High Command, come and go. At around seven in the evening, when it got pitch black, he saw dozens of men fan out soundlessly and he heard the first grenade explode. More grenades followed. Then volley after volley of gunfire let loose almost blindly into the night.


The cleanup crews set to work at sunrise. It was hell on earth, said Rever’s Military Police source, who had been inside the stadium. Not only did soldiers from the Military Police take turns with the agafuni, a blunt hoe, and other mixed weaponry until everyone was dead—that alone took an entire night—they also had to load the corpses, so slick with blood they were hard to get a hold of, onto trucks. After unloading them all, they had to get a hold of more hoes and start digging in two different locations: the wheat processing plant in Byumba and the outskirts of Rukomo, a town about an hour and a half east, which for reasons known only the top had been selected for the purpose of mass burial.

But that wasn’t all.

“A week later, Kagame called and said we’d been stupid to bury the bodies,” Rever’s source said, “He said the French had satellites and they would spot the graves. They gave us masks and gloves. They ordered us to dig up the bodies. The bodies were decomposing, we were all vomiting. It was really very difficult. A lot of us had nightmares after that.”

The trucks came once more. The bodies were loaded in various pieces and driven further east to the Akagera National Park, where they were incinerated with a mix of petrol and gas oil.


While Rever was making copies of her interviews, Kagame was stepping onto a floodlit stage in D.C. to warm applause. President Barack Obama had personally welcomed him to the White House on the eve of the African Leaders Summit, a three day affair meant to achieve, in the immortal words of the White House’s press office, “stronger ties between the United States and Africa.”

To a primped and largely bespectacled audience, Kagame outlined his country’s projected quantum leap from pre-industrial society to post-industrial technology hub, stating, roughly halfway through one of his speeches, that African leaders had to stop being so dependent on the West, and not just for money, but on how to approach divisionism. “We know what the issues are,” he said, “We must solve them without coming to Europe or America”.

How, he did not specify. But as the Rwandan opposition was quick to point out, it seemed hardly a coincidence when, roughly a week later, fishermen on the Burundi side of Lake Rweru started pulling up dead bodies—half of them wrapped in plastic, the other half displaying the RPF’s signature ligature at the elbows.

The incident would have stayed local had not more bodies washed up—twenty, thirty, forty of them, until the local prosecutor was left with no choice but to open a file. Tongues started wagging and it wasn’t long before the matter blew up in the press. Surprisingly, the Burundians came right out and said the bodies were Rwandan. The Rwandans reacted by saying they had no reports of missing persons. But “relations between our countries”, they added, would be better served in the future by Burundi using “proper diplomatic channels” instead of going to the press.

“Those bodies are probably Rwandan,” Reyntjens says, echoing a common sentiment, “The Rwandan government has not allowed a proper inquiry, but it should be possible to match the DNA of the bodies with that of family members of those that went missing back in April last year” as mentioned in a Human Rights Watch report.


Rever and her husband were discussing divorce by then. Rever had developed an autoimmune disorder for which she needed weekly injections of methotrexate, but she kept taking calls on Skype from her sources at the worst times, exasperating her husband, so they agreed on a trial separation. The reporter moved out of the large, well-appointed home the two bought together into a building with a 24-hour doorman.

Feeling low one day, she picked up the phone and called a professor at Colgate University in upstate New York.

Susan Thomson, a native of Nova Scotia, knew Rwanda like the back of her hand. She held the rare distinction of having been in Kigali the day the genocide began. She’d been promptly evacuated but on her way out she’d stepped over the bodies of two Tutsi UN employees. She’d returned—“a moth to flame”, she admits—to help rebuild Rwanda’s justice system, whose capacity had been completely obliterated by the genocide, and consisted, when she landed in the capital in September of 1997, of little more than couple copy machines and a pencil sharpener or two.

There were no judges in Rwanda when she arrived; they were all dead. No judges, no prosecutors, no defense attorneys. No court staff either. There were 120,000 Hutu taking turns sleeping and standing in jails meant for one tenth that number and no way of thinning out the crowds aside from the mother of all amnesties, which wasn’t in the cards.

Working with aspiring lawyers drove Thomson over the edge in record time. Not only did she have to favor Tutsi candidates but “the regime controlled everything,” she says. “People were scared shitless: half the conversations were in code, the other half didn’t take place at all.” So she left, got some psychiatric help, and decided that if Rwanda and the improbable paradox “of the victims being, in fact, the killers” was going to qualify as a lifelong obsession, she probably ought to get paid for it. When she disembarked in Kigali in 2003, it was to gather evidence for her PhD dissertation, whose unstated objective was finding out how ordinary Hutu, trapped in the Matrix-like reality of modern Rwanda, whispered their “truth to power”.

She ended up under house arrest, with her passport confiscated and half her files feeding a fire at the bottom of her garden. “I stood there thinking, damn, I wish I had a better memory,” but in the end, she says, by keeping only material that she had codified already, she probably spared her sources a visit from the agafuni specialists. She herself had to sit through a “re-education course” with hundreds of genocide convicts still in their prison wear and only managed to get out of the country thanks to the Canadian High Commission, which slipped her a new passport. Back in Nova Scotia, she won her degree from Dalhousie and published her work with the prestigious University of Wisconsin Press, triggering an avalanche of hate mail and a number of not-so-veiled death threats.

One day during a teaching fellowship at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, her eight-year-old son came home with a note in his lunchbox. The school secretary, Thomson says, put it in there at the request of a “tall, dark-skinned man with a foreign accent”.

“We know who you are,” the note said, “We know where you are.”


Rever and Thomson bonded as only two mothers whose children have been messed with could. In the process, however, Rever discovered that Thomson was angry. Thomson’s computer—all her devices in fact—had seen enough “suspicious activity”, or evidence of hacking, for the IT department at Colgate to involve the FBI. She’d also been maligned by what she calls the “super-savvy Rwandan PR machinery”, one able to put a tawdry spin on the simplest transparencies, like one and one is two. She had come out swinging, generating huge internet traffic to a blistering roundtable she convened on the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Colgate’s largest auditorium, but also routinely calling on scholars to be “a little louder” in their criticism of the RPF.

Buoyed, Rever began working the phones again. After more than a year, she got in touch with an old source with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

A bureaucratic mastodon with the efficiency of a Caribbean post office, the ICTR had witnessed the tormented life of a special investigative unit, a three-man-team that labored thanklessly to indict the RPF of at least a fraction of the crimes it had committed. Absent the political will to prosecute, however, the team eventually disbanded: but not before it put together several confidential reports. Like many other journalists, Rever had tried to get her hands on them, with little success.

This time was no different. Her source asked her how she was, how her children were, what she planned to do about her marriage. He was about to hang up when she told him about the bodyguards in Brussels, the simulated gunfire on her home answering machine, her autoimmune disorder, which a health professional had linked to stress, and the sickening sense that all of it had been for nothing. He didn’t say much. The following day Rever received an email from an email account set up under the fictitious name of Clarice Habimana. She clicked on the message, half expecting a request for cash, and out came the Tribunal’s report.

Headlined “TOP SECRET”, the document by the special investigative unit put meat on the bones of the infamous “Gersony report”, whose findings were suppressed as soon as they were put together in mid-October of 1994. The report assembled by American consultant Robert Gersony documented systematic killing by the RPF for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and made the case that the repatriation of Hutu refugees ought to, at a minimum, be delayed.

Her head pulsing, Rever scrolled down the document until she found was she was looking for. “Byumba stadium,” the report stated, “has been identified as a massacre site,” during a nighttime operation under the command of James Kabarebe, the current Minister of Defense and the former head of the RPF’s High Command.

Further on, the report identified an authorization order to start killing Hutus as having come from General Kagame.


I met Judi Rever in Vermont in October of last year, before her source at the ICTR sent her the report, and before Theo Murwanashyaka agreed to go on the record for this piece. Rever has since received what she believes are credible reports that the RPF intends to silence its critics in North America by staging traffic accidents—a method successfully employed in Africa—with the help of a former official at the Rwandan embassy in Ottawa. She and four other Canadians have gone to the press in an attempt to generate public awareness of their plight.

* Lara Santoro covered sub-Saharan Africa for the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek magazine from 1997 to 2004. She is the author of two novels, Mercy and The Boy. This article previously appeared in Foreign Policy Journal.



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Cessation of Rwandan refugee status: Two years on

John Osmers


cc LV
Twenty-one years after the genocide, and despite a rosy picture created internationally of a healing nation, many Rwandan refugees are reluctant to return home for fear of persecution by the current regime. After those living in Zambia lost their official refugees status, Kigali is pursuing forced repatriation or issuance of Rwandan passports. Neither of these options is safe for the affected persons.

Two years after losing their refugee status, former Rwandan refugees who fled Rwanda between 1959 and 1998 have not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion in their quest for local integration. The durable solution of local integration, which was dependent on international funding, was promised at the inter-ministerial meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, on 18 April 2013, two months before they lost their refugee status against their will on 30 June 2013. In October the same year a Zambian delegation met donors in Geneva who pledged support to integrate 4000 of the 6000 Rwandan refugees.

This development was a reversal of policy of the previous government that had insisted on the repatriation of most Rwandan refugees. It resembled the policy of integrating 10,000 of the 18,000 Angolan refugees in Zambia who lost their refugee status one year before. To date 6000 of them have been screened, and have obtained Angolan government passports, and 233 have been given residence permits allowing them to stay permanently in Zambia. The government recently agreed to give residence permits to those former refugees who have lived in Zambia for over twenty years.

For Angolan former refugees repatriation is a possible option, and in 2014, 1609 Angolans returned home. It appears not to be an option for Rwandan former refugees; only four returned, and only 300 since 2003 when the cessation clause was first agreed on. Unlike their Angolan counter-parts, the stumbling block to Rwandan former refugees’ successful integration has been their reluctance to take Rwandan Government passports as the prerequisite for Zambian immigration permits. Possessing the Rwandan Government passport would confirm that they no longer have a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’, and the need for international protection. It would put them under the control and surveillance by the Rwandan Patriotic Front government, which could decline to renew the passport after five years. Possessing passports would result in their becoming ordinary migrants, and the possible requirement to return to Rwanda, already possessing the necessary passports for their return.

In February 2013 the government had given hope of a desirable way forward by the Ministry of Home Affairs giving residence permits without Rwandan Government passports to 44 Rwandan refugee professionals and business people employing Zambian labour, all of whom had been in Zambia for many years. However, the small number involved, and the passing of over two years since then shows the Zambian government is unwilling to extend the same process.

There was apprehension over a high level Zambian Government delegation to Kigali on 23 March this year. The Tripartite meeting of the Zambian and Rwandan governments and the UNHCR produced a communiqué that gave a time limit of three months to sensitize Rwandan former refugees to decide either to repatriate or acquire Rwandan passports allowing them to stay in Zambia legally. The Zambian Deputy Minister of Home Affairs threatened deportation of those who did not obtain the Rwandan Government passport in time. The communiqué blamed ‘hardliners’ for ‘discouraging other former refugees from accessing durable solutions’. A documentary made of the visit was aired several times on Zambian national television, supporting Rwandan former refugee repatriation.

However, on 8th May, six weeks later, the Zambian Cabinet announced that Zambia would offer Rwandan former refugees ‘an alternative status’. The Minster of Home Affairs announced that a screening process would be set up, and those who did not qualify would be handed to the UNHCR. No mention was made of forced repatriation. This statement seemed to show that the Zambian Government is listening to Rwandan former refugees and their reluctance to take Rwandan Government passports.

That reluctance is strengthened by their observing the Tutsi Rwandan Government making strenuous efforts to secure their repatriation one way or another to bring all Hutu refugees under their control. The RPF Government offered to provide passports at the Pretoria meeting in April 2013, and followed this with a delegation to Zambia immediately after the cessation of refugee status in June and later in October 2013, and most recently at the Kigali Tripartite meeting in March this year. To allow Rwandan refugees who decline to take Rwandan Government passports to return to refugee status under the UNHCR would ensure their welfare and security in Zambia, especially if they can have freedom of movement and employment.

Two go-and-see, come-and-tell programs organised by the Rwandan Government to promote repatriation failed to produce their intended result. Two Rwandan former refugee students failed to travel in December 2014 because of general refugee opposition, and a Rwandan former refugee leader accompanying the Zambian Government delegation in March returned with a negative report about human rights, and discrimination against Hutu in the country.

The Catholic Church in Zambia led by the Archbishop of Lusaka continues to be a stalwart advocate for the poor and those without a voice in Zambia, especially refugees. On May 18 Archbishop Mpundu wrote a comprehensive and forceful open letter to the Minister of Justice, and a copy to the Minister of Home Affairs. He gave a scriptural basis for the church’s intervention, and showed that he and the Catholic Church are listening carefully to the appeals of Rwandan former refugees in Zambia. He outlined reasons for their ‘well-founded fear of persecution’, the flawed nature of the interviews to retain their refugee status, and the reasons why Rwandan Government passports are an obstacle to successful local integration. He advised the government to reverse the cessation of Rwandan refugee status, which would give them security in Zambia. This had also been the suggestion of Dr Barbara Harrellbond, a notable British academic who visited Lusaka at the end of April; she stressed that refugee status is given by the Zambian Government and not by the UNHCR.

A bilateral meeting between the governments of Zambia and Rwanda took place in Kigali on 6 June this year. They discussed trade, security arrangements, and the provision of Zambian teachers to facilitate English in Rwandan schools, which are now Anglophone. It was agreed that both countries sign an extradition treaty, first proposed in 2009. Rwandan former refugees suspect that a number of different lists have been provided to Zambia in past years by the RPF Government asking for extradition of Rwandan refugee leaders and successful business people who are now accused of being genocidaires.

As in other countries in the region, Rwandan former refugee security remains a challenge. Rwandan former refugee Clement Nshimyukisa, a successful business man, was killed in a Lusaka compound in suspicious circumstances in May 2014, and his shop run by his widow was ransacked two weeks later. In October the same year plans were revealed to allegedly kidnap five Rwandan former refugee leaders, which failed to materialize. The opening of a Rwandan Government High Commission office in Lusaka naturally gives cause for concern.

After a failed attempt in 2002 because of parliamentary opposition, the Zambian Government is in the process of revising the 1970 Refugee (Control) Act, written six years after Zambian independence. It remains to be seen if the government will rescind the reservations on freedom of movement and employment.

A comprehensive 48 page ‘strategic framework for the local integration of former refugees in Zambia’ was released in January 2014. It outlines alternative legal status for former refugees, an integrated resettlement program and support for refugee-affected areas. Contractors are being employed to improve schools and clinics in selected areas where 10 hectare plots per household will be allocated under conditions to former refugees, as well as to an equal number of Zambian farmers. The local integration process envisages improved roads, water points, electricity supply, legal courts, welfare centres, skills training centres and support for small businesses. Donor countries supporting the project so far are Canada, Japan, the US, Germany and Denmark.

To date, 733 of the 4000 Rwandan former refugees have various immigration permits. The delay in providing legal documents for local integration, which in 2014 was expected to conclude in three years’ time, means the reservations on movement and employment still severely restrict Rwandan former refugees, the majority of whom are subsistence farmers restricted to Meheba rural Refugee Settlement in the North Western province. They totaled 2194 in December 2013. They need ‘gate passes’ to go out, usually restricted to one month. Over nine hundred are self- settled. The old, infirm and physically challenged who can’t work receive the equivalent of US $10 a month, not enough for basic subsistence. Some former refugees are still damaged by trauma endured though violence in Rwanda or on the journey to Zambia and need counseling.

Those who wish to better themselves by running small businesses in the town of Solwezi or in Lusaka, totaling 818 in December 2013, need an investor’s permit that requires $25,000 capital. Expired Rwandan refugee cards are not being renewed, and this can impact very negatively on refugees especially in urban areas where clinics and schools may not receive refugee patients or students without valid ID cards, or allow the concessionary rates for refugees, and insist on the higher rate for foreign nationals. Birth certificates are not given, which certify refugee status. Corrupt immigration officers take bribes not to arrest those in urban areas who do not have the required legal documents. If arrested, the penalty is a fine of $170, and imprisonment in over-crowded prisons pending return to Meheba Settlement.

Hardships in the remote rural refugee Settlement and insecurity through unaffordable immigration requirements in urban areas have a damaging effect on refugee psychological well-being and family life.

Rwandan former refugees find it hard to find school fees especially for secondary education, and talented school leavers end up being subsistence farmers in Meheba, or unemployed in Lusaka. A major setback has been the reduction of support for tertiary education by the German Government under DAFI. Most of the many Rwandan former refugee professionals in Zambia achieved their qualifications through DAFI support. New Rwandan former refugee students ceased to be sponsored by DAFI when they lost their refugee status in 2013. Currently 45 refugee students of various nationalities are sponsored by DAFI, but for the 2015 academic year only five new refugee students have been selected from 32 applicants because of shortage of funds. This has an adverse effect on young talented refugees’ morale, as very few will find the resources to pay the high cost to obtain diplomas or degrees, especially in the medical and teaching fields, which ensure ready employment.

Former Rwandan refugees have initiated a ‘cut one tree, plant two’ program in the past two years. More than 4000 seedlings have been planted in the area of senior Chieftainess Nkomesha Mukamambo II in Chongwe, who is a firm supporter, and a prototype two bedroomed house has been built with walls and tiled roof made from local materials. A rice and soya bean plantation program has been initiated in the area of another supporter, Senior Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people in Solwezi.
The former Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon Edgar Lungu MP, who had promised Rwandan and Angolan refugees local integration in April 2013, is now the President of Zambia. He said to a large gathering of Rwandan former refugees in the Holy Cross Cathedral in Lusaka on the day of Cessation, 2013, ‘The most important thing is that we are not going to force repatriation. That must be very, very clear.’ Rwandan former refugees who feel frustrated over delay in their local integration thank him for listening to them. They remain hopeful that with government support they will continue to make Zambia their home.

* Rt Revd. John Osmers is Assistant Anglican Bishop of Lusaka, Zambia. Email: [email protected]



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The disease & the cure

A strategy to save Somaliland

Ahmed M.I. Egal


cc SLM
To much of the outside world, the self-declared republic of Somaliland is a success story that, although lacking international recognition, contrasts sharply with the collapsed nation of Somalia. Not so. In the past five years, the government of President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo has been engaged in a sustained campaign of self-enrichment and aggrandizement as it suppressed dissent and debased political debate through the overt promotion of tribal politics. The people must now mobilise to restore Somaliland to its founding tenets.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries."


The quotation above from a discussion between Brutus and Cassius in Julius Caesar (Act 4, Scene 3) concerning how to conduct their war with Mark Anthony and Octavius is a particularly apt metaphor for the current political situation in Somaliland (SL). The total and abject failure of the Silanyo government in both domestic and foreign policy has devastated the country to the point that SL’s most valuable resource, which has been and continues to remain the key driver underlying the country’s existence and peaceful progress, is in danger for the first time in its short history. This core and irreplaceable resource is the boundless hope and optimism of its people and their determination to carve out an independent, peaceful, and dignified existence for themselves and their progeny.

It is an undeniable fact that the open, indeed flagrant, looting of the public exchequer and national assets, the rampant cronyism and nepotism in public appointments as well as in the grant of government contracts have inevitably jaundiced public opinion and resulted in widespread cynicism regarding the conduct of public officials and politics generally. The savage and extra-judicial suppression of dissent and of the independent press coupled with the overt and shameless interference in parliamentary deliberations through vote-buying, deliberate disruptions of legislative sessions (sometimes violently) and repeated failed attempts to unseat the Speaker clearly demonstrate the determination of the government to consolidate all political institutions under its aegis. The carefully crafted policy of the tribalisation of politics during the last five years has not only coarsened political debate and competition, but fragmented opposition and so rendered it amenable to classic ‘divide and rule’ strategies.

Further evidence of the inexorable trend towards dictatorship is the concentration of political power in the hands of a chosen few, most of whom do not hold formal office but are members of the president’s immediate family or close kinship group. This group of insiders is congregated around the presidency and coalesced around the First Lady and the Minister of the Presidency. Finally, initiation of negotiations with the latest, foreign-sponsored and externally funded ‘government’ in Somalia has degenerated into a relationship of subservience whereby the sale of national assets to foreign buyers by chosen brokers of the Silanyo government is ratified by Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud and his cohorts in Mogadishu, presumably in return for a share in the brokerage fees.

During the past five years, the Silanyo government has been engaged in a sustained campaign of self-enrichment and aggrandizement as it has suppressed dissent and criticism and debased and coarsened political debate through the overt promotion of tribalism and tribal politics. The opposition parties of WADANI and UCID have been unable to mount a serious challenge to the government because they have not voiced and championed a compelling alternative and truly national vision for the country. There are many reasons for this failure of the two opposition parties, but the key factor is undoubtedly the failure of leadership. UCID is plagued by confusion and is in disarray with respect to leadership since the mercurial Faisal Ali Warabe, the party chairman, continues to conduct policy ‘on the fly’ as he sees fit with little or no coordination with his colleagues; while Jamal Ali Hussein, the party’s presidential candidate, is forced to oppose a government that his party chairman occasionally supports and makes deals with.

For its part, WADANI suffers from the fact that its leader and presidential candidate, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi (Cirro), is focused upon beating off government efforts to unseat him as Speaker of Parliament rather than mounting a compelling, alternative political and economic program and, thus, an effective electoral challenge to the ruling party.

The central mission of government in SL, namely the quest for international recognition, has been effectively shelved by the Silanyo government. Indeed, its foreign policy has been characterised by the deliberate abandonment of this mission, for example by downgrading the relationship with our key ally and principal supporter, Ethiopia, while, conversely, actively courting our principal detractor, Djibouti. The commendable successes of the previous SL governments in securing support for SL’s cause among African countries, e.g. Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal and Kenya among others, has been ignored and allowed to wither on the vine. Meanwhile, the much-trumpeted policy of engagement with the government in Mogadishu has yielded nothing but humiliation for the Silanyo government and frustration and disillusionment for the public.

At this juncture, when the term of the government has been extended for 18 or 22 months (the length of the extension remains unclear as yet), it is fair to say that public antipathy to it has never been higher and there is a widespread groundswell for change. This is the “tide” which is referenced in the quotation above and the fact that the opposition parties are unable to give voice to and channel this widespread disaffection is testament to their failure thus far.


In 1991, after evicting the military of the Afweyne dictatorship from their country, the people of Somaliland convened a meeting of all the clans and groups living in the country (whether pro- or anti- the Mogadishu government) in Burao to determine their future. At this meeting two fundamental and guiding principles were established and agreed upon by all the clans and groups which underpin the country’s recovery of its sovereignty and its development as an oasis of peace, reconciliation and representative governance in the Horn of Africa. Firstly, it was agreed that SL belongs to all the people residing within its borders equally and without fear or favour. In order to give effect to this core principle and since some communities were aligned with the dictatorship while others fought the said dictatorship, not to mention that some communities suffered historical and ingrained social and political discrimination, it was agreed that all past wrongs, disputes and animosities were thereby irrevocably forgiven and consigned to the past. Thus, the people of SL closed the chapter on past wrongs and disputes and commenced the re-birth of their nation with a blank sheet on which to write their future history.

It is this spirit of national unity, the creation of the SL tribe which transcends clan divisions, if you will, which the overt tribalism of the politics of the Silanyo government has betrayed, and with it the underlying ethos of nation itself. All nations are composed of different, and often competing, communities; however no nation can endure without a unifying ethos underlying its creation and very existence. In its doomed efforts to secure its power through a cynical policy of ‘divide and rule’ which plays clans and sub-clans against each other, the Silanyo government betrayed SL’s founding ethos and reverted to the discredited and bankrupt politics of the Afweyne dictatorship. It is worth remembering that Silanyo himself was the longest serving minister of that defunct dictatorship, so perhaps it should not be a surprise that he has employed its political tactics. However, he and his cohorts would be wise to remember the ignominious end to that exercise of Machiavellian political skulduggery.

The second principle agreed and established at the Burao conference in 1991 was that of representative government through the development of a home-grown democratic system of governance which incorporated local tradition and culture. In this context, it is important to point out that traditional Somali social and political society is very egalitarian and practises a form of direct participatory democracy that has been characterised by the pre-eminent Western scholar of Somali culture and history (the late Ioan Lewis of SOAS) as “democratic to the point of anarchy”.

Thus SL developed a government composed of three branches – a bicameral legislature with an elected parliament (lower chamber) and a Guurti (upper chamber) composed of traditional elders drawn from all the clans and other social groups; an executive composed of an elected president who then forms a government of ministers and other officials; and a judiciary which interprets and gives effect to the laws passed by the legislature. This structure was promulgated in the constitution which was ratified by a massive affirmative vote of 97% in 2001.

It is true that the judiciary has always been the weakest branch of government in SL, principally due to limited funding and a lack of professionalism among the judicial cadre and, for this reason, the judiciary has historically been largely subservient to the executive. However, the legislature has been a very different story and the parliament, particularly, has always demonstrated its independence from the executive, even when the ruling party has held a majority of the seats. This independence, and willingness to oppose government policies when it deems fit, has been one of the strongest features of SL’s thriving, hybrid democracy. It is this independence that the Silanyo government has repeatedly sought to suborn through vote-buying and, most egregiously, through blatant attempts to unseat the sitting Speaker through unconstitutional means. The latest attempt in September 2015 resulted in violent altercations in the parliament which included the Speaker and Deputy Speaker coming to blows.

The result of this sorry state of affairs has been the demoralisation of the public and its disillusionment with politics and the political class. On the economic and social front, the entrepreneurial spirit of the people coupled with the sustained growth of remittances from the large diaspora community in Europe, North America and Arabia has resulted in the expansion of educational, communications, health and commercial services. The government has contributed little to the expansion of this social infrastructure, but has benefited considerably through greatly increased tax revenues which it uses to stifle dissent and criticism (through a much enhanced security apparatus funded largely by the Western powers in the name of combating ‘terrorism’) and to buy political support. However, the lack of effective economic and social planning has resulted in ever increasing numbers of secondary school and university graduates with no opportunities for gainful employment that seek a better life abroad at the merciless hands of human traffickers. Thus, along with their contemporaries in Eritrea, many of the ‘cream’ of Somaliland’s younger generation are joining the exodus from the Horn of Africa to Europe and Arabia with countless numbers perishing on the journey as they fall victim to modern day slave merchants, now euphemistically dubbed ‘human traffickers’.


In view of the failure of the two opposition parties to mobilise and channel the widespread disaffection of the people to the creeping dictatorship of the Silanyo government, it is necessary to develop alternative avenues of political dissent and resistance to its debasement of politics. It is clear that the only effective way to mobilise and channel the widespread public antipathy is through a mass movement along the lines of the anti-regime alliances that sprouted in North Africa during the ‘Arab Spring’ and the colour-coded, peaceful ‘revolutions’ in Eastern Europe a little earlier. Such a mass movement must be driven and led by the educated youth, genuine clan elders (as opposed to the plethora of bought madax daqameed which have been contemptuously, and aptly, named ‘pre-paid’ by the ordinary public), business and social leaders. The opposition parties will have the choice of joining in this people-driven, mass movement or be consigned to irrelevance. The central plank of this opposition movement will be a demand to return to the founding tenets and principles of the re-establishment of SL in 1991, namely:

• The centrality of the national ethos as opposed to the tribal one promulgated and practised by the Silanyo regime. SL belongs to all of its people and the clan affiliation (or lack thereof) of any individual or group is irrelevant to their rights and obligations to and from the state.

• Open and transparent government with all public officials accountable to the people as set out in the constitution. All three branches of government, especially the executive, must understand that they are public servants, i.e. they work for the people and serve at their pleasure.

• Establishment and institution of an independent and effective Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that has powers of subpoena, prosecution and censure.

• Complete restructuring of the Independent Election Commission insulating it from political interference and empowering it to hold elections on their due dates unless overruled by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature.

• Restoration of the quest for international recognition as they key foreign policy objective and the establishment of a Council of Wise Men & Experts to develop a clear and coherent strategy to achieve same.

In order to join this movement, the two opposition parties will have to agree to the formation of a national unity government (NUG) in which they will share power in order to present a unified front to contest the elections on behalf of the people. This will mean, perforce, that they will have to agree upon a program to put the above principles into effect and return the government of SL to its people. This program must be developed in an open and transparent manner and articulated clearly and widely to provide the people with an explicit checklist of actions with which to hold the NUG to account. A second plank of this program for the NUG will be the establishment of an independent committee of experts to review the murky deals the Silanyo government has entered into with foreign interests and the Mogadishu ‘government’ with respect to the national assets of SL, e.g. oil concessions, Berbera Port and the Berbera Fuel Storage Depot. Any such agreements that are found to be against the national interest, or structured for the personal benefit of any special interests shall be either abrogated or cancelled or re-negotiated by the NUG. Another key plank of the program shall be the promulgation of a Code of Ethics that shall bind all public officials and against which they may be prosecuted. The fourth plank of the program needs to be the complete overhaul of the judicial branch of government and the allocation of sufficient resources to ensure its independence, impartiality and professional standards.


The central thesis of this article is that the Silanyo government presents a clear and present danger to the continued existence of SL as an independent, democratic country and, therefore, that its defeat at the upcoming presidential elections is the principal and overriding national duty of all SL patriots and those sympathetic to its cause. Some extreme conspiracy theorists assert that since Mr. Silanyo had publicly admitted his prior allegiance to the Somaliweyn cause (i.e. the re-establishment of the erstwhile Republic of Somalia) during the election campaign in 2010, that the dismantling of SL from within had always been the central mission of his presidency. While this interpretation of Silanyo’s presidency is too fanciful to contemplate seriously, it is nevertheless an undeniable fact that another five years of the creeping dictatorship characterised by rampant corruption and nepotism and buttressed by savage and severe repression and intolerance of dissent and criticism of this deeply unpopular government will destroy the dream of SL and compromise its democracy and its institutions beyond repair.

In view of this existential threat to the continued progress of the country, and indeed to its very existence, and bearing in mind the clear inability of the two opposition parties to mobilise and channel the widespread public disaffection with this regime, we have sought to propose a practical strategy to mount an effective campaign to defeat the government emphatically at the next presidential elections and so deliver the government of SL back to its people. Since the threat to the nation posed by the Silanyo regime is mortal, and its political modus operandi is the politics of clan-driven ‘divide and rule’, it is necessary to base the opposition campaign firmly on the unifying national ethos. Where the regime seeks support on the basis of rewarding loyal so-called clan leaders while punishing (or excluding from government largesse and patronage) disloyal ones, the national opposition campaign will seek support through appeal to SL’s founding national ethos and the vision of clean government, national development and social justice.

The national opposition campaign will embrace peaceful protest, civil disobedience and mass mobilisation. The opposition parties, and particularly their leaders, will have to subsume their personal ambitions to the national imperative to save SL and deliver it from the evident peril presented by the Silanyo clique. Should these parties and leaders not rise to this challenge, they will suffer the same ignominious fate as the government and lose their political legitimacy. In the 1980s, Somaliland had to be liberated from the oppressive rule of the Afweyne dictatorship through a ten year war of liberation that included calculated genocide by the oppressors. Now, nearly a quarter century after recovering its sovereignty, the country must once again be liberated; this time from a creeping and corrupt domestic dictatorship that will inevitably deliver it back into the arms of Mogadishu and the bankrupt Somaliweyn ideology that enslaved it in the past.

* Ahmed M.I. Egal is a Somalilander who grew up in Europe. Egal has a BA (Economics & Politics) from Warwick University and an MA (Area Studies/African Development) from London University.



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ICT for innovation: e-Learning for Africa in the cyber-age

Odomaro Mubangizi


cc AN
E-learning offers a range of benefits to students and society as it is cheap and based on resources that are becoming more available on the African continent. Rather than solely relying on traditional education, Africa needs to leap forward and realize the potential of e-learning in creating innovators and curbing mass youth unemployment.

Several alternatives have been put across for Africa’s development agenda: industrialization, infrastructure, agriculture, universal primary education, universal secondary education, aid, trade and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) among others. The debate continues, especially after the expiry of the MD Gs. The immediate context of this discussion is the UN Summit scheduled in September 2015 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I want to suggest a bold idea of promoting e-learning or distance learning at tertiary level based on the concept of ICT for innovation. By this I want to reduce the SDGs to one: quality and affordable education for job creation for all. We are living in an age of cyberspace where computer and mobile applications are spurring innovation in health, education, agriculture, commerce, banking and technological innovation. But for this ICT for innovation to succeed there is need for a paradigm shift in how tertiary education is conducted in Africa. The called for paradigm shift includes development of online or distance learning courses of high quality that are affordable, since there is less dependence on physical infrastructure, transport costs and hard copy learning materials.

The main argument I am making is that provision of affordable quality education that trains job creators rather than job seekers, other goals will be taken care of as well, like health care, employment, care for the environment, equality, governance, security, housing, food security and peace.


One of the most obvious manifestations of the much talked about process of globalization, that has brought about heightened interconnectedness across borders, is Information Communication Technology (ICT). Former president of the US, Bill Clinton, speaks of globalization in the following terms: “Our world is more interdependent than ever. Borders have become more like nets than walls, and while this means that wealth, ideas, information and talent can move freely around the globe, so can the negative forces shaping our shared fates.”[1] But the tragic reality of this globalized world is unequal access to ICT. For instance only 4% of households in Africa have internet access, with more than 50% having cell phones.

With the click of a button huge amounts of data can be transmitted across oceans. Mobile phones have revolutionalized business transactions with many people able to send and receive money by mobile phones- M-pesa in Kenya is the most dramatic example. Instead of spending valuable time looking for a person, all you need to do is give a call on a mobile phone, and you only meet people face to face when it is absolutely necessary. Then came the internet with google, facebook, twitter, etc. and millions of people are now connected via social media.

Everistus Ekuemeka describes virtual reality thus: “…cybernetics or cyberspace as the new world order within which the new generation play, study, and live.”[2] One can safely say that we now have a new “planet” called “cyberspace.”

Some call the age of Information Communication Technology the digital age. Analog has given way to digital. The world of Newtonian physics is long gone and we are trapped in cyberspace or virtual reality. Hollywood movie producers and Silicon Valley tech gurus are earning billions of dollars from entertainment based virtual reality.[3] Just to show how lucrative virtual reality is, Luckey (22) sold his company Oculus VR to Facebook in 2014 for $2.3 billion, and now employs more than 350 people in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, South Korea and Japan.[4]

Information is now a new source of power, both political and economic. A new political economy is on us. If we take cyberspace as a newly discovered planet, then the continents and countries that constitute this planet are: yahoo, google, facebook, twitter and Youtube. Many more will continue to emerge with increasing innovation in the tech industry. The concept of “soft power” that Joseph Nye coined is helpful in understanding the dynamics of the information age. None-state actors such as NGOs have rapidly increased thanks to the information revolution. By 1990s the number of formally registered NGOs had increased from 6,000 to roughly 26,000.[5]

With increasing ease and low cost of information flow, NGOs are able to do advocacy work or lobby for change of policies in business firms and governments. Some have huge budgets that rival that of state organizations. For instance, Greenpeace had a budget of $157 million in 2001, while the World Trade Organization had a budget of $90 million. Internet has helped NGOs to carry out networking and run projects at extremely low cost due to small staff. Borders of states can be penetrated easily through networks. States are more porous with information revolution. Online news outlets have grown to their tens of thousands across the globe.

For diaspora communities to influence elections and policies back home, they do not need to travel. All they need to do is to start online discussion groups and make a phone call back home. For countries that have repressive media policies, diaspora communities have found ways around the barriers, like radio, TV and online publications that provide a forum for exchange of views and ideas. Mary Kaldor who sees global civil society as an answer to war describes the role of global media with specific reference to the internet thus: “(…) the internet and email have become essential tools for organizing in the 1990s. Petitions are circulated through emails; networks are sustained through email lists; websites mobilize global demonstrations.”[6]

The teenager you see on the street of Nairobi or Kampala with earphones on, with a smart phone in the pocket, might be in close communication with an advocacy NGO as far as Paris, London or New York. Struggle for human rights, governance and social development have been made much easier by the cyberspace.

The proof that a new paradigm has overtaken an old one is when new consciousness or knowledge gets transformed into new technologies, products and services. So, has ICT and cyberspace brought new technologies, products and services? Of course. Across Africa mobile applications are on the rise spearheaded by young entrepreneurs. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are seen along streets in African capital cities. Customers do bank transactions on mobile phones. In Kenya tech innovation has been introduced in paying bus fair, an innovation by Equity Bank and Google, known as BebaPay. High tech innovation can also be used to create jobs for unemployed youth, like the Digital Jobs Africa by the Rockefeller Foundation that has pledged $100 million to Africa’s digital sector. There are digital jobs like data entry, service center support, online research and web design.

Innovation in Africa has also been taken to the health sector and philanthropy. Uganda and Kenyan youth are in a class of their own when it comes to innovative apps. Malaria is a major menace to people in Africa, so three Makerere University students came up with the mobile app Matibabu that can be used to diagnose malaria patients. Likeise two African students created a malaria repellent soap called Faso Soap, made from traditional herbs. Innovation is also utilized in the area of philanthropy like the case of protégé, an app by Jomo Kenyatta University students that supports giving donations to charitable organizations all over the world. From these innovations one can define innovation as a daring, and original idea operationalized to solve a concrete human problem.

So, where does Africa’s comparative and competitive advantage lie when it comes to ICT and innovation? Africa has a lot of unemployed but educated youth who have done university studies in telecommunications, ICT, entrepreneurship and Business Administration. Africa’s youthful population (between 15 and 25) is estimated to be 60% of the entire population and accounts for about 45% of the total labour force. Even though it is estimated that 12.6 million young Africans are absorbed into the labour force per annum, 60% of the unemployed are youth. There is general agreement that the future of Africa lies in its youth, even though government policies do not reflect this reality. Youth unemployment is estimated to be around 20%. Some of these youth maybe just did computer studies at their A-levels and headed to the university to do journalism, economics, law, or even medicine. On failing to get employment, they try out things. At times idleness is the mother of invention just like necessity.

Faced with high unemployment rates in Africa, and given the fact that “…the informal sector contributes a projected 55% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDS and constitutes some 80% of the labour force…”[7] Buddy Buruku rightly suggests that youth be endowed with skills and training that “…must focus on alternative forms of income generation rather than just traditional formal employment.”[8] This means that education needs to stress entrepreneurship skills at all levels. For this strategy to succeed we need public-private partnership in ensuring that youth can access soft loans and seed money for venture capital. Mentorship schemes should also be part of the package to enable youth acquire knowledge and skills for job creation.

The high rate of mobile connectivity in Africa is due to lack of landlines. So, Africa’s former liability has been turned into an asset. Rural Africa is now connected by mobile phones. With Africa’s abundant sunshine, mobile phones can be powered using solar energy. It comes as no surprise that the most known brands in Africa are telecommunications: MTN, Sarafaricom, Airtel, Sonatel, Telkom, Econet Wireless, Celtel, Orange, and Onatel. Africans are known for their oral culture. As the saying goes: “Africans like to talk and talk until cows come home.” With little reading culture, most information is transmitted by word of mouth or mobile phone. This is why mobile companies are making a killing in Africa. On streets of Kampala and Nairobi, one sees all kinds of kiosks selling airtime and SIM cards. On the same streets you find valuable second hand books but these do not attract as much attention as airtime and SIM cards. The equation to show the relationship between ICT and development is as follows: Information + Communication +Technology = Development (I+C+T=D). With this equation Africa is able to leapfrog in its development. Africa does not need to go through the two stages of industrial revolution (19th and 20th Century) that the West went through. The third industrial revolution in which Africa is a strategic player, is based on the internet, and renewable energy.


Can Africa now make a transition to e-learning given the paradigm shift ushered in by ICT? Is this the time for distance learning in Africa? The means for e-leaning are abundantly available but there is still lack of political will and change in mindset. All major cities and towns in Africa have internet connectivity. Internet cafes are all over cities and towns competing with bars, restaurants and shops. Surfing is considerably cheap and there are a lot of open access websites and free online resources. To acquire knowledge that was traditionally reserved for formal schools one only has to pay a visit to the cybercafé.

Travel and rent expenses are now irrelevant as far as learning is concerned. E-learning is affordable, briefly stated. Just to give an illustration. A graduate with Bachelor of Commerce running a cybercafé with one computer can do the following: offer secretarial services, internet services, photocopying, binding, at the same time do online courses.

The major challenge for e-learning is power shortages and slow internet connectivity. Also the quality of online materials is still an issue. It requires a discerning mind to detect junk material online. Since e-learning is still new, standards are yet to be established on how to use online materials.

The other challenge is perception. To most people virtual learning is equated with poor quality learning. Lack of human interaction is another challenge. Being absorbed on the internet or on the phone tends to create a sense of isolation and individualism.

Digital divide is still an issue. Computer literacy is still a preserve of the few lucky ones in urban areas. The majority of rural folks, even though they have mobile phones, are still not equipped with computer literacy skills.

Even though e-learning is on the rise, teachers with skills for distance learning are still few. Apart from UNISA in South Africa, there are few high quality institutions offering distance learning courses in Africa. This is a work in progress. Traditional formal schools will first offer some resistance and stiff competition with distance education model. Sensitization will have to be carried out aggressively to educate the general public and policy makers on the benefits of e-learning.


A hybrid approach is necessary. Combining e-learning and conventional methods is the way to go. It is important to establish personal contact between student and teacher even if it is for a few times during the course of the program. Hybrid approach is also needed with regard to materials for instruction. Online resources would be supplemented by hard copies and books at some learning centers.

Since distance learning requires highly motivated students; it is important to make the admission criteria slightly more demanding and rigorous. Only those students who demonstrate strong commitment and are self-motivated should be admitted to e-learning programs. Regular email communication can also help to keep students focused on the learning process. This is also implies that those to pursue distance learning should be graduates from recognized and high quality higher institutions, as well as the faculty offering the courses.

In terms of methodology, e-learning also needs to be quite flexible and innovative. Memorizing does not seem appropriate for e-learning since after all the materials are available online. Better to stress skills of creative and critical thinking and find concrete solutions to problems. One strategy to use is to challenge students to come up with innovative projects that are uniquely theirs. In that case there is little room for plagiarism and reproducing works by other scholars. Also more creative course work and writing should be encouraged. Asking one’s opinions would be more helpful than asking true or false questions. Analyzing case studies is another methodology that would help students to think creatively instead of just trying to understand what others have said. The overall goal is to train students in innovative thinking rather than checking understanding and memorized answers. The steps in innovative pedagogy are as follows: 1. Understand the problem; 2. Critique what others have said about the problem; 3. Come up with one’s own creative and innovative solutions.

Equally important in e-learning is the role of highly qualified lecturers. The teachers must be fully convinced of the necessity and benefits of e-learning. These teachers should above all be mentors who can motivate young innovators to pursue their dreams and guide them appropriately. While the teachers deserve decent remuneration, they should be motivated by the need to be affluent from teaching. Those who desire to be very rich should join business not teaching.

E-learning requires liaison offices where students and lectures can meet from time to time. The ideal situation is whereby one open university or distance learning university can serve a region covering about five countries. It is preferable that a good number of lecturers of a distance learning university be accredited to credible universities where students can go to use library resources and meet with their respective lecturers.

Without being excessively bureaucratic an open university that offers distance learning should have some clear governance structures that include: Board of Trustees, University Council, Vice Chancellors, Deputy Vice Chancellors (2), Heads of Faculties, Registrar, Liaison Officers (for each country), and Administrative Secretary.

Since quality is given priority over quantity, care should be taken to admit fewer students that can be given good attention and mentoring. Each lecturer should not handle more than 20 students for Post-Graduate Diploma and Certificate students, and not more than 6 for MA/MSC students, and not more than 3 for doctoral students. The main challenge facing African universities is mass production of graduates that are half-baked. Universities have been turned into markets where knowledge and academic degrees are the main products for sell.


Courses should be designed in such a way that they stimulate innovative thinking among students. In their letter of intent, students are supposed to state clearly what they hope to achieve through the program they are applying for. Special attention should be paid to what specific problem or challenge will need a prospective address. And most importantly, a student should demonstrate ability or some insight into how the stated challenge will be addressed concretely by way of a proposed project. It is then the task of the lecturer to help the student address the issues identified. It is not the teacher to who should provide the solution but rather the student.

What is the role of academic materials in e-learning that is student-centered? Ideas from other people are to serve as catalysts or stimulus for creative thinking. And as Professor Calestous Juma has rightly argued, “Africa is saddled with higher education systems that were created in the early 1960s to train functionaries. Very few of the universities have curricula or use teaching methods that promote innovation.”[9] The new model of higher education institutions should ensure that teaching, research and entrepreneurship can be carried out in one and the same institutions. But also each student should demonstrate ability to learn, do research and deliver an innovative product on completing the course. Calestous Juma is once again right in suggesting that “It is time to move away from post-colonial university models that train people in fields that have no immediate relevance.”[10]

The often quoted saying that “Rather than give a fish, teach someone to fish” is still relevant as far as e-learning is concerned. Africa has been given fish for decades, it is time to teach Africa how to fish. In fact one can add that student-centered learning is about the student being taught how to learn to fish by one self. To say that you are going to teach someone how to fish is already to undermine innovative thinking. E-learning therefore is teaching a student how to teach himself or herself.

Nothing has been said about the courses to teach in this e-learning. It looks like a contradiction to say that you want to teach innovation or entrepreneurship. In fact most famous innovators dropped out of school! A look at most African villages will demonstrate how very successful entrepreneurs who supply food, brew local beer, rent land, rent houses, supply fire wood, charcoal and building materials, construct houses, make clay stoves, design clothes, manufacture iron tools and weave baskets, hardly went beyond primary 3! Uganda, the most enterprising country on planet earth (it was ranked no 1 in entrepreneurship), even had a president who had only completed primary three—Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada. The truth about innovation is that great entrepreneurs think outside the box and stick with an idea and bring it to its practical conclusion.

Uganda’s best entrepreneurial skills are seen on the streets of Kampala: roadside vendors selling all manner of merchandise (this makes Kampala rather chaotic and crowded); women selling cooked food (the famous Matoke or bananas) to offices in Kampala’s central business distric, a swam of boda bodas (Motorcycles) that help beat the nasty traffic jam; numerous forex bureaus; and finally street preachers who take advantage of heavy traffic jams to spread the word of God! More structured Ugandan innovators include educationalists who have set up innovative universities such as Victoria University, Kampala International University (dubbed Kenyans in Uganda because of the large percentage of Kenyan students who study there), East Africa International University, St. Augustine’s International University, St. Lawrence University, that are offering alternative programs to the old universities such as Makerere University.

The financial sector has had its share of innovators brining on board unique products and services. Those that stand out are the Catholic Church’s Centenary Bank (arguably the fastest growing private Bank in Uganda that has taken advantage of the catholic population of about 45% of the entire country). A joke has been made that most customers prefer the catholic bank because they believe that if you invest in it, God will bless you abundantly and you earn more! Self-fulfilling prophecy— when more customers flock to Centenary Bank, there is more money for loans! Centenary Bank has actually spread across the country with branches in almost every District of Uganda. It is rumored that Equity Bank, that has almost caught up with Centenary Bank in Uganda (Kenya-based) in geographical coverage and clientele, borrowed some innovative strategies from Centenary Bank. Innovation is contagious. With all these illustrations of innovation we can define innovation as imagination with productivity. The equation for innovation would then be: Imagination + Productivity = Innovation (I+P=I). Innovation is ability to find a simple solution for a complex problem.

The many innovators across Africa, if they were given an enabling environment, would have turned their ideas into lasting solutions for Africa’s persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment, shortage of food, and poor health facilities. Lack of pedagogy for innovation is Africa’s greatest obstacle to development. It is not lack of resources. The numerous innovators who have succeeded need to have their strategies studied and documented for wider use to help other upcoming innovators who need inspiration.

So what disciplines should be taught in distance learning? No reinventing the wheel. Traditional disciplines are still relevant but they need a different approach. In teaching hard sciences such as chemistry, physics, engineering, and biology, the intention is to help a student come up with practical solutions using standard scientific principles. For instance one doing chemistry should be able to manufacture medicines using natural remedies or soap using plants. Similarly, one doing engineering should be able to design simple bridges and houses using local materials.

Those doing humanities and social sciences like philosophy, politics, ethics, economics, and linguistics, should also apply their theoretical knowledge to come up with practical solutions such as: peace programs, leadership skills, language for tourism, policies for social development. Management sciences are quite obvious when it comes to application: designing and implementing projects, starting small businesses, training people in business skills. ICT is equally obvious when it comes to application: web design, creating tech applications, training people in basic computer skills, etc.


We live in a highly competitive world both locally and globally. So, any innovator has to be aware that there are competitors out there offering better options. Strategy is key. Innovators have to learn to revitalize their organizational culture and system. Strategy requires foresight—the future can be anticipated. One has to establish strategic intent and rally the team around this intent. One has to leverage resources since resources are limited. One has to develop core competences. Finally, one has to be imaginative and creative.

Learning techniques for analyzing industries and competitors is crucial. There are other numerous innovators out there, and one has to demonstrate that the innovative products he or she is offering are better than what others are offering. Then strategic marketing will follow.

Key to strategic thinking is forecasting or foresight. This is an elusive skill of looking into the future. Futures Thinking is now part of strategic management and many companies engage in scenario setting. Great innovators have the ability to anticipate future needs and trends. Let us take the example of Nokia of Finland that became the no. 1 mobile phone manufacturer before Samsung took over. To invest in mobile phone production Nokia must have anticipated that telecommunication was to be the main trend of the 21st century. Few people know that Nokia started off in 1865 as a logging company, until 1960 when the electronics division was founded. Samsung of South Korea another giant mobile phone company started off modestly by exporting fish, vegetables and fruit as way back as 1938. Then followed sugar refining and textiles, and went into electronics in 1983. What lessons can be drawn from these two global giants in electronics? First, that innovation starts from humble beginnings. Second, that innovation is about persistence. Three, that branding is key to innovation. There are millions of innovators in Africa who started humbly, but failed the second and third tests—persistence and branding. Do we know who made the first canoe in Africa? Do we know who coined the thousands of proverbs that many people quote in local languages? Do we know who discovered the herbal medicines that over 80% of rural folks rely on to cure most common ailments?

Fahamu and its affiliates have been offering support to civil society organizations and NGOs that address issues of social justice and human rights using ICT for some time. This is an example of how collaboration can make an impact in transforming society using limited resources. Fahamu’s model can be emulated across the continent. It is high time that Fahamu with its affiliates reinforced and consolidated its capacity building and training programs by engaging emerging tertiary education institutions that are using e-learning. The sky is the limit. But since we are in cyberspace not even the sky is the limit.


In today’s globalized world, ICT offers unique opportunities for innovation across Africa. But for this innovation to succeed there is need for e-learning or distance learning whereby upcoming innovators can be given space to think more creatively instead of the traditional post-colonial model of education. In this model of e-learning the goal is not to impact knowledge to be memorized, but rather it is to stimulate creativity that will in turn produce practical solutions. In this way, education will be to train job-creators and not job-seekers.

There are examples of innovation across Africa as exemplified by recent computer and mobile phone application in banking, and health. But these cases of innovation have yet to be incorporated in educational institutions. This is why it is time for distance learning universities to rise up to the occasion. To invest in distance or e-learning there is need for change in mindset and to engage both private and public sectors. Principles to guide e-learning include flexibility, collaboration and commitment to quality. E-learning is a concept whose time has come. As we start to examine ways to promote sustainable development, after the MDGs, let distance or e-learning be one of the sustainable goals.

* Odomaro Mubangizi (PhD) teaches philosophy and theology at the Institute of Philosophy and Theology in Addis, where he is also Dean of Philosophy Department. He is Editor of the Justice, Peace and Environment Bulletin.


[1] Bill Clinton, “The Case for Optimism: From Technology to equality, five ways the world is getting better all the time”, in Time October1, 2012, p. 26.
[2] Evaristus Ekuemeka, S.J. “Cybernetics and Emergent Personalities in the Wake of ICT in Africa” in Chiedza, Arrupe College Journal, May 2012, p. 47.
[3] For a detailed report on how virtual reality has taken hold in entertainment see, Joel Stain :Inside the Box” in Time August 17, 2015, pp. 34-41.
[4] Ibid. 34.
[5] Josephy S. Nye, Jr. , Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York, 2004), p. 90.
[6] Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2003), p. 106.
[7] Buddy Buruku “How to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa” in African Business, July 2015, p. 74.
[8] Ibid., 74.
[9] Calestous Juma, “Universities as Engines of Innovation” in New African, July 2015, p. 78.
[10] Ibid.



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Britain should pay for slavery in the Caribbean

Hilary Beckles


Caribbean nations are calling on Britain to pay billions of pounds in reparations for slavery. Ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron's first official visit to Jamaica next Tuesday, Sir Hilary Beckles, chair of the Caricom Reparations Commission and vice-chancellor of the University of West Indies, has asked Cameron to start talks on making amends for slavery. Here's Sir Hilary's letter in full:

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

I join with the resolute and resilient people of Jamaica and their Government in extending to you a warm and glorious welcome to our homeland. We recognise you, Prime Minister, given your family's long and significant relationship to our country, as an internal stakeholder with historically assigned credentials.

To us, therefore, you are more than a prime minister. You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears' sins of the enslavement of our ancestors.

As we prepare for you a red carpet befitting your formal status we invite you to cast your eyes upon the colours of our national flag that symbolise the history we share. You are, Sir, a prized product of this land and the bonanza benefits reaped by your family and inherited by you continue to bind us together like birds of a feather.

Be assured, Prime Minister, that you will find no more generous people on our planet Earth than those who will greet you with golden hearts and civilised consciousness. I urge that you embrace the sincerity of our salutations. It is born and bred in the cauldron of our enslavement by your family and society.

Consider it a golden gift of friendship and not simply the empty expression of protocols relevant to the events you will attend. It is furthermore, an overture to an expectation of a dialogue of reparatory justice that can redefine for us a new intimacy for this long 21st century on which we are embarked.

Your advisors would have informed you that beyond the boundary of the affairs of State, civil society welcomes you without reservation, though with a qualification that bears the burden of our tortured past within the historically textured present. I speak of outstanding and unresolved matters that are relevant to our sense of mutual respect as equal nations dedicated to the cause of furthering humanity's finest imagined destiny.

I speak, Sir, of the legacies of slavery that continue to derail, undermine and haunt our best efforts at sustainable economic development and the psychological and cultural rehabilitation of our people from the ravishes of the crimes against humanity committed by your British State and its citizens in the form of chattel slavery and native genocide.

In this regard, I urge you to be aware that the issue of reparatory justice for these crimes is now before our respective nations, and the wider world. It is not an issue that can be further ignored, remain under the rug, or placed on back burners, as your minister who recently visited us so aptly described your agenda for Jamaica and the Caribbean.

It will generate the greatest global political movement of our time unless respected and resolved by you, the leader of the State that extracted more wealth from our enslavement than any other.

The Jamaican economy, more than any other, at a critical moment in your nation's economic development, fuelled its sustainable growth. Britain, as a result, became great and Jamaica has remained the poorer. Jamaica now calls upon Britain to reciprocate, not in the context of crime and compulsion, but in friendly, mutually respected dialogue.

It is an offer of opportunity written not in the blood of our enslaved ancestors, but in the imagination of their offspring and progeny who have survived the holocaust and are looking to the future for salvation.

As a man, a humane man, with responsibility for the humanity of your nation, we call upon you to rise to this moment as you realise and internalise that without the wealth made by your enslaving ancestors, right here in our Jamaica, we would not be enchained together, today, called upon to treat with this shared past.

Successive governments in this land, a place still groaning under the weight of this injustice, have done well during the 53 years of sovereignty, but the burden of the inherited mess from slavery and colonialism has overwhelmed many of our best efforts. You owe it to us as you return here to communicate a commitment to reparatory justice that will enable your nation to play its part in cleaning up this monumental mess of Empire.

We ask not for handouts or any such acts of indecent submission. We merely ask that you acknowledge responsibility for your share of this situation and move to contribute in a joint programme of rehabilitation and renewal. The continuing suffering of our people, Sir, is as much your nation's duty to alleviate as it is ours to resolve in steadfast acts of self-responsibility.

In the four corners of Kingston there are already whispers that your strategy will be to seek a way to weaken Jamaica's commitment to Caribbean reparations in a singular act of gift-granting designed to divide and rule and to subvert the regional discourse and movement.

You, Sir, are a Briton, not a Greek, and we have no reason therefore to fear what you bear. But we do ask that you recall the Caribbean region was once your nation's unified field for taxation, theatre for warfare, and space for the implementation of trade law and policy. Seeing the region as one is therefore in your diplomatic DNA, and this we urge that you remember.

Finally, Sir, I write from the perspective of an academic bred in Britain and reared in the University of the West Indies, an institution your nation planted in Kingston in 1948 with a small but significant grant. It would honour us to show you what we the people have reaped from this single seed.

We have created a flourishing federal farm that now cultivates the minds of millions, a symbol of our collective determination to take seriously our self-responsibility and to place our dignity as an emerging nation before any other consideration. From this singular seed we have grown one of the finest universities in the world crafted by our hands and inspired by our dreams.

This story, Sir, can guide your reflection as to who we are and what we expect of you. We urge you then, in this light, to indicate your nation's willingness to work towards a reparatory justice programme for the Caribbean, with a view to allowing us to come together in order to come to closure, put this terrible past behind us, and to leave it to us to continue the making of our future.

Kindest regards,

Hilary Beckles

Chairman, Caricom Reparations Commission

[This letter was published in full in the Jamaican Observer.



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British atrocities in colonial Kenya: The Canadian connection

Yves Engler


cc BM
As colonial Britain unleashed terrible violence in Kenya, Canada strengthened the British military. It’s almost certain that some of the British pilots who dropped bombs on Mau Mau hideouts were trained in Canada. There were Canadian men on the ground in Kenya involved in the colonial violence. Should Canada apologise for its role?

Recently, a memorial was unveiled to victims of British colonial violence in Kenya. Paid for by London, the monument in Nairobi grew out of London’s 2013 apology to the Mau Mau, which included some compensation to 5000 victims of British policy who pursued London in court.

Britain’s small step towards atoning for its colonial past is an opportunity to explore Canada’s contribution to this brutal period, which was an offshoot of Ottawa’s long-standing endorsement of colonialism Africa.

In 1952, the Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, launched an anti-colonial struggle and over the next eight years the British would employ horrific violence in a bid to suppress what became known as the “Mau Mau Uprising”. The British detained most of the 1.5 million Kikuyu in camps and fortified villages. Thousands of prisoners were tortured to death or died from malnutrition and disease and in some camps most children perished. Tens of thousands of Kenyans were killed by British forces.

Compared to the vast African loss of life, only 32 European civilians among the 30,000 white settlers were killed by the Mau Mau. More settlers died in car accidents during this period. The British and Canadian press, however, focused their coverage on lurid stories detailing purported Mau Mau violence. On a number of occasions the uprising in Kenya was brought up in the Canadian House of Commons but External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson said little.

As they unleashed terrible violence in Kenya, Ottawa strengthened the British military, which had been weakened during World War II. In 1953, Canada gave the Royal Air Force 370 ‘top-of-the-line’ F-86 Sabre fighter Jets built at Canadair’s plant in Montréal. The planes cost $71 million ($600 million today) with the US footing 30% of the bill.

Several squadrons of Royal Air Force bombers dropped 50,000 pounds of bombs on Mau Mau forest hideouts. It’s almost certain that some of the British pilots were trained in Canada as part of the WWII British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the post-1949 NATO Air Training Plan, which saw the Royal Canadian Air Force train 5,500 pilots and navigators largely from Britain and France.

Some 55,000 British troops fought in Kenya, along with many battalions of the King’s African Rifles from other parts of East Africa. They employed a great deal of weaponry, some of which originated in Canada. In the last decade of European colonialism in Africa Canada delivered a huge amount of weaponry to the colonial powers through NATO’s Mutual Aid Program. Between 1950 and 1958, Ottawa donated $1.53 billion ($8 billion today) in “aid” to NATO countries. The deliveries included anti-aircraft guns, military transport vehicles, ammunition, minesweepers, communications and electronic equipment, armaments, engines and fighter jets.

Canada also had men on the ground involved in the colonial violence in Kenya. Former RCMP officer John Timmerman served as assistant commissioner of police in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency. Between 1951 and 1955, Timmerman helped reorganize the police force and oversaw Nairobi’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). In October 1952, Timmerman oversaw the arrest of Jomo Kenyatta, who would later become Kenya’s independence leader.

A July 1954 Ottawa Citizen article headlined “Terror Shadows Kenya Beat” reported “a Canadian just back from three years’ police work among the Mau Mau of Kenya says the terrorists are the most savage and bestial killers in the world.” Timmerman’s claim may represent what a Freudian psychologist would call a “projection”. Kenyan historian Bethwell Allan Ogot puts forth a different — and considering what’s been abundantly documented — more plausible account of the RCMP officer’s actions. “Beating of suspects to obtain evidence was rampant especially in Nairobi where Mr. John Timmerman, the notorious C.I.D. Chief (the Himmler of Kenya as he was called) and his henchman G. Heine presided over the torture chambers.” In Imperial Reckoning Caroline Elkins also compares the CID to the secret police in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. “The Criminal Investigation Department… were effectively the colony’s Gestapo, according to one member of the force.”

At CID-operated centres, a favoured interrogation method was to hold a man upside down with his head in a bucket of water and ram sand into his rectum. In a bid to spread fear, men were raped with knives, snakes and scorpions while women were gang-raped or had their breasts mutilated with pliers.

A former white settler who was a member of the Kenya Regiment explained: “We would go and pick up a few of the filthy pigs and bring them to one of the interrogation centers set up by the CID. These were the hard-core scum, the ones who wouldn’t listen to anyone and [were] causing trouble. So we would give them a good thrashing. It would be a bloody awful mess by the time we were done. … never knew that a Kuke [Kikuyu] had so many brains until we cracked open a few heads.”

While Timmerman carried out British policies, his post-Kenya rise through the ranks suggests his actions found support in Ottawa. A Canadian Intelligence Corps officer in Europe prior to Kenya, afterwards Timmerman led the security and intelligence liaison at External Affairs, which included the politically sensitive task of making sure External Affairs officials were not spying or acting on behalf of foreign states. Then Timmerman became the first RCMP officer ever appointed head of a Canadian mission, serving as consul general in Chicago in the 1970s.

Should Canada apologize for its role in these atrocities?

* Yves Engler is the author of the just-released ‘Canada In Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation’ He will be speaking across the country in the lead up to the election. For information:



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Grandpa, what will be the fate of Planet Earth?

Cameron Duodu


cc MA
“I became depressed on behalf of my age group; for clearly, we have failed our offspring who are to inherit the earth after us. What sort of earth shall we leave behind for them? Will my great-great-great grand-children have any tilapia to eat?”

I was having a nice lunch with a grand-daughter of mine at the 'Gold Coast' restaurant in South Norwood, London. I always find something to eat there that reminds me of Ghana, whose name before independence has been adopted by the restaurant.

As I sipped my Club beer – at nearly seven pounds a 'large' bottle (the size most often sold in Ghana) – I revealed to my grand-daughter that the brewery in Accra stood next door to my offices when I was editor of the Daily Graphic.

“After the editorial conference at mid-afternoon, I used to slip to the Senior Officers' Club Room and be served a pint of freshly-brewed draught Club, at a time when draught beer was not yet common in Ghana. That first sip of cold beer on a hot afternoon was heaven on earth! No less!” I confessed to her.

Memories flooded into my mind as I took a sip of Club in South London. That distinctive taste was still there. Apart from one or two beers brewed in Belgium, I've never been able to find anything close to that taste in Europe. ''It's the water that does it!” I was once told. Maybe.

On the two TV screens in the Gold Coast, the Pope could be seen making his spectacular address to the United Nations in New York. Spectacular because the Pope, head of the conservative institution to end all conservative institutions, was busy cutting the ground from under the feet of many of the so-called “conservative” think tanks and other bodies of organised propagandists, who deny that climate change exists and is gradually setting the Earth on an environmental trajectory that will make it barely habitable in a few centuries time.

The Pope was saying: “Our world demands of all government leaders a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment!”

“The ecological crisis”, (the Pope acknowledged, to the chagrin of the global warming “deniers”) and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species. The baneful consequences of an irresponsible mismanagement of the global economy, guided only by ambition for wealth and power, must serve as a summons to a forthright reflection on man: man is not only about freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.

Wow! Was this the Pope?

Frankly, I hadn't been paying too much attention to the live telecast, expecting it to be full of the usual platitudes. And I didn’t notice my grand-daughter doing so either. But she must have – for out of the blue, she asked me, in all seriousness: “Grandpa, when do you think the world will come to an end?”

Now, at that time, I hadn’t heard about the “Super Moon” phenomenon that was to occur in the early hours of 28 September 2015. This was when the shadow of the earth passed across the moon, at the same time as the moon’s orbit brought it closer to the earth by a factor of several thousand. In the ensuing conjunction of stellar events, the moon became quite big to the human eye, at the same time as its colour changed to reddish sub-orange.

I suspect that in their circles (that is to say, Facebook and Twitter), my grand-daughter’s age-group had been exchanging information about what this phenomenon in the sky portended for human life. There had also been a rumour (of which I learnt later) that according to some modern-day Nostradamus and Da Vinci combined, the world would end in October 2015.

Anyway, the directness of my grand-daughter's question took me aback. In my own youthful days, we used to discuss the end of the world, and things like that, in dogmatic, Biblical terms – we took what was said in the Bible as the literal truth; i.e. the trumpet would sound suddenly one day, and The Son of Man would descend down from the Sky to judge the quick and the dead. End of story.

But I was having lunch with a young lady who had recently graduated with honours as a Bachelor of Science from one of the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom. To such an intelligent young thing of today, the fate of the world is not to be found in ancient Biblical myths. It is to be found in the here-and-now.

I said: it depends upon how much carbon humans send from the earth into the atmosphere, to erode the protective layer of ozone and expose the earth to the full force of the sun’s poisonous rays. That’s why we should take seriously activities like those carried out by the giant German motor company, Volkswagen, which has deliberately been misleading government agencies that set standards for the carbon emissions produced by motor vehicles, with a view to reducing them as much as possible. The agencies test vehicles at random to see whether the motor manufacturers are adhering to the standards set for them.

“But even though the agencies know that carbon emissions can end human life, yet, pestered as they are by the motor manufacturing companies and their political lobbyists, they have stopped short of forcing the manufacturers to switch from gasoline and diesel, to hydrogen or solar power, which are safer. For political reasons, they have allowed the manufacturers to persuade them that it is too “expensive” to make a switch to renewable energy for motor vehicles. How can it be too “expensive” to safeguard the future of the entire human race? Yet even the undue deference paid to them by the agencies does not satisfy them. So high is the profit motive amongst them that some of them are resorting to cheating the agencies – despite the agencies being so friendly towards them already!

“For instance, VW has installed software in eleven million diesel-powered vehicles (discovered so far; there could be more!) that produce false results when the vehicles are officially tested by the relevant agencies to establish the level of carbon emissions the vehicles produce. And where VW has led the way, others are certain to follow suit; after all, motor vehicle manufacturers have been stealing secrets from each other for years!”

I added: ”Of course, the governmental agencies that have been fooled will fine VW heavily. But can the safety of humankind on earth be exchanged for fines?”

My grand-daughter sighed.

I became depressed - as I heartily tucked into grilled tilapia - on behalf of my age group; for clearly, we have failed our offspring who are to inherit the earth after us. What sort of earth shall we leave behind for them? Will my great-great-great grand-children have any tilapia to eat? Blast — I come to have lunch with my lovely grand-daughter and the question on her mind is the eventual fate of herself, her unborn children and THEIR UNBORN CHILDREN?

This is a matter that must concern all of us. Greatly. In Ghana, for instance, some people in authority have been arguing that coal-fired generators (which, by the way, are being phased out by countries like China, which have at last embraced the fact that they cause a myriad of illnesses as well as creating a hole in the ozone layer) should be imported to help solve our Dumsor (shortage of power) problem! I pray the Chinese government not to agree, if it is ever asked to issue licences for coal-fired generators to be exported to Ghana. For I know that the Chinese government has adequate technical expertise to be fully informed that such plants produce atmospheric pollutants that kill humans. To send them to countries like Ghana, when the Chinese are themselves phasing theirs out, would constitute a wicked and unfriendly act for which succeeding generations of Ghanaians would never forgive China – a country which people of my generation supported as a good friend at the time (1950s and 1960s) when the USA was trying to influence us to be hostile towards the country they hated and which they labelled as “Red China”.

The thing about carbon emissions is that once they occur, nothing can be done to reduce or reverse their effect on the atmosphere. So, if climate change alters the earth’s temperature by even 1-2 degrees Celsius in five years (say), rainfall can decrease drastically in some areas, while other areas will experience exceptional flooding. Shorelines will be consumed by erosion from the sea, as icecaps melt in the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans and send huge volumes of water and stronger currents barging their omnipotent way around the world. Tsunamis, frightening as they are, will not wait for earthquakes to unleash them. The melting icecaps will release water inexorably to swamp low-lying coastal areas and drown millions of people, or drive them far away from their traditional dwelling places. And of course, massive unrest will destabilise every country in the world.

I told my grand-daughter: “Those are the short-term effects we can expect from climate change. If global warming continues unabated — and after a while the increase in global warming will be in geometric proportions – the whole earth would bake up and become uninhabitable by humans and animals and, of course, plants”.

My grand-daughter asked thoughtfully: “So we shall have to find another planet on which people could go and live?”

“Yes;” I said, “there is talk at the moment that it might be possible to go and inhabit Mars. But it will take so long to even get there!

And how many people could actually go? It will also cost trillions of dollars to send even a handful of people to Mars. The cost alone tells us we must take urgent measures to make the earth safe, unless we want to end the human race. It is such a serious issue that even some of the biggest capitalists have begun to support measures to end climate change, in spite of the fact that it will cost them to experience a fall in profits.

“For instance, I heard a radio programme on the BBC recently in which Sir Richard Branson, one of the richest company owners of the world (Virgin Airlines, etc) said that he wouldn’t mind governments imposing a higher tax on aviation fuel to cut down on the number of flights. Who would have thought that such a man would say a thing like that? But Branson explained that he lived on a beautiful island in the Caribbean and had already seen with his own eyes the terrible effect of global warming on its beauty. Very soon, the incredibly pretty coral reefs in the sea surrounding the island would die off completely if global warming continued, he said.

“Okay, that is the short-term problem,” my grand-daughter said. “What about the long-term future of Planet Earth?

I shall discuss that question in a second article.

* Cameron Duodu is a Ghanaian novelist and veteran journalist.



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Comment & analysis

The ICC is in the I.C.U

Faith Mabera


Criticism of The Hague-based court as targeting African leaders at the behest of Western powers, and the relentless efforts by the Big Men to escape accountability for alleged crimes, seem to frustrate international justice. The ICC might appear to be weak but it still has the teeth to bite.

Word around town these days is that the International Criminal Court has been dealt a death-blow and recovery prospects are looking rather bleak. The Bashir fiasco in South Africa points to some level of truth behind the assertion that the ICC is in fact politically dead but perhaps an even more glaring question is, who will drive the final nail into the coffin?

To answer this, one needs to look no further than the Kenyan case circa 2014 when President Uhuru Kenyatta came out unscathed, and celebrated his acquittal with quite some level of pomp and pageantry. What has followed the dropping of his charges has been a vehement campaign by Kenya to drive Africa as far away from ICC jurisdiction as is legally and politically possible. At every turn, Kenya’s foreign policy interlocutors have sought to bring up the rescission of African states as a block out of the Rome Statute. The 24th AU summit of February 2015 was no exception as Kenya lobbied for the establishment of an African equivalent of the ICC, through the amendment of the Malabo Protocol to grant international criminal jurisdiction to the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. Interestingly, only 11 of 54 states got behind Kenya’s bid to amend the Malabo Protocol. Even Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the pied piper of anti-ICC rhetoric, was silent on the Kenyan-led ICC affront. Little surprise that the most vocal proponent for the amendment was Robert Mugabe, in the seasonal capacity of chairperson of the AU.

Underneath the self-styled, anti-ICC political suasion of Kenya lies a far-reaching motivation: The malaise of African peer-shielding and culture of neopatrimonialism that flies in the face of accountability, justice and human rights norms. It is this culture that has paved way for impunity to flourish, for constitutional mandates to be ignored and for victims’ rights to be trampled on all in the name of African solutions to African problems.

This culture has blighted the impressive catalogue of norms and principles that make up the AU’s security culture such as sovereign equality of members (Article 4a) ; non-intervention by member states (Article 4g); uti possidetis (Article 4b); non-use of force/peaceful settlement of disputes (Articles 4e, 4f, 4i); condemnation of unconstitutional changes of government; (Article 4p) and the Union’s right to intervene in a member state in grave circumstances (Article 4h). The tension that exists between these norms and the notion of continental solidarity at all costs may mean that these very ascriptions are doomed to remain in the realm of the aspirational.

For all that talk of an alternative to the ICC, can we really expect African leaders to deliver? The dubious state of the justice system at the national level in majority of African states does not exactly inspire confidence in the political will to tackle impunity and atrocity crimes head-on. The ICC, and by extension, the twin agenda of protection and prosecution of mass atrocity crimes is on trial in the African court of opinion, and Africa’s leadership is flailing under the burden of proof. South Africa, the self-proclaimed African champion of human rights, found itself in a precarious position in the Bashir issue; balancing continental solidarity with its veiled commitment to the Rome statute. Does this mean that Kenya’s anti-ICC campaign is winning? The answer is far from simple but the fact is at the end of the day, funding is the AU’s Achilles heel. All this talk about Africanisation means little if lofty ideals cannot be backed by sustainable wherewithal.

On its part, the ICC is not merely a sitting duck. Recent developments in the situation in Kenya, particularly the decision by the Trial Chamber to use recanted testimonies of witnesses in the cases against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang, has once again stirred up the anti-ICC offensive with Kenya ready to challenge the legality of the decision. The ruling by the Chamber to use pre-recorded testimonies of witnesses who later pulled out of testifying is based on an amendment to Rule 68 of the Rules of Procedures and Evidence which provides for admission of previously recorded testimonies if witnesses are unable to testify; presumed dead or if there has been interference through intimidation and bribery. The amendment to Rule 68 was passed by the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) in November 2013, long after the trials of Ruto and Sang had begun, a fact that Kenya has been quick to point as illegal. Prosecutor Bensouda has remained relentless in her application arguing that the introduction of pre-recorded testimony would be the only way to ensure that the Court remains committed to fighting impunity especially in a case where there have been allegations of wide-spread interference with witnesses.

The applications by the Office of the Prosecutor for referral of Kenya to the ASP on the issue of non-cooperation; and more recently, the admission of pre-recorded testimony into evidence are signs of a quiet resilience against a portentous wave of unpopularity. So before pundits and naysayers do a jig to proclaim the ICC dead, remember that even some patients in ICU do recover; albeit miraculously. There is still room for norm entrepreneurs to advance justice for mass atrocities in Africa, of course the task is Herculean but the necessary after-care and patchwork has to be done to restore the ICC’s profile in Africa.

* Faith Mabera is a researcher based at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA, a foreign policy think-thank in Pretoria. Her research interests include the Responsibility to Protect, African diplomacy, African foreign policy and human security. [email protected]



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Celebrating the unbowed ‘crazy woman’

Njoki Wamai


September 25 marked the 4th anniversary of the death of Kenya's celebrated environmentalist and Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. A tribute.

Wangari Maathai was always there with us in our house in Kenya when I was growing up. She was there on our television screens, in the morning news on the radio before we went to school and in animated yet hushed conversations about her courage between my parents and their visitors in our living room during the troubled mid-90s. The strong dark woman in African prints and braided hair speaking truth to power when no one dared question the then dictator President Daniel Arap Moi.

She was there even after Moi called her the crazy woman with insects in her head and sycophants in parliament chorused calling her a badly behaved woman and a divorcee who was a threat to Kenya’s national security.

She was there in press interviews and run-ins with the Moi governments hired goons after graciously kneeling to plant a tree.

She was there, at home with grandmothers in villages urging them to plant more trees, as she was dining with world leaders in exclusive locations explaining complex concepts of why they urgently need to address climate change.

The grey Monday morning she left us on September 25, 2011 signified the mood that enveloped me and indeed Kenya and the world as we came to terms with the loss of yet another great non-conformist. Her courage to turn her back on old formulas while inventing the future had left an indelible mark in Kenya and the world we live in. Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary President of Burkina Faso, once said that,

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. […]”
Wangari was labelled a mad woman but because of her madness she reinvented our collective future albeit in her small way.

In her memoir ‘Unbowed’, she reveals the difficult choices she made in her personal life in a conservative Kenya after she went through a painful divorce where she was labelled by her ex-husband as a ‘too strong-minded a woman who was not easy to control’. By Wangari’s refusing to conform as a ‘well-behaved woman’ in her private space she made history and expanded the public space for women at a national and international level in various spaces such as the private space, the academy, in politics and most importantly the ecological space which she was later feted for as a Nobel Laurent. As a feminist, she exemplified the personal is political mantra from her days in the National Council of Women of Kenya, as a founder of the Green Belt Movement when she publicly initiated a campaign that supported another trail blazing Kenyan woman Wambui Otieno whose legendary case to bury her husband SM. Otieno advanced women’s rights. Many ‘well behaved women’ who were beneficiaries of the patrimonial politics of Moi’s leadership refused to support Wangari as she fought for the rights of another ‘crazy’ woman( Wambui Otieno who fought for widows rights to bury their husbands) and for a younger generation of Kenyan women who now enjoy these rights.

These instances of madness and non-conformity have led to several legacies she left us on environment, women’s emancipation and politics. On the environment, her madness finally bore fruit when she recovered and secured our public spaces such as Uhuru Park, Karura Forest and more recently our water towers: the Aberdare and the Mau complex from land grabbers and corrupt politicians. Internationally, as the co-chair of the Congo-Basin fund she tirelessly campaigned to save the African water tower.

In conclusion, the most notable constant that enabled Wangari to soldier on despite adversity and insulting labels such as ‘mad woman’ was her love for the environment.

“A true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” Che Guevara.

We miss you Wangari.

* This article first appeared in the blogFeminista.



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In repressive Ethiopia, the BBC will get listeners

Elyas Mulu Kiros


Tired of a stale diet of propaganda churned out by state radio, many Ethiopians rely on foreign broadcasters to follow events in their own country. Now the BBC has announced plans to broadcast in Ethiopian languages. This is welcome. But Ethiopians must continue the struggle to have their own independent and vibrant media.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has announced that it wants to launch news services to Ethiopia and Eritrea, most likely using these three indigenous languages: Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrigna. The aim, according to the corporation, is to promote democracy and press freedom in both countries. This is good news, but where has it been all these years? And what will it bring to the market that the American VOA isn’t already offering? The VOA has been very influential broadcasting in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrigna languages for decades.

For the majority of Ethiopians, of the over 90 million population, Amharic is their common medium of communication. Ethiopia's current constitution explicitly declares it as the “working language of the federal government,” though stressing that “all languages shall enjoy equal state of recognition.” Aside the historical and political factors that made Amharic the lingua franca of the Ethiopian state, one can’t deny the incredible role it plays in connecting Ethiopians today, whether we live inside or outside the country.

Though the Amhara people of northern Ethiopia are acknowledged as native Amharic speakers, millions of mixed people (disenfranchised in the current political system) use Amharic as their primary language across Ethiopia. There are also people from homogenous ethnic backgrounds, often born in cities, whose first language is Amharic; they could be ethnic Sidama, Oromo, Tigrayan, Gurague, etc.

While Amharic is the bridge that connects Ethiopians, Afaan Oromo is the language of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, who make up 34.49% of the population (2007 census). There is a growing interest to make Afaan Oromo the working language of the federal government, which I support. Afaan Oromo is written in the Latin script, known locally as Qubee, a creative adaptation that meets the language's fundamental needs.

Tigrigna is the third major language in Ethiopia and the official language of Eritrea. Tigrigna and Amharic are written in the Ge'ez (Ethiopic) alphabet – an elegant, endemic writing system, the only one in Africa.


In addition to the VOA, the German DW radio targets Ethiopia's Amharic speakers. But the VOA has a wider audience base in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. These two stations have established themselves as better alternatives to the state news services that essentially broadcast propaganda. Although DW and the VOA have their own agenda (as any mass media organizations funded by governments or interest groups do), millions of listeners eagerly wait for their impartial programming.

Can the BBC deliver the same? I hope. To penetrate the less privileged rural population, the Ethiopian and Eritrean masses who don't speak English, and to capture their attention as the VOA does, the BBC will have to work extremely hard.

In conclusion, I would like to see thriving BBC programs in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrigna. But I also know the BBC will prioritize the UK’s interests. Thus, it is up to Ethiopians and Eritreans to build our own impartial media that can empower us.

*Elyas Mulu Kiros is an Ethiopian blogger and digital content producer.



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Advocacy & campaigns

Fertiliser companies dominate talks on climate change and agriculture, says new report

"Exxons of agriculture" should be kept out of Paris COP21



GRAIN's report shows how fertiliser companies have infiltrated the main policy processes on agriculture and climate to position chemical fertilisers as a solution to climate change and to weaken support for non-chemical farming.

Fertiliser companies are among the world's top climate villains, a new report from GRAIN asserts. Their products could be responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not to mention the damage wreaked on waterways, soils and the ozone layer. But policies to transition agriculture out of its current dependence on chemical fertilisers are being undermined by the fertiliser industry's lobby efforts.

GRAIN's report shows how fertiliser companies have infiltrated the main policy processes on agriculture and climate to position chemical fertilisers as a solution to climate change and to weaken support for non-chemical farming. Under the banner of "climate smart agriculture", fertiliser companies work in alliance with other food and agribusiness corporations to lobby for voluntary, company-led programmes that promote the use of fertilisers, such as Wal-Mart's climate smart agriculture programme or the World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture.

Fertiliser companies even hold sway within the only intergovernmental initiative to so far have emerged on climate change and agriculture. The founding membership and steering committee of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, launched last year at the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, are stacked with fertiliser companies, their front groups and organisations that partner with them.

"Fertiliser companies, like Yara of Norway, are the Exxons of agriculture," says Henk Hobbelink, the Coordinator of GRAIN. "They fuel a model of agriculture that is destroying the planet and they are doing everything in their power to block action on climate change that would injure their profits."

According to GRAIN's report, recent studies show that the overall contribution of chemical fertilisers to climate change has been drastically underestimated. Calculations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of nitrous oxide emissions from the use of chemical fertilisers are 3-5 times below what these studies suggest. The outdated IPCC figures also do not account for global increases in fertiliser production, the increasing reliance on shale gas as a raw material or the destructive impacts of chemical fertilisers on organic matter, the world's most important carbon sink.

"We now can say that the use of chemical fertilisers this year will generate more GHG emissions than the total GHG emissions from all of the cars and trucks driven in the US," says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with GRAIN. "The good news is that there is a quick fix for this problem: a worldwide switch to agroecological practices that can achieve the same yields without chemicals."

Research shows that farmers can stop using chemical fertilisers without reducing yields by adopting agroecological practices. This was also the conclusion supported by the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, a three-year intergovernmental process involving over 400 scientists that was sponsored by the World Bank and all of the relevant UN agencies.

"We can easily kick our food system's toxic fertiliser habit once we remove the fertiliser industry's chock hold on policy makers," says Hobbelink. "This should start with shutting down the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture and keeping the fertiliser lobby out of the COP21 talks in Paris."

GRAIN's report, "The Exxons of agriculture", is available online at

For more information, please contact:

Devlin Kuyek in Montreal (EN, FR): +1 5145717702 or [email protected]
Henk Hobbelink in Barcelona (EN, ES, NL): +34 933011381 or [email protected]

Regulation of informal trade in Johannesburg in disarray, report says


Report concludes that there is considerable scope for the City to improve the management of informal trade, and that any restriction or prohibition on trade is likely to negatively affect the way that traders make a living as it undermines the benefits that traders derive from permanence.

Today the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) releases a new research report. The report, entitled ‘The End of the Street?’ Informal Traders’ Experiences of Rights and Regulations in Inner City Johannesburg, documents the realities of informal trade, and the ways in which it is regulated, in Johannesburg’s inner city.

The report responds to the now infamous Operation Clean Sweep, and what has unfolded in its aftermath. It draws conclusions and makes recommendations based on the experiences and lived realities of traders. These realities expose major gaps in informal trade policy in the city and in the way in which informality has been approached more broadly by the City.

The report presents two sets of findings. The first concerns the realities of informal trade regulation. The management of informal trade in the inner city is in disarray, and regulatory practices are restrictive, inconsistent and enforcement orientated rather than developmental or enabling. The management of informal trade by regulatory authorities is characterised by sporadic rent collection and site inspections which happen at the expense of meaningful consultation and the delivery of infrastructure and services.

The second set of findings presents some of the lived realities of traders making a living in the inner city. These experiences are crucial to understanding the mismatches between informal trading policy and the City’s attitude towards informal trade, as well as the realities of trade on the ground.

The report’s primary conclusions are that there is considerable scope for the City to improve the management of informal trade, and that any restriction or prohibition on trade is likely to negatively affect the way that traders make a living as it undermines the benefits that traders derive from permanence.

However the report concludes that a more inclusive approach is possible. Eradicating informality is not the way to regenerate the inner city. An authentically world class African city accommodates equal access to the economy, and respects the rights of informal traders.

According to Stuart Wilson, executive director of SERI, “‘The End of the Street’ is an important step forward in our understanding of informal trade. It draws attention to the City of Johannesburg’s regulatory failures in facilitating and managing informal trade in the inner city. Its recommendations, if adopted, will make a real contribution to creating a better run, more inclusive and more vibrant Johannesburg. We hope that City managers take on board the contents of the report.”

· The report, as well as a two page summary of its findings, are available for download here.

Contact details:

Dennis Webster, SERI researcher 072 330 9661/ 011 356 5874/ [email protected]

Books & arts

‘Stuffed and starved': A review

Godfrey Eliseus Massay


‘Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System’ is the must-read book for any person who cares about farmers and food. It is a book that must be read by all people who defend the rights of farmers and food sovereignty in Africa and around the globe.

Book: Stuffed and Starved; the Hidden Battle for the World Food System
Author: Raj Patel
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Place of Publication: Brooklyn, New York
Year: Fifth printing, 2009.


Farming has, from time immemorial, been a battlefield. However, in recent decades the battle has escalated. Raj Patel - policy analyst, journalist, and former employee of the World Bank, WTO and the United Nations - carried out a comprehensive investigation of the global food system,documented in this book. The findings are shocking, and expose major players of the food system, their victims, the profit generated by the food industry, contradictions in the food system, and even outlines the alternative paradigm that can be pursued, to extricate the food system from the grip of global corporations. The book looks at the ways the food system is shaped by farming communities, corporations, governments, consumers, activists and movements. These are stories and facts about choices made in the fields, forced through by the choices made at our plates. The sum of these choices has left many stuffed and many starved, with people at either end of the food system obese and impoverished. In this review, I will highlight some of the major issues covered in the book, and situate the discussion in the current Tanzanian food system.


The book has ten chapters. Chapter one is an introduction which provides a general overview of the book and the chapter framework. It highlights some of the contradictions created by the food system. For instance while the world has 800 million people affected by hunger, on the other hand 1 billion people are overweight. Obesity is no longer the result of individual choices, but the natural end product of the food system perpetrated by major food corporations. Farmers, both in the Global South and Global North, no longer have the freedom of choice in what to grow, how to grow, where to sell and what to eat. These decisions are all made by the market, which is itself controlled by food companies. Food Corporations, producers, workers, and consumers are not on a level playing ground. Corporations are so powerful that they decide on the rules of the game and tilt the playing ground in their own favour, with the support of governments through international trade agreements. The end result is that farmers and consumers, especially those in the Global South, suffer the most while corporations generate enormous profit.

Chapter two examines farmer suicides and the forces that are destroying rural communities across the globe. Cases of suicide from India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, the US, and Thailand - to mention just a few - are well-documented in this chapter. The most well-known act of suicide took place on 10th September 2003, at the World Trade Organization Ministerial meeting in Cancun, where Lee Kyung Hae, a Korean farmer and peasant organizer, climbed a fence near barricades behind which the trade meetings were happening. He flipped open his red penknife, shouted “the WTO kills farmers”, and stabbed himself in the chest. He died within hours. Within days, from Bangladesh to Chile, and South Africa to Mexico, tens of thousands of peasants mourned and marched in solidarity with the chant “We Are Lee”. Patel goes into more detail on how international organizations and market forces are working in tandem, the result of which is farmer impoverishment.

Chapter three is acontinuation of the stories narrated in chapter two. However, the focus is more on rural-urban migration, which is a manifestation of the decline in rural farming. Trade agreements are shown to be the powerful instruments underlying such migration, as well as being historical links between food aid, development and insurrection. Chapter four discusses the evolution of the global food system in the aftermath of the Second World War. Of interest in this chapter is how the current global food system is linked to the international financial institutions and the United Nations, in the name of freedom and security. The work of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade Organization has shaped the politics of the global food system through credits, insurance, and trade agreements. This chapter shines a light on the reality of the theoretical premises of political economy, such as Keynesianism, Monetarism, and Developmentalism. One will appreciate the factual and empirical data provided on how Structural Adjustment Programs have affected food systems in the Global South.

Chapter five scrutinizes the food system’s major winners, agribusiness corporations. Today, transnational agricultural corporations control 40 per cent of world trade in food, with twenty companies controlling the world coffee trade, six controlling 70 per cent of wheat trade, and just one controlling 98 per cent of packaged tea. One may not know the true extent of the monopoly of agribusiness corporations by only looking at the brands they use, because most of them use different brands in different regions. Their powers are not just in their dominance of food production value chains but also in national, regional and international policies and politics in agriculture. They have connections and influence with law-making bodies, and are able to ensure that country leaders, research institutions, and financial or agricultural ministers protects their interests. This is what students of political economy call “political rent”. The basis is to make sure that they remain the dominant players in the global food system.

Chapter six shows how the rise to power of agricultural corporations used the ideas of race, science and development to further their control over the very source of life - seed. This is perhaps the most powerful weapon of control, used by agricultural corporations to ensure that farmers have no choice and are forever dependent on them. The knowledge needed to make seeds and grains is protected throughout the globe by international laws. However, important seeds are grown under specif conditions, which are created by agriculturalcorporations through the use of patentedfertilizers and pesticides. All of this is done through the work of science, but advocated for in the name of development and food security. The irony is that the development and security are not in the interests of farmers, but in the interests of corporations that are making huge profits out of the business. Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides are not environmentally or ecologically friendly, and they make rural farming dependent on global corporations.

Chapter seven gives a concrete example of how all these forces have come together in the production of one of the planet’s most important crops : Soybeans. Chapter eight discusses the supermarket, the newest and now the most powerful agribusiness. Through their decisions, and through close supervision of each step in the product chain, supermarket buying desks can fire the poorest farm worker in South Africa, flip the fates of coffee growers in Guatemala and tweak the output of paddy terraces in Thailand. The history of supermarkets is well documented, including the attention paid to the design of these places. In a supermarket everything including the architecture of the shelves, product locations, colors and smells were designed purposely to lure consumers to buy more, and also to reach certain kinds of customers. They guard information on what consumers purchase, and the locations of customers in different areas of their shop, in order to know which products to bring tomarket.

Chapter nine investigates how our tastes are sculpted and how the food system constrains us not just as consumers, but as people living in the world. It shows how our choices are limited and how our foods find us, rather than us choosing what we really want to eat. The final chapter suggests ways we can reclaim food sovereignty. It gives examples of movements such as the Slow Food Movement and Via Campesina, which are dedicated to reclaiming food sovereignty. As a way of summing up, Raj Patel offers some advice on the way out of the mess created by the global food web. He says: transform our tastes, eat locally and seasonally, eat agroecologically, and support locally owned business. He goes on to say that all workers have the right to dignity, and argues for profound and comprehensive rural change, living wages for all, a sustainable architecture of food, snapping the food system’s bottleneck, and owning and providing restitution for the injustices of the past and present. The struggle for reclaiming food sovereignty, Raj says, requires collective efforts to succeed.


The book is relevant to the current food system in Africa. I take the case of Tanzania. Many studies have documented how agriculture developed in the early days of independence, and how the then-government put more emphasis on reforming the agricultural sector. Agriculture was declared the backbone of the economy, and small scale farming the center of agricultural development. However, the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programs changed the politics of agriculture because the government was forced to withdraw from their support of farmers. Laws were drafted to promote foreign and domestic investment, and institutions that protect and regulate investments were put in place. The market was allowed to regulate trade and the State withdrew from control of the trade. Though agriculture is still the backbone of the economy, there is a shift in the policy setup from small scale farming to large scale farming.

In the last seven years, the government of Tanzania has introduced four major agricultural initiatives. In 2009, Kilimo Kwanza was launched; in 2010 it was the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor blue print; in 2012 , the G8 New Alliance supported by USAID was approved; and in 2014 the Big Result Now was launched. These initiatives intend to mechanize and transform agriculture through commercial farming, which is to be implemented in a third of the landmass in mainland Tanzania. Most of the major global agricultural corporations are behind these projects, and have been proudly acknowledged as partners in the project blueprints. A few of them, which I will state here, are Mosanto, Bunge, Unilever, Syngenta, Yara and Du Pont. Of course, the World Bank, as always all over the world, is providing financial support. The popular language of development, food security, and improving small-scale farming through hub and spoke farming models have oiled the campaigns for these major projects. In Tanzania, farmers have resisted these projects on the grounds that they were not consulted during project development, and that the projects affect their land rights and food sovereignty. Civil society organizations such as Haki Ardhi, MVIWATA, Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, Action Aid, Oxfam, JET, and LEAT have documented the social, environmental, and economic implications of such investments.

Supermarkets are newly introduced, but growing steadily in the country. In almost all major cities, such as Dar es Salaam, Arusha, and Mwanza to mention just a few, there is a growing number of supermarkets. Most of the food products sold in these supermarkets are not grown locally. It is no surprise to find an apple from South Africa in the supermarket. People with access to these supermarkets are those with a regular income, mostly wage earners.

There are some companies that dominate the food industry in Tanzania. Bakhresa Group is one such company. A day may not pass in which any urban dweller does not consume one or several of the products produced by Bakhresa Group. The company produces mineral water, soft drinks, ice creams, sweets, baking flour, food spices, bread, cooking flour, and readymade snacks - to mention just a few. However, Bakhresa Group has no obvious influence on rural farmers over what to grow and how to grow it. And yet, rural farmers are likely to grow some of the crops and fruit trees which have dominated Bakhresa Group.

In June 2015, the government of Tanzania allowed Genetically Modified Organisms to be used in some crops. GMOs were strictly prohibited in the country until recently. This is a new development which has to be put in the context of development in the agricultural sector. MVIWATA, a network of small scale farmer’s movements in Tanzania and a member of Via Campesina, cannot fight this alone. They need support from otherof civil society organizations and concerned citizens to reclaim food sovereignty in Tanzania. If the trend of the food system continues to go the way it is going now, we will soon witness many cases of farmer suicides in Tanzania.

Stuffed and Starved; the Hidden Battle for the World Food System is the must-read book for any person who cares about farmers and food. It is a book which must be read by all people who defend the rights of farmers and food sovereignty in Africa. Researchers and policy makers alike will benefit a lot from reading the book.

* Godfrey Eliseus Massay is a land rights lawyer who is based in Arusha Tanzania. He works as land programmes coordinator for Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, a premier natural resource civil society organisation in Tanzania. His research interests are, land tenure reforms, land based investments, agrarian issues, and gender.



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Executive Assistant - Dakar

Permanent €29,474 per annum Closing Date: 14th October 2015


Amnesty International


cc A I
Amnesty International is moving closer to the ground! Our West Africa Regional Office, located in Dakar, works to ensure respect for human rights, and for equal and just societies throughout the region. You’ll provide substantial support to help our management team to succeed. The West Africa Regional Director is a central figure and is seeking a driven and team-oriented person to provide substantial administrative support and assist with her busy agenda.


As the Executive Assistant to the West Africa Regional Director at Amnesty International, you will play an essential role in enabling the Americas leadership to meet ambitious human rights objectives. You will be responsible for providing a range of high-level administrative and other support services to ensure the efficient running of the Director Office. The Regional Director’s work should be effectively supported with the appropriate service, systems and processes to maintain high standards and facilitate monitoring and reporting on work undertaken. Alongside this, the Executive Assistant will also provide full administrative and project management support to the office Team, whilst also contributing to the support of the West Africa management Team.


As the first point of contact for the Regional Director you will be a strong communicator, providing a high-level service to a range of stakeholders. You will be based in Dakar but in constant communication with relevant internal and external contacts in the West Africa region, and other world locations, be detail-oriented, be able to work at pace and to juggle independently the broad requirements of a role at this level of seniority. You must demonstrate the political judgement and discretion to manage sensitive information in addition to the initiative and discipline necessary to working with conflicting priorities and complex activities within a short time frame on a daily basis. You will also have excellent administrative and financial skills with the ability to monitor budgets for individual programmes and the Regional Director office as a whole. You also need to have strong inter-personal skills to secure access to high-level contacts with government officials, and other senior leaders in the public, private and NGO sectors. You are bilingual in French and English.


Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. We reach almost every country in the world and have:
• more than 2 million members and supporters who drive forward our fight for rights
• more than 5 million activists who strengthen our calls for justice
Our aim is simple: an end to human rights abuses. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, fairness, freedom and truth wherever they're denied. And whether we're applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations or online campaigning, we're all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere. We can only do this because of the generous donations from millions of people around the world.

For more information and to apply, please click on the apply link:
View Job Description

Finance and Office Assistant - Nairobi

Closing Date: 8th October 2015 Fixed Term Contract - 6 months $28,287 USD


Amnesty International


cc A I
For over 50 years, we’ve been campaigning for human rights wherever justice, freedom and truth are denied. We’ve reshaped policies, challenged governments and taken corporations to task. In doing so, we’ve changed thousands of lives for the better. Join Amnesty at our new regional office in Kenya and you will too.


The role is a six month maternity cover, working with the Finance and Office Manager to take control of all things finance for our East Africa regional office, and you’ll play a key part in shaping the International Secretariat’s presence in the region. Supporting and participating in implementing our global policies and putting in place local processes and systems will be instrumental to our initial and ongoing operational success. As you would expect, you will support in monitoring budgets, regularly reporting to local and international management and ensuring we meet all the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements. As well as supporting in managing payroll and cash flow, you’ll have responsibility for facilities management, legal compliance, IT and a range of HR activities. This will include securing visas for international staff, assisting in training and ensuring HR best practices. You will be technologically-savvy able to provide assistance on matters IT related with the back-up of our global hub in London.


A qualified accountant with hands on skills in administration, you will be able to easily build working relationships not only with relevant government departments but also with suppliers. You will already be excellent when it comes to monitoring budgets and advising staff on matters related to budgets. You will be more than being methodical, organized and flexible, but also confident in communicating with staff at all levels. The scope of your experience will already be proven in areas related to accounting, administrative, HR, IT and legal systems. You’ll be experienced in HR matters, customer focused and fluent in both English and Kiswahili.
About us:
Our aim is simple: to bring the world closer to a place where human rights are enjoyed by all. Independent, international and influential, we campaign for justice, freedom and truth wherever they’re denied. Already our network of over three million members and supporters is making a difference in 150 countries. And whether we’re applying pressure through powerful research or direct lobbying, mass demonstrations, human rights education, or online campaigning, we’re all inspired by hope for a better world. One where human rights are respected and protected by everyone, everywhere.

For more information and to apply, please click on the apply link.
View Job Description


Deadline for bursary applications: 15 October 2015


cc APR
The South African Research Chair initiative (SARChI) in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment is pleased to announce two new 2015 TrustAfrica / UKZN Post Doctoral Fellowships.

TrustAfrica, under the administration of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa is pleased to announce 2 Post-Doctoral Fellowships for 2015. The fellowship awards are for R200,000 per annum and there is the possibility for a maximum of 2 years. The selected fellowships will be attached to the DST/NRF Research Chair (SARChI) in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment, held by Professor Sarah Bracking. Funding for two fellowships has been made possible by TrustAfrica.

The post-doctoral fellows who receive these fellowships will work on a topic aligned with the focus areas of the Chair and they will be supervised by Professor Bracking.

Research Topics:

The purpose of the Chair is to promote and undertake research on government, private sector and civil society interventions that have been designed to reduce poverty. The two TrustAfrica fellowships will follow research topics around the political economy of illicit financial flows.

Fellowship Award Criteria:

The following eligibility criteria apply:
• Applicants must have completed the doctoral degrees within the last five years;
• Fellowships are open to South African citizens and permanent residents;
• Outstanding international candidates from outside South Africa, who wish to undertake postdoctoral research in South Africa are eligible for support;
• Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis, taking into account applicants’ academic achievements, outputs and research potential.
• Applicants who are applying for a third cycle of postdoctoral research support are not eligible.
• Full-time employees of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are not eligible to apply.
• All fellowship awards should be held as primary funding towards the research study.
• Fellowships must not be held simultaneously with a fellowship from any other source.
• Fellows must not hold full-time salaried employment during the tenure of the fellowship.
• All fellows will be allowed to undertake a maximum of 12 hours of teaching, tutorials, assistance or demonstration duties per week on average, and may be remunerated for these duties, provided that they are reimbursed at a rate not exceeding the normal institutional tariff for services rendered.

In addition to this fellowship application, selected applicants are required to be accepted and registered in the discipline of Development Studies.

Post-Doc Fellowship Award applications should consist of:
1. A letter of motivation;
2. A summary research proposal of 2 pages;
3. A C.V. ;
4. A full academic record; and
5. The contact details of two academic referees.

In addition to the fellowship, successful applicants will also receive support for field work and conference attendance.

Preference will be given to South African applicants.The deadline for bursary applications is 15 October 2015.

Applications should be submitted to: Mrs Kathleen Diga ([email protected]) and Prof Bracking ([email protected]), using the header: TrustAfrica UKZN post-doc application 2015.

For further information please see:

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