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Saving the ICC from African thugtators

Alemayehu G. Mariam


cc HN
When an African president accused of multiple crimes against humanity walks out of court by orchestrating an unprecedented and audacious obstruction of justice, it is not just a flagrant denial of justice to the thousands of victims. It is an outrage against all humanity. It is an affront to the rule of law. It is the triumph of injustice.

It is a dark and gloomy month on the “Dark Continent”! It is the worst of times in Africa when a man in the highest political office accused of egregious crimes against humanity waltzes out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) grinning like a Cheshire cat and flipping the bird to Lady Justice. It’s a good thing she is blindfolded!

On March 8, 2011, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's founding father and first president, was charged by the ICC Prosecutor with five counts of crimes against humanity in connection with the post-election violence that occurred in Kenya in late December 2007. According to the ICC indictment, Kenyatta, at the time a government minister, planned, financed, and coordinated the violence perpetrated against ethnic opponents of his ruling party. Kenyatta is accused of using the “Mungiki organization” (“Kenyan mafia”) to direct murders, deportations, rapes and other forms inhumane acts of persecution. An estimated 1200 persons lost their lives in that violence and nearly 700 thousand were displaced. All the charges against Kenyatta were confirmed by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II in January 2012.

On December 5, 2014, the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, threw in the towel. She filed a notice with the ICC withdrawing allegations against Kenyatta, effectively dismissing the charges. Bensouda accused the Kenyan government of harassing and intimidating prospective witnesses, the principal reason for the withdrawal of charges. She explained, “Given the state of the evidence in this case, I have no alternative but to withdraw the charges against Mr Kenyatta. I am doing so without prejudice to the possibility of bringing a new case should additional evidence become available.” Bensouda was self-consoling, “Today is a dark day for international criminal justice. Be that as it may, it is my firm belief that today's decision is not the last word on justice and accountability for the crimes that were inflicted on the people of Kenya in 2007 and 2008, crimes that are still crying out for justice.”

In an official statement, Kenyatta feigned outrage. “There is no justice when human rights clubs and an international tribunal conspire to betray victims of human rights abuses and persecute the innocent. The tragedy of this travesty is beyond words.” He triumphantly declared, “One down, two to go.” (referring to his deputy and co-defendant William Ruto and radio disk-jockey Joshua arap Sang who are facing similar charges). Is it likely that Ruto and Sang will also get away with murders, rapes and other crimes against humanity at the ICC? Could it be that what is good for Tweedle Dee Kenyatta must also be good for Tweedle Dums Ruto and Sang? In time, they too will walk. To add infamy to insult and injury, Kenyatta’s lawyer had the gall to demand an “apology” from the ICC Prosecutor “for bringing proceedings based upon false witnesses and impugning [Kenyatta’s] integrity”. Such is the utter depraved audacity of criminals against humanity and their defenders.

Of course, nobody bothered to ask the tens of thousands of survivors of the 2007 massacres – the poor and dispossessed men, women and children of the towns of Kibera, Kisumu, Naivasha, and Nakuru and elsewhere – who awaited justice for years how they felt about Kenyatta's flimflamming of the ICC. The powers that be do not give a damn about the thousands of helpless, powerless and defenseless Kenyan victims of crimes against humanity. For the powers that be, it’s all about mind over matter. They don’t mind, and the victims don’t matter.

When a president of an African country accused of multiple counts of crimes against humanity walks out of court by orchestrating and choreographing an unprecedented and audacious obstruction of justice (witness intimidation, stonewalling, sandbagging, firewalling and whitewashing evidence), it is not just a flagrant denial of justice to thousands of human rights abuse victims in Kenya, it is an outrage against all humanity; it is an affront to the rule of law. It is a triumph of injustice in Africa.


I just hate to say it. But I told you. “I done told you! I told you Kenyatta was gonna walk, slide right out of the International Criminal Court dancing the Watusi. I just knowed it!”

In April 2014 when I wrote my commentary, “Saving the ICC: A Proposal for a Witness Protection Program”, I knew Kenyatta was going to walk. I had smelled a rat earlier in January. By April the stench was stinking the high heavens. That’s when I threw in the towel. It was obvious to me Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta would never face trial at the ICC.

I sympathize with the ICC Prosecutor and the ICC. They have been feeling a lot of heat behind the scenes from the powers that be. After all, Kenyatta is a “sitting president”. The ICC, the ICC Prosecutor, the U.N. Security Council and the West in general have been incinerated by inflammatory “race hunting” and "neocolonialism" charges leveled against them by some African “leaders”. Since the middle of 2013, a number of African “leaders” have been beating the drums of racism against the ICC, the U.N. Security Council and the West to divert attention from Kenyatta’s crimes against humanity.

Hailemariam Desalegn, the ceremonial prime minister of Ethiopia and rotational chairman of the African Union (AU), went on the warpath scandalizing the ICC and the ICC Prosecutor for organizing an African safari to “race hunt” black African leaders. It was in stark contrast to the ludicrous and hyperbolic rants of the senile, buffoonish but original thugster Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who in 2003 said: “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times Hitler, that is what we stand for.” Mugabe is proud to be an "African Aryan." Hailemariam is fleeing from the "Great White Race Hunter". How ironic!

In a last ditch effort to blackmail the ICC, Hailemariam and his accomplices at the AU tried to orchestrate a mass walkout on the Rome Statute (the international legal authority which allows the ICC to try criminals against humanity) at a special summit of the African Union in October 2013. In other words, they had planned on dumping the ICC in Africa. It was an iconic moment of shame for Africa and its “leaders”. They gathered in Addis Ababa in a pathetic spectacle like panicked prey fleeing a stalking predator (race hunter) seeking safety in numbers. They huffed and puffed, ranted and raved against the “race hunting” ICC on a safari in Africa. In the end, the threatened “mass treaty-cide” brinksmanship flopped.


I have followed with considerable interest the ICC cases against the various Kenyan defendants involved in the 2007 post-election massacres. I have keenly followed the cases of Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and the radio disk-jockey Joshua arap Sang (also charged with various counts of crimes against humanity). I have read hundreds of pages of trial transcripts in the Ruto/Sang trials and viewed delayed video transmissions of some of the proceedings. I have read a considerable number of commentaries and newspaper reports on these defendants. I have also extensively commented on the Kenyatta/Ruto cases in my weekly "Monday Commentaries".

Why am I so keenly interested in a successful prosecution of these suspected criminals against humanity? To put it more bluntly, why am I so pissed off like a squirrel with a frozen pine cone about the “withdrawal of charges” against Kenyatta and likely dismissal of the cases against Ruto and Sang? The answer to these questions goes back to another post-election massacre in Ethiopia in 2005.

On May 16, 2005, one day after the election, the late Meles Zenawi declared a state of emergency in Ethiopia after it became clear that oppositon parties had routed his party at the polls. Meles took personal command of the armed and security forces and sidelied the capital's police with "federal police" and SWAT-type special units. He outlawed all public gatherings. Meles authorized his troops to use deadly force against any and all protesters.

In 2006, an Inquiry Commission established by Meles himself pointed an accusatory finger solely at him for the deaths of 193 unarmed protesters and life-threateing gunshot injury to nearly 800 others. The actual number of casualties at the hands of regime troops in the post-2005 election is much higher, but the Commission’s report covers only designated dates and locations.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Living comfortably in America, I was unaffected by the Meles Massacres. When I became fully aware of the horrifying scope of the Meles Massacres in 2006, I was beyond outrage. I was “mad as the vexed sea”, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare.

At the time, there were two critical questions uppermost in my outraged mind: 1) Should I speak out or turn a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips to the Meles Massacres? 2) What should and must be done about the Meles Massacres?

My response to the first question was purely moral: I could not shut up and turn a blind eye to the Meles Massacres. I resolved the moral thing for me to do is to speak up and speak loudly and as often as possible to publicize Meles’ Massacres and his partners’ crimes against humanity before the court of world opinion. That I have done unflinchingly since 2006.

On the second question, I believed all responsible persons for the Meles Massacres (including Meles, police and security officials, police, security and military personnel who actually participated in the massacres) should be brought to the bar of justice and held accountable. It did not matter to me how long it took. Time was not of the essence. Justice was. I have always believed that sometimes justice delayed is just that: justice delayed. Not necessarily justice denied. I believe justice can sometimes be like a delayed train. It chugs and lugs, but it always arrives. Justice was delayed for decades for many of those responsible for the Holocaust. (It took 70 years to bring the former Nazi prison guard Johann "Hans" Breyer to the bar of justice. In July 2014, Breyer was charged with 158 counts of accessory to murder for trainloads of victims brought to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland between May 1944 and October 1944.) I was confident and optimistic that Meles and his accomplices would one day be brought to justice for the massacre of 193 unarmed protesters and the attempted murder of 763 others in 2005 no matter how long it took.

In August 2012, jurisdiction over Meles’ crimes against humanity was mysteriously transferred to the Court of Highest Power with no appeals. He swiftly and suddenly received the wages of his crimes against humanity before a court of divinity.

It seems all African dictators attended the same school of dictatorship. If one dictator does something, the rest follow in his footsteps and try to outdo him. They copycat and mimic each other. It is a case of hyena see, hyena do for African dictators.

For me, there was a direct connection between the post-election violence of 2005 in Ethiopia and the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007. I believe Uhuru Kenyatta and his co-defendants drew important lessons from the 2005 Meles Massacres. Kenyatta & Co., saw Meles Zenawi & Co., use ethnically-organized troops to massacre their election opponents and get away without so much as a verbal warning of criminal prosecution for their crimes against humanity in 2005. In fact, they saw Meles Zenawi rewarded by the West with billions of dollars in aid and loans. They saw him being lionized as an “African leader”, not an African ogre of crimes against humanity. Why not do a Meles Massacre in Kibera, Kisumu, Naivasha, and Nakuru? After all, what is good for Ethiopia should be good for Kenya. Is it not true that all good things come to African dictators who massacre their people after elections and panhandle for Western aid and loans?


“Leaders” of the African Union (AU) have made Herculean efforts to defend Kenyatta and his deputy from prosecution in the ICC. They have also made every shameless effort to create an exemption from ICC prosecution for African heads of state. I have used my Lilliputian pen (keyboard) to expose the fraud perpetrated by the so-called African leaders and defend the rule of law, uphold human rights laws and principles and speak up on behalf of victims of crimes against humanity in Africa.

In my first full commentary on the ICC prosecution of Kenyatta et al., I strenuously objected to the shameless AU effort to racialize crimes against humanity. In my September 29, 2013 commentary, “The International Criminal Court on an African Safari?”, I took on Hailemariam Desalegn who had openly declared a rhetorical war of words on the International Criminal Court in May of that year. Hailemariam hurled the inflammatory and completely baseless and shameless allegation in the international media that the ICC was “race hunting” in Africa for seeking to prosecute Kenyatta, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and others. Hailemariam preposterously declared, “African leaders were concerned that out of those indicted by the ICC, 99% are Africans. This shows something is flawed within the system of the ICC and we object to that. The process has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.”

I don’t know why Hailemariam makes a big deal about “99 percent”. In 2010, his party won over 99 percent of the seats in “parliament”; 99.6 percent to be precise. I have been complaining about that for years. Hailemariam has the gall to complain about a 99 percent ICC prosecution in Africa?!

Hailemariam’s claims that the ICC is “flawed” because 99 percent of ICC indictees are Africans reminded me an infamous American bank robber. Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. His answer was simple and disarming. “Because that’s where the money is.” Why are 99 percent of ICC suspects in crimes against humanity from Africa? Because that’s where they are!

I argued that Hailemariam could not use the bogus claim of “race hunting” to shield himself and members of his regime from prosecution for the commission of crimes against humanity in the Ogaden, Gambella and other regions in Ethiopia and in the post-2005 election massacres.

In my October 6, 2013 commentary, “Saving African Dictators from the ICC”, I protested against shameless efforts by so-called African leaders to blackmail the ICC to drop charges against Kenyatta and Ruto; and if that did not work, to snuff and bury the ICC in Africa. I vigorously challenged Hailemariam's mindless crusade against the ICC. I condemned his verbal pyrotechnics against the ICC, particularly his irresponsible accusations that the ICC is "race hunting" in Africa and preposterous claims that the ICC “has degenerated into a political instrument targeting Africa” and “adversely affecting” Kenya.

In my October 10, 2013 commentary “Witness for the International Criminal Court”, I vigorously defended the ICC and the ICC Prosecutor from charges of racism and allegations that they were being used as neo-colonial tools of African oppression. I called for the African Union to call off its extortionist threats of mass withdrawal from the Rome Statute unless charges against Kenyatta and Ruto were dropped. I urged African "leaders" to stop embarrassing themselves by talking all the nonsense about the ICC “race hunting them” and to stand up and fight. I challenged them not flee from the ICC like panicked antelopes chased by a lion on the African plains. I urged the AU leadership to project an image of confident African truth fighters, not cowering African prey fleeing from the “Great White Race Hunter”.

In my October 13, 2013 commentary, “The AU’s Mass Treaty-cide Brinksmanship”, I took head on the so-called African Union leaders who were orchestrating a “mass treaty-cide” (a phrase I was compelled to coin to describe the bizarre threatened walkout on the Rome Statute). At an “extraordinary summit” that month, the AU “leaders” shamelessly demanded “deferral of proceedings against the President and Deputy President of Kenya as well as the President of the Sudan in conformity with Article 16 of the Rome Statute.” They agreed to “undertake consultation with members of the UN Security Council”. Their “mass treaty-cide” collapsed. I suspect they approached the Security Council and grovelled.

In my October 20, 2013 commentary, “Who’s Having ‘Nightmares’ in Africa?”, I pondered over Kenyatta’s statement: “I do not need to tell your Excellencies about the nightmare my country in particular, and myself and my Deputy as individuals, have had to endure in making this realisation.” I thought only the victims of Kenyatta’s alleged crimes against humanity were capable of having nightmares of machete attacks and Molotov cocktails burning their homes. I was wrong. Those who were behind the machete attackers were also having nightmares and waking up in a cold sweat at the thought of being held accountable before the bar of justice. (I hope they will continue to have nightmares until they take their last breaths.)

In my January 2014 commentary, “Kenyatta at the ICC: Is Justice Deferred, Justice Denied?”, I expressed my anxiety over the repeated delays, postponements and all the backpedalling talk about “false evidence” and “lying witnesses” Kenyatta’s trial. I minced no words expressing how felt: “I don’t want to say I smell a rat but I feel like I am getting a whiff. Is the stage being set to let Kenyatta off the ICC hook?”

In my April 2014 commentary, “Saving the ICC: A Proposal for a Witness Protection Program”, I threw in the towel. It was clear to me that world public opinion was being primed for the inevitable dismissal of charges against Kenyatta & Co. However, I believed the show must go on. To save the ICC, I proposed the establishment of an ICC witness protection program patterned after the U.S. model to maximize chances of successful prosecutions of suspect in crimes against humanity before the ICC.


After the big financial institutions plunged the U.S. and much of the world economy into chaos in 2008, the U.S. Government decided to bail them out because they were “too big to fail”. They would not prosecute the white collar criminals who ran the interlocking corporations and financial institutions because they said that would be disastrous to the global economic system.

In my view, the same logic applies in Kenyatta’s case. Kenyatta was too big, too rich and too connected to the global powers that be to nail. Uhuru Kenyatta has been described by Time Magazine as “Kenya’s richest man”. Nailing and jailing Kenyatta in a criminal prosecution at the ICC could have “disastrous” consequences for the rest of Africa. A Kenyatta conviction would have necessitated the ICC to go after every African thug-cum-president and prime minister. Could the ICC really ferret out every African thugtator and deliver them to the bar of justice? Suffice it to say that in the matter of the ICC Prosecutor v. Uhuru Mugai Kenyatta, the verdict was “money talked and Kenyatta walked.”

There are some with overactive imaginations who wonder and speculate if Kenyatta’s case was “fixed” at the ICC. I am not one of them. But I have some questions: Did the powers that be lean on Prosecutor Bensouda to slowly back off the Kenyatta case and make it look good and convincing? Did all of the bellyaching, teeth-gnashing, chest-beating, moaning, groaning, griping and grousing by the so-called African Union leaders put the squeeze on Bensouda? Did the supplications of the African Union “leaders” to the “race hunters” at the Security Council and the ICC make a difference in the withdrawal of charges against Kenyatta? Was the whole Kenyatta case dragged out as a genuine effort to prosecute Kenyatta or to send a strong message to the other African thugtators that the ICC means business and don’t play? They better cool it with all of the massacres. In the Internet age, could the powers that be afford to be seen lounging around in bed with ruthless African thugs? Could the ultimate message of the withdrawal of charges against Kenyatta be: “Kenyatta walks this time, but let it be a lesson to all African thugtators that the next time around, the ICC means business"?

In my humble opinion, the case against Kenyatta should have proceeded to trial with the available witnesses and let the chips fall where they may. With all due respect, I disagree with Bensouda's withdrawal of charges "given the state of the evidence".

It is not uncommon for prosecutors to prosecute infamous criminals and lose big time. For instance, in 1988 in the United States, a federal jury in Newark acquitted 20 members of the Lucchese crime family of New Jersey, delivering a major setback to U.S. federal prosecutors going after mobsters and becoming the longest federal criminal trial in American history. The U.S. Government had to prosecute John Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family, three times before convicting him. Often when prosecutors lose big cases, the losses steel their determination. They learn from their mistakes and come back stronger, leaner and meaner than ever.

That is what should have been done in the Kenyatta trial in my view. Try Kenyatta with the available evidence because that is the right, just and fair thing to do. I also believe Kenyatta deserved an opportunity to clear his name. In March 2012, Kenyatta said, “I am confident that the truth will come out and I will be vindicated in the fullness of time.” The only way the truth could come out is if a full trial is held. Only a fair trial could have guaranteed Kenyatta the vindication he sought. It was very possible for Kenyatta to be acquitted.

Kenyatta will never be able to clear his name merely because charges were “withdrawn”. Kenyatta knows that the charges of crimes against humanity can never be withdrawn from the judgment of history. His legacy will forever be stained by the charges of crimes against humanity filed against him. His family’s name will forever be besmirched by the charges. He will go to his grave knowing that he was accused (and weaseled out) of crimes against humanity and never exonerated in a fair trial. His epitaph will read, “Kenyatta, Suspected Criminal Against Humanity!”

Some of my long time readers may be surprised by my visceral reaction to the withdrawal of charges against Kenyatta. As a dyed-in-the-wool defense lawyer, shouldn’t I be on the side of the accused come hell or high water? What happened to my lofty principles of presumption of innocence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt and due process?

I do not believe it is hypocritical of me to take a strong pro-prosecution stance in the Kenyatta, et al. matter. First, I have no doubts Kenyatta thwarted and subverted justice. The pre-trial transcripts provide reasonable basis to make that conclusion. Kenyatta got away with crimes against humanity not because there was insufficient evidence to convict him but because he did not play fair. Just like the late American mob boss John Gotti who tampered with witnesses and paid off jurors to get an acquittal.

I cannot and will never condone legal “victory” procured by chicanery, skullduggery and underhandedness. In fact, I condemn it unreservedly. When a defendant intimidates witnesses, bribes witnesses and suborns perjury and gets a “withdrawal of charges”, that is not due process. That is a miscarriage of justice, a crime on the justice system itself.

Kenyatta did not get the “withdrawal of charges” fair and square. The charges were withdrawn because witnesses were intimidated and bribed and the Kenyan government stonewalled and sandbagged the ICC prosecutor and refused to fully cooperate. In February 2013, Prosecutor Bensouda asserted that persons associated with Kenyatta had bribed and/or attempted to pay off a witness to withdraw his testimony and not to testify in the case. Bensouda stated, “Witness 4 revealed in May 2012 interview that he had been offered, and accepted, money from individuals holding themselves out as representatives of the accused to withdraw his testimony against Uhuru… The witness provided emails and bank records that confirmed the bribery scheme. In light of these cumulative revelations, the prosecution considers it is not useful to call him as a witness.” Kenyatta took every measure to prevent the ICC prosecutor from obtaining evidence from his government that was properly within the right of the prosecutor to demand and obtain.

A fair trial means playing by the rules and winning, not winning by subverting the rules and making a mockery of justice! There is no question Kenyatta beat the rap big time. Of course, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But in the court of world public opinion, he is guilty as sin. In the minds of the thousands of Kenyans he is alleged to have victimized, Kenyatta is guilty as charged. In the court of his own conscience, Kenyatta must wrestle with this matter as long as he lives.


I have no doubts that African leaders-cum-thugs are examining Kenyatta’s case and heaving a big sigh of relief. Whew! If Kenyatta had been successfully prosecuted, they could be next in line. No worries now. They chuckle in the thought that after the Kenyatta case, the ICC is just an International Criminal Court of Chumps. It is time to pop up the champagne bottles, lock arms and do the do-si-do singing:

Around your partner do-si-do,
Around your partner here we go (out of the ICC),
Around your partner and you’ll see,
How much fun it is to (screw the ICC),
Around your partner do-si-do…

I have no doubts that African leaders-cum-thugs looking at their Kenyan brethren are sneering and thumbing their noses at the ICC. That’s why all who believe in the rule of law must rally to save the ICC.


In my October 6, 2013 commentary, “Saving African Dictators from the ICC”, I was “concerned”, tongue-in-cheek, about the “welfare” of African dictators. Now, I am genuinely concerned whether we can save the ICC from the International Criminals and Crooks in high offices in Africa (ICC of A)?

Kenyatta’s alleged victims of crimes against humanity have certainly given up on the ICC. They are unlikely to believe the ICC can be saved. Following the “withdrawal of charges” by the ICC Prosecutor, the Voice of America reported, “Victims of the post-election violence [in Kenya] still feel they have not received justice. Many already had lost faith in the ICC process before Friday's announcement.”

There are many naysayers and doomsayers who are predicting demise of the ICC. They say the Kenyatta case shows the ICC has failed and lost credibility. It is washed up. It has become a make-believe court.

My confidence in the ICC and the ICC Prosecutor is shaken, but I am not ready to walk out on the ICC. I believe the ICC can be strengthened and made more effective in its mission of identifying, investigating and prosecuting criminals against humanity. That does not mean tough questions cannot be asked of the ICC.

There is no question the ICC and ICC Prosecutor have some serious accounting to do. The ICC has 34 judges, over 700 staff, and an annual budget of $166 million. It has burned through well over one billion dollars over the past 12 years. For a billion dollars, the ICC has produced only two (Germaine Katanga and Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the DR Congo) convictions. It also has fewer than three dozen suspects and defendants in the pre-trial phase, including those listed as fugitives. Forbes Magazine properly asked:

“They say you can’t put a price on justice but $500 million per warlord conviction seems high by any standard. And what do 34 judges do all day? You don’t have to be a legal expert to figure that the preventive effect of convicting 2 warlords in 12 years doesn’t exactly leave international war criminals shaking in their boots.”

My questions are: Could a portion of those billion dollars be used to compensate and rehabilitate victims of crimes against humanity? Is it not important to think about the victims of crimes against humanity and not only the monstrous perpetrators of crimes against humanity? If it is true that one cannot put a price on justice, is it equally true that one cannot put a price of the suffering of victims against humanity?

I believe the ICC and the ICC Prosecutor must do at least two things to be effective and avoid the type of end-run executed by Kenyatta: 1) prosecute African thugtators like the U.S. Government prosecutes mafia bosses, and 2) set up an effective witness protection program for persons cooperating with the Prosecutor and Court along the line of the U.S. federal witness protection program.

It is my view that African thugtatorships are essentially criminal racketeering organizations. The chief thugtators go by such titles as “prime ministers” and “presidents” but they are and operate no differently, except for scale, than mafia thugs or bosses. Mafia bosses rule with an iron fist using their “soldiers”. So do African thugtators. Mafia bosses have absolute control over their henchmen. So do African thugtators. Mafia bosses are ruthless in dealing with their enemies. So are African thugtators. Mafia bosses are in business for profits from their criminal enterprises across regions (syndicates). African thugtators are in politics to steal from the national treasury and engage in corruption on a national level (syndicates).

As I argued in my February 2012 commentary, “Thugtatorship, the Highest Stage of African Dictatorship”, if democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, a thugocracy is a government of thieves, for thieves, by thieves. Simply stated, a thugtatorship is rule by a gang of thieves and robbers (thugs) in designer suits. It is becoming crystal clear that much of Africa today is a thugocracy privately managed and operated for the exclusive benefit of bloodthirsty thugtators. In a thugtatorship, the purpose of seizing and clinging to political power is solely to accumulate personal wealth for the ruling class by stealing public funds and depriving the broader population scarce resources necessary for basic survival.

The ICC needs to adopt the investigative and prosecutorial strategies of U.S. federal prosecutors who pursue mobsters in their investigations and prosecutions of African criminals against humanity. U.S. prosecutors finally nailed Gotti after they were able to convince his underboss Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano to break the mobsters’ Omerta (code of silence) and testify against Gotti. If the ICC Prosecutor is serious about catching and prosecuting crimes against humanity at the highest levels of African politics, the Prosecutor will need to develop a network of informants in African regimes who can provide substantial evidence of crimes against humanity.

The principal problem in prosecuting incumbent African leaders suspected of crimes against humanity is (and will be) finding and securing the cooperation of credible witnesses inside the countries of the accused African leaders. As the Kenyatta case has shown, it may be easier to find a snowball in hell than finding witnesses in Africa willing to come forward to testify against “sitting African presidents, prime misters” and the like suspected of crimes against humanity. The absence of an effective and robust witness protection program is and will continue to be the Achilles heel of the ICC.

I have previously shared my views on the issue of having an effective ICC witness protection program in my April commentary, “Saving the ICC: A Proposal for a Witness Protection Program”. It is clear witness protection is a big problem for the ICC. In 2013, the International Bar Association International Criminal Court Programme (IBA) issued a report entitled, “Witnesses before the International Criminal Court”, documenting the challenges facing the ICC in “protecting, supporting and ensuring the rights of witnesses” before that tribunal. The report pointed out significant deficiencies in the ICC’s witness protection efforts and services. These included deficiencies in “obtaining state cooperation, supporting witnesses’ practical and psychosocial needs, organising logistics, securing their safe passage to The Hague, and protecting persons from potential threats or interference during investigations and trials.”

The ICC Prosecutor and the Court itself must find other effective ways of preventing witness intimidation, witness tampering, witness payoffs and subornation of perjury if the Rome Statute is to remain a credible deterrent to crimes against humanity for African leaders-cum-thugs and others. I believe the ICC Prosecutor should initiate its own “International Criminal Court Witness Protection Program” for deserving and carefully vetted witnesses patterned after the U.S. witness protection program (WITSEC). WITSEC provides effective protection to threatened and vulnerable witnesses against organized criminals before, during, and after a trial. In the U.S. program, witnesses and their families are provided new identities and documentation and relocated. Since the program was launched in 1971, nearly ten thousand witnesses and family members have been placed in the WITSEC program. Incredibly, “95% of the witnesses in the program are criminals.”

Just as the U.S. Government offered Mafia underbosses, capos, consiglieres and soldiers prosecutorial leniency and the chance to join WITSEC, the ICC Prosecutor should be prepared to offer full protection and a range of attractive incentives to those credible witnesses against the African bigwigs accused of crimes against humanity, including the chance for relocation to another country with their families. Without an ICC witness protection program, the chances of securing the cooperation of credible witnesses could be extremely limited. When WITSEC was first launched, many people expressed moral outrage over the whole idea of “coddling” and dealing with criminal snitches to catch the big criminal fish. They criticized Congress for following the “end justifies the means” policy. Though the Mafia is not out of business, racketeering laws and the WITSEC program have made a significant dent in all forms of organized crime in the U.S. and rendered organized criminals weak and vulnerable.

I believe many African criminals against humanity in power today feel confident that they will laugh their way out of the International Criminal Court certain in the knowledge that no one would dare testify against them and expect to live in their countries. The ICC should learn this fundamental lesson from the Kenyatta case. Justice is priceless but the small price of delivering justice to the victims of injustice and crimes against humanity is an integrated witness protection program. The alternative is courtroom window dressing, playacting justice on a world stage and telling a courtroom tale of injustice “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” as Shakespeare might have said.


The Kenyatta affair accentuates my present concerns about potential crimes against humanity that could be committed in the so-called election scheduled in Ethiopia in 2015. I know it is a make-believe election as was the 2010 "election". In 2010, the ruling party, the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), won 99.6 percent of the parliamentary seats. My concern is whether the TPLF will resort to crimes against humanity in a desperate effort to get that four-tenths of a percent in the 2015 “election” and polish off its victory by 100 percent victory.

There is an objective basis for my concern. On numerous occasions, Hailemariam has said that he will always walk in the footsteps of his late mentor and role model Meles Zenawi. On September 21, 2012, Hailemariam emphatically declared he will continue “Meles's legacy without any change”.

As far as I am concerned, Meles’ greatest legacy is a dark and bloody one involving the massacre of 193 unarmed protesters and shooting of 763 others. Will Hailemariam and his puppet-masters follow in Meles’ bloody footsteps and massacre unarmed citizens challenging the 2015 make-believe election?

The evidence seems clear. Hailemariam and his TPLF bosses seem to have the whole make-believe election mapped out to a T:

Phase I (completed)- Shutter all newspapers, magazines and independent publications and jail journalists, reporters and even social media bloggers.

Phase 2 (underway)- intimidate, terrorize, jail and prosecute opposition party leaders and all others who oppose the TPLF. Hundreds of members and leader of Blue Party were beaten and jailed for protesting peacefully. (See video of beatings and arrests of Blue Party members by clicking here.)

Phase 3- Unleash random violence throughout society and blame opposition parties, “terrorists”, etc. for deaths and injuries. (That will come just before the onset of the 3-month campaign period for the make-believe election).

Phase 4- Declare a state of emergency. (That will likely happen sometime during the three-month campaign period and extend into the post-election period.)

Phase 5- Celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Meles Legacy of 2005.

There is one thing that never ceases to amaze and dismay me. All the good things in life turn into a curse in Africa. In many parts of the world, elections, oil and minerals are sources of prosperity and good life. In Africa, they become a curse, a source of massacres, civil wars and corruption. Why? I don’t know!

Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

I protest! Je proteste!

I accuse! J’accuse!

* Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam, a lawyer and political scientist, teaches at California State University, San Bernardino. His teaching areas include American constitutional law, civil rights law, judicial process, American and California state governments, and African politics.



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Kenya Security Bill tramples on basic rights

Lawmakers should reject amendments

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International


cc AE
The hastily drafted security bill infringes on many basic rights and freedoms protected in Kenya’s constitution and international human rights law. The authorities need to focus on how Kenyan security agencies have long violated human rights with impunity, and not empower these forces further.

(NAIROBI, DECEMBER 14, 2014) – Kenyan lawmakers should reject far-reaching new security amendments that would add new criminal offenses with harsh penalties, limit the rights of the arrested and accused people, and restrict freedoms of expression and assembly, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

On December 11, 2014, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Administration sent to the parliament the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014. The bill contains a wide array of amendments to 21 laws and could be adopted by parliament in the coming days.

‘The hastily offered security bill infringes on many basic rights and freedoms protected in Kenya’s constitution and international human rights law,’ said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. ‘Authorities need to focus on how Kenyan security agencies have long violated human rights with impunity, and not empower these forces further.’

The proposals follow two attacks on civilians in Mandera County, which borders Somalia, for which the militant Islamist Somali-based group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. On November 21, attackers stopped a Nairobi-bound bus and killed 28 passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed. On December 1, Al-Shabaab fighters raided a quarry in Mandera and killed 36 people, again apparently discriminating among people there on the basis of religion.

Kenya’s security forces have been long criticized for their violations of human rights. The Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU), in particular, has been linked to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in the context of counter-terrorism operations and operations aimed at Al-Shabaab.

On December 8, Al Jazeera aired a report in which anonymous members of the ATPU were interviewed saying they had participated in the extrajudicial killing and forced disappearance of suspects. Kenyan authorities have not evidently investigated these allegations or made any serious efforts to hold those responsible to account.

Kenya has faced increased attacks targeting civilians since October 2011, when its troops entered Somalia in the context of military operations against Al-Shabaab. The response of the Kenyan security forces to these attacks has been to conduct operations that have resulted in numerous human rights violations in Nairobi, at the coast, and in the North Eastern province bordering Somalia.

Meanwhile, authorities overseeing police and security have stalled in carrying out reforms to improve oversight and accountability for abuses, which the government promised in 2010, following the adoption of a new constitution.

The police vetting process was stopped in July following a series of Al-Shabaab attacks in Lamu and Tana River. The government of President Uhuru Kenyatta has alo passed laws this year that weaken accountability and oversight mechanisms such as the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).

Human rights organizations, including the constitutional Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, opposition party lawmakers, and the IPOA have objected to the hasty way the bill was introduced. Supporters have sought an exception to standard procedures to accelerate the bill’s passage.

Kenya’s constitution requires a referendum before any new law that limits rights protected under chapter four of the constitution can be adopted. But no referendum was proposed for this bill. The bill was offered for parliamentary debate within hours, leaving no time for public scrutiny and comment. The bill’s amendments have also been described as ‘minor,’ which exempts it from lengthy procedures and scrutiny that would have been required had it been introduced as a substantive bill.

‘The cumulative effect of the amendments could return Kenya to the police state of the 1980s and 90s, and nullify recent progress on protecting human rights,’ said Muthoni Wanyeki, regional director for East Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes at Amnesty International. ‘Parliament needs to reject these amendments, stand behind Kenya’s constitution, and pass measures aimed at making police and the military more effective and accountable.’


Articles 62 through 66 of the bill amending the National Intelligence Security Act broaden the powers of security officials to arrest and detain people and could violate due process rights. The bill expands the powers of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to stop and detain suspects, search and seize private property, and monitor communications without a court warrant.

The bill seeks to significantly expand the powers of intelligence officers. Such powers had been withdrawn in the 1990s after the then-Special Branch, now the NIS, was accused of the torture of political activists and of detaining them for several years without trial.

Article 62 authorizes NIS officers to ‘do anything necessary to preserve national security’ and to detain people even on suspicion of ‘engaging in any act or thing or being in possession of anything which poses a threat to national security.’

Other amendments that propose alarming changes to current legislation include:

• Article 18, to enable police to extend pre-charge detention for up to 90 days with court authorization, well beyond the 24-hour limit that Kenyan law currently allows.
• Article 19, to allow prosecutors to not disclose evidence to the accused if ‘the evidence is sensitive and not in the public interest to disclose.’
• Article 66, to enable NIS officers to carry out ‘covert operations,’ broadly defined as ‘measures aimed at neutralizing threats against national security.’

Several other provisions introduce new, broadly defined offenses that could be used against people who associate, knowingly or not, with terrorist suspects, the organizations said.

For example, article 72, section 9(a), on ‘facilitation of terrorist acts’ punishes ‘a person who advocates, glorifies, advises, incites, or facilitates’ acts of terrorism. This language could be used against the lawyers of suspects, (some Kenyan lawyers fear) or to limit speech. The offense is punishable with up to 20 years in prison.

Article 73, section 12(a) (2), creates a presumption that the ‘unlawful possession of improvised explosive devices, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades or grenades shall be presumed to be for terrorist purposes’ – placing the burden on the defendant to prove they were not using the weapon for terrorist purposes. The law provides punishment of up to 20 years in prison for anyone who uses a weapon for purposes of terrorism in committing an offense.

The bill also would amend Kenya’s refugee laws, including article 58, which would cap the number of refugees in Kenya at 150,000 and compel refugees and their families to stay only in designated camps while their applications for asylum are processed.

The proposal could result in forced return, or refoulement, of asylum seekers when the upper limit of refugees and asylum seekers is reached. Kenya, which now hosts more than 600,000 refugees, could be forced to expel refugees and asylum seekers to comply with this provision. The provisions contravene both Kenya’s Refugee Act of 2006 and international law, including the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects Relating to Refugee Problems in Africa, which prohibit denying refugees and asylum seekers entry into the country.


The security bill includes provisions that would make it harder to expose and criticize violations by security forces, the groups said.

Article 75, section 30(a) of the bill would punish with up to 14 years in prison anyone who ‘publishes or utters a statement that is likely to be understood as directly or indirectly encouraging or inducing another person to commit or prepare to commit an act of terrorism.’ This overly broad provision could be interpreted to apply to social media or any other public forum.

The bill expands the understanding of ‘radicalization’ to possibly include activism, with article 73, section 12(d), describing ‘a person who adopts or promotes an extreme belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious and social change.’ The unclear language could be interpreted to prosecute political and human rights activists, with sentences of up to 30 years.

Article 75, sections 30(f) (1) and (2), also broadly prohibit broadcasting any information likely to undermine investigations or security operations without police authorization and prohibits publishing or broadcasting photographs of victims of a terrorist attack without police consent.


The security bill would limit basic rights to freedom of assembly and association with vague provisions subject to abuse, the groups said. The proposals create even greater concern considering the current hostility toward non-governmental organizations working on governance and human rights in Kenya.

Article 4 would authorize the cabinet secretary for interior, a presidential appointee, to decide when and where public meetings can be held. Kenya has a history of retaining executive control over public gatherings that was used to restrict freedom of peaceful assembly during the Moi government.

The bill in article 107 would amend the Public Benefits Organizations (PBOs) Act, 2013, giving full discretion to the authority responsible for registration of organizations to classify organizations and, in consultation with the cabinet secretary, to review the classification.

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An advisory on the Security Laws (Ammendment) Bill 2004

Kenya National Human Rights Commission


cc SCS
The Kenya government is pushing a raft of changes to security laws that if enacted would return the country to the dark days of dictatorship. An analysis of the Bill by the country’s statutory human rights body reveals that the proposed changes are momentous and seek to amend the Bill of Rights without a referendum and fundamentally alter the principles of criminal justice.


1. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) is an independent national human rights institution (NHRI) established under Kenyan Constitution[1] and in line with the Paris Principles[2] . The National Commission’s mandate is to promote the respect, protect and observe of human rights in the Republic of Kenya. In line with this mandate, KNCHR reviews legislation and policy to ensure its compliance with the Constitution of Kenya (CoK), 2010[3] and with regional and international human rights standards and principles[4] .

2. KNCHR has reviewed the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and on 15th December 2014 presented its views to the National Assembly through the Administration and National Security Committee. We make these observations and proposals in public interest.


3. Chapter One of the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya begins with affirming the sovereignty of the people[5] Constitutional supremacy[6] and obligates everyone to respect, uphold and defend the Constitution. The Constitution grants a robust Bill of Rights, creates various institutions, and provides guiding principles and national values to deliver the promise of the new Constitution.

4. KNCHR appreciates and acknowledges that security and development are integral components of human rights and supports the government’s efforts to addressing the spiraling insecurity in the country. However, there is need to balance a tough government stance on security alongside its human rights obligations under national and international law. Towards this end the ongoing security measures and policies should be consistent with human rights standards and principles and must ensure meaningful civilian oversight of security institutions and security policies. There is urgent need to prioritize security sector reforms as detailed in the Ransley Task Force Report[7] .


5. The Bill seeks to amend 22 Laws of Kenya namely; Public Order Act (Cap 56), Extradition (continuous and foreign countries) Act (Cap 76), Penal Code (Cap 63), Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 75), Prevention of Terrorism Act (2012), Sexual Offenses Act (2006), Registration of Persons Act (Cap 107), Evidence Act (Cap 80), Prisons Act (Cap 90), Firearms Act (Cap 114), Radiation Protection Act (Cap 243), Rent Restriction Act (Cap 296), Kenya Airport Authority Act (Cap 395), Traffic Act (Cap 403), Investment Promotion Act (Cap 485), Labour Institutions Act (2012), National Transport Safety Authority Act (2012), Refugee Act (2006), National Intelligence Service Act (2012), Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act (2011), National Police Service Act (2011) and Civil Aviation Act (2013),Public Benefits Organizations Act,2013.

6. The Memorandum of Objects and Reasons states that “The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 is in keeping with the practice of making minor amendments which do not merit the publication of a separate Bill and consolidating them into one Bill”. However, an analysis of the Bill reveals that the proposed changes are neither minor nor miscellaneous and should have been amended through various Acts as is the procedure. They are momentous and seek to amend the Bill of Rights and fundamentally attach the principles of criminal justice. Accordingly, Article 255 states that any changes to the Bill of Rights require a referendum. This proposals impact on several other Acts of Parliament including the laws relating to the County Governments. They further erode the principle of separation of power by giving enormous powers to the executive.


(i) Process: KNCHR is concerned that contrary Article 118(b) Parliament has not facilitated meaningful and effective engagement of the public with the proposed Bill. The Bill was published on 10th December 2014 and was not made immediately accessible before it was debated. The tight timelines given by the Departmental Committee on the Administration and National Security for making submissions have limited effective public participation given the complexity of security issues. Art.10 of the Constitution obligates all state organs (including parliament) to observe the national values and principles of governance which include participation of the people; inclusiveness, human rights, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability;

(ii) Unconstitutionality of a number of provisions: Most of the main proposals in the Bill are in conflict with the Constitution or will upon implementation result in a limitation of the Bill of Rights.

(iii) Article 238 provides that National Security shall be promoted and guaranteed subject to the authority of the Constitution and Parliament. Further, that the national security shall be pursued in compliance with the law and with utmost respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. This is an absolute requirement and not subject to the exercise of discretion.

(iv) The Constitution provides for separation of power between the executive, legislature and judiciary. The current proposals shift this balance by promoting an exceedingly powerful executive, removes the oversight from Parliament with no other accountability to any other institution.

a. Freedom of Assembly and Association: Clause 4, 5 and 7 proposes to amend the Public Order Act so as to give powers to the Cabinet Secretary to designate areas where and times at which public gatherings or public processions may be held under Article 36. This contravenes Articles 10, 36,37 and 119. The limitations have the effect of negating the essence of the right and gives unfettered powers to the Cabinet Secretary without any oversight from Parliament. The current law requires an individual to notify the authority, give details of the purpose, date, duration, location and route of the procession are adequate. Amend: the CS should Gazette designated areas and times when public meetings should be held only after public participation, public review and approval by Parliament. This must contain a rationale. In respect to meetings, this can only be limited only in the interest of national security and order.

b. Clause 107 and 108. It is not clear how the proposed amendment to the Public Benefit Organisations Act addresses the security challenges with the proposed classification. This is not even mentioned in the memorandum of the bill. This only signifies an attempt to maintain control over these organisations especially those dealing with human rights and governance. The Cabinet Secretary gazetted a multi-stakeholder taskforce that is supposed to consider what changes needs to be put in place before the PBO Act is operationalised. Amend: delete.

c. Clauses 66, 75 and 80. The general international standards on freedom of assembly require that unnecessary restrictions be avoided. There is a presumption in favour of holding peaceful assembly without restrictions under Article 37. Any restrictions to this freedom must be based on clear evidence, must be comprehensive, purposeful and in keeping with international human rights law. The restrictions, if any, should be proportional and the authorities should prefer the least intrusive means to achieve the legitimate objective they pursue. The focus should be on the stated intentions of the organizers of an assembly rather than on the possibility of disorder. Therefore the authorities have the onus to ensure there is peaceful assembly rather than using the possibility of disorder to restrict or ban an assembly. Delete

d. Freedom of Expression and Information: Clause 15, 72 and 73 amends the Penal Code to create the offence of publishing or causing to be published or distributed obscene, gory or offensive material likely to cause fear and alarm to the general public or disturb public peace. This impacts on Articles 34(2) and 35 which prohibits state control of the media and parliamentary legislation. The Media Act 2013 and Kenya Information and Communication [Amendment] Act 2013 addresses the stated concerns and have not been fully operationalised due to pending cases. Is Parliament legislating in vain? What is the meaning of 'facilitating of terrorist act' and 'publication of offending material' and 'prohibition from broadcasting'?

e. Whereas the import of these provisions is clear when applied to communication by extremist and terrorist groups, the section does not seem to make exception for the role media and other actors play in sharing information and social commentaries on current issues. The existing media regulatory framework can adequately address the concerns of responsible journalism.

f. Restriction of the media has the overall effect of diminishing the freedom of expression and freedom of opinion in Kenya. The General Comment No. 34 on Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) underscores that these two freedoms are the corner stone for every free and democratic society. The General Comment mirrors the provisions of Article 24 of the Constitution on the limitation of rights. The limitation has to be proportionate to the nature of the offence and should be necessary in a free and democratic society. It also provides that other less restrictive means should be adopted rather than those that are severe in limiting the right or freedom. The proposed fines of 1million and 5 million are punitive and not proportional to the limitation intended by the amendment. Amend: delete.

g. Access to Justice: The principles of criminal justice in respect to equality before the law, rights of an arrested person, right to fair trail and innocent until proved guilty are eroded. Clause 18 (4) (c) and (10) makes it possible for persons to be held without charge for a period of up to 90 days. This provision allows for detention without trial as a person is merely produced in court but NOT charged. This violates Article 49 (g), 25 (a) and (c) which provides that the right to be charged, not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and the right to a fair trial. These rights are non-derogable. Amend: The Police must furnish the court with a charge sheet indicating the nature of the offence and the accused should be charged and allowed to take plea. The Amendment Bill should also provide a time frame within which the trial of the accused person should commence.

h. Clause 19 allows the prosecution to withhold information and witnesses from an accused person and forces the accused person to incriminate themselves by sharing their information and witnesses. This violates Article 49 (d), (f), (i), (j),(l) and Article 50 on the right to a fair trial with a special focus on the principle to innocence until proved guilty. The accused person should be given all information that will enable him/ her prepare his or her defence. Amend: The accused should have reasonable access to information assist him/her people prepare his/her defence.

i. Clause 77. Removes the necessity of the police to inform the court why they are holding suspects beyond 90 days to 360 days. This is an element of detention without trial and violates the Constitution. Amend: delete

j. Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers: A key principle of refugee protection is the principle of non-refoulement, which protects both asylum seekers and refugees from being returned to their places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened. Clause 58 proposes to limit the number of Refugees and Asylum seekers permitted to stay in Kenya to 150,000 persons. UNHCR current statistics provide that total population of concern is close to 600,000 (539,938 Refugees, 52,285 asylum seekers and 20,000 stateless persons). International law and practice does not put a cap on the number of refugees or asylum seekers that can be accepted by a state this is dealt with in an administrative and political manner. The rationale is that it is not the sole responsibility of a host state to cater for the refugees since they are seen to be the responsibility of the international community. Thus, international bodies such as the UNHCR are involved in supporting refugees within the designated territory of UN member states. Amend: delete this clause.

k. Clause 55 and 57. The obligation to report to the Commissioner of Refugees immediately is important. However the grace period of 30 days is important to allow the asylum seeker time to be able to submit themselves within a certain period. The requirement also of reporting once exit from the camp is an administrative matter which is already happening through the Protection or Camp Officers. Amend: delete.

l. Right to Privacy: Clause 66 amends the National Intelligence Service Act by deleting the entire Part V of the Act and replacing it new Part V- Covert operations and allows the Director General 'to do anything' which is repeated four (4) times!. This part eliminates the need for the NIS to seek a warrant from court meaning that the officers are able to carry out their functions without due regard to the law and respect for human rights, contrary to Article 238. It also suspends the role of the judiciary to ensure protection of privacy. Amend: delete.

m. Like the defunct Special Branch, the Bill seeks to give the NIS powers to arrest suspects. In essence the NIS is given powers and functions outside of its constitutional mandate and begins mixing the powers of policing and intelligence! It should be noted that there is no civilian oversight authority over the conduct of the NIS like the Independent Oversight Authority (IPOA) is to the National Police Service. The NIS should concentrate on their core constitutional mandate of gathering intelligence on criminal activity that assists the police into preventive action and if there is to be any amendment is to extent the civilian oversight of IPOA to NSIS. We remind Kenyans of the heinous atrocities committed by NIS’s predecessor, the Special Branch, which wielded similar unfettered powers as the proposed ones. Hundreds of Kenyans were held incommunicado, killed and tortured in the infamous Nyati and Nyayo house torture chambers for speaking out against bad governance. To date the survivors and families of victims are still seeking justice. Amend: Delete or/Build an accountability mechanism by expanding the IPOA powers to include NIS to enhance transparency.

n. Citizenship Rights: Clause 31 which proposes to amend the Registration of Person Act, Section 19. It gives broad powers to the Director of Registration to take away citizenship rights through withdrawal of identity cards. It expands the grounds provided for under the Constitution by including a vague and indefinable ground ‘any other justifiable cause’. The criteria should be specific and not open ended to limit abuse of office and political manipulation. There should be a mechanism to check the powers given to the Director. This would lead to discrimination especially of persons whose nationality is an issue or in question. The person whose identity card has been revoked by the Director has no recourse for redress and violates Article 47 to fair administrative action. Amend: The reason for withdrawal of an identity card should be provided in writing and a process of how administratively the individual can appeal the decision should be provided before they consider going to court.

o. Security of tenure and independence of the national security organs: Clauses 63, 64 and 98. A key recommendation of the National Task force on Police Reforms (Ransley Task Force) was the need to ensure that appointments to the National Police Service and especially at the leadership level be through a transparent and competitive process. The removal of the security of tenure of the Director General of the National Intelligence Service and the Inspector General of the National Police Service reverts us to the position of the repealed Constitution thereby politicizing these positions! As framed the President would exercise unfettered discretion. The holder of the position would therefore be beholden to the appointing authority for all intents and purposes and will not be insulated from political and executive interference. The amendments also remove the fixed term of the Director General and Inspector General and therefore they would serve for an indeterminate period. The Bill also takes away security of tenure of the Deputy Inspector Generals. The amendment violates Chapter 14 with the Executive suspending the powers of the people and Parliament that ensures accountability and oversight. Amend: delete.


The passage of more legislation will not resolve the insecurity of the nation. It is evident that current legislation including the Constitution is not being implemented to the letter especially by the Executive. The law must be clear and must ensure that the Constitutional balance of power is maintained with the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary for effective safeguard of the Constitution.

There is also urgent need for the political leadership through the Hon. President be guided by Articles 10(2), 131 (1) (c), (d) and (e) and (2) and 118 to ensure patriotism, security organs discipline, leadership in security sector reforms and public engagement.

We therefore recommend;

a) The immediate withdrawal of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 from further discussion in the National Assembly.
b) The subsequent Bill or Bills should therefore be made accessible immediately, simplified (drafted in simple language for Kenyans) with and reasonable timelines to allow quality public participation.
c) A clear separation of the substantive and minor amendments through respective Bills and Miscellaneous amendment Bill respectively.
d) All amendments MUST comply with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in totality.


[1] Article 59 of the Constitution of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Act 2011
[2] GA Resolution 48/134 of 20 December 1993.
[3] Article 19
[4] Article 2 (6)
[5] Article 1
[6] Article 2 (1)
[7] ‘Are we under Siege: The State of Security in Kenya’, KNCHR, December 2014



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The government knows best

Patrick Gathara


cc WFM
Today, barely four years after it was inaugurated with much pomp and ceremony, Kenya’s new constitution is being undone. The Security Amendment Bill introduced in Parliament last week portends the return of the all-powerful, unchecked executive and its intrusion into almost every facet of Kenyans’ lives.

Under the guise of giving the government the tools to fight insecurity, the proposed amendments give government wide and unchecked discretion in defining what constitutes a threat and taking measures to mitigate against it. It cuts a large swathe through constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy, fair trial, assembly, information, expression and thought as well as freedoms from arbitrary detention and even torture, in a misguided attempt to respond to rising incidents of insecurity including terrorist attacks.

This atrocious piece of legislation is just the culmination of a long period of Kenyan elites undermining the foundations of liberal democracy in Kenya. The fact is, while the adoption of the new constitution should have heralded the democratisation of government, the logic of tyranny was largely left intact.

In Kenya, as elsewhere, the fight for freedom has primarily boiled down to a struggle against the notion that government and ruling elites know what’s best. From colonial times, the people in power have disguised their oppression under a proclaimed special knowledge and patronising parental concern for those they oppressed. The British claimed to govern in the interests of the native population to be the altruistic purveyors of civilisation, even as they murdered, looted and repressed.

However, it is plain that many who led the struggle for freedom, did not themselves fundamentally reject this idea. Successive post-independence governments similarly claimed to be “baba na mama” [father and mother] of the Kenyans they were robbing blind and whose rights they were trampling underfoot. For them, it was not oppression that was the problem, but rather who it was doing the oppressing. Following their footsteps, in 2003 the late John Michuki, a former colonial enforcer reinvented as a minister in the government of Mwai Kibaki which ended four decades of despotic KANU rule, suggested that constitutional reforms were no longer necessary since the sole objective had been to unseat the dictator, Daniel arap Moi.

In fact, with Moi’s demise, the struggle ceased to be about principles and increasingly became about power, and between those who had it and those who wanted it. Many of the leading lights of civil society and the church marched straight into government and into the annals of corruption and kleptocracy. Not only was there a failed attempt to foist a bastardized version of a new constitution on Kenyans in 2005, but by 2007, the electoral arrangements that had been negotiated with Moi to ensure a credible poll in 2002, were being rolled back.

Following yet another round of election related blood-letting, a new constitution was inaugurated in 2010 which was meant to change the way our politics worked. But, as last week sadly showed, that is yet to take root. Too many ordinary Kenyans have been seduced into thinking that the government knows best, that it is actually the checks on the arbitrary exercise of power that are the problem; that instead of protecting constraining rogue government, the constitution is making us more vulnerable to terrorism. Despite the fact that it has largely failed to implement the security system as envisaged in our constitution and laws, the government has spun its own incompetence into a narrative of excessive constitutional restraints.

So once again we hear the refrain that “Uhuru Kenyatta is not Moi. You can trust him with power.” The false narrative is propagated that it was Moi, not the concentration of unchecked power in the Presidency, that led to the state-sponsored terror that killed many more Kenyans and destroyed many more Kenyan lives than its religiously and ideologically inspired cousin. We even hear talk that some oppression is actually fine, even desirable, and that Moi, who has today been rehabilitated from oppressive and kleptocratic tyrant to strong and wise leader and elderly statesman, was an effective bulwark against terrorism, even as he massacred and terrorized.

Kenya’s slide into the seductive embrace of authoritarianism has been aided by the silencing of alternative voices, the continuing demonization of civil society and the lobotomising of the news agenda. Its purpose is to keep the citizenry divided, blind and uninformed, only privy to the official truths of government spin-masters. The publication of government press releases as news by the insipid media, and the Church’s support for tyranny demonstrate just how successful the government has been.

The Security Amendment Bill is the fruit of these efforts and Parliament’s rush to adopt it is proof that the idea of the Assembly as a check on Executive excess and not a rubber stamp for its decisions, has also been abandoned.

In the end, it is the people who must do the work of protecting the country from its government, the labour of upholding the constitution. While some, under the banner of “civil society” or “opposition” can take the lead, it does not absolve the citizen from this duty. Just as it is the ordinary Kenyan who will suffer from the worst excesses of unaccountable government, it is we who must resist its re-emergence.

We must not be suckered by the false notion that the government knows best. It doesn’t. And even when we might be inclined to believe its good intentions, history shows, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Those you think are on your side today may very well turn out to be your oppressors tomorrow and the laws being cheered on today will be the yoke of tomorrow’s subjugation. That is the reality that Kenyans will sooner or later have to wake up to.

* Patrick Gathara, a Kenyan commentator, blogs at Gathara’s World.



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Do you know it's Christmas?

Leo Henges and Kwezi Tabaro


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Sir Bob Geldof, this is 2014. Your time is up. Go away. Africa does not need stereotype-spewing, self-serving White saviours.

Today, the latest version of Band Aid’s famous charity song ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ is being released as a CD.

First recorded in 1984 to raise awareness to the famine in Ethiopia, the song went on to become one of the bestselling singles of all time in the United Kingdom. A second version was released in 2004, and now we have a third for 2014.

Organised by Irish musician Bob Geldof, Band Aid revolutionised the way charities raise money, inspired later initiatives including "We Are The World" and "Live 8", and had a sizable impact on the perception of Africa by the British public.

The lyrics of the song have always sparked controversy, but this new version has rewritten parts of the song to focus on the current Ebola crisis, for which it is raising money.


Bob Geldof never has been one to mince his words. He addressed this particular tirade to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni back in 2005 – it caused a riot in Kampala. But now approaching a decade later, those same words should be echoing back to haunt him like a drizzly Monday morning.

It’s 2014. Band Aid’s time is up. Go Away.

We’re not questioning your good intentions – although we might question some of your singers who have never actually given money to charity and seek every opportunity to avoid tax – or your impact. In fact, we are inspired by your irreverent questioning of the status quo and individual action in the face of disaster, institutional failure, and general stasis. Band Aid raised some good money and attention to crises in its time. It’s probably fair to say that it revolutionised celebrity engagement with charity – maybe even that it made the development sector cool.

But it was also ignorant, patronising, and, if not racist, falsely generalised a continent.

Today, the lyrics, which were anachronistic in 1984, are offensive: “And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time/ The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life/ Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”.

Let’s set the facts straight before moving to the real problems. 1) It does snow in some parts of Africa, 2) Africa has, amongst other things, the Nile, the Congo, and the Zambezi rivers, and (massive) tropical rains, and 3) the majority of Africans work in agriculture, which generally requires things to grow every-so-often.

Geldof and co. know this now – they’ve even rewritten the lyrics this time (they didn’t bother in 2004). That’s not the point.

The problem is that Band Aid perpetuates a myth of Africa. The “burning sun” myth that survival is as much as an African can aspire to. And tweaking the lyrics a little isn’t going to do anything to stop this being emblazoned in the consciousness of most listeners.

Myths are powerful. The American Dream fuels an optimism that seems to have endured two major financial crashes unabashed. The Aryan myth led to the murder of 6 million people. A common theme running throughout them is that they take a half-truth and run with it into a place which benefits their narrators.

In the case of Band Aid, the half-truth is that things are appallingly bad for some people. Everyone loves a bit of melodrama - “where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”. And the idea that things are so bad that you don’t even know it’s Christmas is a beautifully tragic sentiment. Christmas does always seem to have an unfathomable melancholy attached.

But, when the subject is another human being – not Romeo or Juliet – the narrator must attempt to be objective out of respect for the individual concerned, which means providing some context to the situation.

Band Aid doesn’t even clarify who the subject is.

In 1984, it was northern Ethiopia – except for Band Aid it was “Africa”. In 2004, it was apparently Darfur (we had to look that up). Today, it’s Ebola-struck Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea – or “West Africa” for Band Aid 30. They might be interested to learn that West Africa has 18 countries. But don’t worry – it’s Christmas for all of them as well! Context is out the window. As is, apparently, “a world of dread and fear” – one of the lyrics to have been kept the 2014 cut – which patently shows the wish to evoke horror amongst listeners.

Put simply, Band Aid is, by failing to provide any context, manipulating the people it is portraying (Africans in general or those in whichever particular crisis – we’re still not sure) to draw a response from its audience.

Now, you might want to argue that context isn’t a top priority in a 4-minute pop song. After all, they’re just trying to raise a bit of money to help some people who are in a great deal of need. And in 1984, we’d have been inclined to agree with you (if we had been alive).

But Band Aid isn’t just a pop song any more. It has become a cultural icon, one of the first reference points for many Britons’ (and beyond) awareness of the continent of Africa.

At the first hint of this, everyone should have been horrified. Geldof should have given one of his “how dare we let that happen?” oratory specialities. And African leaders should have combined to challenge the pervasive negativity surrounding the perception their continent.

Instead, we have Band Aid 30. And a generation of Britons either avoiding Africa altogether, or turning up with an expectation of mud huts, malaria, and messianic posturing. And maybe some lions - under that mythical burning sun. Merry Christmas.


Not only has the significance of this song taken on an alarming cultural meaning, but over the last 30 years the global landscape has also changed dramatically. Funnily enough, Band Aid may have actually hit upon it in their new lyrics: “Feel the world”.

How? We first mused. We preferred it when Geldof was ordering us to do tangible things like “Pick up the phone and give us your fucking money!”

Yet, the more we thought about it, the more it makes sense. 30 years ago, we would have reached down and touched the soil at that command. Now, we reach into our pockets, unlock our smartphones, and tweet about #BandAid30 or whatever’s breaking the Internet this morning.

We can Tweet. Whatsapp. Facebook. Skype. Snapchat. Whatever. Wherever. With whoever. Instantaneously. Feeling the world.

And, marvellously, it is in this that the solution to the horrors that Geldof has fought so belligerently for the last 30 years lies – not simply giving money. From famine and climate change to Ebola and transnational financial injustices, these are problems that don’t go away with a few tens-of-millions raised by some gallant musicians. These are complex issues with simply awful consequence. They need much more than money. In fact, money on its own can do more harm than good – propping up dictatorships purposefully starving some of their people. What we really need is sustained and competent global governance.

Right now, that global governance looks to have progressed about as much since 1984 as British Christmas music. But it needn’t be that way. The more we “feel the world” – relate with people across oceans on a basis of equality – the more our leaders will be inclined to work for humanity, rather than simply their national tribe. And the more our leaders represent global interests, not national interests, the sooner we’ll be about to take the international collective action to tackle the problems facing us all.

Yet, paradoxically, the more we “feel the world”, the more “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” becomes inappropriate. We can’t feel the world whilst buying into the Myth of the Burning Sun. They’re incompatible. The more we relate with others, the more we realise the lies behind the stereotypes. The more we repeat stereotypes, the less we relate to the real people. You don’t need to ask banal (and culturally questionable) rhetorical questions about ‘them’ – you can flick your fingers and ask one of the 50+ million Africans on Facebook.

Bottom line: We’ll never get the sort of collective action we need until we start working with each other, and we’ll never begin to work together until we stop thinking, and singing, about “them” and “us”. You can’t both be saviours and friends. Christmas isn’t about you – you do know that, right?!


So said Geldof in the same speech in 2005. We agree. Let Africa not have to spend more money on reversing the Burning Sun Mythology than Band Aid will raise perpetuating it. Let Africa delight in its beauty and diversity. Let Africa revel in its youthful potential.

But we want to go further: Let Africa speak as equals. Acknowledge that Africans are combating Ebola, not just the emaciated beneficiaries. Recognise the heroes, like Dr Matthew Lukwiya who led efforts to stem an Ebola outbreak in Uganda in the early 2000s – lessons from which are today being applied in West Africa - but later contracted the disease from his patients and died. Give the health professionals who travel from around Africa to fight this outbreak the same attention you do to the American and British ones.

And if you really want to make a fundraising song, don’t sing about Africa, sing with Africans. Invite them to your jamming session. Take a leaf out of these writers collaboration. Write a new song together. Create something beautiful.

Let Africa Sing.

* Leo Henghes is director of UNITED – a global community of students uniting for effective social action. Kwezi Tabaro is a student at Makerere University and co-founder at Vote Issues - a student civic action group.



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All that glitters is not gold

The Rusty Radiator Awards have a bitter aftertaste

Daniel Bendix with glokal e.V.


cc ST
While campaigns such as the Golden and Rusty Radiator Awards raise awareness of Western development organizations’ unjust views of the global South, they do not go far enough. Critiques of cliché media representation must be coupled with critiques of fundamentally unbalanced power structures.

On Tuesday, 2 December 2014, SAIH – The Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund announced this year’s winners of the Rusty Radiator Awards at an official awards ceremony in Oslo. While Save the Children UK won the prize for this year’s best charity ad (Golden Radiator Award), a South African ad has been voted as the most harmful example in 2014 (Rusty Radiator Award). According to SAIH, the aim of their work and campaigns is ‘to end stereotypical and pessimistic communication in fundraising campaigns’. They advocate a complex understanding of injustice and fight against the ‘[l]ack of knowledge and bad consciousness’ as the reasons for their belief ‘in simple solutions when confronted with an unjust world’. This year’s Rusty Radiator Awards follow SAIH’s success with the clips ‘Radi-Aid: Africa for Norway’ (for a critique, see David Jefferess’ article as well as our blog post) and ‘Let’s save Africa! – gone wrong’ as well as last year’s Radiator Awards (see our response).

The goal ‘to promote creativity and innovation in aid communication’ seems to be reached as most of the video clips broach new ground in advertising. However, regarding the goal to portray global (and local) injustice in a more complex manner, there does not seem enough consideration of the political implications of advertisements and awareness of the historical-political context in which the work of the organisations promoting themselves with the clips are situated. In our view, charity advertisements or – taking into account the possibility for them to be transformative – social justice advertising are a form of political education. Whether they are intended to educate or not, the effect is that the people watching them are affected by the images created and the truths put forward. This has, for example, been analysed for the German case in the documentary film White Charity.

With regard to social justice campaigns and advertisement, we are in line with Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti’s view that ‘if we want to work towards ideals of justice, we need to understand better the social and historical forces that connect us to each other’. She tells a story that seems to fit very well with the two ads awarded by SAIH this year, also since both deal with ‘saving children’:

‘[I]f people saw many young children drowning in a river, their first impulse would probably be to try to save them or to search for help. But what if they looked up the river and saw many boats throwing the children in the water and these boats were multiplying by the minute? [...] In deciding what to do, people would need to remember that some rescuing techniques may not work in the conditions of the river, and that some strategies to stop the boats may invite or fuel even more boats to join the fleet – they may even realize that they are actually in one of the boats, throwing children with one hand and trying to rescue them with the other hand.’

Let’s have a look at the two videos nominated by an international jury and considered the best and the worst by the voters of this year’s Radiator Award. The South African charity Feed a Child was awarded as the ‘charity producing the most clichéd and unhelpful fundraising video’. The video shows a wealthy white woman treating a Black child like a dog, and the boy behaving just like a well-behaved dog that likes its owner. In the epilogue of the video, we read ‘The average domestic dog eats better than millions of children’. The Rusty Radiator Award Jury’s comment was as follows:

‘Completely ‘White Saviour’. David had to turn it off after 10 seconds. Racism isn’t something of 200 years back, it’s something very present in South Africa today. It’s interesting how this was produced by one of the biggest advertising companies in the world, and how they got it so very wrong. The message doesn’t justify using the same stereotypes to both raise awareness and steal agency. The poor are already depicted as incapable of their own rescue, now they are being compared to dogs. What next? Is there a score worse than 0?’

There was a big debate around the video in South Africa and it was eventually withdrawn by the charity.

It is indeed painful to watch this violent and racist clip, particularly in the South African context. Yet, while it portrays children and Black people as without agency, it unintentionally provides a damning critique of both the aid industry as well as post-Apartheid South Africa. While the inequality of the relationship between the Black child and white adult is crystal clear, it is portrayed as devoid of explicit (physical or verbal) violence, as perfectly normal. Both parties seem to be perfectly fine with the way things are. However, it can also be read as offering a metaphor for what life is like in South Africa for the majority of people: that the dogs of rich people actually do eat better than millions of (mainly Black) children. By completely exaggerating the relationship between ‘donor’ and ‘recipient’, it constitutes a pertinent critique of welfare as well as development aid practices. Contextualised in South Africa’s recent history, it goes beyond a metaphorical statement: non-white South Africans had to serve their white masters and mistresses like dogs; if they only as much as raised their eyes to look at white people, they faced the danger of arrest, torture, and murder. The stark inequalities and slave-like conditions of non-white South Africans have only recently been brought back on the national agenda with the video/song ‘Larney Jou Poes’ by the hip hop crew Dookoom in which they decry the conditions of farm workers and call for a transformation of land ownership (also see the post on AIAC). However, with this reading of the ad we were making a wish: we are aware that Feed a Child’s intention was neither an anti-racist, anti-capitalist critique of present-day South Africa nor an attack on charity work as such. Instead, the video appeals to the viewers: ‘Help feed a starving child. SMS “child” to 40014 to donate R20’.

Save the Children UK’s ‘Most Shocking Second a Day Video’ was awarded the Golden Radiator Award ‘which goes to the charity offering the most innovative and empowering vision’. This clip shows a young girl in different everyday situations at the beginning. Halfway through the clip the fear and violence of war enters the scene. The goal of the video is to raise awareness and money for children in Syria. The quality of this clip was argued for by the Jury as follows:

‘Any advocacy ad that can put you in the middle of the situation instead of casting people and situations you’d never imagine is a good one. This video presents conflict porn without overwhelming you with it, because you are so invested in this girl’s tragic day. You feel for the little girl as if she was someone you knew next door or your children went to school with. It emphasises the universality of suffering and empathy, and breaks racial stereotypes about who suffers.’

The makers of the clip portray the UK as a place of happiness and light-heartedness. The war scenes are surprising and seem out of place. The clip aims at raising empathy with the suffering of children in war-affected places such as Syria. This is achieved through various means: The settings the girl is put in (practicing the flute, being pinched by ‘granny’, school uniform etc.) and the evident British accent evoke the imagery of what is widely perceived as the standard UK child. Here, the issue of racialised bodies is noteworthy: a child with blue eyes and light skin was chosen. We wonder whether it would have worked as well had the child been Black or worn a headscarf. This brings us to the question of whether the makers of the ad (as well as the jury and voters of the Golden Radiator Award) had in mind that many young non-white and poor people in the UK actually grow up in conditions of violence and constant insecurity. Street violence in deprived neighbourhoods comes to mind, but also racist policing: Asian people are up to 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. We are of course also reminded of the 2011 riots in the UK in which thousands of mainly marginalized and disempowered youths confronted the police and looted shops. This followed the shooting of Mark Duggan and was analysed as a reaction to grievances with regards to wide-spread poverty, exclusion and police violence.

The people behind the Radiator Awards stress the importance of agency of the poor. In this clip, the girl as the place-holder for children (or people more generally) shows no sign of agency. The only people who are granted agency are the potential donors of Save the Children. Taking de Oliveira Andreotti’s points to this clip, we cannot identify any hints of relationality. While the South African ad may be interpreted as – albeit unintentionally – portraying poverty and wealth, humiliation and exploitation as related, the UK one does not tell us who is responsible for the suffering of the child or who profits from it. Here, we could perhaps ask who is providing the weapons for the Syrian war and who has supported the Assad regime for years and years. The UK is one of the world’s top five arms exporters and the current government continues to grant licences to Syria for dual-use chemicals that could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. This would also bring up de Oliveira Andreotti’s question, how the consumers of advertising would react ‘if they realized that bringing justice to others meant going against [one’s own] national/local interests.’ Would the people that Save the Children addresses as potential donors also contribute if a clip moved beyond a humanitarian relation and problematised the relationship of wars abroad with the UK’s industrial-military complex? Or, to take it one step further, the present armed conflict in Syria could be related to Great Britain’s colonial influence in the region that ‘transformed what had been relatively quiet provinces of the Ottoman Empire into some of the least stable and internationally explosive states in the world’.

SAIH’s work is laudable in that it constitutes Western auto-critique for which satire is a very useful tool. It has managed to put the issue of stereotypes of the global South on the agenda in development aid circles as well as the general public in the global North. Playing with the images and stereotypes that we are accustomed to and using them in other contexts, turning them around, provides food for thought. However, SAIH accepts the perspective of organisations that want to continue their work, it just aims at ‘change[ing] the way fundraising campaigns are communicating issues of poverty and development’. A critical perspective should, however, ask whether the adverts actually put injustice or global and local inequality on the agenda. Like earlier activities by SAIH, this year’s awards and video (see below) perpetuate the classical development discourse. While the portrayal of people and societies in the Global South is questioned, the assumption is that it is these people and societies that have deficits and have to change – rather than the interrelation between the safety and wealth of a few and the insecurity and poverty of many. Coming back to de Oliveira Andreotti’s metaphor of the river, children and boats, the adverts regarded as good by the Radiator Awards do not

‘help people in the task of learning to ‘go up the river’ to the roots of the problem so that the emergency strategies down the river can be better informed in the hope that one day no more boats will throw children in the water. Going up the river means asking questions such as: What creates poverty? How come different lives have different value? How are these two things connected? What are the relationships between social groups that are over-exploited and social groups that are over-exploiting? How are these relationships maintained?’

We believe it would also have been more helpful had SAIH restricted its activities to the Rusty Radiator Award. By nominating positive examples of fundraising campaigns for classical charities, it becomes clear that it is not about a critique of development aid relations as such, but only about less stereotypical and crude portrayals (it is also not in any way an evaluation of a charity’s public relations work as such, because Save the Children has recently produced and disseminated some of the worst clips). None of the clips asks us to question relations of power or to politically engage in transformative endeavours. The subtexts of both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ clips thus remains the same. The Awards make us believe that it is possible to produce non-racist, non-discriminatory advertising in a policy field so deeply entrenched in the history and present of global colonial racism – you just have to be clever and creative. It is of course ‘very difficult to move completely beyond those patterns – and this is due to our historical conditioning, especially when it comes to mass communication or institutional politics’. Yet SAIH also makes clear that they do not really want to move beyond the dominant structures: ‘We, as a development organization, are not opposed to development aid.’ This explains why SAIH’s critique of development remains on the level of racist representation and does not broach the issue of material relations underpinned by racism. However, if we merely criticise development aid for using stereotypes, we fail to understand the connection between the concept as well as practice of development and the legacy of colonialism and racism. The Awards thus run the danger of stabilising the underlying structural violence of relations between the global North and South, between poor and rich, by applauding cosmetic repairs of the surface.

This year’s awards were accompanied by the video clip ‘Who wants to be a volunteer’. The video was made in collaboration with the South Africa-based company iKind. The satirical film mocks Western stereotypes of Africa and brings up the issue of charity-mania. It holds the mirror up to the self-centredness of Western volunteers (see the really great scene in which the volunteer takes a selfie) when engaging with what is commonly portrayed as altruistic. While at first glance one might have the impression that the clip also criticises Western voluntourism in African countries as such, SAIH states that ‘[t]he video is not a critique of youth travelling to Africa to work as volunteers, but rather of the simplistic exotification of the continent that still dominates today’. It is thus – just like the Awards – not a critique of existing material power relations and stark global inequalities, but of representation. This again begs the questions whether the one and the other are not intimately related. Tourism and its sub-form voluntourism (as well as longer-term volunteering) from the global North to the global South are inevitably implicated in racialised cultural and economic exploitation of formerly colonised peoples. Of course, non-exoticising voluntourists and volunteers are nicer than overtly racist ones, but materially there is little difference as they are part of, and perpetuate, the existing unequal relations between global North and South. As much as we enjoy watching SAIH’s clips and sympathise with their attempts of changing the image of Africa and development, their critique does not go deep enough to address the quintessential questions of inequality and power in the North-South context.

*For more from Daniel Bendix and the rest of the glokal e.V. team, please see (

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The pope and poverty

Yash Tandon


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Regardless of one’s religious persuasions, Pope Francis’ views on poverty are quite progressive. He insists that as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.

In his first major speech on the financial crisis, Pope Francis called on people to restrain their obsession with materialist consumption and wealth accumulation. He exhorted world leaders to serve the poor and not allow themselves to be deluded by blind market forces.

Encouraged by this I downloaded his apostolic exhortation – Evangelii Gaudium and I was pleasantly astonished to discover its hidden passion and analytical depth. Although it was aimed at Catholics, I venture to suggest that Pope Francis was addressing the whole of humanity … irrespective of people’s religious or secular affinities.


Most astonishing to me was his reference to the structural causes of poverty. I had not expected that. Mainstream writers on poverty seldom (indeed, never) refer to structural causes of poverty, not even the Nobel Laureates Amratya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. As for Marxists, they think they have a kind of monopoly on inquiring into the structural causes of social injustice. The Pontiff is no Marxist, but in some ways he is deeper, for he has another level of consciousness – divine or spiritual consciousness – that most Marxists lack. I will come back to poverty again, but let me first elaborate on the last point.


I believe that there are (at least) six levels of consciousness, only some of which we as ordinary mortals are aware.

First is self-awareness – consciousness about one’s own self as a physical mortal being and about one’s identity.

Second is other awareness – consciousness about the other, not as an enemy but as another human being.

Third is nature awareness – consciousness about the environment including trees, bees, butterflies and tigers.

Four is system awareness – consciousness about the global system of production and distribution of the means of personal and social existence.

Five is divine consciousness – awareness about the supreme being, defined either as an ontological something out there, or as a spiritual experience inside the person.

Six is awareness of the subconscious – the hidden impulses behind the conscious that a psychoanalyst might help one to become aware.

The reason I go into this is to underscore the point that while most of us are aware of only some of the above layers of consciousness, the politicians, especially when in power, are usually aware of only the first one – self-awareness, in particular their power and how to sustain it. For them the other is the enemy; the environment is to be exploited for profit; the system is the one that serves as something called national security in whose name horrendous acts of cruelty are inflicted on the other; the divine is either non-existent or a religious ritual to justify acts of cruelty, and the unconscious is simply left to the psychoanalyst, or to bad dreams.

There are some rather exceptional people who are aware of all six dimensions of consciousness. Pope Francis, I think, is one.


The Pontiff has said repeatedly that life for ordinary people has become worse, not just in the countries of the south but also in the rich countries of the north. People struggle to survive, often an undignified existence. In his Evangelii Gaudium, this is what Pope Francis says:

‘188. The Church has realised that the need to heed this plea is itself born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a question of a mission reserved only to a few … it means working to eliminate the STRUCTURAL causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter.’ (Emphasis added)

Pope Francis then expounds on the word solidarity. ‘The word solidarity,’ he says, ‘is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset, which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.’

The theme of structural causes of poverty is reiterated.

‘202. The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness, which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.’

The Evangelii Gaudium goes on to elaborate on what Pope Francis means by structural causes. I will leave this for the curious reader to explore. It is important that we read this document for our enlightenment and in solidarity with the people for whom it is written – The Wretched of the Earth (a phrase I borrowed from the French-Martinique psychoanalyst, Frantz Fanon).


In our time, the other is defined by the West’s political leadership and the dominant media as the Muslim fundamentalist. For Pope Francis this is nothing short of a fraud committed by the spin doctors of Western politicians and Christian fundamentalists.

‘252. Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society. We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”… They also acknowledge the need to respond to God with an ethical commitment and with mercy towards those most in need.’

And, further down:

‘253. In order to sustain dialogue with Islam suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can also acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition… Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations for AUTHENTIC ISLAM AND THE PROPER READING OF THE KORAN ARE OPPOSED TO EVERY FORM OF VIOLENCE.’ (Emphasis added)

I have read the Koran (Qur’an), and I testify to the Pontiff’s claim that contrary to the oversimplified view of the teachings of the Prophet Islam is not a violent religion. I will not go deeper into this very significant issue of our time. Contrary to biased historians, Islam spread from the 7th to the 11th century not by the sword but by word. Of course, there were many Muslims who violated the Prophet’s word namely that “There should be no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an 2:256). And yes, there were many wars during this period. But these wars were unleashed mainly by Christian Crusaders blessed by the ruling Pontiffs of the time – a historical irony given Pope Francis’s position on this matter today.


I don’t know. Whatever one might say about the Pontiff’s future, one thing is certain, poverty will not end unless its structural causes are analysed and dealt with.

I give a little historical note to make this point. In the 1960s the developing countries of the south attempted to challenge the structural causes of poverty in their countries. They called for a new dispensation, a New International Economic Order (NIEO), which led to the creation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1964. Its creation was also associated with the ideas of Raul Prebisch, its first secretary general. He, among others, had developed a theory to counter the mainstream growth theory. This counter-hegemonic theory, known as the underdevelopment theory, or the centre and periphery theory, and or the Latin American dependencia theory, analysed the structural causes of enduring underdevelopment of the south.

What happened to that alternative vision? It died. With the rise of the neo-liberal ideology in the 1980s the idea of NIEO died. The dependencia school was marginalised and with it the UNCTAD issues, such as technology transfer, terms of trade, and the scrutiny of transnational corporations, were taken out of UNCTAD. The present dominant structure on issues of trade is the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which without the UNCTAD issues, has become a club of the rich and powerful.

The entire UN system is hostage to the agenda of the rich and powerful, although from time to time, the countries of the south are able to express their independent opinion in its general assembly (GA), such as on the issues of Palestine and Cuba. But the GA (unlike the Security Council) has no teeth; it cannot enforce its resolutions. The result that positive initiatives taken by the countries of the south get watered down. A good example of this is the ill-fated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which reduced a structural problem into a statistical numbers game. At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the UN launched the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its post-2015 development agenda. Once again, this did not address underlying structural causes of continuing underdevelopment of the countries of the south. The UN simply changed the goal posts from MDGs to SDGs. Take a lesson from history – SDGs are a smokescreen just like the MDGs.

Take Pope Francis’ wisdom in order to chart out the future of humankind, address and deal with the structural causes of poverty, and do not treat the other as enemy. I know this is easier said than done. But the first step is the most difficult. This step was taken by many before Pope Francis. But Francis has added his significant voice to delegitimising a market-based, neoliberal ideological growth model of the rich and powerful. Now it is for the rest of us to take further steps. It is time for Intifadah, for Chimurenga, for struggle against oppression, exploitation, and injustice. (For a definition of these terms see my first blog Global Intifada and National Chimurenga. (Posted on 27 September 2013.)

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Lewis Hamilton: A study in courage presiding over a race to the real end

Clairmont Chung


cc MR
Hamilton is a brilliant racer and a bona fide daredevil, already a legend. But in a world where so many people live in darkness starved of fuel, and oil extraction has caused so much suffering to communities, global warming and environmental activists must question motor sports: the misuse of fuel for the sole purpose of going fast.

Lewis Hamilton stands as the first obvious African descendant to participate in and to win a Formula One World Drivers’ Championship (F1). On Sunday, 23 November 2014, Hamilton, born in England to a white British mother and an African Grenadian father, claimed his second championship. He won his first in 2008. There are many parallels between these wins and the historic burdens of other firsts, such as the election of President Obama in the United States and the many successes of golfing legend Tiger Woods. Of course, a key difference is that F1 is a contact sport. Worse, Hamilton is now the face of perhaps the most decadent sport ever. The real question is whether he can do for this sport what Tiger Woods did for golf, lifting it from looming financial collapse and the coming critique of its excesses.

Support for Hamilton is primarily on account of his obvious ability. He is a brilliant racer and a bona fide daredevil, both courageous and already a legend. And, yes, he acknowledges his Caribbeanness and possibly, by extension, his blackness, his Africanness. Hamilton was dominant in winning 11 of the 19 races of the just completed season, six more than his closest rival and teammate Nico Rosberg. Before Hamilton, I supported European-looking drivers like Damon Hill, Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard and Hamilton’s idol, the Brazilian Ayrton Senna. I looked at their calmness under pressure and their generally ethical behavior on the track: they refused to win easy by endangering the lives of everyone at the track. Senna did have an incident at the Japanese Grand Prix in 1990 that forced out his rival, Alain Proust, and left Senna the champion. But Senna, Hamilton’s idol, was a known campaigner for drivers’ rights and safety. In 1995 Senna crashed and died in a race at Imola, Italy.

Hamilton, a boy at the time, recalled watching the Imola race on TV with his dad, and the profound pain he felt that Sunday and long after. A driver was seriously injured at practice on the Friday and another died while qualifying the Saturday before that race. That weekend reconfirmed the inherent danger in speed, and that death was more possible in this sport than perhaps any other. F1 has claimed at least 30

Many sportspeople have been compared to gladiators. Boxing and ultimate fighting (UFC) come close. But not many go to the arena for a performance that generates the force these cars do, and where a collision can quite possibly be their last. Most gladiators of the Roman Empire were slaves forced to fight. Consistent wins and popularity could lead to freedom, and only a few were actually released from shackles. The emperor often had the last say. The greater problem for Hamilton and F1’s current Emperor, CEO Bernie Ecclestone, is not the lives consumed at the arena but those defeated away from the arena. F1 is a symbol of the rape of resources, mainly oil and rubber tied to our car culture and the waste that it produces while masking the danger with shiny machines so fast as to challenge the naked eye.

In a world where so much of the world lives in darkness starved of fuel, global warming and environment activists should be targeting motor sports and making it harder to justify the misuse of fuel for the sole purpose of going fast. In F1 fuel is needed for racing, testing, qualifying and practicing, but also to transport staff and the huge mobile offices and cars to 19 locations around the globe. Motor racing, and particularly F1, is the spectacle of the rich and nowhere this is more true than in the oil rich Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where Hamilton won the 2014 season’s last race and the championship. There is an underside to every extravagance, and in this case a huge carbon footprint too.

The Emirates’ use of foreign slave labour has been well documented but was not visible under the white tents and space age architecture at its Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi. Men and women mostly from South Asia toil and live hidden in inhuman conditions with few rights and little pay. The excitement of race day occurs far away from the destruction of oil exploration. The insignia for Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) is splashed across a sharp turn on the track but far away from its environmental destruction of Ogoni lands in Nigeria’s delta. This year Shell announced plans to reduce its Nigerian holdings where after decades of exploration the country still suffers regular power failures and Shell has made little effort to clean up the mess. This is as it plans to expand its role in Canada’s tar sands.

In contrast to those that risk their lives for fame and fortune are those whose lives are at risk but without the promise of freedom, let alone fame and fortune. Walk Free Foundation estimated that 35.8 million people are still enslaved worldwide, defining modern-day slavery as ‘possession or control of a person to deprive them of rights with the intention of exploiting them.’[1] They publish a list of countries, beginning with the worst offenders. India and China head the list, with Russia rounding out the top 5 of 167 countries for the numbers of its people enslaved. All three of these nations host F1 races. Nigeria, number six on the list, and The Democratic Republic of Congo at seven, host no races. There are no F1 races anywhere in Africa.

More and more arable land and forests are grabbed for rubber plantations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Gabon, Cameroun and Cote D’Ivoire. Indigenous populations are threatened and displaced. Modern day slaves work the rubber plantations in Malaysia (32nd), Indonesia (8nd) and supply Singapore (141st). All three locations host F1 races. Mexico, ranked 18th, gets a race next year.

In contrast, F1 sponsors read as the who-is-who in oil, rubber, banking, cars, of course, and technology: they include Mobil, UBS, Pirelli, Johnny Walker and SAP. Only for the Abu Dhabi weekend did F1 suspend alcohol advertising. A few years ago F1 banned cigarette advertising as a bow to some moral code. Teams looked elsewhere for support and worried that they may disappear. But new sponsorships came to this fast-moving engine of consumerism and excess. F1 prides itself on its contribution to the safety and fuel efficiency of our road cars, and to our lives. But it was noticeably late when only this year did it reduce its engines from eight to six cylinders. And the lifestyle of big engines continue off the track.

The leaders of industry attend F1 events to see and be seen, usually with the gratuitous model types for effect. The rich and celebrated watch even faster moving billboards as they go round and round. The shiny yachts and private jets that crowd in for race weekends in Monaco, Yas Marina and Valencia are thumbs in the eyes of the struggling workers and regular Jeans and Joes unable to afford a ticket to the party. Instead, they may watch from grainy communal screens on their one day off, only to then prepare for the plantation on Monday.

It’s this display of glamour and speed that is used to influence consumers in a fast growing, unsafe car culture. The developing world is the fastest growing car market. The UN International Panel on Climate Change estimates the car population will triple by 2050, with 80 per cent of that in the developing world. The WHO reported 1.3 million road-related deaths in 2013, 90 per cent of those in the developing world. These represent twice as many deaths as those attributed to mosquitoes by Bill Gates’ scientists.[2] It would be the ultimate irony to survive collecting rubber in malaria-ridden rainforests and die in a car accident on a dusty street somewhere.

Despite the biweekly displays of excessive wealth at these races, F1 is in financial trouble. It seemed immune from the 2008 global recession. But Emperor Ecclestone recently admitted that the sport has financial problems and he is unsure of how to fix it. It costs US$120 million a season for an average race team, with top teams approaching a few billion. Ecclestone shares monies from advertising, ticket sales and merchandising by secret formula. Big teams like Ferrari and Mercedes demand more while lesser teams need more. The gap is widening in performance and teams are threatening to quit unless this changes. The weakest teams threatened strikes for the last few races in 2014 but they never materialized.

The Spain-based bank Santander is probably the sport’s biggest sponsor and reflects the current plight for F1 and its sponsors. It’s the sixth largest company in the world and continues to expand while it and its officers are almost under constant indictment or investigation for some transgression, such as paying two executives €164 million in a retirement package, insider trading and losing investors money through one of its Ireland-based hedge funds and involvement in the ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff to the tune of $3.1 Billion. They have been either acquitted or charges been dropped and business is as usual.

Hamilton now stands as the face of all this, though not the head of it. I love Hamilton. He has raised emotions in me that I thought no sport could again. His courage is inspiring. During a 2012 race I stood holding a chair cushion in a chokehold as Hamilton came out of what would be his final turn in the race. At the time, he was leading the Championship point’s table. The chokehold became a deadly vice, as Hamilton was about to exit the turn with Pastor Maldonado in close pursuit. I threw the limp cushion at the television as Maldonado, the brash young Venezuelan, bunted Hamilton into the wall. Hamilton stepped from his wrecked car having lost the race and his lead in the world championship title. The image was not one of defeat, but one of triumph, that of a real gladiator. I took inspiration from it. It reminded me of Amílcar Cabral’s exhortation to ‘claim no easy victories’.

Not surprisingly, media commentators reasoned that Hamilton was leading the world championship race and by allowing Maldonado through he would have avoided the wreck and scored enough points to maintain his championship lead. His tires were worn and damaged, and he could no longer accelerate at his usual speeds. He could not hold off Maldonado. Maldonado was faster at that point. Besides, Maldonado was a lap down. Why risk a tangle, the whole race, when a simple maneuver would have allowed Maldonado through? The status quo would have been maintained. They asked nothing of Maldonado.

Immediately something felt wrong about that position. It did not fit the figure of Hamilton the gladiator and world champion who puts everything on the line, takes it furthest and then some. It is an attitude lauded among the chosen captains of industry, while the rest of us, and now Hamilton, are asked to slow or move out of the way, to let someone through.

Hamilton had forced Maldonado wide going into the right-hand part of the turn. Both had a decision to make: slow or go. Both went. But the law of the sport only permits one to go in those circumstances. And it gives the benefit to the one in front: Hamilton. Why these experienced commentators failed to appreciate the law was proof of their inability to appreciate what has to happen to reach the pinnacle of success, particularly if one is of African descent.

Understandably, commentators say nothing about decadence of motor sport, and F1 racing as the most decadent of all. Several times during the Abu Dhabi race, cameras would pan to the obligatory shiny yachts bobbing in the Yas Marina as in most other race locations. It has made Europe’s economic high-wire act seem a lie. The machines, the drivers, the rubber, the fuel, all cost millions. Each team goes through more tires in a weekend that the average person in a lifetime. Add to that the cost to transport these teams to nearly two dozen countries each season. Then add the lives that make it possible, from those lands devastated by rubber plantations and oil spills, suffering in the dark, thinking of a car as a step up.

Hamilton emerged as a star in a sport reserved for white men. He eclipsed all in daring and talent. We can see that this is no ordinary man of any kind. At the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, former F1 driver and BBC commentator David Coulthard described Hamilton’s overtake of teammate Rosberg by saying, ‘That was bravery in the extreme,’ and, ‘That is an overtake other drivers will remember.’

Hamilton’s success may be reconciled as an example for ordinary people of courage and achievement. But nothing in the F1 party weekend can be reconciled; nothing in that experience can be reconciled with the lives of ordinary people. His talents and courage cannot mask the socioeconomic and political meaning of a spectacle like the F1 race, and more than likely cannot save F1. In the Abu Dhabi race Hamilton only needed to finish second to win the championship. Second would not be enough for a champion. Even when his closest rival ran into electrical problems, and Hamilton only had to finish and the crown would be his, he instead fought and won. Such a shame that he is champion of something that has probably run its course.

* Clairmont Chung is a lawyer, teacher and filmmaker. He grew up in Guyana.



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Agricultural international cooperation in Africa

Opportunities and challenges for inclusive growth and sustainable development

Shen Xiaolei


cc UN
The narrative of“Africa is rising” has been echoing all over the world. A high-level international conference in China discussed what that really means and the role of agriculture and foreign stakeholders to create sustainable development that serves the African people.

An international conference on “Agricultural International Cooperation in Africa: Opportunities & Challenges for inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development” organized by the Centre for African Studies of Peking University (PKUCAS) and supported by Oxford Hong Kong, was held at Peking University on October 13-14, 2014. Attendees of the conference included officials from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environmental Protection, China Development Bank and China-Africa Development Fund, as well as experts and scholars from other Chinese Institutions of higher education and think tanks, representatives from Chinese overseas companies, NGOs and international organizations. A number of experts and scholars from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, South Africa, Brazil and UN also attended the conference. Professor Li Anshan, the director of PKUCAS, Steve Price-Thomas, deputy advocacy and campaigns director of Oxfam International, and Said Adejumobi, Director of Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa, UN Economic Commission for Africa, respectively delivered keynote speeches to the conference.

The six focus topics included: (1) “Africa’s Rise and Agricultural Development”, (2) “Africa’s Agricultural Development and International Cooperation”, (3)“African Endogenous Agro Development”, (4) “Land Grab and FDI in Agriculture from Different Countries”, (5) “Opportunities and Challenges Brought by International Stakeholders” and (6) “How to Measure Impacts? Perspectives of Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development”.


Since African countries have achieved high growth rates in the past 20 years, especially given the fact that more than half of the top 10 fastest growing economies are African countries, Africa’s Rise has forced the whole world to adopt a new perspective on Africa. Even The Economist Weekly, known for its pessimistic view of African development, surprisingly and unexpectedly published a cover story on December 2011 titled “Africa’s Rise”. But how do we understand “Africa’s Rise”? What role does agricultural development play in it? These are the two fundamental questions various participants addressed during their interventions.

Ambassador Liu Guijin argued that the term “Rise” suitably applies to Africa at present, backing his assertion by quoting from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s speech at the headquarter of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa on 5 May 2014, in which he said that “the African continent has become a polar of world politics, global economic growth and human civilization”.

Mr Said Adejumobi for his part argued that the rise of Africa is the result of Africa’s high growth rates in recent years, which not only redefines the status of Africa on the world stage, but also demonstrates that the future is bright for African countries.
Professor Li Xiaoyun, director of the College of Humanities and Development Studies of China Agricultural University, whose main interests are rural development, poverty reduction and international development assistance, argued that due to “Africa’s Rise” people all over the world appreciate Africa’s high growth rate and adopt an optimistic view of the future of African economic development. Nevertheless, Professor Li Xiaoyun pointed out that a “rise” that puts too much emphasis on high economic growth could mask some unsettled critical issues, such as the need for poverty reduction and unreasonable economic growth structure. That is why “Africa’s Rise” has sometimes been labelled as “economic growth without economic development”.
All the participants agreed that the role agricultural development plays in “Africa’s Rise” is very important. Ambassador Liu Guijin argued that agriculture plays a very important role in the rising of African countries, for it is not only tied to the industrial, financial poverty reduction and environmental protection sectors, but remains also an important basis for meeting people’s basic needs and achieving peace and security in the African continent.

Mr. Said Adejumobi also confirmed that agriculture plays a strategic role in African economies. According to him, since agriculture is the chief source of livelihood in Africa - for example nearly 65% of Africans are depended on agriculture which accounts for about 32% of African GDP - the development of Africa is mostly dependenton the development of agriculture.

Participants further reflected on the development of agriculture in Africa, which they said, is generally categorized into two contrasting models: the “Obama Model” which argues for large-scale industrial agriculture controlled by giant agribusinesses, and the “Annan Model” which is more sympathetic towards smallholder farmers. Participants highlighted the advantages and disadvantages that each of these two models have, and noted that the two models can coexist and supplement each other. For instance, Nellie Nyang’wa from Oxfam argued that giant agribusiness can increase agricultural investment, promote technology transfer and improve agricultural infrastructure, while Professor Jeanette Manjengwa from the Institute of Environmental Studies of University of Zimbabwe and one of the authors of Zimbabwe Takes Back It’s Land, said that small scale farmers can be more productive and create more jobs. Nevertheless, a conclusion was reached according to which the most important thing for African countries is not to adopt the “Obama Model” or “Annan Model”, but to find their own model which is suitable to their own national conditions.


Africa’s great agricultural development potentials, on one hand, and its lack of money, technology and infrastructure on the other hand, necessitate an international cooperation in agriculture between Africa and international societies (international investors) for common needs.

However the question which arises is: what is best way to carry out this cooperation? Participants reckoned that this question can be answered in terms of food production and communication infrastructure cooperation. In addition, they also put forward some pertinent proposals on how agricultural cooperation between China and Africa could be carried out.

Professor Carol Thompson, a political economist from Northern Arizona University, who specializes in international environmental policy, while learning from smallholder farmers in Southern Africa by regularly working within a Southern African farmers’ organization, argued that the food production which is carried out by international society may cause Africa to face the risks of lack of food diversity and will be dominated by global agricultural cartels in the long run. For Professor Carol Thompson, the best solution for African food security is agro-ecology and biodiversity, and the best example of it is the seed production in South Africa which is carried out by the indigenous communities. To provide more diversified food, she urged the international society to focus on the following four issues: first, making the smallholder farmers who have 1-10 hectares as the main agro-ecology development body; secondly, developing the community-based seed production and putting emphasis on biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and indigenous seeds, as well as farmer’s rights; thirdly, changing the traditional measures, that is, using nutrition density per hectare over yield per hectare and replacing mere finance capital with the investment in natural, social capital, human and intellectual capital; finally, using the international treaties, such as International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Protocol, to help the small holders. The majority of African participants welcomed her arguments to the extent that some African scholars vowed to contain the domination agricultural Cartels through international treaties and the adoption of strict policies.

Jamie Monson, an American scholar from Macalester College, famously known for her studies on the Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA), emphasized the importance of communication infrastructure cooperation in the process of agricultural development taking her analysis of the relationship between the TAZARA Railway and agricultural development as a study case. She argued that TAZARA has had a positive impact on crop cultivation and yields, agricultural markets and the sustainable agricultural development in the areas along the railway. However, in recent years, TAZARA has not been able to promote agricultural development as it did before, due to long delays, lack of locomotive engines, labor disputes and other problems. In fact, this reflects the situation of the lack of infrastructure in most African countries, and because of the lack of money, technology and expertise, Africa cannot solve this problem by its own in short time, which means that the investment from the international societies on infrastructure is very important.

Participants put forward pertinent proposals with the regard to the issue of agricultural cooperation performance between China and Africa.

Professor Li Xiaoyun argued that there are big differences in thoughts, perspectives and mechanisms between China and Africa, therefore, China must know what Africa’s thoughts and needs are exactlyin the process of implementing agricultural cooperation. In his analysis, taking the Peapea Poverty Reduction Learning Center Project in Tanzania as a study case, Professor Zhou Shengkun from China Agricultural University put forward two proposals: first, China’s experience in developing small holding agriculture for poverty reduction should be relevant to Tanzania, but requiring up-scaling through further observations and studies; secondly, labor intensive farm management can save capital and land, it’s a sustainable farming model and can be promoted in African countries. On the issue of how to determine the success of the agricultural cooperation between China and Africa, Xu Weizhong, director of Center of African Studies of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, provided three criteria: first, it should be helpful to Africa’s capacity building; secondly, China cannot only content itself with agricultural aid to Africa, but should also bring entrepreneurship into the cooperation; finally, China should not only pay attention to both African indigenous markets, but also to the international markets, which will offer incentives to African farmers.


Xu Weizhong based his analysis of the agricultural cooperation between China and Africa on two interrelated arguments, the first being that “Africa is not ready for international cooperation and foreign investment” and the second being that “Africa should take its responsibility in the process of agricultural cooperation”. Although African representatives did not agree with his first point, they supported the second one because it corresponds with the debate on African endogenous agro development. And so, two questions had to be addressed, namely: (1)What responsibilities should Africa take? (2)How can endogenous agro development in Africa be achieved? Participants’shared insights on these two questions focused on government policies, agricultural production trade, rural development and urban agriculture. A conclusion was reached according to which positive agricultural policies can have a decisive effect on agricultural development and foreign investment.

That is why, based on his research on Uganda’s agricultural development and investment Plan as a study case, Professor Zhang Haisen from the Center for International Agricultural Cooperation and Development at the University of International Business and Economics, based on his field research in Ugandan, pointed out that the Ugandan government has made some policies in order to increase the agricultural investment, such as pursuing a private sector led strategy by addressing key constraints that are known to slow down investment in agriculture, pursuing and supporting public-private partnerships, providing agricultural services to all categories of farmers, and increasing public sector investment in agriculture. He told the audiences that those policies have promoted Ugandan agricultural sector’s opening up to investors from all over the world.

Given the fact some African countries have not till now paid enough attention to the agricultural sector, some representatives stressed the need for such countries to do so immediately. For example, Fundile Mafongosi from Masifunde Education and Development Project Trust in South Africa argued that the state must provide financial and infrastructural support to small scale farmers, must facilitate the construction of rural industries and promote exchange of goods and services between the rural and urban communities. Furthermore, the state’s responsibility is not only to make the policies, but also to implement them. As Guan Shanyuan from China-Africa Agriculture Investment Co., Ltd. found out in the case of Tanzania, although the Tanzanian government adopted policies which place agriculture in the first place, it was very difficult to implement them.

Given the fact that agricultural trade plays a very important role in the sustainable development of agricultural and poverty reduction, Mr. Simon Ng'ona, centre coordinator of CUTS International Lusaka, analyzed this role from the perspective of agricultural trade within African countries. After conducting research on agricultural trade situations in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, he found out that, because of the constraints imposed by restrictive policies, such as import tariffs and quotas, and political factors, such as corruption, 80% of regional agricultural trade in East Africa remains informal. Nevertheless, despite the fact that informal trade can increase business activities and enhances income and employment for poor households in the border regions, nevertheless it has negative effects on formal economy, food security and environmental protection, Ng'ona argued. Therefore, African countries must improve formal agricultural trade at the regional level he concluded. He put forward some concrete proposals on how to improve formal agricultural trade, including, reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers; clamping down on corruption; harmonizing food safety standards at regional level; disseminating information and knowledge regarding the regional market; and strengthening the cooperation between regional farmer/trader organizations.

Commenting on the issue of African rural development, Professor Zhen Feng, from the Center for African Studies, Nanjing University, pointed out that African rural development has five main characteristics at present: (1) the development of rural areas severely depends on agricultural economy and lacks development potential; (2) the incomes from non-agricultural sectors are much higher than those from the agricultural sector, which only have little effect on poverty reduction; (3) the level of informatization is very low; (4) the quality of rural communication infrastructure is very low and its cost is very high; (5) the energy use efficiency in rural areas is very low. Professor Zhen Fengalso put forward some concrete proposals to achieve the development of African rural areas, including, in the area of agricultural modernization, improving agricultural technology, perfecting agricultural policies and regulations and strengthening irrigation; in the area of agricultural industrialization, leading the construction of agricultural industrialization development zone and building the network between production, proceeding and marketing; in the area of rural infrastructure, paying more attention to communication infrastructure and energy infrastructure; in the area of informatization, building network infrastructure and carrying out online information technology trainings; and building urban centers in the rural areas to attract rural populations and achieve local urbanization.

Professor Diana Lee-Smith, from Mazingira Institute of Kenya, discussed the issue of African agricultural development from the perspective of urban agriculture. Based on her research on urban agriculture in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Cape Town, Diana Lee-Smith argued that urban agriculture can recycle wastes into fertilizer, produce more food and generate more income for urban households, (especially vegetables and milk. For example, urban agriculture generates 90% of Dares Salaam’s leafy vegetables and 60% of its milk and 70% of Nairobi’s milk) and bring more food and health to children. But at the same time, she also pointed out that all initiatives in urban agricultural have come from bottom up and have not been taken seriously enough by African governments and international societies, some African cities’ governments even forbade urban agriculture for health reasons. She stressed the need for African countries to change their policies and international societies to increase their support, because if they do that, urban agriculture would grow into modern agriculture.

Professor Sun Hongqi from Jiangsu Normal University discussed the sustainable and inclusive development of African agriculture from the perspective of land and land use. He pointed out that South Africa has vast land areas and vast potential arable land areas, but the land resources are uneven among different countries, and because of the historical reasons, land distribution is uneven too, which greatly blocks a sustainable and inclusive development of African agriculture. In order to redress these imbalances, he put forward some concrete proposals: first, launching land reform and making it the starting point of equity and justice; secondly, respecting traditional agriculture and accelerating modern agricultural development, making agriculture the real primary industry; thirdly, achieving cooperation and interaction between governments, capital and individuals; finally, cooperating with international agricultural investors.


In recent years, as Africa’s vast unexploited lands drew more and more attention from investors, a large amount of that land was either leased or bought by investors from foreign countries, giving birth to the “myth” of “Land Grab” in the process, especially the myth of the so called “Red Land Grab” by China. What are the realities of “Land Grab” in Africa and agricultural FDI in Africa by different countries? What impact do they have on the lives of African peoples? Participants shared their insights in addressing these issues.

Dimuna Phiri from the Zambia Land Alliance analyzed the large scale land based acquisitions and investment in Zambia. She pointed out many investors, not only foreign countries and private investors, but also Zambian investors, had bought lands in Zambia. On the issue of the use of those vast lands, she found out that besides agricultural production, they were also being used for mining, irrigation and water conservancy projects and urban economic zones. As far as the impact “Land Grab” has had on Zambia, Dimuna Phiri argued that it has had both positive and negative effects. The positive effects include the modernization of agricultural production, increasing income for farmers, improving technology transfer, stimulation of employment and development of infrastructural development. The negative impacts include resettlement and compensation processes limitations, heavy losses of smallholders’ farms and urbanization induced poverty, food insecurity and food shortages, mental anguish and loss of cultural identity. She presented a human rights based approach to solve these problems, which means that should “Land Grab” occur and resettlement is a must, the government should put protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, poverty reduction, livelihoods improvement and the attainment of sustainable development in the first place.

Participants expressed their support for Dimuna’s arguments and added interesting propositions to them, stating that in the process of “Land Grab”, the freedom, rights and interests of the poor must be guaranteed; some argued that the land rights of smallholder farmers must not be violated or interfered with by foreign agricultural enterprises; and this should include the land rights of women which must be guaranteed by law, according to participants.

Professor Ajay Dubey from Jawaharlal Nehru University of India provided a factual analysis of the issue of single country leases or buys of land in Africa, introducing India’s case. He pointed out that the reasons why land was leased to India or India bought lands in Africa were to invest in African agriculture and produce food for Indians. The main features of India’s undertaking, he told the conference, are the following: first, those whose land is leased to or those who buy land in Africa are private enterprises. Indian government and state-owned businesses are not taking part in it; secondly, Indians have slowed down their pace in grabbing land in Africa since 2012 because some enterprises were unable to transfer the land they got to other land buyers; thirdly, it’s difficult to determine whether or not the companies which bought lands are really managed by Indians or are simply registered in India; finally, after buying land in Africa, Indians always grow cash crops or economic crops to replace food crops, and sell them to Indian markets instead of local markets.

In recent years, a lot of criticism has been leveled against China’s “Land Grab” in Africa, which created some negative effects on the agricultural cooperation between China and Africa. Chinese representatives used this opportunity to debunk this myth during their interventions.

Mr. Shi Yongjie from China-Africa Development Fund notably told the conference that up to 2013, the amount of agricultural land that was leased or bought by the countries outside Africa amounts to 33.16 million hectares. Among those countries, the United States, Britain, France, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, India and Saudi Arabia hold 19 million hectares, nearly 57% of all the land, and their land holding is now still increasing. In contrast, the land China holds is only equivalent to 10% of America’s land holding in Africa. Furthermore, the number of Chinese investors in agriculture in Africa is very small and their financial input is very low. Mr. Shi Yongjie also emphasized that the Chinese government is still basing its food security on domestic production instead of overseas production, and in addition, pointed out that this explains why the main purpose of China’s involvement in the African agricultural sector is to help Africa to achieve poverty reduction and food security, not land-grabbing.

Based on his research on agricultural cooperation between China and Uganda, Professor Zhang Haisen drew some conclusions similar to those of Mr. ShiYongjie’s: He basically reckoned that commercial Chinese agricultural investment in Africa has recently increased but not as much as reported; that the main purpose of Chinese engagement in Africa agricultural sector is market-oriented not land-grabbing targeted and for China’s own food security. According to Professor Zhang Haisen, one such blown up report involved the case of Chinese firm ZTE which allegedly wanted to invest “one billion dollars” in an oil palm biofuels venture estimated to cover “3 million hectares” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the truth remains that, up to 2013, ZTE only holds 200 hectares of an oil palm plant nursery seed garden in Equateur Province, and an additional two farms close to Kinshasa (246 hectares in Menkao and 600 hectares in Daipin).

It was Jessica M. Chu from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London who proved Chinese representatives’arguments right when she made her presentation on foreign agricultural investments in Africa, using Zambia as a study case. Her research on agricultural FDI in Zambia by different countries indicates that among the total pledged agricultural investments, Britain’s accounts for 38%, those of BRICS countries account for 26%, and those of other countries account for 36%. But among BRICS countries, South Africa’s accounts for 15%, while China’s only accounts for 3%. Moreover, the investments from British are mainly to larger farmers, while China’s investments are mainly to smallholders.


With agricultural international cooperation exponentially growing in Africa, the international stakeholders have become more and more diversified. As Professor Aparajita Biswas from the Centre for African Studies of the University of Mumbai put it, international stakeholders in Africa’s agricultural sector in the “new age” include foreign governments, private corporations, entrepreneurs, research institutes, universities, non-governmental and civil society organizations. So what opportunities and challenges are they bringing to Africa? Representatives answered this question from different perspectives.

Using the case of agricultural cooperation between India and Zambia as an example, Aparajita analyzed the opportunities and challengesIndia faces in Zambia. She pointed out that India-Zambia agricultural cooperation provides employment in the agricultural sector for local population, especially for women; benefits both larger farmers and smallholders; promotes technology and knowledge transfer, builds agricultural infrastructures; and advances sustainable development in agriculture. The challenges, as she argued, include: whether environmental and social impact assessments are carried out is still unclear; large amount of food produced locally is wholly exported; and land policies are still unclear…; therefore foreign acquisition of land is not transparent. Nevertheless, she pointed out that taking into consideration the fact that agriculture is the mainstay of most African economies and the increasing international interest in it, agriculture will have a positive developmental future.

Considering the impact of agriculture FDI on the Zambian economy, Edmond Kangamungazi from Caritas Zambia also confirmed that FDI have brought both opportunities and challenges to the Zambian agricultural sector.

On one hand, Kangamungazi reckons that many farmers have lost their land because of investments in large commercial farms, and smallholder farmers still face big challenges because they cannot compete with larger farmers in the agricultural production markets. In fact, Jessica M. Chu argued that because of land-grabbing, some traditional land holders suffered great loses and many people were displaced; because of larger scale investments, African farmers had to produce high valued-added economic crops, which food crops production forced to decline.

On the other hand, according to Kangamungazi, investments in large commercial farmscan increase agricultural employment (especially during harvest period), provide education and training opportunities, promote technology transfer, and supply more fertilizers and chemicals.

Dr.Tang Xiaoyang from Tsinghua University, for his part provided an analysis of Asian investments in Southern Africa’s cotton sector and their impacts on local farmers, including: growing competition with local markets; purchase price increase; better technical assistance and higher quality seeds; change in local market structure; increasingmerger or acquisition; huge loss suffered by smallholder farmers due to lack of experiences or finance; violation of any of the agreed-upon terms and conditions of a binding contract because of unregulated competition; and price fixing which hurts farmers’ interests, forcing them to try to establish direct connection with international markets.

Besides trade and investment, aid is another important form of the agricultural international cooperation in Africa. Doctor Fu Jinhe from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) introduced the bamboo cooperation between INBAR and Africa andits contribution to African development. He argued that the cooperation can not only promote the development of African bamboo industries—for example, using bamboo to make furniture, house, decoration, floor, fuel, food and forage, but also be helpful to soil protection and employment.


Once more, with agricultural FDI exponentially growing in Africa, how to measure their impacts on the livelihood of Africans is becoming the key issue to be looked at, that is to say, whether those investment are successful or not, whether they bring benefits to Africa or not, and whether foreign investors should keep on investing or even increase the amount of their investments or not. All the participants reached a common agreement according to which, in the process of evaluation, we need to pay more attention on whether or not those investments are helping African countries to achieve food product diversification, gain access to target markets and raise the additional value of food products, which finally will drive African countries to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Dr. Wang Xiaolin from International Poverty Reduction Center in China, pointed out that the conceptual framework for such an evaluation includes four layers: the first one is agricultural growth, which including food security, technology transfer and industrial organization; the second one is equal and fair opportunity, which including inclusiveness, companies’participation and farmers’ participation; the third one is friendly process, which including sustainability, ecologically and environmentally friendly practices; the last one is fair result, which includes poverty reduction and enhancing the well-being of the people. In the lower stage of the project, the main contents to be measured are food security and technology transfer; in the upper stage of the project, they are the enhancement of the well-being of the peopleand ecologically and environmentally friendly practices. Dr. Wang Xiaolin argued that every project comprises of six stages, which are identification, preparation, appraisal, negotiation, implementation and supervision, and evaluation, respectively. The process of measurement should start from the stage of implementation and supervision. Its contents should focus on inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts. The use of the process of measurement is aimed at confirming whether the project has had an impact or not, how large the impact was and who has benefited from it. The aim of it is to provide the basis for sound policy-making. Dr. Wang Xiaolin finally pointed out that in order to achieve the effectiveness of the process of measurement, we need an independent comparing group which would not receive spillover benefits.

Desire Assogbavi, representative of Oxfam Liaison Office at the African Union, evaluated Africa’s current development from the perspective of inclusive growth and sustainable development. He argued that there are many problems in Africa’s inclusive growth and sustainable development, such as economic growth without economic development, a large and growing young population, a significant proportion of population suffering from hunger and malnutrition, lack of infrastructure, and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. How can the current growth bring international competition and common prosperity to Africa? For him, the answer lies in the need for Africa to achieve agriculture-led growth instead of mining-led growth. In order to achieve this growth, African countries should focus on the following policies: allocate at least 10% of public expenditure to agriculture, and ensure its efficiency and effectiveness; adopt appropriate policy and institutional conditions to boost private investments, especially local investments in agriculture; supply appropriate knowledge, information, and skills to investors; boost intra-Africa trade without slowing down business with current partners; and stop illicit capital flow.

Mao Xiaojing from Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation discussed China-Africa agricultural cooperation from its sustainability perspective. She divided China-Africa agricultural cooperation into two periods before and after the year 2000. She pointed out that among the three main aid forms before the year 2000, which included large farms, irrigation and water conservancy projects and agri-business factories, the first one was unsustainable, the last two were relatively successful. During the period after 2000, various forms of agricultural cooperation between China and Africa included agriculture-related human resource training, the dispatching agriculture experts and technical staff for consultancy and technical cooperation, the building up of agriculture demonstration centers and direct investment by Chinese companies in agriculture. However, Mao Xiaojing reckoned that their record on moving towards sustainability so far still appears to have some problems. For example, some agriculture demonstration centersare currently not performing well. Based on those arguments, she put forward three concrete proposals on how to achieve sustainable development in China-Africa agricultural cooperation: first, combining the technical advantages of China with the gaps and needs of Africa; secondly, combining technical assistance with necessary agricultural infrastructure building; and third,combining agriculture development industry with investment.


The starting-point of this conference was whether the agricultural development in Africa should embrace giant agribusinesses which are managed by international investors, or revert to support African indigenous smallholding type of agriculture. Although this starting-point is at the centre of a hot debate within the international societies, as we have mentioned above, the content of the conference goes beyond this debate. Participants analyzed the importance of sustainable agricultural development in Africa in the near future; proposed the needed local institutional framework, the driving forces of such agricultural development and the strategies to be pursued for the development of the African agricultural sector in its current phase; described different kinds of international cooperation mechanisms put in place by different actors and discussed the opportunities and challenges facing those actors from a historical and contemporary perspective. After analyzing those issues from the macro and middle levels, participants also presented some country case studies from the micro level, and analyzed the relationship between Africa’s inclusive growth and sustainable development with agricultural international cooperation from different perspectives. It is our point of view that their arguments will be instructive to scholars, policy-makers and those who carry out agricultural international cooperation on the ground (including not only host countries’ stakeholders, but also foreign actors).

* Shen Xiaolei is a PhD. Candidate at the School of International Studies at Peking University, The author thanks Professor Liu Haifang, General Secretary and Deputy Director of the Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University and Mr. Antoine Roger Lokongo, PhD. Candidate at the School of International Studies, Peking University, respectively, for their help and input in the process of writing this article.

* The author thanks Professor Liu Haifang, General Secretary and Deputy Director of the Centre for African Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University and Mr. Antoine Roger Lokongo, PhD. Candidate at the School of International Studies, Peking University, respectively, for their help and input in the process of writing this article.

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Call for papers: Towards the 8th Pan African Congress


The 8th Pan African Congress has been rescheduled to March 2015. Writers, researchers, academics and everyone else interested are invited to send in articles covering a broad range of themes.

Since 1900, the seven Pan African Congresses have provided moments for new vision and collective action towards freedom, justice and unity. The 7th PAC was attended by a new generation of young leaders, where are they now? What leadership does Africa need now? With 65% of Africans under 35, is it time for a leadership change? What does Africa rising mean? How can Africa sustain the vision of its founding fathers and created a truly independent Africa of the future?

Join veteran and young Pan Africanist leaders in discussion of Pan Africanism and a vision for Africa’s future in March 2015 in Accra. Towards the 8th Congress in 2015, the Local Organising Committee of the 8th Pan African Congress based in Accra, Ghana, the host country, is inviting papers from all Africans on the continent and the Diaspora.

Some of the papers will be presented at the plenaries and working groups during the 8th Congress. The LOC also intends to publish these as part of post Congress for knowledge building.

Writers, researchers and contributors are invited to submit papers based on the themes listed below. Researchers and writers interested in presenting papers should note the following:

• Authors can choose to write one or two papers from the list below, or propose a topic of interests within the wider Pan African discourse.
• Papers can either be in French or English
• Papers will be subject to peer review
• Submissions should be presented in soft copy, double spaced and not more than 3,000 words.
• Papers should reflect the pan African nature of the Congress, its outcomes and the way forward for Africa.

These papers should be emailed to:

Key Topics
1. The foundational roots of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance and Contemporary dynamics of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

2. The Future of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance over the next 50 years.

3. Science, Innovation and Technology.

4. Pan-Africanism, knowledge management and the role of African Think Tanks and the role of African intellectuals.

5. Transforming, integrating and governing the African economy (including natural resources):

6. Roles of the state, private sector and civil society in propelling Pan-Africanism and African.

7. Migration patterns, free movement of people and the African citizenship

8. Democracy, governance and peace and security as key pillars and enablers for the advancement of Pan-Africanism

9. Pan-Africanism and the role of the women movement: gender dialogue

10. Pan-Africanism and the role of the youth in Pan Africanism

11. Africa's relations with the rest of the World (East, West and South-South);

12. Challenges and Prospects for the revival and sustenance of the Pan Africanist Movement.

13. Governance, Democratic transitions and Popular participation in politics – including Elections and political parties

14. Leadership in Africa – traditional leaders, emerging leaders (youth), Women

15. Human rights and Human security

16. Role of the Diaspora in the development of Africa.

17. The reparations movement and the quest for justice.

18. The Media in post-colonial Africa

19. Using the social media for the change agenda in Africa

For more information about the Congress, registration and the concept note and a registration form, visit:

Comment & analysis

‘Public security’ means the president’s misuse of power to violate rights and entrench sectarian rule

Cyprian O Nyamwamu


There is no doubt in Kenya that the Jubilee Administration is hell-bent on eroding the democratic gains achieved in the country through many years of blood and tears. Uhuru Kenyatta must not be allowed to establish a new dictatorship.

Mugambi Kiai in 1996 established the following truth: “The failure of the constitution to protect the conditions for democracy can generally be attributed to a) an overloading of powers onto the executive as opposed to the legislature and judiciary b) the lack of specific definitions in qualifying fundamental rights; for example ‘public security’ which is a qualification to almost all the rights. The executive has taken the liberty to define this term to mean protecting the President, and used it to clamp down on dissent”.. (In search of Freedom and prosperity, Kivutha Kibwana, Chris Maina Peter & Joseph Oloka-Onyango, Eds.)

The tragedy of the moment is that President Uhuru Kenyatta's dictatorship is not powered by any known intellectual leadership. I think that we need to urgently raise this debate beyond the politics of numbers Kenyatta controls in parliament. We need to take the current discourse arising from the demonic Security Laws Amendment Bill out of parliamentary confines into the philosophical, spiritual and moral spheres. This is how we carried the day in the 1990s.

We need to invite the defenders of Uhuru’s despotism to a place where they can tell us how corruption in the decaying Kenyan security agencies can be cured by jailing Kenyans who are exercising their citizenship. We must refuse to become a nation of idiots who cannot explain to our children why there is insecurity in the country, yet we know why the country is spiralling into a state of insecurity and terror.

We cannot allow President Uhuru Kenyatta’s incompetent administration to define who we are as Kenyans. Kenya has never been led by power and might but by ideas. That is the difference between us and Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda. We are Kenya not Ethiopia!

A group of drafters filled with zeal and zest can not spend sleepless nights drafting amendments as dictated upon without our nation agreeing that the way forward for securing our development and developing our security is through amendments that strip Kenyans of their citizenship. Where are the Bishop Ogindes, Tuimusings, Omaes my voice of reason? Princes can not govern without philosophers and priests! The Constitution demands that you must canvass, debate and convince Kenyans about any item you want to introduce in the governance framework of this nation. Your dislike for political competitors like Raila Odinga and hatred for civil society organizations can not stop us from stating clearly that no one can rule Kenya as he wants. Kenya can only be governed according to the constitution and good sense, moderation, persuasion, deliberation. Not through fear and intimidation.

We cannot allow President Kenyatta to define how we shall hold his administration accountable. What this administration wants to do is to define the terms of holding them accountable, or put loosely, they want to be left to rule Kenya as they will, plunder resources as they wish, carry out extrajudicial killings with impunity, shut up every one they do not like at will. This is not acceptable. Because our younger siblings and children will ask us how we lost our souls and arguments to the minions and sycophants resident in State House, to faceless securocrats who want to overthrow the constitution of the republic of Kenya. President Kenyatta must assemble serious brains to make his argument for us to understanding what this is all about. We must interrogate the movers of these heinous amendments. Who are they? I do not know who they are! We keep talking of the Jubilee administration but I cannot put a face to the proponents of these draconian amendments.. Is it Aden Duale [Majority Leader in Parliament]? Is he the originator of these amendments? No. So who is it? Let us deal with real human beings who spent hours drafting these pieces of evil content. Let them come forward and define public security because Mugambi Kiai new this tactic twenty years ago and penned about it.



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Security laws (Amendment) Bill 2014

The Devolution Forum


The proposed Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 offends the constitution of Kenya 2010 by undermining the sovereignty of the people, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We, the members of The Devolution Forum, are deeply concerned with the provisions of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014.

We acknowledge that there have been serious internal and external threats to the security of this country, and by extension that of Kenyans. We note the fact that the country has spent the last 25 years trying to reform policing systems and national security, with numerous commissions and Task Forces engaged in processes that have cost the tax payers over 10 Billion shillings. While the reports of the commissions and task forces set out recommendations to inform the reform of the security sector, we deeply regret that these have never neither been implemented nor inform the current rushed push for amendment of the security laws.

His Excellency the President, during the State of the Nation address to Parliament in March 2014, promised major security sector reforms as a priority in efforts to strengthen the rule of law and effectively combat crime in the country. Having assessed the proposed amendments proposed changes to the security laws we are strongly persuaded that they are cosmetic, episodic and too myopic to match the President’s promise for comprehensive security sector reforms. We also deeply regret that the proposed changes are incompatible and inconsistent with Article 238 of the Kenya Constitution 2010 on the principles of the National Security.

Through the constitutional review process, there was unanimity on the principles to underpin Kenya’s security sector and these are clearly articulated in Article 238 of the Constitution. They include, inter alia:
1. National security is subject to the authority of the Constitution and Parliament;
2. National security shall be pursued in compliance with the law and with the utmost respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms;
3. In performing their functions and exercising their powers, national security organs shall respect the diverse culture of the communities within Kenya; and
4. Recruitment by the national security organs shall reflect the diversity of the Kenyan people in equitable proportions.

There are further guidance on the architecture and operations of the national security organs in Article 239 whose gist is to further guarantee the independence and accountability of the national security organs. It clearly stipulates that the national security organs shall be non-partisan, apolitical and subordinate to civilian authority.

We wish to reiterate that whatever laws and policies enacted/formulated to reform the security sector must religiously adhere to, and be compatible with these values and the values and principles of governance as postulated in Article 10 of the Constitution.

After reviewing the proposed bill, we note the following:

1. The proposed Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 offends the constitution of Kenya 2010 by undermining the sovereignty of the people, the supremacy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and promoting persecution of the religious matters in respect to the Northern Frontier Districts
2. There are sufficient policy frameworks in existence and others in development to deal with insecurity issue other than the proposed laws.
3. There are laws that were proposed in security sector reforms which were not implemented. Had these proposals been put into considerations, the security crisis would have been averted.
4. The proposed law is a prospect to undermine the chain of command as stipulated in the constitution. If the bill is amended, there will be a constitutional and legal chain of command on one hand; and parallel illegal chains of command for civilians.
5. There will be abuse of law by rogue elements if the proposed bill is made into law.

Having noted the above; we, members of The Devolution Forum want the following:

1. A comprehensive National Security Council Bill that gives guidance on crime protection laws and policy.
2. Restructuring and a complete overhaul of the National Police Service due to the failed security organs.
3. The government needs to put mechanisms in place to deal with the corruption in the security sector
4. Engaging the County governments’ on security by articulating the County National Police Service leadership, Command and Security Spokesperson structure under Police Officer in Charge of the County appointed by merit competitively by National Police Service Commission. The Officer will chair the County Policing and Law Enforcement Technical Committee.

Contact person:
Asentah Mwithigah <>
The Devolution Forum Co-odinator

Salt imports from Western Sahara rejected due to human rights violations

Peter Kenworthy


A Norwegian state owned engineering company earlier this year chose to reject a deal for salt from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara because they found that it would be in violation of their human rights standards. But a Danish company is doing the opposite.

After having consulted both the Norwegian authorities and the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, engineering company Mesta chose not to conclude a deal with the American salt producer Crystal Mountain.

“Based on the information we were given we chose not to pursue the deal with Crystal Mountain, because of the violations of human rights in the territory”, Director of Procurement at Mesta Paul Robert Rotevatn told Africa Contact, who has tracked and publicised the trade between a Danish company and Crystal Mountain for two years.

A letter to the editor of local newspaper Avisa Nordland earlier in December had implied that Mesta dealt with the Moroccan occupiers in Western Sahara. But Mesta has never purchased salt from Western Sahara, and will not be doing so in the future, says Paul Robert Rotevatn. “Our priority is to have serious suppliers that base their work on ethics and human rights”.

90.000 kilometres of road connects Norway’s towns and cities, most of which needs salting during the winter period, and Norway therefore imports millions of Euros worth of road salt every year (over 20 million Euros from Tunisia alone). The abandoned deal between Crystal Mountain and Mesta was therefore potentially worth millions.

Another Scandinavian company, Danish salt importer Dansk Vejsalt, has chosen a wholly different approach to Mesta in continuing to import salt from Crystal Mountain in Western Sahara, despite having been informed by Africa Contact on several occasions that they are violating international law by doing so, and against the admittedly less than persistent recommendations of the Danish government.

And although four Danish municipalities choose not to buy salt from Western Sahara through Dansk Vejsalt, due to pressure from Africa Contact, several others continue to do so in violation of international law and the recommendations of the United Nations.

According to international law, selling of goods from non-self-governing territories such as Africa’s last colony, Western Sahara, has to be approved by and benefit the indigenous population.

But Western Sahara’s indigenous population, the saharawis, and their UN-recognised representative, the Polisario Front, have never accepted, agreed to or benefitted from Moroccan trading with their natural resources, however.

On the contrary, both Polisario and scores of Saharawi citizens in the occupied territories of Western Sahara have protested vigorously and continuously against what they refer to as the plundering of their resources.

* Peter Kenworthy is a journalist working with Africa Contact, Denmark.



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Rev Edward Pinkney sentenced to two-and-a-half to 10 years

Abayomi Azikiwe


Civil Rights leader Rev Edward Pinkney has been sentenced to 30 – 120 months in prison for forging a successful recall petition against Mayor James Hightower. He maintains his innocence in the face of a conviction based on flimsy evidence. The conviction – delivered within a context of heightened anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggle in the US – is seen by many as politically motivated.

County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organisation (BANCO), Reverend Edward Pinkney, to 30 - 120 months in prison based on five felony counts of forgery by an all-white jury. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower who is perceived to be a tool of the Whirlpool Corporation and the political power structure in the area.

Pinkney has been a longtime activist in Berrien County, where Benton Harbor is located and where his work in the state of Michigan has drawn national attention. This is the second time in seven years that the BANCO leader has been convicted on charges related to efforts to hold local officials accountable to the people.

Prosecutor Michael Sepic requested a 42-month sentence based on the previous convictions in years prior extending back to the 1980s. Attorney Tat Parish, who defended Pinkney during the highly politicised trial and sentencing, requested that the judge exercise discretion by sentencing the activist to probation.

Over 130 people sent letters to the Judge Schrock requesting that he set aside the verdict and release Pinkney. Although the jurist acknowledged the letters he also sought to minimise their significance.

Attorney Parish stressed that the letters came from notable figures from around the country. ‘Although these people may hold ideas that we may not agree with they are good people who say that the community needs Pinkney,’ the defense lawyer told the court.

Outside the courtroom Parish told supporters of Pinkney that he appreciated the role they had played during the difficult trial. ‘A criminal appeal lawyer, one of the best in the state, will take over the case for the next phase.’

Activists present from various cities were outraged at what they perceived as a total travesty of justice carried out by the local courts. They pointed out that police who have been videotaped killing African Americans were allowed to go free while Pinkney had been convicted and sentenced to prison without any material evidence.

During the prosecution’s presentation of its case against Pinkney during October and November, there was no eyewitness testimony that would implicate the Berrien County activist in the alleged crimes committed. Even though the prosecutor and judge said the evidence was circumstantial, there were no clear cut motivations articulated which would place Pinkney in a position to change the dates on the recall petitions.

No handwriting experts testified who could determine that it was Pinkney who changed the dates. A series of witnesses called by the prosecution stated unequivocally that they circulated the recall petitions based upon their desire to replace Hightower who opposed a tax measure that would provide corporate resources for the rehabilitation of Benton Harbor in the interests of its poorest residents.

The courtroom was full for the sentencing hearing while people lined the hallway during the proceedings which lasted for over two hours. Armed white Berrien County sheriff deputies stood up during the entire proceeding guarding the doors and during later portions of the hearing, one of the officers moved to stand behind the prosecutor.

Two other unidentified white men sat next to the prosecutor during the proceedings. After the conclusion of the hearing Pinkney was placed in handcuffs and taken into detention.

People had traveled to St. Joseph from around the United States. Ralph Poynter of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee based in New York City was on hand for the sentencing. Delegations were also at the courthouse from Berrien County, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Nebraska, East Lansing, among other cities.


Prior to the sentencing Rev. Pinkney spoke to the court saying that he was not guilty and ‘would not admit to something I did not do. I am hurt that this jury convicted me without any evidence.’

He later turned to prosecutor Sepic, pointed towards him and said ‘you know I did not do anything illegal.’ Prior to sentencing Judge Schrock lectured Rev. Pinkney saying that his sentencing is designed to send a message.

Although the judge said that people have a right to seek the recall of a public official, he then turned to sentence the community leader to a lengthy prison term. Later the judge accused Rev. Pinkney of misrepresenting the political situation in Berrien County.

The area has an extensive history of racism and police repression. Benton Harbor’s African American community faces conditions of poverty, unemployment and police brutality.

BANCO through its organising efforts has exposed the corporate entities in the county in their mad drive to maximise profits at the expense of the most oppressed and exploited within this region of southwestern Michigan. The ominous atmosphere of racism and criminal justice bias permeated the preliminary hearings, the trial and the sentencing phase.


After the hearing concluded supporters of Pinkney stood and comforted Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, his wife. When asked outside the courthouse about where her husband would be detained, she said that ‘I have been told nothing.’

In the parking area supporters held a prayer vigil, an impromptu press conference and demonstration. People began to chant ‘Free Rev. Pinkney.’

Soon enough police cars began to arrive on the scene. Security personnel from inside the courthouse came out and told protesters that they would have to clear the area where cars drove into the county complex to park.

Law-enforcement vehicles from the city police force and state police were deployed.

Activists and defenders of Pinkney placed the sentencing within the broader context of the racist attacks against African Americans from Ferguson, Missouri and New York City all the way to California. Since the killing of Michael Brown on 9 August, the US has been hit by a continuous wave of anti-racist demonstrations and rebellions.

Since late November and early December, these manifestations have taken an even more mass character where protesters have drawn the links between police repression, judicial misconduct, the grand jury system and the corporate rule over US cities and suburbs. These demonstrations have closed down streets, shopping malls, highways and low-wage employment centers.

The blatant acts of the capitalist corporations and their agents in government are causing greater political consciousness and intolerance among African Americans and many people of goodwill. In Berrien County and throughout the state of Michigan, majority African American municipalities, including the largest city of Detroit, have been taken over by politicians operating on behalf of the banks and multi-national firms - where fundamental voting rights and due process guarantees have been terminated.

These efforts by the racist power structures in cities, states and at the federal level are taking place without a response from the oppressed and working people. The demonstrations which have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets across the US will increase in their numbers and militancy.

New alliances and organisations will emerge to provide a consistent and ideologically directed focus to the burgeoning struggle. The racist capitalist system can no longer hide from the penetrating analysis of the growing mass movement against racism and capitalist exploitation.

Developments in Berrien County, Michigan serve to illustrate the character of the current crisis and the willingness of people to resist this renewed onslaught by the ruling class.

* * Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor, Pan-African News Wire



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A tribute to Ali Mazrui

Seifudein Adem


What was Prof Mazrui’s most favorite quote? It was from a book by his mentor at Oxford, John Plamenatz: “The sins of the powerful acquire some of the prestige of power.”

[Seifudein Adem read this tribute to Mazrui at a memorial event at Binghamton University on December 6.]

I am pleased to speak on this occasion of celebration of the life of an extraordinary scholar. I would like to share with you a couple of anecdotes about Mazrui’s love of writing, his view of power, and our relationship.

We all know Mazrui was a prolific writer, but perhaps few of us knew why he loved to write. The reason, as he told us in 1974, included the following:

‘I want somebody else to know what occurs to my mind, to my being. This is why I write at all, why I write so much, why I write on such varied subjects.’

Mazrui traveled a lot. He also almost never came to campus even when he was in town unless he had a class, a meeting, or a special appointment. In addition to my weekly conversations with him in his house in Vestal, where we discussed current affairs and official business, Mazrui often communicated with me and our other staff through the fax machine. Therefore, I have at my disposal more than 5,000 pages of hand-written correspondence with him, another testimony, I think, to Mazrui’s love of writing.

What was Mazrui’s most favorite quotation? It was from a book by his mentor at Oxford, John Plamenatz: “The sins of the powerful acquire some of the prestige of power.”

He used it more frequently than any other quote in his writings. In my view, the fact that this was his most favorite quotation meant: #1) he understood well the nature of power; and, consequently #2) he had not only the capacity to comfortably navigate through the corridors of power but also did not have to distort facts for political purpose. So let me repeat the quote: THE SINS OF THE POWERFUL ACQUIRE SOME OF THE PRESTIGE OF POWER.

Let me share now an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Mazrui one month before he was hospitalized last year. I was trying to draw up the balance sheet of my association with him.

‘In the past eight years, you have given me the opportunity to work with you closely, allowing me to explore different areas of inquiry. But your vast scholarship, too, has been a stimulating research project for me. Consider, for example, my two books which were published in 2013, and the other two, which are forthcoming before end of the year. These books are either about you, or are co-authored with you, or have in them a chapter by you—a clear evidence of the fruitfulness and maturity of our intellectual partnership.’

Even after his death, Mazrui continues to stimulate and inspire me. On October 24, 2014, The New York Times published Mazrui’s obituary by Douglas Martin titled “Ali Mazrui, Scholar of Africa, Who Divided U.S. Audiences, Dies at 81”.

When I saw a factual error in the obituary, I did what I thought Mazrui would have done under the circumstances. First I told myself that even if The Times was entitled to its own opinion, it was not entitled to its own fact. Then I wrote to the editors directly, but more politely of course, about the factual error. I received a note of appreciation from the prestigious newspaper, and the correction was also conspicuously appended, almost word for word, at the end of the online version of the story on the same day.

In closing, let me ask myself, how will I remember Ali Mazrui? I will remember him as a man who best exemplified the human potential to stimulate the mind. Rest in peace, Professor.



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Advocacy & campaigns

A call for peace in South Sudan


Civil society groups across the Great Lakes & Horn of Africa regions have called on governments to acknowledge the outcry of South Sudanese people and engage in serious peace negotiations instead of stalling tactics while searching for military victory.

(KAMPALA, 15 DECEMBER, 2014) – Today, it is exactly one year since the South Sudan – Africa’s and the world’s newest state – descended into civil war. Civil society organizations in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia and South Sudan are commemorating those killed since the beginning of the war. Under the auspices of the Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS), events in these countries have been held to remember those who perished in the war and express solidarity for peace in South Sudan. The violent conflict has created enormous humanitarian crisis in many parts of South Sudan and the region. It has resulted into the death of over 10,000 sofar. Besides, an estimated 2,000,000 are left displaced. Most of the displacements are internal, while refugees are mostly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

Peace talks underway in Ethiopia have secured a cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement but the warring parties have time and again violated the CoH agreement, raising doubts over the adequacy of political will to end the war - and the likelihood of a possible comprehensive peace agreement to hold.

RENOPS members across the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region are commemorating the deaths through memorial prayers, candle vigils and peace marches. RENOPS stands with the people of South Sudan in calling for an immediate end of the war and a peace deal that sets the framework for essential reforms, stability, accountability, national healing and reconciliation.

During the commemoration events in the respective countries, members of RENOPS are calling South Sudan’s warring parties to end the war immediately. They urge South Sudan’s leaders to set aside their personal interests and put the interest of their people first to safeguard the hard won independence and the values of their liberation struggle. The continuation of war would mean more bloodshed, more suffering, instability and risks of famine in South Sudan as well as an increase in the threat to peace, security and stability of the region.

RENOPS members in the commemoration events further call on their governments to;

1. Step up pressure on South Sudan’s leaders to immediately end the war.
2. Fully support peaceful and negotiated settlement and denounce any military efforts to resolve the conflict.
3. Impose targeted sanctions on leaders who are obstructing peace efforts.
4. Take all necessary measures within their capacity to ensure that no more arms are supplied to South Sudan’s warring parties as more arms will fuel the conflict further. In-action would mean funding an arms race between the political belligerents. Besides, militarising the South Sudanese nation further, this development also threatens to affect neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian arms ownership in the region.

This statement is a clarion call to governments in the region to acknowledge their people’s outcry and call for serious peace negotiations instead of stalling tactics while searching for military victory. We call on regional and national civil society in the six neighbouring IGAD member states to mobilise and remind their governmental institutions (executive, parliament, local governments and judiciary) to engage the antagonists in South Sudan to make and observe their commitments in the Addis Ababa peace process.

While IGAD did not threaten arms embargo for violating the CoH agreement and sanctions against spoilers, neither sanctions nor arms embargo have hitherto been imposed by IGAD or any of its member states.

Without an inclusive dialogue, there is no guarantee that the peace process will be effective and legitimate. Citizens dialogues from outside could feed into the peace process, yet freedom of speech in South Sudan is limited, with civil society also vulnerable to threats. Such an environment denies the general public a medium to have their voices heard. The public also forbids the South Sudanese public a neutral medium through which they can participate in shaping the direction of the peace process.

98% of the country’s revenue being from oil exports means that a continuation of the war will lead to a collapse of the country’s economy. This portends long-term suffering for an already war-ravaged country, given its two decades war prior to cessation. Rather than building a cohesive nation, the ruling elites have been in conflict. The current conflict has seriously harmed gains made in nation building as inter-ethnic strife has been fuelled in parts of South Sudan.

Since after descending into violent conflict there have been arms races between the political belligerents. Besides militarising the South Sudanese nation further, this development also threatens to affect neighbouring countries as arms trafficking can translate to a spike in civilian arms ownership.


The Regional Network on Peace and Security (RENOPS) is a consortium of national civil society organizations, networks and experts. The current members of RENOPS are drawn from; Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somali, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

RENOPS’ thematic areas of focus include electoral conflict management; terrorism and radicalization; interstate and intercommunity boundary conflicts; peace-building and crisis prevention; security sector reforms; and arms control and humanitarian disarmament in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region. In all these themes, RENOPS will encourage and monitor the implementation of international and regional instruments and best practices. It was founded in Naivasha, Kenya on 12th October, 2014 at a regional civil society workshop that sought to map out challenges to peace, security and stability in the Greater Horn of Africa in order to strategize on and implement ways of contributing to sustainable solutions.

The vision of RENOPS is “A peaceful, stable, secure region of the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region”. Its mission is “To harness regional CSO capacities for networking, capacity building, dialogue, research and advocacy in order to contribute to regional peace and security efforts”.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Rose Othieno – Executive Director, Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE) Email:, Tel: +256 (0) 772 462319 / 755 145440
Canon Joyce Nima – Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC); Tel: +256 (0) 783 537444 Mr. Murithi Pius: E-mail: TEL: +2547 2889 2994

Unconditional release of human rights defenders arrested in peaceful demonstration


At least eight human rights defenders were brutally arrested and assaulted on 18 December 2014 in Nairobi during a peaceful demonstration against the Security Law (Amendment) Bill.

We, the undersigned, in exercising the full mandate of our members as Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are shocked and dismayed by the brutal arrest of a number of Kenyans who this morning were lawfully protesting against the draconian Security Law (Amendment) Bill 2014.

We have established that a number of them are being held at Central Police Station, Nairobi, amongst a score of other police stations in the city. At least the following eight (8): Gacheke Gachihi, Francis Sakwa, Kenneth Kirimi, Wilfred Olal , John Koome, Okello Odhiambo, Denis Okoth, Denis Olema are to face charges of taking part in an unlawful assembly and incitement to violence which are only too familiar charges in a militarising democracy like we have become.

We condemn this state harassment and state our demands:

i. That all those arrested on such frivolous charges be acquitted forthwith.
ii. Despite constitutional guarantee against torture and inhumane treatment of Kenyan citizens, a number of those arrested were seriously injured during the arrest. We thereby call for provision of immediate medical attention to those affected.

This comes a day after the arbitrary deregistration of over 500 NGOs (forget about the pending job losses) demonstrating the length to which this government is willing to go in emasculating the freedoms and rights on Kenyan Citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The forceful attempt to pass the unpopular Security Law (Amendment) Bill 2014 must be read as part of this scheme.

Nairobi, 18th December 2014.

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya
Rights Promotion and Protection Centre

Books & arts

A review: 'The Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism' and ‘Three Essays on Marx’s Value Theory’

Published by Monthly Review Press, 2013

Seth Sandronsky


Want political economy that soberly unpacks power and wealth? Read two recent books by Samir Amin who defines the system’s current stage as “generalized-monopoly capitalism.” His study of it reveals what standard economics conceals and distorts.

The two books under review study the economy within the parameters of social change. Amin takes a Marxist, historic view of the system’s “grow or die” imperatives in developed and emerging nations. Marx, however, lived and wrote during the Industrial Revolution. For Amin, the old German’s analysis of value, central to that critique of emerging capitalism, is necessary, but not sufficient.

Amin fleshes out the concept of surplus and value theory in global monopoly capitalism. It “is the result of growth in the productivity of social labour exceeding the price paid for labour power,” he writes. This process polarizes societies among and between rich and poor nations. We see this growing more extreme over time.

Competition between firms, within the working-class, and, of course, labour and capital, looms large under generalized monopoly capitalism now as was the case 150 years ago. To this end, Amin expands concepts such as “socially necessary labour time” that Marx developed from critiquing David Ricardo and Adam Smith, the political economists who analyzed the system to justify it.

In Amin’s nutshell, the huge productive capacity of the current system creates and delivers a dire dilemma. Where to invest all the wealth capitalist firms acquire to realize profitable investment?

Amin follows Marxist economists Paul Baran, Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, and more recently John Bellamy Foster, in furthering Marx’s critique, roughly from the 1970s to now. Thus a “financialization” of the economy spawns a few billionaires and many paupers in the developed nations, but also in emerging countries, a stage of capitalism that Amin terms its “senility.” For him, the current crisis of the system is “due to nothing other than its own success.” Amin seeks not to reform capitalism but to replace it with an order that benefits humanity, caught in a web of contradictions, economically and ecologically.

So-called emerging nations of the Global South can’t and won’t catch up with the Global North, Amin writes. This fact should be as plain as day. To wit, there are no places such as North America for dispossessed peasants to go and prosper as was the case during capitalist industrialization in Western Europe.

Crucially, Amin argues, the role of financial capital undermines the growth imperative of the system. Here, his analysis of European capitalism untangles how financial capital dominates the economy. Financial interests push policies of austerity. That trend attracts money away from social safety net spending toward servicing public debt, up since ordinary taxpayers bailed out private investors last decade.

In Amin’s view, the “Imperial Triad” of the U.S., Europe, and Japan requires an updating of Lenin. Recall his view of imperialism as capitalism’s highest phase. That does not go far enough for Amin. He writes that imperialism in the 21st century reveals a “permanent phase of capitalism.”

Look at the hundreds of U.S. military bases spanning the planet, most recently Washington’s war against the Islamic State, site of ample fossil fuels. The reason imperial armed forces and mercenaries use force worldwide is to enforce the rule of a collectivized power and wealth of monopolies based in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, according to Amin.

Mainstream media in the Triad disguise the economic motives of war, according to Amin. His critique of corporate journalism is historically-based, describing the Fourth Estate now as the “media clergy.”

Militarized operations abroad and at home (i.e., armored personnel carriers and machine guns facing down people protesting police brutality against unarmed African Americans in Ferguson, Missouri) are the hegemonic force to maintain a virulent status quo of growing inequality. War abroad and war at home. Amin wraps up with sketches of the challenges and possibilities in the movements to realize a human-based social order. To this end, he highlights the quality of audacity. Left, radical forces should be audacious in struggling for justice and peace from the upper class and its political representatives.

* Seth Sandronsky is a freelance journalist and member of the Pacific Media Workers Guild.



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Introducing the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Lizzy Attree


The new $15,000 literary prize will be awarded to the best Kiswahili unpublished manuscripts or books published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction/short fiction collection, poetry and memoir and graphic novels.

On 22 November, 2014, we announced the new Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature at the Ake Arts & Book Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria. The prize has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages.

The prize is named after its primary sponsors, Mabati Rolling Mills (a subsidiary of the Safal Group), a roofing company based in Kenya, and Cornell University, an Ivy League university in Ithaca, New York. That one of the major sponsors is based in Kenya shows that African philanthropy can lead the way in underwriting African cultural production. Cornell’s support is through the Africana Studies and Research Center and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and falls under the broader vision of internationalization so that the Cornell community can be immersed in a globalizing world.

All African literature whether in European or African languages serves as a tributary to the greater ocean of the African literary tradition. A Kiswahili prize for literature is as Pan-African as a Yoruba or isiXhosa prize. If we can accept that a French and English prize is African, should we not see an African language prize as inherently Pan-African? It would be ironical to consider European language prizes to be more African than those honoring work in African languages. We need to dismantle the framework established by the Makerere generation in the 1960s of the higher Pan-African and national literatures being in English and lower and divisive ethnic literatures being in African languages. There is a need for African literature in African languages to enter a global conversation with literatures around the world on a more equal footing.

The $15,000 prize will be split into four and awarded to the best Kiswahili unpublished manuscripts or books published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction/short fiction collection, poetry and memoir and graphic novels. Recognizing that a major impediment to the growth of writing in African languages has been what to do with the manuscripts once written, East African Educational Publishers (EAEP) will publish the winning fiction entry. And the best poetry book will be translated and published in English by the Africa Poetry Book Fund. We are still looking for publishers interested in translations across other languages, African and non-African alike.

We believe that rewarding writers and translators of different African languages with prizes, scholarships, teaching posts, influential editorial and publishing positions would breathe life and most importantly salaries into a new generation of professional multi-linguists. Instead of seeing the thousands of African languages as a problem, we need to see them as a resource. Imagine if every single African university had a translation center.

Imagine what these busy towers of babel would do for African literatures. Translations between African languages and between other world languages would enrich our literature while contributing to the larger body of world literature. Translations centers would give literatures multiple lives in different languages. It would enable us to identify skilled translators and professionalize translation. Rewarding writers and translators of different African languages with prizes, scholarships, teaching posts, influential editorial and publishing positions would breathe life and most importantly salaries in to a new generation of professional multi-linguists. Translation is the future that has always been with us.

Africa as a whole has a population of over 1 billion people. Yet even for African literature in English for example, there are only a handful of literary journals, prizes and publishers. And the situation is much more dire for writing and publishing in African languages. If we are to grow the African literary tradition, and increase literacy, we need more of everything. We need more prizes, more literary journals, magazines, newspapers, translators, publishing houses and more readers.

Back to the practicalities of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. The award winning ceremony will be held at Cornell University, Africana Studies Center. The winning writers will be invited to take up residencies at Cornell University and partner institutions. The second and third award ceremonies will be held in Kenya and Tanzania respectively in 2016 and 2017.

To enter please send unpublished manuscripts or books (fiction, poetry, short story collections, non-fiction, memoirs, or graphic novels) published in Kiswahili within two years of the award year to by March 31st, 2015. Manuscripts should not be less than 50,000 words for fiction and 50 pages for poetry.

For more information please visit our bilingual website at: Follow us on twitter: @KiswahiliPrize and most certainly like us on Facebook: Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. You can also reach us via email at

* Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi is an Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University and the author of ‘Black Star Nairobi’ (Melville, 2013), ‘Nairobi Heat’ (Melville 2011), ‘Hurling Words at Consciousness’, and the forthcoming ‘Mrs. Shaw’ (Ohio University Press) and ‘Hunting Words with my Father’ (Africa Poetry Fund) in 2015.

* Dr. Lizzy Attree is the Director of the Caine Prize for African Writing and co-founder of the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature. She has a PhD from SOAS, University of London and ‘Blood on the Page’, her collection of interviews with the first African writers to write about HIV and AIDS from Zimbabwe and South Africa, was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. She is on the board of Writivism, which is part of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) and currently acts as the trustee responsible for mentoring. In 2015 she will teach African Literature at Kings College London.

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