Tag Archive | "South Africa"

The Invasion of Women


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From Ugandan Corespondent Arinaitwe Rugyendo… 

downloadThe renowned South African anti-apartheid activist and Co-Founder of the Black Consciousness Movement, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, had declared her intentions to jump into South Africa’s elective politics.

Under her newly formed political platform; ‘Agang,’ which is Setswana for ‘Let’s build,’ she’s plotting to metamorphose it into a political party. That means that should she succeed, she will definitely run for a possible future South African Presidency in 2014. And what is telling about this is that she will have become the first black woman in South African to run for presidency since the country returned to democratic rule in 1994. To this, I shall return.

To me, this piece of news wasn’t that surprising at all. I encountered this great woman during a Leadership training at Mont Fluer- Western Cape around April 2012. She had been invited to facilitate a discussion on a topic; ‘Africa in a Competitive and Changing World.’ Mont Fluer, the venue for the famous Mont Fleur Scenarios, had been the place of choice for the ‘Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Programme’ run by the prestigious African Leadership Institute (see www.alinstitute.org). The venerable Desmond Tutu is its patron, and through it, he is building it as an experiment to build a new network of inspirational leaders around the continent, who are together committed to tackling their countries’ most stubborn problems. A living legend for many, Tutu acknowledges that from the economic turmoil in Europe, to the revolutions in the Arab world and to the presidential race in the US, it seems that everywhere leadership is in crisis. The training is often addressed by Africa’s top thought leaders. In the particular case of ‘Class 2012,’ the collection of facilitators included Dr. Ramphele.

4b5dfeb2837bf3a2d89254f069f3f8a6ac769dfaBy the close of her electrifying presentation, I had quickly detected, and quite correctly, that she was up to something very big in future. During her presentation that afternoon of April 25th, I asked her if she was plotting for a South African Presidency. She shyly answered me she was simply a subject on a discovery journey to becoming a ‘citizen’ and creating many more and that the appreciation of the concept of ‘citizen’ was the most critical issue underpinning South African leadership today.

Embedded in her ‘Citizens Movement for Social Change,’ a social movement currently focusing on promoting engaged citizenship and which I highly suspect has given birth to ‘Agang,’ is a drive bring change in the socially fractured South African society, place it on a forward moving journey to real ‘Citizens.’ She gave me a T-shirt with these very words inscribed at the back to take to my country Uganda and help analyse the connection between the rulers and the ruled and find out if the former weren’t actually ‘chiefs’ and the latter, ‘subjects’ instead of ‘citizens.’

I found this to have been a new ground in the African Leadership discourse. Everywhere on the continent, leaders who care about the conditions of their people, are fast running out. They are running out because majority of them treat and drag their citizens alongside their vision as if they were subjects and not shared participants of the very vision that is supposed to transform them. It is for this reason that Dr. Ramphele has severally published books focusing on social-economic issues in South Africa receiving numerous prestigious national and international awards, including honorary doctorates acknowledging her service to community and her leading role in raising development issues and spearheading projects for disadvantaged persons in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.  In a sense, she has been defining a new ground in continental leadership discourse where African leadership needs to cultivate better and practical solutions using such rare values as service to the community, selflessness, courage, morality, being the best among equals, building followers-not subjects, caring, humility and vision.

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 9.57.11 AMEnabling Africans realize that they need to move from ‘subjects’ to ‘citizens,’ is a new ground. It is also an attempt to make citizens of African take charge of the affairs of the state.

I was glad she echoed this in her speech, emphasizing that African leadership was about the ability to be responsive to the social economic needs of the people.

“Do you remember the dream we embraced to build ours into a great society – a prosperous constitutional democracy united in its diversity? Do you remember our commitment to promote human dignity (Ubuntu) and banish humiliation and disrespect of our apartheid past? Do you remember our vow to promote transparency and accountability in public life? Do you remember that we agreed that our democracy would be known for being responsive to the social and economic needs of all citizens? Do you remember?” she asked her audience.

It is easy to understand her problem with modern South Africa. On one hand, you a ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), fast disconnecting itself from the revolutionary tenets that it stood for, and the National Democratic Party (NDP) on the other hand busy propagating white privilege. In the middle ground is a huge population with no hope. Stories are being told that the only thing holding this loose thread is the shared respect South Africans are still holding for Nelson Mandela. Given the icon’s frail condition, everyone knows this is only temporary and is only cover for a time bomb waiting to explode. Societies like these then, need bridge builders.

“The country of our dreams has unfortunately faded for many of my fellow South Africans. The dream has faded for my sisters and brothers in rural areas who live under the threat of being again made subjects of traditional chiefs and other unelected traditional leaders through proposed acts of our own Parliament. The dream has faded for the many living in poverty and destitution in our increasingly unequal society. And perhaps worst of all, my generation has to confess to the young people of our country: we have failed you. We have failed to build for you an education and training system to prepare you for life in the 21st century. As a result the dream has faded for young people in both urban and rural areas,” Ramphele rightly admits.

And therein lies the subject I left hanging earlier; ‘The Era of the African Woman President.’ Studies show women are most likely less corrupt than men. The typical African woman literary runs the family, prepares the food and feeds the kids while the husband is away busy.  Because they spend most the time with us, they understand issues of selflessness, service and community engagement much better than the men. Renowned world leaders have acknowledged their moms and wives’ strong influence on their leadership careers. They rarely mention their dads. If Africa is being messed up by the men, let’s try women and see! Ask the Malwaians and the Liberians for tips.

Mamphela_Ramphele

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High Times


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khaat-13From South African Corespondent Hassan Isilow…

Its 2pm on Saturday afternoon in Bellville and several people are lining up opposite the bus station to buy a stimulant called khat which is in its leaf form. Although the stimulant is illegal in South Africa, it has been openly sold on the streets of Bellville over the last three years. According to local residents, authorities in the Western Cape seem to have turned a blind eye on those who sell or chew the leafy substance.

“Once in a while the police comes here and arrests those selling khat, but in a matter of minutes they are released and they return to the streets again,” Muktar Hajji, a street vendor in Bellville told Africa witness. He thinks the police could be taking bribes from khat sellers since they are never taken to court. “I know many families that have been destroyed as a result of chewing khat,” he related.

Many residents here told Africa witness they were afraid their teenage children could become hooked on the stimulant because it is freely available on the market. “I wish police authorities could intensify raids on these dealers and lock them up for good,” Abdalla-Aziz Mustafa, a father of three, said. In South Africa, around 10,000 people from East Africa and the Middle East use khat, but most of its consumers are from the Ethiopian and Somali communities. The illegal drug is planted in Limpopo and transported daily to the Western Cape where thousands of addicts eagerly wait for it.

Addictive

Grant Jardine, director of the Cape Town Drug Counseling Center, explained that the fresh khat leaves are chewed to achieve a state of mild euphoria. He added that khat has a stimulant effect similar to that of amphetamines, adding that the drug – which is known to many as simply an African herb – is highly addictive. “Khat is in a leaf form, but it is sometimes processed into a powder form and sold like any other illegal substance,” Jardine explained. He said the addictive leaf comes from a tree called Catha edulis and when it is chewed the user experiences feelings of increased alertness, confidence and a loss of appetite.

A former khat user who wished to remain anonymous said the drug is normally weighed and sold per kilo. 1kg of “Gizaa” – freshly imported khat from Kenya – costs about R350. Locally grown khat appears to be much cheaper at only R40 a kilo, because it is considered to be of poor quality. “I lost half of my teeth because of chewing khat. But alhamdulillah, I have now stopped the practice,” another former addict confided.

According to Jardine, depression and psychological disorders, like psychosis, are common among regular users of khat. The main psychoactive ingredients in khat are cathine and cathinone, chemicals which are structurally similar to, but less potent than, amphetamine; yet result in similar psychomotor stimulant effects.

Meanwhile, when Africa witness was finally able to reach someone at the Bellville police station, we were told that they were not allowed to comment. Asked about the claim of bribery, Colonel Andre Nieuhaus said: “It is not true that we take bribes. The truth is that that we arrest khat dealers almost every week and we plan to intensify our operation.”

Ban

In South Africa khat was originally chewed by foreign nationals, but now local South Africans have also bought into it and are chewing the leaves. Experts warn that these leaves are highly addictive and could be responsible for increased crime in the country. But khat is not just a problem in South Africa. In an industrial estate in Southall, west London, thousands of boxes full of khat are delivered every week. The drug begins its journey from the hills of Kenya and arrives in the UK four times a week. It then makes its way to the depot, where dealers buy the herbal high to supply customers across the UK.

Britain is the only country in the west where the product remains legal. The khat business generates over £400m in revenue for the British economy, and the chancellor of the exchequer also picks up a tidy sum in VAT revenue. Around 90,000 people from the east African and Yemeni communities in the UK use it, especially the Somali community.

But a Home Office report, which will be published on Wednesday, is to recommend regulating the product, and a ban is expected to follow later. Last year, counter-terrorism officers working with their American counterparts arrested seven individuals across the UK. The group – all of them khat traders – were suspected of channeling the proceeds of an alleged smuggling enterprise to al-Qaeda-linked Islamists in Somalia.

(first published by the Voice of the Cape website © reserved)
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The Art Of Trash


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From South African Corespondent Hassan Isilow…

Many people consider old newspapers and magazines as trash, but this is gold for a young migrant artist. Benon Lutaaya, 26, from Uganda is making a name for himself in the South African art circles by using recycled papers to paint. “I specialize mostly in collage, where I recycle papers to paint,” the young award winning artist related.
Most of his paintings convey an emotional story, illustrating the fragility of life from his own personal experiences. “My subjects are mostly young people living on the fringes of the mainstream society,” he explained. This is clearly visible in Lutaaya’s paintings, which reflects faces of young children both trapped in war, abused, uncertain of the future, or those orphaned by Aids and currently live in child-headed households.

The migrant artist paints with a depth and intensity that few artists employ, tackling issues that most people would choose to avoid. The abstract imagery in his works represents the act of survival while the text, often obscure, stresses questions of identity. From this mixture comes a release of energy, imbued with life and raw simplicity.
“I enjoy coming up with something new and unique. I love to surprise myself. When people see my work, I would like them to enjoy each piece for its colour harmony, pleasing visual appeal and the ability to connect and communicate,” he said with a huge smile on his face. Lutaaya holds a Bachelors degree in Fine Art and Education, from Uganda’s Makerere University.
His currently a full time artist based at the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Newtown, Johannesburg. Last September he won the Ithuba Arts Fund grant, he was selected for a residency in Vermont, USA, and he is also a feature artist of the MultiChoice Africa Calender for 2012. He was part of the Thupelo International artist’s workshop 2012 in Johannesburg.
Lutaaya is involved in a variety of young artists’ initiative in the City of Johannesburg. He has also worked with vulnerable children both in Uganda and Alexandra Township in South Africa. Although he is primarily a paper collage artist, he recently started experimenting with acrylic painting. The artist said his major exhibition at Ithuba Arts fund grantee in November 2011 was a total sell-out on the opening night. “My paintings are present in a variety of private collections both in South Africa, Europe and North America,” he related.

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Xenophobia


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From South Africa Corespondent Hassan Isilow…

CAPE TOWN – This weekend was yet another grieving one for the Somali refugee community in the Western Cape. Three of their nationals were murdered in robberies at different Townships around Cape Town. According to activists working with Somali refugees in Bellville, the first Somali national was killed at his shop in Kraaifontein on Tuesday. The second was also gunned down in a robbery at his shop in Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the third was killed on Saturday, while delivering goods at a shop in Philippi Township. The deceased was identified as 30 year old Abdi Mohamud. According to family sources, Mohamud was shot while offloading goods at a shop in Philippi.

“After he was shot, he ran to his bakkie and attempted to drive off, but the robbers followed him and continued shooting at him until he died inside the van,” Mohammed Ali, a relative related by telephone.

In recent crime statistics Philippi Township was categorized as the most dangerous place to live in, with the highest murder cases in the country. Efforts to contact the Police in Phillippi for a comment where fruitless as no one answered the phone.
On a related note, activists working with Somali refugees in the Western Cape report that there had been relative calm in the region for the past three months, leading to a welcome reduction in the attacks on Somali nationals. The last major attacks on Somali shopkeepers were recorded in May and June when over 25 Somalis were killed in different Cape Townships.

Somali traders claim they are deliberately being targeted around the country, mainly because of business jealousy from local traders. They also believe that xenophobia is still behind the opposition they face from community leaders. “Many local community leaders still believe that foreigners are here to take jobs from them,” said Sheikh Abdi Rashid Afi of the Somali Community Board (SCOB).

Denial

In June an independent peer review report released found that Government was in denial about xenophobia. “The elevating group felt that the south African Government is not doing enough to address the issue of xenophobia and pointed out that there is even an element of denialism on behalf of some officials,” the report titled, Implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Views from Civil Society’ stated.
The report was released by the AMP Monitoring Project to the Pan African Parliament in June. The AMP is run jointly by the SA Institute of International Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project. South Africa’s last peer review report – the South African Implementation Report II (SAIR II) – in January 2011, stated that Government did not pay enough attention to xenophobia.

“It is noteworthy that SAIR II devotes a whole section to xenophobia, which introduces further responses from Government to xenophobia and acknowledges the role of civil society in taking a lead on the issue. However, it is poorly written with inadvertent repetition and was clearly assembled in a hurry,” the document stated.

A wave of violence against foreigners swept through South Africa in May 2008, leaving at least 67 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. Since then, several reports of pockets of violence against foreigners in different parts of the country have surfaced in the media. The report gives South Africa’s dealing with xenophobia a red rating, which means “no progress has been achieved on addressing the issue; or very little progress has been achieved and the Government does not seem to be on track to complete it in the near future”.

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Medicine Man


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From African Corespondent Hassan Isilow…

INVESTIGATIVE FEATURE: In South Africa, the word sangoma refers to a person who practices herbal medicine or has supernatural healing powers. This week Africa witness went undercover to investigate the activities of a growing number of foreign sangoma’s (traditional healers) that operate within Cape Town and its environs.

Under Cover

It is 9:30am on Wednesday morning and I’m sitting in a queue with four other clients waiting for the services of a sangoma in a well furnished office in Loop Street, Cape Town. Just like any other organised business, the traditional healer has a receptionist sitting at the front desk with a computer. She asks for R70 which she says is consultation fees for seeing the “doctor”. Being on a special assignment, I oblige and pay the money. A fellow “patient” waiting with me in the queue is an elderly Muslim woman who tells me her youngest son has “bad luck” and cannot stay on a job for long. So she wants the sangoma to give him herbs for good luck .I silently wonder if this is possible.
At exactly 10am, I’m led into the traditional healer’s office by the young female receptionist. It is a very dark and smelly room. I cannot see anything, but hear voices of so-called “ancestors”. The sangoma who calls himself “Dr” Mutalemwa Yusuf, asks me to tell him my problems.
I lie to him, saying that I cannot find a bride and I urgently need one. The healer then tells me to make sacrifice by buying two goats, a white African hen and food stuffs to appease my ancestors, who he claims are unhappy with me. In a twist of events, he also tells me that a close family friend has bewitched me and I will need to pay R12, 000 ($2,000) to be cleansed by the sangoma.

All Lies

As I leave the sangoma’s shrine, I meet an old varsity friend from East Africa who asks me what I was doing there. He tells me he was also a sangoma when he first arrived in South Africa, before getting a formal job. My friend said since most “blacks” and a few of the other races believe in superstition and the powers of the ancestors, it created the perfect opportunity for unemployed foreigners and a few local con artists to take advantage.
He said since sangomas are considered to be holy men and women who can bring good luck to their communities and chase away evil spirits (tokoloshes), they hold a certain power in the community. These powers are never questioned, which has made most unemployed or unskilled foreign nationals join the lucrative alternative healing market, promising the highly superstitious “black” and a few others South African races “heaven on earth”.
Interestingly enough, he added, a high number of these “fake” foreign sangomas are from East Africa and they claim to cure all sorts of illnesses that even the most powerful local sangomas dare not treat.

Spill the beans

The former sangoma told me that he had never had any training to become a traditional healer, but when he arrived in South Africa, he couldn’t readily find employment. So he went to visit a friend from his home country who told him about the secret of being a “fake” sangoma. “Just like other sangomas, I claimed to make the poor rich in two days, bring back lost lovers and make men’s private parts bigger and more virile. But after lying to my clients for a long time, I decided to quit the practice, pursue my masters degree and here I’m now,” he related, chatting to me in a restaurant in Loop Street, Cape Town.
The former sangama said he left the “fake” trade because his conscience began to bother him after repeatedly cheating poor people who came to him daily with their problems. “At times I used to cry at night, after telling several lies to people who came to my shrine with various depressing problems. I kept running from city to city in this country, as I was being hunted by some people whom I had promised would see change in their lives. But it never happened,” he said with regret.
I’ve also learnt that most foreign Sangomas promise to protect businesses from thieves, win court cases and the Lotto among others. Because of these claims, the foreign sangomas are considered to be the hottest healers in the witch craft business. “It would have been better if these people could deliver their promises,” a 35 year old South African school teacher who went to a foreign sangoma seeking the return of his lost lover, told me.
Identifying himself only as Rasheed, he confided that he had paid R14, 000($2200) to a sangoma from East Africa who then quietly disappeared. “I lost both my lover and my money to that devil. I promise, I will believe only in God from today onwards,” the wounded man pledged.

Quacks

However, a 65-year-old Ugandan national who operates as a sangoma in Wynberg near Cape Town, disputed the allegations that all foreign sangomas are “fake” and cheats. “Those fake doctors are the young boys who came here recently. Since they did not find jobs, they began to imitate what we do.” The elderly Ugandan sangoma who operates his business in a well-furnished office in Wynberg said he was a genuine traditional healer, bragging that he is even well known among Ugandan communities.
“I have treated all sorts of people – politicians seeking to win elections, scholars, love seekers and the like. They have all become what they are today because of my powers,” he boasted, spreading his arms in a sign of confidence used mostly by healers in East and West Africa. He recalled that when he arrived in Cape Town in 1997, there were only a few foreign traditional healers. That created the space for them to corner the market in their “profession”.
Whenever they returned to Uganda, their neighbors and family members insisted on coming with them to South Africa, which led to an influx of Ugandan healers in South Africa. “On average, I get 10 clients a day and each pays R70 for consultation, besides the fees I charge them for the medicine,” he said.

Why Muslim Names?

Shockingly most of these foreign traditional healers are using Muslim names, even when they are non-Muslims. Out of 10 muti shops I visited today, eight had Muslim names. I picked up nearly 20 different pamphlets advertising the sangomas expertise and in three quarter of them, the healer had a Muslim name.
The foreign sangomas believe when you use a Muslim name in your “practice” you will attract many clients, especially in Cape Town where there is a high Muslim population. These sangomas target Muslim suburbs such as Wynberg, Athlone and Gatesville among others.
According to the chairperson of the South African Traditional Healers Organisation, Phepsile Maseko, bogus practitioners are bringing the healing sector into disrepute. “The practice of traditional healing is genuine, but when bogus people join the uncontrolled business it becomes difficult to distinguish between the real healer and the fake ones,” she said.
Police in Pretoria recently, arrested seven Ugandan herbalists who had been operating in the city for reportedly defrauding their clients. The latest arrest came after a Ugandan herbalist allegedly took R15, 000($2300) from a customer, claiming that his ancestors would turn it into R100 million. When the victim returned to collect his promised millions, the Ugandan herbalist become aggressive and promised to bewitch his victim if he insisted on demanding the money.

According to Gauteng Provisional police spokesperson, Eugene Opperman, they have arrested around five bogus herbalists believed to be Ugandans across the city in just four months. Authorities said these conmen claimed to have the power to make people rich or even cure illnesses, such as HIV/Aids. They often advertise in pamphlets and newspapers so as to woo the gullible.
It is understood that after meeting their victims and promising to make them rich, these conmen would take the money and disappear. In January 2008, 20 Ugandan healers were arrested in Johannesburg for carrying out illegal abortions.

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In The Shadows Of Colonel Ghaddafi


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From Uganda Corespndent Arinaitwe Rugyendo…

The actual feeling across the Western World and in the largely quiet African continent is that the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s days are numbered following nearly two weeks of unrest across the desert oil-rich country.

The signs are clear. His most close aides in the military, cabinet and the diplomatic service have all left him. Even his Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnystka, once described by a US diplomat as a “voluptuous blonde” and confidante of the Libyan leader, has abandoned him and flown home to Kiev. All this looks unusual. There seems to be a huge supra-national concerted effort to remove the Libyan leader, his vicious counter-insurgency acts notwithstanding.

On Monday, Gaddafi gave a rare interview to BBC Television journalist Jeremy Bowen in which she accused Western leaders of betraying him as he responded to growing international calls to step aside. He gave this interview on the day Britain warned that military action couldn’t be ruled out as the US arranged for a warship close to the coastline of Libya. What then is behind all this? Why is Gaddafi talking of betrayal by the West?

Origin of Gaddafi’s Fall:

In 1997, former South African President Nelson Mandela stood on a podium in Tripoli and told off the western world that had criticized his visit to Libya: “Those who say I should not be here are without morals. I am not going to join them in their lack of morality. This man helped us at a time when we were all alone, when those who say we should not come here were helping the enemy (South Africa’s white government),” Mandela said. Mandela, his Mozambican companion, Graca Machel, and Foreign Minister, Alfred Nzo, had arrived at the Libyan border town of Ras Adjir by helicopter from the nearby Tunisian resort island of Djerba and drove across the frontier on a 160 km stretch to Tripoli. The trip was made by road because of an air embargo imposed on Libya by the United Nations.

Perhaps this single act by Mandela changed America’s approach towards Gaddafi after the 10-year old UN sanctions that were drafted by the US had failed to choke Libya and Gaddafi who had remained at the opposite end of America’s adventures on African continent.

The feelings of America’s humiliation can be felt in the words of Andy Young former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who said in response to Mandela; “I cringed when I saw Nelson Mandela embrace (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi; when Mandela over come with joy had to utter these words; ‘My brother leader, my brother leader, how nice to see you!”  Mandela had lone-handedly pulled the rag off from American feet which had, with all its might, tried to isolate Libya.

Yet events from this North African rich country have excited even Africans who have fallen into what is increasingly becoming an American propaganda machine crafted by the CIA, an institution which from the early 1980s, has been burning midnight oil scratching their heads on how to remove Gaddafi. It is therefore clear that the spontaneous riots in Libya, a flurry of defections and rebellion towards Gaddafi’s 42- year old rule, have been packaged by most of world media outlets as being spontaneous uprisings as a result of popular frustrations with Gaddafi’s government that has failed to translate economic growth into tangible benefits for the common man.

The Secret Role of The West:

Anybody watching events in Libya now, should have seen this coming. A Wikileaks ( the whistleblower website) Memo from as long ago as December 2008, indicated that the US government was in contact with some of the leaders of these uprisings in Libya even some of the powerful figures that have defected from Gaddafi’s government including the powerful Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes Al Abdi. It would also be difficult not to see the hand of US in this uprising, given the rather close contact the US has maintained with the heads of the uprising against the ‘King of Kings.’ The main reason is that on the African front, two countries have been giving the American government sleepless nights. These are China and Libya.

The growing influence of the Libyan government on the African continent through investments (East Africa is already feeling the heat of possible collapse of Libyan companies) left the CIA to hatch any means possible to stop this and among these means was to foment rebellion against Gaddafi which it seems to have pulled off successfully seeing how well armed the rebels are in Libya, plus the way Gaddafi has started talking of ‘betrayal by the western leaders.’ To confirm this, a couple of days ago, an American Warship with all sorts of weapons had docked near the Coastal area of Libya which has become a command center that has helped to supply weapons to the rebels and helping them with espionage on Gaddafi. The rest of the African continent is either cheering or largely quiet, seeming to know this truth.

Gaddafi’s Fanatical African Ambition:

Ever since the United Nations voted to lift sanctions that were slapped over Libya, America has never been at ease. And ever since Libya embarked on a ferocious offensive in investing its Petro dollars in Africa, America started shaking. All the way from the Sahara to Southern Africa, Libya’s investments in Petroleum, Telecommunications, Transport, Leisure, Hospitality and Banking are said to have hit about 100 billion dollars by the fall of last year. This has greatly increased Libya’s influence on the continent to the chagrin of US Government.

Apart from this, Gaddafi, before this crisis, had undertaken to fund most of the African Union’s activities on the scale that has surpassed the whole of European Union’s and American funding to the same. Perhaps this explains their apparent silence. When this became clearer even to a ten year old kid, Western countries started to get worried of Gaddafi. The easiest way for America to defeat him was to foment internal revolt.

In this whole scheme, it is now clear that the rest of Africa who have been benefiting from Libya’s Petro dollars that has created over 2 million jobs across the continent, have been duped by Western propaganda against Gaddafi. When Gaddafi exhorts people to fight against this external aggression, I have seen many Africans laughing and calling the eccentric leader very mad.

Is Africa Being Blinded?

Perhaps this is better answered by Nicholai Gogol in ”The Government Inspector,” Act V, sc. Viii ‘‘…What are you laughing at? You are laughing at yourselves.” In a fit of rage, Gaddafi could have used wrong words, but seeing Africans laughing at him is a reminder of what Nicholai wrote. It is also a reminder of the legendary Nkore monkey which laughed at a burning forest which is supposed to be its place of abode. In the Libyan crisis, I therefore see the African people laughing at themselves. America’s forays in Libya and the rest of Africa are not for Africa’s benefit. The American mind is its stomach first and Africans who are cheering next.

No Libyan man or woman would tell you that he failed to get good education; not just education but good education that has been always free. No one in Libya would tell you they lacked Housing; the Government takes shelter of its citizens, gives good health and transport systems that rival those in the West. No Libyan soul has gone without food. With a population of not more than 5 million people, there is an estimate of more than a million foreign workers in Libya which shows that the government under Gaddafi managed to create abundance of jobs. Yet when America foments rebellion, the same beneficiaries take up arms. ”..What a dreary world we live in, gentlemen,” Nicholai Gogol wrote.

Way Forward:

True, I find it inconceivable that a man can rule a country for four straight decades. It is only natural that those ruled will get tired of you. But looking at the consequences of the Libyan crisis for the rest of the continent of Africa, I see not only trouble for the 2 million job holders but also a lost opportunity to assert ourselves as Africans. It thus requires the AU to stand up and negotiate an exit of a man who not only eccentric but also a reckless defender of the dignity of the African people.

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Racism Alive And Well in South Africa


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Orania President Carel Boshoff, (left) Meets African National Congress youth league President; Julius Malema (center), and Deputy chair Francois Slabbert

From African Corespondent Hassan Isilow…

CAPETOWN, When South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994 ending the cruel era of Apartheid, the world thought racism had come to an end.  But shockingly 16 years after the end of apartheid, racism has remained alive in the rainbow nation.

The country’s three main racial groupings; Black, White and the coloreds are still holding to their racial prejudice.  For instance, in the Northern Cape, there is a small Town called Orania that’s occupied entirely by whites only.


“We are not re-creating apartheid in South Africa by having our own Town, but we are simply seeking to protect the Afrikaner Values” Carel Boshoff IV, leader of the Orania community and grandson to the late Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd (popularly known as the architect of Apartheid) told Africa witness in a telephone interview.

The small whites only Town, was built in the 1990’s towards the end of Apartheid and is located on the banks of the Orange River surrounded by extended areas of the Karoo. Orania is a small speck on the map in the desert like Karoo region, situated on the dusty banks of the Orange River in Northern Cape Province.

“This is intolerable. How can whites only have a Town in a multi-ethnic country like South Africa which is still recovering from Apartheid? This is a silent form of Apartheid” Mike Wadula an angry resident of Cape Town told Africa witness.


He said Government should intervene and stop the segregation in Orania. But Carel Boshoff IV, Orania’s boss said they are not racists.” “We don’t practice any form of racism in Orania, we are just protecting our Afrikaner culture which is under threat” Carel who is the son to the Town’s Founder told Africa witness.

He said non-whites can visit but will have to stay in the Town’s guesthouse, adding anybody wishing to move into Orania has to first be approved by the managing body.   In Orania, poor whites are employed to do menial jobs formerly meant for blacks during the Apartheid era.


Whites only graveyard

Orania is not the only racist Town in South Africa. In the Western Cape, there is another small Town called Swellendam which still maintains some Apartheid policies. In Swellendam whites have their own cemetery and non-whites are not allowed to be buried there. However, in June 2010, history was re-written when a seven year old daughter of a peasant farm worker was forcefully buried in the white’s only cemetery causing uproar among the conservative white community.

“This Town is so racist. A lot still needs to be done for People to change their ideology of hatred” Ali Kaka told Africa witness.

He revealed that the fight between races in the small Swellendam Town is far from over. “ it’s a pity that whites in this Town still consider themselves as superior compared to others” the Asian trader told Africa witness.

Racism at Universities

Racial discrimination remains widespread at most South African universities, despite many policies aimed at redressing the bitter legacy of Apartheid. In 2008 four students at the University of Free State made a racist video that created an international uproar. While during the same year in April, it was reported that black students at the University of Johannesburg had allegedly been assaulted by their white counterparts while at a university bar.

Xolani Mkhwemnte chairperson of the South African Students’ Congress told the Johannesburg based Star newspaper that black students at the university’s Kingsway campus had been beaten by white students in a bar at a hall of residence. He said the harassment of black students walking home at night and the verbal and physical abuse of senior black student members had become common.

While in Cape Town, Mohammed Bulhan, a second year student of information technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology cries foul. “Students in my class are divided along racial lines; whites sit alone, blacks alone and coloreds. I’m a foreign student, so I’m left in a dilemma on which group to choose” he told Africa witness

Bulhan also claims some students don’t want him to join their academic discussion groups because of his race. “I’m bright in class but I was shocked when I joined a certain discussion group and racist students told me to delete my name from their discussion group” the demoralized foreign student recalls.

On the other hand, White students are also affected by racism, In January 2007, Ernst Roets spokesperson of the organization Solidarity Youth ,was quoted by the South African Press Association (sapa) saying   “White students were being overlooked in favor of poorly achieving black students in the awarding of bursaries”

Ernst said Universities were also discriminating against white students, denying them entry although they did better than their black counterparts.

“We have proof of instances in which white students with excellent results were refused entry in favor of black students with greatly inferior marks,” he told the South African Press Association (Sapa)

He named the University of Pretoria as one of the universities discriminating against white students.

An official at the South African institute of race relations, which is the leading independent research and policy organization in South Africa, told Africa witness, that racial discrimination will take some time before it completely fades out, since it started in 1652 with the arrival of the Dutch settlers.

“Racism is a reality in this country and it will take a pretty long time to finally end since it started in 1652” he said.

Additional information obtained from SAPA



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The Ball Rolled Round The World


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From United States Corespondent Gibbs Burke…  

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!

No matter what language you speak, it’s the most recognizable sound around the world and for one month every four years it’s what every fan dreams of hearing. For most Americans however, it’s a lost sport. Of course, I am talking about Football –  or soccer as we  Americans call it. To many international fans around the world,  it sounds strange to here it called soccer.  Little do people realize this was actually the sport’s original name.

 

American Soccer is a forgotten sport. Perhaps it’s the low scoring that turns our attention away from the game. Then again we do like hockey and some of those scores are pretty low. Perhaps it is the Shakespearian acting every time a player is looking to get a penalty call.  We love a sport where 300 pound men collide into one another, get back up and do it all over again – how could we cheer for a diving man, rolling around on the playing, crying like child? Most couldn’t tell you why Americans don’t like soccer, but after watching the qualifying rounds for the round of 16, I’m sure I can shed some light on the subject.

I would have to say the biggest thing is the refereeing. Not only do we hate the fact that someone has to “take a dive” to get a call, but even when the call is the easiest one to make the refs still mess it up. In the opening round of play, I was impressed by the balance and fair calls. I had little to no complaints until the teams started their second games, and out came the usual favoring and bullshit I’m used to seeing in FIFA play. For an association based in a neutral country and priding itself on integrity and fairness, FIFA has the most corrupt officiating in the world.

From calls such as the one in Irish vs. France game that kept Ireland out of the World Cup, or the ever more recent no call non-allowance of what would have been USA’s “Miracle on the Pitch,” FIFA has constantly favored certain teams. In fact they have appeared to almost scripted games to end in a manor they see fit.

There are many answers to the problems. They could fire the officials and re-hire them every year based on evaluation; such as was done to USA umps in major league baseball when suspiscion of corruption came into play. Allow instant replay for plays pertaining to certain situations would also help. It’s present in every other major sport. Why is it not present in the most played sport in the world? Makes one wonder.

Even with all the lopsidedness, what is it about soccer that brings so many people together?

As I sat in a bar Saturday watching the Germany vs. Australia game cheering for Germany, little did I know I was sitting next to an Aussie. Even before the ball was live on the pitch, we were talking about the players and qualifying, along with what we thought the outcome would be. A courteous, non American Football fan, by the fifteenth minute we were buying pitchers for one another – something I would never do with an opposing American Football fan.

No matter what the reason, there is something about international competition that brings us together in our humanity. Whether it’s the Olympics or the World Cup, international play brings together everyone, united in a common interest. No matter what our nationality, we’re behind our teams while at the same time being  joined with one another as fans and patriots.

I’m an American and I am proud to say, “I love the World Cup.”

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Mandela Musings


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MANDELA 1From Tanzanian Correspondent Lute Wa Lutengano…

I always love devouring any literature on the most revered human being on earth. One, who is almost a living saint and who has made many Africans, black people and mankind at large stand high and proud in their defense of humanity – Nelson Mandela.

To many he is the world’ most loved statesman, a warm and magnanimous human being who is also willing to own up to his failings. This is the man who came out of prison after 27 years smiling and preaching reconciliation to all. To most people he is the founding father of the modern South Africa and it is the idea of Mandela that is the glue that binds that country together.

This year Madiba, as he is fondly called, marked his 91st birthday. He has naturally become fragile. Many fear that inevitable moment. And many shudder at the thought of a South Africa without Mandela.

As confessed earlier, I am a Mendalaphillist. Whatever material I get hold of on the old man is food for me. Actually whenever I read something on him I feel rejuvenated and realize how minuscule my contribution to mankind is. It surely is a humbling experience.

The other day, though, I was more than humbled to read that actually the great African icon grew up in simple surroundings in a typical African village like any African child. Actually it read just like my childhood experiences.

In the article, Mandela talks of his wish to have his final rest alongside his ancestors in Qunu, in Western Cape, where, he says, he spent the happiest years of his boyhood. In his autobiography, he describes it as a place of small, beehive shaped huts, with grass roofs.

“It was in the fields,” he writes, “that I learned to knock birds out of the sky with a slingshot, to gather wild honey and fruits and edible roots, to drink warm, sweet milk from the udder of a cow, to swim in the clear, cold streams, and to catch fish with twine and sharpened bits of wire.”

Wow! I felt like I was living in that same small village many years ago in my boyhood. For what else did I do when growing up in Chalowe village in the Bena plains of Njombe, in the Southern Highlands? Similar indulgencies!

I learnt to knock down birds from the sky and from the many leafy trees in the villages. Though I have to admit I was very poor if not very bad in that art. I, and many other failed boys like me, had to find another means of catching birds. This involved spreading some grains on the ground where we would set up a trap involving a half suspended bamboo-woven-bowl held by a stick tied to a long rope. As soon as the birds were under this bowl we, hiding somewhere far, would suddenly pull the rope and naturally the
supporting stick and the bowl would collapse on top of the birds. We would then come with a huge blanket and catch the birds.

And like Mandela we also spent most of our time gathering wild honey and fruits and edible roots. I will never forget the ‘makusu’, ‘masada’, ‘masaula’, ‘mafwengi’ and many other famous wild fruits from the southern highlands. Actually with the advent of the Sumry bus services to Mbeya I have already begun receiving in Arusha some fresh ‘makusu’ fruits from Njombe.

I also tried drinking warm sweet milk from a cow’s udder. In a nutshell I was a disgrace. Not only did I miserably fail to place my mouth appropriately but the cow became so enraged that I received a well aimed kick. I ended up spending a few days in bed after a thorough thrashing from my father. Naturally I never went again near a cow.

We, the Chalowe boys, also enjoyed bathing in the clear, cold streams in the village. Though, on one occasion some wayward youths stole our clothes while we were frolicking in the waters. You can imagine the spectacle we made as our naked, wet and small bodies toddled along the village streets to the respective homesteads.

Fishing! I also loved fishing. But for all the years that I used my crude fishing rod whose twine rope and sharpened bit of wire was attached at one end, I caught only one fish. This was in contrast to my friends who caught basketfuls of fish all the time. For that, I plan to re-visit this hobby in my old age.

As you can see I grew up just like the old Madiba. But all the past, present and immediate future signs show that I will never be a Mandela.

Click here for Lute Wa Lutengano’s Bio

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