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THE MAGAZINE THAT PROMOTES UNION AND COOPERATION OF AFRICANS AROUND THE GLOBE, ENCOURAGING AN INFORMED, THINKING AND QUESTIONING AFRICAN SOCIETY.

SUMMER 2008

Street Kids: Stolen Childhoods

2008 Beijing Summer Olympics

Africa Unchained Book Review

SPOTLIGHTS

INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE

Imat Akelo-Opio Ngel I S S N 19 41-7 179

Imat Akelo-Opio

O Lwala Monagano:

Mental Health

Gender Selection Choosing the sex of your baby

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THE MAGAZINE THAT PROMOTES UNION AND COOPERATION OF AFRICANS AROUND THE GLOBE, ENCOURAGING AN INFORMED, THINKING AND QUESTIONING AFRICAN SOCIETY.

IN THIS ISSUE: Editor’s Column................................................................. 6

8 Stolen Childhoods Street Kids:

14 Africa Unchained Book Review

16 Mental Health

O Lwala Monagano:

22 African Teams

2008 Beijing Olympics:

SUMMER 2008

28 Choosing The Sex of Your Baby Gender Selection:

46 BURKINA FASO

Africa 101 - From A to Z

SPOTLIGHT: 34 Singer / Dancer / Choreographer ThugAngel

38 Performing Artist

Imat Akelo-Opio

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EDITOR’S COLUMN

THE MAGAZINE THAT PROMOTES UNION AND COOPERATION OF AFRICANS AROUND THE GLOBE, ENCOURAGING AN INFORMED, THINKING AND QUESTIONING AFRICAN SOCIETY.

ERIC ADUNAGOW Chief Editor

Summer Vacationing Despite Economic Instabilities

A

s I prepare myself to write this article, oil prices have hit another record high, nearly $146 a barrel for the first time ever. The experts are predicting the gas price to reach $7 a gallon this summer. Many consumers are outraged and feel the pressure of the impact of a slowing economy and rising energy and food prices upon them. For many, it’s the feeling of powerless - they see the crisis coming and there is nothing they can think of to stop it from happening. As we get into summer, many families will find themselves cutting down on their family vacation plans. Few families will be headed to the beach or the mountains. Couples will hold on to the planned Hawaii trips. Yet, despite it all, there will be families that will still be able to afford their summer vacation plans. Should you find yourself tied up with the current economic conditions where you have to alter your family vacation, please do consider the following alternatives to keep up with the summer plans:

1. Travel close to Home This is the time to get out there and explore your surrounding like you never did before. Instead of going out of state, consider staying close to home. Get online and find out about your state: what makes tourists visit your state? Get your map out and re-plan your summer vacation accordingly. There is always something interesting around the corner. You don’t need to fly a 1000 mile away in order to have fun.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING FOR YOUR SUMMER VACATION? GO TO ADUNAGOW.NET AND CLICK ON FEEDBACK.

ADUNAGOW MAGAZINE “Reaching Africans Around The Globe” PUBLISHER: Eric ADUNAGOW EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Eric Adunagow eric@adunagow.net CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Thandi Mkhatshwa Linky Matsie Paul Usungu Staff Writer MARKETING DIRECTOR: Colombe Adunagow colombe@adunagow.net CONTACT US: editorial@adunagow.net (714) 612-2057 voice URL: http://magazine.adunagow.net http://www.adunagow.net

2. Stay Home Let’s face it: Summer vacation does not mean going away on a trip far away. Yes, you can spend your summer at home. You just need a lot of creativity and be open-minded. Have you ever camp in your yard? Yes. I mean, put a tent in your grass and enjoy the moonlight, away from technology pollution? Do you have a close friend or family in town? Think about spending the night at their place instead of yours. The good thing about staying home for summer – if you’re really creative – is that you get more memories. What could have been one trip to Sea World is now turned into a week-end camping in the woods, a night with the Watsons, a road trip to the once unknown local Yearly Jazz festival, and much more. By staying at home, you get the opportunity to get to know what your city has to offer during the summer.

3. If you can go, you go. Now, what if you can afford going out of state? Well, don’t feel guilty. Take that trip! The last thing we want right now is to have more economic crisis. People that can afford traveling will ensure that the economy does not “sink” down too quickly. Think about it as helping the economy stay above the dangerous high water of recession. Use all your benefits. This is the best time to cash-in on those frequent flyer miles that you have been accumulating all year long. The best thing is that many companies will be throwing in all kinds of deals to attract more customers to use their services. Use the internet to find good deals; don’t be too proud to fly economy instead of Business class; both will take you there. The summer is yours. Whatever you decide, make it memorable, make it fun, and make it happen.

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ADUNAGOW Magazine [ISSN 1941-7179] is published bimonthly by ADUNAGOW, PO BOX 691728, Tulsa, OK 74169-1728. Telephone: 714.612.2057. Postage is paid at Tulsa, Oklahoma. U..S.. subscription rates are free to qualified subscribers. ADUNAGOW. NET and ADUNAGOW are trademarks of Eric ADUNAGOW. All contents are copyright © 2008 by ADUNAGOW Magazine. All rights are reserved. Right of reprint is granted only to non-commercial educational institutions such as high schools, colleges and universities. No other grants are given. Send address changes to ADUNAGOW Magazine, PO Box 691728, Tulsa OK 74169-1728. The opinions of our writers do not always reflect those of the publisher and while we make every effort to be as accurate as possible, we cannot and do not assume responsibility for damages due to errors or omissions. LEGAL STATEMENT: All information in this magazine is offered without guarantee as to its accuracy and applicability in all circumstances. Please consult an attorney, business advisor, accountant or other professional to discuss your individual circumstances. Use of the information in this magazine is not intended to replace professional counsel. Use of this information is at your own risk and we assume no liability for its use.

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ROOTS & HERITAGE

A story by Thandi Mkhatshwa Photography by : Briget Ganske

STREET KIDS: STOLEN CHILDHOODS


S

TREET KIDS WEARING dirty, torn trousers walking barefoot with cracked heels waited like vultures around A1 Fisheries on a busy Saturday morning in Acornhoek as shoppers rushed in and out buying groceries. The boys looked for any opportunity to make money from, helping people carry their grocery bags to stealing from the shops. Two women lugging over-stuffed, plastic grocery bags and a box walked out of the shop, causing one of the half-dozen street kids to swoop in for the kill. Unlike most customers, the women accepted a tall, skinny boy’s offer to carry their purchases. They placed the box of chicken heads and feet weighing ten kilograms or so on top of his head as his neck disappeared. The whole package seemed to be more than his body weight. He grabbed their plastic bags with his left hand and balanced the box with his right. The two ladies followed him down the road to the taxi rank. Fifteen minutes later, the boy walked away with two rands (approx. 25 cents U.S.). These boys live on the street and learn to hustle at a very tender age, seeking food and money from strangers to survive. Many people pity them. Others just pretend that these children don’t even exist. Few wonder why the children wandering the streets have left their homes. This is what I wanted to know. Never did I picture myself sitting down and talking to the children I pass everyday. The thought of it sent bolts of electricity straight to my heart. I knew it seemed ridiculous to be scared of little kids, but I had heard crazy stories of what they do to people who ask too many questions, such as beating them or stealing their purse or insulting them with swear words. My mission was always to stay as far away from them as possible, but that day I

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had no choice but to get near if I wanted to hear their personal stories. I waited around for thirty minutes before I gathered the courage to talk to them. As I moved close to them, the fear in my heart nearly stopped me. I approached a skinny boy whom I thought had the most innocent look of them all. I pulled him aside to talk, but soon his two buddies joined us. They were suspicious, and wanted to protect their brother. After the boys hugged, they grilled me asking what I wanted with their friend and never cracking a smile. I could tell they didn’t trust anyone, least of all a journalist who wanted something from them without any return. He told me that his name was Ishmael Maruleng and that he was fourteenyears-old. “I have to support myself,” he explained, looking down at his green shirt and brown shorts. He crouched leaned against the front wall of A1 Fisheries. Ishmael told me he hasn’t always lived on the streets. Nor did he ever imagine himself living on his own. He used to be a regular kid living with his sister and his mother. “We did not have much, but at least we had each other,” he said slowly, looking away, as if recalling something important he had long forgotten. Neither of his two friends, nor the crowd coming in and out of the shops with grocery bags could shake him from his nostalgic trance. “Things will never be the same ever again,” he said, placing his elbows on his knees and resting his face in his hand.

When Ishmael opened up about his life, I was shocked to discover the truth. I never thought that I could have something in common with any of the kids living on the streets. Every word from his mouth was like a bullet piercing my heart. I understood how his mother’s death changed his life. I understood the pain of being left with an abusive, drunk grandmother. I understood his hunger at the end of the day. I felt an instant connection to him. I understood because I too lost a mother three years ago, live with my drunken grandmother, and sometimes see the hungry eyes of my siblings look at me in the night. I am a child who still needs a mother’s love to survive, but I am now forever deprived of it. I have no choice but to offer my two brothers and my little sister my motherly love— sometimes begrudgingly. I know it is not right for me to say this, but I resent them for depending on me for everything. They look up to me as a mother and provider. I love them, but sometimes I wish they would vanish. I’ve suffered enough, and I sometimes feel like running away or taking my own life. But this boy’s story showed me that I am not the only one with problems, other orphans can have it worse. For the first time, I understood that being on the streets is not a matter of choice, but of circumstance. Ishmael’s story brought back the memories of my mother that I try so hard to suppress: the weekends together when we spoke like best friends; the last words she said to me before she died; and the sight of her lifeless body laying in the coffin. Ishmael’s pain became my own. As Ishmael spoke, I caught myself thinking of my mother, but I tried so hard to JUL / AUG 2008

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View of Acornhoek’s main street and business center stop. Snap out of it, Thandi, I thought to myself. This is not about you; it’s about the boy. I forced happy thoughts into my brain until I came back to Ishmael. As I focused on him, I noticed how hard he tried to hold back his tears as the pain built up on his face. I so badly wanted to hold the little fella and tell him that everything was going to be okay, but I couldn’t because everything wasn’t going to be okay. All of these children needed some reassurance and support, just like I needed when I lost my mom. Ishmael explained to me that his problems started in 2000, when his mother went grocery shopping in Acornhoek. She never returned home. While she was trying to cross the road, she was hit by a speeding car. “Losing my mom was the hardest thing for me,” he said, trying to hide his watery eyes by looking down and covering his face. “They still haven’t found the person who killed my mother.” I sat in silence as Ishmael continued. I wondered if anyone else had asked him what happened. Soon after his mother’s death, Ishmael’s grandmother took him and his sister in. For a little while, everything was fine. His grandmother did not have much; she ploughed other people’s gardens to make money. Though she did not have an identity document and could not receive a social grant, she made sure Ishmael had food in his stomach. 10

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But soon the loving grandmother stopped supporting Ishmael and his sister. She turned into an angrier, less caring person in a matter of months, and began to consider the children burdens. She stopped buying food at home, and she used the money that she did have for herself. “She used all her money to buy beer,” Ishmael explained in a soft shy tone. His friends rubbed shoulders with him, and looked at him straight in the face while he poured his heart out. “I had to go to school on an empty stomach. I relied on the food they cooked at school.”

“These boys live on the street and learn to hustle at a very tender age, seeking food and money from strangers to survive.”

The shortage of food wasn’t the only problem Ishmael encountered. His grandmother would disappear for hours, leaving him to starve, and when she finally came home, he paid a hard price. “She used to hit me every time she got drunk, and it really hurt,” Ishmael explained. Ishmael’s one close friend—a local boy who hangs out on the streets, but has a bed at night—came and sat next to him for support. His innocent face focused on Ishmael’s pain, as if to wish it away. “She does not love me because if she did, she wouldn’t have abused me so much,” Ishmael admitted in an angry voice. The beating went on for several months, Ishmael said. Eventually Ishmael’s sister left to live with her boyfriend. Soon after Ishmael decided to run away. “She visits me, sometimes, to wash my clothes and buy me food,” he said talking about his sister. Ishmael’s friend had a different story, though, telling me that his sister hadn’t visited since she left with her boyfriend. Ishmael didn’t deny it. With pain in my heart, I went to a social worker in Acornhoek to find out how the government is currently helping orphaned and abandoned children. As I entered the cold square office, I recalled the many times I had been there—every month for two years from 2005-2007—to try to register for foster care grants for my two siblings. Every time I went to the social worker for help, she made excuses, explaining that there were many cases of orphans that she saw. I heard

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other people brag about how their application had gone through quickly because they knew her personally. It made me very angry, but there was nothing I could do, except go back again and again. Eventually I decided that I had enough of her nonsense and cried tears of stress in her office. Instead of visiting my home to make a report as dictated by the law, she simply asked me about my living arrangement. Unethical, I thought to myself, but back then I didn’t care, all I needed was her help. Two years after the death of my mother, finally the social worker took five minutes to help me. For 24 months she held my finances and emotions, in her grip. Releasing them was a single signature. Now as an independent woman and journalist, I found myself uncomfortably reliant on a social worker once again. No longer necessary for a social grant, I now needed her for my story, as the demands of my editor forced me into a building that I’d hoped I would never again enter. Walking into the office, I thought things would be different. With a new social worker in the office, and I thought I would be helped quickly. But how wrong I was. As I sat down, the social worker was chatting with three women about men. This is what you call working? I thought to myself breaking into a fake smile of greeting. Finally, the woman spoke to

“The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that there are 250,000 children living on the streets of South Africa. ”

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me. She claimed that street kids don’t exist. “I have never encountered a street kid case in Acornhoek. There are no streets kids around here,” she said and refused to give her name. I got the feeling that by me telling her that there are indeed street kids in Acornhoek, she thought I was accusing her of not doing her job. I believe that the social welfare system breaks down because of people like her. The social worker’s ignorance led me on a search to find out if any organization or government recognized street kids. The social worker was rude, not only to me but also to another woman who knocked on the door after I sat down. Her unpleasantness made me wonder why she chose to be a social worker in the first place. The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that there are 250,000 children living on the streets of South Africa. Ninety percent of these children have been victims of sexual abuse. Statistics South Africa revealed that the number of children, older than four, who have lost their mothers, has increased by 88%, and the number of children who lost their fathers increased by 14% between 1998 and 2005. I also read Ndhivhuwo Khangale’s Vuk’uzenzele article titled “Orphans Need Your Support” (January 2008), which states, “In 2001 there were more than 248,000 child-headed families in South Africa. Since then the number has increased. These children take the role of caregivers and look after their sick parents, as well as siblings with little money or no money and food.” I called more than thirty organizations that work with orphans around South Africa asking if they could direct me to any organization, which works with orphans in Acornhoek. I have lived here for all my life thinking that maybe there was one tucked away somewhere in this town, but call after call I heard that no one knew anything about an orphanage or centre in Aconhoek. I headed back to the streets. A short boy JUL / AUG 2008

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Livit, a child who lives on the street, in front of A1 Fisheries with a loud voice, crinkled hair and bloodshot eyes, Livit Mathebula is part of a child-headed family. He stood at the A1 Fisheries where Ishmael was standing, and he closely watched the people coming in and out of the shop. I approached him, and like Ishmael, he was willing to talk. Driven by circumstances similar to Ishmael’s, fifteen-year-old Livit went to the streets after his mother’s death in 2003. He believed that his mother’s passing was not of natural causes. “My mother complained of having pain all over her body. I think she was bewitched,” said Livit in a suspicious tone, holding a milk container inside his shirt that I believed contained glue that he sniffed to get high. Livit was left in the care of his grandparents. The only source of income they have is the social grant that his grandfather receives, and it is not enough to take care of Livit and his siblings. “My grandparents tried to take care of me, but I don’t have a birth certificate, so I can’t receive a grant myself,” Livit said. Without a grant, he and his grandparents are facing a serious food shortage. He decided to be the man of the house and provide for his family. “I buy bread and milk with the money I make everyday, and give it to my

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grandparents and siblings,” Livit explained. “My grandmother cannot afford to take care of everything because she is now very sick.” Living on the streets with no parental guidance has given these youngsters the opportunity to do whatever they wish. “I love the streets because I am able to make money. I have made new friends, and love playing soccer with them at the back of the shops,” Ishmael exclaimed. But it also opens children to greater dangers. “I have never sniffed glue in all my life,” said Livit, although the scent of glue and the milk container filled with glue underneath his white shirt revealed a different story. While some deny sniffing glue, others come clean. “Sniffing glue and smoking marijuana gives me great pleasure,” said another young man, Sinky Sibuyi, standing behind the dust bin in front of Barnetts Furniture. “It gives me light,” he continued to explain. “I don’t do bad things. I am not the type.” After talking to the boys, I wondered if anyone else in my community was as concerned as I was about the government’s neglect. “The government is not doing enough to help the street kids in rural

communities as they are they are for kids in the big cities,” said Peter Khoza, a pensioner from Buffelsoek whom I met and talked to at Merriam Mogakane Community Hall in Acornhoek after a community viewing of President Mbeki’s State Of The Nation Address. “They just don’t notice these kids around.” A woman near joined us in the conversation. “There is a lot still to be done for street kids around here,” said Samarine Shokane of Greenvalley. “We alone don’t have all the power to help street kids. The government must lend a helping hand.” In my pursuit to understand the reasons behind a child living on the street, I grew fond of Ishmael and the other children I interviewed. Talking to them about their life stories gave me a sense of closure, like they were telling me my life story. I began to see them differently; I started to see these children with names and surnames, not just as “street children”. Talking to them was an eye opener. I imagined how many of these children’s lives would be changed if people gave them a second chance in life, if more people stopped to listen to their stories. As I spoke with Livit, I watched Ishmael walk away to wait for a truck filled with glass dishes that arrives each week in front of 21

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Discounters Shop. I felt like a piece of me was going with him, like I was losing my own flesh brother. I almost cried when he turned his back and walked away. Soon Livit also left to meet the truck. I followed. Thirty minutes later, the delivery had arrived. All of the children and some men ran to its back door. I sat on the stoop of the shop and watched them carry big boxes placed on their heads. I watched them break a sweat. I thought, a child shouldn’t work so hard. Three hours later, the boys walked away exhausted, with ten rands each in their pockets. I approached another boy who had promised to talk to me before they started to unload. But now that they were done, he was no longer interested in me, only in the glue he and Livit had bought in the shop with their earnings. Ishmael had disappeared. I will never know if he used his earnings for food or not. Feeling so disappointed in some of the boys, yet knowing they have no role models to show them how to live responsibly. I took a taxi back home to work on my story—thinking just how close I came to unloading the same truck with Ishmael and Livit, but that I could not even begin to imagine myself lifting those boxes. Clearly, something needs happen to help all those vulnerable children get off the streets, but what could I do? The government needs to build orphanages and community support centres and employ people who care about empowering the lives in their community. For me, what I can do now is write what I see—the despair of it all—and hope that people will become compassionate and inspired to work for change.

Article published in collaboration with The Amazwi Villager. For more information, contact us at info@adunagow.net. Please submit all Questions and Feedback regarding this article to forum@adunagow.net or via our web blog at: http://blogspot.adunagow.net

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION: AMAZWI Amazwi, a volunteer-driven arts organization, utilizes vehicles of storytelling to build upon and strengthen its founding pillars of empowerment, preservation, and education. Amazwi is a South African nonprofit organization supported by an American 501(c)(3), The Amazwi Foundation. www.amazwivillager.org

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BOOK REVIEW Here is a great book to read during this summer. “Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future” written by Ghanaian economist George B.N. Ayittey, and published by Palgrave Macmillan (2005). In this book, George B.N. Ayittey, an economist by formation and associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, provides root causes of Africa’s ordeal and what Africa should do to achieve a state of modernization and development through free trade and free market. The compelling contrast the author made between the “Hippos” generation who for the last thirty years or so stole Africa of its resources and the “Cheetah” generation is compelling although sometimes provocative and hilarious but yet truthful. The various references and anecdotes used in this book truly back its title and also providing real facts. The author truly believes that, although, mistakes have been made by the “Hippo or Vampire States”, Africa’s political, economic and social freedoms will come from the “Antigas, the African Peasant” who have been disfranchised from the time the” Hippos” highjacked the continent. The emergence of breed of Africans, the “Cheetah” generation, “the young African graduates, who are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic” as he calls them will play in propelling Africa to the next level of development. Presented in a historic and chronological order, one gets quickly captivated from the first chapter and throughout the book many questions are answered and myths debunked. It is well written and coherent in its entirety. You might not able to read all 500 pages throughout the summer but this book will definitely fires you up. For those of us who have become rusty in the African political and economic history, this is a great book to read. Some of the books written by George B.N. Ayittey are “Indigenous African Institutions (1991)”, “Africa Betrayed (1992)” and “Africa in Chaos (1998).

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ROOTS & HERITAGE

O Lwala Monagano

A story by Linky Mtsie Photography by : Briget Ganske

MENTAL HEALTH

Confronted by mental illness in her family, a young woman embarks on a journey into the hearts and minds of her rural community.

I

COME FROM BROOKLYN, a community within Acornhoek, a village in northern Mpumalanga, in South Africa. When I was 12, my aunt and uncle arrived at our house. We thought they’d come to visit as they often did, but my uncle had brought my aunt to show my mother how sick her sister was.

My aunt would not get out of the car. I could see her through the window, holding her head in her hands. I was surprised because she was my favorite aunt, always talking, joking and telling stories and now she looked so sad. Suddenly, she threw open the door and started screaming about something in her throat stopping her from breathing. My mother and uncle rushed out of the house. My aunt was choking and ran to where my mother had been washing dishes. She drank the dirty dishwater and then breathed deeply and sat down against the wall. My mother asked what was wrong, but my aunt would not speak. Tears ran down her face. My uncle said he had taken my aunt to many doctors and to many sangomas, and nothing helped. I was scared and wanted to help, but I didn’t know how.

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O

VER THE YEARS, my aunt started walking during the night, not sleeping and hearing voices. When I was with her she would ask me, “Do you hear that?” And I would say, “What?” She would say someone was calling her name, but I heard nothing. She would stare at small things, especially flying insects, or warn my sister and me of crocodiles in the house. Sometimes she would look at my feet and scream noga! (snake!) and I would jump with fear. Now she doesn’t scream any more. Instead, she talks calmly of how she suffers, how she wants to die, how she wishes her ancestors would take her away. My mother sees my aunt every month to check on her. I don’t like to be around her much, not because I don’t like her, but because I feel so sad. Just looking at her reminds me of how she was before, before she became sick. In my community, anyone who behaves in ways we cannot understand is called o lwala monagano, a Sotho phrase that literally means “sick mentally”. We believed, including myself, that mental illness was one sickness. Watching my aunt made me want to know more. But few people know much about health in general. People think that diabetes means not being able to eat sugar. People think high blood pressure is an illness for people with money. People have heard of TB, but few have heard of tuberculosis. Now I am learning the types of mental illnesses—anxiety disorder, depression, mood disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome and autism. In my community, there is no distinction. My community labels these people o lwala monagano. The man outside A1 Fisheries who wears dirty clothes, dances and asks people for money or food. The woman who stays

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at home and plays with boxes. The man who stands outside the Spar, whose hand shakes all the time and whose body is covered in dirt and oil. The girl at Score who screams when men tease her and who tells people that they look beautiful. The young man who screams, strips and runs naked through the street. The child who never wants to be around other people and who cannot speak properly. The woman who binds herself in ropes and walks around with plastic bags full of dirty tins. The child who breaks plates and hits cars and other people. The girl who walks during the night and breaks her neighbor’s window. The boy who never looks at people in the eyes. The woman with a strange look in her eyes who laughs a screeching laugh. The man who talks to himself. The long-haired man who walks around with a whip and talks of babies inside condoms. The young man who plays like a five-year-old in the dirt. The man who screams of his own bewitchment. On the street in Acornhoek Plaza, I ask passers-by and fruit sellers what they think about mental illness. Sophie, a young woman from Boelang community, says she believes that most mentally ill people have been bewitched. But others, she says, “have stress which leads them to become sick mentally. Too much reading can make a person sick and the worst part is that those who are sick speak non-stop and in English or Afrikaans”. A fruit seller from Greenvalley says she is very sad and feels pain in her heart when she sees a mentally ill person. “No one knows the cause. Maybe it is because our children don’t listen. They go around doing things they are told not to do, and they end up being bewitched. And there is no cure for some one who is sick mentally.” An old woman on the bus told me that depression does not exist in our culture. She said it is only for whites. When people become educated, she explained, they adopt white culture and believe that depression exists for anyone. I was doubtful of her opinions, especially when she said she suspected that people become ill from eating food bought in stores, which has been injected with disease. A young woman told me she believes depression happens when someone has a problem and doesn’t share. When I asked how to cure depression, she said people must not be alone because if they are alone, they think more about their problems. They must talk with someone

“In my community, anyone who behaves in ways we cannot understand is called o lwala monagano, a Sotho phrase that literally means sick mentally.” they trust, like a family member, someone in the community, or a counselor in the clinic. When I asked people why some people suffer from mental ill and others don’t most replied that o lwala monagano people have been bewitched. I visited a sangoma, a traditional healer who reputedly can cure people who have been bewitched. Arleta Shabangu, a sangoma in Ga-Zitha, another community within Acornhoek, started as a healer in 1999. All of the mentally ill people she has seen are male. Shabangu said that a songoma can curse someone to develop a mental illness. She added that sangomas agree to give people muthi to make them crazy because they get paid, and sangomas will do what they get paid to do. Shabangu said that sometimes mental illness is treatable, especially if it is a curse, “but in many cases a mentally ill person can not be fully healed.” At the time, I believed her. I believed that sangomas do not know how to cure everything, but they can cause anything, and mental illness is no exception. In my search to understand more about mental illness, I went to Tinstwalo Hospital, the largest provincial hospital in Mpumalanga serving an estimated population of one million, to hear what the doctors and nurses had to say. I also wanted to know if they were afraid, as I have felt at times, of people with mental illness. As I entered the psychiatric ward, a feeling of fear crept into me. I imaged people attacking me. Two nurses at the reception desk were helping patients fill out forms. One of the nurses took us to an office where we sat and talked. She talked about the various mental problems that they encounter. She did not mention witchcraft. I asked her if she believes that mentally ill people are bewitched. She said that her medical books do not mention witchcraft and that she did not believe in witchcraft. Was she scared to work with them? “No. We JUL / AUG 2008

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Linky Matsie need to understand mental illness. These people are gifts from God. We can’t throw them away.” That’s why she became a psychiatric nurse. “I asked God why. I went to school to learn how to manage them, to take care of them. You can’t separate me from them. You can’t argue with the person. Accept him, give direction, give prescription. Then, at the end of the day, everything becomes all right. All of us are mentally ill, not 100% normal, only different by degrees.” I feel sadness when I see o lwala monagano people near the shops, all dirty and hungry surrounded by people insulting them and performing pranks. I ask myself, where are their families? Why don’t they feed them and take care of them and wash their clothes? Even if they are bewitched for bad behavior, their families should take care of them. And if they don’t have families, the government should build a shelter. One night, I woke up to the voice of my neighbor calling on my family to come to his house. A girl who might be a tokoloshe, a weapon of witches, was there. At his house, I saw a young woman sitting on the ground. We asked her why she was there and what she needed and who she was. She remained silent. Other neighbors arrived. They were distantly related to her 18

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and knew her as Celidar* a 24-year-old – not a tokoloshe – but mentally ill. When Celidar saw them, she gave out a hackling laugh. I went back to the family a few weeks later to talk to the them about Celidar. Her father, Peter, said she was born mentally ill. “Celidar’s illness is not caused by witches but was God’s will. She was born mentally disturbed, and she was always at home, but now she is walking during the night and breaking windows and cars.” He said that they took her to the hospital, but it didn’t help. They also took her to Moria, the headquarters of the Zion Christain Church, of which they are members. He said nothing worked. Celidar entered the room and said that her family does not give her the social grant money collected on her behalf. She said she would burn her identity document so that her family cannot get her social grant money. “They are buying food and their own clothes. I don’t have shoes.” Her father got angry. “You are lying! You have shoes. You don’t want to wear them.” He looked at me and told me not to listen to her. “She is crazy.”

When people think that mental illness is a punishment, they may see no reason to help or care about o lwala monagano people. If the community knew that people were sick because of other things, uncontrollable things, then maybe they would act with respect and compassion and care. I know that it would be difficult to convince my community that mental illness is not always caused by witchcraft, which is what I’ve come to believe. If my community learnt about different types of mental illness then maybe they would stop blaming witchcraft and sangomas and start treating people with respect. *Names have been changed Article published in collaboration with The Amazwi Villager. For more information, contact us at info@adunagow.net. Please submit all Questions and Feedback regarding this article to forum@adunagow.net or via our web blog at: http://blogspot.adunagow.net

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION: AMAZWI Amazwi, a volunteer-driven arts organization, utilizes vehicles of storytelling to build upon and strengthen its founding pillars of empowerment, preservation, and education. Amazwi is a South African nonprofit organization supported by an American 501(c)(3), The Amazwi Foundation. www.amazwivillager.org

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2008 Beijing Summer Olympics TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: WHAT AFRICAN COUNTRY WILL WIN THE MOST MEDALS IN BEIJING 2008 OLYMPICS?

BEIJING 2008 OLYMPICS

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he Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics is set to run from August 08 through 24, 2008. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad are expected to draw more than 10,000 competitors representing 205 nations, an increase of four from the number that participated at the 2004 Athens Games. China will become the third Asian country to host the summer Olympics, after Japan (Tokyo, 1960) and South Korea (Seoul, 1988). Fifty three countries will be representing Africa in this summer Olympic. Amongst them, seven countries noticeably stand out strong. ETHIOPIA Ethiopia first competed in 1956 and has boycotted three Olympics – In 1976, with 26 other African nations; in 1984, following the lead of the Soviet Union; and in 1988, to express sympathy for North Korea, which demanded a co-hosting role with Seoul. Ethiopia made history when Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon in 1960, barefooted through the streets of Rome, and at night, ADUNAGOW MAGAZINE

JUL / AUG 2008

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BEIJING 2008 OLYMPICS

National Stadium, Olympic Green becoming the first black African to win a gold medal. Ethiopia has won 31 Olympic medals in total, all in track and field. Until Atlanta, only one medal had been earned by a woman. In Atlanta, Fatuma Roba won the women’s marathon and Gete Wami took the bronze in the 10,000m.

African CountrIES Records Country

Gold Silver Bronze

Debut

Algeria

4

1

7

1964

Angola

0

0

0

1980

KENYA

Benin

0

0

0

1972

Kenya debuted at the Summer Games in 1956. It boycotted in 1976 and 1980. Kenya holds 61 medals (17 gold, 24 silver, 20 bronze). Fifty-four of its 61 medals have come in running events, the other seven in boxing. Kenya is best known for its middle-distance runners, especially Kip Keino. In 1968, Keino won gold in the 1500m and silver in the 5000m; In Atlanta, Pauline Konga won silver in the 5000m, becoming the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic medal.

Botswana

0

0

0

1980

Burkina Faso

0

0

0

1972

Burundi 1

0

0

0

1996

Cameroon

2

1

1

1964

Cape Verde

0

0

0

1996

Central African Republic

0

0

0

1968

Chad

0

0

0

1964

Comoros

0

0

0

1996

Congo

0

0

0

1964

SOUTH AFRICA

Cote d’Ivoire

0

1

0

1964

Who can forget South African swimmer Penny Heyns? She swept the women’s breastroke events and won two gold medals in the Atlanta Olympics. That year, South Africa won five medals, including three gold medals. Hezekiel Sepeng became the first black South African to win an Olympic medal with his silver in the men’s 800m. And then, on the final

Dem. Rep. of Congo

0

0

0

1984

Djibouti

0

0

1

1984

Egypt

7

6

8

1912

Equatorial Guinea

0

0

0

1984

Eritrea

0

0

1

2000

Ethiopia

14

5

12

1956

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SUMMER OLYMPICS PAST GAMES

0

0

0

1972

Gambia

0

0

0

1984

Ghana

0

1

3

1960

Guinea

0

0

0

1968

Guinea-Bissau

0

0

0

1996

Kenya

17

24

20

1956

• Moscow 1980

Lesotho

0

0

0

1972

• Montreal 1976

Liberia

0

0

0

1956

• Munich 1972

Libya

0

0

0

1968

• Mexico 1968

Madagascar

0

0

0

1964

• Tokyo 1964

Malawi

0

0

0

1968

• Rome 1960

Mali

0

0

0

1964

• Melbourne 1956

Mauritania

0

0

0

1984

• Helsinki 1952

Mauritus

0

0

0

1984

• London 1948

Morocco

6

4

9

1960

Mozambique

1

0

1

1980

Namibia

0

4

0

1992

Niger

0

0

1

1964

Nigeria

2

8

9

1952

Rwanda

0

0

0

1984

• London 1908

Sao Tome and Principe

0

0

0

1996

• St. Louis 1904

Senegal

0

1

0

1964

• Paris 1900

Seychelles

0

0

0

1980

• Athens 1896

Sierra Leone

0

0

0

1968

Somalia

0

0

0

1972

South Africa

20

23

26

1908

Sudan

0

0

0

1960

Swaziland

0

0

0

1972

Tanzania

0

2

0

1968

Togo

0

0

0

1972

Tunisia

1

2

3

1960

Uganda

1

3

2

1956

Zambia

0

1

1

1968

Zimbabwe

2

1

1

1928

• Sydney 2000 • Atlanta 1996 • Barcelona 1992 • Seoul 1988 • Los Angeles 1984

• Berlin 1936 • Los Angeles 1932 • Amsterdam 1928 • Paris 1924 • Antwerp 1920 • Stockholm 1912

BEIJING 2008 OLYMPICS

(CONT’D)

Gabon

• Athens 2004

24

African Countries Records

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day of competition, a little-known black South African marathoner, Josia Thugwane, won the men’s marathon. Before Barcelona, South Africa had not competed since it sent an all-white team to the 1960 Olympics in Rome. South African was officially ousted from the Olympic movement in 1970, although South Africa was not allowed to compete in either the 1964 or 1968 Games because of its government’s apartheid policy. The IOC readmitted South Africa on July 9, 1991. MOROCCO Morocco has won 19 Olympic medals - six gold, four silver, and nine bronze. Thirteen of the medals have come in men’s track and field. Morocco first competed in 1960 and was one of four African nations to participate in the Opening Ceremony of the 1976 Olympics before withdrawing from the competition in solidarity with the 22 other African nations that had boycotted the Games. EGYPT Egypt first competed in 1912. From 1960 to 1968, Egypt competed with Syria as the United Arab Republic, although it is believed that most of the athletes were Egyptian. Egypt has won 21 medals in total. ALGERIA Algeria first competed in 1964. It is one of 26 nations to boycott the 1976 Olympics. Competed in Moscow and Los Angeles, Atlanta and Sydney. Algeria has won 12 Olympic medals, including three in 1996 and five in 2000 NIGERIA Nigeria has won 19 Olympic medals, all in soccer, boxing and track and field. Nigeria became the first African nation to win an Olympic soccer tournament when it participated in the Atlanta games. It was Nigeria’s most successful Olympic Games: six medals.

K C E CH The Offi

cial We

bsite of

T U IT O http://en.beijing2008.cn/

the Beij

ing 200

8 Olymp

ic Game

s


GENDER SELECTION

Choosing The Sex of Your Baby

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traditions, but keep in mind that it is never too late to educate yourself. That’s what all the Ogabos out there need to do.

What is sex selection?

Sex selection is the ability to choose a girl or a boy before you get pregnant by using some method to assist you in changing the odds towards the sex you select. Depending on the method of sex selection you choose, the ability to have that girl or boy of your dreams is possible.

Behind The Scene

T

his is a true story - although the names have been changed about an African woman living in the United States. Ramona, a mother of four beautiful little girls, calls her friends Frieda one early Sunday morning. She sounds desperate and in need for help from above, because her situation is more than she can handle. Apparently, her husband, an illegal African living in the U.S. for more than a decade, has just beat her and kicked her out of the house for a cause that sounds ridiculous, but yet, true. “Calm down,” says Frieda. “I can’t,” she replies. “I don’t know what to else to do.” You can feel her desperation as she catches her breath at every sentence spoken. “He kicked me out of the house. He said

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it’s my fault. I’m doing it on purpose,” says Ramona. “Doing What Ramona? Are you hurt? What happened?” “I went to the doctor for my scan today. He said it’s my fault.” “The doctor said it’s your fault?’ “No. Ogabo said it’s my fault” “What did you do? I don’t understand?” “We’re having another baby girl.” The conversation stops; Frieda is speechless, as she connects the dots in her mind and re-piece the entire story without her friend’s help. “Come over to my place. I’ll prepare something for you.” “No, not yet. I need to finish cooking Ogabo’s supper. I’ll come tomorrow night, after he goes to work.” For many of us, the story above still doesn’t make sense. We’re still missing numerous dots to fill in before our brain can grasp the whole picture. Let me explain: Ogabo is blaming her wife for the fact that they are having another girl. He thinks his wife has control of the gender selection. To punish her, he beats her up and kicks her out of the house for the entire day. Sounds childish? Stupid? Yes. Call it whatever you want, unfortunately this scenario happens among many uneducated African families. You can blame it to our culture or

Conception begins when the male sperm enters the female egg. Baby gender selection in a way is just a formula to conceive a baby with the sex of your choice. One major thing to remember is that the baby gender is determined by the baby’s father. The chromosomes of the woman have no bearing at all when it comes to the baby’s gender. The baby’s gender will always be determined by whether the egg is fertilized with sperm containing the ‘y’ chromosome or ‘x’ chromosome. Although it’s impossible to the father to select directly which chromosome to fertilize the egg – thus selecting the gender of the baby – there are ways of creating ‘favorable’ environment for one chromosome type against the other. That’s the science behind baby gender selection. It’s not magic, but it’s just tilting the odd to one side, creating a higher percentage of chance on choosing the proper chromosome to fertilize the female egg. There are various types of methods when it comes to gender selections. It all depends on how much you’re planning on spending. Apart from the price difference, there is also the complexity issue added into the picture. Gender selection methods can be categorized in two groups: Natural Gender Selection Methods and High Tech Gender Selection Methods.

Natural Gender Selection Methods

The natural gender selection methods, or also called “low tech” methods are easy to try in the privacy of your home and most of the time for a low price – or free. However, the effectivity is not as high as the “high Tech” methods. The most recognized Natural method is called the Shettles Method.

High Tech Gender Selection Methods

High tech methods are usually backed up by clinical researches and provide you with the best odds for having the desired gender. However, to use of any of the “high tech”

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methods, you have to give up the idea of making a baby at home in bed, and instead get pregnant using Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), techniques usually used only as a last resort by infertile couples who can’t have a baby any other way. Getting pregnant by IUI (artificial insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization) is no easy task. It’s such a stressful experience, with giddy highs when your dream seems almost within your grasp, and devastating lows when it seems all hope is lost, that it’s called the “emotional roller coaster”. It’s enormously expensive and inconvenient, you’ll almost certainly need to try several times, and there’s no guarantee of successfully getting pregnant and delivering a baby. In fact, there’s a good chance you can empty your savings and wind up with no baby to show for it. High tech methods include MicroSort sperm sorting, PGD, Ericsson, and many more.

MicroSort® Method

The MicroSort® process sorts sperm by male and female by a process that measures differences in the DNA. Then using an intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) the enriched sample of sperm is used to help you conceive. About 92% of those attempting for a girl do conceive a girl, while the success rates for sex selection and boys using MicroSort® is lower at 81%. The pregnancy rate for using an IUI cycle is 15.6% and the overall IVF/ICSI clinical pregnancy rate is 32%.

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Pre implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

This is the most effective technique in sex selection. With nearly 100% accuracy and the ability to select not only sex but a healthy embryo makes it very popular. Though this is a costly and intensive method of sex selection that uses in vitro fertilization and does biopsies on the embryos before they are returned to the uterus.

Ericsson Albumin Method

With Ericsson, the sperm is filtered through albumin and then an intrauterine insemination (IUI) is done with the sample. While the sample doesn’t provide you with more of one particular sex, like a MicroSort® sample, it does help select the sex of the baby. For a girl, Clomid® is used since it has been shown to increase the number of girls.

The Shettles Methods

The world’s best-known at-home method for choosing the sex of your baby, and “the method best supported by scientific evidence” according to Dr. Landrum Shettles. Dr. Landrum Shettles claimed a 75% to 90% success rate for his simple, at-home method, which advises how to time intercourse to conceive a boy or a girl. Shettles theorized that the two different types of sperm, X-chromosome-bearing sperm and Y-chromosome-bearing sperm, had different properties. For example, the Y (male producing) sperms are smaller, round-headed, faster, and more fragile (short lived), while the X (female producing) sperms are larger, oval-headed, slower and more resilient (longer lived).

Shettles knew that if he can creates conditions that can favor one chromosome type than the other, it will be a way of controlling which sperm type will have the advantage of fertilizing the female egg, thus leading to a gender selected result. Under ideal conditions, the Y-sperm’s faster speed should prevail, winning the race to the egg and conceiving a boy. Under less than ideal conditions, fewer of the fragile Y-sperm will survive. The X-sperm’s resilience and staying power should win the day, conceiving a girl.

Shettles Advantages

• FREE, except the Shettles book, and any ovulation tracking supplies you might choose to buy. • An at-home method you can use in the privacy of your own home. Conception occurs naturally, and few people have ethical or moral objections. If you are trying for a boy, the Shettles method will guide you to optimum fertility, making it easier to conceive.

Shettles Disadvantages

• To use the Shettles method, you must learn to detect ovulation, which requires some practice and a little dedication. However, this is really something every woman should know about anyway. • If you are trying for a girl, Shettles advises avoiding intercourse on your peak days of fertility, which can make it very difficult to get pregnant at all. • There is no scientific evidence to support the Shettles method, and some studies have disproved it.

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Shettles Method -

HOW TO CONCEIVE A BOY

T

iming intercourse: Have intercourse the day of ovulation. Timing intercourse correctly is the most important factor. Learn to detect when you ovulate and practice until you’re sure you understand your body’s signals that ovulation is approaching. - The ideal time for intercourse is 12 hours before ovulation. - Have intercourse only once on the day of ovulation. Why is this important? Conditions for conception are ideal on the day of ovulation, favoring the faster Y-sperm. The egg is released at ovulation and is waiting for the sperm, so the sperm don’t use up their short lives waiting for the egg to show up. Also, the environment of the vagina becomes more hospitable to sperm at ovulation; the cervical fluid increases and becomes more slippery, making it easier for the sperm to swim, and also becomes more alkaline, helping the sperm to survive. - Abstinence: The father must not ejaculate during the 4 - 5 days before ovulation. Intercourse and ejaculation are okay up until 4 to 5 days before ovulation, but after that point the father must avoid any ejaculation until the day of ovulation. - Always use a condom when you have intercourse, both before and after ovulation, to prevent the possibility of conceiving on days when it is more likely to have girl. (Except, of course, during your one attempt on the day of ovulation.) - Avoiding ejaculation allows a higher sperm count to build up. Dr. Shettles associated a higher sperm count with more

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male offspring. Scrotal temperature: The father should “keep it cool”. - The father should make sure to avoid excessive heat around the scrotum, which can be caused by tight, hot clothing, or an overly hot workplace. Choose boxers. Even close-fitting underwear can make the scrotum too warm by holding it too closely against the body. - No saunas, hot tubs, or scuba diving. - Bicycling has been linked to impotence and reduced sperm count, so while you are actively trying to conceive you may want to choose another sport. The optimum temperature for sperm production is a little lower than body temperature, which is why a man’s sperm factory is housed in a handy bag just outside the body -- the scrotum. If the temperature is too warm, sperm count for both X and Y sperm will be reduced, but the more fragile Y-sperm will perish first. Sperm count: The father should avoid other causes of reduced sperm count. - Illness can temporarily reduce sperm count, so if the father is sick you may want to delay your attempt until the following cycle. - Smoking, drug and alcohol use, and exposure to toxic chemicals, can all reduce sperm count. - Emotional stress is associated with lower sperm counts. You may want to check into relaxation techniques. - Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are lifestyle changes that can improve sperm count. Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can lower sperm count. You may want to try a nutritional supplement for

enhancing male fertility. If you’re worried that you may have a low sperm count, you can use an at-home semen analysis kit to check your sperm concentration. Any form of stress, not just heat, can affect sperm production and lower sperm count. Diet: The father may have some caffeine just before intercourse. - The father can have a couple of cups of coffee (or other caffeinated drink) fifteen minutes to half an hour before intercourse. - Dr. Shettles believed the caffeine would give both types of sperm a boost, but that Y-sperm would get a little more of a boost. Female orgasm: Have one! - The woman should try to have an orgasm during intercourse, ideally just before the man’s. (If you don’t, though, don’t get too hung up about it.) - Female orgasm causes the cervical fluid to become even more plentiful and alkaline, and thus more hospitable to the sperm, which would again favor the faster swimming Y-sperm. Vaginal environment: Try to make the vagina as alkaline as possible. - Douching: Dr. Shettles originally recommended enhancing the vagina’s alkalinity with a baking soda douche, but in his book’s latest edition, he recommends douching only for women who are very acidic, and under the advice of a doctor. Please consult your doctor before using a douche. If you do decide to douche, here is how to prepare a baking soda douche: o Use 2 tablespoons of baking soda in warm (not hot) mineral or filtered water. o Wash your hands and mix thoroughly in a clean glass. o Cover glass with a napkin, and wait 10 minutes to allow to completely dissolve. o Most drugstores have reusable douche kits available. You may also be able to buy an inexpensive disposable douche (with a removable top), and pour out the original contents. Since most douches are acidic, rinse very thoroughly. Douching is linked to vaginal infections, and associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Consult your doctor before using a douche. Dietary supplements: Although not mentioned by Dr. Shettles, many women also try the gender diet, dietary supplements, and eating alkalizing foods.

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Shettles Method -

HOW TO CONCEIVE A GIRL

T

iming intercourse: Have intercourse 2 to 4 days before ovulation.

Timing intercourse correctly is the most important factor. Learn to detect when you ovulate and practice until you’re sure you understand your body’s signals that ovulation is approaching. You will probably need to track ovulation for several cycles to be able to accurately predict ovulation several days in advance. Timing for a girl can be tricky, because intercourse too early won’t cause pregnancy; but intercourse too close to ovulation is more likely to cause a boy. - Be sure to avoid intercourse on the day of your peak CM (a method for detecting ovulation). Why is this important? Because many of the sperm will use up their short lives waiting for the egg to arrive, this should give the typically longer-lived X-sperm an advantage. Also, the cervical fluid in the vagina is less hospitable to sperm prior to ovulation, because it is scant, sticky, and more acidic. All of these conditions are unfavorable for both kinds of sperm, but since X-sperm are more resilient, the Y-sperm should perish first and make it more likely to conceive a girl. Have intercourse often, right up until the “cutoff” of 2 to 4 days before ovulation. - After the last day of your period, have intercourse frequently, up until 2 to 4 days

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before you suspect you will ovulate. - Do not have intercourse again until 2 or 3 days after ovulation has occurred. Intercourse with a condom is okay after this point. - During practice cycles, use condoms only. Other forms of birth control can disguise the fertility signals you are trying to track to accurately detect ovulation. - Frequent ejaculation naturally lowers sperm count, which Dr. Shettles believed would favor conceiving a girl. Note: Shettles did NOT recommend artificially trying to lower sperm count by “reversing” the boy method, because it could result in lowering male fertility. Diet: The mother should avoid caffeine. - Dr. Shettles reported that caffeine could be detrimental to female fertility. Sexual position: Shallow penetration using the missionary position. - Use the face-to-face position, with the man on top.

- The woman should try not to have an orgasm during intercourse. - Female orgasm causes the cervical fluid to become even more plentiful and alkaline, and thus more hospitable to the sperm, which would favor the faster swimming Y-sperm. Vaginal environment: Try to make the vagina as acidic as possible. - Douching: Dr. Shettles originally recommended enhancing the vagina’s alkalinity with a vinegar douche, but in his book’s latest edition, he recommends douching only under the advice of a doctor. Please consult your doctor before using a douche. If you do decide to douche, most drugstores sell inexpensive, pre made disposable vinegar douches. Use the douche about 15 minutes before intercourse. Douching is linked to vaginal infections, and associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy, and infertility. Consult your doctor before using a douche.

- Shallow penetration will cause the sperm to be deposited further from the cervix (the entrance to the uterus). The sperm then must traverse more of the vagina, where the X-sperm’s staying power should win out. Female orgasm: Avoid it.

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SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE

ThugAngel Singer / Dancer / Choreographer

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Interview by Eric Adunagow Photo courtesy of Ngel

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AM: Please tell us more about your name and your origin. Angel: My name is Angel, like an angel; so simple. I come from Belgium. I am originally half Martinique and half Congolese (DRC).

AM: How did you get started in Dancing/Choreography/singing/ modeling?

Angel: I started dancing at the age of 6; I was learning ballet. Then, I got introduced to hip hop at 14 years old. Before becoming a choreographer, I used to give Hip Hop classes to kids in order to make some money. I was still in High School.

AM: What about Modeling? How did you get started on that?

Angel: I did modeling just for fun, not really seriously because dancing has always been my true calling. Now, I work with a lot of famous French artists, travelling around the world doing some workshops. TO SUBSCRIBE VISIT

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Dancing is my passion and I Thank God everyday because I have a chance do to that everyday.

AM: Was this what you dreamt for when growing up? Angel: Yes, this has always been my childhood dream.

AM: When you’re not working, what are your favorite things to do? Angel: I love to stay at home, because I travel a lot as part of my work life. I also enjoy going to restaurant with my friends and visiting my family.

hours. I usually come back home around 12 pm to 2pm for lunch. At 5pm, I give hip hop classes until 7pm. Sometimes I have shows to perform as well. I spend about 2 hours per day on the internet, work on my projects, my website, check my emails, etc...

AM: Impressive dancing clips in your myspace.com website. What are your inspirations when working? Angel: My inspiration comes from about everything: people, music, energy, daily mood…

AM: Currently, where is home? Where are you located presently?

AM: How many students attend your dancing classes?

Angel: I commute between Brussels (Belgium) and Paris (France).

Angel: It depends. Sometimes 30 students (more or less).

AM: What’s a typical day for you?

AM: Tell us, how can someone get involved in the dancing world?

Angel: I wake up at 9 o’clock, go to the gym, give my dance class, then I train for 2

Angel: Good question. Do some auditions JUL / AUG 2008

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and take dancing lessons.

AM: How do you promote and market yourself?

Angel: I do everything by myself.

AM: What are the pros and cons of being a Dancer?

www.thugangel.book.fr www.myspace.com/thugngel

AM: In your opinion, what’s the number one issue to deal with in Africa? What’s your take (solution) on it?

AM: Any words of wisdom for all our aspiring models out there?

Angel: We must work hard to be the best, especially when we’re black. Always believe in your dreams and respect yourself.

Angel: Young African graduates should think about investing in Africa. We need to develop Africa with African intelligence rather than waiting on Europe or USA.

AM: Any last words?

Angel: It’s a hard field because everything depends on your body and your mood. But you living your passion has no price.

AM: What artists have you worked with?

AM: What do you see yourself in the future of Africa?

Thank you Angel for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you plenty of success and wisdom in your career.

Angel: A lot, It’s a long list (laughs). I also meet a lot of artists during interviews and sessions that I don’t directly work with, like Beyoncé, Cassey, Coolio, Lumedee…

AM: Can you tell us something about you that people would never guess? Angel: I’m afraid of mice. Me and the mouse don’t get along (laughs)

AM: Tell us about your modeling career.

Angel: I did some Television advertisements, photo shoots for brand naming, etc...

AM: How can artists and promoters reach you?

Angel: You can contact me on my website www.thugangel.fr

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Angel: I want to open a big artistic school in Africa.

Angel: Enjoy life because it’s too short. I would like to say Thank You to people who believe in me. Peace. Angel

AM: Other than Entertainment world, what other projects are you involved in at the present? Angel: I want to be a mother.

AM: Will you consider switching completely to acting in the future?

Angel: Why not? Nevertheless, dancing will still be my first love.

AM: In the acting world, who would you want to work with if you had your choice? Angel: Halle Berry, Will Smith, Spike Lee, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L Jackson and the best of all :” Denzel Washington “

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“My inspiration comes from about everything: people, music, energy, daily mood… ”

—Angel.


SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE

Imat Akelo-Opio PERFORMING ARTIST

Photo courtesy of Imat Akelo-Opio


AM: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Your family? Your origin?

Imat: My name is Imat Akelo-Opio, I am a Ugandan Luo. My mother is from Lira and my father is from Icheme (Teapena). I was born in Manzini Swaziland and am from a family of 6 children. My mother is the most amazing woman on this earth. She is a PhD Economist and my equally exceptional father is a CEO. I am from a family of firsts and am very honoured to have been born into my family.

AM: Who are your role models?

Imat: My role models are my family members, especially my grandparents, who achieved so much and pushed so hard, which is why I am here with the Freedom of choice today. I also must pay homage to all Africans that are either established or that are building their dynasties back home.

AM: What’s a typical day for you?

Imat: This is quite difficult, as really there is no typical day. However as I currently still have my day job to help currently sustain me whilst not in performing so I am usually up early and off to work during business hours. After hours I will go and work on my craft- whether it be going to a voice/ singing lesson, or working on my current monologues in preparation for when my agent calls and tells me that I have an audition. However if I am in a show my days and most evenings are filled with rehearsals upon rehearsals in preparation for the show. I am also up late writing songs going to record at the studio my debut album “Imat-Woman the Phenomenon” which will be available on my website “missimat.com”, later this year. I am also working on my first coffee table book that will be published and sold as part of my NGO-Dark Continent. Not really typical but this is currently what my life entails.

AM: How do you stay fit in this hectic lifestyle?

Imat: I am from an extremely athletic family so genetically I have been blessed but I practise Kundalini Yoga and I also enjoy walking, running and dancing.

AM: When you’re not working, what are your favourite things to do? Imat: I love to relax with my family and close friends, I just love to be in the midst of loved ones- Laughing and enjoying life.

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AM: Currently, where is home? Where are you located presently?

Imat: This is quite difficult as I tend to travel quite often. Home will always be Uganda. I have been in New York for the last couple of years and since being cast for Get Smart I have been living in Melbourne, Australia.

AM: Tell us, how did you get started in the Performing Arts?

Imat: I can’t remember and say that It was a particular day or time. I just always remember having lots of music and dancing around me at home- it was just second nature, especially with my mother. I do remember watching swan lake – the Ballet, very late one night with my mother and younger sister and just falling absolutely in love and asking my mother if I could take ballet classes, and she enrolled my sister and I the next day. I also had an auntie who took me to my very first Theatre production which was “My Fair Lady” and I thought wow!!!. From then on, I began performing as part of the Pan African Association in Papua New Guinea and taking more of an interest in the performing arts.

AM: Was this what you dreamt for when growing up?

Imat: Secretly yes. I remember telling my family that I wanted to sing, dance, act and I was told that everyone can do that and basically I needed to get serious and also continue with my studies because performing would not be able to sustain me. However I knew performing was who I truly was inside, so I decided to take matters in my own hands early on and I began auditioning at school, where I performed in school plays and musicals (of which I was the first lead African female actress ever to perform in a musical) and dance competitions. Although I have to admit that I cannot deny that I appreciate my family making me continue with my education as it has given me freedom of choice to start my own projects and be self sufficient, which has helped me tremendously as an artist, especially when I was first starting out on my own. Having a solid education and my day job has contributed to paying for my lessons, paying for my first recording session, contributing to my performing arts education in New York city and even just making me an all rounder by providing me with invaluable knowledge and life long skills that I have been able to apply and

having that solid base, as an educated young African woman, which I now understand is extremely important.

AM: Do you still perform in “Get Smart”, an original broadway Production in Australia? Tell us a little more about it.

Imat: The production is officially over. However, it was an amazing experience, working with such a huge cast of talented Australian actors. I played the role of Mary Wong who was the Lead female secret agent for the evil organization “KAOS”. Basically I was a baddie, trying to help steal the all mighty “In thermo machine” that would mean power and ruling the world. Of course, you have fun being the baddie, but the baddies never win.

AM: How do you promote and market yourself?

Imat: To be honest, God just opened doors for me from the very beginning by putting me in the right place at the right time, which led to my first major International performance as one of to lead female principal dancers for the Sydney 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony and recording the Official theme song used for the African Arrivals. From then on I worked hard, going to auditions and networking, which has really paid off and now I have an amazing agent, although I also still continue to promote myself wherever necessary.

AM: What are the pros and cons of the being a performing artist?

Imat: There are so many pros but I think the major one is that as an artist you are at your element because you are who you are and you love performing which makes you excited to wake every day because of the new role, the new song/lyric, the new dance step. However the major con for me is that there is a lot of rejection in the Industry. This is something that I believe can either make or break a person, because so very often as the artist you don’t know what it is exactly that the director/producer wants and if you don’t get the part/role, it is very easy to over analyse and loose faith in your ability, your talent and your work. It really can play on your mind and make you second guess yourself.

AM: Can you tell us something about you that people would never guess?

Imat: I think no one would ever guess that I have a Masters in Clinical Data Management.

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entitled to.

AM: How can someone get involved? Imat: My website Dark Continent.org will be up and running this summer, so anyone can make a contribution. I am currently working on a Coffee table book that will be available online for purchase and all proceeds will go towards re-building the lives of the children of Northern Uganda.

AM: It looks like you are multitalented and very good at everything you do. If you had to choose one path, which one will it be?

Imat: I honestly don’t believe that God created and built man and woman for self. so, I would have to say that I would choose the path the helps inspire and educate others. I believe that it would be my NGO, at the end of the day because it is

AM: You will be representing Uganda for the upcoming Miss Africa USA? If so, please tell us how do you prepare for such an event?

Imat: At this stage, I am currently still in the running to represent Uganda, so I will leave the preparations in God’s hands until it is officially confirmed that I will definitely represent Uganda and then begin preparing. However, in the event that I am chosen to represent Uganda, I would begin with questions- Where can I help Africa? What does Africa need right now? How can I better promote Africa? , What do the people and especially children of Africa need? And then I would work my way out from there, doing my best to fulfil each specific criteria by sitting down with Africans of all walks of life and ages to get a better understanding of us a Common entity moving forward. Regardless as to whether or not I am chosen to represent Uganda, it has been an honour to be part of the journey an no matter who is chosen, I firmly believe that she will do her best to represent Uganda.

AM: Can you tell us a little bit about your NGO organization?

Imat: My NGO is geared towards helping the children of Northern Uganda and those with HIV/AIDS. The people of Northern Uganda have suffered in silence for over 20 years with the war- LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and no-one has helped. I don’t want to focus on the negative I want my NGO to re-build and bring hope to the Innocents of Northern Uganda, and provide the basics that every child is

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with certainty that I am making a difference, inspiring , giving hope, opening doors and creating opportunities for generations.

AM: In your opinion, what’s the number one issue to deal with in Africa? What’s your take (solution) on it?

Imat: I believe it is divide and conquer. This is the root of all problems, past and present. Since the colonial days, we were given marked boundaries by the so called colonialists to keep us from uniting, feeding us with the notion that we are different, that one tribe is better than the other according to Western standards, all to ensure that we remain divided and unable to unite and rule as one. This divide and conquer has been so deeply ingrained and needs to be removed from our internal system in order for us to move forward and step into the future as recognized power house. It is because of this, that although we have everythingoil, gold, diamonds, agriculture, flora and fauna - that the Western world is capitalizing on us and we are starving, running out of oil for petrol, not having enough electricity and inadvertently killing each other.

AM: Any words to our current leaders?

Imat: We need our leaders to open their eyes to the situation and we also need to unite and educate and deprive this detrimental seed from continuing to grow and be manifested in the generations

to come, because if we don’t, things will invariably continue to get worse and there will be more civil war, more genocide, more child soldiers, more slave trade and more poaching will continue, all in all killing our mighty and bountiful Motherland Africa. This seed will only serve for the Western world and inevitably deprive future generations of Africans to come of what is rightfully theirs. We must unite and support each other. Africa has everything and we should not be in need for anything as long as we are unified. A lot of things has been taken from Africa, including her people, because we have been divided for so long. We are the world’s source of wealth and until we unite it will only continue to be taken away from us and stolen from our generations.

AM: About Africa: what will you keep? What will you change?

Imat: For me I will keep everything that Africa has instilled in me because all that she is, is pure, honest, true wise and bountiful. Change? The change is in not in Mother Africa but in her people- us that are called Africans. As Africans we have to all work together, we need to see that just because I am from one tribe doesn’t mean that I am any different. We need to see each other as brothers and sisters regardless. We need to have one aim, one cause to restore the mighty Africa and empower our youth, making a way for our future generations of Africa.

AM: What’s the best food you crave for always when you visit Africa?

Imat: Malakwang. It is a bitter green leaf that is cooked with ground sesame seed sauce that is served with semolina, sweet potato, rice or cassava. I love it. Infact, whenever I go home my mother makes it for me as my first meal upon return.

AM: What can Africans do in order to create a strong presence in the America media? What are we lacking?

Imat: Media is the operative word. The media is always depicting Africa as needy, wantful, desperate and destitute. Africans need to continue standing up there with the support of our communities in the US promoting Africa in every possible positive way. We need to educate the world about Africa. I believe that we really need to continue to support each other as Africans and not as individual nations, but as one whole entity.

AM: What do you see in the future for Africa? Imat: Africa, wow. what cannot be seen? Africans regardless of who they are in life,

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are doing things, building international organizations, empires companies and business. Educators, scholars, Nobel peace prize winners, Presidents, Doctors, Lawyers, the works. I see Africans and Africa moving forward in all facets of life on an International scale.

AM: Tell us, what is the craziest thing you ever done? Imat: Thinking that the performing arts was just a dream and that I would get a regular job and settle down.

AM: How do you stay in touch with Africa? How often do you visit Africa?

Imat: On a personal note, I am constantly in touch with Africa as my elder brother and the majority of my family still reside in Uganda. I am always watching the latest music videos, I have a huge collection of African movies. I am on the net reading the latest online newspapers and magazines.

AM: When was the last time you visited Africa?

Imat: It is overdue. The last time I was in Africa was 2004. Unfortunately because of the war in Northern Uganda, it has been difficult for my family to return on a regular basis as we no longer can return to our

Father’s ancestral home as it is no longer safe and everyone has been forced to move to the city of Lira. It is also difficult to enter that part of the country with army/ road-blocks and curfews.

AM: You travel a lot. Can you tell us some places where you’ve been and what is your favourite vacation location?

Imat: I love to travel! To begin with, my favourite place will always be home – Lira and Icheme –Uganda. But, my second most favourite place in the world is Seychelles. I just love it, beautiful coastline and beaches, great fresh food, kind people. It’s just amazing. A few of the places I have been including lived in Africa: Ethiopia, Swaziland, Uganda, Kenya, Seychelles, Australia, The United States and the South Pacific.

AM: Any words of wisdom for all our aspiring performing artists out there?

Imat: Yes. Please don’t give up hope if you truly believe that this is your calling. Just keep working at it, don’t let others hold you back. Don’t listen to those people telling you there is no way. You make your way. Only let those know your true

passions and goals who you would trust with your life and who you know will help to encourage and inspire you especially on the days when you are in your valleys. Always remember that not everyone is a friend especially when Change is involved. I know because I am on the daily grind and although I am not there yet but I will continue to keep moving towards my goal.

AM: Any last words?

Imat: Remember that we are all a work in progress. Love and respect everyone. Always remain humble and give back because you and I are here not by our own admissions but because someone prayed, believed, fought and worked hard for us to be standing here today. Because of them you are a somebody, an irreplaceable, valuable person. So, hold your head high. In closing always remember above all that nothing is impossible and everything is possible with God. Just look at people who have made it against all odds. As always I end with my signature motto – “God Bless and Keep Moving”. Thank you Imat for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you plenty of success and wisdom in your career.

“Remember that we are all a work in progress. Love and respect everyone. Always remain humble and give back because you and I are here not by our own admissions but because someone prayed, believed, fought and worked hard for us to be standing here today. Because of them you are a somebody, an irreplaceable, valuable person. So, hold your head high.” - Imat 44

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“We need to have one aim, one cause to restore the mighty Africa and empower our youth, making a way for our future generations of Africa.”

— Imat.

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1 0 1 A C I R

AF

BURKINA FASO

Geography

Area: 274,200 sq. km. (106,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Colorado. Cities: Capital--Ouagadougou (pop. 1 million). Other cities--Bobo-Dioulasso (410,000), Koudougou (83,000). Terrain: Savanna; brushy plains and scattered hills. Climate: Sahelian; pronounced wet and dry seasons. Population Nationality: Noun and adjective--Burkinabe (accent on last e). Population (2006): 14.4 million. Annual growth rate (2005): 2.53%. Ethnic groups: 63 ethnic groups among which are Mossi (almost half of the total population), Bobo, Mande, Lobi, Fulani, Gourounsi, and Senufo. Religions: Traditional beliefs 20%, Muslim 55%, Christian 25%. Languages: French (official), Moore, Dioula, others. Education: Literacy (2003)--26.6%. Health: Infant mortality rate (2005)-95.57/1,000. Life expectancy (2003)--48.45 years. Work force: Agriculture--90%; industry--2.1%; commerce, services, and government--5.5%.

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Government Type: Republic. Independence: August 5, 1960. Constitution: June 11, 1991. Branches: Executive--president (head of state) prime minister (head of government). Legislative--one chamber. Judiciary-independent. Subdivisions: 13 regions, 45 provinces, 350 departments. Political parties: Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), Alliance for Democracy Federation/ African Democratic Assembly (ADF/RDA), Party for Democracy and Progress/ Socialist Party (PDP/PS), National Union for Democracy and Development (UNDD), and numerous other small opposition parties. Suffrage: Direct universal. Central government budget (2004): $540 million. Defense: 5.5% of government budget.

History

Until the end of the 19th century, the history of Burkina Faso was dominated by the empire-building Mossi. The French arrived and claimed the area in 1896, but Mossi resistance ended only with the capture of their capital Ouagadougou in 1901. The colony of Upper Volta was established in 1919, but it was dismembered and

reconstituted several times until the present borders were recognized in 1947. The French administered the area indirectly through Mossi authorities until independence was achieved on August 5, 1960. The first President, Maurice Yameogo, amended the constitution soon after taking office to ban opposition political parties. His government lasted until 1966, when the first of several military coups placed Lt. Col. Sangoule Lamizana at the head of a government of senior army officers. Lamizana remained in power throughout the 1970s, as President of military and then elected governments. With the support of unions and civil groups, Col. Saye Zerbo overthrew President Lamizana in 1980. Colonel Zerbo also encountered resistance from trade unions and was overthrown 2 years later by Maj. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo and the Council of Popular Salvation (CSP). Factional infighting developed between moderates in the CSP and radicals led by Capt. Thomas Sankara, who was appointed Prime Minister in January 1983, but was subsequently arrested. Efforts to bring about his release, directed by Capt. Blaise Compaore, resulted in yet another military coup d’etat, led by Sankara and Compaore on August 4, 1983. TO SUBSCRIBE VISIT

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Sankara established the National Revolutionary Committee with himself as President and vowed to “mobilize the masses.” But the committee’s membership remained secret and was dominated by MarxistLeninist military officers. In 1984, Upper Volta changed its name to Burkina Faso, meaning “the country of honorable people.” But many of the strict security and austerity measures taken by Sankara provoked resistance. Despite his initial popularity and personal charisma, Sankara was assassinated in a coup which brought Capt. Blaise Compaore to power in October 1987. Compaore pledged to pursue the goals of the revolution but to “rectify” Sankara’s “deviations” from the original aims. In fact, Compaore reversed most of Sankara’s policies and combined the leftist party he headed with more centrist parties after the 1989 arrest and execution of two colonels who had supported Compaore and governed with him up to that point.

Government & Politics

With Compaore alone at the helm, a democratic constitution was approved by referendum in 1991. In December 1991, Compaore was elected President, running unopposed after the opposition boycotted the election. The opposition did participate in the following year’s legislative elections, in which the ruling party won a majority of seats. The government of the Fourth Republic includes a strong presidency, a prime minister, a Council of Ministers presided over by the president, a unicameral National Assembly, and the judiciary. The legislature and judiciary are nominally independent but remain susceptible to executive influence. Burkina held multiparty municipal elections in 1995, 2000, and 2006, as well as legislative elections in 1997, 2002, and 2007. Balloting was considered largely free and fair in all elections despite minor irregularities. However, the ruling party’s dominance meant that the playing field was not entirely even. The Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), the governing party, won overwhelming majorities in all the elections until the 2002 legislative election, where the CDP won with a small majority of the 111 seats. The opposition made large gains in the 2002 elections. Compaore won the November 1998 presidential election for a second 7-year term against two minor-party candidates. But within weeks of Compaore’s victory the domestic opposition took to the streets to TO SUBSCRIBE VISIT

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protest the December 13, 1998 murder of leading independent journalist Norbert Zongo, whose investigations of the death of the President’s brother’s chauffeur suggested involvement of the Compaore family. The opposition Collective Against Impunity-led by human rights activist Halidou Ouedraogo and including opposition political parties of Prof. Joseph Ki-Zerbo and (for a while) Hermann Yameogo, son of the first President--challenged Compaore and his government to bring Zongo’s murderers to justice and make political reforms. The Zongo killings still resonate in Burkina politics, though not as strongly as in the past. There has been no significant progress on the investigation of the case. Compaore was re-elected to the presidency for a 5-year term in November 2005. The current cabinet is dominated by Compaore and the CDP. Given the fragile roots of democratic institutions, constitutional checks and balances are seldom effective in practice. The constitution was amended in 2000 to limit the president to a 5-year term, renewable once, beginning with the November 2005 election. The amendment is controversial because it did not make any mention of retroactivity, meaning that President Compaore’s eligibility to present himself for the 2005 presidential election is a matter of debate. The Constitutional Court ruled in October 2005 that the amendment was not retroactive, and Compaore went on to win the November 2005 presidential election with over 80% of the vote. Most international and national electoral observers believed that the election was fair.

Burkina remains committed to the structural adjustment program it launched in 1991, and it has been one of the first beneficiaries of the World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) debtrelief and poverty reduction programs for highly indebted poor countries. At least 20% of the government budget is financed from international aid, and the majority of infrastructure investments are externally financed. Growth rates had been more than 5% from the late 1990s through 2006, but slowed in 2007 in part due to depressed world prices for cotton, Burkina Faso’s largest export. Many Burkinabe migrate to neighboring countries for work, and their remittances provide a contribution to the economy’s balance of payments that is second only to cotton as a source of foreign exchange earnings.

Economy

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $440. More than 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, with only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services. Drought, poor soil, lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure, a low literacy rate, and an economy vulnerable to external shocks are all longstanding problems. The export economy also remains subject to fluctuations in world prices.

Research Sources: The World Factbook; Center for International Research, U.S. Bureau of the Census; The Columbia Encyclopedia; The World Book Encyclopedia; Encyclopædia Britannica; U.S. State Dept., and various newspapers. Population figures are supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. http://www.state.gov JUL / AUG 2008

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