A new year, a new Amandla
Sierra Leone Elects New President Page 11
Swiss Return ‘Abacha loot’ The Last Greeks of Addis Ababa Page 12
Contact us today for the 2018 Media Kit Volume 17 Issue 4 | Global African Community Newspaper | April 15, 2018 | amandlanews.com
Ghanaian King Visits Liberian Refugees in the Former Jersey Church U.S. Facing Deportation Nana Amoatia Ofori Panin II, King of Akyem Abuakwa in the Eastern Region of Ghana paid a visit to his former home of New Jersey Saturday, April 7th. The King, who prior to his enstoolment and relocation to Ghana was a New Jersey resident and member of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, led a high-powered delegation of royalty of Akyem Abuakwa to the United States.
As President Trump announced the end of the a protected status program created for refugees of the Liberian Civil War, immigrants in New York’s “Little Liberia” are considering going underground, preparing to leave the U.S. and simply praying for a reprieve. Their experience mirrors what could happen for hundreds of thousands of other immigrants with similar legal protections.
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Future Unclear for African Migrants in Israel Uncertainty reigns for African migrants in Israel a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abandoned a plan to resolve the country’s refugee crisis, just one day after announcing it.to backyards and even roadsides. CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
Winnie MadikizelaMandela Dies at 81 South African anti-apartheid activist and former wife of the late President Nelson Mandela, has died at the age of 81. Hailed as mother of the ‘new’ South Africa, MadikizelaMandela’s legacy as an anti-apartheid heroine was undone when she was revealed to be a ruthless ideologue prepared to sacrifice laws and lives in pursuit of revolution and redress. CONTINUED ON PAGE 19
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Editorial North America The Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Amandla “Community Africa Free Trade - New Jersey Megachurch Soaries, Jr. was enstooled Nkosuohene (Chief of Development) in Kyebi, the Fetes a Mighty King News” section is now The Time is Now traditional capital of Akyem Abuakwa, KOFI AYIM with the Stool name Nana Kwadwo “North America” History was made in Kigali, Ababio. Dr. Soaries, in his capacity as In January of 2018, as Amandla entered our 17th year of publication, we began with a complete design overhaul of the newspaper. The feedback we’ve received from our readers and advertising partners has been immensely positive, accompanied with requests for distribution beyond our established regions. Thus, as Amandla prepares for our expansion into new markets, our Community News section will be rebranded “North America” starting with the April issue. Our vision for the new North America section is to bring you the stories of both success and hardships, of the struggles and triumphs experienced by African immigrants, but which often go untold outside the tight-knit pockets of African communities. We invite you to be a part of this narrative and encourage our readers to connect with Amandla to bring attention to the stories which need to be told. Towards that end, Amandla will also publish information about nonprofits and other community groups which provide invaluable aid services in the area of legal, health, employment and housing matters. Our Profile page, which will also be incorporated into the North America section, highlights the achievements of individual African immigrants who have flourished in their new home country With these incremental changes and many more to come, we trust that our readers will find Amandla as the trusted source of news and information for the African immigrant community in North America.
Publisher & Editor in Chief Kwabena Opong Deputy Publisher & Editor Kofi Ayim P. O. Box 7030 West Orange, NJ 07052 973-731-1339 / 201-704-5838 firstname.lastname@example.org Amandla is a monthly publication of the Amandla Company. It is an associate member of the New Jersey Press Association. The publishers may not necessarily share the opinions and viewpoints expressed in the articles that appear in the publication.
Rwanda on March 21, 2018 when fortyfour African countries signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement during the 10th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State summit. The goal is to create a single continental market of goods and services in Africa. The agreement, dreamed by the founding fathers of modern Africa, was long overdue. It would enhance the free flow of goods and services across the length and breadth of Africa and thus liberalize the Africa market. It’s a win-win situation for the continent of Africa. It is estimated that within four years the Pan African intratrade market could increase by about 52% from a $3 trillion free trade zone with about 1.2 billion people. Currently, it is estimated that only about 16 percent of Africa’s trade is conducted within the continent. Moreover, it is often cheaper to import goods from outside Africa. The trade pact would stem all that and facilitate trade within the continent. However, ten countries, including Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy, and South Africa, the most developed, have yet to sign. Nigeria and South Africa constitute about one-third of Africa’s gross domestic product and more than twenty percent of the continent’s total population. Coincidentally, leaders of both countries face national elections next year and are clearly treading with caution. But it is imperative that these two giants gird their loins and join with their fellow Africans sooner or later. While Nigeria says it needs more local consultations on the issue, South Africa has indicated it would come on board after legal issues are straightened out. Twenty-two countries are needed to ratify the agreement before it can be implemented, and Chad’s President Issoufou Mahamadou, who has been a staunch advocate, hopes the ratification process can be accomplished by January 2019. Amandla believes this is the opportune time for African leaders to muster courage and sit on the same negotiating table on equal terms with global economic powers. We hope AfCFTA will learn from and draw on the experiences of ECOWAS, the EU, NAFTA, and others and fine-tune this historic agreement. The number of countries that signed the agreement speaks volumes about the determination of Africa to move its people out of the poverty and economic doldrums it has found itself trapped in for centuries. Good luck Africa!
Photography E. OBIRI ADDO
History was made April 7, 2018 when the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey hosted a mini-durbar for the Okyenhene, King of Akyem Abuakwa in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The King, Nana Amoatia Ofori Panin II, who prior to his enstoolment and relocation to Ghana was a New Jersey resident and member of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, led a high-powered delegation of royalty of Akyem Abuakwa to the U.S. In a brief introductory remark, the leader of the Church, the Reverend Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. reminded the capacity-filled audience that, even though Africans were brought to the U.S. as slaves in the early 1600s, the forces of negativity could not destroy the cord that ties Africa-Americans to the motherland. “I don’t need a DNA because I have a home in Akyem Abuakwa,” the affable Dr. Soaries added.
Chief of Development, is spearheading efforts to build a mega resource center near Okyenhene’s Palace – Ofori Panin’s Fie – in Kyebi After the languages of the Seseben (Telling horns) and Atumpan (Talking drums), the Okyenhene, who is also the President of the Eastern Region House of Traditional Rulers in Ghana, pointed out that the tenets of love were inculcated in him while a member of the First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens. He implied that he found courage in the leadership of Dr. Soaries and contrasted that to the current political leadership of his country Ghana. Paraphrasing Denzel Washington, the king said that making a living and being productive in contemporary life in itself is not enough, but rather, making a productive difference in someone else’s life is what really matters. He philosophized that “children should go to bed and dream like children.” The King urged investors to come to Ghana for investments. “Partner us for viable ventures with
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North America your capital and experience to transform lives, instead of handouts,” he urged. The royal delegation from Ghana included Daasebre Boama Darko, Adontenhene (Main or Central Command in War formation of yesteryear) and others. Present were H.E. Adjei Bawuah, Ghana’s Ambassador to the U.S.; H.E. Abena Busia, Ghana’s Ambassador to Brazil; H.E. Dr. Hassana Alidou, Niger’s Ambassador to the U.S.; Professor Samuel Amoako, Ghana’s Consul General, New York City; Dr. Ousseina Alidou, Professor, Rutgers University; Distinguished Professor Dr. Cheryl Wall, Rutgers University; Dr. Leonard Jefferies (aka Nana Kwaku Dua Agyeman II), a community icon and Development Chief of Agogo, Ghana; Professor Kofi Asare Opoku, ace traditionalist and walking encyclopedia of Akan culture; Dr. E. Obiri Addo, Associate Professor of Religion and African Studies, Drew University, Madison, NJ; as well as members of the Ghanaian community and civic and religious leaders. Cultural drumming and dancing were provided by the professional Adamfo Cultural Ensemble of Syracuse, New York.
Okyenhene (seated middle), with the Adontenhene, extreme left and Nkosuohene extreme right CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Dancers from Adamfo Cultural Ensemble of Syracuse, N.Y. Onlookers and well-wishers at the event. Gift presnetation to the king Okyenhene addresses the crowd. Nana Kwadwo Ababio (Rev. Dr. Soaries)
April 15, 2018
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
North America In New York’s ‘Little Liberia,’ Immigrants Get Ready to Leave — or Go Underground NINA AGRAWAL
At 67, Rose Knuckles Bull has had enough. The onetime government administrator and Liberian refugee says she put in her time working, paid her taxes and now just wants to go home. Bit by bit, she is packing her things and saving up for a container to ship everything back to Careysburg. That’s not an option for Prince. The 52-year-old has a teenage daughter in school here and nothing to return to in Unification Town. As for 50-year-old Alexander Morris? The clergyman from Monrovia is leaving his fate to God. Across America, time is running out for thousands of Liberians who came here in the face of a grinding civil war, staggering poverty and disease. Some have already lost their legal status to be here. For others, their protected status will expire in less than a year. But for all, there’s an inescapable reality — those who have made a life in the U.S. now must decide whether to return to a country they haven’t known for years, or stay put and live life on the margins, risking deportation. Temporary protected status, or TPS, the legal designation that allows immigrants from countries affected by war or natural disaster to work and live in the U.S., expired for Liberian immigrants last May. Another form of discretionary relief known as deferred enforced departure, offered to Liberians who arrived in the 1990s and early 2000s, was set to run out last month but President Trump gave those Liberians one final year to “wind down” their lives in America. Some hold out hope that Congress will intervene on behalf of the nearly 90,000 Liberians the Census Bureau estimates are in the U.S., many of whom are concentrated in the Northeast and East Coast, from Minnesota to New York. On Staten Island, New York City’s smallest and whitest borough — and the only one that voted for Trump — Liberians are clustered in a few brick apartment buildings along Park Hill Avenue. The area, next to the island’s northeastern shore, was once plagued by violent crime and drugs, but is today a mostly peaceful, tightknit community shared
Liberian immigrant Rose Knuckles Bull has been living and working in the United States since 1999, when she left her country because of war.
with immigrants from other West African nations. “Liberians on Staten Island are at the front lines of the Trump administration’s attack on immigrants,” said Javier Valdes, co-executive director of the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York. “This community is … experiencing the pain that will strike roughly 300,000 TPS holders from other countries very soon if
Congress fails to act.” In one building full of Liberians, nicknamed the “executive mansion” after the presidential home in Liberia, an elderly woman cooks lunch each day for anyone who needs a meal. On Sunday mornings, women wearing tall head wraps and bright dresses with geometric prints fill the pews of evangelical churches. People take one another food from the local pantry.
Alexander Morris, a clergyman from Monrovia, Liberia, is leaving his fate to God.
They don’t inquire about legal status. Bull arrived in the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in 1999. She had been in the country before, in the 1970s, when she studied sociology at Susquehanna University and earned a master’s degree in education at Howard University. Back in Liberia she worked for the Ministry of Education and administered the government’s civil service exam. But when the country devolved into civil war, she f led with her children, living as a refugee in the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria. Shortly after Bull came to the U.S., then-President Clinton granted Liberians a form of deportation relief and work authorization known as deferred enforced departure.
Since then, Bull has lived and legally worked in New York through various renewals of that program and of TPS. She did temp work, worked as a substitute teacher and eventually got a full-time clerical job with the city. Through it all, she paid taxes and sent money back home to help put her four children through college. Two of them now live in the U.S. In 2013, Bull retired and began collecting Social Security, a benefit she is legally entitled to as long as her status doesn’t change. But when deferred enforced departure ends, so will her monthly payments. As the original March 31 expiration date loomed, Bull began preparing for her departure, slowly packing clothes, bedding and
even furniture to take back home. She said she wants to return to Careysburg, about 20 miles northeast of Monrovia, the country’s capital, to see her 93-year-old mother and to help rebuild her country. She has plans to open a home for seniors. Mostly, though, she’s tired of trying to carve out a full life in America. “I have outgrown the stress of this,” Bull said. “I have never used my skills here. I just decided I would be more helpful to my people back home.” Liberia and the U.S. have a long, intertwined history, going back to the early 1800s, when Liberia was settled by freed American slaves. The country, whose f lag bears a strong resemblance to Old Glory, became independent in 1847. In 1926, Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. began operating in Liberia under a 99-year, 1 millionacre land concession that dramatically expanded U.S. inf luence. Firestone supplied rubber for the Allied powers during World War II and later cooperated with warlord Charles Taylor during the civil war of the 1990s. The Liberian migration to the U.S. began with the civil war, which dragged on for 14 years and killed more than 200,000 people, and f lared again with the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Some who f led were admitted and settled in the U.S. as refugees. Others received temporary protected status, first designated in 1991 and later renewed and redesignated several times. Returning to Liberia is out of the question for some. Still recovering from the legacy of conf lict and Ebola, the country has a weak economy, poor infrastructure and limited healthcare. “For the most part if it were feasible for people to return, people would have returned,” said Amaha Kassa, executive director of African Communities Together, a New York-based nonprofit that supports African immigrants. “People are saying, ‘Unless I’m deported, I’m going to remain as long as I’m able.’” Kassa is working with other advocates and policymakers to ensure that Liberians are included in any immigration deal that Congress considers. Critics of TPS say the program was always meant to provide only temporary emergency relief, not a long-term path to residency. But that’s precisely what Prince, who asked only to be identified by
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North America his first name for fear of being deported, is hoping for. He came to the U.S. in 2013 and was granted TPS in 2014. He underwent back surgery for a ruptured disc and worries he cannot get adequate care in Liberia. His daughter, whom he described as an “A” student who dreams of becoming a doctor, is about to graduate high school. “The situation back home is so bad … we can never go back,” Prince said. “If she goes she will not have the same opportunities.” Since losing their status last year, Prince and his daughter have quietly continued to go about their lives. He works off the books as a private security guard and avoids going out in public. “Every day I think we could be picked up any time,” Prince said. “I don’t socialize. I work, I go home. I tell my daughter, ‘From school, come straight home. Don’t go nowhere.’”
to services or the grocery store and risk encountering a police officer. “For a lot of people the refuge is the church,” Gray-Brumskine said. Morris is one of them. He came to the U.S. about six years ago to study with the Bethel Church. He worked two jobs — a park maintenance worker by day and a home health aide by night. On weekends he led prayer services, earning a stipend from church donations. Now that stipend is all Morris can count on. He lost his jobs when TPS ended. “What I really miss is the people I worked with … work mates, patients. I miss the companionship and being able to help,” he said. Morris usually takes home about $500 a month from the church, just enough to pay rent on the basement apartment he hopes his wife and three children, who are still in Monrovia, may one day call home. He gets by doing odd jobs
Dr. Uchenna Ekwo is President at the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, New York- a media and policy think tank in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council and also affiliated with Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. Ekwo is a journalist by training, a mediator by temperament, and a teacher by choice. Dr. Ekwo worked as a political journalist in Nigeria for a combined period of 18 years in Daily Star Dr. Uchenna Ekwo, Ph.D. Newspapers, Radio Nigeria, and Africa democratic reforms ahead of lifting of the 20 -year old economic sanctions by Independent Television. He was also host of Medialine - a the United States Government. A public policy analyst, journalpopular television media-monitor- ing program. In the early 90’s, he was ism instructor, and media consulelected Chairman of Nigeria Union of tant, Ekwo has authored four books: Journalists, Enugu State Council. In Media and Diaspora Strategies: that capacity, he worked to protect me- Issues in Global Governance and dia freedom under the then military re- Democratic Participation; Role of Journalists in Modern Nigeria; Mass gime in the West African country. Dr. Ekwo taught at different insti- Media & Marketing Communications: tutions in Nigeria and United States in- Principles, Practices, and Perspectives; cluding the School of Public Affairs and and Reporting Conflicts - A practical Administration, Rutgers University, guide to journalists in addition to radio Newark, New Jersey where he cur- commentaries, and many newspaper rently co-chairs the Gershowitz Annual and journal articles. Dr. Ekwo is a recipient of numerConference on Media and Democratic ous awards including Ambassador for Governance for the past six years. His research interests include me- Peace by the Universal Peace Federation dia convergence, comparative media based in the US and a nomination for systems, and Africa’s political economy. the 2017 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize A frequent speaker at international for his contributions towards “building conferences, Ekwo was invited in 2012 inclusive and socially just communities to address the Pan African Parliament in the United States. Dr. Ekwo believes in South Africa on Communication journalism is about passion not necesStrategies for Peace and Development sarily money. in Africa. He has also worked with several Nominate an individual for a African governments, policymakers, Profile in Amandla and organizations to encourage socioIn Staten Island, the area near Targee Street and Sobel Court is a main shopping spot for political reforms in the continent. Contact Liberians and others from West Africa. Early last year, he was among the Kofi Ayim As Prince spoke, standing for other Liberians, helping some- team of journalists and policy analysts Deputy Publisher & Editor near an empty lot where in warm- one move, for example, or cleaning from the United States to visit Sudan email@example.com er weather vendors sell dried fish an apartment. He refuses to go to to assess the country’s compliance with and fufu at an outdoor market, the the local food pantry — or go into streets around him were empty. One hiding. man, an immigrant from Guinea On a recent Sunday morning whose temporary status also expired the gray-haired deacon, dressed in last year, sat in his car watching for a collared shirt and neatly pressed police and immigration officers, slacks, paced back and forth at the ready to alert his neighbors and front of the Bethel Worship Center, friends at the first sign. delivering rapid-fire prayers. During “People are hiding,” said the service, a boisterous affair with Jennifer Gray-Brumskine, a commu- loud music and dancing, he minnity organizer with Make the Road gled with congregants in the aisle, New York who is Liberian and lives shaking a saasaa for percussion and on Staten Island. “They’re always in swaying his hips, his eyes closed. a hurry, just going to work or go- “You’ve just got to make youring to the store and staying out of self joyful,” Morris said. “Which one trouble.” of us by worrying can add anything On Sundays, some churches to our situation?” firstname.lastname@example.org provide van transportation and meals so people don’t have to walk Los Angeles Times
How do you reach African immigrants? Advertise with us.
April 15, 2018
New Community Corporation Expands in Leaps and Bounds KOFI AYIM
The New Community Corporation (NCC), a Newark, NJ-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has been growing exponentially for the past several years. Established by Father William J. Linder, a priest at the quondam Queens of Angels Parish, after the Newark Riots of 1968, the New Community Corporation built its first 120 housing units on South Orange Avenue, Newark, for lower-income families. Today, it boasts eleven housing properties in Essex and Hudson Counties of New Jersey with 2,000 units for lowand moderate-income families as well as for senior citizens and the disabled. Most units are subsidized by the Section 8 program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In an interview with Amandla, Mr. Richard Rohrman, Chief Executive Officer of the 50-year old non-profit corporation, said NCC has about 5,000 residents with 102 Harmony Housing units for homeless families in transition and about 150 children in an on-site early childhood development center. The transitional homeless people are enrolled in one of numerous workforce development programs in order to help them overcome their debacle and gradually integrate into mainstream America. It also turns out about 1,000 adult education learners in basic computer skills, English as a second language, and path to U.S. citizenship per year. NCC has about 500 employees in its New Jersey facilities. Mr. Rohrman said the NCC flagship workforce development and related programs include automotive technician, artisans in building trades, the culinary arts, and allied health of various types, among others. The year-long automotive technician program is supported by Ford Motor Company. In its collaborative efforts, NCC also partners with Wakefern Corp, operators of ShopRite, to train store associates. According to the CEO, at any given time, there are about 200 people in
Patient Care Technicians (PCT) trainees receive instruction at NCC
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North America “Private Sector is the Engine of Growth”– Ghana’s Consul General AMANDLA STAFF WRITER
CEO of New Community Corporation, Richard Rohrman
workforce development training with a 70% placement rate after training. Mr. Rohrman pointed out that the New Community Workforce Development Center was recently accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education, a non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. He quickly added that all workforce programs and other entities of NCC are open to the public and relatively affordable. A cutting-edge 180-bed capacity extended care facility for the needy, a Federal Credit Union, as well as a Family Service Bureau for substance abuse counseling and mental health are also run by NCC. Saint Joseph Plaza at 233 West Market Street in Newark is a resource center that can accommodate about 300 patrons for events ranging from wedding to private functions. Jazz performance is a staple at the Plaza Friday nights. Today, Monsignor William J. Linder’s mission, “to help residents of inner cities improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement,” is being realized under the roof of one of the largest multi-faceted non-profit organization in the U.S. – the New Community Corporation.
Ghana’s Consul General in New York City, Professor Samuel Amoako, has assured businesspeople the world over of his government’s readiness and willingness to welcome genuine investors in Ghana. He said the Ghanaian government places emphasis on the private sector as the engine of growth, but more importantly on value addition to the nation’s agricultural and natural resources. The quondam City College professor made this pronouncement March 20, at a forum of the World Affairs Council of Connecticut (CTWAC), held at the Golf Club of West Hartford, Connecticut. The forum was attended by invited business leaders and Investors from the state of Connecticut, and consul generals of some countries in the U.S. The Consul General highlighted the abundance and untapped natural resources of Ghana that await potential investors. He pointed out that Ghana’s political and economic climate is right for investors, adding, “Ghana is the most peaceful country in Africa with impeccable democratic credentials, and the best investment destination in West Africa if not the whole of Africa. A fertile, conducive atmosphere for accelerated development growth has been created by the government, and you are all invited to come and invest.” The community-prone Consul General added that Ghana would not necessarily shun outside help but will not accept any help that comes with strings attached to it. “We want to develop Ghana beyond aid.” The forum was a platform created to enable consul generals, honorary
Ghana’s Consul General Professor (Emeritus) Samuel Amoako
consuls, and trade representatives of selected countries to have business interaction and engagement between the business community and the various consulates of the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Incidentally, Ghana was the only African country invited to the meeting. Other countries invited included Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, and Romania. The World Affairs Council of Connecticut, established in 1924, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan independent organization. It hosts programs and discussions on critical international issues that impact on local communities and the world at large. The Council is part of the World Affairs Council of America.
For more information about programs offered by New Community Corporation visit: http://www.newcommunity.org/services/
Automotive technicians in training at NCC
Ghana’s Consul General Professor (Emeritus) Samuel Amoako & Mr. David Gustafson of the Gustafson Agencies, member of the World Affairs Council, Connecticut
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April 15, 2018
North America “Bring Your Investment to Ghana” – Samira Bawumia KOFI AYIM
In her keynote address at the 2018 NPP-USA Congress, the Second Lady of Ghana, H.E. Samira Bawumia, has asked Ghanaians and their U.S. business partners to bring their investments to Ghana because the government is poised to move with supersonic speed in a massive infrastructure building program across the length and breadth of the country. She intimated that, if President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said he was in a hurry to fix Ghana’s dilapidated economy in the first year of his government, he is wont to move with lightning speed in his second year to bring to fruition the campaign promises that the governing NPP made to the electorate. Ghana’s Second Lady made this remark in a keynote address at the New Patriotic Party (NPP-USA) National Congress held in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 17, 2018, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Buckhead. She acknowledged the herculean role played by the foreign branches of the NPP – especially the USA – in
helping to win the historic general elections of December 2016. She reiterated the President’s vision of building Ghana out of its own resources and repositioning it in the global contextual market for the benefit of its citizens. According to Hajia Samira Bawumia, the government moved quickly and embarked upon a strategic paradigm shift in order to create and/ or facilitate some basic socio-economic policies from which would spring a healthy economy in the near future. She enumerated several of these programs and projects either already up and running or that would soon see the light of day. These include, but are not limited to: free senior high school; restoration of nursing and teacher training allowances; a national digital address system; reconstruction, revitalization, and rehabilitation of the railway network system; revival of the once-comatose National Health Insurance Scheme; ending the erratic power supply; reduced taxes; digitized drivers’ license; One District, One Factory; One Village, One Dam, and several others. “Today, the World Bank has declared Ghana the fastest growing economy in Africa because we are fixing the economy,” she quickly added. She said the NPP government is conversant with the hard work and
Delegates at the New Patriotic Party - USA Congress, held in Atlanta, Georgia on March 17, 2018.
Second Lady of Ghana, H. E. Samira Bawumia giving the keynote address at the the 2018 NPP-USA National Congress in Atlanta, Georgia
expertise of Ghanaians in the diaspora, hence the infusion of several of them into decision and policy making positions. The NPP-USA Congress elected Mrs Obaa Yaa Frimpong, Chairperson; Dr. Tina Abrefa Gyan, Vice Chairperson; Mr. Augustine Agbenaza (unopposed) General Secretary; and Mr. Emmanuel Kwame Darko, Treasurer, to a four-year term. Present at the event were Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister for Special Development Initiative; Hon. Charles Owiredu, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs; Hon. Henry Quartey, Deputy Minister for Interior; Professor
(Emeritus) Samuel Amoako, Ghana’s Consul General, New York City; Mr. Sammy Awuku, NPP National Youth Organizer; Gabby Otchere Darko, Esq.; Mr. Eric Nana Agyeman Prempeh, Director, NADMO; Mr. Abubakar Ramadan, Deputy Director, NADMO; Mr. Hassan Tampuli, Chief Executive, National Petroleum Authority; Mr. Michael Okyere Baafi, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Free Zones Board; Edward Osei, Esq., Director of Tema Port; Dr. Agnes Adu, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Trade Fair; Dr. Agyenim Boateng and Mr. Mohammed Idris, Founding Members of NPP-USA, and other dignitaries.
NPP-USA Executives: From left: Mrs Obaa Yaa Frimpong, Chairperson; Dr. Tina Abrefa Gyan, Vice Chairperson; Mr. Augustine Agbenaza General Secretary; and Mr. Emmanuel Kwame Darko, Treasurer
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Volume 17 Issue 4
April 15, 2018
Israel’s Migrant Problem: It’s Not Just About Africans DANA KENNEDY
Sitting in a dingy café in the crimeridden, run-down neighborhood of Neve Sha’anan, a 38-year-old Eritrean named Abraham Hailemicheal said he was “devastated” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flipflopping plans to deport thousands of African asylum seekers like himself out of the country. Last Monday, Netanyahu announced a deal with the United Nations to resettle half of the African migrants in Israel to western countries. But that was followed by an abrupt and embarrassing reversal a few hours later. The move was widely seen as Netanyahu caving in to the hardline members of his Likud party who call the African migrants “infiltrators.” Netanyahu’s “zigzagging,” as Israeli media termed it, came after he also decided against an earlier plan to ship the Africans to Uganda and Rwanda. Now, no one knows what will happen to them. The cancellation of the UN deal means they’ve been left undocumented with no clear solution. They face bias and racism here where they’ve been branded as criminals and rapists. “If Netanyahu only knew, we’d rather be in our own country,” Hailemicheal said. “It’s unbearable for us here and we’ll never be accepted. But we have no choice. We love our country but we have a very bad government and we’ll be killed if we go back. Now we have to worry about what they’ll do to us here.” Tessfay Grmatsion, 26, a migrant from Chamboko, Eritrea, sat near the sprawling Central Bus Station in Neve Sha’anan drinking a Carlsberg beer with some other Eritrean men, many whom do odd jobs like janitor work and gardening when they can. The imposing skyline of Tel Aviv and the city’s hipster cafes and sandy beaches are just blocks away, but they might as well be on another planet. “We’re all suffering,” Grmatsion said. “There’s a lot of stress and depression and Netanyahu is making it worse changing his mind all the time. I have no problem with the Israeli people but I do have a problem with the Israeli government. They treat us badly because we’re black.” Hailemicheal and Grmatsion are two of an estimated 60,000 Eritreans and Sudanese who slipped into southern Israel from the Sinai Desert in Egypt between 2006 and 2012, before the border was sealed. The majority of them settled in the already crowded, South-Bronxlike ghettos of southern Tel Aviv. Like
Asylum seekers protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on Feb. 24, 2018
many other young men from Eritrea, Hailemicheal and Grmatsion fled a brutal dictatorship that requires everyone to join the military at age 18 in what amounts to indefinite forced labor. They hoped to find work and a better life in Israel.
“Everything north of here is the White City, everything to the south is the Black City.” — Refugee supporter Yoram Blumenkrantz
Instead they have found themselves pawns in a complicated battle between Israel’s right and left wing political parties and long-simmering caste tensions between different Jewish groups. Demonstrations against Netanyahu’s deportation plans have been taking place all across Israel on and off since at least 2013 although, according to polls, two-thirds of Israelis support the deportations. Some of the loudest and most unusual support for the African migrants has come from what some activists here term Jewish “people of color,” meaning to them the Mizrahi, many of whom live in south Tel Aviv and feel a certain kinship with the refugees. What’s complicated is that these activists are pitted against many of their Mizrahi neighbors who are longtime Netanyahu supporters and are, according to local American-Israeli blogger Matt Adler, “somewhere to the right of Archie Bunker.”
But the pro-migrant Mizrahi voices are well-organized and media savvy. “We call Tel Aviv the White and Black City,” said local artist and refugee supporter Yoram Blumenkrantz, 50, while sipping a cappuccino Wednesday on Rothschild Boulevard, the booming main drag. “Rothschild Boulevard is the dividing line. Everything north of here is the White City, everything to the south is the Black City. The white Jews live in the White City with all privileges and Jews of color live in the south with much less.” Though the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are most often portrayed as the victims of Israeli aggression on the world stage, some Mizrahi Jews in south Tel Aviv say they are in fact “the other” in a country founded on the idea
that no Jew would ever be an “other” here. The Mizrahi is a catch-all name assigned to non-European Jews who emigrated to Israel in the 1950s and ’60s from Northern Africa and the Middle East. They came well after the Ashkenazi, or European Jews, the founding elites of the state of Israel, who were the primary immigrants here from 1919 to 1948 and retain much of the establishment power. Some of the Mizrahi in southern Tel Aviv fear that if the migrants are deported, they could be pushed out next as property developers have already targeted the area for gentrification. Housing prices are astronomical in central Tel Aviv where a two-bedroom apartment CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Feature ISRAEL’S MIGRANT PROBLEM CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7 in a high-rise can go for as much as $4 million. “They’re already pushing in and trying to take over,” Blumenkrantz said. “Make no mistake. This is not just about racism. It’s about real estate and racism.” One of the founders of south Tel Aviv’s campaign against the deportations is the fiery Mizrahi artist and feminist Shula Keshet, 54, who grew up in south Tel Aviv and still lives there. Her family originally comes from Iran. Keshet’s activism in south Tel Aviv dates back to 1989. “We are like members of any other community of color in the West,” Keshet told The Daily Beast. “We’re at the mercy of the racist white male, in our case the Ashkenazi white male who has controlled the country since the beginning and sees us as primitive, uneducated and inferior. The racism I felt as a little Mizrahi girl growing up here is the same racism I feel today. The way they looked at us is how they look at the Africans they want to deport.” Keshet and her group have faced off in the streets of south Tel Aviv with neighbors like Shaffi Paz, 65, an Ashkenazi lesbian and former leftwinger who now leads the Central Bus Station Neighborhood Watch group in favor of shipping the African migrants out of Israel, and Anat Perez, 54, a longtime resident and key member of the group.
“They should go. The problem is, they’re not Jewish. It’s nothing personal. This is a Jewish state and it should stay that way.” — Joseph Begna, 42, an Ethiopian Jew who came to Israel as a child
son of a Mizrahi mother from what is now Iran and Ashkenazi father from Poland. His “white” father, oddly enough, remains in the “black city” while Blumenkrantz has moved over to the “white city.” “The story of Israel has become the story of the Holocaust and sometimes that gives us too much of a pass,” Blumenkrantz said. “That’s because Israel was started by European Jews.
Some of us have a different story. My mother and her family grew up in Persia with a longing just to get back to Jerusalem. They managed it in 1933 and what a triumph. But those stories aren’t as well known. I understand why, but sometimes it’s good to remember we aren’t all just victims and we don’t have the right to victimize others. The Africans should be allowed to stay.” Daily Beast
k id ne ya
1984 which involved spiriting out the Falasha, the black-skinned Ethiopian Jews who were discovered by European explorers in the 19th century. Belete told The Daily Beast he grew up being called “kushi,” a pejorative Hebrew word for a black person. As a child and teenager Belete said he went to segregated schools. He said he and other black Jews were severely bullied while serving in the Israeli army. “Now they’re okay though,” he said Wednesday. “The country is a lot less racist. I’m happy that we were able to come here.” The current period of violence in Mali has emerged partly as a result of the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in neighbouring Libya in 2011. Seasoned Tuareg fighters returned to Mali, along with seized Libyan arms and equipment. The Tuareg uprising in 2012 was then used by extremists as an Joseph Begna, 42, an Ethiopian Jew who came to Israel as a child said he did not feel much racism growing up. As a teenager he said he worked as a gardener for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who, he said, took an interest in him and helped him. Begna, who moved to Alberta, Canada years ago but returns often to lead tours of Israel, said he is in favor of deporting the African migrants. “They should go,” he said. “The problem is, they’re not Jewish. It’s nothing personal. This is a Jewish state and it should stay that way.” But David Sheen, an independent Canadian-Israeli journalist who specializes in writing about racial tension and religious extremism in Israel said it’s in “no one’s economic interest to kick the Africans out.” “The hatred is government-sponsored and incited,” Sheen said. “It comes from a tiny minority of people.” Yoram Blumenkrantz agreed. He said he grew up in south Tel Aviv when it was all “gardens and fruit trees,” the
“We’re not violent or racist, it comes from a place of pain and distress,” Perez told the Times of Israel. “They call us Nazis and compare the deportations to the Holocaust but we just wanted to live our lives in quiet before the Eritreans came.” Some Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews in south Tel Aviv see both sides of the issue—despite enduring such recent indignities as hearing one of the country’s chief rabbis, Yitzhak Yosef, refer to black people as “monkeys” in a sermon last month. Avi Belete, 43, crossed over to Sudan from Ethiopia with his Jewish family when he was about nine. They were then airlifted to Israel as part of the risky and dramatic Operation Moses in
Asylum seekers protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on Feb. 24, 2018
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Volume 17 Issue 1 4
April 15, 2018
Mali Mass Grave Victims Were in Military Custody, Claims Amnesty International RUTH MACLEAN
A mass grave has been found in central Mali, amid a deteriorating security situation marked by bombings and abductions by armed groups, and unlawful killings by the military, according to Amnesty International. The six bodies found in the grave were of people arrested several days earlier by the military, residents of the village of Dogo told the human rights group. Searching for the missing group, villagers said they discovered thee bodies buried and blindfolded. Sixty-five people have died in bombings since the beginning of the year and the increasing number of attacks by armed groups, including Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM), have left over 200,000 children out of education as schools have closed. The current period of violence in Mali has emerged partly as a result of the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi in neighbouring Libya in 2011. Seasoned Tuareg fighters returned to Mali, along with seized Libyan arms and equipment. The Tuareg uprising in 2012 was then used by extremists as an opportunity to take over towns and impose sharia law. Although the Malian military, backed by France, routed jihadists
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Finally Has a New President YOMI KAZEEM
Nearly a month after first going to the polls, Sierra Leoneans have elected a new president. Julius Maada Bio, the main opposition candidate, has been declared winner of the March 31 presidential run-off. The run-off came after no candidate secured the required 55% of votes in the first round of voting on March 7. Maada Bio, who briefly led Sierra Leone as a military head of state in 1996, won 51.8% of valid votes cast to secure his first term as a civilian president. He takes over from Ernest Bai Koroma, who served two five-year terms as leader.
Malian armed forces on patrol in central Mali, 50 miles east of Timbuktu.
from towns in 2013, the state still has no control over parts of central and northern Mali. A presidential election is planned for July, though it is unclear how the government expects to organise this amid the growing insecurity. Hopes are high for the new military force, the G5 Sahel, a joint effort involving troops from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad which is funded mostly by Saudi Arabia and the European Union. But those countries are each grappling with problems that will make building an effective regional force challenging, especially when the area it covers is enormous and lacks infrastructure. Operation Barkhane, a regional counter-terrorism force
made up of several thousand welltrained French troops based in the Sahel, has struggled. Meanwhile, the region’s UN peacekeeping mission, known as the world’s most dangerous, is limited in terms of the terrain it can control. In Timbuktu, peacekeepers patrol the streets, maintaining enough calm that occasional concerts can be staged – as long as they finish in time for the evening curfew. But outside the city, armed groups come and go as they please. On Wednesday, a man suspected of war crimes in Timbuktu is scheduled to appear before the international criminal court at The Hague, after Malian authorities surrendered him at the weekend.
Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was allegedly the Islamic police chief of the JNIM’s predecessor Ansar Dine when the jihadist group occupied the ancient Malian city in 2012. Al Hassan is accused of destroying Timbuktu’s ancient mausoleums, but also of torture and sexual slavery. It is unclear why he could not have been tried in Mali. The 2016 conviction of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi for destroying cultural heritage was hailed as historic and precedent-setting, but the ICC was also criticised for focusing on him, rather than jihadists who had meted out cruel punishments. The Guardian
Maada Bio “fast-tracked” the oath of office and was swiftly sworn in less than two hours after the results were announced yesterday. But Samura Kamara, the candidate of the erstwhile ruling party, has announced that he intends to challenge the result, saying the vote was marred by fraud. The legal threat comes after results were delayed over disputes related to the vote-counting process. In the meantime, Maada Bio will face daunting economic challenges in one of the world’s poorest countries, which has recently been ravaged by disasters. Last year, devastating mudslides in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, left more than 1,000 dead. In 2014, a major Ebola outbreak led to nearly 4,000 deaths and an estimated GDP loss of $1.4 bilSierra Leone president-elect Julius Maada Bio takes the oath of office less than two hours lion. Ghana Web after the election results were announced
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Nigeria Buhari Seeks Repatriation of Loot, Signs Agreement with Switzerland OLALEKAN ADETAYO
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the instrument of ratification of a Memorandum of Understanding among Nigeria, Switzerland and the International Development Association that will lead to the repatriation of illegally-acquired assets to Nigeria. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists. According to Adesina, the MoU will ensure the return, monitoring and management of illegally-acquired assets confiscated by Switzerland and to be returned to Nigeria. The presidential spokesman said the signing of the agreement would boost the current administration’s anti-corruption drive and also provide additional funds for the development of the nation’s critical infrastructure. He said the President also signed the instrument of ratification of
Liberia Staff at Liberia’s Biggest Newspaper Arrested DANIEL MUMBERE
Journalists and editors of Frontpage Africa were on Monday morning arrested from their offices by court sherrifs, and detained at the Civil Law Court before a lawyer secured their released on the same day. In a story written on their website, Frontpage explained that they were being harassed because of civil lawsuit for actions of damages amounting to over one million dollars. The presidential spokesman said the signing of the agreement would boost the current administration’s anti-corruption drive and also provide additional funds for the development of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The suit filed against the newspaper follows publication of an an erroneous survey advertisement published in the paper on Friday, March 16, 2018. The advertiser and the two men
the agreement between Nigeria and Singapore for the avoidance of double taxation. Adesina said the President signed he two instruments following earlier approval by the Federal Executive Council. The statement read, “Following the approval of the Federal Executive Council, President Muhammadu Buhari Monday signed two instruments namely: the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the now suing Frontpage, Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah, were both joint administrator to a piece of land. Henry A.K. Morgan and Moses T. Konah consequently sought a retraction of the advertisement, which Frontpage says it did on March 23. The retraction was however not enough, thus the suit against the advertiser and Frontpage as a a second defendant. In a statement issued by the information ministry, the government sought to clarify that it had not ordered the arrest of Frontpage’s staff. ‘‘Contrary to the erroneous claims that inundated social media platforms and other news outlets on Monday, the legal suit against the entity was one of a private nature between the FPA and Henry A.K Morgan and Moses T. Konah,’‘ read part of the statement. Frontpage however insisted that the government engineered this raid, arguing that the offending advertisement had been published in many other newspapers, yet only this newspaper was singled out by the suit. ‘‘The government’s actions today will not keep us from doing
Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Singapore for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital Gains. “The other was the Instrument of Ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding among the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Swiss Federal Council and the International Development Association on the Return, Monitoring and Management of
Illegally-Acquired Assets Confiscated by Switzerland and to be Restituted to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. “With the execution of these instruments, Nigeria’s trade relations with Singapore and income therefrom are expected to rise, while the return of illegal assets will not only boost the administration’s anti-corruption drive, but also provide additional funds for critical infrastructure.” Punch Digital
The government in Liberia has refuted allegations that it influenced the arrest of journalists of a newspaper that has recently been critical of President George Weah
our investigative work but will only strengthen us to do more.’‘ Through a statement issued on their Facebook page, Frontpage also pointed out that the information minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe is on record for having criticised the newspaper for not publishing any positive stories about the new government. Frontpage has recently published different stories critical of President Weah including his refusal to declare his assets in disregard to the Code of
Conduct and highlighting the unforeseen consequences of Liberia’s US$536 million loan secured through an undisclosed memorandum of understanding signed in Hong Kong. The press union in Liberia condemned the arrests of journalists and media workers, describing them as ‘a creeping return of the old tactics of using private citizens to intimidate and harass journalists in Liberia into self-censorship’. Africa News
Volume 17 Issue 4
April 15, 2018
Kenya Poverty Drives Some Kenyans to Rent Out Their Wives OSMAN MOHAMED OSMAN
It’s a cloudy Sunday morning in Kenya’s Kwale county and Sande Ramadan just woke up to get ready for another weekend of work. Wearing a green vest and khaki shorts, he washes his face and proceeds to the living room where his wife Janet Wambui serves him breakfast. “Thanks for waking me up, I hate being late for my client,” the dreadlocked father of three tells his wife. “She asked me to be with her until next weekend,” he adds as he sips black tea. Ramadan is a male sex worker. Wambui, his tall dark-skinned wife, works in the same industry. She came back home two nights ago after spending 10 days with a German tourist in an expensive cottage house, a few kilometres from Maweni village where the couple resides. Ramadan and Wambui have been married for 20 years now. But it wasn’t always like this. One day in 2006, Ramadan was hawking clothes to tourists along Diani Beach in Kwale town, 30km southwest of Mombasa, when a German tourist approached him. He wanted a lady to spend some time with until his holiday ended. The 37-year-old, who speaks fluent German and teaches his wife the language, promised the man he would introduce him to his sister. “My husband came home that evening and asked me if I can act as his sister and take up the offer. After a few days of deliberation, I agreed,” says Wambui, 38, sitting near Ramadan while tightening her black turban. Wambui saw how life changed for other women who entered prostitution. She was a housewife who depended on Ramadan’s income, which was too little. “Life was tough for us. My husband’s unpredictable income was not enough and when he asked me to accept, I had no choice,” she says. The family can now afford three meals a day and the children’s school fees. In Kenya’s coastal towns, such stories are not new, especially in poor neighbourhoods such as Maweni. Husbands agree to rent their wives to rich tourists, mostly from Europe, without them knowing the women are their spouses. “Why would I make another woman rich while I have a wife at home?” Ramadan said. “This was an opportunity for us to make some cash to pay our bills.”
Communities living by the coast depend mostly on tourism for their living.
Tourism reliance The East African country received more than one million tourists in 2016, according to the Kenya Tourism Board, a government corporation. This number translated into $100m earned in taxes, making Kenya one of the top tourism destinations in Africa. In 2017, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, ranked Kenya’s Diani Beach in Kwale, where Ramadan and Wambui live, the seventh-best beach in Africa.
“We have been neglected. We depend on tourism as a source of living. Since most of us do not have a constant income, my colleagues go to the extreme and give away their wives to have a good living,” said Juma, who also chairs the Diani Beach Boys Association. Kwale County’s chief tourism officer Anthony Mwamunga says the local government is training beach vendors and guides to gain skills to help them earn a decent living. He adds
“That is how I connected my wife to the Austrian man. All I wanted is my family to have a better life. But they fell in love along the way and they agreed to move to Europe,” he said. Before she left, Tobias’ wife was providing for him and their daughter. “She was our family’s breadwinner. She would bring an average of $400 every month for my daughter and me after staying with the Austrian tourist. I have been struggling since she left,” he said. Tobias hasn’t heard from his wife since, and now takes care of his daughter on his own.
Young men in tourist-dependent coastal towns say they can no longer make ends meet.
But all these accolades do not translate into success in the villages where locals survive solely on tourism. Ramadan Juma, 43, has been a beach operator for more than 20 years. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and Juma is at Diani reflecting on existence with his colleagues. “Life is becoming difficult by the day,” he said, wearing his black sunglasses to fend off the glaring sunlight. On a good day, he earns about $40 by helping out tourists navigate the blue waters of Indian Ocean. But nowadays, he complains the situation has become desperate.
there’s not much that can be done about prostitution. “These cases are from poor men and women who have nothing to do,” Mwamunga told Al Jazeera. “Tourists come here to have a good adventure and having a partner is part of it. This makes it hard for us to stop these cases.” Back at the spectacular white-sand beaches on the Indian Ocean, Tobias Juma, 42, woke up one day to find his wife had packed up and left him. In 2012, he was working for an Austrian man who asked Tobias to hook him up with a lady.
Communities along the Kenyan coast have seen a dramatic increase in HIV cases annually. The National Aids Control Council estimates that Kenya’s coastal counties reported 5,335 new HIV/ AIDS cases in 2016, surging from 325 reported in 2014. Faith Mwende is the Kenya advocacy manager for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a global non-profit creating awareness about HIV prevention. “The danger is when such women engage with more than one sexual partner, the chances of getting sexually transmitted diseases and infections are very high, especially when she doesn’t know the status of the other person,” Mwende said. Despite these dangers, Ramadan and Wambui are not about to give up on the sex trade. The rent for their house is about $80 a month, and they have three children to feed and educate. “I am doing this to have a better life. It sounds immoral, but my husband is aware and supports it. So why not?” Wambui said as she bid Ramadan goodbye. Al Jazeera News
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Ethiopia The Last Greeks of Addis Ababa ALICE MCCOOL
Treasures including a gold crown and a royal wedding dress, which were “Did you know that Ethiopia gets its name from the Greek word Aethiopia, first used by Homer?” Greek Ambassador to Ethiopia Nikolaos Patakias says proudly. Sitting in his office in the capital Addis Ababa, Patakias shows an ancient Greek romantic novel, The Aethiopica. It’s a love story about the relationship between the daughter of the queen of Ethiopia and a Greek descendant of Achilles. Also in his possession are photographs of relics from the ancient Ethiopian Kingdom of Axum. These include the famous Ezana Stone and some gold coins, both of which have ancient Greek scripture written on them. “Tradition counts for a lot in Ethiopia and Greece, we follow it by the book,” says businessman Odysseas Parris, 57, sitting in a Greek restaurant close to the ambassador’s residence. “We’re very lucky because we get to enjoy festivities from both cultures.” As he sips his frappe - Greek iced coffee - and his wife Anastasia Mitsopoulou smokes and talks expressively with friends, they are unmistakably Mediterranean. Yet Parris and Mitsopoulou are two of Addis Ababa’s second generation Ethio-Greeks. Both of Parris’ grandfathers were Greek and grandmothers Ethiopian. He, and his parents before him, were born in Ethiopia. Mitsopoulou’s story is similar, though she is also part Italian. But being part of what are arguably two of the world’s proudest and most ancient cultures isn’t always easy, says Mitsopoulou, a teacher at the Greek Community School.
Ambassador Nikolaos Patakias takes a photo on the eve of Hellenic National Day
“Neither country really accepts us as one of them. In Greece we are Ethiopians, and in Ethiopia we are Greeks,” she says with a sigh. Greek sailors and merchants began emigrating to Ethiopia in significant numbers in the late 1800s. It is likely some were refugees of the Greek Genocide, Greek Civil War, and later the military dictatorship. In its heyday, the embassy here estimates the Greek community numbered between 5,000 and 6,000 people.
Influential members of society Eleni Tsimas, 80, is at the Greek Orthodox Church in Piazza, Addis’ old Italian quarter. Although an ethnic Greek, Tsimas was born in Ethiopia to parents who ran a small business. Asked if she feels more Ethiopian or more Greek, she quickly replies, “I am Ethiopian. In Greece I am a foreigner. What to do?” From age 18, she worked at Bambis, a pharmacy, grocery and eventually supermarket owned by a rich Greek family who moved to Addis in 1890. In the subsequent decades, Greeks became influential members of Ethiopian society and were among the closest advisers to Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian emperor and
Rastafarian messiah famous for resisting Italian dictator Mussolini’s invasion. “I met him many times, we’d go to the palace. He was something special. He would stop the car and give us golden coins,” remembers Tsimas, who ended up marrying into the Bambis family. But like thousands of other Greeks, the Bambis fled Ethiopia in the ‘70s following a revolution that overthrew the royal family, installing the Derg communist dictatorship that ruled the country from 1974 to 1987. With this came the nationalisation of all property and hostility towards foreigners, so most of the Ethio-Greek community left. This included Tsimas and her husband. “They came with guns to take over the shop, claiming it as public property,” she recalls. Always yearning to return to Ethiopia during their 20 years in Greece, after the Derg regime fell Tsimas’ husband saw Bambis was up for auction and won the bid. Today, they run the supermarket together. “I started at age 18 and at age 80 I am back again. Yesterday I worked from eight in the morning until eight in the evening. I always work. I even delivered my children in the grocery,” Tsimas says with a chuckle.
Greek community today
Anastasia Mitsopoulou and Odysseas Parris
On the eve of Greek Independence Day there is a buzz in the Santorini Greek Restaurant as members and friends of the community drop in and out, frenetically discussing celebration plans. As everyone sits at one big table chatting, popcorn - made traditionally as part of Ethiopian coffee ceremonies - is brought as a snack to have with drinks. Greek salads, souvlaki and tzatziki soon follow. Around the table are second generation Ethio-Greeks, half-Ethiopian Greeks who have recently moved to Addis, and Ethiopians who are in some way connected to Greece through study, work or marriage. Later in the evening, Ambassador
Patakias and his family swing by for dinner and to show off posters they have made for the celebration, set to be even bigger than usual this year. As well as a special ceremony at the Greek Orthodox Church, and a showcase of Greek dancing and poetry at the Greek Community School, an official party is being held at the Greek Club - and Alternate Foreign Minister for European Affairs George Katrougalos will be in attendance. These institutions in the city are at the heart of the now 500-person small Greek community in Addis. But a number of those interviewed said infighting has left some Ethio-Greeks feeling excluded. Community leaders, some say, lead with an iron fist and resist change. Some spoke of financial disputes, others of backward attitudes, such as prejudice against Turkish people who came to play a friendly sports match at the Greek Club. Gabriel Shebale, an Ethiopian doctor who lived in Athens for nearly 30 years, is a friend of the community. He agrees there are issues “because they often only interact with each other, and are
not the largest community. They develop a ghetto-like system. The infighting makes the community weaker,” he says.
The new Ethio-Greeks Barbara Gembiaou owns the restaurant, which she runs with the help of her brother Filippos. Born in Greece but half-Ethiopian, Gembiaou moved to Addis eight years ago and set up Santorini shortly afterwards. Filippos followed a year later. Both now have families in Ethiopia (new Ethio-Greeks) and they seem settled for now. Painted the Greek national colours of blue and white, the mainly al fresco restaurant full of dusty trinkets and old postcards has the homely feel of a Greek taverna. The siblings are two of an increasing number of Greeks - some with Ethiopian heritage, others not - who moved to Ethiopia after the start of the Greek financial crisis in 2007. This is what brought back Shebale, the Ethiopian
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April 15, 2018
East Africa doctor, who said that with the crisis came increasingly negative attitudes towards foreigners. Meanwhile, the embassy is encouraging Greeks to invest in Ethiopia’s agriculture, technology, textile and export industries. Ambassador Patakias recently stated in the local media that trade between the two countries has risen from 12 million euros (roughly $14.7m today) in 2013 to 22.5 euros million (roughly $27.6m today) in 2016, and he expects it to increase at an even faster rate over the next few years.
Filippos Gembiaou at the Santorini Greek Restaurant
‘Magical culture’ But Gembiaou makes it clear she didn’t set up her restaurant solely for business reasons. “It’s our house and we invite people in. As you’ve seen this place doesn’t feel like a restaurant - you’re only reminded it is when you have to pay before you leave,” she says, adding, “It’s the soul of this place that makes it Greek.” “Ethiopian culture is something magical for me and I still haven’t discovered it all yet,” explains Gembiaou, who sees many similarities between the two cultures. “First there’s the religion which gives you a culture, even if you don’t believe. The fact that Ethiopia was never colonised is also important. They are very proud, as the Greeks are of how they freed their heritage from the Ottomans. So that makes our connection stronger.” The restaurant owner goes on to highlight more day-to-day cultural similarities. “Ethiopian and Greek TV dramas are similar. And coffee culture - we can both meet for coffee and pass three hours talking without realising it,” she says with a laugh. Gembiaou’s initial reason for visiting Ethiopia was personal. “After my father died we discovered among his personal things that we have a brother
The Greek Club in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
here who he left behind, so I came to find him,” she explains. Gembiaou found her brother - and even ended up marrying the Ethio-Greek who helped her locate him. The two have one child together, though they are now divorced. A captain in the Royal Ethiopian Navy, Barbara and Filippos’ Ethiopian father travelled to Greece to train as part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries. He later went on to set up the first Ethiopian restaurant in the country.
“My father was one of the committee to sign the contract between the two navies 60 years ago,” Gembiaou says with pride. She adds this is particularly relevant today as the during the Greek minister’s visit a similar agreement will be signed, giving young Ethiopian seafarers the opportunity to work on Greek vessels. Gembiaou pauses for a minute and then adds: “I feel extremely happy about this because for me it’s like history making circles.” Al Jazeera
Somalia Poor Rains Forecast Puts Food Security, Livelihoods at Risk, Warns UN agency The grim scenario follows massive livestock deaths due to drought – up to 60 per cent of herds in some areas – that have severely damaged pastoralists’ livelihoods. “Somalia is traditionally an agropastoral economy [and] livestock losses have severely affected its economy and people,” Daniele Donati, the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) programmes in the country, said in a news release Wednesday. “It is crucial that we continue to support pastoralist households build resilience against climate-related shocks by providing timely veterinary and feeding assistance for their animals,” he added. According to the UN agency’s Global Information and Early Warning Report, while the country’s overall food security situation improved to some extent in early 2018, primarily due to large-scale and sustained humanitarian assistance, the
A pastoralist in northern Somalia, a region hit hard by drought. He lost almost half of his sheep flock that originally numbered 70.
number of Somalis suffering severe food insecurity still remains 170 per cent above pre-crisis levels. Furthermore, recent cattle losses have also resulted in sharp rises in prices of livestock and livestock products, including milk. Pastoral households in the worst-hit northern and central regions have also reported increased household debts, drive by credit purchase of water, food and for care of their animals. The losses have also severely hit Somalia’s exports, a country where
the livestock sector accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). FAO response Responding to the situation, FAO stepped up its response, providing health services to some some 38.3 million animals, supplementary feeding interventions to close to 1 million, and delivered over 53 million litres of water in 2017. In 2018, the UN agency aims to support some 2.7 million rural Somalis and has appealed for $236
million to sustain its livestock interventions, help farmers secure a good harvest and provide cash transfers to the most vulnerable so families can afford to eat while restoring their own food production. “Providing livelihood support and cash in rural areas not only fights hunger, but minimizes displacement and the sale of productive assets that ultimately feed people and sustain their livelihoods,” it said. UN News
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Volume 17 Issue 4
April 15, 2018
Egypt Egyptian Website Editor Arrested for Republishing Article on Election Fraud RUTH MICHAELSON
Egyptian police have raided the office of a news website and arrested its editor-in-chief as part of a wider crack down on media that reported allegations of vote buying during last month’s presidential election. The raid late on Tuesday came two days after the supreme council for media regulation, an official oversight body, told the Masr al-Arabia website to pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,849) as a fine for republishing a New York Times article on alleged irregularities during the presidential election. The website is one of over 500to have been blocked within Egypt since May 2017. Two journalists at the website quoted the site’s lawyers as saying that police said they had acted because the website did not have a permit to operate. The journalists said the raid was prompted by the republishing of the New York Times article.
A statement from the council, which was based on a complaint from the national election authority, on Sunday had accused the website of publishing false news. “The website should have checked the authenticity of the news or commented on it with an opinion,” the council statement said, referring to the New York Times article, which said some voters were offered payments and other inducements to vote. The New York Times defended its reporting. “We stand by the accuracy of our reporting and strongly condemn any arrests meant to intimidate journalists and stifle freedom of the press,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman said. Adel Sabry, the website’s editor-inchief, was arrested and was still being held at Dokki police station in greater Cairo on Wednesday. A security source at the police station said Sabry was being held prior to appearing before a prosecutor. Sabry is accused of running a news website without a permit, the source added. The office of the website was closed and sealed with red wax, the three journalists said. The Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, swept to a second term with 97% of the vote. His win came after five opposition candidates were prevented from getting on the ballot.
Abdel Fatah al-Sisi won the Egyptian presidential election with 97% of the vote
The editor-in-chief of private newspaper Al Masry Al Youm was recently fined 150,000 Egyptian pounds and forced to apologise for the headline of an article published on its front page detailing official offers of financial incentives to voters, and threats of fines for those who did not get to the ballot box. Some voters have said they were offered incentives to cast their ballots, including money and food, local and international media reported, without saying who had made the offers. Officials said that if any such incidents took place they were not state sponsored and had been extremely limited. Authorities say curbing fictitious news is necessary for national security. Officials at the state information service
Algeria Ruling Party Asks Ailing President to Run for Fifth Term RAMY ALLAHOUM
Members of Algeria’s ruling party have called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a fifth consecutive term, according to local media reports. Speaking at a party meeting on Saturday, the National Liberation Front’s (or FLN by its French acronym) secretary-general, Djamel Ould Abbes, confirmed earlier reports about party and government officials pushing for the ailing president’s re-election in next year’s vote. “The executives and elected representatives of the FLN call on the president to continue his mission, started in 1999 as head of the country … and hope that he will respond favorably to our request, but it is up to him and him alone to decide whether to accept or decline our invitation,” Ould Abbes was quoted as saying by the French language newspaper l’Expression. The minister of foreign affairs, Abdelkader Messahel, who also spoke at the gathering expressed support for the bid as he credited the return of peace and stability to Algeria following
The party said it would soon release a comprehensive document detailing the president’s achievement since assuming power in 1999
a decade-long civil war to Bouteflika’s “wise” leadership. “Under Bouteflika’s presidency, Algeria, which experienced a situation bordering civil war in 1997, became one of the most stable and secure countries thanks to the Civil Concord and the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation.” Ould Abbas said the party would soon release a comprehensive document detailing the president’s achievement since assuming power in 1999.
‘End of speculation’ Analysts say the announcement was a long time coming. They argue that while the octogenarian’s continued presence in the political scene comes as no surprise,
calls by the party’s executives for him to run for office provide a rare glimpse into the country’s complex power structure. “Once Bouteflika confirms his intention to run for a fifth term, everyone else will have to fall in line and that will be the end of the speculation about succession,” Riccardo Fabiani, a political analyst who focuses on North Africa, told Al Jazeera. “It is clear that, in the absence of consensus around the succession to Bouteflika, the various regime factions have opted for continuity to avoid divisions at a delicate time (economic reforms, social unrest…).” Yousef Bouandel, an academic and expert on Algerian politics, likewise believes that the president’s popularity
previously declared they would summon international journalists who published election coverage “written in a non-professional manner”. Sherif Mansour, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, described continued efforts to crack down on the press as “a witch-hunt”. “The authorities have also continued to blur the red lines journalists have known for years under Sisi,” he said. “This doesn’t bode well for the postelection era, as many thought those censorship measures were enacted temporarily to secure Sisi’s second term. But it seems like they’re here to stay and more are coming.” The Guardian (in no small part the product of his successful bid to end the civil war), could be used by the real power brokers to maintain the status quo. “Bouteflika has been absent from the political scene for at least six years. We haven’t heard from him, he hasn’t spoken to the Algerian people since May 2012. He did not conduct one single interview in the last presidential elections in 2014.” “This lends credibility to the idea that Bouteflika is here simply to respond to the popular demand of the people with the decisions obviously being made elsewhere,” Bouandel said. A key actor in Algeria’s anti-colonial struggle, the FLN played an important role in supporting independence movements elsewhere in the world, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. With a support base estimated at 700,000 members, the party has struggled to stay relevant in recent years as it adopts a more isolationist policy and is seemingly preoccupied with more pressing economic challenges. “A fifth term for Bouteflika is, therefore, the easiest option, but at the same time, it is also a way to postpone further what will be at some point inevitable choosing a successor to Bouteflika and injecting new blood in an increasingly sclerotic and ineffective political system,” Fabiani said. Al Jazeera
April 15, 2018
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Morocco Morocco Warns Algeria of Imminent Military Action to Evict Polisario from Sahara Buffer Zone Members of Algeria’s ruling parMorocco had reportedly warned Algeria of an imminent military action to evict the Polisario separatists from the buffer zone, east of the Moroccan security wall, the Middle East Eye Said. French Ambassador to Algiers was said to have channeled the warning to Algerian authorities as the Polisario indulges in repetitive incursions in the north east of the Sahara territory. The Polisario has often used its banditry east of the berm to garner support for its separatist thesis among the disenchanted population in the Tindouf camps and to its few remaining supporters at the international level in a move to divert attention from Morocco’s recent inroads in Africa where support for the Kindom’s sovereignty over the Sahara is growing. The Polisario has also used the recent provocations against the Moroccan
army to distract the Sahrawi and international public opinion from its internal crisis peculiar to authoritarian groups that enrich themselves through humanitarian aid embezzlement and trading in the suffering of the population held against their will in the Tindouf camps, in connivance with Algerian authorities. Morocco has made it clear that its announced military intervention east of the berm is not meant to spark a war but comes after the UN failed to deter the Polisario from breaching the 1991 ceasefire agreement and military agreement number one providing for the buffer zone to remain demilitarized. The announcement by the Polisario to move its military headquarters or any civilian facility to the area east of the berm will push Morocco to carry out pre-emptive attacks, which officials in Rabat describe as a move to change the rules of engagement. Up to now, Morocco is leading a diplomatic offensive to show the international community what is at stake in the Sahara: regional peace and stability. While Morocco has offered an autonomy initiative since 2007 and engaged in UN-led talks, the other parties, Algeria and the Polisario, continue to cling to the unfeasible referendum option, which was discarded implicitly by
Libya UK Supports Libya’s Efforts to Curb Illegal Migration The United Kingdom has promised to offer Libya technical expertise and practical support to help the North African country in its efforts to curb illegal migration. The pledge was made by British Minister for Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, during talks in Tripoli Monday, with UN-backed Libyan officials. Talks discussed how Britain can help Libya, which has long been a major transit hub for people trying to reach Europe, monitor the routes that migrants take from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya. The monitoring should be combined with awareness campaigns to inform would-be migrants on the exploitation risks and hardships they may face in their hazardous journey.
Alistair Burt, UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa, meets with Libyan officials to pledge British expertise and support to help curb illegal migration
Britain has allocated in recent months 75 million British pounds ($105.96 million) to support anti-illegal immigration programs in Libya. Since 2016, Britain earmarked 170 million pounds to crisis management in Mediterranean countries. Last month, Britain has launched new projects to develop healthcare centers throughout Libya to support and improve the quality of Libyan medical services. The first phase of the project targets six medical centers in a number of Libyan cities.
Moroccan Royal Army convoys depart to southern Morocco to Repel Polisario’s ‘provocations’ in buffer zone
the UN due to the controversy over who is entitled to vote. If a war starts east of the berm it is difficult to predict whether Morocco will refrain from hot pursuits against the Polisario militia who have engaged in a guerrilla war marked by hit and run tactics. The Royal Armed Forces had then responded to Polisario attacks but stopped at the Algerian borders without hitting the separatists in their rear base in Tindouf, as the act would have meant war with Algeria.
The scenario of another guerrilla war in the Sahara is to be discarded, as Moroccan officials made it clear that the conflict over the Sahara is with Algeria, the host and mentor that pulls the strings of the Polisario. If a war starts with the Polisario it may not be limited to the buffer zone shrouding regional peace and stability in uncertainty and further undermining the aspirations of the Maghreb people to a stable and economically integrated region. North Africa Post
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April 15, 2018
South Africa Winnie Mandela, ‘mother’ then ‘mugger’ of new South Africa, dies at 81 Hailed as mother of the ‘new’ South Africa, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy as an anti-apartheid heroine was undone when she was revealed to be a ruthless ideologue prepared to sacrifice laws and lives in pursuit of revolution and redress. Her uncompromising methods and refusal to forgive contrasted sharply with the reconciliation espoused by her husband Nelson Mandela as he worked to forge a stable, pluralistic democracy from the racial division and oppression of apartheid. The contradiction helped kill their marriage and destroyed the esteem in which she was held by many South Africans, although the firebrand activist retained the support of radical black nationalists to the end. In her twilight years, MadikizelaMandela, who died on Monday aged 81, had frequent run-ins with authority that further undermined her reputation as a fighter against the white-minority regime that ran Africa’s most advanced economy from 1948 to 1994. During her husband’s 27-year incarceration, Madikizela-Mandela campaigned tirelessly for his release and for the rights of black South Africans, suffering years of detention, banishment and arrest by the white authorities. She remained steadfast and unbowed throughout, emerging to punch the air triumphantly in the clenchedfist salute of black power as she walked hand-in-hand with Mandela out of Cape Town’s Victor Vester prison on Feb. 11, 1990. For husband and wife, it was a crowning moment that led four years later to the end of centuries of white domination when Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.
“Horribly wrong” But for Madikizela-Mandela,
the end of apartheid marked the start of a string of legal and political troubles that, accompanied by tales of her glamorous living, kept her in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. As evidence emerged in the dying years of apartheid of the brutality of her Soweto enforcers, the “Mandela United Football Club” (MUFC), her soubriquet switched from ‘Mother of the Nation’ to ‘Mugger’. Blamed for the killing of activist Stompie Seipei, who was found near her Soweto home with his throat cut, she was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping and assaulting the 14-year-old because he was suspected of being an informer. Her six-year jail term was reduced on appeal to a fine. She and Mandela separated in 1992 and her reputation slipped further when he sacked her from his cabinet in 1995 after allegations of corruption. The couple divorced a year later, after which she adopted the surname Madikizela-Mandela. Appearing at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) set up to unearth atrocities committed by both sides in the anti-apartheid struggle, Madikizela-Mandela refused to show remorse for abductions and murders carried out in her name. Only after pleading from anguished TRC chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu did she admit grudgingly that “things went horribly wrong”. In its final report, the TRC ruled that Madikizela-Mandela was “politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the MUFC”. Four years later, she was back in court, facing fraud and theft charges in relation to an elaborate bank loan scheme. “Somewhere it seems that something went wrong,” magistrate Peet Johnson said as he sentenced her to five years in jail, later overturned on appeal. “You should set the example for all of us.”
Married to the struggle Born on Sept. 26, 1936, in Bizana, Eastern Cape province, MadikizelaMandela became politicized at an early age in her job as a hospital social worker. “I started to realize the abject poverty under which most people were forced to live, the appalling conditions created by the inequalities of the system,” she once said. Strikingly attractive and with a steely air - her given name, Nomzamo, means ‘one who strives’ - the 22-year-old Winnie caught the eye of Mandela at a Soweto bus-stop in 1957, starting a whirlwind romance that led to their marriage a year later. But with husband and wife pouring their energies into the fight against apartheid, the relationship struggled before being torn apart after six years when Mandela was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Madikizela-Mandela later described her marriage as a sham and the birth of their two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, as “quite coincidental” to her one true love - the struggle against white rule. “I was married to the ANC. It was the best marriage I ever had,” she often said. Graca Machel, who stepped into her shoes as South Africa’s first lady when she married Mandela in 1998, paid tribute to her predecessor in the years after her union. “It’s unfortunate that in our lives we don’t interact very easily but I want to state very clearly that Winnie is my hero. Winnie is someone I respect highly,” Machel once said.
“I’m not sorry” Nelson Mandela and his then-wife Winnie raise their fists and salute cheering crowds upon his release from prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
As the years passed and Madikizela-Mandela’s public standing plummeted, her relationship with the party she loved soured. She bore the air
of a troublemaker, arriving late at rallies and haranguing comrades, including Thabo Mbeki, Mandela’s successor as president. In 2001, a television camera caught Mbeki brushing Madikizela-Mandela away and knocking off her hat after she arrived an hour late for a rally to commemorate a 1976 anti-apartheid uprising by Soweto schoolchildren and students. Years later, she clashed with the next president, Jacob Zuma, becoming a political patron of renegade ANC youth leader Julius Malema, who quit the century-old movement to found his own ultra-leftist political party. Confirming her support for Malema and his calls for seizure of white-owned farms and banks, Madikizela-Mandela revealed her contempt in 2010 for the deal her ex-husband struck with South Africa’s white minority nearly two decades before. In a London newspaper interview, she attacked Mandela, who died in December 2013, saying he had gone soft in prison and sold out the black cause. “Mandela did go to prison and he went in there as a burning young revolutionary. But look what came out,” she said. “Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks.” She also dismissed Tutu, postapartheid South Africa’s moral fulcrum, as a “cretin” and rubbished his attempts at national healing as a “religious circus”. “I told him a few home truths. I told him that he and his other likeminded cretins were only sitting here because of our struggle and me - because of the things I and people like me had done to get freedom,” she said. “I am not sorry. I will never be sorry,” she concluded. “I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything.” Reuters
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Botswana New President Looks to Wean Botswana Off Dependence on Diamonds Botswana’s new president, sworn in on Sunday as the landlocked country’s fifth post-colonial leader, said he would give priority to tackling youth unemployment and diversifying its economy. Mnangagwa told the youths gathered at the party headquarters that ZANUPF was set for a landslide victory in the presidential, parliamentary and council elections due by Aug 21. Retired teacher Mokgweetsi Masisi, who takes over from former army general Ian Khama, inherits a state with a reputation as one of Africa’s rare political and economic success stories. But he faces a huge task in attempting to reduce its dependence on the diamond trade while creating more jobs after collapsing commodity prices tipped it into recession in 2015. “We still seek to build a Botswana
in which sustained development is underpinned by economic diversification,” Masisi told a cheering crowd in parliament. “One of my top priorities ... will be to address the problem of unemployment especially amongst the young.” Botswana, with a population of some 2 million, has a jobless rate of around 20 percent, with youth unemployment thought to be much higher. Khama, 65, and a son of the country first president Seretse, bowed out after two five-year terms in a scripted succession that compelled him to hand over power to his deputy. Masisi becomes only Botswana’s third leader outside the Khama dynasty since its independence from Britain in 1966. As part of efforts to branch out of diamonds, he also said his government would scale up access to technical education and set up initiatives in tourism, mining, beef and financial services.
But the country’s opposition predicted little change, saying Masisi as deputy president was instrumental in an economic strategy that had failed to adapt the economy to the needs of a new generation of finance and science graduates.
Then vice president of the Republic of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 21, 2017
“There is no need to celebrate, the change of guard will just be cosmetic. As vice president he... failed even at the time he was at the ministry of education,” said a spokesman for the UDC opposition coalition, Moeti Mohwasa. After working for United Nations Children’s Fund, Masisi became a lawmaker in 2009. He served as a minister of public affairs from 2011 to 2014, when Khama named him minister of education and, later the same year, also vice president. Viewed by the markets as more
business-friendly than his predecessor, Masisi will serve as leader until national elections in October 2019, for which the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) is expected to name him as its presidential candidate. The BDP has governed the country since independence but for the first time won less than 50 percent of the vote for the legislature in the previous election in 2014. Polls suggest its share will fall further in next year’s ballot.
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Volume 17 Issue 4
April 15, 2018
Dem. Rep. of Congo Congolese Migrants Claim Better, Safer Life in Rwanda A small but remarkable new migration is taking place in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as wellheeled Congolese up sticks to live in Rwandan towns lying just across the border. Gisenyi and Kamembe, on the northern and southern tips of Lake Kivu respectively, are seen as more stable, more secure and with a better standard of living than their sprawling, troubled Congolese neighbours, the cities of Goma and Bukavu. “In 2013 I received threats in Goma. I was evacuated to Gisenyi. I went back to Goma a year later. I was still worried for my safety. Three friends in my district were killed,” said Jacques Kahora, a humanitarian worker who settled permanently in Gisenyi in 2016. Adrien, a 28-year-old employee with an NGO, has been renting a house in Gisenyi for 80 dollars (65 euros) a month for almost a year, roughly half of
A Congolese man from the neighboring city of Goma sits at the Tam Tam beach resort in Gisenyi, Rwanda
what he would pay in his home town of Goma. Each day he nips back across the border to Goma, a matter of a few kilometres (miles), to work and see family and friends. “I mainly do it for access to certain basic things, like water and electricity. In Gisenyi, there are hardly any power cuts, but in Goma they happen daily -- sometimes you can go a whole week
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without electricity,” said Adrien. Rwanda also offers a high-performance wifi service, which is used by residents of Goma and Bukavu whenever Congolese authorities cut internet access as part of a crackdown on antigovernment protests. Today, this is another community that faces being ripped apart as mines and quarries operated by another Chinese firm called Commus plan to
expand. Former Gecamines employee Robert Mombwe has lived in the same house for 30 years. But he says he is ready to leave—if the deal is right. “If you have a four-room house, they have to build you a six-room house,” he adds. Others have decided to sell their house for sums of up to 40,000 dollars so that the machines can move in.
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April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
Book Excerpt The following is a second excerpt from The Akan of Ghana: Aspects of Past & Present Practices by Kofi Ayim.
The Influence of Ancient Egypt on the Akan People of Ghana Besides Aberewa Musu, there were other matriclan mothers in ancient Egypt whose names were carried down along the way into the present-day Akan name structure. Tiaa was one such name. Pharaoh Thutmose IV elevated his mother Tiaa to the role of “god’s wife of Amun (Amen),” thus divinizing her to the status of the goddess Mut. Aberewa (elder matriarch) Tiaa, in a typical Akan family concept, is the “all-knowing” primus inter pares elder of a given family. She plays a key role in family matters and cannot be bypassed in serious family deliberations. Further, Tiaa is a common Akan female name found among several families. Aso is another ancient Akan female name that was also the name of a mythical ancient Ethiopian queen. Anima, another ancient Egyptian female name means “breath of life.” Saara, which is rendered in the Bible as Sarah or elsewhere as Sarai, is another matriarchal name. While we’re at it, we must also not forget that the Akan equivalent of the biblical Adam is Odame, for the ancient and original meaning of Adam is “of the red earth; the feminine source.” Odame or ‘Dame in Akan alludes to the red element on top of a male rooster (what the British refer to as cock, and in Akan as akoko da me). The etymology of both Adam and ‘Dame are therefore the same – red! Several African cultures have the equivalent name of Adam. Referring to the Akan Soul Name chart on page 114 of the book under review, it is clear that among the by-names of a Saturday born-boy (Kwame) or girl (Amma) are Nyamekye (God’s gift), Atoapem (there is nothing beyond Him), and Ote-ananka-nnuro (antidote to – or healer of – a serpent bite). The response to greetings of a Saturday born is yaa Amen. The yaa is an expression of endearment, which literally means “I hear….” The God Amen was originally of the Ethiopian Kushite religion, the timeless God who created the universe. In fact, in Akan name configuration, Onyankopon, God, is associated with Saturday. His soul name is therefore Kwame. (The Akan observed that the white man attends to or worships his God on Sunday, and therefore associated his God with Kwasi, which is a boy born on a Sunday. Kwasi Buroni is
the epithet used to refer to a whiteman). Onyankopon’s spirit is Amen, as per the Akan cosmological name structure. Thus, be it traditional prayer – libation – or Christian rendering, God is referred to as Onyankopon Twereduapon Kwame (Dependable God of Saturday). According to Gerald Massey, the word “amen” was used by ancient Egyptians as a call to come or a reference to the “the coming one.” It is this same Amen that both Christians and Muslims holler at the end of their prayers as Amen or Ameen, respectively! It must be very clear from the above narrative, that the Akan (and
starting with Y. All other soul names of males start with K, while those of females start with A. In the mythology of ancient Egypt, Iu was the son of Ptah (the Greek Hephaistos, credited with discovering or creating fire). Ptah, as bore bore (the Divine Sculptor), was the manifestation of the Creator of the Universe, Amen. In the Memphite theology, Ptah was the Creator, who bequeathed and manifested his animated power to the other deities. The name Iu was written in various forms by ancient peoples such as the Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Greeks as Iau, Yau, Yahu, Yahwe (Yweh), etc.
Amun Ra, the prinicple diety of ancient Egypt
Africans in general) therefore knew their deity, Amen, long before Christianity, Islam, and other religions came into being. In essence Africans gifted their deity Amen to other faiths! By virtue of the landscape and desert terrain of Egypt, poisonous snakes were abundant. To the ancient Egyptians, the Divine healer of serpent bites was no other entity that the God Amen. It was only He, Onyankopon Twereduapon Kwame, who had the healing powers to serpent bites, hence Ote- ananka-nnuro. On the flip side of Akan soul names, the name Amma (a Saturday-born girl of the Akan) complements its male partner. In the Dogon Civilization (the Dogon had a deep knowledge of the Sirius, or what the Egyptians called Shopdu, and could chart the course of the bright star with the naked eye), Amma was a Goddess of water and rain of the Mandingo people with similar attributes as Amen, the God of Egypt. In fact, Amma was known throughout the Nile Valley as Amon or Amen (which reinforces the by-name of Amma as Amen), a self-created Goddess of the firmament. Yaw and Yaa, the soul names of Akan boy and girl born on Thursday, present another interesting analysis, for they are the only soul names among the seven-day week that are unique by virtue of their
Churchward tells us that Iu dates as far back as 6000 B.C. It is important to note that Yahweh (just as the deities Chenku, Akonedi, Krachi Dente, Tigare, Kofi Dade, Atia Mframa, or Antoa Nyama, etc of the Gold Coast/Ghana) emerged as the most powerful and common deity among the lot in ancient times. Massey tells us that “there was a religion of the god Iu or Iao in Egypt thirteen thousand years ago,” and that “those who worshiped him as Atum became the Adamites, the Edomites, the red men; those who worshiped him as Iao, Iah, or Iu became the Jews in many lands, and these are the Jews of that world-wide dispersion recognized by Isaiah.” Of these Jews, Massey continues, “They were only ethnical at root when the race was black, whether these were the black Jews in Africa or in India.” Finch also tells us, “The worshippers of the Mother’s Son were worshippers of Iu, which means ‘he who comes,’ and who was the Mother’s first male consort, before ‘the fatherhood became known.’ Iu is identical to the Hebrew Iah, the Gnostics [and Phoenicians] Iao, and the Celtic Hu.’ ” If Iao (Yahweh) is Yaw, the god of heaven, then Yaa – the female counterpart– is the god of the earth, what is commonly termed by most Akan people as
Asaase Yaa (Mother Earth of Thursday) since earth is the antithesis of heaven. It must be realized that in Akan concepts, Asaase Yaa is the deity of death and resurrection in the underworld. The Fante (an ethnic group of the Akan) recognizes Asaase Afua (Mother Earth whose day is Friday) as the fertility deity. Until the advent of Christianity and science, and in fact as recently as a few decades ago, if Akan parents lost two or three children consecutively, the child who was born next was given the name Odonkor/Donkor, derived from odo nti nnko, “for the sake of love don’t go” (back to where you came from). The belief was that a mythical mother in the spiritual realm would once a while provocatively gift a child to the physical world, only to snatch her child back before adulthood. Such a child was therefore disguised with uncombed and dreadlocked mpese mpese hairs stuck with (pre-independence) British hollow pennies and/or cowries and several tribal marks made on the cheeks. The mythical Mother (so the belief goes) would “reject” the child as not the one she presented to the earthly world and would therefore refuse to take her back when she wanted to. The child therefore lives! In ancient Egypt until the age of 12, when childhood ended and the first phase of adulthood began, every child wore the mpese mpese dreadlock. According to Massey, “the Horus lock was emblematic of the reappearing one.” The mpese pese of an Akan child was indubitably the remnants of the Horus lock of ancient Egypt, and partially similar to the contemporary Rastafarian dreadlocks. The reappearing one typifies a child who “comes and goes.” Modern science or medicine would attribute both the Donkor child and the Horus lock of a reappearing one to child mortality common in ancient Egypt and the Akan nation of yesteryear!
Volume 17 Issue 4
April 15, 2018
Crocodiles Guard Secrets of Pakistan’s Lost African Past ASHRAF KHAN
Dancing and chanting in Swahili at a crocodile shrine outside Karachi, hundreds of Pakistani Sheedis swayed barefoot to the rhythm of a language they no longer speak -- the celebration offering a rare chance to connect with their African roots. For many Sheedis, the swampy crocodile shrine to Sufi saint Haji Syed Shaikh Sultan -- more popularly known as Mangho Pir -- is the most potent symbol of their shared African past, as they struggle to uncover the trail that led their ancestors to Pakistan. Many, like 75-year-old Mohammad Akbar, have simply given up the search for their family’s origins. The descendants of Africans who have been arriving on the shores of the subcontinent for centuries, the Sheedis rose to lofty positions as generals and leaders during the Mughal Empire, which ruled swathes of South Asia. But, actively discriminated against during British rule, their traditions began to fade, and they found themselves wholly shunned when Pakistan was created in 1947, absent from the country’s elite political and military circles. Figures are scant but it is generally accepted that Pakistan holds the highest number of Sheedis on the subcontinent, upwards of around 50,000 people. But their history has been scantily written, making it difficult if not impossible for Sheedis -- including even those like Akbar whose ancestors arrived in Pakistan relatively recently -- to trace their antecedents. “I came to know in the 1960s that my grandfather belonged to Zanzibar, and we contacted the Tanzania embassy to find our extended family,” Akbar told AFP outside his home in Karachi. “We were told that we can never
reach them until we can identify our tribe, which we don’t know,” he said. “I never tried again.” His plight is common, with little in the way of documentation or scholarship on the community. What is available suggests many arrived as part of the African slave trade to the east -- a notion rejected by many Sheedis, most of whom now reside in southern Sindh province. “We don’t subscribe to the theories that someone brought us as slaves to this region because Sheedis as a nation have never been slaves,” argues Yaqoob Qanbarani, the chairman of Pakistan Sheedi Ittehad, a community group. Others say the community’s origins can be traced back to the genesis of Islam, claiming a shared lineage with Bilal -- one of Prophet Mohammad’s closest companions. As the knowledge of their origins has faded, so too have many of their traditions, including the vestiges of Swahili once spoken in parts of Karachi. “Swahili has been an abandoned language for some generations now,” says Ghulam Akbar Sheedi, a 75-yearold community leader. “I remember that my grandmother would extensively use Swahili phrases in our daily conversation,” says 50-yearold Atta Mohammad, who now struggles to remember even a few sayings.
‘Captured by spirits’ With so many traditions lost to the past, the Sheedi mela, or festival, at the Mangho Pir shrine has assumed rich significance and been the epicentre of the community in Sindh for centuries. They no longer know why it is held there, they are simply following in the steps and repeating the words of their ancestors. “It attracts the Sheedi community from all over Pakistan,” Qanbarani tells AFP. “We celebrate Mangho Pir mela more than Eid,” he adds. The celebration features a dancing procession
The oldest crocodile -- believed to be anywhere between 70 and 100 years old -- is feted at the festival’s climax
known as the Dhamal, with men and women in trance-like states -- a rare sight in conservative, often gender-segregated Pakistan. “The Dhamal dance... is done with great devotion and much delicacy,” says Atta Mohammad, who spoke with AFP at the festival. “Some of us are captured by holy spirits.” Mehrun Nissa, 65, prepares a sacred drink during the mela while translating from what she says is a Swahili dialect. “Nagajio O Nagajio, Yo aa Yo.... means now we are leaving to have a drink from the bowl,” she explains. Mangho Pir is also home to over 100 lumbering crocodiles that waddle between the devotees near a swampy green pond where they have lived for generations. Legend holds that lice on the Sufi saint’s head transformed into the reptiles who now live at the shrine. The oldest crocodile -- known as More Sawab, and believed to be anywhere between 70 and 100 years old -- is feted at the festival’s climax with garlands and decorative powder while being fed chunks of raw meat.
Honouring the crocodile Even this tenuous link to the community’s past is in danger of being severed, however. The celebrations this March were the first time the festival has been held in nine years, after rising extremism saw Sufi shrines come under threat across Pakistan, with repeated gun and suicide bomb attacks. “The situation was not suitable for us as children and women also participate in the mela,” said Qanbarani, as heavily armed police commandos flanked the crowd. But with dramatic improvements in security in recent years the community hopes to continue the mela, celebrating traditions that have survived slavery, colonisation, and modernisation. “It is a Sheedi community belief that by honouring the crocodile our whole year will pass in peace, tranquility and prosperity,” explains Mohammad. “We look forward to celebrating the mela next year too, and forever.”
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The Sheedi mela, or festival, at the Mangho Pir shrine has been the epicentre of the community in Sindh for centuries.
April 15, 2018
Volume 17 Issue 4
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Volume 17 Issue 4