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A new year, a new Amandla

Africa’s Youth Opioid Problem

Ivory Coast Feels the Thirst

Rise of Senegalese Wrestling

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Contact us today for the 2018 Media Kit Volume 17 Issue 5 | Global African Community Newspaper | May 15, 2018 |

A Death, Then a Coverup Kigali’s Female Moto Drivers In early morning hours of November 7, 2017, Mouctar Diallo, a young Guinean immigrant, was struck and killed in the north Bronx by a private sanitation truck making its rounds collecting trash from businesses in the area. Dismissed by the driver, the police and even the media, as a “daredevil” homeless man who attempted to jump onto the moving truck, it was soon uncovered that the driver lied. In fact, Diallo worked for the sanitation company as an informal helper for the past one year. On April 27, 2018, the very same driver struck and killed another man

The best way to move about in the Rwandan capital of Kilgali is by “moto” - or motorcycle. Those who do not own one can easily hail a moto as a taxi; a very common sight across the wider East African region. While neighboring countries such as Kenya and Uganda also have the same form of taxi transport, Rwanda has the distinction of the moto driver profession being dominated by males. But one Rwandan company is hoping to slowly change that, with the hiring of the country’s first women moto drivers.



African Fashion Makes Inroads

Church opposes Burundi referendum

Without a doubt, African fashion has experienced a significant boom of late. With the growing exposure through movies and social media, African fabrics is no longer just the choice of the African diaspora, but has now become top-of-mind for celebrities and trendsetters alike.

Burundi’s influential Catholic bishops said on Thursday that they were opposed to fundamental constitutional changes to be voted on in a referendum this month. If passed, the proposed changes could see President Pierre Nkurunziza remain in charge for another 16 years.




May 15, 2018

Volume 17 Issue 5


Editorial Letters to the Editor individuals do behind close a result, the beautiful volcanic The Case of Gayism doorsWhat More Agricultural soil As is exclusively their prerogawe saw had no earthworms and but to foist a foreign culture unto Concerns little bacterial activity. in Ghana and Africa tive, Africa in the name of Human Rights Consuming crops grown in that Ghanaian politicians, clergy, academicians, and other professionals are upset, actually angry and up in arms, about British Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer to help Ghana expunge laws against homosexuality that the colonial government bequeathed to Ghana and Africa, because Britain (and other developed nations) have expunged theirs in the name of human rights! We would rather define human rights in terms of racism, bigotry, inequality, and injustice meted out to fellow human beings rather than in terms of personal sexual orientation. If Britain and other countries have normalized sexual orientations, that is their prerogative. Africa is not at war with its own emotions when it comes to the institution of matrimony. Western countries and the US abolished polygamy and legalized homosexuality, and Africa minded its own business. By culture and religion, Africa has basically been a polygamous society and shunned homosexuality – at least publicly – and we think it is none of the business of any other nation or continent to “neocolonialize” Africa with unnatural tendencies. There are no bastards in a typical polygamous culture, because every child has and knows his or her father. On the contrary, lots of children with “absent” wealthy fathers in monogamous societies – who could have been role models for their children – do not have the luxury (at least openly and legally) of their father’s love, comfort, and directions. They are simply off limits to their wealthy fathers. African culture is at variance with gayism and lesbianism because the cardinal reason of matrimony is to procreate.

defies the African Mind. In Africa public nudity is not part of the culture, while in some countries people may go nude, especially in parks and at beach fronts. The next time around, African countries would be urged to pass laws to accept public nudity in the name of human rights. Or even cease to make babies because Europeans’ birthrate is on the decline! Unless and until Africa ceases to be totally dependent on the West, its people will continue to be treated as puppets and subjected to being pushed around. As much as we deem the offer by the likes of British Prime Minister Theresa May nauseating and an act of interference in the affairs of sovereign nations, it is high time Africa weaned itself off its colonial mentality and tendencies in terms of economics, politics, social, religion, and culture. It should not have taken Ghanaian politicians, the clergy, academicians, and other professionals well over sixty years to decipher that the socio-political, cultural, and religious practices of Europeans are alien to, and have not been beneficial to Africa. When Ghanaian lawmakers and legal minds sit in Parliament and in the courts in European suits and attire and utilize the English language as the medium of communication, it creates a sense of unAfricaness. And by the way, what do Africans want to prove with first (or Christian names, as referred to in Anglophone countries) names like Matilda, George, Elizabeth, or Francis in an African name structure? Cultural dependence! What happened to African personality and identity?

New “Business & Technology” Section 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 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.

The progress continues at Amandla News, as we introduce the new Business & Technology section. As Africa is bound for unlimited potential through the expansion of commerce and harnessing the technological advancements available across industries, we at Amandla News want to bring you the stories of change that are taking place in every corner of the continent. These are the stories of progress and innovation which happen almost daily, yet are not in given prominence in the cycles of news coming from Africa. As always, we welcome your feedback as we continue the impact of Amandla News.

I read the excellent piece in the February 15th edition on “Feeding East Africa – Locals Skeptical of GM Crops” and I would like to add to the discussion. When we came as agricultural volunteers to work with farmers in the Moshi area of Tanzania (near Kilamanjaro), we noticed the cheap (and expired) availability of herbicides meant to be used with GMO crops. While it is true that drought-resistant seeds, if they became available, would be helpful, it is important to know that they require the use of such weed killers that have their own negative impact on the soil, water, crops and people. The expired Atrazine and Roundup we saw in local stores had no instructions in Swahili and we saw that small-scale farmers would put a quart per 4 gallon sprayer, a concentrated amount that is meant to be diluted to 100 gallons. 10

February 15, 2018

soil could result in human endocrine disruption causing various illnesses including cancer. Plus, keep in mind, GMO companies such as Monsanto, take traditional seeds, genetically modify them and then reintroduce the seeds under their patent. In many cases, low income farmers cannot reuse seeds from the GMO patented crop. We were also troubled by the lack of access to low cost sustainable farm tools – for example, high wheel cultivators, push seeders and light weight hoes. These are all items largely manufactured in China that would bring a needed level of efficiency to small scale farmers. None of these tools require any fuel to operate and are simple to build. Thank you for publishing your wonderful publication. Michael Tabor Takoma Park, MD


Volume 17 Issue 2

East Africa

Feeding East Africa – Locals Skeptical of GM Crops Many people in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya decry the disappearance of their traditional organic crops. But some scientists say that genetically modified seeds could revolutionize the region. “No one likes these GMOs. We are slowly failing to get our original organic food that we are used to,” said Marie Jose Mukagasana, a vendor at the Kimironko market outside Rwanda’s capital Kigali. Here, fruits and vegetables are divided between organic and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While stall owners were reluctant to say which were more popular, Mukagasana summed up the attitude of many East Africans by questioning how GM food can be healthy. “These days, our lifespan is slowly dwindling because we are able to eat less and less natural food. How else can you explain that these banana trees grow in six months? They are supposed to take at least two years,” Mukagasana told DW. “We are eating chicken that has been reared to eat in a matter of weeks. Everything is tasteless and that has an effect on our health.”

Concerns region


material from abroad, from those who control the genes […..] This is like handing ourselves to be slaves,” Ugandan lawmaker Kaps Funfaroo Hassan, who voted against a new bill to allow GM crops, told DW. Although the bill passed parliament, Ugandan President Yuweri Museveni has declined to sign it into law, saying that concerns like Hassan’s must be addressed first. There are similar concerns in neighboring Kenya, where food security was a hot topic during last year’s presidential election. Following a severe drought in 2017, the price of maize – one of Kenya’s major staples – rose to a nearly unaffordable price, which was only brought down with the aid of government subsidies. Despite the availability of drought-resistant seeds, many Kenyans are wary of GMOs which are technically banned by the government - although in reality, farmers and scientists get round the ban. “I do not support GM products because the cost of production for

farmers is already high, the introduction of GM maize […] means that farmers will have to introduce a new variety every planting season,” said 25-year-old Nairobi businessman Victor Ojiambo who questions the sustainability of modified crops.

Scientists say GM crops raise ‘Eventually we have to accept it’ As climate change brings more income, nutrition But local scientists believe that East Africans simply need to appreciate how GM crops could revolutionize the region. By helping small farmers stave off insects, disease, and drought, GM crops can increase the income of individual families. Furthermore, as renowned Kenyan sustainability expert, the late Dr. Calestous Juma, tirelessly argued, GM crops also create greater stability for food systems nationwide if crops are more resistant to nature’s moods. “With genetically modified organisms, there is of course increased production […] There is also added nutritional value; for example there


Besides arguments about taste and protecting traditional ways of farming, another concern is that turning to genetically modified crops hands too much power to the seed companies, nearly all of which are headquartered abroad. “We have to import planting Vendors sort cabbage and tomatoes at Kimironko market

INDUSTRIAL PARK OPENS OLD WOUNDS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 “We have set up a committee to identify those who suffered under previous regulations,” he said, adding the price of compensation had more than doubled from 18 birr then to 54 birr per square meter today. In Ethiopia, all land is formally owned by the state, and there is no established price for farmland. Officially, households should be paid 10 times the market value of what can be produced on their plot in a single year, though this can be tricky to measure and vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous officials. “The amount of money they pay for compensation is actually quite high,” said Stefan Dercon, chief economist of the UK Department for International

Development (DfID) and a professor of economic policy at Oxford University. A 2015 report by Oxford’s Centre for the Study of African Economies found affected households in one part of Ethiopia received compensation payments on average nearly five times higher than their total annual expenditure on consumption, and for some households as much as 10 times more. A further revision to the compensation process is expected to lead to a substantial increase in the amount of financial compensation received by farmers when it is introduced by the federal government later this year. But the Oxford report’s author, Anthony Harris of Mathematica Policy Research, which analyses public wellbeing, said providing replacement land remains a challenge. “They are supposed to receive a

are iron bio-fortified beans and they are proving to be better in terms of nutrients,” said Dr. Alodis Kagaba, head of the NGO Health Development Initiative in Rwanda. Kagaba put the aversion to GM crops down to “fear of the unknown.”

new plot. But that often doesn’t happen, especially in places around Addis Ababa where land is scarce,” said Harris. Meanwhile, households lose an unmeasured stream of income from their farmland and many individuals struggle to find new employment, he added. “It’s sort of an inevitable consequence. It’s going to be very hard to find some sort of alternative livelihood, especially for the older generation.” Low Wages As for Dukem’s farmers, the prospect of giving up farming for work in the factories of the EIZ is often unwelcome. The zone currently employs more than 10,500 Ethiopian employees, the vast majority of whom come from the Dukem area, according to the Ethiopian Investment Commission. But locals complain of low wages and poor treatment by employers.

extreme weather patterns, GMOs could prove crucial in a country like Rwanda where 80 percent of the population is involved in the agriculture industry in some way, and the industry provides over 50 percent of the nation’s exports. Agriculture similarly dominates Kenya’s economy. According to government statistics, the sector makes up twenty-five percent of GDP. However, a large swath of Kenyan farm workers do not take their products to market, but run subsistence farms to feed themselves and their families. According to the late Dr. Juma, it is exactly these families that can benefit most immediately from GM crops. While he cautioned against overreliance on scientific solutions and the influence of foreign corporations, his research found that growing GM food or cotton had a direct correlation to improved nutrition for these families. Furthermore, it saves farmers time and money spent on covering crops with insecticide. For Nairobi resident Lewis Munji, one day people will realize that making seeds drought-resistant isn’t that big a change, “this is science… Eventually we have to accept these things,” he said. Additional reporting by Rhoda Odhiambo, Frank Yiga and Nasra Bishumba Lemma Teshome, the 24 year-old son of a farmer in Goticha whose land is being expropriated this year, worked for three years at a soap factory. “Nothing was good,” he said. “The pay was low and our hours were long. We were so disappointed.” In December last year a strike over overtime hours broke out in a shoe factory, which led to some street protests. A spokesman for the Ethiopian Investment Commission said that dispute had since been resolved through “mutual understanding.” “Some of the workers didn’t want overtime even though they are paid. But they reached an agreement,” the spokesman added. “The company said they could decide whether they wanted to do overtime or not.” Thomson Reuters Foundation

Submit your commentary to publish in our Letters to the Editor column. Contact

Kofi Ayim Deputy Publisher & Editor

Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018


North America Ras Baraka Relected Newark Mayor in a Landslide Victory Newark Mayor Ras Baraka won reelection in a landslide victory to lead New Jersey’s largest city over challenger Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, securing his leadership for another four years inside City Hall. Baraka garnered more than more than 77 percent of the vote, according to an unofficial tally by the Essex County Clerk’s Office. Chaneyfield Jenkins received 22.6 percent of the vote. During his victory party at the Robert Treat Hotel Baraka thanked God, the community, and his campaign staff for his victory. “You fought hard in the streets and the victory is yours,” Baraka said. Baraka asked that his supporters remain humble rather than tarnish the names of those who opposed during this campaign season. “Despite what people try to make you believe people do know what’s going on in this city,” Baraka said. “This became a very dangerous

African Fabrics Gaining Traction in the New York Area But… KOFI AYIM

For the past several years, African fabrics that used to attract curious onlookers have gradually become fashionable in the New York Metro Area, especially during warm weather. With a variety of designs and wide selections from the continent’s numerous cultures, African fabrics are fast becoming popular because of their ease of wear and care. Fabric dealers contend that trips to Africa, especially by AfricanAmericans, have facilitated the fad of African fabrics and wax prints. Black History Month and special programs at historically Black churches also propel sales of African fabrics and clothes for cultural identity. Kente stoles have become symbols of cultural identity at college graduations and inductions of people of African descent across the U.S. In the past few months, Wakanda, the all-Black cast movie, helped increase demand for African fabrics and clothing. And with the craze came the appearance of numerous African fabrics outlets in the New York Metro Area and beyond. At the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market (116th Street and Lenox Ave), African stalls are filled with fabrics and textiles

Newark school system and finances from state to local control, and an ongoing development boom in downtown Newark. “We’ve made considerable progress,” Baraka said at the final mayoral debate. “That’s why we need another term to continue what we started.” Chaneyfield Jenkins however evoked images of a crime-ridden city littered with garbage whose streets were riddled with potholes; charging the Baraka administration with abusing its power and a lack of transparency. The voters however did not agree with Chaneyfield Jenkins assessment of the incumbents’s first term. Surrounded by ballroom full of exuberant supporters the popular 90s band Next performed as people danced Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signals touchdown as he enters the stage during his victory and cheered. party. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has his election night victory party with members of his Red, white and blue balloons and City Council slate at the Robert Treat Hotel. cupcakes decorated with the tiny depictions of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and ugly election. It got very personal. of New Jersey. Do not engage in that.” who Baraka referred to as a great ally to The kind of ugly things that were being “Our evidence is that we won,” Newark, adorned the hotel. said. It was really, really nasty and ugly said Baraka. “We’re going forward.” “Touchdown,” Baraka chanted rebut that is a remnant of the past. Baraka ran on a platform tout- peatedly. “The game is over.” “Because you disagree with peo- ing Newark’s progress on multiple ple doesn’t mean you have to demon- levels - statistics demonstrating a draize people… attack their family and matic drop in crime, a declining local friends. We are not the reality TV show unemployment rate, the return of the of Bokola (mudcloth) from Mali, Manjak from the Senegal, Adire from Yoruba, Nigeria, Akwete, from Igbo, Nigeria, among others. Baba, a vendor from Mali, says most of the items on sale at the African Plaza – designer clothes, djembe drums, shea butter, etc. – come from Ghana. “Ghana is Africa’s China,” he beams. Almost all the vendors at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market are from West Africa. Conspicuously absent from the stalls is Ghana’s Kente, even though shades and varieties of it from elsewhere are scattered here and there. The Flatbush Caton Market on Clarendon Road, Brooklyn, offers a compelling contrast to its counterpart Vendor with clients at the Harlem Market in Harlem. Most of the vendors of the indoor market are of Caribbean descent, and clothing and dresses are more conspicuous than fabrics or textiles. In other parts of New York City and in Essex County, New Jersey, individualized stores carry more varieties of African fabrics, prints, textiles, and designers’ clothes. At a few places, tailors and seamstresses produce custom-made clothes and dresses such as fugu and danchiki. According to Sarah Sarpong, proprietress of Akuaba African Fashions, a Kente and African fabrics/clothes vendor in Maplewood, New Jersey, the greatest threat to authentic African fabrics such as Kente or mudcloth is the knockoff CONTINUED ON PAGE 4

African clothing vendors at the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market.


May 15, 2018

AFRICAN FABRICS GAIN TRACTION CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 duplicates that are factory-manufactured in some Asian countries. Authentic Kente, mudcloth, Akwete, Korhogo, and others are handmade and not factory-produced, she emphasized. Ms. Sarpong is worried that some customers unwittingly buy anything that resembles Kente or mudcloth. She may be right, but the factory-manufactured fabrics from China, Thailand, Pakistan, and India are far cheaper than those produced manually. She explained that hand-woven Kente can be distinguished from a factoryproduced item by its texture, which is heavier to the touch. Hand-woven Kente is made in strips and manually sewn together; factory produced Kente is seamless. Rosina Osei of Rosina’s African Fashion in downtown Newark, New Jersey contends that customers have a choice to buy quality textiles or otherwise. Linda Kuffour of My Outlet African Fabrics in Orange, New Jersey,


North America pointed out an original Jooji (George) from Nigeria and one made in India. Texas Couple Arrested She believes Africa is losing its unique for Allegedly Enslaving handicraft fabric designs to some of these Asian mass producers. Guinea Girl for 16 Kente is believed to have first been factory-manufactured by a textile com- Years pany in Ghana. Wholesale dealers looking to beat down cost took the designs to China, where they were factory-produced at cheaper rate than in Ghana. Today, most African fabric dealers import factory-produced textiles from elsewhere and sell to wholesalers and retailers. While the exquisite and expensive Ghanaian men’s wraparound cloths are products of India, African wax prints have been manufactured in Holland for decades. In New York City, midtown Broadway is filled with fabrics mostly utilized by Africans. One textile vendor told this writer matter-of-factly, “African fabrics, prints and clothes are worn by Africans, but they no longer come from Africa.”

A vendor at the Malcom Shabaaz Harlem Market showing a Senegalese shirt to a client

Factory machine-produced cloth on left versus a hand-produced cloth on right.


A Texas case involving the son of late Guinea President Ahmed Sekou Toure has put the spotlight on human trafficking for forced labor. Mohamed Toure, 57, and his wife Denise Cros-Toure, 57, are under house arrest pending a court case for allegedly bringing a 5-year-old girl from Guinea and forcing her to work as an unpaid domestic helper and nanny for 16 years. If convicted of forced labor, they could face up to 20 years in prison. The couple, who also were ordered to turn over their passports, have denied the allegations and said the girl’s father sent her to be raised alongside the Toures’ children. The Toures’ oldest daughter spoke in their defense at a recent court hearing, saying the girl was treated like family and was provided with food, clothes, spending money and Christmas presents. The Department of Justice, which declined an interview request, said in a statement that the Toures brought the girl from her village in Guinea in 2000 to their home in Southlake, Texas, where she served as maid, gardener and nanny to the couple’s five children, starting at 6:30 or 7 a.m. and working until the children went to bed. The girl told officials that she never was paid, was not allowed to go to school, was never taken to the doctor, and suffered beatings with a belt or electric cord and other physical abuse when Cros-Toure was dissatisfied with her work. The government’s complaint

Volume 17 Issue 5

against the Toures quoted the girl, who has been identified officially only as Jane Doe, as saying she was afraid to seek help because the Toures took her documentation, she had no money and she spoke little English. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram cited a police report from 2002 that said officers, responding to a report of a runaway, found her in a park and returned her to the Toure home. She escaped in 2016, partly with the help of neighbors. The International Labor Organization estimates more than 40 million people are modern slaves around the world. Karen Romero, director of training for Freedom Network USA, an anti-trafficking organization, says human trafficking is a bigger problem in the U.S. than most people know. “It’s very underreported,” Romero told VOA’s English to Africa service in an interview. “We’re starting to become more aware. Some people are beginning to report more. But we still know that what we’re seeing reported is only a fraction of what’s out there.” Some children are sold by their parents; others are runaways. “So, we know traffickers will prey on the vulnerability of individuals … especially of individuals coming to the U.S. with promises of jobs, of promises of a better life,” Romero said. “We know in their home countries, they’re often f leeing violence, discrimination, poverty. “There are different kinds of control that the traffickers utilize … oftentimes taking away their documentation, isolating them from not just their family but from their community. More often than not, they’re told that if they told anyone, no one would believe them.” Voice of America

Tarrant County Jail booking photo Mohamed Toure, 57, and his wife, Denise Toure, 57, who have alledged to have enslaved a young female from Guinea in their home for 16 years.

Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018


North America Treated Like Trash KIERA FELDMAN

The body of the young man lay in the middle of Jerome Avenue beneath the elevated train tracks, the scene lit by the neon blue sign above the shuttered El Caribe restaurant. A garbage truck sat mid-turn at the otherwise deserted intersection in the Bronx. Emergency medical personnel arrived, records show, and pronounced the young man dead at 5:08 a.m. on Nov. 7, 2017. The police came, too. Officers taped off the scene, and interviewed the truck driver and his assistant, according to records and interviews. The driver and helper, according to the police report, said the dead man was a stranger who had inexplicably jumped on the truck’s passenger side running board, lost his grip and was run over. The initial police report left blank the spot for the young man’s name. Within hours, a Bronx News12 reporter said neighbors thought the victim was “a homeless man that they’ve seen in the area.” By afternoon, he was “a daredevil homeless man” in the Daily News. The garbage truck belonged to Sanitation Salvage, among the largest commercial trash haulers in the city. A company supervisor eventually came to retrieve the truck and take it back to the company yard. Then, according to workers told about the night’s events, it was promptly sent back out without so much as a cleaning. Two miles south of the accident, in a Bronx apartment off the Grand Concourse, a mother waited for her son. Hadiatou Barry, a Guinean immigrant, had come to the Bronx for a better life for her family. Her eldest son, Mouctar Diallo, 21, had a bed in the living room of their apartment. The young man often worked nights, and with the sun coming up should have been home asleep. But his bed remained empty. Soon enough, Hadiatou Barry got the worst sort of news, a double-barreled blow of devastation and insult. Mouctar Diallo’s nighttime job had been as an informal helper on garbage trucks owned by Sanitation Salvage, and the truck he’d been working on that night had killed him. Then, she learned, the truck’s driver and main helper — men who’d known him for more than a year and paid him off-the-books for his help hauling trash to the curb — had claimed not to know him. The rest of the city now knew her son only as a homeless person. “He is my son, and I want the truth for him,” Hadiatou Barry said in a recent interview. “In order for it to not happen to somebody else.” The truth of Mouctar Diallo’s death is that the authorities investigating

Mouctar Diallo

the accident did not learn that he was a worker on the truck for at least two months, and that when they did, they took no action against the driver and helper who had lied to police. The Business Integrity Commission, the New York City agency charged with oversight of the commercial garbage industry, allowed both the driver and main helper to keep working. The police and Bronx prosecutors closed their investigation with no criminal charges. Last Friday, Sean Spence, the Sanitation Salvage driver who authorities say ran over Diallo and lied about it, struck and killed another man, 72–yearold Leo Clarke. Clarke, walking with a cane, was crossing in the middle of a Bronx block Friday evening when he was crushed by the 40-ton truck. A police investigation is underway, and Spence now has been suspended from driving for Sanitation Salvage.

“Oh my God,” Hadiatou Barry said when told of Spence’s involvement in the second fatality. The New York Police Department said lying to the police was not a crime. The department maintains it did a thorough investigation, collecting witness statements, 911 calls and videotape from the scene. The police, a spokesman said, had no authority to investigate the operations of a private sanitation company. A spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney said the Business Integrity Commission had made no criminal referral to prosecutors about the conduct of Sanitation Salvage’s employees and thus prosecutors had no cause to investigate further. The Business Integrity Commission’s spokesperson said the commission was alerted to the possibility that the November death involved a worker in early January, during a

meeting with labor advocates about conditions at Sanitation Salvage. The fact that it was Diallo who had been killed had been an open secret among the workers for months. Commission officials said they then confronted Spence and his chief helper, Chris Bourke, and that the two men confessed to having invented the tale of an unknown pedestrian jumping on the truck. The commission spokesperson said the agency lacked the power to suspend the driver on its own. It said Spence was suspended after the second death because the commission asked the company to do so, and Sanitation Salvage complied. Asked why the commission did not make that kind of request immediately after finding that a driver in a fatal accident had lied to police, a spokesperson declined to comment. Several attempts to contact Spence were not successful. Sanitation Salvage did not respond to multiple requests for comment over several weeks. In an interview, Bourke, the main helper on the truck that killed Diallo, claimed not to know where the tale of the daredevil homeless man had come from. He said he only talked briefly to police, and couldn’t remember what he told them. Diallo, he said, “popped out of nowhere.” To this day, Hadiatou Barry and former colleagues of Mouctar at Sanitation Salvage say they are not confident they know the truth about how Mouctar died. Helpers are not supposed to ride on the front running boards, workers say. They walk the street, haul trash to the curb and ride the back of the truck. CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

The intersection of Gun Hill Road and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, where 21-year-old Mouctar Diallo died while working on a Sanitation Salvage garbage truck on Nov. 7, 2017


May 15, 2018


Volume 17 Issue 5

North America TREATED LIKE TRASH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 Every night in New York, an army of private garbage trucks from more than 250 sanitation companies sets out across the five boroughs picking up the trash from all manner of businesses. Racing to complete long and often circuitous routes, the trucks crisscross the city at breakneck speeds. The human toll is substantial: Since 2010, there have been 33 deaths attributed to private garbage trucks across the city. Sanitation Salvage trucks, now involved in two deaths in six months, have failed federal safety inspections at a rate that’s four times the national average. A Department of Labor investigation found that the company had failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and that workers pulled 18-hour days. Drivers are so overtaxed that they hire additional helpers — often young men off the street — to try and complete their routes on time. Mouctar Diallo was one of those, known at Sanitation Salvage as “third men.” It is unclear when Diallo arrived in the Bronx — the borough has one of greatest concentrations of Guinean immigrants in America — but he’d begun working for Sanitation Salvage in the late spring of 2016, according to interviews with co-workers. He first worked with a driver named Timothy Belgrave, and later with Vernando Smith. Diallo, nicknamed “Gotto,” was beloved for his intrepidness — he wasn’t afraid of rats — and the way he made everyone laugh. He’d been working with Spence and

Handle Religion with Care, Says Panel Religion is a complicated phenomenon that has to be handled with utmost care. It can be a source of hate, violence, discord, even oppression. Yet it can serve as a means of dialogue, peace, affirmation, and charitable force in the world. These were some of the observations and conclusions by a panel of experts and practitioners at the Fourth Manley-Yamba Lecture Series at First Presbyterian and Trinity Church, South Orange, New Jersey April 22, 2018. The speakers cited numerous examples of “religious barriers” in various traditions that impeded dialogue and peace. “Conservation, progressive, different strands within religious traditions have encouraged racism, antiSemitism, and Islamophobia, among others; while other religions have even supported slavery,” one speaker noted.

On April 27, 2018, Sanitation Salvage driver Sean Spence killed a second person, a 72-yearold man crossing the street, at 152nd Street and Jackson Avenue in the Bronx.

Bourke for over a year. “Almost everybody there would know Gotto,” Smith, the former driver, said of workers and management at Sanitation Salvage. “They would see him on the truck. Maybe they didn’t know his name but they knew his face. He was the only African who worked for the company.” Such third men, according to interviews with 15 current and former workers, often got paid off the books, either directly by the company or out of the pockets of drivers and main helpers. The drivers and main helpers were then sometimes reimbursed by the

company, according to current and former workers. Such informal payments were a testament to how impossibly long the routes were. A typical route at another company in the Bronx would be around 200 stops. At Sanitation Salvage, many routes had close to 1,000 stops, if not more. Third men could make anywhere from $30 to $80 a night, for shifts as long as 18 or 20 hours, according to workers. In 2015, after an investigation, the Department of Labor concluded that Sanitation Salvage owed workers $385,000 in unpaid overtime over the

At the same time various religious movements have worked to bridge differences and build new communities of peace and understanding. “Peacebuilding is work; it doesn’t just happen, yet it is achievable,” said Dr. Bartoli, Dean of Seton Hall’s School of Diplomacy. In its fourth year, the annual lecture series was established by First Presbyterian and Trinity Church to honor two distinguished members of the South Orange community: Dr. Robert H. Manley, Founder and President of the Center for Global Responsibility, and former Professor of Political Science at Seton Hall University; and Dr. Zachary Yamba, former President of Essex County College, Newark, NJ, known for his extensive and transformative leadership of the College. Moderated by Dr. Jonathan Golden, Director of the Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict at Drew University, the panel consisted of Dr, Andrea Bartoli, Dean of Seton Hall

University’s School of Diplomacy, Dr. E. Obiri Addo, Pan-African Studies Program, Drew University, Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of Temple B’nai Keshet in Montclair, NJ, Ms. Sunita

past three years. Sanitation Salvage refused to pay, claiming the workers were seeking to be paid for time actually spent hanging out with friends. When the department chose not to take the company to court, the issue ended. Bourke, the helper who first recruited Diallo off the street, said of the long hours and demanding routes, “If you do the math, accidents will happen.” Waste and recycling work is the fifth-most fatal job in America. “It’s not just about Gotto’s death,” Bourke said. “To work like this is unhuman. They’ll make you work like a slave. You can do 18 hours one day and, say, go home and get four hours of sleep and come back and do 12 hours.” Voice of America and ProPublica sent Sanitation Salvage and its lawyers a detailed set of questions weeks ago — about Diallo’s death, the false account given by the driver and helper, the working conditions at the company, and its trouble with the Department of Labor. The company did not respond. This week, the Business Integrity Commission said the second death and the accounts of dangerous working conditions had prompted an investigation that could result in halting the company’s operations or installing a monitor. However, a coalition of labor, safe streets and Bronx community organizations are calling for an immediate suspension of Sanitation Salvage’s license. “We take these workers’ allegations very seriously,” the commission said. “If the results of the investigation merit these actions or any others, they will be taken immediately.” Voice of America | ProPublica Viswanath, Co-Founder of Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and Hadiyah Finney, Co-Chair, Essex County Chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.

Seated L-R: Ms. Sunita Viswanath, Dr. E. Obiri Addo, Dr. Andrea Bartoli, and Dr. Robert Manley. Standing, L-R: Dr. Zachary Yamba, Rabbia Elliot Tepperman, Ms. Hadiyah Finney, and Dr. Jonathan Golden (Photo Credit: Valencia Norman).

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Business & Technology Ethiopian Airlines Revises its 15-Year Strategic Plan Ethiopian Airlines has announced plans to revise its ambitious 15-year strategic plan from 2010, which called for the airline to become the largest carrier in Africa by 2025. While the airline’s initial plan outlined a strategy to more than double its fleet to 120 aircraft within the review period, Ethiopian Airlines has already fast approached a fleet of 100 planes at the half-way mark. The revised plan now sets a target for the airline to deploy 150 aircraft by 2025. Founded in 1945 as a joint venture with the now defunct American carrier TWA (Trans World Airlines), Ethiopian Airlines took to the skies with its inaugural flight to neighboring Cairo. Over the past seven decades, the carrier has rapidly expanded to become a juggernaut over the skies of Africa. Already the continent’s largest in terms of revenue as well as the most profitable, the state owned carrier currently operates a fleet of 98 aircraft. The updated strategy outlines upwards of 60 aircraft currently on order, with Airbus and Boeing offerings leading the count. Half the aircraft orders are for Medium Range passenger planes,

which would seek to secure its lead well ahead of its competitors in the regional market such as Kenya Airways and South African Airways; both of which have been plagued with financial troubles of late. With the January 2018 announcement by the 23 signatory African nations to support the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative, intra-African travel is set to improve markedly and bring about lower costs for travelers. As the leading proponent of the SAATM initiative, Ethiopian Airlines has furthered its plans to become the

dominant network for passenger and cargo flights on the continent. Through a strategic blend of partnerships, investments and acquisitions, Ethiopian Airlines has revived defunct regional private and national carriers throughout Africa, in a bid to establish multiple hubs across the continent. The carrier has also rapidly grown its global network, announcing 10 new destinations within the past six months. “We have expanded more than we planned,” commented Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, in the announcement

Africa Wants the Same Opportunity as the West Had to Develop The West used coal to power its industrial revolution and now many developing countries argue they should not be held back from using this abundant resource to do the same. Coal is abundant across Africa. South Africa alone has around 200 billion tonnes – enough to keep the lights on for at least 200 years, according to figures by government electricity utility Eskom, which wants to be able to use the resource for more power generation. Other countries in the region such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana also have vast reserves. Most Arabian Gulf oil exporters have the blessing of being close to the ocean, meaning they can readily export their crude and thus monetise an important resource. Coal deposits in Southern Africa are harder to ship, since they require rail infrastructure and ports. Since countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe are landlocked, they rely on neighbouring nations for access to the sea. Some with coal plus a coastline still have difficulty getting

South Africa’s state power utility Eskom is among companies pushing for more coal usage in Africa

their product to market. Tanzania has deposits in the Mbeya area, nearly 700 kilometres eastwards from the coastline and port of Dar es Salaam. As a result, coal-rich countries are looking at alternatives to turning their coal resources into bankable assets. One way is to build small-scale electricity plants at the coal source. Tanzania’s Mbeya coal to power project, for instance, will see a 300 megawatt plant built in the far west of the country. Much of its power will be exported to neighbouring countries such as

Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both of which experience chronic energy shortages. Others are being a little more ambitious. Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe are in talks over a $550 million port and 1,700km rail venture. This will link the coalfields of the latter two countries to Mozambique on the East coast of Africa, making exports to Asia and the Gulf a possibility. Of course, coal energy must now compete with renewables, which present a far more appealing environmental profile. However, it is unlikely that

regarding the revised strategy, with passenger numbers tripling between 2008 and 2017. “With our continued fleet modernization endeavor, we shall soon mark a notable milestone of reaching a 100 fleet capability, thus classifying Ethiopian as the first African carrier to own and operate the youngest and most modern fleet in the continent,” said GebreMariam. The airline has also made noteworthy strides in passenger services, with TripAdvisor awarding Ethiopian Airlines as the “The Best Business Class in Africa and Indian Ocean” many African countries will be able to afford – or even have access to – some of the backup solutions required to turn wind and solar into a 24/7 resource. Pumped hydro stations that use electricity during off-peak demand hours to send water uphill, then allowing it to run down and turn turbines, are a common form of energy storage in the West. But many African countries lack the water resources or geography to make such projects widely available. Only South Africa has a pumped storage scheme, recently opened in its water-rich midlands. Batteries are also unlikely to make it as a form of energy storage in African countries any time soon, as the add-on complexity of such a systems would make electricity unaffordable for most. While solar and wind projects are now common across the continent, especially Southern Africa, the need for base power remains. For now, it appears countries with coal reserves and a shortage of electricity will old-school it and continue to build fossil-fuel burning plants to meet the needs of their growing populations. The National


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Volume 17 Issue 5

Business & Technology Remittances to Africa Cost Far Too Much— More Competition Would Change That DAN KOPF

In 2018, about $40 billion will be sent to Sub-Saharan African countries from people working abroad. They will be charged exorbitantly. It doesn’t have to be this way. A recently released World Bank report shows that the cost of sending remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be far higher than any other region in the world. On average, to send $200 to and from a country in the region will cost almost $19 in the first quarter of 2018. This is more than 20% higher than the charge for a remittance to any other region. (Globally, about over $600 billion in remittances were sent in 2017). While average remittance costs for Sub-Saharan Africa fell dramatically from 14% in 2008 to about 10% in 2014, little progress has been made recently. The average fee cost has hovered between 9% and 10% since 2015 (pdf). Given that these remittances make up 2.5% of the region’s GDP, there is little that could be done that would benefit more Africans than lowering these fees. Remittances are particularly important to certain countries. In Liberia, Comoros, and the Gambia, remittances make up over 20% of GDP. Even in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, remittances were worth 5.6% of GDP in 2017. In fact Nigeria’s oil revenues in 2017 of around $20 billion were lower than the $22 billion it received in remittances. These estimates are conservative, says the World Bank, as they don’t include remittances using informal channels.

Goverments key to increasing competition Regulations require money transfer operators to make sure that the are not assisting in the laundering money or sending money to terrorists. The administrative costs associated with these checks may deter bad actors, but they also drive up the cost for the millions of people legally receiving money, turning many to informal markets. Making these regulations less onerous would be worth the risks— particularly for transactions of small amounts. Another reason for the expense of remittances is that, in many countries,

consumers lack choice. In many African countries, the national post office has an exclusive partnership with one money transfer operator. Since the post office is the most accessible place to collect their remittances for many people, particularly in rural areas, this means they are facing a virtual monopoly. Monopolies mean higher mark ups on such payments, and less money in the pockets of the rural poor. One reason to be optimistic about remittance costs decreasing is the move away from cash towards digital payments. Digital transactions get rid of the need for physical agents and the costs associated with moving around large amounts of cash. As my colleague Yinka Adegoke pointed out on a recent episode of the Slate Money Podcast, new digital entrants into the Nigerian remittance market have significantly brought down costs. In the first quarter of 2018, digital transfer providers like Azimo and TransferWise offered the lowest charges on remittances from the UK to Nigeria. Their fees are smaller than any on offer ten years ago. Some observers also hold out hope that cryptocurrencies could be bring down costs. Don’t hold your breath. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are far too volatile and confusing to use for remittance senders to engage with them. It is conceivable that blockchain, the underlying technology that attempts cryptocurrencies to make reliable, could make the infrastructure for sending remittances safer and more efficient. Still, this has nothing on the less sexy, but much more important, impacts of good government policy. Quartz

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Africa’s Desperate Youth Are Getting High on Opioids and Anything They Can Get Their Hands On YOMI KAZEEM | LYNSEY CHUTEL

Sitting in a dingy café in the crime. The actual details of the death of a young man called “Kenneth aka Dagba Junior” from the Lagos suburb of Ketu remain murky, but local news reports are clear on the culprit: gutter water. His friends say Kenneth had gone out for the night at a local hotel and decided to indulge in the potent mix of codeine, tramadol, rohypnol, cannabis and water or juice. While the mixture enhances the enjoyable high of each drug ingredient, their side effects are also increased leading to a very risky outcome. Reports say after taking his gutter water mix he had a seizure, and was rushed to a local hospital, where he was declared dead a few hours later. Gutter water isn’t the only dangerous cocktail of drugs which a generation of young Africans use to get their high or fix for relatively cheap. Everything from lizard dung and cobwebs to petrol fumes and rat poison are on the list of DIY drugs for a generation of poor, disenfranchised young urban Africans who feel there are few options for a better life. With expensive illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin out of reach for many unemployed young people, they’re turning to a range of cheap options—and concoctions—to get high. The spreading addiction among Africa youth to cheap synthetic

opioids brought in from China and India has had much press recently. Tramadol, a pain relief drug, is flooding African cities including Khartoum, Libreville, Cairo and Accra. Last week, Nigeria banned codeine, typically found in cough syrups, following a BBC documentary which showed that a thriving black market trade involving insiders at some of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. Opioids are generally cheap and widely available due to unregulated production: Tramadol pills cost less than a dollar and codeine syrups sell for $3 in Nigeria. As a result, young adults are increasingly reaching

extreme measures in search of a cheap high. Combining opioids with alcohol is a popular choice. The mixture of two central nervous system depressants results in a wider effect on the brain: codeine binds to opioid receptors while alcohol affects the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. Both drugs interact with neurotransmitters tied to mood, particularly dopamine and serotonin, and result in the high. More than availability and the creativity of youthful addicts, much of the drug abuse culture is fueled by the inability of most African economies to grow quickly and get big enough to cater to a bulging youth population. High unemployment rates mean that millions of young people in large countries like Nigeria and South Africa to much smaller ones have few options and are susceptible to turning to drugs as an escape. It’s a problem that will likely get worse with an extra 1.3 billion people set to added to the continent’s population by 2050.

Beyond opiods

Homeless people in Somalia sniffing glue.

Beyond opioids and alcohol, young adults are turning to several crude options for a high. Smoking lizard parts and dung, known to possess psychoactive qualities is rampant in northern Nigeria. Sniffing glue, petrol, sewage and urine as inhalants has also become common. Hydrocarbons in petrol suppress the central nervous system to deliver

effects similar to getting drunk while gas from the fermented sewage has attributes of a hallucinogenic and delivers a “euphoric high similar to ingesting cocaine.” In South Africa, a successful public health response to HIV/AIDS has led to a drug craze fueled by state-administered anti-retroviral treatment. “Nyaope” is a cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs, low-grade heroin, marijuana and sometimes rat poison. Also known as whoonga or sugars, the cheap drug is rife in some of South Africa’s most impoverished neighborhoods. “Tik,” as crystal methamphetamine is known in South Africa, has become popular delivering a high that can last for up to eight hours. Its effects, though, can last a lifetime as the stimulant is associated with brain and heart damage. In neighboring Namibia and Botswana, drug abuse is also growing rapidly especially among young and unemployed. In Kenya, as as far back as 2009, a study showed that thousands of homeless street children were already addicted to sniffing glue. The drug combinations may differ from country to country, but the symptoms are the same: a lack of opportunities for the so-called youth bulge. African governments are struggling to find a cure to both the the cause and the epidemic. Few have adequately staffed and equipped public rehabilitation centers or a coordinated public health response, never mind how to create jobs for Africa’s youth. Quartz


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Volume 17 Issue 5

West Africa

Sierra Leone Freetown’s New Mayor Brings New Vision to Sierra Leone ELIZABETH ALLAN

Sierra Leone conjures images of blood diamonds, child soldiers and Ebola. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr wants us to remember a different time in her country’s history. “We were known as the ‘Athens of West Africa,’ ” she says. “Future heads of government from throughout Africa studied here, at Fourah Bay College.” Aki-Sawyerr will soon have the chance to implement her vision. In March 2018, the people of Freetown elected her mayor by a near-30-point margin. Standing under 5′3″ and invariably dressed in a tailored Africana dress, the 50-year-old plans to bring a radical transformation in governance to the capital of the world’s 16th poorest country. If successful, her model of line-by-line project management and community-driven accountability could be a case study for government leaders across the developing world. The daughter of a university professor and the director of a Christian NGO, Aki-Sawyerr is a product of her country’s intellectual history. She attended a 150-year-old secondary school, St. Joseph’s Convent, and graduated from Fourah Bay College, sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest institute of higher learning. In a tradition familiar to nationals of the former British colony, Aki-Sawyerr traveled to the U.K. for her master’s degree. She stayed, launching her career in the private sector, first at accounting firm Arthur Andersen and then in real estate. Although largely U.K.-based in the 1990s and 2000s with her husband and two children, Aki-Sawyerr never lost sight of the need to support her home country. “Every conversation with [my husband] Keith and me included the words Sierra Leone,” she recalls. In 1999, Aki-Sawyerr co-founded the Sierra Leone War Trust to help victims of the country’s decade-long civil war. Five years later, her husband cofounded the Sierra Leone–focused real estate and infrastructure development firm IDEA UK, which Aki-Sawyerr joined in 2009. However, it took the shock of the 2014–15 West Africa Ebola crisis to bring about a more permanent return for AkiSawyerr. In the epidemic’s early months, she worked abroad to raise funds and support, but in October 2014, with the disease spreading faster, she took her fight to the front lines. The National Ebola Response Committee put her to work expanding treatment bed usage and capacity.

She was so effective that in January 2015, NERC CEO Palo Conteh appointed her the director of planning, a position she held until the official end of the crisis in November 2015. With the crisis over, Aki-Sawyerr thought she would rejoin the private sector, but duty called. The president of Sierra Leone asked her to lead the President’s Delivery Team (PDT), the implementation arm of the national postEbola recovery effort. The $840 million program worked through government ministries to deliver on 13 “Key Result Areas” (KRAs), which spanned disease preparedness systems, sanitation and job creation. At the PDT, Aki-Sawyerr tested the project management and data-driven accountability system that she plans to implement as mayor. Every planning cycle, she personally led line-by-line reviews of implementation plans and, to keep the ministries honest, she partnered with Sierra Leone’s 149 Paramount Chiefs, indigenous local leaders, to ensure

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr on the campaign trail.

that services were reaching targeted beneficiaries. This exacting accountability system marked a significant departure from business as usual. “Her attention to detail is definitely unique — it is also needed,” says Emily Stanger-Sfeile, who worked closely with Aki-Sawyerr at the PDT and is currently Sierra Leone country lead at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Her dedication also won her the respect of Sierra Leoneans. As part of the sanitation initiative, Operation Clean Freetown (OCF), Aki-Sawyerr worked side-by-side with youth groups to clean the sewage-laced trash that lines Freetown’s thoroughfares. “Seeing Yvonne work with wards to clean up the city seemed to really resonate with residents,” notes Dr. Luisa Enria, a lecturer at the University of Bath whose research examines experiences of citizenship among those living in Sierra Leone’s slums. Aki-Sawyerr’s success with OCF prompted calls for her to run for mayor.

As she tells it, “At first, I laughed and told them I was going back to the private sector — but then I kept on returning to the idea. On my daily commute across Freetown, I would look around and think, ‘Oh, I’ll fix that!’ ” Now mayor-elect of the one millionstrong city, Aki-Sawyerr has already informed the Freetown City Council (FCC) that she will review every government process and has committed to working neighborhood by neighborhood to develop locally driven transformation plans. FCC members have already witnessed the force that she will bring to the mayor’s office. In one meeting that Aki-Sawyerr attended as PDT Lead, “Everyone in the room was yelling at each other,” recounts Dr. Yakama Jones, who served with Aki-Sawyerr at the PDT. “Yvonne took off her shoes, stood on top of the table and shouted, ‘Can everyone be quiet!’ It worked.” Aki-Sawyerr’s track record has generated high expectations for her four-year term — and she will need to deliver results. “An important stumbling block for many politicians in this context is being too ambitious in their promises,” cautions Enria. Many factors are out of her control. In the past 30 years, Freetown has witnessed a civil war, an Ebola epidemic and, most recently, mudslides that killed more than 1,000 people. Her political party, the APC, lost the presidential election, meaning she will need to coordinate her plans with a potentially antagonistic central government. As she confronts these challenges, she will do so separated from her husband and two children, who remain in the U.K. Admitting the pain of separation, Aki-Sawyerr draws on her conviction: “If by God’s grace we succeed in transforming Freetown and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially children, the sacrifice would have been worth it.”” OZY

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West Africa

Ghana IMF Approves $191m For Ghana The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the fifth and sixth review of Ghana’s economic performance under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. The completion of the reviews on Monday, April 30, 2018, enables the disbursement of about $191 million, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to about $764.1 million. During the review, adjustments were made to the program to ensure that it remains on track and to enhance its prospects of success. In this context, the Executive Board also granted waivers, including for deviations in a few program targets. Ghana’s three-year arrangement was approved on April 3, 2015, for about $955.2 million or 180 percent of quota at the time of approval of the arrangement. It aims to restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability in the country to foster a return to high growth and job creation while protecting social spending. Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Ghana, Mr Tao Zhang, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director, said: “Implementation of the ECF-supported program has significantly improved in 2017. Growth has rebounded, the fiscal deficit has declined, leading to a primary surplus for the first time in fifteen years, the external position has strengthened, generating a build-up of external buffers, and key steps have been taken to address fragilities in the financial sector. Reforms should continue to

Nigeria Ebola Outbreak: Nigeria Imposes Airport Screenings KUNLE FALAYI

Nearly a month after first going to tThe Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says it is taking swift action to ensure that Ebola does not enter the country following a fresh outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. NIS spokesperson Sunday James told BBC Yoruba that immigration officials would tighten vigilance at airports and make more use of thermometers to screen passengers: “We are sending a signal to all entry points in the country. The intention

entrench these hard-won gains. “The authorities’ commitment to fiscal discipline and the expenditure restraint shown in 2017 to meet the endyear deficit target are commendable. The government should continue to implement its fiscal consolidation program, with the adjustment focused mainly on increased domestic revenue mobilization. The recent announcement to enact revenue measures in the context of the mid-year budget review in July is welcome. Such measures will be critical to ensure that Ghana’s fiscal policies can be sustained over time. “Gains from fiscal consolidation and macroeconomic stability need to be underpinned by continued efforts to implement wide-ranging and ambitious reforms. The public financial management regulations recently submitted to

Parliament should help strengthen budget formulation and execution. Stronger oversight over the management of public finances should continue to be pursued, also in line with recommendations from the audit of unpaid bills. “As the debt burden remains elevated, continued prudence in debt management is essential to reduce the risks associated with market-based borrowing. It will be important as intended, to undertake liability management operations with part of the proceeds from the planned Eurobond to help mitigate foreign-exchange roll-over risk and smooth the debt maturity profile. “Monetary policy should continue to be focused on achieving the inflation target. In this context, while the decision to extend and publish the memorandum of understanding on zero financing of

the government by the Bank of Ghana is welcome, additional amendments to the Bank of Ghana Act would be a more robust way to eliminate the prospect of fiscal dominance. “The authorities should continue addressing fragilities in the financial sector. Further actions to tackle the overhang in non-performing loans and more progress on regulatory reforms and in strengthening oversight and cleaning up the microfinance sector will help support credit to the private sector. The recent bank intervention should be followed up with decisive action to restore the bank’s solvency and financial viability. “The Fund is looking forward to the successful completion of the ECF arrangement in the coming year and stands ready to continue to support Ghana in the future.” Modern Ghana

is to ensure that any suspected case can be promptly handed over to health officials at the airports. This is a matter which everybody must be concerned about. All hands must be on deck.” During the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, more than 11,000 people died – mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola also spread to Nigeria when Patrick Sawyer, who was infected with the virus, flew into the country from Liberia. Nigeria’s response to the crisis was generally praised. Eight people died, including Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevo, who first attended to Mr Sawyer and helped to ensure a more devastating outbreak was avoided in Nigeria. BBC Passengers with a high temperature will be handed over to health officials


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Volume 17 Issue 5


West Africa

Ivory Coast After Cape Town, Ivory Coast City Feels the Thirst LADJI ABOU SANOGO

Earlier this year, Cape Town grabbed the world’s headlines as it careened towards a water armageddon. Crippled by a three-year-long drought, the South African city braced for a complete shutdown of domestic water supplies. In the event, Cape Town dodged the immediate bullet. But thousands of kilometres (miles) away, another African city has had far less luck -- and much less attention for its ordeal. “We haven’t had a drop from our taps for three weeks,” said a resident of Bouake, Ivory Coast’s second largest city, while she awaited her turn to draw water from from a well. “The situation is catastrophic,” said an employee of the state-run water distribution company, Sodeci, who asked not to be named. Located in grassy savanna around 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan, Bouake is a city of more than half million souls, with a million more in surrounding territory. The area has been hit by a double whammy. The dammed lake that supplies 70 percent of the city’s water has run dry. One factor is an unprecedented drought that has gripped the region -- a phenomenon in line with expert warnings about climate change. But another, says the territory’s director for water affairs, Seydou Coulibaly, is the impact of unregulated sand quarrying, which has altered the course of waterways feeding the reservoir. “We are struggling to get clean water for drinking and cooking,” computer technician Eliezer Konan told AFP. “Washing has become difficult. It’s a real ordeal.” In a bid to bring some relief, the city has begun drilling wells to obtain fresh water. “We have finished a first operation and we’ll be moving on to the second site in two to three hours,” Hassane Cousteau Cissoko, director of the drilling firm Foraci, said last Thursday in the Houphouetville district. In all, 10 wells will be linked by pipes to a Sodeci water tower, which will then be able to distribute two million litres (more than half a million gallons) of water per day.

After three weeks of dry taps in a time of drought, residents queue for well water in Ivory Cast’s second city, Bouake

This will “relieve the population” but is far from enough to replace the usual supply from the Loka dam, Cissoko said.

‘Praying to God’ For now, Bouake hospital is being supplied by tanker trucks, along with the city’s two prisons and the university campuses. Heavy rain fell one night last week, to the joy of many. “We collected lots of water that night. The heavy rain allowed us to fill all our receptacles,” said Awa

Coulibaly in the Belle Ville 1 district. “But once we’ve used up this hoard, what’s going to happen then? We should go on praying to God for rain every day.” In the Sokoura district, the owner of a car wash made the most of the downpour, selling jerrycans of 20 litres of water for 500 CFA francs (0.76 euro or $0.93) apiece. He was swiftly overwhelmed. No rain has fallen since, but in any event rainwater and tanks “are insufficient”, said another resident, Mariam Konate. “The government

must deal with this problem head on.” Some people, however, long ago started to take precautionary measures. Aramata Toure, who sells vegetables in Dar-Es-Salam 1 district, has dug her own water supply. “Around here, it’s the well water that we use, along with our neighbours,” she said. But that is not a long-term solution for everybody. “Even the wells start to dry up when lots of people rush for water,” said Amoin Konan of the Ahougnanssou district. AFP

A general view of the Agoua-Yaokro dam managed by Ivory Coast’s state water firm Sodeci near Bouake

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East Africa

Rwanda The Female Moto Drivers of Kigali YARNO RITZEN

Getting around in the Rwandan capital Kigali is best done by “moto” - or motorcycle - a form of transportation common in countries in East Africa. Motorbikes serve as taxis, zooming between cars often in breakneck fashion, bringing passengers and their luggage from point A to B. Although countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have different names for the form of transport, motos are ever-present in each. But in Rwanda, the profession of moto driver has been dominated by men, not only leading to potentially dangerous moments for women using the motos, but also excluding them from gaining economic power. Now, one company is slowly trying to change that, employing the first female moto drivers in Rwanda. “When we started this project, there were no female moto drivers. So I went out to look for women for this project,” Sandrine Nikuze told Al Jazeera. Nikuze works for SafeMotos, the first moto company in Rwanda to start employing women as drivers. But finding those women was not easy. “I talked to the women who sold goods on the side of the street, which is not allowed in Rwanda,” she said. “When I interviewed them, I told them we could change their lives. I told them they no longer had to fear the police who would chase them because they were selling goods on the side of the streets. “But when I tried to talk these women they said, ‘no woman can do that’. They thought people were going to laugh at them, and they thought they wouldn’t be able to ride the motorcycle,” Nikuze said. “They were simply afraid of doing it.”

Female empowerment But Nikuze persevered, eventually signing up five women, of whom three got their moto license. The idea to enroll women as drivers came from Barrett Nash, one of the two founders of the company. “Rwanda talks a lot about female empowerment, so I was struck by the fact there were no female drivers,” Nash told Al Jazeera.

Until recently, the moto-taxi business in Rwanda was completely male-dominated

Currently, the most important thing is for both the drivers and the customers to feel like female drivers are normal. “People often say things like ‘oh females can’t drive’, but the people on the back often don’t even notice the drivers are female because they wear helmets and can’t see they’re women,” Nash said.

‘no way I can’t believe it’. After that he apologised, but he learned from that experience that women can do this just as well.” And, maybe more importantly, the women’s lives are improving because they gain financial independence and respect within the community. “The women have all sorts of

Young men in tourist-dependent coastal towns say they can no longer make ends meet.

Nikuze recalls an instance one of the drivers told her about, confirming this. “Two female drivers were at the same place, and one of them looked a bit more like a man. The customer went to the driver who looked a bit more manly, and he said bad things about female drivers,” she said. “When he reached the destination he discovered he was being driven by a female, after which he said

backgrounds: single mothers, married women, anyone who wants to change Rwandan culture and be more independent,” Nikuze said. The company is now looking at a feature to allow female customers to specifically request female drivers, which would improve the safety for both driver and customer. But currently, there simply are not enough women who drive the motorcycles to meet that demand, partially because it is an issue

getting enough motos for the women, who currently have to go through a complicated process to acquire a bike. “We still have a problem getting motos,” Nikuze said, explaining the women start paying for their motorbikes three months after starting to work for the company. Nikuze said she is currently looking at solutions to solve this. “We want to work with the government to provide women with loans so they can get their own motos,” she said. Hopefully soon, she said, the company will also employ female drivers in more rural parts of Rwanda, not just Kigali. Despite the low number of female drivers in Rwanda zooming through the city, Nikuze said her work achieves more than just women’s employment. It is also about a cultural shift, she emphasised, changing the perception of men and women in Rwanda - and around the world. “Every woman has to believe in herself. If you as a woman don’t believe in yourself, in your abilities, nobody else is going to believe in you,” she said. “We as females need to stand up and fight for our rights and fight for our improvement,” Nikuze added. “I would really love every Rwandan woman, every African woman and every woman all over the world to believe that we can do everything we can do that we want to.” Al Jazeera News


May 15, 2018


Volume 17 Issue 5

East Africa

South Sudan Opposition Faction Agrees to Join South Sudan’s Ruling Party An opposition faction controlled by South Sudan’s first vice president has said it will join the country’s ruling party. Taban Deng Gai said on Monday that the political opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - In Opposition (SPLM-IO) had dissolved and joined the ranks of the SPLM party. The vice president’s announcement came before peace talks led by a regional bloc were scheduled to be held in neighbouring Ethiopia on May 17. The move is expected to strengthen the position of the government of President Salva Kiir. The SPLM fractured into different groups as a ruinous civil war erupted in December 2013 - two years after independence from Sudan - when forces loyal to Kiir started fighting

Kenya Kenya’s ‘Rape Taboo’ Spurs Women in Slums to Report Attacks via SMS NITA BHALLA

According to The Energy Progress Hundreds of women and girls in Kenya are using SMS to report cases of rape through a toll-free messaging service set up to help survivors break the silence around sexual violence in the conservative nation, the initiative’s founder said on Thursday. Although there are several hotlines for victims of sex attacks, the SMS platform - operated by the Kenyan charity Wangu Kanja Foundation - is the first to connect survivors with community volunteers who provide them with direct support. “In Kenya, we are socialized to believe sex, sexuality and sexual violence is a private issue. People don’t discuss it - it’s a complete no-go zone,” said Wangu Kanja, founder of the charity operating the SMS service, and also a rape survivor. “Those who do speak out about being raped are not taken seriously

Kiir (C) called SPLM ‘the glue that holds’ South Sudan together

those allied to his former deputy, Riek Machar. Previous attempts at peace have failed, with a ceasefire signed last December breaking down within hours and the most recent round of talks in February ending in deadlock. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from South Sudan’s capital, Juba, said that despite the vice president’s announcement, there will still many opposition groups “fighting the

government”. “It makes it very hard to see how ... they can try to bring together the other factions of SPLM to join the current ruling party and try to end South Sudan’s civil war,” Morgan said. “It could be a great step in trying to at least make reunification attractive to the rest of the parties by weakening them and making it seem like there is nothing to fight for if you have a stronger coalition in government.”

and can face negative reactions from their family, community and police. Most survivors have no one to turn to for help such as getting medical care or even reporting the crime.” Some 5,490 rapes were reported in Kenya in 2016, up 3 percent on the previous year, the latest police statistics show. But women’s rights campaigners say the data is a gross underestimate as many victims do not report sexual offences, fearing they will face shame and stigma in the largely patriarchal and conservative east African nation. The platform has helped about 700 victims of sexual and domestic violence, largely in the country’s sprawling city slums, since launching almost two years ago. “The service was designed for people living in informal settlements,” Kanja said. “They don’t know their rights as well as the rich and elite in Kenya, and don’t how to access services or can’t afford to pay for things like medical care.” The 24-hour SMS service launched in July 2016 in partnership with ActionAid Kenya - provides a mechanism for survivors to seek help by speaking to someone safely, confidentially and without fear of judgment, she added. A 2014 study by the National Crime Research Centre found that only 15 percent of women and girls

who had been sexually violated reported it to the police. Users text HELP to the SMS code 21094 and are immediately called back by an operator who will ask about their situation and connect them with local volunteers often survivors of sexual violence themselves. The volunteers then accompany the women and girls to hospitals or clinics where they can get medical care and also take them to the police to report the assault. Women’s rights lawyers welcome such reporting mechanisms, but add that more needs to be done to ensure

SPLM-IO’s decision came just a few days after an SPLM convention was held in Juba with the goal of reunifying the party. It was the fourth of its kind in recent years. “We must recognise that the SPLM is the glue that holds this country together,” Kiir said at the convention. “If we allow the SPLM to falter, history will never forgive us. Our unity as the SPLM family remains my priority.” SPLM was founded as the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army which fought in the rebellion against the Sudanese government in 1983. It represented South Sudan in an agreement signed in 2005 which paved the way for the country’s independence six years later. The war has killed tens of thousands of people and forced a quarter of the country’s 12 million people from their homes. More than half of the population is in need of food aid according to the UN. Al Jazeera

access to justice. “We conduct training sessions with the police on gender issues, but they often end up being transferred to other areas such as dealing with cattle rustling or terrorism-related crimes,” said Teresa OmondiAdeitan, executive director at the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA), an advocacy group. “There needs to more concerted efforts to keep those trained police on gender-related crimes, as well as providing more support to help them properly investigate crimes to the point of prosecution.” Reuters

Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018


East Africa

Ethiopia Coffee Faces Double Threat to its Existence in Eastern Ethiopia For generations, farmers planted the lush earth of Awedai and nearby areas in eastern Ethiopia with coffee trees, earning a livelihood from a crop that is now the country’s main export. But the centuries-long practice is now being abandoned in favor of khat, a leafy plant chewed as a stimulant in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. “Coffee comes only once a year. But you can harvest khat twice a year,” said Jemal Moussa, a 45-year-old farmer and father of six who depends on the narcotic leaf for income. “Khat is much more useful.” He said it was in the early 2000s that farmers in the Awedai area started planting khat as its popularity rose and coffee prices remained stagnant. One kg of coffee sells for between 50 and 60 birr. A bunch of khat, while not measured in kilograms, goes for 100 birr. Jemal said by this year, the entire economy of Awedai, a small town 35 km outside the ancient city of Harar, relied on the leaf. Trucks piled with khat head out of the town every 30 minutes, dispersing their produce to the nearby Ethiopian Somali Region and Hargeisa, in the neighboring semi-autonomous region of Somaliland.

An Ethiopian coffee farmer picks coffee in his farm Choche, near Jimma, 375 kilometers ( 234 miles) southwest of Addis Ababa.

Illegal in several Western nations, the leaf is immensely popular in the region, giving the chewer a mild amphetamine-like high. In addition to cash incentive of khat, coffee growing is being affected by dwindling forest coverage as well as drought. Farmers believe the characteristic flavor of Ethiopian coffee is derived from growing it in the shade of larger trees — leaving it vulnerable if trees are stunted or removed. And in 2015/16, a drought induced by the El Nino phenomenon — the warming of surface sea temperatures in the Pacific — ravaged the country’s

east, before below average autumn rains in the southern and southeastern parts of the country led to a new drought in lowland pastoralist areas the following year. Indeed, some 5.6 million people required emergency food assistance in the country in 2017. “The harvesting is already delayed by three and a half weeks. By now we would have processed 85-plus percent. But now we have not even picked that much as you can see,” said Aman Adinew, chief executive of Metad Agricultural Development, which processes coffee in Yirgacheffe in southern Ethiopia.


Yirgacheffe is one of the best known coffee brands for Africa’s biggest producer of the bean. “The coffee is still green on the tree — it needs rain to turn red. We are hoping it comes soon,” said Aman. “But if this trend continues, it is going to adversely impact the farmers and businessmen like us the growers like us and the country.” While coffee is heavily dependent on rain, Khat needs less, making it a more attractive option for some farmers. Reuters


May 15, 2018


Volume 17 Issue 5

Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018


North Africa

Morocco Morocco to Cut Diplomatic Ties With Iran Morocco is to cut diplomatic ties with Iran over its support for the Polisario Front, a political-military group at the head of the Western Sahara independence movement. The government in Rabat has accused Tehran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah of funding, training and arming fighters from the Polisario movement. Hezbollah has denied the allegations and criticised Morocco for bowing to what it sees as US, Israeli and Saudi Arabian pressure to cut ties with the Iranian government. Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said that he had spoken with his Iranian counterpart to end ties between the two countries officially. It is understood that the Moroccan Ambassador has already left Tehran and the Iranian embassy in Rabat is to be closed immediately. Bourita told Al Jazeera that Rabat has evidence incriminating the Iranian government, which has assisted Hezbollah’s support for the Polisario Front through its embassy in Algiers. This evidence includes documentation of arms deliveries made to the Front, including surface-to-air SAM9, SAM11 and Strela missiles. It is believed that financial and logistical support to the movement has been ongoing since 2016, but the first delivery of weapons was only sent by Hezbollah last month, prompting Morocco to sever diplomatic relations. The use of the Iranian Embassy in Algiers to channel such support has

Libya Libya and US Sign Agreements on Policing, Prisons and Justice Libya and the US signed a number of agreements in Tunis last week. Libya’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Lutfi Almughrabi and the US Charge d’Affairs, Stephanie Williams, signed a Memorandum of Intent on Friday for airport security, and a Letter of Agreement to support Libyan policing, prisons and justice sector development, Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala was present at the signing ceremony and hosted by Ambassador Maaloul at the Libyan Embassy to Tunisia. Siala and Williams reaffirmed their

Polisario troops in Western Sahara

raised questions about Algerian involvement in the affair and its own links with Hezbollah and the Polisario Front. Bourita explained that Hezbollah military experts have visited a Polisario base within Algeria, an action that could only be undertaken with the Algerian government’s approval, according to The North Africa Post. Rabat sees this as evidence of Algerian hostility towards Morocco’s territorial integrity. The Polisario Front (or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia ElHamra and Río de Oro to give the movement its full name), has a long history of opposition and insurgency in the region. Spanish colonial forces ruled the area from the late 1800s, and the Polisario Front was formed initially as an anti-Spanish movement led by the Sahrawi population in the early 1970s. Following Spain’s withdrawal in

1975, the Western Sahara region was claimed by Mauritania, Morocco and the Polisario Front. Backed by Algeria, the Front waged a 16-year-long war of independence against Morocco and Mauritania, before the latter eventually withdrew its claims to the territory. In 1991, a ceasefire was reached between the two remaining parties, but to date no agreement on borders or the fate of those Sahrawis languishing in refugee camps near the Algerian border has been found. This is not the first time that Iranian involvement in proxy conflicts in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region has come to the fore. Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen has been a central tenet of the ongoing civil war that has afflicted the country since 2011. As early as 2012, reports of arms smuggling by the Iranian Revolutionary

Guard Corps (IRGC) surfaced and IRGC and Hezbollah operatives were believed to be engaged actively in boosting Houthi control over the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Likewise, the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in the ongoing Syrian conflict has been a source of tension with regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia. Just last week, 11 Iranians were killed during an Israeli air strike on a weapons base inside Syria. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would never allow Iran to build bases to launch rockets from Syria. Last week’s air strike was the second against a Syrian military base that resulted in the deaths of Iranians. A senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Israel following the attack.

commitment to the UN Action Plan for Libya. Today’s signings demonstrate the continued commitment of the United States to political reconciliation, security and stabilization in Libya. At the signing ceremony, Williams said, “Today, we are pleased to sign and announce a number of agreements with the Government of National Accord that define our mutual commitment to improving the security situation across Libya.” The agreements provide technical assistance in the field of criminal justice through training while the second concerns the installation of a system for the disclosure of the authenticity of travel documents at airports and Libyan borders. According to the Information Office of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the agreements may allow for the use of technical assistance, the training of Libyan national and the formation of qualified cadres in those areas.

Both sides indicated their aspiration to further strengthen bilateral cooperation to include economic, cultural and other areas. The vision of the two sides agreed on the importance of continuing to support the efforts to address the current political, economic and security

challenges in the context of preserving Libya’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The two sides stressed the importance of supporting the efforts of the United Nations envoy in Libya, Ghassan Salama, to push forward the political process and stabilize the situation..

Middle East Monitor


May 15, 2018

Volume 17 Issue 5


North Africa

Algeria Algeria Remains Africa’s Biggest Military Spender Algeria remains Africa’s largest military importer, spending three times as much on defense equipment as Morocco, according to a 2018 report issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), reports Morocco World News. The report, “Trends in world military expenditure 2017,” estimates that the world’s arms spending stood at USD 1,739 billion in 2017. The globe’s military expenditures in 2017, according to the report, are at the “highest level since the end of the cold war.” Although Algeria decreased its military expenditure by 5.2 percent between 2016-17, the country remains Africa’s largest importer of military arms, spending USD 10 billion. The report opines that the decline in Algeria’s military spending is related to “low oil and gas revenue in recent years.”h SIPRI added that this was the first decrease in Algeria’s military spending since 2003.

Tunisa Tunisia Votes in North Africa’s First Free Local Election

have an Islamic leaning, cast his vote in Tunis. It’s since abandoned political Islam to attract more secular votes, but the party is not expected to win the most votes. Instead it’s the secular Nidaa Tounes party that should come out on top - a sign that Tunisia is still the most secular Arab state. The biggest headache for president Beji Caid Essebsi is likely to be if there’s a low turnou amongst the many young and unemployed people who feel their future remains bleak, almost seven years after the Arab Spring. The vote was postponed several times, raising fears among activists that figures from the old regime were trying to stall the advances promised after the uprising. Euronews

condemnations of Algeria. Algeria is not only an importer of arms. For decades, Morocco’s eastern neighbor has been exporting armored vehicles and weapons to Polisario. Furthermore, Algeria has refused to cooperate in the United Nations-led political process to find a solution to end the conflict over Western Sahara, despite its long-term support of the separatist group. However, Algeria is no longer hiding its support for the self-proclaimed Polisario Front. In May 2017, the Algerian government delivered a generous number of arms to Polisario, escalating the conflict in Western Sahara.

r You

Tunisia was where the Arab Spring first began in 2011 - and now it’s where North Africa’s first local election is being held too. Over five million people are eligible to vote including, for the first time, some in remote corners of the country. In a another sign of progress, half the candidates must be women. A quarter must also be under 35 and there’s also a quota for the disabled. Rached Yannoushi, the leader of the Ennahdha party which used to

SIPRI’s report does not feature Morocco’s military expenditures. However, in a previous report on international arms transfers, SIPRI listed Morocco as the second largest arms importer in Africa, at the rate of 12 percent of African arms imports from 2013-17. The Polisario Front has been involved in illegal military actions in the region until last month, when the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2414, pressuring the separatist group to withdraw from the region. The resolution urges Polisario Front’s main supporter, Algeria, to shoulder its responsibility in the conflict, after a long series of Morocco’s

On April 2, King Mohammed VI addressed a letter to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressing his deep concerns over Algeria’s denial of its involvement with Polisario. “It is Algeria that hosts, arms, backs up, and brings diplomatic support for the Polisario,” said the King. This is not the first time that Morocco condemned Algeria’s involvement in supporting the separatist group. On May 2, Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced its decision to cut ties with Iran and has unveiled “detailed evidence” of a delivery of military equipment from Iranian ally Hezbollah to the Polisario Front through Algeria. Polisario, Algeria, and Iran have denied a coalition. The Moroccan ministry, however, stands firm in its argument, presenting evidence, including names and documented action, that implicates Iran. Algeria condemned the ministry’s statement, but Morocco’s ministry labeled Algeria’s reaction predictable. “We understand Algeria’s embarrassment, as Morocco has documented proof that demonstrates Hezbollah’s connection with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front.” Middle East Monitor

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Volume 17 Issue 5

May 15, 2018



Southern Africa

South Africa Historic Drought Takes Toll on South Africa’s Vineyards WENDELL ROELF

The worst drought in living memory has hit vineyards in South Africa’s Western Cape hard, reducing grape harvests and adding to pressure on the region’s centuries-old wine industry In its latest wine harvest report, industry body Vinpro said South Africa’s wine-grape production was down 15 percent from last year, and would lead to a production shortfall of 170 million liters of wine and prices rising as much as 11 percent. South Africa’s wine sector, which dates back to the arrival of the first European settlers in the 1650s, employs 300,000 people directly and indirectly and contributed about $3 billion to the economy in 2015, according to an industry study. The government has declared the drought a disaster in the Western Cape, the country’s main wine-producing region around the tourist city of Cape Town. Besides vineyards, it has decimated wheat crops and cut apple, grape and pear exports, most of

Workers harvest grapes at the La Motte wine farm in Franschhoek near Cape Town, South Africa

which go to Europe. Vinpro managing director Rico Basson said more than a third of vineyards were operating at a loss and overall numbers were shrinking as farmers uprooted vines to make way for more profitable fruit crops or simply failed to replace old vines. Over the last decade, the amount of land used for growing grapes had shrunk by 9 percent, he said.

The problems in South Africa mirror those in other wine-growing countries and are likely to fuel concerns about changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming. Globally, wine output fell to its lowest in 60 years last year due to unfavorable weather, especially in Europe, according to the international wine organization OIV. In April, the OIV said South

Africa, the world’s eighth largest producer, had produced 1.1 billion liters of wine in 2017, a 3 percent increase on the previous year. The Western Cape’s historic vineyards, nestled in mountains to the east of Cape Town, are a major draw for tourists, with tens of thousands of overseas visitors enjoying tours and tastings every year. Reuters

Zimbabwe Zim Opposition Leader Chamisa Vows to ‘Boot Out’ Chinese Investors – Reports Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has reportedly vowed to expel Chinese investors if he wins the up coming elections. Chamisa claimed that the Chinese were “involved in shady deals with the Emmerson Mnangagwa administration”. According to NewsZimbabwe. com, Chamisa said this while addressing hundreds of people who gathered for the Workers Day celebrations organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in Dzivarasekwa, Harare on Tuesday. Chamisa said that most of the deals Mnangagwa agreed with Chinese companies were about corruption, looting and stripping of country’s assets. “We will kick out the Chinese companies,” He was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has reportedly vowed to expel Chinese investors if he wins the up coming elections.

“We want genuine deals that benefit the people. These deals are not country, but individual deals and the new dispensation is busy exporting lies that they are a new dispensation.” The state-owned Herald newspapers, said on Wednesday that Zimbabwe and China had signed several deals running into billions of dollars spanning from energy, roads and

general infrastructure development. The report said that the Chinese had assisted the country in various projects that included the extension of the Kariba South Hydro Power Station which added 300MW to the national grid. Zimbabwe adopted the so-called “Look East policy” when former president Robert Mugabe fell out with the

West. The policy saw China becoming the country’s major investor. Mnangagwa’s new administration has continued with the policy, with the president claiming to have reached deals worth billions of dollars with Beijing following the ouster of Mugabe in November, said. New Zimbabvee


May 15, 2018

Volume 17 Issue 5


Southern Africa

Angola Angola Looks Beyond Crude Oil to Fish Oil DANIEL GARELO PENSADOR

Angolan President Joao Lourenco has named diversifying the oil-dependent economy as his top priority after he became the country’s first new leader in 38 years. And one natural and readily available resource that has been identified is fish -- but a lack of equipment and know-how has meant the industry has struggled. Lourenco, part of the MPLA party that has ruled Angola since 1975, took office in September promising to deliver an “economic miracle” that would transform the southern African nation, where the UN says more than half of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The collapse in 2014 of the price of crude oil, which provides 70 percent of all revenues and nearly all hard currency, put immense pressure on the country to diversify. Even though global oil prices have since recovered somewhat, Lourenco still plans to push forward. He is betting the 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) of Atlantic coast could provide a fishing bonanza. “The diversification of the economy is our priority,” Lourenco said recently. “We’re going to relaunch fishing and agriculture and we will open the country to foreign investment.” To demonstrate his commitment, Lourenco visited fish factories in Tombwa on the southwest coast. One of the sites is equipped to freeze the catch, while the other processes fish into oil and fishmeal. Fish oil is highly sought after by the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, while fishmeal is used by farmers as animal feed. Lourenco vowed to “improve the infrastructure to support fishing and the transformation of processing”, according to the government’s latest sixyear plan. Fishing minister Victoria de Barros previously announced plans to build a new port with refrigerated storage in Tombwa at a cost of $23.5 million. The government is seeking to increase the annual fish catch by 16 percent over the next four years to 614,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, it is aiming for a 50 percent increase in fishmeal production to 30,000 tonnes over the same period.

To lessen its economic dependence on oil, Angola is looking to develop its fishing sector, which also produces goods for the cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and farm industries

Our salvation was fishing’ Reducing dependence on oil is proving to be a tough task for a country that has been heavily dependent on the black gold for decades. “We have a fish industry but we don’t have the capacity to meet international demand,” said Jose Gomes da Silva, the government director of fishing in the coastal city of Benguela. In the city, the fishing sector employs thousands of people -- a “very important” economic force, according to Da Silva. But more could be done. In the Baia Farta, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Benguela, the privately owned Pesca Fresca business transforms frozen fish into fishmeal and oil, which is then exported to South America, China, Namibia and South Africa. As well as being supplied by industrial fishing ships, Pesca Fresca sources some fish from small-scale fishermen like Orlando Eduardo. “Our salvation was fishing,” said 32-year-old Eduardo, barefooted and sporting a hat. Fishermen like Orlando gather on the sun-baked beach to drop off their catches of sardines, bass and mackerel from their small, colourful wooden boats. On good days, Orlando earns 20,000 kwanza ($90) -- enough to cover his costs with a little left over. Angola has a critical lack of large fishing ships and processing factories. A lack of spare parts means those it has often languish in harbour. “We face maintenance difficulties which seriously endanger the fishing industry,” said Pesca Fresca director Jose Neves.

To stimulate fishing, the government recently announced the purchase of a specialised fishing vessel for $3.7 million. But experts are unconvinced that such acquisitions will make a significant impact. Some economists have

also greeted Lorenco’s ambitious plans with scepticism. “The fishing industry represents less than one percent of GDP,” noted Alves da Rocha of the Catholic University of Angola.. AFP

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Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018


Central Africa

Burundi Burundi’s Bishops Say People Live in Fear, Afraid to Vote Honestly Catholic bishops in Burundi have criticized an upcoming referendum on constitutional reform, warning that voters will be too afraid to express their views. If passed May 17, the proposal would enable President Pierre Nkurunziza, already in power since 2005, to remain in office till 2034. “Many citizens are living in fear, even if they don’t say this openly, and don’t dare say what they think for fear of reprisals,” the bishops’ conference said in a statement. “Instead of uniting Burundians, work on this constitution project seems to have exacerbated the discord. In our view, this is not an opportune moment for profoundly amending the constitution.” It said the Catholic Church had a mission to foster “unity, concord and peace,” and believed insufficient account had been taken of the existing constitution’s Article 299, which bars revisions “if they damage national unity, the cohesion of the Burundian people or reconciliation.” “Many people have fled the country, including members of the political class; and while some have responded to the authorities’ appeal by returning, many have not, for various reasons, and so will not be able to express their views,” said the bishops’ statement. “Their fear is often caused by the language, attitude and behavior of certain Burundians, who use violence and abuse their authority to suppress the freedom of expression and opinion of their political adversaries.” The Catholic Church makes up around two-thirds of the 8.5 million inhabitants of Burundi, which was thrown into conflict in 2015 following Nkurunziza’s acceptance of a third term in apparent violation of the constitution. More than 1,200 people have been killed and 250,000 forced to flee abroad in subsequent roundups by pro-government paramilitaries, amid fears of a resurgence of ethnic conflict that left 250,000 dead in a 1993-2006 civil war between Burundi’s Tutsi and Hutu communities.

People walk through a market in Bujumbura, Burundi, in this 2015 file photo. Catholic bishops there have criticized an upcoming referendum on constitutional reform that would allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in office till 2034.

The bishops noted that Burundi’s democratic system had been “put to the test” since 2015 and still needed to be “accepted step by step,” adding that the church would appeal for all political actors “to give priority to the country’s good.” “Efforts at dialogue, which should bring them together, haven’t succeeded -- and this is a shame since concord or division in the population often depend on its political class,” the bishops’ conference said. “Given the democratic path our country has assumed, voting will have the final word. So we can only hope this referendum takes place in peace and freedom, and that Burundians will vote Yes or No without any pressure.” Human rights groups have cited widespread intimidation since campaigning opened May 1, particularly by supporters of Nkurunziza’s government, which suspended broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America in early May after accusing them attempting to discredit the president. The Associated Press said May 8 that people feared a new wave of civic conflict after a ruling party official urged people “to castrate the enemy,” and another called for Nkurunziza’s opponents “to be drowned in a lake.” Catholic News Service


May 15, 2018


Volume 17 Issue 5


Book Excerpt The following is the third excerpt in a series from The Akan of Ghana: Aspects of Past & Present Practices by Kofi Ayim.

The Influence of Ancient Egypt on the Akan People of Ghana We learn from the writings of Manetho (the last known native ancient Egyptian priest and scribe) that prior to the establishment of the First Dynasty, the Shemsu Hor, a group of the Falcon Clan (the Oyoko is of the Hawk, considered cousins to the Falcon family) who had migrated from their original home in the West Delta region, conquered and formed a kingdom in Upper Egypt. Bowdich suggests that “The Ashantees and their neighbors must have again been disturbed from time to time, by the several emigrations of the nations of the Mediterranean, whom Buache [Boakye?], in his researches for the construction of a map of Africa for Ptolemy, has at once discovered, by the identity of the names, in the neighborhood of the Mediterranean and south of the Niger.” As an example of how some contemporary African practices influenced by ancient Egypt seem to have confused Gardiner in his great work, he writes in one spot: “A man named Amenhotpe who had the rank of ‘First King’s Son of Akheperkare’ (this is the Praenomen of Tuthmosis I) was not a real son, because both his parents are named; it is of interest to mention him here, since this instance illustrates the principal difficulty in dealing with Egyptian genealogical problems; one never knows whether terms like ‘son’, ‘daughter’, ‘brother’, ‘sister’, and so forth are to be understood literally or not.” Any Akan, or for that matter most any African, would instantly understand Gardiner’s dilemma. A “King’s Son” would not necessary be a blood son of the king. Even in present-day Akan, a servant, an adopted child, or a subordinate who had earned the trust and confidence of royalty could be designated a “King’s Son” and trusted or assigned to an important or sensitive position. Thus, a “King’s Son of Kush”—when Nubia was a province of Egypt—would mean a king’s representative or governor of Kush without any blood relation between the king and the Son. Elsewhere, Gardiner again faces a cultural conundrum when he points out, “Twice before in Egypt’s earlier

Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the second historically confirmed female pharaoh, the first being Sobekneferu. Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC

history a queen had usurped the kingship, but it was a wholly new departure for a female to pose and dress as a man.” Here also we can solve and explain the riddle by looking at contemporary Akan culture. Not only do Akan queen mothers who assume the kingship dress as men, with male sandals, war regalia et al, but they assume the male equivalent of the female name. If as a queen mother she was Akosua Oforiwaa, she now becomes King Kwasi Ofori. Maspero tells us that Hapshopsitu (a.k.a. Queen Hatshepsut 1478 – 1457 B.C) who reigned jointly with her father Thutmosis I, later became King Makeri, “and at all public appearances she appeared in a male costume, with uncovered shoulders, closely cut hair, and a false beard.” And Gae Callender writing on another ancient Egyptian Queen Sobekneferu who ruled as pharaoh says “the costume on this figure (Queen) is unique in its combination of elements from male and female dress, echoing her occasional use of male titles in her records.” As Gardiner explains of ancient Egypt, “In ancient Egypt among officials whose duty it was to look after the king’s own person there were sandal bearers, keepers of the robes and crowns, barbers, and physicians, the last sometimes highly specialized like oculists, stomach doctors, and the like. A host of servants were employed in kitchen and dining-room, and there were also domestics of a somewhat higher grade who kept order at the royal meals.” In a palace of a typical Akan king, there is Mpaboahene (chief in charge of the king’s sandals), Dabrehene/Dabehene (chief in charge of the king’s wardrobe, etc.), Manwerehene (chief in charge of the

king’s ornaments etc), Sumankwaahene (the king’s physician), Gyasehene under whom are Soodehene (chiefs in charge of the king’s culinary needs), and other subchiefs. Interestingly, in ancient Egypt, the term tjaty (gyati?) was used to describe the vizier in charge of running all state departments except religious affairs. In Akan royal structure, the term gyase is used to describe people who run all royal affairs in a king’s palace. The administrative head of a king’s palace is the Gyasehene, who rules over the Gyase people. In the Twi language of the Akan, the suffix ase from the word gya-ase means tail end or bottom end, while the suffix ti or ty of the word tjaty (gyati) means head or top end. Gya is fire or hearth, from which every stomach is fed when food is prepared. Thus, Egypt’s Pharoahic head of administration was “head end” (of fire), while the Akan’s is “bottom end” (of fire). Similar to the protocol of modern-day Akan kingship, an ancient Egyptian fan-bearer always stood at the righthand side of a sitting monarch. In the “Preface to the Phoenix Edition” of Frankfort’s Kingship and the Gods, Samuel Noah Kramer says about ancient Egypt, “As a god, the king of Egypt had absolute power over the land and its people, yet he could not act arbitrarily and capriciously but only in accordance with maat, ‘right order.’ ” Elsewhere Kramer continues, “The king’s death was a critical event in the life of all Egyptians, since it indicated that the powers of chaos and evil had the upper hand in the land, at least till the accession and coronation of the new king.” Both narratives of Kramer are extant in contemporary Akan royalty. Bowdich writes that in Abyssinia, “they

mount an effigy of the deceased on his mule, and parade it about, exclaiming, ‘why do you quit us?’ ” Bowdich then adds, “I never saw any effigy in Ashantee.” However, the practice was there when Bowdich visited Kumasi, the Asante capital in 1817. Akan of yesteryear performed Osenponsoa (a.k.a akukuaa), a process whereby expert women created a replica of a venerated dead person through special clay. The figure was meticulously constructed with clay and fired to be hardened. On funeral day, the image was dressed according to the decedent’s status. For a royal, the Osenpon was paraded in a palanquin with full regalia and honors, including but not limited to gun firing, as would have happened in real life. Because a king never dies, the effigy is kept or maintained until a successor is crowned.

Volume 17 Issue 5


May 15, 2018



How Senegalese Wrestling Became a Modern Martial Arts Sensation CIKU KIMERIA

Dancing and chanting in Swahili at The crowd is buzzing as the unforgiving Dakar sun beats down and the stadium fills past capacity. The air is thick with tension — one fears to step on anyone’s toes. The drums pound louder in anticipation of the historic match that is about to begin. Two loincloth-clad wrestlers prepare in an expansive ring, their feet deep in the sand. Each grappler is joined by a marabout or two, spiritual guides who lead their men through rituals that, while steeped in traditional culture, also borrow heavily from the mystical Sufi Islamism practiced by most Senegalese. In the ring is Fodé Doussouba, the 6-foot-2-inch, 330-pound star of traditional Senegalese wrestling sans frappe (without hitting or punching), who has enjoyed an undefeated, 11year reign. He walks through a wooden loop four times to ward off negative spells. His opponent is the heavy favorite, Bory Patar, the 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound champion of wrestling avec frappe (with hitting or punching), the modern, commercial version of the sport that combines elements of wrestling and bare-knuckle boxing. Patar, who is wearing leather charms and amulets, douses himself in an oily liquid handed to him by his marabout — a potion to increase his strength, make him invincible and assure victory. In the stadium’s seat of honor sits a regal man in a grand boubou

— Bassirou Diagne Marème Diop. In a few decades he’ll become Le Grand Serigne de Dakar, the leader of the Lebou people, fishermen who are the original inhabitants of the region. For now, in 1961, he’s a rogue wrestling promoter who has rigged the match between old and new, giving the fighters different contracts that require each to compete in his own style, while filling the stadium with fans hungry to see what type of fight it turns out to be. 4, 3, 2, 1 — wrestle! Patar lashes out. “He punched me!” yells Doussouba, holding his head in shock. Diop rushes into the ring and loudly berates Patar. “Why did you hit him? You know this match is meant to be a traditional wrestling match — no

punching!” As he walks away, though, he whispers to Patar: “Next time, hit him harder.” 4, 3, 2, 1 — wrestle! Bam! This time, realizing he’s been tricked, Doussouba reaches for a big stick and uses it to beat Patar. The event descends into chaos as the fans start fighting in the stands. The match is stopped, but a winner can be declared: the modern style. From that point on, the dominant wrestling in Senegal is avec frappe. Not that it mattered to Diop, who had covered his bases. “The money had been taken home to the promoter’s wife before the match even began,” says Serigne Mour Diop, a Senegalese wrestling historian, journalist and author of La Lutte Senegalaise. “They knew the drama that would ensue.” La lutte Senegalaise, or laamb ji as it’s known in the Senegalese language of Wolof, has existed since the 14th century. It was a form of entertainment that usually occurred after the harvest when villages would compete against each other. The wrestling competitions also were used to pay homage to respected leaders, celebrate initiation ceremonies and show off masculinity to potential brides. In the early years of the 20th century, French colonial leaders introduced prize money, which gradually changed the sport from a community event into a commercial one. La lutte declined during World War I, when more than 200,000 Senegalese soldiers served France — 30,000 of them perished in the European conflict. Despite the wartime setback, Balla Gaye 2 (left) tangles with Eumeu Sene during a Senegalese traditional wrestling match. Senegalese wrestling recovered, its

popularity and mysticism intact. A major turning point was in 1924 when Maurice Jacquin, a French film producer and avid boxer, opened a cinema in Dakar and used its grounds to train boxers. Several wrestlers were attracted to the sport, and Jacquin came up with the idea of combining the two martial arts into today’s dominant version of la lutte. While fame was always there for great wrestlers, fortune only started in the 1970s when the sport was formalized and coordinated under a governing body. Since then, la lutte has become more famous than soccer in Senegal — and it attracts even larger sponsors. The big stars can make as much as $200,000 per match and fight in two to three matches per year, say promoters. And that’s in a country where the annual income per capita is $1,093, according to the World Bank. Today, in the same way a young boy in a Brazilian favela dreams of becoming the next Ronaldo, in Senegal a young boy dreams of being Falaye Baldé, who grabbed his opponents and demanded of the crowd, “Tell me where to toss him!” Or Mame Gorgui Ndiaye, who after every match, spoke poetically of all the wrestlers he had defeated — driving his fans into a frenzy. Or Doudou Baka Sarr, famous for bringing his own musicians to matches and, after each victory, parading in front of the crowd in a majestic robe decorated with mirrors. The young Senegalese boy dreams of going down in history, immortalized in songs and stories with the great wrestlers who have gone before him. OZY


May 15, 2018

Volume 17 Issue 5


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Amandla News - May 2018  

Volume 17 Issue 5

Amandla News - May 2018  

Volume 17 Issue 5