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Founded in 1966 • March 2019 • N°592
‘WE DELIBERATELY SPREAD AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA’ says Apartheid-era intelligence officer
US Ambassador: Ethiopia is key to security in Horn South Africa: Ramaphosa’s game of patience Kenya: Bulldozers on rampage as big clean-up starts Media: Take ownership or lose sovereignty
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CONTENTS p. 18 ‘We deliberately spread Aids in South Africa’ Shocking revelations of a former intelligence officer.
Second african revolution
04 Your comments and letters 06 Briefs 13 Quote/unquote
15 The wealth under our feet
COVER STORY: South africa
16 ‘We deliberately spread Aids in South Africa’ 20 Project Coast 22 How Aids became an ‘epidemic’ in Africa 26 Something more sinister?
28 Saying the unspeakable
30 Michael Raynor, US Ambassador to Ethiopia
34 More than a question of curves
37 Achieving unity takes strength
38 In conversation: Nicolas Pompigne- Mognard, chairman, APO Group
Guest commentary 40 Bill and Melinda Gates 42 Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of London
letter from london
44 World champions of arrogance?
52 Côte d’Ivoire: Gbagbo case puts ICC in a bind 54 South Africa: Patience is the name of the game 56 Gambia: Justice delayed but not denied 58 Ethiopia: Gambella – caught in a limbo 60 Uganda: Born-again pastors under scrutiny 62 Kenya: Mass demolitions mark start of Nairobi regeneration
66 What is behind the hounding of Semenya?
46 Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank
68 In memoriam: Music legend Ayub Ogada 70 Octopizzo: Brightening a dark place
Back to the future
48 Healthcare revolution on the way
74 History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes
NewAfrican The bestselling pan-African magazine, founded in 1966. MARCH 2019 ISSUE 592 www.newafricanmagazine.com
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Mohammed Dirr, Washington, US
Only one Somalia I read your article on the new geopolitics of the Horn; it was informative and largely on point. I have one observation which is about your characterisation of Somalia’s secessionist region Somaliland, which you showed as a separate country. Whatever your own position on ‘Somaliland’, it is incumbent on any credible international media outlet to respect facts of international law. The UN and its over 190 member countries recognise only one Somalia. ‘Somaliland’ may be a de facto entity, but legally it is still part of Somalia.
Ahmed Yusuf (address not supplied)
In fact, there are four clear 4
new african march 2019
indications in the article that Somaliland is not recognised internationally, so we fail to see what your objections are – Ed.
We should not be the grass on which elephants fight James Jeffrey’s article, ‘A Deadly Game of Chess in the Horn’ (January 2019) is a wonderful summary of the power play games for space within the Horn of Africa. The continent needs to be vigilant and hold its pride; and disallow any competing global powers from playing roles for their own selfish gains. Permission should be discretionary when it comes to permitting any foreign power to gain a foothold. They must have bona fide reasons for economic investment and development. It is high time that Africa changed its image from a trouble hot-spot, with conflicts and postelection violence; it must become a more stable environment conducive to flourishing economic growth. The towns and cities of Africa must develop their identities and become popular upmarket tourist destinations with high-end hotels, restaurants and cafes. Tourism is the largest employer of people in Africa today. Encouraging investment in tourism-related industries will help promote citizens’ quality of life. To achieve sustainable economic development, we must embrace diversity. This brings special skills to the workforce and the acumen needed to foster development. In a country devastated by civil war and violence, to foster educational institutions, it is vital to allow foreign teachers to play a role in developing education from scratch. The same applies to other sectors of the economy. Embracing diversity brings the benefit of wisdom and knowledge. But while we must welcome the world, we should ensure that our continent is no longer used as the grass on which elephants fight their battles, as was the case during the Cold War.
Kokil. K. Shah, Mombasa, Kenya
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Deadly games: Time to wake up Thank you for an excellent, and rare analysis of the power games currently being played out in the Horn of Africa (NA, January 2019). The title was very apt: a game of chess – with deep, often hidden moves unsuspected until the final checkmate. I have some reservations about the conclusions arrived at by the author, James Jeffrey, but let that pass. What I find alarming is that not a single African publication, radio or TV programme seems to have any inkling about the very serious developments. Our press, and our politicians and leaders, seem to be sleepwalking while deadly games that will decide the future of large segments of our continent are being played out right under our noses. Thank God for New African and your admirable vigilance. What has happened to our intelligentsia? Too busy gossiping on Facebook or Twitter? Where are our pan-African political analysts? Even Kagame seems to have gone quiet and Thabo Mbeki no longer seems interested. It is time we applied thought to what is happening around us.
THE DEBATE FRANÇOIS PICARD Join the conversation on #F24Debate MONDAY TO THURSDAY AT 17.10 PM GMT
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DRC reopens Africa’s oldest natural park The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Virunga National Park has reopened after a deadly attack on a group of tourists forced the park to close over a year ago. Virunga is situated in DRC’s north-eastern Kivu province, near the Ugandan border, and is an area associated with rebel groups and Ebola. Last May, a ranger was killed during the kidnapping of two Britons and their Congolese driver – who were eventually released. Armed militias continue to control large swathes of the park
and 175 have been killed protecting it. Yet Africa’s oldest national park and largest tropical rainforest reserve is also an area of great biodiversity and beauty, and is home to over half the global population of mountain gorillas. The park reopened in February, with Director Emmanuel de Merode saying: “We have taken enough time to be sure of an improvement in security for visitors.” “We continue to work on putting the security of our personnel and our visitors at the core of our operations.”
Mandela exhibition in London ‘Mandela: The Official Exhibition’ has opened in London, prior to going on tour and being permanently mounted in Nelson Mandela’s birthplace of Mvezo. The interactive exhibition plots a journey though Mandela’s life, including his upbringing in rural Eastern Cape as the son of a chief, his 27-year incarceration and the end of apartheid when he became President in 1994. It offers previously unseen footage alongside more than 150 artefacts such as clothes, campaign posters and travel documents, on loan from his family, as well as museums and archives worldwide. “During his presidential years, my grandfather wore a Patek Philippe watch, and I’ve made that available because he gave it to me, and because he was such a committed person and always on time,” said grandson Mandla Mandela. "Even when he travelled abroad his watch remained on South African time, which we found hilarious as a family, and it is here on display."
Ethiopia’s Abiy wins gender award Since taking the helm at one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, has set in motion reform after reform. His latest accolade, the African Excellence Award for Gender, comes on the back of Sahle-Work Zewde being appointed as Ethiopia’s first woman President last year. Indeed, gender parity within the Ethiopia government has quickly taken centre stage, with a gender-par cabinet of 10 women and 10 men. Abiy has also appointed the first woman chief justice and a woman to oversee the electoral body ahead of crucial elections slated for 2020. The award is given by the AU in conjunction with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
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Mandarin challenging English in African classrooms Mandarin Chinese is fast challenging English in African classrooms with Kenya announcing that by 2020, primary school students will be able to choose China’s dominant language as a subject. This follows South Africa, which was the first African nation to introduce Mandarin into its public school curriculum, and others like Uganda, which have since followed. Mandarin is largely being introduced through the various Confucius Institutes, China’s international cultural centres, similar to the British Council, the Goethe Institute and Alliance Française. The Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Town, for example, will dispatch a Mandarin teacher and textbooks to interested schools. The move follows similar soft culture moves by Beijing, like inviting journalists to the Chinese capital to learn how to engage with Chinese media.
Ethiopia to ban public smoking
Second edition of Abidjan circus festival
Ethiopia has made moves to ban smoking in public places and also in certain alcohol adverts, as part of wider measures to protect public health. The draft bill, passed in parliament, also makes provisions to raise the drinking age to 21. Africa has numerous substance-related public health crises, ranging from codeine cough syrup addiction in Nigeria to heroin in South Africa. Kenya in 2017 joined Rwanda in issuing a total shisha (water-pipe tobacco) ban, in recognition of a WHO advisory note.
Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, played host to the second edition of the ‘Intercultural Encounters of the Circus of Abidjan’ festival to celebrate international circus. The five-day cultural event welcomed some 48 artists from Japan, France, Morocco, South Africa and Ethiopia, with a prestigious guest – the Cirque du Soleil from Canada. In a bid to spread the littleknown art of circus in Africa, performers were encouraged to hold events at local schools. The festival also introduced a pan-African contest bringing together artists
from Africa to encourage the creation of new circus troupes. According to the organisers, “African circus will have its own flavour, its own colour and identity, [and] be unique in the world.” "Here in Abidjan, there is an idea to create a circus arts training centre that would answer to a great need because there is a lot of talent but there are no training centres and very few training centres in all of Africa,” said Head of Public Affairs and Community Relations at Cirque du Soleil, Emmanuel Bochud. “So it’s a great project.”
52nd Session of the Economic Commission for Africa
20-26 March 2019 Marrakech Morocco
Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: A strategy for Africa
One week of insights, debates and discussions. The 2019 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will tackle the theme: fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in the digital era: a strategy for Africa. The Conference will provide an opportunity for African Ministers to examine the fiscal policies necessary for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area within the frameworks of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 and the critical role of private sector in the era of the digital economy.
The plenary sessions of the Conference of Ministers will commence with a highlevel policy dialogue on the theme for 2019, followed by plenary sessions on a series of sub-themes. Contributions from seasoned and high-level panellists from within and outside Africa will guide the discussion, which will be informed by recent findings. The sessions will build consensus on priority areas for action. In addition to the Adedeji Lecture, inspiring discussions are anticipated to arise from a number of side events scheduled to take place on 23 and 24 March 2019.
Registration and more: https://www.uneca.org/cfm2019 For regular updates, follow the hashtag/ #2019COM
Haile Selassie celebrated by AU The African Union unveiled a statue of Ethiopia’s independence leader Emperor Haile Selassie at the bloc’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary African Union meeting. Selassie, in fact, was a founding father of the African Union’s precursor: the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), along with Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Guinea’s Sékou Touré among others. His influence and panAfrican vision is the reason why the African Union is based in the rapidly-
expanding Ethiopian capital. The statue was unveiled by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, in the presence of other African heads of state. At the base of the statue are extracts from Selassie’s 1963 ‘Towards African Unity’ speech. One reads: “Today, we look to the future calmly, confidently, and courageously. We look to the vision of an Africa not merely free but united. History teaches us that unity is strength.”
Egypt heads Africa space programme
Reverse missionaries in UK
Africa’s bid to emerge as a space power has taken another step as the African Union (AU) announced Egypt as the headquarters of the African Space Agency. Egypt’s bid to host the agency topped similar proposals from Nigeria and Ethiopia. One of the main aims of the agency is to encourage African nations to work collaboratively, and to minimise the “duplication of resources and efforts”. Its objectives include “strengthening space missions on the continent in order to ensure optimal access to spacederived data, information, services and products.” Previously, the AU has looked to ensure access to data by partnering with the European Commission’s Copernicus programme – the world’s third-largest satellite data provider.
African immigrant populations to the UK are bringing with them their own distinct style of African worship. According to a Reuters photo series of African Christian communities by Simon Dawson, as many as 20,000 congregants are estimated to attend services in South London’s Southwark borough alone. As indigenous church populations have dwindled in the UK, numbers at churches founded by Africans have swelled. This growing evangelism, which caters to African immigrants while also looking to revitalise Christianity among indigenous audiences, is an almost total reversal of when Christian missionaries first brought the Bible to Africa. Indeed, Africa is now the world’s largest Christian continent. By 2025, 50% of Christians will be in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Basketball booms in Africa America’s famous National Basketball Association (NBA) league is coming to Africa next year, with the launch of the first NBA-affiliated regional league. The Basketball Africa League (BAL), a partnership between the NBA and the international basketball governing body FIBA, is set to launch in January 2020, with a qualification tournament scheduled this year. 12 teams from 9 countries including Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa are set to make up the league. The NBA’s African equivalent has been talked up by many personalities including Didier Drogba and Barack Obama. The former US President featured heavily in a promotional video by the
NBA to promote basketball in Africa. The NBA has been involved with Africa since 2001, in a programme known as Basketball without Borders, and set up an elite training centre in Senegal last year. Many of the superstars who play in the American league are of African descent, for instance Oklahoma City Thunder’s Hamidou Diallo, whose parents are Guinean migrants. Players such as Senegal’s Gorgui Dieng, Cameroon’s Joel Embiid, DRC’s Bismack Biyombo and South Sudan’s Luol Deng have all had a hand in building NBA’s African brand at a grassroots level.
First black leopard?
After photographer Will Burrard-Lucas announced he had captured photos of the elusive black leopard in Central Kenya, many media sources were declaring it the first sighting in decades. Although a rare sighting of the melanistic leopard, whose fur is black due to a pigment mutation, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported that a similar leopard had been photographed back in 2013 and 2007. Burrard-Lucas later commented that he had never claimed he had taken the first photo of a black leopard in Africa, after a backlash from the Kenyan Twittersphere. “I do however believe that they are the first high-quality camera trap photographs,” he said. The increased attention around Kenya’s black-furred leopards has pushed researchers to undertake studies to better understand the species, its population dynamics and geographical movements.
Avocados are booming as a cash crop on the continent, buoyed by increasing demand from Europe, America and most recently, China and Japan. Although originating in South America, Africa is cashing in on the global taste for the versatile green fruit. In 2017, Kenya overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest avocado exporter and yet both come behind Peru, Chile and California as the world’s exporters of the popular Hass avocado. This uptick has motivated many Kenyan coffee farmers to switch to avocados, lured in by the promise of making up to 10 times more. Avocados now make up 17% of Kenya’s horticultural exports, according to the International Trade Center. As the price of coffee beans falters, this switch from one cash crop to another is expected to play out elsewhere in Africa, including Tanzania.
Request for Proposal For Operations Equipment Supply Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) is hereby sourcing the market for the purchase and lease of the below operations equipment for its affiliates in Africa: No.
Automated Teller Machines -ATM (purchasing option)
Currency Note Counting and Counterfeit Note Detection Machines (purchasing and leasing option)
Point of Sales Machines - POS (purchasing and leasing option)
Automated Teller Machines – ATM (leasing option)
This procurement process will be run as ‘’Central procurement for local distribution in the various Affiliates’’. The selected successful bidders will sign a corporate agreement with ETI to deliver the specific equipment and provide the required maintenance services in the affiliates. To this end, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated is inviting the Original Equipment Manufacturers and certified distributors to submit their offers as per the specifications for each tender. All submissions must be received latest by Friday 29th March 2019. For more information on each tender document, please visit our corporate procurement page at: www.ecobank.com/group/procurement Thank you. Ecobank Business Services
‘What is important is the victory of the people, not of a candidate. We must unite for the good of Madagascar’s people, and we are going to succeed,’
‘As long as mankind exists, there will always be something to talk about, and if there is something to talk about, there will always be something to sing about,’
‘People have an opinion of Africa and it is not so good, but we have to let sport unite us all,’
DIDIER DROGBA, IVORIAN FOOTBALLER
OLIVER MTUKUDZI, RECENTLY DECEASED ZIMBABWEAN MUSICIAN
ANDRY RAJOELINA, INCOMING PRESIDENT OF MADAGASCAR
‘Target SMEs and you target women, because that is where they access the business sector,’ LINAH K. MOHOHLO, GOVERNOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF THE BANK OF BOTSWANA
‘I’m convinced that we black women possess a special indestructible strength that allows us to not only get down, but to get up, to get through, and to get over,’ JANET JACKSON, AFRICANAMERICAN MUSICIAN
‘Some people call it arrogance and I say no, it is just simply confidence. I believe if I set my mind on something, I can do it,’ AIGBOJE AIG-IMOUKHUEDE, CO-FOUNDER OF ACCESS BANK AND HEALTHCARE PHILANTHROPIST
‘I didn't learn to be quiet when I had an opinion. The reason they knew who I was is because I told them,’ URSULA BURNS, AFRICANAMERICAN FORMER CEO OF XEROX
'Discover your gift, develop your gift, deploy your gift in service to humanity. That is the primary purpose of your gift and the springboard to leadership,’ OLAJUMOKE ADENOWO, NIGERIAN ARCHITECT, ENTREPRENEUR AND PHILANTHROPIST
‘A ll roads lead home in the end. You’ve got to keep that in mind always – in your work and in your life,’ CHIWETEL EJIOFOR, ENGLISHNIGERIAN ACTOR AND DIRECTOR
‘I would like to thank my fans around the world for all their support. I believe that a running world is a peaceful world, a sporting world is a healthy world and that a sporting world is an enjoyable world,’ ELIUD KIPCHOGE, KENYAN RUNNER, RECENTLY ACCEPTING THE LAUREUS EXCEPTIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
‘To take part in the African revolution, it is not enough to write a revolutionary song. You must fashion the revolution with the people. And if you fashion it with the people, the songs come by themselves,’ AHMED SÉKOU TOURÉ, FIRST PRESIDENT OF GUINEA
march 2019 new african 13
28TH & 29TH, MARCH 2019 BAMAKO-MALI
From the Editor
The wealth under our feet
was first introduced to the intricacies of economics when I started my A-levels at the Allidina Visram High School in Mombasa. Our teacher was the wonderful Mr Joseph who looked every inch a professor as he guided us, with infinite patience, into the mysteries of gross domestic product, supply and demand curves, velocity of money supply and other brain-taxing subjects. He had the knack of making even the most obtuse concepts appear simple and subject to common sense. But, try as I would, I could not get my head around the concept of ‘wealth creation’, once we had been informed that money was nothing more than a generally accepted medium of exchange. During a break one afternoon, I decided to ask him pointblank how wealth was created, making sure I was well away from my classmates, who might otherwise have thought me silly for asking the question. He smiled. “Excellent question. Now, what is this under my foot?” I looked and could only see the ground. “Just some sand and soil, sir.” “Exactly! How much will you pay me if I dig up this soil and offer to sell it to you?” “Why sir, nothing. I’m sorry, but what would I do with a lump of soil?” “Good! Now if I was to dig up this soil and shape it into a brick, would you pay me for it?” “Well sir, if I needed a brick, and if I had the money, which I don’t have, I would pay a fair price.” “There we are! If you needed a brick, or lots of bricks to build your house, and if you had the money, than this lump of soil and others like it, shaped into bricks, would have a price. They would acquire value. We would have converted this valueless lump of earth into something of value. We would have created wealth, out of virtually nothing! Does that answer your question?” “Yes sir, thank you sir.” But it took me quite a while before the idea sank in. I had always somehow believed that wealth was something fixed, that came to you from somewhere else. It had never occurred to me that wealth could be created by the simple process of taking something of lesser value and converting it
into something that someone was prepared to pay for.
The notion that we could create our own wealth seemed laughable. True enough, people were making food and clothes at home and selling them; others were hawking fruits in handcarts, crafting furniture and even building houses and getting paid. But was this wealth creation? Did you not need to have big factories and offices and sophisticated export and import businesses to create wealth? It took me a while and many journeys before I realised that the humble cottage industries we were involved with and which we thought so little about, were really what wealth creation is all about. Wealth creation is nothing other than thousands, millions of people beavering away at their own small activities and exchanging their products with one another. The more countries I visited, the more I realised that what we were and are doing in the informal economy is the backbone of even the richest and most industrialised nations on earth. It is what generates most prosperity and creates most jobs. The only difference is that elsewhere it is venerated as the ‘SME’ sector, not dismissed as informal. As such, it is as well tended as a flourishing garden and given all the inputs and care and attention it requires. In Africa, the informal sector is considered an eyesore. It is relegated to the most inhospitable sections of town, it is left without sufficient water or power. It is often dirty, unhealthy and dangerous. It is starved of credit and recognition. It is often raided by police or municipal minders. It is treated like the unwanted stepchild. As a result, it is stunted, despite its enormous energy. It is constantly fire-fighting. Whenever an enterprise tries to expand, to produce more, it’s cut off at the knees. I recall Mr Joseph and his illustration of what wealth and value are. I realise it is an attitude of mind. We have wealth hidden under our feet in our informal sectors. All they need is a little tender care – and plenty of credit. We could take on the world and beat it, if that happens.
march 2019 new african 15
Cover Story South Africa
In a shocking confession, made on camera in a new documentary released last month, a former member of South Africa’s Apartheid-era intelligence service says that the Aids virus, and other diseases, were deliberately spread among the population in an effort to kill off as many blacks as possible. His confession, considered just the tip of the iceberg, has reignited the simmering debate about the whole phenomenon of Aids in Africa. Report by Baffour Ankomah.
Former intelligence officer confesses:
‘WE DELIBERATELY SPREAD AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA’ U
ntil February 2019, most Africans did not know about the Sundance Film Festival, a programme of the Sundance Institute, which takes place annually in Park City, Utah, US. Now they know because something controversial happened at the Festival this year that will live with Africans for a long time to come. Having had 224,900 attendees in 2018, Sundance is the largest independent fi lm festival in the US. This year it took place between 24 January and 3 February. This year’s attendance figure is not yet out. What is out is controversy – a damning confession by a former Apartheid-era operative who admitted on camera, in one of the fi lms shown, that he and his colleagues at the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR), which masterminded coups and other 16 new african march 2019
violence across Africa in the 1970s and 80s, deliberately spread the HIV virus in the Southern African region to wipe out black people. Alexander Jones, who says he “spent years as an intelligence officer” with SAIMR 30 years ago, became the centre of attraction on the third day of the Sundance Festival when the Danish/Swedish-made documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, was screened. Sources in South Africa say SAIMR was linked to the country’s notorious chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme headed by Dr Wouter Basson, a programme which Apartheid racists used as a cover to kill black people in South Africa and beyond or do them serious harm. The racists’ ‘operational area’ was what used to be called the ‘Frontline States’ (now known simply as the SADC region). South Africa’s CBW programme also had links with
Alexander Jones, the former Apartheid-era intelligence officer who says in Cold Case Hammarskjรถld that the South African Institute for Maritime Research used bogus vaccinations to spread the HIV virus in the SADC region
Cover Story South Africa
Rhodesia’s, and the pair did a lot of harm to black Africans, including spreading cholera and other dangerous diseases in the region, and topping it up with HIV/Aids experimentation. Worse, when independence was approaching in Zimbabwe, there are suggestions that Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, with tacit support from South Africa, rushed to remove the evidence by killing a lot of black people who were subjects of the CBW experiments.
Digging out the truth Cold Case Hammarskjöld was made by Mads Brügger (Danish) and Göran Björkdahl (Swedish). The documentary investigates the case of the former UN secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjöld, who died in a mysterious plane crash near Ndola, Zambia, in 1961. During the hearings of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1998, letters with SAIMR’s official letterhead were found suggesting that the CIA and British intelligence had agreed that “Hammarskjöld should be removed”. But London and Washington denied involvement in Hammarskjöld’s assassination. In the course of making the new film, Brügger and Björkdahl’s investigations led them to Alexander Jones, who told them on camera that SAIMR (which had operated with the support of the CIA and British intelligence), used bogus vaccinations to spread the HIV virus in the SADC region. “We were at war. Black people in South Africa were the enemy,” Jones told the filmmakers. He confessed that he and his SAIMR colleagues “spread the virus” in the 1980s and 90s under the command of their leader Keith Maxwell, who wanted a white majority country, saying “the excesses of the 1960s, 70s and 80s have no place in the post-Aids world”. Maxwell died in 2006. People who knew him say he had no medical qualifications but operated clinics in the poor black neighbourhoods of Johannesburg. His headquarters was at Putfontein where his signpost, with his name ‘Dokotela Maxwell’, still hangs in front of the building where he operated. One local shopkeeper said Maxwell had given “false injections”. But Claude Newbury, an anti-abortion doctor, told the filmmakers: “He was against genocide and he was trying to discover a cure for HIV.” Jones, however, insists that Maxwell used the cover of a doctor to do “sinister experimentation”. His claim was backed up by Ibrahim Karolia, whose shop was across the road from where Maxwell operated. He told the filmmakers that Maxwell had provided “false injections” and “strange treatments”, and also put patients through “tubes” which he said allowed him to see inside their bodies. Jones also disclosed that SAIMR operated outside South Africa. “We were involved in Mozambique, spreading the Aids virus through medical conditions,” he says in the film, revealing that he did visit a research facility in the 1990s that was used “for sinister experimentation” and that the intent was “to eradicate black people”. 18 new african march 2019
“What easier way to get a guinea pig than [when] you live in an Apartheid system?” Jones says in the film. “Black people have got no rights, they need medical treatment. There is a white ‘philanthropist’ coming in and saying, ‘You know, I will open up these clinics and I will treat you.’ And meantime [he is] actually the wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
South Africa’s Josef Mengele Documents discovered by Brügger and Björkdahl show Maxwell held extremely disturbing views. “[South Africa] may well have one man, one vote with a white majority by the year 2000,” Maxwell wrote. “Religion in its conservative, traditional form will return. Abortion on demand, abuse of drugs, and the other excesses of the 1960s, 70s and 80s will have no place in the post-Aids world,” he added. According to the London-based weekly newspaper, The Observer, which broke the story, “The [Maxwell] documents read like the fever dream of a man who aspired to be South Africa’s Josef Mengele. [Joseph ‘Angel of Death’ Mengele was the senior SS officer who carried out inhuman experiments on Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz during World War II – Ed.] There are detailed, if sometimes garbled, accounts of how he thought the HIV virus could be isolated, propagated and used to target black Africans.” One SAIMR recruit, Dagmar Feil, a marine biolo-
attempt at genocide. Notwithstanding the technological limitations of the 1990s, including [the need for] facilities to rival that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, in addition to millions of dollars in funding, HIV is extraordinarily difficult to isolate, transport and grow in a laboratory environment, let alone distribute en masse in a clandestine operation,” Dr Karim was said to have explained. Yet, apart from wheeling out just one African (Dr Karim) to dismiss Jones’ account, The New York Times named no more scientists in its story to justify the assertion that “scientists immediately cast doubt on the claim”, apart from quoting Rebecca Hodes, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, as having said: “Such mistruths can cause very real problems. One dangerous consequence of these allegations is that they have the potential to sow mistrust and suspicion of doctors and the medical establishment, and that they may confuse people about how HIV is transmitted.”
gist, was murdered outside her home in Johannesburg in 1990 for fear she would expose SAIMR’s dark deeds. Her brother, Karl Feil, told Brügger and Björkdahl: “My sister came to me and said she needed to confide in me. She sat with me and said she thought they were going to kill her. She said that three or four others in her team had already been murdered, but when I asked what team, she said she couldn’t tell me. “The topic of Aids research came up several times, quite loosely in conversations, I never put two and two together. Instead, she asked me to go with her to church, so she could make right with God. Weeks later she was dead.” But while the revelations in the documentary have stunned the world, the blowback has already started. The New York Times has dismissed Alexander Jones’ revelations as a “conspiracy theory”. Reporting his story on 27 January, The New York Times asked the question: “But is this true?” “The notion that HIV is a man-made virus introduced as population control has been floating around for decades,” The New York Times says. “Before the conspiracy theory took hold in Africa, it appeared as part of disinformation campaigns from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.”
Jones’ confession is a bombshell. It confirms what many suspected at the time but were unable or indisposed to pursue further. Above left: The producers of Cold Case Hammarskjöld, Mads Brügger (l) and Göran Björkdahl. Left: Dagmar Feil, a marine biologist who worked for SAIMR, was murdered, like other members of her team, allegedly over fears of their exposing SAIMR’s activities
So now it is the fault of the Soviet Union! But it is the usual trick the Western establishment media employs to defend Western interests. “Scientists immediately cast doubt on [Jones’] claim, which they called medically dubious. ‘The probability that they were able to do this is close to zero,’” The New York Times goes on to say, quoting Dr Salim Abdool Karim, the director of Caprisa, an AIDS research centre in South Africa. The paper says Dr Karim cited “the immense resources that would be required to conduct such a far-fetched
The truth will out Not so. We all know how Aids is transmitted from person to person; there is no confusion there. The question is whether or not another agency played an active part in starting or accelerating the chain-reaction in some places. Jones says it did and that the agency was the dreaded SAIMR. He also spells out the motivation behind it – “to eradicate black people” – so that the whites could continue their dominance in South Africa. “We were at war”, he adds, implying that all is fair in love and war. This has nothing to do with the often excellent work that doctors and the medical establishment, faced with HIV/ Aids, did to stem the tide of the disease. They were, and are still in some cases, firefighting and deserve all the credit they get. The question remains, who started the fire in the first place? Jones’ confession is a bombshell. It confirms what many suspected at the time but were unable or indisposed to pursue further. It also helps explain many inconsistencies in the story of the development of Aids in Southern Africa. But this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg – underneath lurks perhaps one of the most terrifying stories of modern times, how the Apartheid regime deliberately set out to commit genocide and how close it came to achieving its ends. The confession might bring a sense of closure for some of the millions of Aids victims and their families or it may spark fresh anger. Of equal significance, it will finally lay to rest the oft-cited trope that Africans brought the curse of Aids on themselves due to their ‘unbridled sexuality’. Why did Jones confess after such a long time? We cannot know for sure but there is such a thing as living with a guilty conscience and it will not be the first time that someone approaching the end of their lives feels compelled to confess to sins in order to lift the heavy burden they have carried on their souls for so long. The truth, as they say, will out – no matter how long it takes to do so. n march 2019 new african 19
Cover Story South Africa
Project Coast Left: Soldiers training for chemical and biological warfare Right: Dr Wouter Basson, head of the South African government’s chemical and biological warfare programme under Apartheid, giving testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
his is not the first time former Apartheid-era operatives have confessed in the open to having used chemical and biological weapons to kill black people. During the infamous 30-month trial of Dr Wouter Basson, nicknamed Dr Death (from 4 October 1999 to 11 April 2002), many of his former colleagues, who were among the 200 witnesses called by the state, testified that Basson had used his minions and agents from Project Coast (the unofficial name of South Africa’s CBW programme) to kill black Africans “big time”. Testifying under oath in Basson’s trial, Dr Daan Goosen, the first MD of Roodeplaat Research Laboratories, the South African Defence Force (SADF) front company in Pretoria where Project Coast was based, said: “There are many people who think Basson was a war hero because he killed the blacks big-time.” Witness after witness told the court that over a period of 10 years, from 1983, Basson, a brigadier in the army and a famous cardiologist who travelled with President P. W. Botha, applied his medical skill and military training to eliminate opponents of the Apartheid regime in a most diabolical manner. The harrowing details that emerged from Basson’s trial reminded keen observers of what had happened in neighbouring Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the liberation war that brought independence to Zimbabwe in 1980. Rhodesia operated a chemical and biological warfare unit during the independence war. At the trial Basson admitted in court that: “Aids research was an ideal cover story [for Project Coast] because it was very topical in 1988.” At that stage, he said, “the bulk of Aids research in South Africa was done through the Medical Research Council, where some of the researchers were on our clandestine payroll.” He said the SADF front company, Delta G, and 20 new african march 2019
researcher Graham Gibson started doing separate Aids research for the SADF a few years later. Other witnesses at Basson’s trial testified that Project Coast embarked on the following: “Research into a race-specific bacterial weapon; a project to find ways to sterilise South Africa’s black population; a discussion of deliberate spreading of cholera through the water supply; large-scale production of dangerous drugs; the fatal poisoning of anti-Apartheid leaders, captured guerrillas and suspected security risks; even a plot to slip thallium – a toxic heavy metal that can permanently impair brain function – into Nelson Mandela’s medication before his release from prison in 1990.” The witnesses told how strains of deadly bacteria like anthrax, cholera, and botulinum were cultivated by Project Coast to be used as weapons against opponents of Apartheid. Other weapons included cigarettes laced with anthrax and screwdrivers hiding hypodermic syringes filled with poisons. Project Coast also manufactured poisoned beer, chocolate, envelope flaps, deodorant sprays, etc. According to witnesses, Project Coast “relied on a global network of spies, ex-soldiers, sanctions-busters, smugglers, and biological-warriors to obtain the chemicals, toxins, viral cultures, specialised equipment and expertise necessary to develop the programme – and then on a string of assassins to deliver the goods”. Basson himself admitted in court that his foreign contacts did not know about his SADF connections. “At times he was a medical researcher – that worked well enough, in 1984, to persuade the Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta, US, to send 8 shipments of Ebola, Marburg and Rift Valley viruses to South Africa,” according to Tom Mangold in his 2001 book, Plague Wars: The Terrifying Reality of Biological Warfare.
Maze of shady deals For months, many foreign governments nervously followed Basson’s trial from afar as it threatened to expose the network and the maze of deeply embarrassing and shady deals between Project Coast and the intelligence services of a host of nations, including America, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, East Germany, Croatia, Libya, China, Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Taiwan and others. A former associate of Basson, Johan Theron, an exintelligence officer, told the court how he and others, with Project Coast’s assistance, killed ‘hundreds’ of black people and dumped their bodies in the sea off Namibia using a small aircraft. Theron said the South African army had captured too many members of Namibia’s South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) to have room to cater for them all. A decision was therefore taken to reduce
Below: Officials prepare voting materials for use in the 2015 general elections. Some fear the 2019 polls might not be free and fair
the overcrowding by killing some of the SWAPO soldiers. At first, Theron said, they tried to strangle the captives. When that proved too difficult and traumatic even for the killers, the military settled for lethal injections. That was when Project Coast came in, to supply them with vast quantities of Scoline, Tubarine and syringes. Theron told the court that between 1979 and 1987 they murdered “hundreds” of SWAPO prisoners by lethal injections. Their bodies were then loaded into a small plane, three at a time, and dumped into the Atlantic Ocean, from an altitude of 12,000 feet. In the end, the Americans and the British forced President F. W. de Klerk to shut down Project Coast and destroy its records. “De Klerk resisted at first,” according to the New Yorker magazine, “but eventually complied. The démarche led also to South Africa’s nuclear disarmament. Unwilling to hand over the country’s nuclear arsenal to Mandela, De Klerk allowed the US to come in and remove it.” Basson, who also handled South Africa’s nuclear bomb project for about six years, admitted in court that he had supplied police operators with incapacitating drugs used in cross-border snatch operations, but said this was on the orders of the former SADF chief, Gen. Liebenberg. “These people were a direct threat to South African society… The target was not my patient, I took care of the South African population.” In their language, “cross-border” or “operational area” covered the whole of Southern Africa and even beyond. Basson of course denied much of the 200 state witnesses’ testimony in court, and though he could not call even a single witness in his defence, the sole white judge in the trial, Willie Hartzenberg, set him free after 30 months of proceedings. n march 2019 new african 21
Cover Story South Africa
How Aids became an ‘epidemic’ in Africa
lexander Jones’ confession opens up a whole Pandora’s Box of other questions, many long suppressed but which have not gone away. These questions are uncomfortable, not only in terms of the South African players but also of other powers that were involved, directly or indirectly, in the propagation of this dreadful disease and the cover-up, as well as, just as culpably, in pointing the finger of blame at the victims. It also raises the question of how and why Aids was labelled an ‘epidemic’ in Africa when the facts did not support this blanket label and in doing so, condemned the continent and its people to years of denigration and to what amounted to a wholesale character assassination of African people. Let us not forget that at the height of the Aids panic, virtually every African was suspected of being a carrier and was shunned. Of course the stock reaction in the West to Alexander Jones’ recent revelations, and any other attempt to show that Aids became an ‘epidemic’ in Africa because there was something more sinister to it, is met with shouts of ‘conspiracy theory’. But ‘conspiracy theory’, according to Prof F. I. D. Konotey-Ahulu (the UK-based Ghanaian medical giant and pan-African writer), becomes ‘conspiracy facts’ if you remove the wrapping from the way the world is actually run by the Western powers. Conspiracy theories exist because the explanations provided do not fully accord with the reality of the events – in short, the evidence does not fit the facts. Indeed as history shows, many ‘conspiracy theories’ turn out to be ‘conspiracy facts’ when revelations are finally made, or declassified documents are made public. Not satisfied with the Aids-epidemic-in-Africa theories then sweeping the world, Prof. Konotey-Ahulu is the first African to have paid out of his own pocket to go on a medical journey in the late 1980s to Africa to investigate the so-called HIV/Aids ‘epidemic’ when it was forecast to wipe out the continent. What he saw on the ground across the continent befuddled him – it ran totally counter to what the Western-based Aids orthodoxy was telling the world. And he recounted it all in his book, What is Aids? Since then, Prof. Konotey-Ahulu has become a oneman-band fighting for, and defending, African interests in the medical world from his base in the UK, where he has been urging Africans to open their eyes to what is happening around them because the dismissive charges
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of ‘conspiracy theory’ actually mean ‘conspiracy facts’.
Right: Sixteen years after Nelson Mandela galvanised the world to take up the fight against AIDS, activists attended a march in Durban called ‘Keep the Promise 2016’, aimed at revitalising the battle against the disease
Was it the epidemic it was made out to be? While there is no doubt that Aids devastated parts of Southern and East Africa, was it really on the scale of Biblical epidemics it has been made out to be? Also, why did Africa buck the trend in that most of the infections were among heterosexuals, rather than homosexuals as elsewhere? From the very beginning of the HIV/Aids story in 1980, even though the syndrome had first been identified in the gay community in San Francisco in the US (and it was in fact originally called Gay Related Immune Deficiency, GRID), the orthodoxy insisted that in Africa the major mode of transmission was heterosexual encounters. This was regardless of the fact that in the West, HIV/Aids remained in what was described as ‘at-risk groups’ – i.e., homosexuals, intravenous drug users, recipients of contaminated plasma, etc. Africa’s ‘epidemic’ was blamed on the African’s so-called unbridled sexuality, as if the African was the only one who had sexual urges in the world. This was the recycling of a shameful trope about the character of the African which went back to the days of slavery and colonisation. In order to justify the brutality and inhumanity of both these phenomena while still trying to maintain ‘Christian values’ which expressly forbade them, it was necessary to dehumanise the African, to cast him as a child of nature, a creature of instinct and wild appetites, a dangerous savage who needed to be ‘civilised’ and disciplined. These tropes, popularised in adventure novels and countless films, persist to this day. So it did not take much imagination to ascribe the prevalence of heterosexual Aids in Africa to the ‘unbridled sexuality’ of the African. ‘Unbridled’ means ‘out of control’ – an irremissible urge peculiar only to Africans. But this was far from the case. There is no evidence that indicates that Africans on the whole indulge in more sexual activity with more partners than anyone anywhere else in the world. If anything, Africans, most of whom are either Church going Christians or strict Muslims, tend to be far more conservative in sexual matters than in the more permissive West. Methods of contraception, including the pill, and ideas of sexual freedom unleashed an era of unprecedented sexual permissiveness in the West – the likes of
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Cover Story South Africa
which never reached Africa. Interestingly, in the early 1970s, a power crisis in the UK which led to the curtailment of TV after 10.30 pm, for seven weeks, led to “an excess of at least 3,000 births”. After independent television was strikebound for 11 weeks in 1979, a Sun headline forecast a ‘telly baby boom’. Deprived of their usual evening pastime, it would seem, the British happily indulged in what, according to the regular content of the tabloid newspapers, was their favourite activity, sex, with extra zeal. On 2 March 2000, both The Times and The Independent [of the UK] reported that the “Millennium Holiday” (24 December to 31 December 1999) alone resulted in a 20% rise in abortions in Britain. “ ‘An additional 9,000 women had abortions in January and February 2000 compared with the same time last year,’ said Marie Stopes International, one of the main providers of abortions in the country,” reported The Independent. “ ‘This increase could be the tip of the iceberg,’ said Helen Axby, the deputy director of Marie Stopes. It seems we are just seeing the first swathe of women who have missed their period after the holidays.” Which means two things: (a) the British are as sexually active as, if not more than, the Africans; and (b) many don’t use condoms. For years, Britain was said to have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe. Which confirms the fact that condom use is, or was, low, otherwise the teenagers would not be pregnant at that high rate. This then begs the question: If the British were sexually active, and many of them did not use condoms but were not catching HIV/Aids; and if the Africans were sexually active and many did not use condoms, but were catching HIV/Aids, what accounted for the dichotomy, if in fact the major mode of HIV/Aids transmission is heterosexual encounters?
Something more than sex? It stands to reason that the Aids ‘epidemic’ in Africa was caused by something more than sex; or to be accurate, several factors caused it, one of which is the way that the HIV virus was deliberately spread in Africa. Back in the mid 1990s, a group of American researchers writing in the medical journal Nature claimed that “mass smallpox immunisation campaigns in Africa by the WHO helped to spread the disease”, a claim that the WHO summarily rejected. This does sound a far-fetched theory and is a smear on the good work done by the WHO. However, the fact that these researchers came to the conclusion, and published it as fact, that the disease was being transmitted by agencies other than through pure human contact, is interesting. What, one wonders, led them to this conclusion? Other causal factors The recent confession of Jones, allied to the horrendous work of Project Coast (detailed in the earlier story) gives credence to the belief that in Southern Africa at least, the disease was helped along by clandestine 24 new african march 2019
A scientist holding an experimental vaccine for the Aids virus at a facility near Pretoria, South Africa, in November 2016. In the belief the vaccine could be successful, the government is running a study known as HTVN 702 to test it, ending in 2020
organisations. While, as Dr Salim Karim contends, it is difficult to isolate and transport the Aids virus, it is simplicity itself to take blood from an infected person and inject it into a healthy one, as Jones says. Many people, including the US African-American tennis champion, Arthur Ashe, were infected through blood transfusion. In addition, the notion that HIV is a man-made virus gone awry has been circulating since the very first years of the Aids epidemic. New African ran dozens of stories and interviews in the 1990s based on the views of experts who said – though not providing any hard evidence – that the HIV virus was created as part of the US chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme at Fort Detrick, Maryland. For 20 years starting from 1988, New African and this writer were an informed part of the Aids debate and analysis. We published evidence from the US Congressional Library that showed that in 1970, the Congressional Appropriations Committee authorised a $10m grant to the Pentagon for research into a then “naturally non-existent organism that would affect the immune system”, as part of the US CBW programme. A 10-year deadline was attached to the grant, and exactly 10 years later, in 1980, a “naturally non-existent organism” (later named HIV) was identified to be the cause of a syndrome first identified in gays in San Francisco. From there, what was originally called GRID morphed into HIV/Aids and conquered the
HIV/Aids figures had to be exaggerated for more money to go to Aids researchers. Thus an African ‘epidemic’ was born. world, particularly Africa. How it became an ‘epidemic’ in Africa is still a mystery, but we shall consider some of the causal factors here. First, we have the Aids definition itself. For Africa, it was too loose. In its infinite wisdom, the orthodoxy came up with two definitions for Aids – one for Africa and one for the rest of the world. The African definition was remarkable in its low specificity: “Weight loss of more than 10%, chronic diarrhoea lasting more than a month, and prolonged fever (intermittent or constant) lasting more than a month.” No test was required. Just by eyesight, millions of Africans were condemned to a life of Aids. No wonder scores of millions of Africans were said to be HIV-positive, feeding into the ‘epidemic’ narrative. In November 1991, a group of Western doctors led by K. M. de Cock attacked the African Aids definition in a letter to the British Medical Journal, saying: “Many patients with TB, irrespective of HIV state, have weight loss, fever, and cough, and the WHO clinical case definition for Aids therefore has a low specificity
in this population. Unless the results of HIV tests are known, many patients with TB who have no HIV infection might be reported as having Aids.” The second factor was the inefficient and unreliable test kits, and the inadequacy of the testing procedures (even the HlV test itself was flawed). As a result, millions of false positives were reported in Africa, where one test (in most cases, none at all) was enough to declare people as HIV-positive. In that context, the reported ‘epidemic’ was a false one. The third factor was the HIV theory itself. The orthodoxy stretched and disregarded facts to fit a comfortable theory, and they did everything to avoid the discomfort of admitting error, especially when 29 old diseases were cobbled together and called Aids or Aids-related. The fourth factor was money, money, money. At one point, Aids was bringing to American researchers alone a whopping $1.3bn a year, and hundreds of thousands of highly-paid jobs were linked directly or indirectly to the Aids industry. So the orthodoxy had to keep the false theory going for as long as possible, otherwise the jobs would be lost. In fact, in April 1995, the WHO Global Programme on AIDS (which later became UNAIDS) dismissed 750 of its 3,000 workers because none of the ‘pandemic’ predictions had come true. In her book, Positively False – Exposing the myths around HIV and AIDS, the British award-winning journalist and broadcaster, Joan Shenton, tells how “on the very same day, in the spring of 1984, when Margaret Heckler, the US Health Secretary, with Robert Gallo by her side, announced at a press conference in Washington DC that ‘the probable cause of AIDS has been found’, Gallo filed a US patent for the HIV blood test kit he had developed. “His claim that he was the sole discoverer of the virus was soon challenged by the French doctor, Luc Montagnier, who happened to be the first to have ‘discovered’ the virus. So, at the behest of President Ronald Reagan and the then French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, Gallo and Montagnier met in a Frankfurt hotel room to work out a settlement. The end result was that the French and Americans settled the lawsuit. In March 1987, they agreed to share the credit for discovering the virus and split the royalties from the blood test kits.” By 1994, those royalties had amounted to $35m. Gallo held 13 US patents at the time and had applied for 29 others. His inventions had brought his previous employers, the National Institutes of Health, half of its income from royalties. The University of Maryland was authorised to hold the patents on new inventions emerging from Gallo’s Institute of Human Virology, but would split the profits 50-50 with the inventors. Great hopes were pinned on Gallo. With such money and politics swirling around HIV/ Aids, Africa stood no chance. Its HIV/Aids figures had to be exaggerated all the time to put more money into the coffers of global Aids researchers. And with it an ‘epidemic’ was truly born. Never mind that it had two huge clay feet! n march 2019 new african 25
Cover Story South Africa
Something more sinister?
en Geer, a white South African who fought for Ian Smith’s government in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), asks awkward questions in his 1997 book, titled Something More Sinister, that probes the spread of HIV/ Aids and the experimentation with other dangerous chemical and biological weapons in the Southern African region by the two white supremacist governments of Rhodesia and South Africa, using black people as guinea pigs. Some excerpts from his book: “The Rhodesian security forces operated a Biological Warfare Unit during the Bush War. Why?” He goes on: “The continued annihilation of villages and refugee centres in Mozambique by the Rhodesian security forces – with no consideration given to innocent civilians, the elderly, women and children – seems incongruous with their Christian ideals. Why was the war protracted and these atrocities committed after agreement had been reached on Kissinger’s proposals? “Numerous true incidents … such as the account of Operation Eland when, in August 1976, [the Rhodesian unit] the Selous Scouts attacked the ZANLA base at Nyadzonya, Mozambique, and reportedly killed 340 ‘terrorists’ and 30 Frelimo soldiers. The UN later claimed the majority of the victims were refugees and not soldiers. “The offensive military operations undertaken by the Selous Scouts were accompanied by specific orders to take captive and bring back hospitalised patients from ‘terrorist’ bases in Mozambique during the raids – for interrogation! “This seems strange in the extreme, whereas there were over 1,000 healthy persons at Nyadzonya camp at the time of this attack who could have been taken for interrogation. Why were the Selous Scouts instructed to take captive diseased or injured persons from the hospital, where it would clearly be impossible to identify their military rank or, indeed, assess whether they were civilians rather than soldiers?” Here Geer insinuates that the “diseased or hospitalised patients” were subjects of secret contamination or experimentation by operatives of the Rhodesian Biological Warfare Unit (BWU) and, after Ian Smith suddenly agreed with the Kissinger proposals to grant black majority rule, the government had to remove the evidence of contamination by eliminating the hospitalised patients before word got out. Geer reveals, however, that: “The Selous Scouts did not comply with this directive [the specific orders to take captive and bring back hospitalised and diseased patients from ZANLA bases in Mozambique]. It was said a chance tracer ignited the grass roof [of the
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The Rhodesian bush war. A white South African soldier in the Rhodesian army patrolling a ‘protected village’ at Camp Seven, located south of Mount Darwin in Northern Rhodesia. The protected village system was introduced by Ian Smith’s government on the grounds of protecting black Africans from ‘terrorists’, who were the forces seeking regime change
hospital] and all the patients were burnt to death. Were [the Selous Scouts] aware of the risks of infection from any captives or did they simply ignore the order that jeopardised the safety of the mission as this suggests? “Another equally strange event was the Karima village massacre in Rhodesia, near the border, which was described by the media as a ‘mysterious incident’. In the evening of 12 June 1975, the Rhodesian security forces opened fire on a gathering of men, women and children. A Rhodesian government communiqué denied their involvement and said that only 20 people had been killed – by black terrorists! “The Rhodesian security forces removed all the bodies and told bereaved relatives that the corpses had been burned on a hill a few kilometres away. Later, the security forces returned and insisted on supervising the burial of the “blood-soaked clothing” that remained
behind. What lay behind the callous and unexplained incident?” Geer asks, and goes on: “The Rhodesian security forces had a policy shortly after UDI [unilateral declaration of independence in November 1965] whereby they released certain captive terrorists, who were returned across the border into neighbouring countries to their comrades, purportedly to try to convince them to lay down their arms. Is this a plausible explanation?”
Biological warfare technology Geer continues by showing how easily South Africa could have acquired chemical and biological warfare (CBW) technology and personnel, by revealing that “after the Second World War, Nazi war criminals were able to take refuge in South Africa.” And not only that, but “the South African medical research into the im-
mune system was extremely advanced as a result of the work of the pioneering heart transplant unit at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.” Geer then turns his attention to important and controversial “dates of interest” in the annals of both South Africa and Rhodesia. “3 September 1971: A comprehensive report by the British-based International Defence & Aid Fund, entitled Terror at Tete (Mozambique), describes how Rhodesian soldiers arrive at Singa village in the Mukumbura district and shoot the villagers – men, women and children. A report by Portuguese army officers, published in April 1971, confirms Rhodesian activity 100km inside Mozambique. ‘Operations consist of speedy paratroop actions in specified areas and the liquidation of any human lives (there being no military or civilian prisoners) and a return to their bases in Rhodesia’. “February 1975: Two hitchhikers travelling through Zimbabwe near the Mozambique border are infected with the Marburg virus. One subsequently dies in Johannesburg. This is the first outbreak of Marburg disease on record in Africa. The case is well documented. “September 1976: US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger makes an impromptu visit to South Africa; the Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith flies twice to South Africa in one week and agrees to the terms set out by Kissinger … without protest! Ian Smith announces [black] majority rule ‘within two years’ – something he had said would not happen in his lifetime! “21 November 1977: Rhodesian security forces raid two ZANLA bases in Mozambique killing over 1,200 people in Tembue and Chimoio camps – again, including women and children. Several air and land strikes are launched by the Rhodesian security forces against the main ‘terrorist’ bases in Mozambique. The inhabitants of several other villages and camps are annihilated and the bodies buried in mass graves.” Five months later, in March 1978, a transitional government is sworn in, in Salisbury (now Harare), ending white minority rule in Rhodesia. In September 1978, Johannes Vorster resigns from the South African premiership and in June 1979 from the presidency. One of Vorster’s most remarkable feats was working with Henry Kissinger to persuade Ian Smith to grant black majority rule in Rhodesia while he himself remained stridently opposed to any such future for South Africa. By asking such questions (marked in italics above), Geer’s intention was to alert the world to the fact that the Rhodesian and South African governments had been using their CBW programmes to do harm to black people in the region long before Ian Smith agreed to grant black majority rule, and as independence approached in Zimbabwe, the two white governments went into overdrive to obliterate the evidence. Geer thinks the involvement of the US and Britain in the CBW shenanigans in Southern Africa was not incidental; hence they had to put pressure on Ian Smith to capitulate so that the evidence could be completely wiped out before the nationalist forces became triumphant in the Rhodesian bush war. NA march 2019 new african 27
Italy’s Luigi Di Maio finally said what everybody knows but pretends not to – that the French pull virtually all the strings in their former African colonies.
Saying the unspeakable
o you not just love Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister? Since a 34-year-old Martin Luther nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in Germany on 31 October 1517 challenging the Catholic orthodoxy, I think we have not had such European franc-parler as forthright as Di Maio’s on 21 January 2019. He denounced France’s continued political and economic stranglehold on its former African colonies in no uncertain manner. Even better, he meant every word of it. “I think that France is one of those countries that by printing money for 14 African states prevents their economic development and [it] contributes to the fact that the refugees leave and then die in the sea or arrive on our coasts,” the 32-year-old Maio, uninhibited by any diplomacy or European solidarity, said in a statement broadcast live on Facebook. “We should stay at home,” he continued, “and when I say ‘we’ I talk about those European states, like France, that during these years have had benefits from exports of raw materials by printing a currency for 14 African states. And, with these advantages, also their economy has
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had benefits. Then the problem is that migrants arrive on our coasts. So, until this problem is solved, we will ask Europe to face the issue of decolonisation of Africa that has never ended.” Hear, hear! For a long time denial by the Global North of the kind of wrongdoing that Maio talked about had created the impression that nothing such was happening or had happened in Africa. But the young Italian knew better. What is more, when France pressed him to recant, Maio, like Martin Luther 499 years before him, was unmoving. Rather he repeated his view: “If today we have people who are leaving Africa, it’s because certain European countries, France in particular, have never stopped colonising Africa,” he said on Italian radio, his defiance even sharper. Then he delivered the coup de grace: “If France didn’t have its African colonies, because that’s what they should be called, it would be the 15th largest world economy. Instead it’s among the first, exactly because of what it is doing in Africa.” Wow! Did Maio not make your day? He cannot fathom how the French President, Emmanuel Macron (young himself) “first lectures us [on migrants], then continues to finance
public debt with the money which he [gets from] exploiting Africa.” And listen to this one: “I have stopped being a hypocrite talking only about the effects of immigration and it’s time to talk about the causes,” Maio said. “In order to keep the Africans in Africa, it would be enough for the French to stay at home. The EU should sanction all those countries like France that are impoverishing African countries and are causing those people to leave.”
Prize for clear-headedness
If Africa had a Nobel Prize for clear-headedness, Maio should be given it. To recant, not on his life! He reminded us all of a brave Martin Luther standing before the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521 and telling the inquisitors: “I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.” Luther’s extraordinary defiance came almost a year after Pope Leo X had issued a Papal Bull in July 1520 describing Luther’s propositions as heretical. His writings had earlier been declared by a second Papal commission to be “scandalous and offensive to pious ears”. Pope Leo therefore
gave Luther 120 days to recant in Rome. The German refused. As punishment, the Pope excommunicated him from the Catholic Church on 3 January 1521. Maybe there is something about young men. They are audacious and speak their mind. For example, Luther had problems with a rich pope asking for public subscriptions to rebuild St Peter’s Basilica. “Why does not the Pope,” Luther wrote, “whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?” Only a young man could ask that daring question, and publicly.
Luigi Di Maio, Deputy PM in Italy’s populist coalition government, whose remarks about France’s relationship with Africa have provoked widespread debate and controversy. He is the leader of Five Star Movement, an antiestablishment party
Since Maio’s franc-parler, there have been attempts to digest his words with the focus on whether French policy in Africa truly leads to migration of the African youth to Europe. I would not join that debate. Rather I would more broadly restate the facts which Maio compressed in his statement about the French attitude to its former African colonies, especially concerning the Colonial Pact that President Charles de Gaulle forced on the Africans before granting them independence in 1960. In a 2013 interview with New African , Mamadou Koulibaly, the former Speaker of the Ivorian Parliament, told the world: “Under the ‘solidarity’ independence pact, the 14 former French colonies or CFA countries are obliged to put 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French treasury, plus another 20% for financial liabilities. This means these 14 African countries only ever have access to 15% of their own money! If they need more, they have to borrow their own money from the French at commercial rates. “France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries can get better prices elsewhere, they can’t sell to anybody until France says it doesn’t need the resources. “In the award of government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these 14 countries look elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if the CFA countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere.”
Hideous state of affairs
Since 1960, any Francophone African leader who has attempted to change this hideous state of affairs has seen a coup d’état organised or instigated by France to overthrow him. Here, Presidents Hamani Diori of Niger (ousted in 1974) and Pascal Lissouba of Congo Brazzaville (ousted in 1997) come to mind. France has used this approach as an intimidatory tactic to silence the African leaders. The only one in recent years who actually tried to do something about
it was the former Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo. And it is why he has spent seven years in jail at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In December 2010, Koffi Charles, the Ivorian ambassador to the US, explained it thus: “The core of the problem in Côte d’Ivoire is a conspiracy by the French government to use any measures necessary to remove President Gbagbo from power because they think he is dangerous and inimical to their interests in Francophone Africa – he will not allow them to control and run our economy on their terms. “The French virtually control our economy. Some of the secret economic agreements they made with our first President, Houphouet Boigny, are unbelievably unfair. They intimidated the Old Man into signing most of these dubious agreements. “We are supposed to be an independent state, but when we dig into our own land, after a certain depth, whatever we find must be cleared with the French. Gbagbo is insisting that some of these deals are unfair to us, so let’s renegotiate them. The French, greedy as they are, do not want to hear anything of the sort and have resorted to subversive tactics against Gbagbo.” Charles’ view was supported by Augustin Douoguih, Gbagbo’s former legal adviser. “Some people have simply reduced the Ivorian crisis to just an election dispute. No. The election dispute is just the tip of the iceberg,” Douoguih said. “Beneath all the noise going on is a quiet struggle by Gbagbo to free Côte d’Ivoire from French economic exploitation, and a vicious French government trying to bring him down.” As Prof. Douglas Yates of the American Graduate School in Paris explains: “The true value of the CFA franc is not economic. It is political. For the member states of the franc zone have no national monetary policy of their own. The making of monetary policy remains with France. Meanwhile the autocratic puppets placed in political power by Paris have distributed their dependency.” And people still want to debate if French policy in Africa leads to the emigration of the youth? NA
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Michael Raynor, US Ambassador to Ethiopia Ethiopia is a long-term ally of the US, and some would argue it has a unique relationship with the global superpower among African countries. US Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor (below and right), who spent much of his career in Africa, including as ambassador to Benin, elaborates on what makes the US-Ethiopia partnership tick. Interview by James Jeffrey.
WITH US, WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET Why has there been such a longstanding effort by the US to partner with Ethiopia? The US has had a special partnership with Ethiopia for over a hundred years. Part of the uniqueness of this partnership has to do with the uniqueness of Ethiopia itself. Its extraordinary history stretching back millennia; its success in fending off colonialism; the extraordinary influence it has had throughout Africa for many decades. The US has understood for many years that Ethiopia is a country of enormous consequence: a country with a large territory and a large population; a country with huge potential and a rapidly growing economy and a country that has played an outsized role in keeping the peace in Africa – and beyond – for many years. The breadth of US-Ethiopian relations has also helped build up an Ethiopian diaspora population in the United States that numbers many hundreds of thousands. This is a very dynamic, influential 30 new newafrican africanmarch April 2019 2017
‘Ethiopia is on a new path towards strong governance, democratic inclusion, economic opportunity and long- term stability. These are outcomes the US is prepared to invest in.’
and successful group of people who maintain strong ties to both countries, and I expect they’ll help make sure that US-Ethiopia ties remain strong going forward. But far more important than the very interesting history of our partnership, are the prospects we now have to build an even stronger relationship going forward. The selection of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his government’s game-changing reform programmes has opened the door to cooperation on a level that was frankly impossible to contemplate just a year ago. Our partnership with Ethiopia is growing stronger than ever, thanks both to the deep historical underpinnings and to the extraordinary new opportunities arising from Ethiopia’s stunning political and economic transformation. The importance of this opportunity can’t be overstated. Ethiopia’s success in building greater political inclusiveness and economic prosperity will have
Michael Raynor: “We Americans are very forthright. We’re not good at layers of complexity or hidden agendas. With Ethiopia, our policy is clear: to work together toward shared goals.”
Interview enormous consequence for its own population of nearly 110m people, of course. And the regional implications of Ethiopia’s success could be equally compelling. Ethiopia is key to fostering security in the Horn of Africa as well as to developing a growing trade hub that can be a multiplier for regional economic growth and prosperity. Ethiopia’s success in establishing itself as a true democracy can resonate not only in Ethiopia and the surrounding region, but around the world. All of this is exactly what the US wants for its partners and for ourselves: governments that provide their people with the democratic and economic opportunities they need to thrive. What role does financial assistance play in the partnership? We’ve provided about $4bn in development investments and humanitarian assistance over the last five years. The split between development and humanitarian funding has been roughly equal in recent years, though the overall amount varies from year to year because our humanitarian assistance is adjusted to meet actual needs – those numbers rose significantly over 2015-2017 due to severe prolonged drought in parts of the country. Our development and humanitarian partnerships focus on investing in Ethiopia’s people: in helping them be not only healthier, better fed and better educated, but to be more self-reliant. This last point is key. Not only do we help Ethiopia provide nutritional support for its people, but we help many recipients of that support to learn work and life skills to help them graduate from reliance on food aid altogether. Similarly, we’ve had a very successful partnership with Ethiopia for several years to combat HIV/AIDS under our PEPFAR programme (the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). Not only does this programme help hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians know their HIV status, 32 new african march 2019
receive life-saving treatment, and lead long and productive lives, but it has also helped Ethiopia become one of the first countries in the world to approach overall control of its HIV epidemic. We invest heavily in areas like education, agricultural productivity, economic growth and youth empowerment – again, not only to meet the immediate needs of the Ethiopian people, but to help the country and its people move beyond the need for such support at all. But as proud as I am of the results of our partnerships with Ethiopia to date, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform efforts have
Ethiopia is in the midst of a moment unlike anything I’ve seen in my career: the opportunity to reinvent a country of great size and consequence. opened the door to a wide range of new opportunities. We’re fully committed to sustaining our ongoing support for Ethiopia and Ethiopians, and we’re also working to expand the scope of our partnership to support Ethiopia’s reform agenda more directly. This includes strengthening institutions and capacity in areas like law enforcement, elections, media and communications, and market economics. We’re also growing the size of our embassy staff to support these new programmes. Ethiopia is on an exciting new path toward strong governance, democratic inclusion, and economic opportunity, and – through these steps – toward a more organic and durable stability in the long run. These are outcomes the US believes in, and is prepared to invest in. What stands out about the US partnership with Ethiopia? I’d cite two things that arguably distinguish the US-Ethiopian partnership. First and foremost, it’s actually a partnership. We come
together to truly understand each other’s goals and priorities, to find common cause, to agree upon the best possible courses of action, and to deploy both our nations’ expertise and resources toward common goals. Second, with us, what you see is what you get. As a nation and a people, we’re very forthright. We’re not good at layers of complexity or hidden agendas. With Ethiopia, our policy is clear: to work together
The Ambassador at work. Left: A formal visit to the rockhewn churches of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia, a key tourist attraction. Below: Opening a photo exhibition honouring President John F. Kennedy’s legacy of supporting youth at the Bahir Dar American Corner. In his speech, he covered projects begun by Kennedy that assist Ethiopia’s youth, such as the Peace Corps. Below left: Greeting clergy members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
When we invest a billion dollars in Ethiopia, it’s purely and simply to make Ethiopia the strongest possible partner. There are no hidden agendas, no strings attached, and no debts incurred.
toward shared goals. And our shared goals are equally clear: to promote democracy, rule of law, greater prosperity, and a world that is free of terrorism and other threats to innocent people. As a result, the US agenda in Ethiopia is equally clear and simple: we want our partner to be as strong as possible, so that we can work together as effectively as possible to achieve our shared goals. When we invest a billion dollars in Ethiopia, it’s purely and simply to make Ethiopia the strongest possible partner. There are no hidden agendas, no strings attached, and no debts incurred. All we ask is that Ethiopia make the best use of our investments toward the worthwhile outcomes we’ve agreed upon. It’s as simple as that. While the US isn’t unique in approaching its international partnerships this way, it’s true that some other countries’ engagement can come with less transparency and more entanglements. When it comes to Ethiopia’s rapid and ongoing democratic reforms, what is the US hoping to see and influence in Ethiopia through its partnership? It’s not about what the US wants to see in Ethiopia. It’s about what the Ethiopian government and people want to see – an Ethiopia that is democratically inclusive, wellgoverned, prosperous and stable – and how the US can support them. We’re focused on enabling Ethiopia to achieve its own goals. This is an easy position for us to take, because Prime Minister Abiy’s reform plans align so closely with our own values and policies. So, what we’re focused on is identifying existing resources as well as new ones we can leverage to specifically support the goals that the Prime Minister has laid out. Yes, the US brings more resources to bear than anyone else, but no single country can do everything on its own. Our coordination and yes, diplomacy – not only with Ethiopia but with other countries and international institutions in support of Ethiopia – is essential to maximising our collective impact.
If anything sets the US apart, it’s the scope and breadth of our cooperation and the fact that we are very intentionally making investments that are consciously designed to make a real difference in the lives of real Ethiopians country-wide. At the same time, we’re also working hard to expand the role of the US private sector in Ethiopia’s success, and we have a growing flow of US companies coming to explore new opportunities to strengthen Ethiopia’s financial, manufacturing and services sectors. With a population nearing 110m people, Ethiopia needs to create jobs at a much faster rate than it’s currently doing. The ultimate answer is to expand the participation of private sector investment, whether from abroad or from within Ethiopia itself, because that’s where the jobs come from. And not just any investment. I’m talking about the kind of high-quality investments that come with true corporate social responsibility, such as strong job creation and labour standards, responsible environmental practices, programmes to build human capital, and commitments to meaningful technology transfer. These are areas in which US businesses excel, both those already in Ethiopia and those looking to invest here. Ethiopia is in the midst of a moment unlike anything I’ve seen in my career: the opportunity to reinvent a country of great size and consequence into a true democracy, a place of enormous economic opportunity, and a country whose citizens feel fully invested in their governance and in the extraordinary reforms that Abiy and his government are pursuing. We believe that Abiy and the Ethiopian government are fully committed to achieving these outcomes, and as a result, we feel strongly that the US has both an opportunity and an obligation to do everything we can to support the success of this moment. Ultimately, it‘ll be up to the Ethiopian people to see it through, but we will absolutely be by their side, every step of the way. NA march 2019 New African 33
The recent furore over the issue of promoting the body shapes of Ugandan women as a tourist attraction opens up a can of worms over how far is too far in chasing the tourist dollar.
More than a question of curves
n entirely predictable row has followed the Ugandan Minister of Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda’s proposal to promote Ugandan women of a certain body type as a tourist attraction. He officially launched the ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ pageant as part of the ‘Tulambule’ (‘Let’s tour’) campaign to attract foreign visitors. Every usual position has been taken on this by critics and commentators, from the expected advocates of women’s rights to the clergy (Muslim and Christian alike), and every point in between. Many drew comparisons with the gruesome 1800s tale of Sarah Baartman, the KhoiKhoi woman who was abducted from Africa, and made into a live exhibit (and then later died) in a ‘human zoo’ display in Europe, where visitors would examine her bodily curves. This is not to say that Ugandan women endowed with curves are particularly camera-shy. Voluptuousness is actually one of the aesthetic values in many an African society, as every reader of this magazine surely knows by now. The vast majority of well-endowed ladies are quite satisfied, to say the least, with the contours. This is not just a Ugandan or African phenomenon.
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Beauty pageants celebrating body types not normally sanctified by the Western fashion industry are regularly held in various parts of the world. So the essential problem here seems to be one of agency: who gets to decide who or what is to be ‘looked at’, and who shall benefit from the ‘looking’ after it is done, and in what way? It actually raises a wider question of how those governing in many parts of Africa view the bounty within their particular borders. There is an element of ‘plunder opportunism’ in some cases. Take the standard wildlife and nature tourism as an example. In a documentary film project I was involved in nearly a decade ago, we filmed many indigenous residents near the summit of Mt Elgon in eastern Uganda. Their complaints about mistreatment by officers of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) were numerous. The crux of their accusations was that the UWA’s zeal in driving ‘encroachers’ out of the forest was in fact a cover for them to let in and protect a racket involving illegal lumber. Then there is appropriation. This is the same ministry that adopted a certain ubiquitous type of street
food here, known as ‘Rolex’, as an item to be promoted for tourism. The difference, as one commentator pointed out, is that – unlike the famous street food markets of south-eastern Asian cities – virtually nothing about it, except perhaps a certain level of practical ingenuity, can be described as indigenous. The basic ‘Rolex’ ingredients are wheat flour, which is largely imported from neighbouring Kenya (having been introduced there as part of colonial commercial agriculture), fried into a chapati (Indian), which is then wrapped around an omelette (French origins?), laced with vegetables. This did not stop the Tourism Minister from getting himself photographed energetically engaging with one, for the sake of the nation.
Mindless pursuit of tourism dollar
In Kenya this mindset has long been practised and raised to the level of an art form. If a human being does feature in a tourism advert, most likely it will be an exoticised Maasai or Nandi pastoralist; otherwise it is wildlife all the way. This mindless pursuit of ‘tourist attraction’ had reached the point where, about a decade ago, the
Kenyan passport was redesigned to feature an image of one wild beast or another on its pages, as a form of subliminal advertising presumably, aimed at all the passport officers of the world. I once asked a Nairobi cultural workers’ gathering what their reaction would be if, following the same logic, one day, their images appeared on passport pages. They were not amused. Tourism, culture and entertainment industries generate revenues and provide jobs. While they are often the mainstay of some developing countries, they also add considerably to the national coffers of industrialised countries. In 2017, travel and tourism
Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, at the launch of the controversial ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ beauty competition/ pageant in Kampala, alongside several participants
worldwide generated $7.6tn or roughly 10% of global GDP and provided 292m jobs. In the UK for example, the industry accounts for roughly 9% of GDP, generating around $127bn, while Spain depends on this industry for almost 17% of its GDP. The whole of Africa, by comparison, makes around $41bn from travel and tourism; while France alone attracts almost three times the number of visitors, 82m, as Africa, which has around 30m (Thailand’s Bangkok attracts over 20m visitors on its own, by the way). Given these figures, it is understandable that our countries will go all out to lure the tourist dollar and look for highways and byways to increase what they believe will persuade more tourists to visit them. But how far is too far? First, there is the danger of creating a local population that believes its role is to make foreigners happy, not to mention reinforcing the same already existing notion in the minds of the same foreigners. Policy makers sometimes forget that what attracts foreign visitors is the cultural specificity of the destination, i.e. what makes France French, or Thailand uniquely Thai. Secondly, Africa, like many poor parts of the world, has been the destination for an established sexual tourism industry. Like a wealthy, but criminal cousin in the family, this fact is known, but not fully acknowledged. Thirdly, there is the real problem of creating a whole genre of art and culture designed to meet tourist expectations. Beyond ‘airport art’, there are whole notions now of pseudo-African performance and expression, a kind of ‘stage African’ that stultifies and ossifies artistic expression. A place known as the Bomas of Kenya on the Nairobi outskirts used to be a major venue where this kind of practice flourished in the 70s and 80s. Perhaps the performance values have now improved.
How far is too far?
In a couple of tweets on this issue of ‘curves’, the activist Bwesigye says:
“I think the critique of the curvy women thing is incomplete without factoring in race, colonialism, and capitalism. Tourism is an evil business. It always has been. Even the wildlife nonsense comes from the same racist archive. “Tourism,” he continued, “in the African and Caribbean sense is inherently about Europeans and European-descended people consuming what they imagine is the nonhuman other. So the curves thing is within that logic… Tourism is meant to dehumanise.” It’s a debatable point since the industry worldwide makes some accommodation to fit into certain stereotypes that foreigners hold but it comes down to a matter of taste and how far is too far. What makes the US, Europe or Asia attractive is being able to find the people and cultures there unique in their own specific ways, not distorted to fit into the culturally loaded expectations of others. For example, Africans are by nature and inclination friendly and welcoming to strangers. They also have a wonderful sense of humour and irony that helps them get through a rough day. We also have wonderful music and some claim that Africans are the world’s greatest natural dancers. We also have a wide variety of delicious food, fruits, vegetables and edible nuts. African beer is a thing of beauty. And I have not even mentioned the extraordinary landscapes and the fact that Africa is the last redoubt of flora and fauna that has been wiped off the face of the earth elsewhere. This is what Africa has to offer and the world is welcome to it. Our idea of aesthetics is also uniquely our own. In some parts of the continent, a well filled-out, curvy figure is the acme of beauty; in other parts, slimness in prized. Our sense of aesthetics is part of the package of what makes Africa, Africa. There is no need to push our natural shapes as a tourist attraction to be gawped at as something strange. Doing so makes it both insulting and artificial and hence, ironically, not attractive at all. NA
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Africa had a unique opportunity at the independence of the continent to sink its differences and unite into a powerful whole. That opportunity was scorned, leaving the continent powerless in global terms.
Achieving unity takes strength
n terms of Africa’s political history, one of the greatest tragedies to have befallen the continent is not the oft-cited Berlin Conference of 1884, during which European powers sliced our giant continent into pieces, but yet another conference on Africa that was held exactly 80 years later, 1964, in Cairo, Egypt. This was convened and attended by Africans. On 21 July 1964, among a number of resolutions passed, the most notable stated that the gathered African states: “Solemnly declare that all Member States pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence”. It is ironic that the decision, which was to lead to such tragedy for so many Africans over such a vast geographical spread for so long, was actually issued ‘solemnly’. In the 1960s, there were two schools of thought on the question of African political union. The gradualists believed that African countries must first gain their own independence, then try to form regional unity blocks before eventually thinking of a continent-wide centre of power. Their champion was Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. The second group was Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and others, who believed that the need for a union
government for Africa was urgent and could not wait. The Nkrumah group lost the argument in the short term. However, in 1977, Nyerere gave a speech in Ghana during its 40th independence celebrations, the title of which was: “Without unity there is no future for Africa.” He acknowledged that events during the first generation after African independence proved that Nkrumah had been irrefutably right. The most powerful countries of the world today are the products of political union. It may be easy to forget that China was once a sum of weak and fragmented states that had to unite to bring about the China we know today; the US is composed of 50 separate states that united to form the economic and military giant; the USSR was the other power pole globally until it fragmented; Germany was formerly a collection of smaller states – and there are many more examples. Political unity provides power that is greater than the sum of its parts. Political disunity sucks out power and often maroons countries in an endless cycle of poverty. Political unity was seen as such a life and death scenario that the biggest war ever fought on US soil was about preserving their political unity. Most African countries today are
T HE S E C O ND AFRIC AN REVOLUTION Kwame Muzawazi
Political unity provides power that is greater than the sum of its parts. Political disunity sucks out power and often maroons countries in an endless cycle of poverty.
irrelevant in the global scheme of things because of the futile attempt to exercise isolated political sovereignty. The African voice is the weakest voice in the world because Africa is disjointed and Balkanised.
Speaking in tongues
At the UN General Assembly, Africa is the biggest voting group in the world, occupying 55 of the 193 seats, yet this opportunity to be the most powerful voice on the global stage remains unrealised because African countries vote with discord even on matters of vital importance to Africa. When the world wants to converse with America, it does it with one person chosen to represent the country. It is similar for China, or for that matter, the EU. However, when the world wants to speak to Africa, it has to liaise with 55 representatives – each with their own agendas, which are often contradictory. The top 20 CEOs at Forbes’ Global 2000 listing of the world’s largest public companies individually control more economic resources than each of the 52 African Heads of State (except in the case of Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt). And 50 of the 55 African governments would not be able to function without humanitarian assistance. Yet Africa has real potential to be the most powerful political entity in the world if the people can organise themselves: centralise management of the vast mineral wealth; remove borders and allow free movement of people, goods, capital and services; negotiate as one bloc representing 1bn people – and be heard and revered. For now, we are being treated like a joke, to the extent that even after three years into his Presidency, the Trump administration has not presented an African policy. Following his earlier comments about “s***hole* African countries, perhaps there is no African policy because as far as the US is concerned, there is no need for one. We all know that unity is strength – but to achieve unity, one must abandon one’s ego and self-gratification and give all to the larger whole; that is not easy and that is where the problem lies. NA
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Since 2007, APO Group, a media relations consultancy and press release distribution service in Africa and the Middle East, formerly known as the Africa Press Organisation (APO), has carved out a unique niche for itself. The founder of the group, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard (right), talks about the importance of the African media in telling Africa’s story, which is in danger of being hijacked by foreign media organisations.
If we don’t own our story, we will lose our sovereignty
lthough many media groups in Africa have been suffering from dwindling advertising revenues and balkanised revenue models, APO Group and other media relations businesses have been thriving. APO Group has enjoyed a 60% year-on-year growth in 2018 with turnover doubling in the last two years alone. Pompigne-Mognard expects a 40% year-on-year growth over the next four consecutive years. This is proof, he says, of the interest Africa generates among the business community at large and a desire by multinationals to capture an ever-greater market share of the African opportunity. Today, 85% of APO’s clients are foreign companies, international institutions or multinationals looking to expand their work and business on the continent. “There are over 400 American companies and 350 German companies in South Africa alone,” he says. The demographic and macro-economic factors point to sustained growth, he adds. “Growth is from a low base and the market is large and rapidly rising. These two factors therefore point to much scope for accelerated growth,” he points out. “For example,” he says, “a client of ours, a late entrant to the African market, is setting aside a fair chunk of advertising and PR spend – in 38 new african march 2019
the millions of dollars – to gain market share. Their CEO has been given a target to increase revenues tenfold in the next five years!” He also points to the art market to validate his thesis. Africa today represents 0.2% of the global contemporary art market. African GDP as a percentage of the world’s is 2%: “Some will see this 0.2% as insignificant but to me it shows the scope of growth that is possible. A bulge in demand for African art has led to considerable growth in the past three years and in turn has inflated the price African contemporary art commands today.” Pompigne-Mognard is in a position where he can gauge the pulse of the continent and what companies are doing. While companies will go to his organisation to communicate positive news stories or positive developments, he still feels the trend is definitely a positive one. Through his organisation, he drums up the opportunities that the continent has to offer and says that despite the economic slowdown, companies are still positioning themselves to take advantage of the inevitable rapid economic growth that the continent will rediscover and also to establish their place in what is still a nascent continent economically.
Problem of sovereignty Pompigne-Mognard started off his career as a journalist and it was as a foreign correspondent for Gabonews, where he was struggling to find a single source for Africanrelated news from European businesses and institutions, that the idea to offer a press release distribution service came up. It was following discussions with the former President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, that he also realised that Africa had to have a platform to tell its story and amplify its message – and that the dissemination of news was intrinsically linked to the development agenda. “What does concern me however,” he says, “is the strength of the African media and its overall influence amongst Africans.” He quotes a recent study by Ipsos, the polling and market research company, that says that the Nigerian elite and educated classes were more likely to watch international news channels than Nigerian ones. “If African people are watching more African news on international news channels such as the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera than their own local media, then we have a problem,” he says. “We have a real problem in terms of sovereignty. We also have a problem because the African journalists will have no other
‘The day Nigerian people are learning about what is happening in their country from an international media house, then the continent will no longer be in control of its destiny.’
choice, in 10 years’ time, than to work for international media.” While he is pleased that organisations such as the Washington Post, BBC or even CGTN are opening or extending their offices across the continent – the BBC’s Nairobi office is its biggest outside of the UK – he argues that “if we continue delegating our stories to others, we will be heading towards catastrophe”. And right now that is the trend that he is seeing, with a diminishing share of advertising revenue going to local media houses, making their situation that more precarious. “And once you relinquish the news story to others,” he argues,” you are effectively relinquishing some of your sovereignty and that poses a great danger, both nationally and continentally.” He has no issues with multinationals or others operating on the continent. On the contrary, he says, his business depends on them, and “when they enter African markets they create a demand for many ancillary services, rented office space, advertising and communication, jobs etc”. But the current situation is a grave one. And as any PR or communications firm knows, it can only prosper with a thriving and diverse media industry. Although there has been a rapid increase in the use of digital platforms tailored to social media, PompigneMognard believes these new platforms on their own cannot tell the proper African story or change the narrative. “In any case, even on these platforms, these new entities are dwarfed by the larger organisations,” he says. What social media has done, he says, is to enable smaller organisations to have a greater reach and greater influence. Media groups such as OkayAfrica, or even personalities such as Julie Gichuru or Jeff Koinange have managed to acquire a large following and are able to use social media to reach out to a global audience and put a different narrative out there. Social media has also been used
effectively to campaign against IP theft. We saw this in the world of fashion where campaigns were successfully launched against global brands using African patterns and styles and claiming them to be their own. Zara retracted some designs for example, when there was a massive backlash on social media for having stolen designs by South African designer Laduma. Louis Vuitton was also accused of copying the Basotho blanket. But he is not sure that individuals have the same legitimacy as media houses as such when it comes to owning the African narrative.
A real threat “Despite the power of these platforms,” he adds, “I am worried that the best African talent, when it comes to journalism will be condemned to work for the BBC or CNN. “And the day the Nigerian people are learning about what is happening in their country from an international media house, then the continent will no longer be in control of its destiny.” Who should be leading the charge on this? Should we be creating a fund or subsidising African media? PompigneMognard doesn’t offer a solution but strongly believes that this threat is real and not enough is being done to confront it. Communicators on the continent, he feels, need also to be a lot more adept at using photos and videos. “My company is talking to a global image provider as they are looking at ways to acquire Africanrelated content. They know that there is a demand and their stock is very limited. At APO Group, we offer our clients the possibility to integrate multimedia content (photos and/or videos) into their press release. This service was a great success in 2018, with the number of press releases accompanied by videos or photos increasing by 35%. “We need to influence our storytelling through the right choice of images. And that can only happen through the provision of images that truly represent the African story.” NA march 2019 new african 39
Does the world today look like what you imagined a decade ago? For us, the answer is both yes and no. On the one hand, the world as a whole continues to make the broad progress we hoped and expected to see. Many trendlines from the last decade continue their same positive trajectory: Fewer people are dying from preventable diseases. More girls are going to school every year, and more children are surviving to adulthood. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of kids who die before the age of five fell by 32% between 2000 and 2017. On the other hand, unexpected events have reshaped the world in a way that no one (including us!) saw coming. That would be true for any random year that you pick – but last year, it seemed like unforeseen forces had an outsized impact. From especially devastating natural disasters to record numbers of women campaigning for office in the United States, 2018 felt to us like a series of surprises. A benefit of surprises is that they’re often a prod to action. When you realise that the realities of the world don’t match your expectations, it gnaws at you. Twenty-five years ago, a surprise changed the course of our lives. While reading the newspaper, we saw an article that made a shocking statement: hundreds of thousands of kids in poor countries were dying from diarrhoea. That revelation stopped us in our tracks. We sent a copy of the article to Bill’s dad and said, “Maybe we can do something about this.” That surprise was one of the most important steps in our journey to philanthropy. It helped crystallise our values: we believe in a world where innovation is for everyone – where no child dies from a disease it’s possible to prevent. But what we saw was a world still shaped by inequity. In our Annual Letter this year, we wrote about nine things that have surprised us along this journey. Some helped us see that the status quo needs disruption, like the fact that data collection can be sexist and often doesn’t take women and girls into account.
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GUEST COM MENTARY By Bill and Melinda Gates
In this op-ed specially written for New African readers, Bill and Melinda Gates point out that while the population of the world is approaching middle age, Africa uniquely remains young. They argue that this factor can be a powerful force not only for Africa but the world. But for this potential to be unlocked, African youth, including its women, must have access to health and education – the essential engines of economic growth.
Healthy, educated young Africans will shape the world
Others underscore that transformation is happening already, like the notion that textbooks are becoming obsolete thanks to new technology.
World gets older, Africa stays young One of the surprises we wrote about is particularly resonant in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya: Africa is the youngest continent. While the world keeps getting older, Africa – and especially sub-Saharan Africa – stays young. The global median age is on the rise. In every part of the world, people are living longer. As more children survive to adulthood, women are having fewer kids than ever before. The result is a global population that’s creeping slowly toward middle age. Except in Africa, where the median age is just 18. It’s 17.3 in Burkina Faso, and in Uganda, the median age is only 15.8. Compare that to North America, where it’s 35. There are a lot of reasons for this. One is that the annual number of births is going up in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa, even as it goes down in other parts of Africa. This can be either an asset or a source of instability. Sub-Saharan governments currently spend an average of 16.9 per cent of their budget on education, compared to 11.8 per cent in Europe and 14.1 per cent in North America. We believe that the right investments will unlock the continent’s enormous potential. Young Africans will shape the future of not only their own communities but the entire world. When economists describe the conditions under which countries prosper, one of the factors they stress is ‘human capital’, which is another way of saying that the future depends on young people’s access to high-quality health and education services. Health and education are the twin engines of economic growth. If sub-Saharan Africa commits to investing in its young people, the region could double its share of the global labour force by 2050, unlocking a better life for hundreds
of millions of people. Girls’ education, especially, is among the most powerful forces on the planet. Educated girls are healthier. They are wealthier. (If all girls received 12 years of high-quality education, women’s lifetime earnings would increase by as much as $30 trillion, which is bigger than the entire US economy.) And their families benefit, too. The more education a woman has, the better equipped she is to raise healthy children. In fact, UNESCO estimates that if all women in sub-Saharan Africa finished secondary school, 1.5m more children would live to see their fifth birthday. A healthy, educated, and
A positive trend in health. As Bill and Melinda Gates point out, the number of children who die before the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 32% between 2000 and 2017
If SS Africa commits to investing in its youth, the region could double its share of the global labour force by 2050, unlocking a better life for hundreds of millions of people.
empowered African youth boom that lifts girls instead of leaving them behind would be the best indicator of progress we can imagine. We know first hand that a surprise can be a powerful call to action. When something is at odds with your expectations – like the fact that Africa is the world’s youngest continent – you get surprised, then you get curious, then you get activated. That’s how the world gets better. NA
The authors are co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This article is adapted from their 2019 Annual Letter.
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he embrace of free trade and free markets across the continent have acted as the greatest agent of human progress the world has ever seen. Market economies across Africa have resulted in increased life expectancy, the shrinking of absolute poverty and hugely improved access to education. There is still more to do of course. Africa’s population is set to double by 2050 and as many as 18m extra jobs a year will need to be created to meet that demand. But with its collective GDP set to skyrocket beyond $3tn within the next decade, the Fourth Industrial Revolution gives Africa the opportunity to propel itself towards truly inclusive and sustainable prosperity. My predecessor as Lord Mayor, Charles Bowman, was present when the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May in her speech in Cape Town in August stated that the City of London – as the world’s leading financial centre, with more than £8tn of assets under management – is an unrivalled future investment partner of choice as Africa looks to realise its full potential. If Africa is to meet the challenge while also achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it will need access to capital and to create investable investment assets. London’s scale and innovation means it is uniquely placed to deliver this growing demand. As the location for 11% of the world’s fintech industry, the UK is helping to bring basic financial services to hundreds of millions of unbanked people across Africa, while UK fintech firms, such as Azimo and WorldRemit are making it cheaper than ever before to send remittances back home, fuelling local economies. I am working closely with the UK government to share UK expertise and grow Africa’s fintech industry, identifying opportunities for further private investment and sharing business models.
New raft of opportunities
That’s not all. For instance, more than 110 African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange – more than anywhere else in the world – and in November it saw the
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GUEST COM MENTARY By Peter Estlin, the Lord Mayor of London
The City of London (right) is the world’s greatest financial centre, with over $8tn in assets. More African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange than anywhere else in the world and it plays a crucial role in helping Africa raise much-needed capital for its urgent development requirements. As the UK heads towards Brexit, the City is looking to create deeper relations with Africa.
London joins Africa on its great adventure listing of the first local currency corporate bond from Ghana and West Africa, worth GHS45m ($10m). Quantum Terminals Group (QTG), a leading energy infrastructure developer in Ghana, will use the bond to support the growth of its
liquid petroleum gas (LPG) storage business. Because LPG generates significantly less CO2 emissions than oil and coal – most commonly used in Ghanaian households – its increased uptake will have particularly beneficial health impacts. This good work continues in earnest and will progress to the next level in 2019. Here at the City of London, our Sustainable Development Capital Initiative (SDCI) is bringing together key figures across the public and private sectors to develop London’s role in raising the necessary capital to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The first set of findings will be presented when I join the PM at the UK-Africa Summit later this year, while in the autumn, I will take a business delegation to South Africa and Kenya to scope out a new raft of opportunities. And while we know that Brexit will pose challenges, let me make one thing very clear – the UK will remain alongside Africa as an outward-looking, pragmatic, innovative champion of free trade. Nelson Mandela spoke boldly of transforming South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future. With the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, that ambition is becoming ever more tangible. Technologies such as blockchain, AI and much more give our generation the chance to work together to tackle global issues such as access to the financial system and climate change, in turn creating inclusive and sustainable prosperity for millions in Africa. As we approach the middle of the 21st century and centenary of independence for the majority of African nations, together we can provide the means to make Mandela’s bold vision a reality. NA
Peter Estlin was elected as the 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London in October. As the elected head of the City of London Corporation, he will serve as a global ambassador for the UK-based financial and professional services industry for a one-year term.
More than 110 African companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange â€“ more than anywhere else in the world.
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As the UK hurtles towards an unknown future when it exits the EU this month, the reaction from a deeply divided country, including its black diaspora, is angry and confused.
World champions of arrogance?
hortly after the British people had voted to quit the European Union, back in the summer of 2016, I chanced to meet a young African lady in Lewisham, south-east London. She was articulate, vivacious and intelligent, and seemed to have a grasp of the issues of the day. After a few comments about the situation in her South African homeland, she shocked me by saying that she had just voted for ‘Leave’ in the referendum. Although Loretta knew and accepted the arguments that the country would be better off remaining inside the EU, she thought that as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and other advocates of Leave, seemed always to have a quip and a laugh, it might be rather jolly to travel with them on their adventure. Two elderly ladies of my acquaintance, both born in Jamaica and now in their 90s, were inclined to vote the same way. They did so because they wanted to “keep out the immigrants”. These ladies were of an age to have come here on the Empire Windrush – the first ship to bring West Indian immigrants to Britain following appeals from various UK departments that were short of qualified labour – and to have
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known the difficulties of the struggle for survival and recognition. Surely, they could have more compassion for their successors. That was the point. After a life-time of working towards acceptance within the national community they felt they could share ‘traditional’ British sentiments – such as being hostile to immigrants. They were now among the ‘haves’ who had something they could deny to others. Yet these were kindly people who in their personal lives would not dream of being hostile to anyone. Hardly anybody wanted the nastiness that has come into the national body politic. With the entry into the fray of right-wing agitators, the press (accurately described by my colleague Baffour Ankomah in the February 2019 edition of the New African) and those bent on violent comment (if not quite yet violent actions), the ‘usual suspects’ – ethnic minorities, women and those of cosmopolitan outlook (“citizens of nowhere” as Prime Minister Theresa May scoffed) – have found themselves in the firing-line. It will get worse as the wreckers seek scapegoats to blame for what they themselves have brought about.
Deplorable treatment of Abbott The treatment of Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary, on the BBC flagship television programme Question Time was deplorable. The credibility of this once-treasured institution has been creaking for some time. Instead of promoting intelligent discussion, as hitherto, it has descended into a gladiatorial show with baying sections of the audience apparently goaded into confrontational behaviour that would disgrace a bear-pit. This practice provides soundbites which keep the show in the press headlines and is as edifying as seeing a once-favourite aunt drunk and disorderly on the public highway. Witnesses to the event allege, and it has not been effectively counter-argued, that in the
As the Brexit issue has heated up, ethnic minorities, women and those of cosmopolitan outlook have found themselves in the firing line.
warm-up to the programme Fiona Bruce, its first female presenter and recent successor to the iconic David Dimbleby, baited the audience into adopting a negative attitude towards Ms Abbott, which included impertinent implications over how she may have attained her position. During the broadcast itself Ms Bruce interrupted Diane more often than she did the other panelists and once told her that she was wrong when, in fact, the politician was proven to have been correct. It was difficult to see the chair’s neutrality. The gaffe-prone Ms Abbott receives a disproportionate amount of media and social-media abuse, much of it racial: she is perceived
Diane Abbott, the UK’s Shadow Home Secretary, receives a disproportionate amount of media and social-media abuse, much of it racial in nature
as being the weak link in the Labour line-up because she reacts emotionally to criticism and shows when she is hurt. Not without reason, Diane blamed Question Time for a “horrible experience” and “whipping up a racist and sexist atmosphere”. London-born to Jamaican parents, she is the last serving member of the House of Commons from the first intake of African/Caribbean MPs in 1987. In contrast, Gina Miller, the Guyana-born lawyer who has become a figurehead of the Remain cause, is composed and hardly puts a foot wrong, but she still attracts threats to her life as well as routine abuse. At a time when politicians are noted more for their pusillanimity than their principles, Gina has been only too effective through her legal intervention in ensuring that the role of Parliament is not trampled under in the rush to the exit. Those who may mock Abbott are frightened of Miller. The on-line call by a right-wing extremist that Gina should be decapitated and her head left outside Buckingham Palace is indicative of the trend of traduced patriotism that has gripped sections of the country. I fear that lights are going out which we may not see lit again in our lifetime. Looking for a new role Admittedly, politicians do not always do themselves any favours. Fiona Onasanya, who was born in Cambridge to Nigerian parents, was a surprise winner in the 2017 general election. She has now become the first female MP to be imprisoned, and stripped of her Labour Party membership, on being found guilty of perverting the course of justice by lying to the police to avoid a speeding fine. She should have learned from the example of Chris Huhne, the high-flying Liberal Democrat, whose parliamentary career was ended by the same charge. The current controversy is not so much about the UK’s relationship with Europe and the outside world as about the UK’s view of itself. Dean Acheson, the former US secretary of state, commented in 1963: “Great Britain has lost an Empire and has not yet found a role”. That role was
found in membership of the EU. Since its rejection, some politicians and commentators have tried to revert to the ‘age of empire’. Maybe Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, would not be so confident in his insistence that the UK could prosper after Brexit by returning to the former trade arrangements which the country had enjoyed with the erstwhile Commonwealth and Empire, if he had been following the recent cricket series between West Indies and England. The former’s unexpected and overwhelming victory has been greeted with something approaching rapture by not only fans of the Caribbean diaspora on either side of the Atlantic but also by a substantial number of England’s supporters, commentators and former cricketers. Patronising advance remarks by some pundits were seen as being disrespectful to the West Indies team, earning England the name “world champions of arrogance”. The imperial attitude does not go down well with everyone! I am not sure that my casual acquaintance from Lewisham still considers the journey to be jolly, with a quip and a laugh, or that those elderly ladies continue to welcome the restrictions on immigration now that it could well limit the health and social services on which they, and their families, have come to depend. Nevertheless, there are more than enough people in the country willing to dare the unthinkable – they know that their future will be hard but they still want it. In 1914, on the outbreak of a war of unparalleled destruction, and knowing that it would mean the devastation of all they valued, the poet Rupert Brooke spoke for millions of his countrymen in writing “Now, God be thanked who has matched us with this hour”. Within a few months Brooke, himself, was dead – from the effects of a mosquito bite. When his country rushed into a popular, though ill-advised 18thcentury war with Spain, Sir Robert Walpole, the first UK prime minister, declared: “Now they are ringing the bells, soon they will be wringing their hands.” Well said, Sir Robert.
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GUEST COM MENTARY Africa can be a shining light in the world. We must work to leverage the continent’s boundless optimism and unlock its potential. Africa must sparkle!
AKINWUMI ADESINA, President, African Development Bank
Africa’s time to sparkle
frica is a resilient continent, developing and making giant strides, despite all the odds. For way too long the continent has been known and defined by negative imageries, of wars and conflicts. The good stories of Africa get shelved on one side, but any misstep or challenge is made front-page news. The greatest asset of Africa is not its vast minerals, oil and gas. Africa’s greatest asset is its youthful population. Africa’s youth population, currently estimated at 250m, is expected to rise to 840m by 2050. That’ll make Africa the youngest continent in the world, as many parts of the world are witnessing rapidly ageing populations. What we do with that population of youth today will determine the future of work in the world. Africa must become the brimming workshop of the world – with a knowledgeable and highly skilled workforce that’s able to propel the continent into the fourth industrial revolution. Today, millions of these same young people have no jobs and many take enormous risks to cross the Mediterranean to seek a brighter future in Europe. I do not believe that the future of Africa’s youth lies in Europe; their future must lie in a thriving and more prosperous Africa. Our challenge is to ensure that Africa’s economies grow more rapidly and in ways that create quality jobs for its teeming youths. That’s why the African Development Bank (AfDB) is pursuing a major ‘Jobs for Youth in Africa’ initiative, to help African countries create 25m jobs for its youth. But we’re not just focusing on the IT sector, the Bank is also supporting the growth of young agribusiness and commercial farmers for the
New African AR Guide Creation date
2016. And 45% of the countries will experience a growth rate of above 5%. That’s way above the global growth average of 3%. In November 2018, the African Development Bank decided to take the story of Africa as an investment magnet to the rest of the world. We organised the first Africa Investment Forum. The Forum was a unique one, without speeches; the focus sharply placed on transactions to invest in projects that’ll help change the lives of people on the continent. The buzz went out globally and 2,000 participants showed up, with investors from 53 countries around the world. A total of $38.7bn of investment interest for projects was secured in less than 72 hours. What do these investors see? They of course know the challenges in Africa, but they see beyond challenges. They see opportunities.
Digitally smart Africa
continent. Africa has 65% of the arable land left to feed the world by 2050. What Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world. But we must make agriculture exciting for the youth. That’s why the Bank has invested $300 million in programmes to support youths to take up agriculture as a business. I believe that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come out of agriculture, the wealth of Africa, waiting to be unlocked to shine.
Africa’s shining light To shine, Africa must have universal electricity. Africa cannot develop in the dark. Some 600m Africans do not have access to electricity. That’s why at the Bank we are investing rapidly to help light up and power Africa. We’re investing $12bn in power, to help leverage $45-50bn to accelerate access to electricity for millions of people. Africa is not hidden. Its shining light is seen in its people, their entrepreneurship, creativity and intellectual accomplishments. But you rarely hear these stories: stories of its gallant strides, surmounting obstacles, rising each day, with determination to lead, not just follow. Few people know that Africa has produced 26 Nobel Prize Winners, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. Africa’s boundless hope can be felt by those who invest there. Africa today has six out of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world. Africa is also the second destination in attracting foreign direct investment, second only to Asia. This year we project that GDP growth will rise to 4%, double what it was in
And more can be done, to build on Africa’s giant strides in mobile telephony. Today, Africa leads the world in the number of mobile phones. The mobile money transfer system that’s taking the world by storm started in Africa, with M-Pesa in Kenya, which now allows at least $23bn to be moved through mobile phones. To power Africa’s drive into the fourth industrial revolution, we’re investing heavily in building ICT infrastructure across Africa. A digitally smart Africa will emerge, driven by technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. We still have a long way to go until we provide universal access to electricity; assure food security for the continent; integrate Africa; industrialise the continent; and improve the quality of life for Africans. The Bank is engaged in discussions with its shareholders for a General Capital Increase for the Bank. This will allow us to do more for Africa, towards the Agenda 2063, “The Africa we want”. Just think about what Africa will look like with a General Capital Increase paid in capital for the African Development Bank: * 105m people will get access to electricity * 137m people will benefit from access to improvements in agriculture * 22m people will benefit from privatesector investment projects * 151m people will have improved access to transport * 110m people will have access to new and improved water and sanitation. What a shining Africa that would be!
Akinwumi Adesina recently won the 2019 SunHak Peace Prize (with Waris Dirie). He has donated the entire $500,000 award to his World Hunger Fighters Foundation.
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Experience in Augmented Reality Dear readers, We have partnered with Konica Minolta to bring some added features to your magazine.
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In this issue, you will find a special feature on health that we published in light of the recently concluded Africa Business: Health Forum. Through AR you will be able to experience highlights from the Forum. You’ll have to download the genARate app and follow the steps on this page. You can find the app on your store or scan the QR code below.
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One of the most significant events on a continental basis was the Africa Business: Health Forum staged during the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in February. The event was marked by the launch of ABCHealth, a largely private sector enterprise which sets out to complement government efforts in revolutionising the delivery of healthcare in Africa.
Healthcare revolution on the way Fix health and you fix Africa,” says Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, cofounder of the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth). This is a pithy summary of the situation regarding healthcare delivery in Africa. There is no doubt that health in Africa needs fixing and until that is done, the continent cannot realise its great economic potential. Healthcare in Africa, despite some impressive strides forward over the past decade, is still lagging far behind other regions. There is a basic truism: you cannot have a healthy economy if the population that drives that economy is unhealthy. The converse is also true. Examples from elsewhere show clearly that a healthy population is usually a prosperous population – so, fix health and you fix Africa. Africa accounts for less than 2% of global health expenditure but 15% of the population carries 25% of the global disease burden. It is only via a multi-stakeholder collaboration that this picture can be changed. Governments alone, hamstrung by tight budgets, cannot make it happen. As elsewhere, including in advanced economies, it needs the support of the private sector. The private sector in turn is aware of the plethora of benefits it can garner from operating in a healthy environment. Business leaders know that investing in the health of employees, communities and consumers today can protect 48 new african march 2019
and enhance future profits – not only by ensuring business growth but by driving economic prosperity. It was with this in mind that the public and private sectors convened at the Africa Business: Health Forum, a one-day event held on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit in February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Forum was the culmination of efforts by the Global Business Coalition on Health (GBCHealth), The Forum saw the launch of the Healthcare and Economic Growth report, a joint publication by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, GBCHealth and the Aliko Dangote Foundation. From left: Dider Drogba, footballer and philanthropist; Nancy WildefeirField, CEO of GBCHealth; Halima AlikoDangote, executive director, Aliko Dangote Foundation; Michel Sidibé of UNAIDS; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa; Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede co-chair, GBCHealth; Zouera Youssoufou, CEO, Aliko Dangote Foundation.
the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The USbased GBCHealth is a coalition of companies and philanthropists brought together to positively transform healthcare for Africa’s growing population. Leaders from government and business came together to outline greater collaboration between the private and the public sectors to improve health outcomes in Africa.
It was very encouraging to see that three Heads of State – the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi and the President of Djibouti, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh – made the time to attend and commit their countries to making the initiative a success. The Forum launched a new partnership to drive much-needed capital into healthcare across the continent: The African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) is a collaboration between the Aliko Dangote Foundation and GBCHealth. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, co-founder of ABCHealth, and co-chair, GBCHealth, affirmed that “only partnerships will help solve the health challenges the continent faces. “Healthcare in Africa is constrained by scarce public funding and limited donor support; out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for 36% of Africa’s total healthcare spend. Given our income levels, it is no surprise that healthcare spend in Africa is grossly inadequate to meet Africa’s needs, leading to a
financing gap of $66bn per annum.” In co-operation with global businesses, philanthropists and development institutions, ABCHealth will unlock synergies to enable business to play a key role in helping governments meet national and regional health goals in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030 and Africa’s Agenda 2063. In his keynote address, delivered on his behalf by the Foundation’s
Above: Halima Aliko-Dangote (l) with special guest Didier Drogba.
executive director, Halima AlikoDangote, Aliko Dangote, chairman of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, said the Forum would identify issues and find solutions to Africa’s health challenges and mobilise the will to confront them head-on. “Governments from both developed and developing countries are increasingly looking at publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) as a way to expand access to higher quality health services by leveraging capital, managerial capacity, and knowhow from the private sector,” said Dangote. “With the launch of ABCHealth, business leaders can now make commitments and contribute directly to a healthy and prosperous Africa, enabled by collaboration and business partnerships. Not only will this be a social good, but there is a profit potential, and we will drive real, sustainable action across Africa.”
Severe limitations The report, Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa was also launched during the Forum with Saurah Sinha, the lead author
HEALTHCARE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH REPORT The Africa Business: Health Forum saw the launch of the Healthcare and Economic Growth report, a joint publication by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, GBCHealth and the Aliko Dangote Foundation. The report indicates that mortality rates have sharply declined across Africa while fertility rates, although still high, are on a slow decline. Communicable diseases are decreasing but non-communicable diseases are increasing. The report also notes that Africa has among the lowest densities of skilled health professionals in the world. Thirteen of the 47 countries for which data is available have less than five health professionals per 10,000 people, while only 10 had the accepted threshold of 23 health professionals per 10,000 people (countries in Europe and the US have over 120 professionals per 10,000 people). The total spending on healthcare in Africa is in a narrow range of 5% to 6% on average though in per capita terms, it has almost doubled from $150 to $292 as a result of PPPs. Out-ofpocket spending remains the highest
spending component in healthcare. In normal circumstances, as countries become richer, they spend more on healthcare. The fact that private healthcare spending remains high reflects ongoing inadequate expenditure by governments. Nigeria and Egypt alone make up half of the $66bn estimated gap in government expenditure on healthcare. Just a handful of governments have met the African Union target, set in 2001, to spend at least 15% of their annual budgets on improving health.
• • •
Report recommendations: What should governments do? Focus on achieving broad-based economic growth and prudent macro-economic management Identify innovative sources for financing healthcare Allocate proper resources to health-related sectors such as water and sanitation to reduce the extent of communicable diseases Enhance regulatory systems for improved governance of publicprivate partnerships
Create suitable conditions to attract private investments and provide other incentives such as strengthening infrastructure, improving internet connectivity and promoting intra-African trade in health products and services
What should the private sector do? Promote private sector investment in health sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry, medical education and digital technology Build on the African Continental Free Trade Area to identify market opportunities and invest in countries or create manufacturing hubs in sub-regions Comply with the regulatory mechanisms and oversight measures aimed at curtailing trade mispricing and tax evasion Work with governments through various modalities, including PPPs, to crowd in more private sector investment aligned to achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of the African Agenda 2063
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from UNECA, presenting the key findings. It reveals that up to 20 countries in Africa are ‘health stressed’; meaning they have an above average disease burden, low government expenditure on health, high out-ofpocket expenditures, low density of health professionals, high levels of government debt (as percentage of GDP), and low GDP growth rates. Taken together, these indicators suggest severe limitations in public provisioning of health, highlighting the urgent need to target these countries, which are located mostly in West and Central Africa, for immediate action. The report outlines the myriad ways of mobilising domestic resources, such as increasing tax revenue through new taxes and improved tax administration, reducing the debt burden by increasing borrowing, debt-tohealth swaps, and reducing illicit financial outflows. It also demonstrates that private sector investment in healthcare presents a significant profit opportunity. International consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimates the value of opportunities in healthcare by 2030 at $259bn with the potential to create 16 million jobs. Other significant areas of engagement and investment from the private sector are laboratories and diagnostics, service delivery and financing, skills development, research and capacity building, health insurance, and digital health innovations. An important case in point, says the report, is that less than 2% of the medicine consumed in Africa is manufactured on the continent. Imports cater for more than 70% of the pharmaceutical market, meaning that Africa spends $14.5bn on pharmaceutical imports annually. More medicines could be manufactured in Africa through PPP engagement, taking advantage of improved access to Africa’s markets as the Continental Free Trade Area gains pace. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UNECA and co-convener of the Forum, told 50 new african march 2019
The Forum saw the launch of the African Business Coalition for Health, an initiative to draw greater private sector engagement in the area of health. Amongst the guests were former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi OkonjoIweala (far left) who led the official launch with a cake cutting ceremony. Also present were a number of dignitaries and special guests from across the continent representing government, the private sector and civil society.
delegates, “A healthy Africa is a productive Africa; a productive Africa is a prosperous Africa.” And yet, she said, health spending to date fails to meet the continent’s growing healthcare needs. Citing findings from the report, Songwe said, “Only two countries (Algeria and Namibia) spend more than 5% of GDP on health, and out-of-pocket payments are still extremely high. The report shows us just how much economic impact can be made from investing in health”.
Leaders’ perspectives Government representatives, business leaders and other key private and public sector stakeholders also restated strong commitments to facilitating quality healthcare for all African citizens. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed affirmed that: “We need to make the health sector our priority. We must capitalise on private-public partnership modalities in healthcare and recognise that it requires a great deal of inter-dependence between governments and the private sector.” There have been positive
developments in improving universal healthcare in Ethiopia. Each of the country’s 17,000 villages, for example, is now being served by 40,000 extension workers. By 2012, Ethiopia had achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality rates and had done so ahead of the deadline. Life expectancy, at 52 years in 2000, has risen to 65 by 2016. In support of the Forum’s objectives, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana said the country has made some progress with PPPs, adopting pluralistic private sector delivery. A forum for collaboration has also been established, cochaired by the President and the head of the private sector body that meets four times a year. He suggested that potential areas of collaboration could be in hospital services, inpatient and outpatient care and preventative care such as immunisation. He added that sharing facilities could reduce costs, and that new avenues are being explored in innovative areas of collaboration including general surgery, training of health personnel, research partnerships in critical areas and complementary financing of health
insurance schemes. The President of Djibouti, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, observed that mobilising expertise, financial resources and innovations would go a long way towards improving Africa’s healthcare. He stated that Africa is today facing a resurgence of diseases that many believed had been eradicated, whilst new ones are emerging including lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, and are reaching concerning levels. “No country can achieve economic development without a physically, mentally and socially fit population.” President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt, represented by Health and Population Minister Hala Zayed, said Egypt had made great strides in health and the sector now accounts for 4.7% of GDP, a big improvement on the past. The government’s homegrown healthcare plan has two main targets – choosing achievable health targets and setting timelines for those targets. “Having an ambitious plan forces all health communities to reorder their priorities around the campaign,” she said. But it could not have happened without private sector collaboration.
Renowned musician Salif Keita provided entertainment during a Gala Dinner to celebrate to official launch of the African Business Coalition for Health.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta meanwhile, represented by Sicily Kariuki, Health Cabinet Secretary, said the country has been successful in its partnerships with the private sector and has seen $4.5bn invested in the healthcare sector to date. “But there is plenty of room to grow,” he said. Such investment has a significant impact on the macro and micro economic conditions of any country and PPPs have catalysed the attainment of healthcare goals in Kenya. He added that philanthropic interventions were also becoming part of building a sustainable society.
Great debate Following the launch of ABCHealth and the Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa report, the Forum featured a Great Debate on Health as a Major Economic Driver. Panellists included Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of GAVI, Abebe Selassie, Director of the IMF’s Africa Department and Belay Begashaw, Executive Director, SDG Africa Center. Three parallel sessions were also dedicated to PublicPrivate Partnerships, Domestic Mobilisation of Funds, and Health Research and Innovation. Co-founder of ABCHealth, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, closed the Forum with an impassioned call to action: “Africans must play their role in this fight to ensure that health outcomes are as equitable in this part of the world as they are elsewhere. Africans have no choice, there is no alternative, and we must ensure that we fix health in Africa.” He asked public and private sector leaders to make their commitments known and to join ABCHealth in making history for the good of Africa. NA
DOMESTIC MOBILISATION OF FUNDS FOR HEALTH One areas of focus for the Forum, and the newly launched African Business Coalition for Health, is how to raise capital and funding for healthcare, including tapping local pools of capital. Dr Senait Fisseha, Director of International Programmes at the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, began the discussion by presenting the problem: very few of Africa’s governments have allocated 15% of their budget to health as per the 2001 Abuja Declaration. This could have negative consequences in the future given that the number of young people as a percentage of the population is growing. “If we are going to realise Africa’s demographic dividend, we will need to invest in job and health creation.” Martyn Davies, Managing Director, Emerging Markets & Africa, Deloitte, pointed out that Africans should not rely on governments to provide health funding but should turn to the private sector. “By and large, the state has not provided for its citizens,” he said.
“Private capital therefore should and can step up in providing essential services to citizens.” Davies said the average spend by African governments on healthcare is $29 per capita, compared to $218 in East Asia, including China. Nigeria spends only $11 per capita. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed that the private sector is vital but argued the state has a part to play, too. PPPs are key to combining public and private money, he argued, saying: “We should not only be looking at outside resources but also inside.” Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist and Director for Research & International Co-operation, African Export-Import Bank, linked the importance of spreading healthcare to improved intra-African trade. If pharmaceuticals can be manufactured and exported around the continent, Africa’s huge drug-import bill could be significantly reduced. He also argued that as a
development finance institution, his organisation could play a key role in leveraging finance for health. “We believe that we have the capacity to leverage more private financing by actually injecting initial capital into the sector,” he said. “We have identified healthcare as a very strategic sector, and we are investing heavily in it because we see the potential.” The bank, he said, will be investing $700m in the next three years. Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, IFC, supported the idea that governments must step up and suggested tax is an effective way to raise domestic funds. “Until you put public financing into healthcare you are not going to make any progress,” he said. Finally, Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director, Africa Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation, argued that multiple sources of funding are needed and could include pension funds and DFIs. “We all know there is a gap,” he says. “But gaps are opportunities and we need to build and invest.”
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Around Africa Côte d’Ivoire
The protracted case against the former leader of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and his Youth Minister has exposed the frailties of the ICC, an institution meant to deal with international justice, as it now finds itself embroiled in complicated legalese. Report by Desmond Davies.
Gbagbo case puts ICC in a bind
n June 2013, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague bent over backwards to assist the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in its case against the former President of Côte d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, who was accused of committing crimes against humanity between 2010 and 2011 during the country’s civil war. At the time, the judges in the pretrial chamber themselves said the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda from The Gambia, had not presented evidence solid enough to prosecute Gbagbo. In normal circumstances, according to legal experts, the case should have been dismissed and Gbagbo freed. But the judges gave the OTP an extra five months to look for evidence that would nail not just Gbagbo but also his Youth Minister, Charles Blé Goudé. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, speaking in 2015, noted: “Any normal judge would have declared Gbagbo free and released him.” However, on 15 January this year, the ICC’s Trial Chamber acquitted both men of all charges because the OTP failed to deliver. The judges said the OTP’s case was “exceptionally weak,” clearly making it obvious that an appeal would not succeed. But this highly politicallycharged case took a turn for the worse, legally speaking, three days later. Instead of releasing Gbagbo and Blé Goudé, judges in the Appeals Chamber voted 3-2 on 18 January to keep both men in detention until an appeal by the 52 new african march 2019
Above: Former President of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, and (right), his Youth Minister, Charles Blé Goudé, on 15 January, just before being acquitted of all charges at the ICC in The Hague
OTP was heard on 1 February. It was another sop to the OTP, which legal experts said was unprecedented. Charles Taku from Cameroon, who is President of the ICC Bar Association, said on Twitter: “The order of detention of acquitted persons casts a slur on the image and integrity of the Court. It is an affront to the international rule of law. “The detention adds to a catalogue of challenges the Court is facing. I am afraid that the outcome of the hearing tomorrow may not redress the damage caused to the image of the Court. The unfortunate precedent may be pointed to by states and persons disaffected by the Court, as one more compelling reason for forsaking the Rome Statute and the Court. Yet, I honestly believe that the precedent is not justified under the Rome Statute,” Taku added. Thijs Bouwknegt, a Dutch historian and former journalist, who has, since 2006, attended and covered all ICC (pre-)trials in The
Hague, also took a swipe at the ICC. Writing for justiceinfo.net on 31 January, he said of the Gbagbo and Blé Goudé case: “From the beginning, the Prosecution had built its crimes against humanity case on anonymous hearsay evidence from NGO reports and press articles. “Such pieces of evidence may serve as first drafts of history, sketch context and provide leads, but they cannot, wrote the pre-trial chamber in June 2013, ‘in any way be presented as the fruits of a full and proper investigation,’ ” he wrote. Thus, on 1 February, the Appeals Chamber freed Gbagbo and Blé Goudé but with strict conditions that have kept them still fettered to the ICC. For starters, Gbagbo was sent to live in Belgium, while Blé Goudé has stayed in Holland, stopping them from returning to Côte d’Ivoire while the OTP considers its next move. The judges ruled that both men should “surrender all identity documents, particularly their passports, to the Registry”. They were also to “report weekly to the law enforcement authorities of the receiving state or the Registry”. Another condition was that Gbagbo and Blé Goudé were “not to make public statements, directly or through any other person, about the case or be in contact with the public or speak to the press concerning the case”. The judges added: “Should Mr Gbagbo or Mr Blé Goudé not comply with the above conditions, the Appeals Chamber will revisit the matter.” The OTP said that it had been
“amenable” to the release of the two men “with a set of conditions attached”. The OTP said “these conditions would be to ensure” that Gbagbo and Blé Goudé “would be available before the Court should the trial proceedings against them continue”. The conditions have been placed on the two men by the ICC because the OTP said it might decide to appeal against the 15 January decision to acquit Gbagbo and Blé Goudé. “At this point, the Prosecution team is still waiting for the judges of Trial Chamber I to provide their written decision detailing the legal reasons for their decision to acquit,” Prosecutor Bensouda said in a statement. “Only after we have had the opportunity to carefully examine and analyse their reasoning will my office make a decision on whether to appeal.” Legal experts believe that the OTP is just trying to save face after yet another poor performance.
Judges disagree with each other The Gbagbo case has placed the ICC in a bind. It has also polarised the judges. For instance, having voted in favour of keeping Gbagbo and Blé Goudé in detention, Judge Luz Del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza from Peru, on 18 January, seemed to have had a change of heart and issued a dissenting opinion on the procedures of the Appeals Chamber. She was of the view that the Presiding Judge who is also President of the Court, Chile EboeOsuji from Nigeria, who assigned himself to preside over what many see as a politically charged case, should not have done so. Judge Ibáñez argued that Judge EboeOsuji’s presence could undermine the rights of the two men to due process and fair trial. “I am of the firm view that there should be clear and transparent procedures in place in the Appeals Chamber for the designation of a Presiding Judge for each appeal,” she wrote. “Those procedures, once in place, must be respected and followed in order to ensure fairness, predictability and transparency of
proceedings and, fundamentally, the rights of the parties to have a pre-established judge in proceedings before the Appeals Chamber, and more generally, the Court.” She noted that three judges of the Appeals Chamber were already “presiding over important pending appeals” when two other judges, who were not so engaged could have been asked to sit in the case. Judge Ibáñez said this was “despite the uncontroversial fact that all judges in the Appeals Division have
The ICC’s OTP may appeal against the decision to acquit Gbagbo and Blé Goudé. But legal experts believe it is just trying to save face after another poor performance. the required expertise to preside over any appeal”. She went on: “The foregoing demonstrates that the designation of the Presiding Judge in the present case results in an imbalanced distribution of workload, thereby negatively impacting upon the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings.” On 22 January, Judge Eboe-Osuji and Judge Piotr Hofmański from Poland, President of the Appeals Division, countered by saying that they regretted Judge Ibáñez’s dissenting opinion because “we were not afforded the opportunity of previewing the dissent before it was filed, as such a procedure might have made this joint declaration unnecessary”. The two judges said that “the
election of the Presiding Judge in this case followed both the letter and spirit” of the relevant sections of the Appeals Division Practice Manual. “And nothing alleged as a fact in our esteemed colleague’s dissenting opinion suggests otherwise,” they added. Judge Ibáñez said her dissenting vote was “based on legal reasons and was rendered in the exercise of my judicial independence”. She said that such independence “forms part of the fundamental guarantee of due process of law, the proper administration of justice, and the highest democratic principles universally recognised in the exercise of judicial functions”. Judge Ibáñez concluded: “We, judges, are accountable before the international community as a whole and, as such, we should…serve as an example of the importance of observing democratic practices within our institutions.” Gbagbo was transferred to the ICC in 2011 while Charles Blé Goudé went to The Hague in March 2014. Their joint trial began in 2016. The OTP itself is in a difficult situation, having already seen the release of the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jean-Pierre Bemba. A legal expert told New African about the Gbagbo case: “This was the weakest case that went to trial. After the prosecution presented its case, the majority of judges decided that they’d heard enough nonsense and decided to acquit. They did not even wait for the defence to present its case. “This appears to be a politically motivated trial. How embarrassing for the prosecutor.” Gbagbo and Blé Goudé are now in limbo as they await the next move from a weakened OTP. Until then, they will have to stay away from Côte d’Ivoire. This is even more significant because President Alassane Ouattara will not be standing in the 2020 elections. Will the ICC be able to keep Gbagbo away from Côte d’Ivoire – where there appears to be a resurgence of political support for him – if it cannot come up with sound legal arguments for doing so? NA march 2019 new african 53
Around Africa South Africa
The legal procedures required to bring those accused of state capture and other acts of high-level corruption to justice grind on. President Cyril Ramaphosa has so far refused to be pushed into intervening in the process but will his nerve hold as the pressure to do something mounts? Report by Rafiq Raji.
Patience is the name of the game
n mid-February, Bantu Holomisa, president of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) party, exclaimed “we now know the cost of state capture – billions of rands have been stolen and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been weakened”. Holomisa made these remarks at UDM’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth against the backdrop of renewed load-shedding by the country’s state power utility monopoly, Eskom, which the UDM president attributed to state capture. “Eskom is no longer able to perform [its] service as it should.” He was only stating the obvious. During his second State of the Nation Address a week earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the matter quite succinctly. “The revelations emerging from the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and other commissions are deeply disturbing, for they reveal a breadth and depth of criminal wrongdoing that challenges the very foundation of our democratic state.” More importantly, he said: “Where there is a basis to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds must be recovered urgently.” Incidentally, Holomisa’s speech a week later, happened at exactly the same time the ruling ANC president was addressing party faithfuls at their own manifesto roll-out in Limpopo. “President Ramaphosa may be a decent man, but he is just one man,” Holomisa remarked. 54 new african march 2019
“There is nothing to stop the ANC from deciding to remove him just as they recalled Thabo Mbeki and replaced him with a person facing over eight hundred criminal charges,” the UDM president added. Holomisa was also speaking from personal experience: the ANC expelled him in 1996, after he testified before the Desmond Tutu-led Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Incidentally, Ramaphosa had, only just days before, been defending himself against accusations by the Congress of the People (COPE) president Mosiuoa Lekota – a former member of the ANC and former Minister of Defence – that he had betrayed his freedom struggle comrades to the apartheid regime when he was a student leader. The ultra-leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has called for a judicial commission of inquiry into the accusations by Lekota. And about a month earlier, EFF leader Julius Malema also asked Ramaphosa to clear the air on the actual relationship between his son Andile and the company, Bosasa (registered as African Global Operations), a facilities management firm implicated in state capture that was recently liquidated by its sponsors after banks refused to do business with it. In this context, how far will Ramaphosa go to fight corruption within the ruling ANC and the state? How far can he really go? New African posed these questions to top political analysts.
Opposite: South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has carefully ensured that his anti-corruption efforts will be able to take on a life of their own, with or without him in the saddle after the 2019 general election
Treacherous politics “Ramaphosa has already started to tackle corruption by replacing the boards of corrupted firms and hiring credible prosecutors,” says Adeline Van Houtte, Africa analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in London. “Cracking down on corruption and prosecuting offenders remain key elements of Ramaphosa’s agenda”, she adds. “But whether Ramaphosa succeeds depends on the election outcome on 8 May. But even if the ANC wins, he will face ferocious opposition to the clean-up from within his party. He will therefore need to tread carefully as it would be easy for rivals to remove him from the party leadership.” “Ramaphosa is constrained in different ways in terms of combatting corruption at the state level and within the ANC itself,” says Oxford-based Jason Robinson, a senior Africa analyst at Oxford Analytica. Langelihle Malimela, Johannesburg-based senior economics and country risk analyst at IHS Markit, provides additional context. “It is all likely to drag though, for some time. In other words, it will be some time before many prominent people are actually put on trial. “What Ramaphosa has done is to place emphasis on building institutions and following due process. It has served him well in the sense that, when he has gone after someone, such as his firing of the SARS [South African Revenue Service] commissioner, he has
prevailed in the ensuing legal storm. “On the downside, it makes him appear indecisive and slow. But he is trying to ring-fence these institutions and put them on a solid footing in case he is removed in future by the party.” In a nutshell, while Ramaphosa’s position as ANC president may not be secure, he has deftly ensured that his anti-corruption effort will be able to take on a life of its own, with or without him in the saddle. “South Africa is a constitutional democracy in which the head of government does not decide who gets prosecuted for corruption or any other crime. Not even Jacob Zuma could decide that, much to his regret,” says Steven Friedman, a research professor and renowned political scientist at the University of Johannesburg. “Ramaphosa did not even appoint the head of the prosecution service alone – he was careful to ensure that she was chosen by a committee consisting mainly of professional lawyers so that he could not be accused of influencing the process,” adds Friedman. “Who is prosecuted will, therefore, be determined by the National Director of Public Prosecutions [Advocate Shamila Batohi], an independent person recently appointed with the support
of the entire legal profession,” the UJ professor avers further.
Special investigative unit Already, the South African President has announced a new special investigative unit to prosecute the state capture allegations: “We have agreed with the new National Director of Public Prosecutions that there is an urgent need to establish in the office of the NDPP an investigating directorate dealing with serious corruption and associated offences, in accordance with section 7 of the NPA Act.” So, he is certainly heading in the right direction. The key question is whether he will be able to stay the course as the casualties of his anti-corruption war start to get closer to home. Oxford Analytica’s Robinson has cogent views on the question. “While his administration has faced public criticism for not hastening anti-corruption investigations, especially the slow pace of prosecutions, or [over] some notable withdrawn cases (e.g., Estina Dairy Farm, and Ajay Gupta’s arrest warrant), the fact is that if Ramaphosa tries to interfere in ongoing investigations, he risks going down the path of politicising South Africa’s anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies as his predecessor did – which is what
allowed the process of state capture to emerge in the first place.” IHS Markit’s Malimela also has some views on this. “Given the evidence that has come out of the state capture inquiry, it is hard to see Ramaphosa trying to protect anyone. “Remember that South African courts are very independent, and while Ramaphosa has a slim majority in the ANC, the ANC has been losing power overall in any case, and thus in a parliament where they enjoy an ever slimmer majority, it is very difficult from here on, to protect anyone against whom the NDPP finds solid evidence (which won’t be hard).” Malimela adds that Advocate Shamila Batohi is very highly qualified, competent and respected, and has left the ICC [International Criminal Court] where she worked for nine years to return to the National Prosecution Agency (NPA), where she began her career. Much is expected of her. “My point is that, it may not be all up to him, and how far he will go. And that was his intention. He has played it very well in the sense that he is giving law enforcement institutions the space and resources to do their work: and they are starting to. But it will be a marathon, not a sprint.” NA
Around Africa Gambia
As the Commission investigating alleged rights abuses began its second session of hearings last month, Gambians were confused by the way the process has been progressing. Desmond Davies reports.
Justice delayed but not denied
fter a month-long hearing of testimonies from 13 witnesses – most of them serving or retired officers of the Gambian security forces, the country’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) announced at the end of January that it had finished its first session of hearings. The focus had been on the 22 July 1994 coup that brought the then Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh to power and the removal from office of the avuncular Sir Dawda Jawara, who led the country to independence in February 1965. Gambians, who had been yearning for justice ever since Jammeh, who was then President, departed in January 2017 after 22 years in office, were bemused. They soon took to social media to ask why those accused of human rights violations during the hearings, which began on 7 January, had not been called to account. In the midst of growing online agitation, Baba Galleh Jallow, the Executive Secretary of the TRRC, had to intervene to calm frayed tempers. “We note that our announcement of the end of [the] first session of hearings has generated some interesting questions and concerns from the general public, especially in Gambian social media circles,” he said in a statement. “Some people wonder how on earth we could end the first session without having some of the alleged perpetrators named by witnesses appear before the commission. We wish to assure the general public that moving on to another session
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The Commission is trying to keep Gambians informed, to ensure that the truth and reconciliation exercise is not misunderstood and hijacked by partisan interests. does not mean the TRRC will never deal with what happened during and immediately after July 22 July 1994 again,” Jallow said. “We may have passed the first session, but every individual who has testified or has been adversely mentioned remains part of the TRRC process. It should also be noted that some of these alleged perpetrators will inevitably be mentioned in at least a few more future testimonies. “The public can rest assured that at some point during this process, some of those who have been or will in future be adversely mentioned will be invited, summoned, or subpoenaed to appear before the commission. We do not rule out the possibility that some may voluntarily come forward to testify,” Jallow added. For the TRRC Chairman, Dr
Above: The TRRC chairman, Dr Lamin J. Sise. Right: A demonstration in Serukanda, April 2018, to commemorate the shooting of students in the nationwide student protest of April 2000. The deaths are under investigation at the TRRC
Lamin J. Sise, though, the first session of hearings helped to point the way for the Commission. “The evidence that came from these testimonies puts the Commission in a good position to establish a reasonably accurate historical record of how and why the coup of 22 July 1994 happened, who the main players were, and how institutional failures and policy lapses contributed to its success,” he said. “A good picture also emerges of the nature and extent of human rights violations that occurred during and immediately after the 22 July 1994 coup.”
Irritating encumbrance Another irritating encumbrance to the process was highlighted by Sise: people talking to the press to counter witness testimony during the first hearings. “We have noticed an emerging trend whereby persons who feel that they have been adversely mentioned or who possess some information about matters being testified about would go to the press to make statements that are aimed at contradicting the testimony made before the Commission,” he said in a statement. He said that people who had been ‘adversely mentioned’ had been provided with the opportunity to state their own side of the story, either via a written statement or a personal appearance. “It is therefore not necessary for such individuals to attempt to litigate the issues in the public media,” Sise said, adding that the TRRC was “not a witch-hunting
exercise against any individual or institution.” He urged “members of the public and armed and security forces who have information or are victims of human rights violations during the mandate period…to come forward and submit complaints”. The issue of the unfinished matter of the 22 July 1994 coup hearings was addressed by Sise when the second session began on 11 February. The first few days were spent on hearing more testimonies directly relevant to the coup. But the focus of the second of eight three-week sessions scheduled for this year is on the events of the night of 11 November 1994 when the Armed Forces Patriotic Revolutionary Council (AFPRC) announced that a number of soldiers had attempted to overthrow the junta. The AFPRC said there was a firefight in which these coupmakers lost their lives. The TRRC is looking into this incident because, although many
Gambians believed that there was credible evidence to suggest that a coup was being planned, the plotters had not set their plan into motion. “So, there was no firefight at all,” one Gambian familiar with the incident told NA. “It appears that soldiers suspected of being involved in the coup plot were rounded up on that night and in subsequent days and summarily executed. Their bodies have still not been found.”
Invaluable insight The fact that bodies have not been found could prove a difficult task for the TRRC to unravel. But Chairman Sise is upbeat about tackling the matter. “We are confident that this session will yield invaluable insight into the true circumstances surrounding an event that, until now, is shrouded in mystery,” he said, while urging Gambians to “help us get to the bottom of what happened on 11 November, 1994 in the name of justice and healing”.
With the ubiquitous social media monitoring the hearings, the TRRC could have its work cut out as it tries to “create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights from July 1994 to January 2017”. But with one week of each month devoted by the TRRC to committee work and reviewing outreach activities, the Commission is trying to keep Gambians better informed to ensure that the whole exercise is not misunderstood and hijacked by partisan interests. For now, TRRC Executive Secretary Jallow, a former journalist, appears to be on top of public communications. He has been prolific in releasing detailed press releases and statements to guide Gambians along the way while the TRRC tries to “promote healing and reconciliation [and] respond to the needs of the victims”. Patience, it would seem, is the name of the game. NA
Around Africa Ethiopia
The Ethiopian town of Gambella, once a thriving port, has now become little more than a refugee camp for Southern Sudanese fleeing the war in their country. But the presence of the refugees is causing tensions among the locals. Will the current peace-deal in South Sudan restore the city to its former status? Report by James Jeffrey.
Gambella – caught in a limbo
he brown waters of the Baro River meander through the Ethiopian city of Gambella amid an atmosphere of tropical languor, creating an almost cliched archetype of the Joseph Conrad-esque African river port. Except for the fact that there is not a single boat on the river. The 2013 outbreak of civil war in South Sudan, whose border lies 50km from the city, put an end to the thriving trade that once plied the Baro River between Gambella and Juba, the South Sudanese capital. Thousands of South Sudanese refugees poured over the border into refugee camps around Gambella and throughout the same-named and most westerly of Ethiopia’s federal states. This stoked local ethnic tensions and meant Gambella became subsumed into the humanitarian response of foreign NGOs. Now, though, the peace process that began after South Sudan’s warring factions signed a deal in late 2018 means Gambella city, and the wider region, might have a chance of regaining its identity and purpose. “The river used to be full of boats and trade before 2013 and the war broke out,” one Gambella local says of the Baro River and its tributaries flowing across the border. Nowadays the most urgent traffic comes from the plethora of white SUVs, plastered with the logos of almost every NGO to be found in Ethiopia. Some locals are employed by NGOs as drivers and translators, 58 new african march 2019
but the vast majority of locals struggling to get by see little of the money generated by Ethiopia’s refugee industry. In 2018 the budget required for Ethiopia’s total refugee population – around 900,000 – was estimated at $618m. “You can see the conflict of interest dynamic in the influence that refugee policy has,” says a worker with a foreign aid organisation assisting refugees in Ethiopia, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the subject. “The refugees are getting more, while the locals are getting nothing.”
Strength in numbers It is hard to visit Gambella and not be struck by the height of many locals, some with horizontal scarification lines across their foreheads – the Nuer, one of five ethnic groups populating the region. Close ties and tensions between the Nuer and Anuwak, the two largest ethnic groups, representing about 45% and 26% of the population respectively, date back centuries. The modern border between the two nations does not delineate where either group lives, nor is movement across the South Sudan-Ethiopia border a new phenomenon – all of which compounds the historical interplay of numerical advantage and the tussle over land and power. “Among the ethnic tribes, the one with power has traditionally been the largest – all the refugees
People gathering for a meeting at the Kule Refugee Camp in Gambella State, Ethiopia. By 2018, 485,000 Sudanese refugees lived in the region, according to UNHCR
are Nuer,” says 32-year-old Tutbol, a government worker in Gambella. By 2018, 485,000 South Sudanese refugees lived in the Gambella region, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee organisation. Some displaced Nuer brought arms across the border, destabilising an already tense region. Hence the overt security presence in Gambella. On a café veranda, trying to escape the burning midday sun, a group of regional police in blue and black camouflage fatigues relaxes, a heavy-duty machine gun resting on its bipod on the floor.
region, not helped by a prejudice – one that extends throughout Ethiopian society – that the blacker you are, the less Ethiopian it makes you, says Dereje Feyissa, a senior advisor at the Addis Ababa-based International Law and Policy Institute. “The Ethiopian centre has always related to its periphery in a predatory way,” Dereje says. “This is not only because of the geographic distance but also the historical, social and cultural differences which the discourse on skin colour signifies.”
“The fact that the Nuer and Anuwak exist on both sides of the border makes it easy for people of both communities to pass backwards and forwards, taking with them their conflicts, both between the two tribes but also at the national level,” says John Ashworth, who has been working in South Sudan and the surrounding area for the last 30 years. The Gambella region has gained a reputation as a no-go area among foreigners not involved in the aid effort. This stigma extends to the Ethiopian government’s tendency to take a dismissive view of the
Ethiopia’s outlier The Gambella region is something of an anomaly in Ethiopia, displaying stronger historical, ethnic and climatic links to neighbouring South Sudan than elsewhere. “This was not the Ethiopia of cool highlands and white flowing traditional dress, but Nilotic Africa, in the blazing southwestern lowlands near the Sudanese border,” recalls Steve Buff, a former Peace Corps Volunteer. “This was much closer to our childhood National Geographic images of Africa than any place we’d seen before in Ethiopia.” Gambella city itself has an intriguing modern history. In the late 19th century Britain came knocking, seeing the Baro’s navigable reach to Khartoum as an excellent highway for exporting coffee and other produce to Sudan and Egypt. The Ethiopian emperor granted Britain the use of land for a port and Gambella was established in 1907. Only a few hundred hectares in size, this tiny British territory became a prosperous trade centre as ships from Khartoum sailed regularly during the rainy season when the water was high. The Italians captured Gambella in 1936 but it was back with the British after a bloody battle in 1941. Gambella became part of Sudan in 1951, but was reincorporated into Ethiopia five years later. By 1962, the first of several civil wars broke out next door in Sudan, at the start of a 50-year quest for South Sudanese independence. “This time it is different, as the international community is
involved,” Gatdet Jock, a South Sudanese refugee, remarked while reading Facebook posts on his smartphone in late October, about the arrival in Juba of ex-Vice President Riek Machar for the first time since 2016, to take part in a peace ceremony.
More than just a piece of paper this time? Some have noted how the latest peace deal is essentially the same as the agreement signed in 2015, which collapsed after about a year – with Machar fleeing Juba on foot, chased by helicopter gunships – and that building a tangible peace must overcome deep-rooted rancour on all sides, steeped in more than half a century of pain and conflict. But since the latest agreement, the indications seem more promising. By December, the security situation in South Sudan had significantly improved, stated Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of UN Peacekeeping. And by the start of February, David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, told reporters in New York that political violence has “dropped dramatically”. Shearer added that the success of the peace agreement will be partly measured by the extent to which people return to home towns and villages. UNHCR recently observed spontaneous movements by South Sudanese refugees from various Gambella-based camps heading toward South Sudan – an estimated 5,000 since mid-December. Perhaps a good sign of what Shearer discussed? Interviews with the refugees, however, indicated they were returning to South Sudan for fear of retaliatory action following clan-based conflicts in camps, while some said they were going to visit their families, and would eventually return to the camps. It appears South Sudanese refugees will be in Gambella for some time yet, while the Baro River will flow on, its seemingly placid surface undisturbed by river traffic, through a land of limbo caught up in the surrounding troubles. “There are plenty of crocodiles, though you won’t see them as the water is high,” the local man says. NA march 2019 new african 59
Around Africa Uganda
The Africa-wide phenomenon of born-again pastors fleecing their credulous congregations by promising them miracles in return for cash is now coming under close scrutiny in Uganda. New legislation to stop this practice is under consideration but opposition to it is fierce. Epajjar Ojulu reports from Kampala.
Born-again pastors under scrutiny
hether one lives in the upscale Kampala city’s Kololo or Muyenga neighbourhoods, or in the wretched conditions of the city’s Kisenyi ghettos, one will always come faceto-face with numerous Pentecostal born-again churches. According to theologians, these churches sprang from the East African Revival Movement of the 1920s, which began in Rwanda and was aimed at rekindling the Christian faith, threatened then by ‘moral decadence, drunkenness and witchcraft’. But today, most of these churches are largely owned by conmen riding on Jesus’ name to amass wealth, fame and influence, says Pastor Elisha Oumo, formerly a scholar at Kenya’s One Faith Bible College in the western town of Bungoma. The number of born-again churches in Uganda has grown exponentially in the last decade. Today the country is estimated to have 40,000 born-again churches across the country. Of that number, only 136 have decent premises and are registered as non-governmental organisations and allowed to conduct marriage functions. The majority of the churches dotting the country are in makeshift structures built with papyrus, or mud and wattle with grass-thatched roofs. However, in the upscale parts of cities and towns, churches for the affluent are housed in magnificent buildings where they compete for prime space with banks, insurance firms and top local and international business 60 new african march 2019
Members of the congregation are also cautioned that failing to part with 10% of their monthly income to pay a tithe is a grave sin. In addition, the brethren, as they are fondly referred to, are reminded that giving big offertory and substantial financial support to their churches is abundantly rewarded by God, says Oumo.
Ugandans praying as they attend a sermon by a born-again pastor (above). While some pastors such as Robert Kayanja provide a unique service to their congregations (right), others abuse their calling
enterprises. Elsewhere in the poor neighbourhoods, the churches are in ramshackle premises. Unlike establishments owned by the mainstream Anglican Church of Uganda, born-again churches are a property of individual pastors. “Christianity is under assault from conmen,” echoes Reverend Dr Andrew David Omona, a scholar at the Bishop Tucker School of Theology and Divinity, Uganda Christian University. Omona argues that because of the deep social and economic troubles facing Ugandans, fake pastors have taken advantage, preaching appealing messages to vulnerable followers. These pastors claim they can bring wealth to the poor, cure the terminally ill, give children to the barren, provide jobs to the jobless and partners to those seeking marriage. “They are told to ‘sow seeds’ commensurate with their prayer requests and those who fail to comply are shunned,” he added.
Followers fleeced President Yoweri Museveni, whose government is under pressure to improve the economy and create employment for thousands of jobless youths, has criticised pastors for misleading Ugandans. “Prosperity comes through work. You cannot get wealthy by spending long hours shouting and praying for miracles,” he said recently. Ironically, the President’s youngest daughter, Patience Rwabwogo, is a born-again pastor of the Covenant Nations Church in a plush Kampala city suburb. The 39-year-old Rwabwogo has made startling revelations about her interactions with God. Omona says pastors fleece their followers by crafting messages in their sermons that either generate fear or give false promises of great benefits if they part with large sums of money to pastors. While most members of congregations wallow in abject poverty and misery, their pastors live in affluent suburbs, drive the latest expensive cars and their children go to schools for the rich in Europe and America. They also own property in upscale parts of the city and own large farms. Others have bought properties in Europe and
America, says Omona. The extent of prominent pastors’ wealth is not surprising considering the long list of tricks they deploy to fleece their victims. They claim to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit and that anointment gives them the supernatural power to pray for miracles. A prominent Kampala pastor often tells his congregation in televised sermons that through miracles some of them “will find a million dollars deposited in their bank accounts tomorrow”. He claims to restore vision to the blind, hearing to the deaf and commands cripples to walk. When one of his victims, a university lecturer who declined to be named, complained that she had paid large sums of money (sowed seeds) to have demons tormenting her banished, but still continued to be tormented, the witty pastor told her that she needed to continue to pray and to sow more seeds. Above all, she was told to understand that God is not rushed into doing anything. In addition to tithe and offertory, pastors have crafted other ways of fleecing their followers. A prominent Kampala pastor is selling ‘holy’ water for as much as sh500,000
(approximately £105) per 500ml plastic bottle. Another sells the rice he grows on his farm, branded as ‘holy’, at ridiculously high prices. The conning of followers has continued unabated. Prominent pastors are also manipulating the media by broadcasting or telecasting, on the media channels they own, stage-managed success stories of their work. Although some pastors have been indicted for crimes such as rape and sexual assault, their followers have stuck with them, often describing their indictment as a witch hunt. Omona says the unwavering support the pastors get from their followers is a result of fanaticism born from dogmatism towards every utterance by the pastors. The government feels it is time to take action. Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Father Simon Lokodo has proposed legislation to regulate the activities of born-again churches. He seems to be using the example of Rwanda, which last year closed down 8,000 born-again churches. Lokodo wants pastors, who often adopt prestigious titles such as ‘apostle’, ‘bishop’, and ‘prophet’, to be trained in theology so that they
stop claiming that the Holy Spirit engulfs and showers them with the knowledge and wisdom they use to preach. Lokodo also wants churches to meet basic requirements for decent church accommodation. However, through their umbrella organisation – the 22,000 member National Fellowship for Born-Again Churches of Uganda – pastors have hit back. They claim that as Uganda is a secular state, the government of Uganda should not regulate their activities as doing so amounts to curtailing the freedom of worship enshrined in the Constitution. Omona and Oumo disagree. They say the government has a responsibility to protect the population from errant pastors. “Why should decent servants of God worry about the proposed legislation?” asks Oumo, adding, “churches belong to communities and it is the duty of the government to protect its people from crooks dressed in pastoral robes.” Whether or not parliament endorses the proposed legislation, it is clear that the activities of bornagain churches in Uganda have for the first time come under public scrutiny. NA
Around Africa Kenya
In late 2018, Kenyans, especially in Nairobi, were shocked when the demolition of around 4,000 illegal structures began, including some properties worth billions of shillings. This was part of an ambitious plan to completely regenerate the capital, Nairobi, which had sunk into an ecological mess. Wanjohi Kabukuru reports from Nairobi on progress thus far.
Mass demolitions mark start of Nairobi regeneration
airobi, Kenya, East Africa’s bubbling commercial hub, whose history stretches back to the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway in 1896, has seen it all. Nairobi, which means ‘a place of cold waters’, whose freshness attracted the Grey Crowned Crane and other birdlife, is no longer the ‘city in the sun’ as it once proudly claimed. Nairobi River, which snakes across the capital’s central business district on its way northwards, had crystal-clear waters abounding with fish three decades ago. Today it is a sludgy canal heavily polluted with murky, brackish green effluence. And the city’s main emblem, the elegant crested crane bird, which previously flocked all over the metropolis and was revered for its grace and virtuous nature, has not been sighted in Nairobi for decades. Ornithological NGO, Nature Kenya describes the crested crane as an ‘ecological illustration’ of Nairobi, as a city of order, and a place of beauty, haute couture and class. This was the Nairobi of the 1960s up to the early 1980s. Not any more. The Grey Crowned Cranes are all gone, while in their place, a new species of bird is well established – the Marabou Stork, visible to visitors to Nairobi from the Jomo Kenyatta Airport, all along the route to the city centre. The acacia trees lining the Mombasa Road-Uhuru Highway 62 new african march 2019
happen to be the site of the stork’s colony. According to Nature Kenya, the stork is everything that is the opposite of a crane. The Marabou Stork is a scavenger that is mostly found at dump sites and rubbish mounds, feeding on garbage and waste. To ecologists, Nairobi had become a decaying city. Where a Marabou stork will survive, a crane won’t. The departure of the crane signified Nairobi had lost its groove. Previously, Nairobi had a reliable public transport system, essential health care infrastructure, efficient refuse collection and a responsive social services system with wellmanaged estates. The public transport system gave way to a chaotic and an unruly private-led sector, and the healthcare system is broken down and overstretched as health centres are inadequately staffed and lack medicines. Social services, which once led to the incubation of Africa’s best boxing squad, today only exists by name, as social halls and other amenities in the old council estates continue to degenerate and are now dilapidated. It is this narrative of decay and disintegration that the government is seeking to change. Under a multiagency task force set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta in early April 2018, co-chaired by the tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, the
People salvaging construction material after the government’s demolition of a mall said to have been illegal for having been built on a river bed in Nairobi. More than 1,000 buildings had been destroyed by the end of 2018
ambitious ‘Nairobi Regeneration Project’ was launched to reclaim a city in dire need of change. Through this Ksh800m ($7.8m) regeneration project, seven key areas – governance, public safety, environment, transport, education, housing and health – were prioritised as urgent. Included in the grand plans aimed at giving the city a complete facelift are a rapid-transit bus system to ease congestion, the restoration of all Nairobi’s parks, work to unclog the city’s drainage system, an improved garbage collection system, a clean-up of Nairobi’s main river causeways, the rehabilitation of all roads in the city, and a complete urban renewal scheme that would see old council houses demolished and the building of some 200,000 affordable tenements. This housing makeover is to be accompanied by the launch of the Kenya Mortgage Refinancing Company, to cushion low-income tenants through inexpensive financing. “Like most cities in the developing countries, the housing situation in Nairobi is characterised by an acute shortage of affordable housing,” says Charles Kerich, the Nairobi County Executive in charge of lands. “Put differently, the demand for housing far outstrips the supply. As at 2018, only 35,000 new homes were constructed against an annual demand for 120,000
homes. The shortage of affordable housing units has manifested itself in overcrowding and [the] sprawl of informal settlements.â€?
Dramatic flattening of illegal structures
In December 2018, Nairobi City County government issued the Urban Housing Renewal and Regeneration Policy, whose objectives are to rehabilitate and refurbish dilapidated housing units, provide appropriate and decent affordable housing and infrastructure, increase housing
stocks, encourage private investment in housing and preserve historical sites of significant archaeological value, while encouraging sustainable urban land use in the old city estates. The launch of the policy was preceded by a public show of commitment to renewing the cityâ€™s lost glory, through day-time flattening of illegal buildings. Indeed, of all the regeneration goals, the most dramatic has been the demolition of some 2,000 buildings illegally built on riparian and other reserved public lands.
This began with the mapping of all prohibited buildings, polluters, slaughterhouses and illegal structures along the Nairobi and Ngong rivers. It was followed by the identification of other banned structures occupying public spaces, such as forests, parks, road reserves, recreational facilities, and amenities. In total, 4,000 buildings are earmarked for demolition. By the close of 2018, slightly more than 1,000 buildings had been brought down, according to officials in the regeneration task-force involved in reclaiming Nairobiâ€™s lost aesthetics.
South End Mall, Grand Manor Hotel, Nakumatt Ukay and Gateway Mall are some of the iconic buildings demolished so far in pursuit of the gentrification of Nairobi.
Around Africa Kenya
“Many people that had marks in their buildings have demolished most of the marked areas themselves, making our work easier,” says Julius Wanjau, head of the Nairobi Regeneration project. In a city where the politically and economically well-connected could get away with projects such as building mega-malls on riparian land, the proposed demolition of their ‘properties’ was unthinkable until the bulldozers crushed the South End Mall on Langata Road in Nairobi’s middle-class southlands suburb. This was a huge milestone for the government as previously, demolitions were only carried out within low-income suburbs. While the flattening of illegal buildings has reduced multi-million dollar malls and high-end apartments to rubble, it has also exposed systemic weaknesses within government regulatory agencies as well as involved the loss of savings and investments. South End Mall, Grand Manor Hotel, Nakumatt Ukay and Gateway Mall are some of the iconic buildings that have so far been demolished in pursuit of the gentrification of the city. In December 2018, as the festive season approached, the demolitions were stopped after politicians grumbled. The momentum is expected to resume this year but exactly when is not clear. Mainly using the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, the regeneration team has been consistent in its work to reclaim ‘grabbed’ riparian lands in the last eight months. Passed in 1999 and revised in 2015 to reflect Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, this law is acclaimed as one of Africa’s most forward-looking pieces of sustainable development legislation. It amalgamated more than 77 sector-specific laws including water, wildlife, agriculture, forestry and even the physical planning acts which were until that time restricted to the allocation of user rights but covered little in terms of sustainability. Under the Environmental Management and Coordination Act, sector-specific approaches for 64 new african march 2019
The Grey Crowned Crane, once present in large numbers in Nairobi, is considered one of Africa’s most beautiful birds
tackling environmental concerns and enforcement paved the way for the formation of an overall National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), with farreaching powers to make Kenya an eco-friendly country. While implementation has been a challenge, the legal and policy framework has been hailed as sound. Through NEMA, overlapping mandates between diverse agencies that interfered with regulation are now being addressed.
Rethink on rapid results
But even then it has not been smooth sailing for the regeneration task force. When they began they had set high targets and timeframes that denoted they would reclaim the city within six months. This has proved to be a tall order and the planners have been forced to rethink their ‘rapid results’ plans. The roll-out of the flagship affordable housing project targeting the building of 30,000 units in the urban sprawl of Park Road, Shauri Moyo, Makongeni and Starehe is yet to begin as the official presidential launch has been marred by postponements. The financing model proposed by the government for the proposed 500,000 tenements countrywide – a key pillar in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’ legacy project – has also received sharp criticism. Of the 500,000 houses, 200,000 units are earmarked for Nairobi and in October 2018, President Uhuru signed off a supplementary appropriation bill giving some Ksh21bn ($208.8m) for his grand housing legacy project.
The government’s quest to apply a mandatory 1.5% levy to workers’ gross salaries to finance the newly created National Housing Development Fund has been criticised by the workers’ umbrella body, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU). “We have been pushing for the constitution of a tripartite board of government, employers and workers to ensure transparency and accountability of these funds. But the government has been reluctant,” says Francis Atwoli, the COTU secretary general. “Until we know the rules of the game that will affect 2.5m workers, we will not allow any deductions. This will be the only way to hold the Executive accountable for their actions on the housing plan.” Apart from affordable housing, the other three components of President Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’ are food security, manufacturing and inexpensive healthcare for all. In the affordable housing project, the price of a one-bedroom unit will range from $6,000-$10,000. Twobedroom units will cost $15,000, three-bedroom units $20,000. According to the Transport, Infrastructure and Housing Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, around 170,000 units are expected to be constructed by end of 2019. Other goals as yet unfulfilled include the launch of the rapid transit bus system, improvements to household water and sewer connections, the upgrading of 24 health facilities, the restoration of Nairobi River, decongestion of the Kenyatta National Hospital, and the creation of industrial spaces for cottage industry incubation. Should the regeneration project succeed, it will be Nairobi’s most ambitious work since the 1948 and 1973 zoning master plans. With the complete reorganisation of government through Executive Order Number 1 of 2019, which gives the indefatigable Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, Fred Matiang’i, critical portfolios and supervisory powers over the cabinet, the regeneration of Nairobi and the quest to ‘bring back the crested crane’ appears to have gained new impetus. NA
Once again, South Africa’s superb middle-distance runner, Caster Semenya finds herself in the crosshairs of the IAAF. She has been ordered to bring down her levels of natural testosterone or face a ban. She has appealed and the judgement will be delivered at the end of this month. But, asks Clayton Goodwin, what is the real motive behind this targeting of one of the world’s best athletes?
What is behind the hounding of Semenya?
aster Semenya should be basking in the adulation of an exceptional record, having dominated middledistance running for a decade, and at 28 years old, be looking forward to yet more years of triumph. Although she runs on the flat, the South African has faced, and continues to face, more hurdles than any specialist in the event. It isn’t only Theresa May and her country which regard Friday 29 March 2019 with apprehension, as the day when the UK is due to plunge into the Brexit unknown, as Caster, too, will learn of her own future on that day. For it is then that the Court of Arbitration for Sport is due to deliver its judgement on her appeal against the ruling of the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), the sport’s governing body, which would require her to bring down her levels of testosterone: the case is being heard in Lausanne, Switzerland as this issue goes to press. Ever since she won the 800 metres gold medal at the Berlin World Championships in 2009, Semenya has been subjected to intense speculation and prurience. I was fortunate to be in the stadium that hot August evening to see the then 18-year-old Caster power down the back straight, leaving her competitors floundering in her wake. It was powerful; it was unusual; it was exceptional.
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So exceptional, in fact, that even before the runner crossed the finishline rumours about her gender had started to circulate. Semenya was all woman, the sceptics agreed, but wasn’t she also ‘woman – plus’? It was a suspicion that her subsequent postures in victory, flexing her biceps (in a macho if not exactly masculine mode), have done nothing to dispel. For a time, Semenya was suspended from international competition while the IAAF and their medics argued about what was hyperandrogenism, or high natural levels of testosterone in women, and how it applied to her. When she was allowed back on the track, Caster swept the board at her own 800 metres distance and challenged successfully at 400 metres and 1,500 metres. Ironically, she was awarded the 800 metres gold medal in the London Olympic Games of 2012 only because the sole athlete who finished ahead of her, Mariya Savinova of Russia, was disqualified for illegal misuse of drugs. Four years later at Rio de Janeiro the carping broke out afresh as the South African again wore the winner’s garland. “Everyone can see it’s two separate races so there’s nothing I can do,” sobbed the sixth-placed British runner Lynsey Sharp. Referring to the other medallists on the podium – Margaret Nyairera Wambui of Kenya and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, both of
Right: Semenya celebrates winning the 800m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich last August
whom have a ‘mannish’ appearance – fifth-placed Joanna Jóźwik of Poland claimed that she was the “first European” and “second white” athlete (after Canadian Melissa Bishop) to finish the race. The IAAF picked up on the cue and in April 2018 announced that, while conceding that Semenya was female, it required that hyperandrogenous athletes should take medication to lower their testosterone levels from the beginning of November 2018.
Enhanced physical condition It is understandable that Caster’s rivals should feel frustrated that one competitor’s enhanced physical condition gave her an unbeatable advantage – and Eunice Sum of Kenya, who had dominated the distance during Semenya’s absence, must also have felt aggrieved. Those running against the exceptionally long-legged sprinter Usain Bolt would have experienced the same emotion. It is something altogether different, however, for the authorities to have stepped in on one side of the argument. I accept their concern that tolerance of hyperandrogeneity, and its abuse, could produce athletics disciplines in which there were no, so-to-say, ‘regular women’ competitors. And I am old enough to remember the similar brouhaha over the sisters Tamara and Irina Press of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and
and over Jarmila Kratochvílová, the muscular Czechoslovakian, whose 800 metres world record set in 1983 is still the longest-standing track record in men’s or women’s athletics. Sometimes, it must be admitted, there can be one performer whose physical advantage is such that competition is indeed unfair. In Bolt it was described as genius to be admired, but in Semenya, it has brought only opprobrium. That the rule applies only to the middle-distances of 400 metres, 800 metres and 1,500 metres points the finger of censure squarely at Caster Semenya. Why hasn’t the scope been extended to sprinters and long-distance runners? No wonder that Caster has appealed against the ruling – and she has been supported strongly by the South African government. If she is not successful, her international career could well have ended with her success at last year’s Commonwealth Games. The IAAF argue that the “planned protocols” have been limited to distances between 400 metres and up to a mile because “performance advantage” of
having higher levels of circulating testosterone are “most clearly seen” there. Consequently, if they wish to remain eligible as a competitor, some female athletes would have to reduce their blood testosterone levels to below a proscribed level for a continuous period of at least six months and then maintain it beneath that level – whether in or out of competition. In backing Semenya’s appeal, Tokozile Xasa, South Africa’s Minister of Sport and Recreation, said: “The world once declared apartheid as a crime against human rights, we once more call on the world to stand with us as we fight what we believe is a gross violation of human rights.”
The IAAF viewpoint The IAAF see things from a different perspective, declaring that they are “not classifying any DSD (Differences of Sexual Development) athlete as male. To the contrary, we accept their legal sex without question, and permit them to compete in the female category. “However, if a DSD has testes
and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in hemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women. “Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.” That is all very well, but why am I not convinced? The authorities have had a long time to sort out this matter – at least since the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936, when gender in athletics was a major talking point (though it was overshadowed by that of race). Why now? Does the IAAF recognise that in Caster Semenya they have an athlete of sufficient international stature to ensure maximum publicity for their approach? This is an athlete who deserves to be remembered for the deeds on the track that gave her such prestige – not for the legal wrangling off it. NA
Arts & Culture/ In Memoriam
Ayub Ogada, the legendary Kenyan musician, who popularised traditional African melodies around the world and was a composer of note for movies, passed away earlier this month. Alan Donovan, who first recognised his talent more than 40 years ago, pays tribute to his long-time friend and collaborator.
Tribute to music legend
Ayub Og ada F
or 40 years I have worked closely with the legendary Ayub Ogada, who cofounded the African Heritage Band with me in 1979. It was a great shock to wake on the morning of 1 February and hear of his passing at his home in Kisumu. For the past seven months I have been organising the Gala Night of the Century for the launch of the magnificent double-volume opus, African Twilight by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, on 3 March, when 400 selected guests will take the train from the Railway Museum in Nairobi to African Heritage House (see NA, February issue). Ayub Ogada was to open the show with his famous song, Koth Biro (The rains are coming in the Dholuo language). Fernando Anuangu (former dancer for African Heritage and Rare Watts, now in Paris) is to dance to Ayubu, a tribute to Ogada written by his protégé, Papillon. I first met Ayub Ogada (then Job Seda) as he was coming down the steps of the Conservatoire of Music opposite the National Theater, Nairobi in l979. I was looking for musicians to accompany African Heritage on its tours to Europe, and go around the world with its troupe. I realised I needed a musical group with a complete African sound and repertoire, who played African instruments, as African
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Heritage was the first organisation in Nairobi that held shows with all-African models, all-African fabrics and costumes and allAfrican jewellery. Job had been performing with his guitar and drums with a group called Black Savage, which was getting a lot of press coverage. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him if he would consider forming a new musical group which would feature only original music with African instruments. At 3:30 that afternoon, he had moved into the African Heritage Gallery on Kenyatta Avenue with all of his instruments and equipment and I felt this was an omen for both our futures. He soon put aside his guitar and started taking lessons on the 8-stringed Luo instrument, the Nyatiti, which I had given him and which was to become his longest lasting ‘partner’ – it was Ayub and his famous Nyatiti, with which he was to travel the world. The African Heritage Band soon became known as East Africa’s leading musical group and their concerts in Nairobi were sold-out events. Their regular Saturday afternoon gigs at the old African Heritage Garden Café on Kenyatta Avenue (where the I&M tower now is) often attracted fire marshals as excited fans spilled out onto the streets.
Right: Peter Gabriel said of Ogada, “He could mesmerise anyone within range with his sensitive and melodic Nyatiti playing, accompanying that legendary voice.”
International fame By 1986, the band had broken up, and its members fanned out into the world. Job Seda (by then known as Ayub Ogada) took up residence in the UK, where for a time he played his Nyatiti in the subways and streets to survive. But he soon became a musical phenomenon, when the likes of Peter Gabriel took him on a world tour with WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Music Festival, and he recorded his first album, En Mano Kuoyo (Grains of Sand in DhuLuo). Paying tribute to Ayub, Peter Gabriel writes on his website: “His was a prodigious talent and when he was on, he could mesmerise anyone and everyone within his range with his sensitive and melodic Nyatiti playing, accompanying that legendary gentle and hypnotic voice.” Armed with his Nyatiti, Ayub then went on to conquer the musical world. He played for a while with a UK band name Taxi Pata Pata, toured with famous Japanese fashionista, Issey Miyake, and performed at the ‘African Renaissance Show’ in South Africa. But his most recognised claim to fame is the music he composed and performed for the 2005 fi lm version of John Le Carré’s novel, The Constant Gardener. His song,
Dicholo, plays a major role at the end of the film and was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination. Ayub’s music has featured in numerous other films and TV shows, notably in Buffalo Soldiers, I Dreamed of Africa, T-Shirt Travels, The Caretaker, Hamilton Mattress, Into Africa, and in television commercials for Guinness Stout and other international brands. Not only has Ayub’s music featured in many movies, but he has also acted in several movies, the first being Out of Africa, in which he played the gun-bearer for Denys Fitch-Hatton (Robert Redford in the movie). He has acted and worked as a location manager in Death is Part of the Process, Kitchen Toto and The Colour Purple (Oprah Winfrey’s signature film, which also included African Heritage model Susan Auma). It should be noted that two of the world’s most famous models, Iman and Khadija, also came through African Heritage. Sadly, there will be a gaping hole at the African Twilight show in March, while the surviving African Heritage Band members and Papillon take time to remember him. Yet it will be a celebration of the life and music of Ayub Ogada as well as the end of an era for African Heritage in Kenya. African culture twilight! NA
Arts & Culture
Kenya’s award-winning rap artist, Octopizzo grew up in the poverty and squalor of Nairobi’s largest slum. But having made good, he has not turned his back on his birthplace, returning to give hope and encouragement to others. Naomi Larsson tells the inspiring story.
BRIGHTENING A DARK PLACE
enry Ohanga stands on the disused railway track overlooking the vast Kibera slum in west Nairobi. Tinny music blares out from makeshift shacks selling food and electronics as children in ragged school uniforms stare at him in awe, whispering ‘Octopizzo’ to
one another. The 30-year-old Kenyan rapper and activist can’t move for 10 minutes without being stopped for a handshake or photograph. Ohanga, better known for his stage name Octopizzo, is one of the biggest hip hop artists in Kenya. Since he released his first
Visiting the Kibera slum in West Nairobi, Ohanga points to the spot where his family’s home once stood
mixtape over a decade ago, his success has boomed. Octopizzo’s second album LDPC, released in 2015, was the first Kenyan record to reach the top of the iTunes album charts. A single released in August last year was downloaded a million times in a day. Over the years he’s collaborated
with international artists such as US duo Dead Prez and British rapper Black Twang, and has worked as a youth ambassador for UNHCR and the British Council. But he is more than a celebrity in this part of Nairobi. Ohanga was born and raised in Kibera, the country’s largest slum. He spent over 20 years of his life here, and still comes back each week to see friends and family. Kibera is in everything he does – his music, his social work. “Kibera made me who I am today. I’ve travelled but there’s nowhere I’ve ever felt [a] community embrace and genuine love, more than here,” Ohanga says. “There’s nowhere else that’s really important for me.” Dressed in a sharp tracksuit, polo shirt and with gold hoops in his ears, Octopizzo certainly looks the part of the award-winning artist he has become. But Kibera remains a part of his identity, influencing his songwriting and his work in the community. Ohanga founded a creative youth group in Kibera, YGB (Young, Gifted and Black), and throughout his career he’s worked to give a voice to disadvantaged young people from Kibera. He squints through his bluetinted glasses as we stand together overlooking the expansive slum. Covering around 250 hectares, at least 200,000 people live here – although some estimates suggest the figure could be up to 800,000. Poverty is widespread and many people survive on less than one dollar a day. Ohanga is open and honest about his past, though it was turbulent at times. He lost both his parents as a teenager, and with few opportunities for young people in Kibera, he joined a gang – he could earn more money through such activities than working in a garage, where he earned just Ksh200 ($2) a day. “I had friends who were in certain gangs. You have to look for alternatives, and sometimes the alternative is to join a gang because it’s easier – just go somewhere and scare people and get a few hundred shillings.”
Emotional trauma Ohanga says growing up in poverty was “an emotional trauma”. “You grow up hating yourself. It goes deeper than just not having money.” This emotion brought him towards music. The loss of one of his friends when they were in gangs changed his perspective on life, he says. In 2006, when Ohanga was in his late teens, a British Council-run
Top to bottom: Helping a youngster with his vocal skills; taking part in World Refugee Day activities with refugees at Kakuma Camp, Kenya; and posing with a fan during one of his weekly visits to Kibera to see friends and family
project called Words and Pictures (Wapi) opened its doors to young people once a month in Nairobi, to skate, rap and make music. “We didn’t know we could rap, we just wanted somewhere to hide – a safe zone where you don’t feel somebody is going to judge you,” he says. “During that time I realised we should do something. There were so many young people going through the same stuff I was going through – we just needed a creative space.” Ohanga launched his philanthropic project, the Octopizzo Foundation, in 2015, to run various programmes for marginalised communities in Kibera and refugee camps across Kenya, including mentorship and training in the creative arts or sport. The projects work with between 50 to 100 young people each time, providing them with a safe space to go and express themselves, with the hope of bringing them out of the cycle of poverty. “At the end of the day you can’t just sit,” he says. “I’m trying to take advantage of my platform. When people care, you should bring other people up.” On World Refugee Day in 2015, the UNHCR invited him to play gigs in camps across the country. As part of the Artists for Refugees project run by the UN refugee agency, Octopizzo was a mentor for many of the artists living in the camps. Refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Burundi and Kenya collaborated together on an album, Refugeenius, which was launched in 2016. “The programmes we do in the camps are more like therapy to these kids. They can say what they’re feeling, cry and let everything out. It’s also just a way of feeling free for yourself,” he says. Changing the narrative This work was about changing the narrative. “They’re just normal human beings like us, and they just need to tell their stories.” While his work and music can be seen as political, he believes he is more of an advocate for social change. Mostly, he wants to show another side to Kibera, away
Arts & Culture
Octopizzo’s life in Kibera is at the heart of his music (below), and (bottom) his community work. The Octopizzo Foundation runs training programmes for marginalised communities across Kenya, such as musical workshops
“That’s why I started rapping. They weren’t saying about the women who work hard, the youth that are so fashionable, the kids that play football. They’re not telling the positive stories from Kibera, period.” 72 new african march 2018
from the damaging ideas of life in the slum. “We’re not a statistic, we’re real people. We have to do something, we can’t change the whole place. But I believe we can change one person at a time.” Ohanga points to a patch of empty land in the distance. “That’s where they [the government] took down all the houses, they just cut across,” he says. In August 2018, bulldozers entered Kibera and demolished the homes of 2,000 families to make way for a new highway. Since the 1990s, the government began a programme of ‘slum upgrading’, but Ohanga is critical of the projects here. “Nothing has changed. We have some street lights – it didn’t make it safer. The housing system hasn’t changed, the schools haven’t changed,” he says. “When I come here over time I see the definition of a failed system. It’s getting worse because when I was here this was not like this,” he says, looking at the huge pile of rubbish and plastic waste beside us. “That’s why I started rapping – I felt they weren’t telling the stories of this place. They weren’t telling about the women who work hard, the youth that are so fashionable, the kids that play football. They’re not telling the positive story, period. “I’m trying to shed more light on the things that matter.” NA
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What caused the collapse of the 1,000-yearold Benin Kingdom? Are similar forces at work in today’s world?
History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes
fter nearly 1000 years, with a golden age in the 1700s, the Benin Kingdom collapsed – first gradually, then suddenly over a period of 50 years. A kingdom that had controlled its resources and territories, established an impressive trading empire, which included receiving tribute from surrounding weaker states, and produced fine artworks, was unable to protect itself and was utterly destroyed by the British in 1897. Ovonramwen, the resisting Oba/ King, was exiled away from the Kingdom (dying in exile), while his more compliant son was imposed by the Brits as part of their system of indirect rule. What was responsible for such a disaster? Of course, Benin was not unique. Two separate processes had unfolded over 50 years – one external, the other internal, each creating a feedback loop. Externally, the world was changing, and the Kingdom was under geopolitical pressure. The trade it controlled (principally enslaved fellow Africans) had rightly been choked off. Outside powers engaged in trade in the new commodity, palm oil, and demanded direct and monopoly control of the plantations, local markets and other resources, driving European territorial empire-building. These
powers cooperated with each other frequently (such as at the 1884 Berlin conference). Internally, the Kingdom was weakened. Neighbouring states which provided tribute had been conquered, leading to a drying up of resources, a sense of impending doom and a pathetic resort to increasing human sacrifice as a way of forestalling this doom rather than adopting a strategy of re-arming and striking alliances with unconquered neighbours. A succession battle for the throne amongst competing brothers also contributed to disunity and internal exhaustion.
International norms shredded Venezuela’s scenario today repeats many lessons from Benin, down to the attempts to replace the country’s leader, the embargo and strangulation of the economy and the refusal of the Bank of England to return gold reserves to the President. Venezuela sits atop the world’s biggest oil deposits and other huge mineral wealth, which is much coveted by external players. Internally, alongside a weakened economy, Venezuelans are so divided that they are on the brink of a civil war. But like Ovonramwen, the Venezuelans should have been more
Africa should be aware of new aggressive changes in the external context, and build its own unity and resilience, or suffer again the fate of Benin.
acutely aware of the external, geopolitical environment that has been changing over the last 25 years, beginning with the dismemberment of Yugoslavia – as the US has struggled to impose a Western-dominated uni-polar world order, while the emerging power centres China, Russia and India are attempting to create a multi-polar alternative, based on new economic and demographic realities. Important conflicts have taken part as part of this struggle – Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Myanmar, Somalia, Yemen, Qatar, Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, North Korea. Each of these is either energy/ mineral rich or sitting along critical energy pipelines or trade routes coveted by the powers. The international order is under great strain as the reconfiguration takes place and in these conflicts, as in Venezuela, international rules which have been taken for granted, are being shredded as we return once more to the law of the jungle and promotion of raw interests. But all this is happening in messy and often contradictory ways, which also produces the risk of conflict and disintegration. So on the one hand, the Western powers appear solidly together under the American, EU and NATO tutelage. On the other hand, we can also see fissures and the unravelling of these alliances. NATO was split when France and Germany were prepared to vote against the Iraq war in the Security Council. Even though under Merkel and Sarkozy, both France and Germany subsequently returned to the fold, supporting the US line on Libya, Ukraine, Syria and now Venezuela, the split over Iraq was profound and indicates an underlying divergence of interests; for example, the Germans ignoring US objections to their Nordstream strategic energy pipeline with Russia. And now there is Brexit and the EU unravelling. These disagreements will continue alongside the unity for raw and unbridled resource grabs that we are witnessing in Venezuela. Africa should be aware of the aggressiveness of this changing external context, build its own internal unity and resilience or suffer again the fate of Benin. NA
74 new african march 2019
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Once again, the March issue of New African is packed with must-read, exclusive features. The Cover Story reports on terrifying attempts by t...
Published on Feb 26, 2019
Once again, the March issue of New African is packed with must-read, exclusive features. The Cover Story reports on terrifying attempts by t...