Page 1

• AnAEx-VP’s VP’s Travails Travails

Obama Obama Echoes From The Roots Echoes From The Roots

• Horror in Horror in Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

African Interest


•Viva Africa• This column will present from a historical perspective, profiles of achievers in different fields of life

Pantheon of African Champions This first edition will be on African boxers. African boxers have been winning world championships on the international stage since 1922. This is a tribute to some African boxing champions regarded herein as constituting the continent’s pantheon in the modern era of the sport. It is packaged by Damola Faturoti Dick Tiger Born Richard Ihetu (1929-1971), he was Africa’s first multiple world champion, winning titles in two of the sport’s traditional eight weight classes. An aggressive counter-puncher with a devastating left hook, the 5’ 8" Nigerian boxer’s championship record included the Nigerian national middleweight title, the Commonwealth Middleweight title, the World middleweight title (which he held twice), as well as the world light heavyweight championship. Tiger won the “undisputed” world middleweight title by defeating Gene Fulmer in Ibadan Nigeria in August 1963, lost and then regained the title from Joey Giardello in 1966. Later in the same year he beat Jose Torres of Puerto Rico to win the world light heavyweight championship, which he held until 1968 when he was defeated by Bob Foster. In a boxing career that spanned nearly twenty years (1952-1970), Tiger notched up a total professional record of 81 bouts comprising 61 wins, 17 losses and three draws including 26 knock outs. Among his impressive list of victories were bouts against such outstanding opponents as the aforementioned Gene Fullmer, Joey Giardello and Jose Torres, as well as Italy’s Nino Benvenuti, the American “tragic” hero, Ruben “Hurricane” Carter and Cuban slugger, Florentino Fernandez. Tiger was honored by the British government with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1963, and twice named fighter of the year by both by The Ring magazine (1962 and 1965), and the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) (1962 and 1966). In 1991, twenty years after his passing, he was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) at Canastota, New York, the first ever African boxer to be so honored.

Azumah Nelson (B. 1958): The doors of the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) at Canastota, in upstate New York on June 13, 2004 opened its doors to that year’s inductees. Prominent among the honorees to be inducted is Ghana’s Azumah Nelson, regarded by most boxing authorities as one of Africa’s greatest fighters ever, and certainly the most outstanding in contemporary times. Nelson was born in Accra, Ghana in 1958 and had an outstanding amateur career before turning professional in 1979 as a featherweight. He gained international recognition in 1982 when in only his 14th professional fight and as a late substitute, he challenged the legendary Mexican world titlist, Salvador Sanchez for the World Boxing Council (WBC) title in Madison Square Garden. Though Azumah lost the bid, he greatly impressed boxing observers with his valiant effort against Sanchez. Sure enough, two years later in 1984 Nelson won the title by defeating another great Latino fighter, Wilfredo Gomez of Puerto Rico by an 11th round technical knock out. The Ghanaian “Professor” of



pugilism successfully defended the title six times before winning the WBC super featherweight title from Mario Martinez in 1988. After four title defenses, Nelson unsuccessfully challenged Pernell Whitaker for the combined WBC and International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight titles. Undaunted by the loss, he returned to the super featherweight division and defended his title six more times, including a controversial draw with Australian brawler, Jeff Fenech on June 28, 1991. In the rematch eight months later, Nelson ventured to Australia and knocked out Fenech in the 8th round in his very own home turf. Azumah continued to fight for the next seven years, recording a number of notable successes against the top echelon of the super featherweight and lightweight divisions. In 1998, he retired and returned home to Ghana a national hero. He had fought all over the world in far flung places including England, Australia, Spain, Mexico and throughout the United States, finishing with a record of 39 wins, 5 losses, and 2 draws including 28 knock out victories.

His third fight, which ended in a draw, was against Ogli Tettey of Ghana for the West African title. In 1951 he moved to England in search of boxing’s golden fleece. His brawling, pressure style and good body attack wore many opponents down and made him a fan favorite. Within six years he would reach the pinnacle of the featherweight division. In 1955 Bassey won the British Empire title by knocking out and avenging an earlier loss to Billy “Spider” Kelly. A year later the world featherweight championship became vacant when the titleholder, Sandy Saddler retired. Bassey, who had won an earlier elimination bout, was pitched against Algerian Cherif Hamia in Paris for the title. Bassey survived an early knockdown to overpower Hamia in the 10th round and thus became Nigeria’s first world champion. He went on to win 4 non-title bouts including a defeat of former champion and ring legend Willie Pep. However his only successful defense of the world title was a third round knock out of hard hitting Mexican sensation Ricardo Moreno in front of 20,000 fans in England. Bassey was overthrown by American contender Davey Moore who took his title Hogan (Kid) Bassey in Los Angeles in March 1959 and also defeated him in a rematch six months later. At this point Bassey wisely (1932-1998): Born Okon Bassey Asuquo in Calabar, hung up his boxing gloves and retired. He returned to Nigeria in 1932, Hogan “Kid” Bassey learnt to fight Nigeria where he became engaged in sports as a youth on the chaotic docks of the country’s capital administration and also coached successive Nigerian city of Lagos, Amazingly his first three professional Olympic boxing teams. His career ended with a record bouts were 12-round championship fights, the earlier of 74 total fights. He had won 59 of these with 21 two in 1949 being for the Nigerian national flyweight knock outs, lost 13 and drawn in two. title which he won and lost respectively to Dick Turpin. African Interest


•Mission Statement•

Re-Constructing an African Reality Many of society’s major issues today cannot be effectively appraised without recourse to their global dimensions and context. How, for example, can public-interest journalists investigate and write comprehensively about arms and drug trades, political corruption, financial fraud, wire fraud or environmental degradation without information on these subjects from different parts of the world? How can journalists investigate political fundraising scandals involving illegal foreign campaign contributions without on-the-ground reporting in those countries? When a fraudulent bank headquartered in one country operates in 73 others and controls billions in deposits, how can it be reported on - or regulated - at the nation-state level? Too often, most of these kinds of significant but complicated issues are considered too complex or inaccessible to the public because of media’s perceived limitations - expertise, or fund to investigate them, especially in the developing world. Meanwhile in African countries, like Nigeria for instance, investigative journalists get killed, threatened, or imprisoned with alarming regularity. Some even lose their jobs because of their uncompromising attitude. The problems of inadequate motivation and deficient work condition strike an average African journalist on the face. The case becomes worst when the publisher develops personal interest in a story and goes out to see that the story is killed in the name of protecting the interest of ‘’a friend of the house.’’ Amazingly unbowed by these life-and-death realities, they are unable to communicate or collaborate with colleagues who may be doing similar work. The media have crucial role to play in presenting the facts, bringing out the arguments and generating in-depth knowledge and perspectives that spark ordinary people to action. The role of the media is no doubt critical in promoting good governance and curbing corruption. The media does not only raise public awareness

about corruption. They have responsibilities to also investigate and report cases of corruption with insight into the causes, consequences and possible remedies. A critical element of a country’s anticorruption programme primarily should be an effective media. And the effectiveness of the media depends on access to information and freedom of expression, as well as a professional and ethical code of investigative journalists. In addition, such issues as private versus public ownership of the media, the need for improved protection of journalists in the face of official danger and media regulation are critical. The corrupting of the media’s mission through excessive reliance on advertisers and sponsors is one of the major problems in Nigeria and Africa in general, where political manipulation determine their outputs. AFRICAN INTEREST showcases the best international investigative reporting and seeks to be a model for detailed, well-documented research in the broadest public interest of African citizens. We strongly believe that the presence of an effective networking mechanism for investigative reporters will lead to a better-informed populace, as well as an enhanced civil society and greater accountability among governments in Africa.

AFRICAN INTEREST Believes that: As journalists we need to explore and strengthen the relationship between journalism and democracy. Journalism and democracy work best when news, information and ideas flow freely; when news fairly portrays the full range and variety of life and culture of all communities; when public deliberation is encouraged and amplified; and when news helps people function as political actors and not just as political consumers. Journalist should stand apart in making sound professional judgments about how to cover communities, but cannot stand apart in learning about and understanding these communities. The multiplicity and disintegration of the African Society call for new techniques for storytelling and information-sharing to help individual communities define themselves singularly and as part of the whole set of communities. The perspectives journalists present can help or hinder progress as people struggle to reach sound judgments about their personal lives and their common well-being. Democracy is rewarding when journalists listen to the people.

AFRICAN INTEREST will: •Provide an accurate and comprehensive report of the news in the context that gives it meaning •Act as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism •Articulate and advance the goal of the good society •Project a representative view of the society •Act as a check on the abuse of power at all levels of society •Advance the course of free but socially responsible enterprise.

We can learn and grow as journalists, by examining, experimenting with and enhancing the theory and practice of journalism in relation to the theory and practice of democracy. In the value of studying the dynamics of communities and the complexity of public life. Just as journalists need to adhere to professional and financial discipline to succeed, we believe they must adhere to democratic discipline. The best journalism helps people see the world as a whole and help them take responsibility for what they see. African Interest


•Point of View•

Corruption: Regress to Square One (1) The holy Senate in Nigeria has welded their Democracy flag again by declaring that only the court of law can disqualify a candidate, indirectly rendering EFCC toothless in the screening of political candidates. This can not be the April Fool surprise predicted so that the needle eye is left wide open again for their precious camels to pass through it. Of course it is sweet talk that appeals to those of us who love the rule of law. The grouse is that it is coming only from men of immoral means and hypocrites some of whom are as dirty and evil as the corrupt men they want sneaked into office. They are not so different from those who promote Third Term for Obasanjo or nominate Atiku as their Presidential candidate based on greased palms, regardless of PTDF scandal? Procrastinators always defer the present for the perfect future. Incompetent managers never get anything done until they have all the information. In spite of probability of disastrous consequences, rocket scientist can not wait for perfect screws and washers before launching into space. Some Nigerians are reluctant to fight corruption until we get a perfect government, a perfect President and a perfect system. They must think we are

morons because we are illiterate in their masters’ voice of English. Our Igbo, Hausa, Efik, Yoruba and Kanuri are not only sound, we built philosophy, literature, medicine, oracles and Great Empires on them. We know people who do not understand a word of English, but their Chinese and Russian have turned them into World powers. Whose responsibility is it to fight corruption and where does the buck stops? Is it the Government of the day or that of the future? The forces of evil are so self-righteous; they would challenge the Government of the day in its fight against corruption by any means when their butts are on fire. Not before. For them, it could have been done differently or it was not perfectly done. Perfection in Nigeria is like the Promised Land. In my dear Country, only those with clean hands can seek equity has been interpreted as only saints can fight corruption. Who are we fooling? Our history is full of instances of those who are not saints who have tried to clean up our Country but never live to see the end of their journeys. Their good intentions resulted in grave consequences. What resulted in Nigeria/ Biafra war was the idealistic dream of

Ezeogwu who was sabotaged by men whose selfish ends spared corrupt and evil people plunging the Country into ethnic reprisals. It was that naïveté on our part that deprived us of fine soldiers like Ademulegun, Aguyi Ironsi, Fajuyi and Murtala Mohammed. These same power hungry, corrupt and insane people irrespective of ethnicity turn a part of our Country into wild, wild West. They stopped Buhari and Idiagbon in their tracks to return sanity to the Country. If we were prudent, we wouldn’t need militricians in the first place. Here they come again challenging duty of the Government of the day to clean the equine stable, when they would not. The Senate has now waived the flag of democracy implying that only the courts, with status quo power, can disqualify evil men two months before elections. The court is the place to present evidence beyond all reasonable doubts before guilt, not a place to baptize the saints. Even the appearance of impropriety or probable cause of corruption any where is enough to disqualify men from public office in the countries we borrow democracy from. Loyalties to party, not infatuation with opposition, prevail on those on mere suspicion of corruption

not to drag the whole party down. Any threat to their party, their country or their civility would be summarily dealt with. In many of these countries, they have criminal cases with a standard of proof beyond any reasonable doubt and civil cases asking for preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence. Some of our senators are looking for the most stringent proof so that their cronies can get away. What do they take us for? Saro say na poor I poor, no be craze I craze! We understand that nobody must be so powerful that it can be trusted without oversight. Yes, there must also be some mitigating circumstances in the cases of those who used looted funds to create jobs, vigorous press or Robin Hood but that does not excuse the fact it is still stolen money put into good use. Keeping our money to generate interest in another bank while the gain goes into individual pockets is a common practice of how workers’ salary languished. The criticism level against EFCC has now produced an advisory committee that can be trusted all over the Country to reassess cases brought up by that body. But please do not turn it into another paper tiger. To be continued...

The African Interest Newspaper African Interest, a resource of Landmark Communications Network Services, is published monthly in the United States. FOUNDING TEAM Seyi Oduyela, Femi Soneye, Bolaji Adewole, John Bakare, Gbolahan Razak, Akinola Ajijola, Odili Anionye and Adetayo Adelaja. CHIEF EXECUTIVE Seyi Oduyela EDITOR Bolaji Adewole DEPUTY EDITOR Olufemi Soneye EDITORIAL ADVISERS Dr. Babajide Dasaolu (Nigeria) and Mr. Tunde Oduntan (Canada) BUREAUX SENIOR WRITER Adetayo Adelaja (Nigeria) ASSISTANT EDITOR William Oloo Janak (Kenya) SENIOR WRITER Charles Nji-Blassius (Cameroon) CORRESPONDENT Perpetual Sichikwenkwe (Zambia) WRITER Adebayo Somuyiwa (London) PRODUCTION EDITOR Akinola Ajijola (Ireland) DESIGNER Ben Kwame LEGAL ADVISERS Henry Adeleye Emmanuel Ogebe AFRICAN INTEREST NEWSPAPER 204 FOXMAMOR LANE GLEN BURNIE, MD 21061 (202) 350-9039 (202) 812-4812 (240) 893-7408

African Interest




Atiku: Travails of Nigeria’s Ex-Vee Pee SEYI ODUYELA provides insight on the intrigues and of the power play that culmilnated in the just concluded presidential elections in Nigeria focusing on the relationship between President Obasanjo and his deputy If there is any soldier lucky in Nigeria, it is General Matthew Aremu Okikiola Olusegun Obasanjo. He is lucky because he never participated in any coup, but had been a beneficiary of coups. He enjoys taking other people’s glory when the job is completed. He claimed the glory of being a Civil war Hero because it was his Command that the leader of the Biafran Army surrendered to. After the ouster of General Yakubu Gowon, Obasanjo became the second-in-command to Murtala Mohammed and after the assassination of Murtala on February 13, 1976, Obasanjo, an unwilling candidate, was forced to take over as the Head of State. The position he held for 3 years. After his three years he handed over the reins of power to civilian government in accordance with the script that Murtala Mohammed, his assassinate boss wrote. While in retirement, he was arrested and jailed for a trump up charge of coup plot against late General Sani Abacha. He was lucky again to leave the prison alive but his second-in-command during his tenure as a military Head of State was not lucky, Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua died mysteriously in Abakaliki Prison. Obasanjo came out of prison to become the first Nigerian former military dictator transforming to a civilian president. So far, he holds the record of being the only civilian president spending second term in office and he is now presiding over the first ever civilian to civilian transition in the history of Nigeria. Since his failed attempt to self succession there have been speculations that President Obasanjo would not hand over but the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) primaries showed that President Obasanjo is ready to hand over power in May 2007. Though many candidates filed their nomination for the PDP presidential election, some of them withdrew before the election. Governor Peter Odili of River state, who was noted as the front runner, Governor Donald Duke of Cross River State, Governor Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State and Achikwe Udenwa of Imo State all withdrew from the race and supported Governor Umar Yar’Adua on the day of the primaries in circumstances that beat minders of Nigeria’s political terrain hollow. Former President Ibrahim Babangida who had also filed papers to run for the elections wrote to withdraw his nomination too. At the end of the day, General Aliyu Gusau, Brigadier-General Buba Muhammed Marwa, Professor Jerry Gana, Mrs. Sarah Jibril, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, Vice Admiral Mike Akhigbe and Mr. Bitrus Sawa contested and lost to Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua. Others are Major General Mamman Kontagora, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and Chief Rochas Okorocha. The All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) threw up former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari, while Vice President Abubakar Atiku, was elected as the Action Congress flag bearer, having crossed over from the ruling PDP. Dr. Pat Utomi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, Rev. Chris Okotie are

• Obasanjo • Atiku among candidates vying under different political parties for the presidency. As the ellections of April 21 approached, Vice President Atiku, was barred by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from being part of the elections. According to INEC, Atiku could not be cleared based on section 137 (i) of the 1999 Constitution. According to the section, a person may be barred from running for the office of the president if he has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or Administrative Panel by the Federal or State Government. While INEC has been criticized for its action on Vice President Atiku, it has maintained that, it did not disqualify Atiku but could not clear him for election based on the provision of Section 137 (i). When Obasanjo came to power in 1999, the relationship between him and his deputy was cordial. In fact Atiku was co-President. He was placed in charge of the Privatization project, he also chairmanned the Economic Committee of the government. If you report Atiku to Obasanjo, you better be sure of your facts, because you will be asked to repeat it before Atiku. So many people have been embarrassed in this manner when they call the President to report the shady deals Atiku to the pesident. When the Nigeria Airways was to be sold, and it was under priced, Dr. Kema Chikwe, Minister of Aviation then, refused to allow it, she was scolded by President Obasanjo, who warned that any of his Ministers who failed to comply with Atiku on the Privatization should quit. Though Babangida was instrumental to Obasanjo’s election as President in 1999, Atiku also provided the political platform for Obasanjo. The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), formed by the late Shehu Yar’Adua has the likes of Tony

Anenih, late Chuba Okadigbo, Dapo Sarumi, Yomi Edu, and Dr. Borishade as members. Anenih, fondly referred to in PDM as leader is a double agent. He shares his loyalty with Atiku and Babangida. What Atiku failed to realize is that, though Obasanjo gave him free hands to operate, it was a grand set-up. According to a former Minister in the Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s government, Obasanjo already knew that Atiku is obsessed with wealth acquisition, just like Babangida. This Yoruba Minister disclosed that it was a design to set Atiku against the rest of the north. Atiku is from the North Eastern Nigeria and the politics of Nigeria has been dominated by the North West that sees itself as the natural ruler of Nigeria. Alhaji Maitama Sule once said that it is the birth right of the North West to rule Nigeria. As soon as Obasanjo came in, Atiku started firing salvo against the North and specifically, the North West region of the country. This turned the rest if the North against Atiku. Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Babangida, General Buhari and other leaders of the North became uncomfortable with Atiku’s utterances. Atiku, apparently having fun then blamed the problem of Nigeria on the misrule of the north. This was seen by Babangida and others as a campaign preparation for Obasanjo’s succession and they were ready to do anything to truncate his ambition. While Atiku created enmity for himself in the Northwest, Umar Ghali Na’Abba rose to the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, becoming the second most powerful northerner in Obasanjo’s government. While Babangida and his allies liked it, Atiku was not comfortable with that. This is for simple reason that Na’Abba is from the North West and seen as a potential threat to his ambition come 2007.

Na’Abba who came to the National Assembly as a nobody suddenly after succeeding the disgraced Salisu Buhari became a voice for the Northern Opposition against Obasanjo. Atiku’s utterances also pitched Obasanjo against the rest of the North and Obasanjo was portrayed as someone biting the finger that fed him. But by 2001 Atiku’s PDM faced a serious political test, one of them, Chuba Okadigbo crossed Obasanjo’s path, there was an impeachment plot against him, unfortunately because PDM was headed by a tactless Atiku, Okadigbo lost the seat. That was a big blow to PDM but Atiku did not see the handwriting on the wall. Towards the end of 2001, Chief Tony Anenih initiated reconciliation between Obasanjo and Babangida, this was leaked to Atiku. Atiku did not like it and the relationship between Atiku and Anenih broke. Another serious blow to PDM. Atiku was instrumental to the removal of Albert as the Director-General of Board of Public Enterprise (BPE) and Nasir El-Rufai as his replacement. He bought the Benue Cement Company, using Aliko Dangote as a front. He also has a strong link with the Vaswani brothers (owners of Reliance Bank, The Honda Place and some other companies). The Vaswani brothers were abducted and deported from Nigeria in a manner shrouded in mystery. Their deportation, though long due came at the wake of Atiku’s face-off with Obasanjo. During the probe saga that rocked that National Assembly in 2001, Atiku played a prominent role in the impeachment move against Umar Na’Abba, the Speaker of the House of Representative. His intention was not for the support of probity but to get rid of a potential threat to his ambition come 2007. In actual fact, he spent a lot money. Some members of the House from the Eastern states were his fronts in this bid. Continued on Page..6

African Interest



Nations Continued from Page...5

One of them, whose father supported the late Abacha, would have been appointed the Minister of Education. There was a document they were to pursue in London, on Na’Abba’s property. The contact had demanded for 2.5million but the man from Imo State, in charge of the deal shortchanged and they lost the document. The other man also from Imo State also swallowed the money meant to bribe some National Assembly journalists. These people hid under the genuine efforts of le gislators like Wunmi Bewaji, Chinonyerem Macebuh, Olaka Nwogu, Austin Opara( present Deputy Speaker), Bala Kaoje, and others . Few days to the aborted move to remove Na’Abba, there was an attempt to reconcile with the Aso Villa. Na’Abba met with Atiku who gave a condition for the Presidency to back out on the impeachment move. The move was for Na’Abba to stop the House open hearing investigation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), but Na’Abba made him to realize that it was in the hands of Hon. Nduka Irabor and he could not stop him. On Monday night, the night before the impeachment, Principal Officers of the National Assembly led by the then Senate President went to meet President Obasanjo to plead for Na’Abba, Atiku was conspicuously absent, yet he was within the Villa premises. His belief was that, it was too late to come and beg for Na’Abba who would be impeached the next day. This did not work out, because the legislators hired had hiked their demand from 150 Million Naira to 180 Million Naira. The Na’Abba camp through their spies got wind and they came up with the gimmick of money display on the floor of the House of Representatives on that Tuesday by Hon Adam Jagaba (Kachia/Kargako), Kaduna state. Truly some people were offered money to impeach Na’Abba and some people too got money to ensure Na’Abba was not removed. Some got money and juicy positions. Some went with Na’Abba on overseas trips. Some AD members were included and on their return from the trips they developed cold feet. That Na’Abba enjoyed the support of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Gen Mohammad Buhari and Gen Ibrahim Babangida was a fact. Their support for Na’Abba was not genuinely because of Obasanjo, but because of Atiku. Atiku schemed out Prof Tunde Adeniran because Adeniran made Obasanjo the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Universal Basic Education. He had expected Adeniran to appoint him, because of the money coming in for the project. He replaced Adeniran with the man whose title as Professor is still a matter of debate at the Obafemi Awolowo University. Atiku loves to be in charge of any project that has votes. He calls the shots at the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), now he has his childhood friend, a former Director of NEMA as the chairman. He also has the primary school drop-out now a lousy millionaire from Anambra State, Emeka Offor as a front, especially in the contract for the maintenance of the Refineries. Emeka Offor held Anambra State to ransom for four years, just as the Illiterate and big-mouth Uba is doing now. The noise against Tony Anenih by Governor Orji Kalu, of Abia state, the publisher and owner of Sun Newspapers


was a ploy to divert the attention of the world from the real killers of Chief Bola Ige to Tony Anenih as the only person involved. Anenih’s position as the chairman of PDP’s Board of trustee was seen as an obstacle for Atiku. 2002 and then... The “Obasanjo decides” of April 26, 2002 was organized by Anenih. Atiku was not part of the plan. His picture was not in the program pamphlet nor did it feature in the poster. Atiku was out of the country on that day. On the evening of that day after Obasanjo had declared to run for second term, he appeared on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigerian (FRCN) Presidential chat where he told reporters that he has not chosen his running mate and will not do that until the party’s primaries. But few days later, late Tunji Oseni, Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Media issued a press release announcing Atiku as Obasanjo’s running mate for the 2003 Presidential election. Reliable source disclosed that Atiku had wanted to declare for the 2003 Presidency and to pre-empt him Obasanjo quickly announced him as his running mate. But it did not end there. In early 2000, President Obasanjo got to know of Atiku’s Potomac Mansion, in early 2001, he discovered that it was Atiku who bought AP using Peter Okocha as front; just as he used Aliko Dangote as front to buy the Benue Cement Company. Obasanjo did not like it. According to the late Senator Haruna Abubakar, Atiku had wanted to buy UNIPETROL too but he (Haruna) blocked him. Atiku was also rumored to have funded the impeachment move against Obasanjo in 2002. The trust was dropping but Obasanjo, a renowned use-and-dumper, maintained his cool because of the 2003 elections. To win the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in 2003, Obasanjo had to beg Atiku. He struck a deal with him, though unwritten, and unfortunately Atiku fell for it. As soon as he won the election, Atiku began to see a different Obasanjo, the real Olusegun Aremu Matthew Okikiola Obasanjo. Obasanjo reneged in his pledge. He denied Atiku the privilege to nominate

Bugaje, his former Special Adviser. Atiku also lost all rights as co-president and demoted to tenant in the Villa. Obasanjo had to approve his Advisers and Assistants. Between 2003 and now, five Advisers and Assistants of Atiku were fired by Obasanjo. Chris Mammah was the first victim because of his alleged role in the 2002 impeachment attempt. The latest victim is Mr. Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba, former Special Adviser on Media. Before 2003 Obasanjo did not have see anything before it goes out of the Villa, but that was history. Nothing gets out of the Villa without Obasanjo’s approval. Atiku, since the beginning of this administration’s second term has been stripped of all his powers. While the issue of the PTDF fraud is being discussed and Vice President Atiku maintained his innocence our investigations reveal that Vice President Atiku Abubakar might have broken the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. According to our findings, on December 1, 2000, less than years after becoming the Vice President of Nigeria, he bought a mansion in POTOMAC, Maryland for one million, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($1,750,000). The house, a two storey building was constructed in 1988, with a land area of about 2.3 acres. Today, the house is valued at over two million dollars ($2 million). POTOMAC, Maryland is America’s 12th richest neighborhood. The house was purchased in the name of one Jennifer E. Douglas, whose official occupation is Home Making. Investigation revealed that Jamilah Atiku Abubakar aka Jennifer Douglas E. aka Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar is the fourth wife of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. A former staff of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Ph.D. student at the American University in Washington, Mrs. Atiku is the Founder, President and CEO of GEDE Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Washington DC area of the United States. A cursory glance of the donor list of the Foundation shows that many high net worth individuals and blue chip companies that donated to the Obasanjo Library Project are all listed. While there are lots of

anonymous donors, such individuals as Herbert Orji, Lucky Omoluwa, Cosmas Maduka, Jibril Aminu, Oba Otudeko, Abba Dabo, Musa Bello, and Akinwole Omoboriowo are on the list of donors. The corporate donors include but not limited to: Chrome Oil Services, Coscharis Motors, MTEL, UBA Plc., Chevron Texaco, COJA 8th All Africa Games, Guardian, Express Bank, Sea Petroleum and Gas, Goodworks International LLC., Coca Cola, Motorola Nig. Ltd., Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Total Fina Elf, Rockview Oil Services, Stanhoe Ventures, Devon Energy, Zenith Bank, Riggs Bank, DynQuest, Capital Lending, Global Apex Air Ltd., Gucci, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Company, Doxa Digital, and many more. On the surface it may appear that the Vice President did nothing wrong as Jennifer Douglas bought the said property in Maryland. While we cannot reliably confirm that VP Atiku and Jennifer were married as at then, we are reliably informed that there was a romantic relationship between them which eventually culminated in marriage and the Vice President uses the residence in POTOMAC as his official residence whenever he is in the US. A source that insists on remaining anonymous said, “Everybody knows Atiku paid for the house. Jennifer was pregnant with his child and there is no way she could afford a multimillion-dollar home. I challenge you to engage forensic accountants to look into this. You will discover that I am telling the truth.” Other independent sources confirmed to us that the house was paid for by Atiku Abubakar. Atiku and Jennifer are the owners of the American styled University in Yola (ABTI), capital of Adamawa, Atiku’s home state. A critic of the Obasanjo-Atiku Administration “after studying at the American University in Washington, the woman liked it so much that she and her husband decided to set up one in Nigeria. Who knows, someday we’ll have a President’s wife who will get Harvard University set up in Nigeria as a birthday gift!” In 2003, Ms. Jennifer E. Douglas donated twenty-five thousand dollars to Pres. Bush’s party, the Republican National Committee. Two months earlier, Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar had donated one thousand dollars to Mikulski for Senate Committee. In 2004 Jennifer DouglasAbubakar donated five hundred dollars to Van Hollen for Congress. Why did Jennifer Douglas make the donation of twenty-five thousand dollars to the Republican National Committee when two months earlier Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar made the smaller donation of one thousand dollars? The Vice President’s wife, according to an analyst that we spoke with, knows that it is unconscionable for her to donate twentyfive thousand dollars to the Republican Party when Nigerians are dying of hunger. “Therefore, she used a different name and for the smaller sums she used her real name or what we think her real name is. Are these the same people fighting corruption? Give me a break,” he said. Some Nigerians often wonder why Nigeria retains the unenviable position of the second most corrupt nation in the world despite all the attention the President’s Continued on Page..7

African Interest



Nations Continued from Page..6.

anti-corruption crusade is generating in the media. A few months ago, Chancellor Schroeder of Germany told Obasanjo to put more energy in fighting corruption in Nigeria. Gov. Orji Kalu in an interview with some months ago had unequivocally stated that Obasanjo’s government is corrupt, he says, “Corruption is under Obasanjo’s table”. The President and his administration, it appears, are interested in fighting the corruption of their enemies rather than carrying out a proper assessment of themselves. According to sources there appear to be a division within the Action Congress. Our sources exclusively disclosed that all is not well between the two main financiers of the Party. According to our source, Vice President Atiku and Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos are in a sort of cold war. Atiku has taken certain decisions without the knowledge of Governor Tinubu, for example, the National Chairmanship of the Party was zoned to the north and Vice President position to South West but, Atiku did not inform Tinubu of the change of plan, he did not inform him of his visit to the London. The Action Congress (AC),

dropped Tinubu who had stepped down from his Senatorial contest to run as Atiku’s Vice and replaced him with Senator Obi. At the end of the day most Alliance for Democracy (AD) members were dropped and replaced by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members of the AC. After the inauguration of Obasanjo’s government, it took days to inaugurate the National Assembly because of Obasanjo’s scheme to impose a stooge as the Senate President. He succeeded in making Senator Evans Enwerem the Senate President as against Senator Chuba Okadigbo. Okadigbo who was not happy with the result of the election continued to work against Enwerem until he succeeded in impeaching Enwerem. This angered Obasanjo and the war between the National Assembly and Presidency started. It became so clear then that Obasanjo, who does not know how to hide his feelings made some uncomplimentary statements. The Presidency actually leaked the Audit report that sent Okadigbo packing to the press. Though there were efforts to resolve the crisis between Obasanjo and Okadigbo but the vintage Obasanjo does not have forgiveness in his dictionary.

The ouster of Okadigbo was perfected on the night the president performed the official opening of the top senator’s official quarters. Obasanjo was the Special Guest of Honor. What Okadigbo did not know was that the official opening was a valedictory ceremony for him. A member of Okadigbo group, Nasir Mantu sold out to get the position of Deputy Senate President. Late Haruna Abubakar, Obasanjo’s man then was promised that if he resigned as Deputy Senate President, Okadigbo will step down and Haruna would be returned, but that was not it. Mantu replaced Haruna Abubakar. Banarbas Gemade though was the Party Chairman but he was reduced to an errand boy for Obasanjo he eventually lost favor and was replaced by Audu Ogbeh. Immanuel Ibeshi, Gbenga Olawepo and late Harry Marshal were sacrificed by Obasanjo. Though they were his boys but they were becoming too powerful and outspoken in PDP. Obasanjo has a penchant for going after his enemies and ambitious friends. He does not know how to forgive, but understands how to get even. He never forgets too. No one seems to escape his wrath but only one person, Ibrahim Babangida. This is still

Are Nigerians Corrupt? A foreign visitor once shared his thoughts with me on the issue of Nigerians as corrupt. Having been inundated with stories of Nigerian scammers and touts in Lagos, and needing to visits and spend time in Nigeria, he first arranged for a care-service to see him through customs and the notorious airport and to provide useful insights of life skills to navigate Nigeria’s dangerous and corrupt terrain. The care service either did a good job of it because after three weeks he returned home unscathed and may even have benefited from some counting error by the cashier at his hotel, which left him some 200 naira extra cash, or the real Nigerians are not really corrupt. So where did all this talk of Nigerians are corrupt come from? Immediately deducible from this encounter is that the image of Nigeria as corrupt is a big international business. This does not just apply to the formal sector of corruption, being the vast sums of currency embezzled and the electronic transfers to foreign banks. There has grown an informal sector which thrives on the fears of foreign visitors and Nigerians returning home. This sector reinforces that Nigeria is corrupt and dangerous and provides arrangee services to help navigate the dangers for a small fee. These navigators are only one of many interests in the promotion of the image of Nigeria as a corrupt country and Nigerians as corrupt. Who benefits from such an image? Here, we find a wide range of personalities and organizations: politicians, civil servants trying to justify their ‘share’ of the official corruption pot, criminally minded youths and 419 scammers to show they are not the worst breed of Nigerians; aren’t we all thieves? The international media

By TUNDE ODUNTAN/Halifax, Canada

prospers on the promotion of Nigeria as the ‘other’: the exemplar bad black African state to highlight those other states making or at least trying to make some progress in Africa. And of incomprehensible absurdity: the tale of ‘big for nothing’, ‘rich without wealth’, ‘having capacity but incapable’. We can stretch this to apply to businesses and states that can easily present Nigeria as a corrupt country in competition for international resources, responsibilities and privileges. We need not go into the cost of corruption here, except to state that that cost is not borne by those who benefit from corruption, but by countless faceless but honest Nigerian Corruption used to be a big strategy of opposition political parties and aspiring political contestants. It was useful in political engagements to claim credibility and accuse those in government as corrupt. The point is much less to prove the case as to take advantage of the implausibility that someone in government can be saintly. More recently however, power establishments have perfect the skills of compromising everyone, such that national corruption is now axiomatic. Therein does the President’s anticorruption campaign amount to the

absurd. The long list of corrupt politicians does not show that the government is challenging corruption. On the contrary, the government is saying that the country is too corrupt, what better evidence can there be than that we have indicted more than 200 politicians and are currently investigating thousands of others; all within four years since EFCC began real operations. Despite its rhetoric to the contrary, the Federal Government of Nigeria is louder than the CNN or Integrity International in calling Nigeria as corrupt country and Nigerians as corrupt. And why will a government do that? Fela Anikulapo Kuti was only mildly prophetic in his song: “I never hear am before o ..make government dey talk o…my people are useless; my people are senseless; my people are indiscipline”. He called it ‘animal talk’, referring particularly to the Buhari War Against Indiscipline, but more appropriately to a long standing construction of the Nigerian people as useless and corrupt. The source of that image may be found in British colonialism, but Nigerian leaders have outdone Lugard and Richards in standing on godly pedestals and acting like they are less human than other Nigerians; indeed like they are less Nigerian than the rest of us. The legitimacy of the Nigerian ruling class,

• It is sad how honest Nigerians, millions in the rural areas, hardworking people struggling to make ends meet, who have absolutely no access to public funds to steal, get labeled as corrupt. Sadder that old grandmothers in villages, children and the unborn leave, grow in and enter world bearing this label: ‘Nigerians are corrupt’

the only man Obasanjo cannot touch. He openly showed his reverence for Babangida. He is still asking Nigerians to come up with proof against Babangida to bring him to book for corruption but no one gave him proof of late Abacha’s looted wealth. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, his former National Security Adviser, played a prominent role in tracking Abacha’s loot but did not have a clue on Babangida’s stolen wealth. That Obasanjo fears Babangida is no more news. Babangida got Obasanjo out of Abacha gulag, and transformed him into a civilian President. Another problem is that Obasanjo does not have the kind of network Babangida has. Babangida has his boys in the military, police, Security Service and politics. He has his own political machinery. Obasanjo on the other hand, is a political mercenary, a hired person, planted and imposed on PDP. He does not have any political structure. He does not spend but Babangida is reputed for empowering his subordinates and that is why they are still loyal to him. Obasanjo does not have loyalists; he has no one to rely on. He does not use and keep for the rainy day, his own philosophy is use and dump.

like their British predecessors is not derived from the Nigerian people, but from the ‘civilizing mission’ to ‘change’ a backward, immoral and corrupt people if possible and if not, to keep them in their state unthreatening to ‘our race and (in this case) class pedestal. That pedestal like British colonialism, drains wealth from honest, hardworking Nigerian people and yet calls them useless and corrupt. So, are Nigerians corrupt? Quite easy to point to embezzlements at all levels of government, to Nigerian internet scammers, to public servants, policemen, to traditional chiefs and landlords. However, a closer look will show that this corps equates to those who are vested in promoting Nigerians as a corrupt people and they represent only a small if visible percentage of Nigeria’s population. You could stretch corrupt Nigerians to include touts, students who cheat in exams, shopkeepers who won’t give correct change, businessmen who will rather bribe officials than pay tax etc., but to do that, one will have succumbed to this construct of Nigerians as corrupt. There are obvious human frailties anywhere in the world. If you fail to check your change you will be short anywhere in the world and neither is it a peculiarly Nigerian thing for criminals and touts to dispossess the unwary of possessions. Bad as the police is, bribery is not a Nigerian vice and profiteering is not green and white. These are the pointers that consign all Nigerians as corrupt. It is sad how honest Nigerians, millions in the rural areas, hardworking people struggling to make ends meet, who have absolutely no access to public funds to steal, get labeled as corrupt. Sadder that old grandmothers in villages, children and the unborn leave, grow in and enter world bearing this label: ‘Nigerians are corrupt’. Sadder still, that Nigerian intellectuals or the media are not challenging this construct but are conveniently promoting it. It is indeed the strategy of the corrupt to call everyone else a thief.

African Interest



• Spotlight •


The Burden of Illegitimate Debt The spotlight of African Interest in this edition is on the unfortunate story of a great African nation brought on her knees by a burden of foreign debt Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the continent’s second largest country. Home to the world’s second largest rainforest, the DRC is rich in terms of natural and mineral resources. Coltan, which is one of its largest exports, is a metal used in cell phones across the globe. Despite this immense wealth, 80% of the population does not have access to safe drinking water, 70% has little or no access to healthcare, 16 million people have critical food needs, and the country has the highest infant mortality rates in Africa. At the same time, the DRC “owes” approximately $12 billion to the U.S. and other western nations. Using the DRC as a case study, this piece will reveal the illegitimacy of Africa’s debt, and how it is a major hurdle to achieving development. Mobutu Seso Seko was one of the world’s most tyrannical and corrupt leaders. His “reign of terror” drained the nation of profits generated from its numerous resources, and invested them into his personal bank accounts. Furthermore, Mobutu was granted numerous loans from international financial institutions, which created the foundation of the country’s crippling debt burden today. Despite having the reputation of being one of Africa’s most oppressive leaders, many western nations, including the United States, continued to provide immense loans to Mobutu. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union granted numerous loans,

•kid soldier

weapons, and other material items to gain support for their side during this ideological battle. African leaders accepted these items, most in an attempt to rebuild as newly independent states after colonialism. The Cold War created an environment where tyrannical leaders like Mobutu could thrive. Mobutu was able to acquire approximately $4 billion in wealth, even as levels of poverty steadily increased across his country. Today, the DRC pays more to service these debts than it can afford to spend on social services. The World Health Organization has reported that for every $1 spent on healthcare, $4 is spent on debt repayments. The current $12 billion debt burden is illegitimate because most of the loans were taken out by an oppressive regime, which openly plundered the country’s resources. The international financial institutions including the World Bank, headquartered in Washington DC, were fully aware that these funds were not being allocated towards development. Because of these irresponsible lending practices, the repayment of these loans is unjust. In order for sustainable development to be possible for the DRC, especially after over a decade of brutal conflict, 100% debt cancellation without harmful conditions is urgently needed. In the DRC there are more than 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS. It is unacceptable that its government is forced to pay more towards servicing an illegitimate debt burden than it can spend on healthcare, Since the end of the Mobutu regime in the 1990’s, the DRC has been home to one of Africa’s most complex and longlasting brutal conflicts. Today, at least 1,200 people die each day in the DRC as a result of violence and infectious diseases. Rebels have been supported by six neighboring countries, which have various interests in the country’s


overwhelming mineral and natural resources. One major element in the strife in the DRC is the flood of Hutu child soldiers who grew up in the equatorial forests after the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Women and children have been affected most by the conflict, as the most vulnerable members of society. Women and children have been recruited into proxy militias, which have decreased their access to critical social services including education and healthcare. Conflict has been one the major causes of the spread of HIV/ AIDS, which has contributed to the decrease of life expectancy to only 43 years of age. After decades of oppression, conflict, and exploitation, the DRC is in critical need of resources to provide basic health

services to its people. The U.S. government and the international community has the power to release the nation from billions of dollars of illegitimate debts that will make resources available to provide healthcare and basic services, which include clean drinking water and food. Today, the DRC has a $12 billion debt burden, one of the highest in the world. Although the hospital described above was successfully revitalized with minimal external assistance, there are thousands more in need of government support. Canceling the DRC’s illegitimate debt will free up resources to pay doctors and nurses, and rebuild the health sector. Join us in our Campaign to cancel the DRC’s and Africa’s illegitimate debt. Courtesy:

A Personal Experience of the Impact of Odious Debt When Professor Stanis Wembonyama became director of the main hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s second city, Lubumbashi, last year, he could not believe what he saw. “The hospital did not even have a single thermometer; armed robbers had set up their base in some of the buildings and there was

human excrement everywhere,” he told the BBC News website. “Doctors and nurses had not been paid their salaries for five years and so they earned their living by demanding cash before treating their patients. Three of the four sterilizing units in the operating theatre do not work and some of

the spotlights above the operating tables cannot be used because the bulbs have blown and they are difficult and expensive to replace. Nevertheless, operations are still carried out - surgeons were removing an appendix while I was there - and head surgeon Alphonsine Biuma insists that patients are not in danger

despite the limited resources. In the maternity unit, the main sterilizing unit is broken. Only a small one works and its rusty door is held shut with a brick. The ward has holes in the ceiling, no mattresses for the metal cots and the blankets are filthy, but this is still an improvement on how things once were.” BBC Africa Breathing Life into DR Congo’s Sick Hospitals Joseph Winter August 8, 2006.

African Interest




Ondo Rot As Dr. Olusegun Agagu gets another term of four years in Ondo State of Nigeria governor, questions are many for him to answer on the finances of the state in the current Despite the hype of the war on corruption that the Nigerian government is currently posturing to wage, a great shadow of uncertainty is on its sincerity to go the whole hog. Most of these frauds are being perpetrated by elected officials of government with such impunity that watching Nigerians wonder if the country is not doomed for total destruction by these parasitic vermin that mask as administrators and have unfortunately taken over the control of the country’s economic resources. A classical example of the rot, which is daily being sustained by those in authority, even when there are laws in place to protect in place, was the passage last July, of a N5.4 billion supplementary budget by the Ondo State government to cover expenses not included in the 2005 budget. First, the bill was passed seven clear months after the implementation of the current 2006 Appropriation Law by the State government began and the whole thing was done to escape the glare of the public. The bill was passed on a Friday, which ordinarily is not a sitting day of the Assembly therefore; both the public and press gallery were cleared of non-legislators who had made it their habit to watch the proceedings of the parliament. But because some members of the public got prior hint of the illegality that was about to be committed on the hallowed chambers of the Assembly, and they in turn informed a handful of Reporters, the whole saga could have gone undetected. Controversy has however trailed the passage of the new bill, which was presented to the Assembly by the state governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, three weeks before its passage, with calls from many quarters that those involved should be prosecuted. While the opposition described it as fraudulent, government officials said it was done in accordance with parliamentary procedure even though investigations revealed that massive bribery of the legislators were carried out to facilitate the illegality. About a third of the 26-member Assembly, including the Speaker, Oluwasegunota Bolarinwa, were absent at the Friday extraordinary proceedings presided over by the Deputy-Speaker, Mayowa Akinfolarin, which lasted barely thirty minutes. It was however gathered that the Speaker, who was still trying clear his name of the dubious circumstances that surrounded his emergence as the speaker barely three months earlier, deliberately stayed away. Titled “Year 2005 Second Supplementary Appropriation Bill”, the bill however met stiff opposition by a section of the Assembly when it was presented for second reading on the preceding Wednesday. Some of the members had described it as an afterthought on the part of the Executive, which they alleged, wanted to get legal


backing for money already spent without proper appropriation contrary to the letters of the ICPC Law. The new appropriation, with N666.6 million recurrent estimate and N4.766 billion capital estimate, making a total of N5.433 billion, according to the explanation of the state Finance Commissioner, Tayo Alasoadura, who was summoned to the House, to explain the rationale behind the presentation, was partly meant to augment the payment of salaries of political office holders. The Commissioner also explained to the lawmakers that the bulk of the N4.766 billion capital expenditure (85 percent) was allocated to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries for the purchase of shares in reputable banks as investment portfolio for the state. Some members of the Finance and Appropriation Committee of the House, who spoke on condition of anonymity, listed the banks where the shares were purchased as the defunct Prudent and National Banks as well as Intercontinental and Wema Banks. The seven-member committee, whose Chairman, Hon. Abiodun Jerome, presented a report on the matter to the whole House before the passage, however recommended in the said report that “future investment should have a solid and more reliable background”, to make the bills of similar nature acceptable to the Assembly. Although government spokesman, Yemi Olowolabi, who is the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, said there was nothing illegal about the bill, the opposition Alliance for Democracy (AD) alleged that the action has shown that “the state government reveled in fraud in the management of state resources”. In a release made available to the public and signed by its Publicity Secretary, Olakunle Oyegoke, the AD described as fraudulent, “the passage of a supplementary bill, months after a new bill has come into operation, to cater for money allegedly spent over a year ago.” The party raised an alarm and called on all well-meaning citizens of Ondo State, to rescue the state from the mismanagement of the Agagu administration, alleging that “state money are already been set aside to prosecute the coming governorship election by Agagu and his henchmen”.

Another opposition group, Concerned Citizens of Ondo State, in a press release, called on the ICPC to investigate the purchase of shares by the government with unappropriated money and probe allegations of massive bribery that was allegedly carried out by the Executive for the bill to sail through. But Olowolabi said his boss would have nothing to do with bribing the legislators because “in the last three years, Agagu has given Ondo State an exemplary leadership characterized by transparency, accountability and fairness. He cannot be involved in anything fraudulent or illegal.” On the new appropriation, the CPS said “the governor has followed due process and the Assembly has done its job. This House is made up of credible mind who know parliamentary procedures. The fact that they have passed the bill shows that it was done properly”. Even as the AD in the state has written a petition against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled state government to the ICPC on what the opposition party called “fraudulent post-expenditure passage of a supplementary appropriation bill”, independent investigations have revealed a lot of illegal dealings in the whole saga. The passage is a clear breach of Section 22 (c) of the ICPC Law which prohibits spending of public fund without appropriation, but it is still inexplicable why the Commission has not deemed it fit to investigate the matter and bring those concerned to book. This particular section is the pillar on which all the Commission’s ability to prosecute graft among government officials rests and most corrupt politicians currently answering charges brought against them are being tried under it. This is because the easiest way of siphoning public fund is by by-passing the Legislature, which is the only body legally constituted to appropriate money. In most of the cases, the fraudulent governors will spend money first and seek budgetary approval later. And the legislators are not complaining as their own share of the loot, through bribery, is always a percentage of the total appropriation.

In the present case, we gathered on good authority that not less than N5 million was given to each of the lawmaker to facilitate the passage although some of them said they didn’t partake in the booty having listened to their conscience. The party in the petition which was also copied to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency, the National Assembly and the Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police, dated 20th July and signed by its Secretary, Mrs. Lola Fagbemi also wanted the anti-graft bodies to investigate allegations of financial inducements to the lawmakers by the government to facilitate smooth passage of the bill. But the Ondo State government, speaking through the Commissioner for Information, John Ola Mafo, said there was nothing fraudulent about the controversial appropriation even though it was done seven months after the 2006 budget became operational. Mafo also denied that the legislators were bribed for the bill to sail through saying “if anybody is talking of bribery, you will know that that person is alien to the government of Ondo State . In the petition titled “Post-Expenditure Appropriation- a Cover-up”, the AD said “the whole exercise smirks of hi-tech fraud, flagrant fiscal indiscipline, abuse of power and contravention of the spirit of Section 121 to 124 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which governor Agagu swore to uphold on 29th May, 2003. “It is a grand cover-up by a government that has been mouthing the principles of accountability, transparency, probity and integrity. What manner of due process is this governor operating when strange things are happening to the state finances?” The party further stated that “this latest Agagu onslaught on the good people of Ondo State is strange and unheard of in the history of budgeting in our state since inception and all relevant agencies should carry out thorough investigations and bring these rapists of our collective wealth to book”. Stressing that “it is quite unfortunate that the government did not consider the sociology of legislation in passing the retroactive 2005 supplementary appropriation bill”, the party said the whole process is “a mere decoy to facilitate the plundering of our resources” But Mafo, while reacting to the development said what was uppermost in the thinking of government was how to develop the state and its people and that “laws are made for Man and not Man for law. If within the year needs arise for investment, government has the right to do it. So long as we don’t see anything illegal in our transactions, we are covered”. A lot of the people however are not swayed by Mafo’s assertion as several prominent indigenes of the state have condemned in strong terms, the passage of the bill while one of them, Chief Gani Fawehimi (SAN) even promised free legal services to prosecute those found guilty of contravening the anti-graft laws as it concerns the retroactive action. But will the anti-graft bodies probe this one? It is doubtful because many people see the state governor, Olusegun Agagu, as being very close to the President. Agagu it was who wrote the blueprint for the failed Third Term agenda and a sacred cow in the current dispensation.

African Interest




Zim Horror Morren Chivange X-rays the hold of senescent Bob Mugabe to power in Zimbabwe and the helplessness of the media

•President Mugabe

A sinister reality is taking shape in Zimbabwe after the outlawed government of the ageing Robert “Bob” Mugabe enacted repressive laws that make democracy a mockery by creating a pariah system of governance which make everyone in the impoverished country foolish enough to be afraid to stand for their rights. The combination of the draconian Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Act (AIPPA), The Public Order And Security Act (POSA), the Electoral Act and the pending Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) bill all but make the task of removing Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF from power unimaginable and fearsome – a spite in the face of overtures to bring democracy and the respect of human rights to Zimbabwe. Through the many laws, Mugabe’s ZANU PF is assured of reigning a sacrosanct regime over a nation where everyone is foolish or scared. The combined impact of all these laws – laws that target the very pillars of the democratization of any society, incapacitate the ordinary people to a level of hopelessness and powerlessness.

The Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), make it an offence to run a public or private broadcasting station in the country without a license. Since the forced closure of Capitol Radio in 2000 and the eventual barring of SW Radio Africa and the indigenous owned Joy TV, there has been no joy in Zimbabwe’s airwaves. Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has remained the sole broadcaster on both radio and television – feeding the audience with ZANU PF propaganda meant to prop and up the battered image of the ruling elite. Penetrating the broadcasting space in Zimbabwe is made much more difficult by the same law which provides for stringent registration conditions, barring foreign investors in the media and demanding exorbitant registration fees from indigenous business men, all meant to close the airwaves space from independent players. Activities in Zimbabwe have to resort to SW Radio Africa which broadcasts from the Netherlands and Voice of America on the short wave which broadcast at specific times of the day for accurate, fair and balanced news accounts of the political landscape in Zimbabwe.

The Access To Information And Protection Of Privacy Act (AIPPA) requires journalists to register with a government appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC). Since its appointment, the commission has closed three independent newspapers namely the Daily News and its sister paper the Daily News on Sunday, the Africa Tribune Newspapers Group-owned Tribune and more recently in February, the Times. Hundreds of journalists have been arrested and arraigned before the courts but no one has ever been convicted, raising the chorus amongst freedom of expression and media activists for AIPPA to be repealed. Muzzling media freedoms means denying the society access to essential information they need to know about the actions of those in the corridors of power. It also means relegating the press to a “partisan” and praise singing media that shuns objectivity through the pacification of authorities. These are the liberties Zimbabweans are being denied day in night out. During the recently held Parliamentary Elections, two British journalists were arrested for illegally operating in Zimbabwe and sneaking into the country. However, they were both acquitted of both charges three weeks after the elections, proving that AIPPA has more to do with repression of journalists than controlling media practice in Zimbabwe. Even if they were acquitted, the purpose to deny outsiders the truth about on goings during the elections had been achieved. AIPPA has been more severe to local journalists who have been left jobless with a shrinking market for news as there is now only one daily independent paper, whose coverage is very conspicuous. Many freelance journalists have failed to register with the MIC and they cannot practice their beloved profession. The Daily Mirror, whose editorial policy is skewed, has not given them much opportunity to practice to their full potential as it is partisan in its coverage. The owner of the paper, Ibbo Mandaza has close links with ZANU PF Information chief, Nathan Shamuyarira and insiders say Alexander Kanengoni, who is in the Editorial Team, is a an operative of the notorious state intelligence arm, the Central Intelligence Organisation(CIO). ZANU PF used the Daily Mirror in its propaganda war against deposed Information and Publicity spin-doctor, Jonathan Moyo. The quagmire facing all independent news media outlets in the country is to tow the line or risk extinction, threatening thousands of jobs and families. Journalists are not alone in these difficulties. A newspaper vendor in the city of Kwekwe, 213 km away from Harare has no kind words for Mugabe’s despotic regime. “I used to sustain my family with monies earned from newspaper sales of the Daily News. Now we have half the papers delivered here as returns. People don’t buy these papers because most of them tell blatant lies!” fumed Emmanuel Kurasha. Without a free media corruption in the civic sector involving government officials prevail unchecked, the government cannot be made responsible and accountable for its actions – media ethics are turned into codes for ‘patriotism’ In Zimbabwe, being a journalist is no longer the challenge it used to be and is in other countries. All you have got to do is attend a function,

collect the speech and rewrite it, especially in the state run media. Such newspapers as the Independent and the Standard have however managed to stand the heat, but not as liberally as they should. Besides muzzling media freedom, AIPPA has silenced all dissenting voices as there are no information gateways for Zimbabweans except the weekly Londonbased “The Zimbabwean” which hit the streets last December and provides better coverage. Such foreign papers, The Mail and Guardian from South African have tried to highlight the Zimbabwean question but not so extensively. There is also the Sunday Times from South Africa, which has never given the Zimbabwean crisis the priority it deserves. Probably, these papers can do no better because they don’t have permanent correspondents in Zimbabwe because of AIPPA. The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) crafted to arrest unrest in the country after the famous food demonstrations of 1998 and 2000 and the failed “Final Push” which had been organized by the MDC, has closed the space for civil society, student and labour movements and opposition political parties to air their grievances through peaceful demonstrations. The law makes it an offence to convene a gathering of four or more people without police clearance. This applies most to opposition political parties and NGOs branded as opposed to the Mugabe regime. There is no room to maneuver. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders and Member of Parliaments (MPs) have been arrested and imprisoned for holding such meetings. Normally the offence is “inciting public disorder and violence and plotting to overthrow President Mugabe”. Really if all Zimbabweans had guts to overthrow the ageing Bob they would do that overnight – except that the fear of the unknown is more immense in their thinking and imagination because of their experience of Mugabe’s terror. National Constitutional Assembly chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku has been constantly at the receiving end of Mugabe’s cruel system. Content with his agenda for a new constitution for the country, he has not feared to take to the streets to demonstrate and raise public awareness on the need for a new constitution, which would usher in a new dispensation in the country. Many a time he has dared demonstrate, the police has never been tolerant of his ‘unbecoming behavior’ and have descended on him heavily, not only armed with the law, but with teargas canisters, button sticks, dogs and guns. “If it is about changing the political landscape, it wont play in Harare”, boasts an official in the Ministry of Information and Publicity. There was hope for change through the ballot in March, but despair has now replaced all that hope after the Electoral Act dealt democracy and free and fair elections a major blow. While Mugabe’s government was telling the world – and anyone who dared listen that it was conforming to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) guidelines on the conduct of free and fair elections, they were also demarcating constituency boundaries, isolating urban constituencies (well-known fortress for the Continued on Page..11

African Interest



Nations Continued from Page..10

MDC) and carefully identifying its rural strongholds. ZANU PF continued to register its supporters to vote in the elections way after the registration deadline and the same old flawed Voters Roll was used. Although violence was minimal, it is obvious that the terror inflicted upon the people in the bloody 2000 Parliamentary and 2002 Presidential elections was enough to “school” Zimbabweans to be obedient - and it will last long enough for Mugabe to die or retire voluntarily. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) the new body appointed by Mugabe to run the elections was largely partisan and its chairman , Justice George Chiweshe has failed to explain discrepancies in voting figures since March 31. It appears Mugabe has bowed down on the NGO Bill, which he has not assented to. The Bill has now been referred to Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU PF information and Publicity Secretary and Paul Mangwana, the Minister of Anticorruption and Anti-monopolist for consultation with NGOs in the country on the way forward. The NGO Bill forbids NGOs in the areas of governance, freedom of expression and human rights from receiving foreign funding. This is to ensure that the civil sector is stifled and suppressed. Even NGOs in humanitarian assistance like food aid are also under siege as long as they are viewed as opponents of Mugabe’s government. A lot of them have withdrawn from the country while more than 33 NGOs are being probed for externalizing foreign currency and failing to account for their funds. The crackdown on NGOs has hit the ordinary person on the street most severely. With the country plunging into another draught, the options for the rural folk are very limited. First, because the government they voted for in their gullibility and ignorance does not have enough funds to import maize and subsidize them and more so because most NGOs like Christian Care and others are pulling out in response to the NGO bill. The other factor that will worsen and make the forthcoming 8 to 10 months more grueling is the soaring relations between Harare and the International Community which could chip in with food aid. Mugabe has declared that his allies are countries on the Eastern Block, SADC and the African Union (AU). The puzzle however confounds because all those countries he has aligned himself with are beggars as well – and will most probably consult with the Western powers first. The Zimbabwean people will be silent victims, - and Mugabe will not care for as long as he is well fed and can chant his “Anti Blair” slogan on TV and every slightest opportunity as if Blair is some kind of guerilla operating on the boundaries of Zimbabwe. The only truth is that in Blair and American President George Bush, Mugabe has found scapegoats to blame for all his wrongs and failures. In this day and age, who can imagine the recolonization of a former colony? A ray of hope seems to shine as rumours abound that Mugabe’s regime will have to repeal such legislation as AIPPA, POSA, BSA and the NGO Act, which were crafted in the Jonathan Moyo era. Since Moyo

managed to bulldoze his way into parliament after he won the controversial Tsholotsho constituency, insiders in ZANU PF say Mugabe plans to scrap all laws in which he had a hand. For Mugabe to bow down and effect those changes this will be a check on his grip on power, which will liberise the society

and is very much unlikely. Rather he is talking about the introduction of a senate to accommodate his fallen cronies and crooks. More likely the proposed constitutional changes will extend his term to 2010. What Mugabe is likely going to do is to re-enforce and strengthen existing

Humans For Sale PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE gives a peek into the human trafficking trade which is fast eroding the continent, focusing on Zambia

•President Mwanawasa While the Zambian government is struggling to better the lives of its people, some of these same people are engaging in the sale of fellow humans, which is said to be the world’s latest lucrative business. According to MAPONDE-Zambia’s Director Merab Kambamu Kiremire, a research has revealed that human trafficking, which has been long before noted in other parts of Africa, especially West Africa is today slowly gaining root in Zambia. MAPODE is a movement of community action for the prevention and protection of young people against poverty, destruction, diseases and exploitation. Kiremire a researcher on HIV/AIDS states that about four hundred thousand people in West Africa are trafficked every year while in Zambia 36.5 percent of the 1000 people interviewed in the six of the nine provinces of the country have been trafficked or knew somebody who has being trafficked. She however, states that human trafficking in Zambia is a new area of both occurrence

and study, which many people still deny, and pay little attention to. According to Kiremire, the many cause of human trafficking is the troubled economy of many African countries whose people accept to be trafficked by the developed countries to earn a better living. There are two main types of trafficking in the continent, trafficking in children mainly for domestic work and farm labour outside and within national borders, and trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation mainly outside Africa. She adds: “ human trafficking is driven by the fact that western countries are in a depression of human resources, their populations are on a decline while African countries have above 5 percent extra and available human resource” What this means is that western countries have a lot of work to be done and with nobody to do them while Africa has plenty unutilised and underutilised human resources.

repressive laws so he can stay in power. The bad thing about his style of governance is that if such repressive and draconian laws as AIPPA, POSA, BSA and the NGO Act are allowed to accumulate around democratic pillars of the society in Zimbabwe - then a new era is dawning in the strife-torn country.

Kiremire explains that because of the African economy, which is in depression, people are forced to engage in any activity that is offered to them in order to earn a living. Human rights activists are concerned because slavery is repeating itself in a different form and is targeting young people who are being taken into mainly prostitution and menial jobs. Out of 54 African countries, 45 are involved in human trafficking and of these, only one (South Africa) is a receiving country. Human trafficking in Zambia is real and the reporter spoke to Harriet Hapenza who was trafficked to Australia about five years ago. Hapenza who is a nurse by profession explains that an Australian man who promised her a job in Australia approached her. When she went their, she was shocked to learn that she was not going to work as a nurse but as a maid at some Australian man’s residence. “ I had no option but to work for some years to raise money for my air ticket and I finally came back in 2002. In my case, it is nothing to do with poverty but it was owing to total lack of knowledge of the existence of human trafficking that I found myself in this predicament” she explained. Another recent example is that of two girls from Asia aged between 13 and 14 and three boys who were trafficked from Afghanistan into Zambia enroute to Britain. Another group of 13 women, men and children of Congolese and Rwandan nationals were recently intercepted at Chirundu border on the Zambia side in their way to South Africa. Zambia police spokes person Brenda Muntemba said as a way of curbing the trend, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has started training police and immigration officers manning border areas. Over 100 0fficers have benefitted so far. Muntemba warned that those involved in the evil activity should be ready to face the wrath of the law because trained officers would now be able to track down people involved in human trafficking Ironically, there is currently no law in Zambia, which criminalises human trafficking. Perpetrators can only be charged with abduction. Human traffickers can easily get away with the illicit trade, which is illegal by international standards. Muntemba said there was need for the Zambian government to enact specific laws that would look at human trafficking. Human trafficking if not quickly checked by governments, the issue of human trafficking has come to stay and there is urgent need for Africa as a number one supplier of human beings to restore human dignity by putting an end to the problem. This can only be achieved when people’s living conditions are improved.

African Interest



The Campaign of Senator Barack Obama for the Presidency of the United States is reverberating in the land of his ancestry

Tall Tree, Deep Roots •Senator Obama

Residents of Alego Kogelo Nyang’oma, a remote village in Siaya District of Nyanza Province in Western Kenya is in celebration. One of theirs, so to say, Barack Obama is vying for the topmost political seat in the world, the presidency of the United States of America. Everyone in the village is ecstatic about Obama’s candidature and it is the talk of the village; at homes and market centers for miles around. It is an excitement that permeates the whole country where citizens adore the US senator and regard him as their son. The Local media have been giving generous coverage to Obama and his activities since he visited Kenya in August last year and this has increased since he announced he was vying for the presidency of the United States of America. During his visit last year, Obama was given a hero’s welcome, both in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and in his home city of Kisumu in the western part of Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, where he addressed thousands of admires.

The crowd that welcomed him at his ancestral village in Alego Kogelo was even more massive. People came from far and wide to welcome him home. Some came on foot, bicycles and motor vehicles. He was accompanied by senior political figures from his Luo community among them Raila Odinga, one of the most outstanding opposition leaders in Kenya today and a presidential aspirant for the country’s General Elections due in December this year. Obama’s name has since been on the lips of Kenyans and villagers of his origin, to whom his presidency promises so much, if he succeeds. They already look up to him to support a number of development projects, among them the local primary and secondary schools which have been named after him. The signboards at the gates to the two schools were immediately painted and written in bright blue colors: Senator Barack Obama Kogelo Secondary and Primary Schools respectively.

At the school principal’s office hangs the Illinois senator’s picture and a letter, both neatly framed. In the letter, Obama indicates his gratitude that the community has chosen to name the two institutions after him. While accepting the honor, he also firmly indicates his commitment to support the two institutions’ growth from their current dilapidated status. The Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School Principal Mrs. Yunita Obiero says they are hopeful of getting the support he promised. During his visit last August, Obama conducted the official opening of the school’s laboratory while the then US Ambassador William Bellamy planted a tree at the school to mark the occasion. Alego Kogelo is a typical rural settlement with no good roads, electricity and piped water. The main road from Kisumu, Kenya’s Western City, to the nearby town of Siaya passes 5 km away from the village, at Ng’iya Market.

Kisumu City, perched on the edge of Lake Victoria, the largest fresh water lake in the world, is about 120 km from the village. One can drive from Kisumu to the village in an hour’s time. From Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, 450 km away, one can fly to Kisumu in 45 minutes before driving there. There are four flights to and from Kisumu, which is convenient for visitors who may wish to visit the village from Nairobi and go back. But the scenic beauty of the lakeside city, which in the evening offers a perfect view of the setting sun disappearing into the water, the boat rides and animal and bird watching, has always seen many visitors pitch tent here for a while. To get to the village from the main KisumuSiaya road, one has to use a rugged dirt road from Ng’iya Market, which during rains is impassable. There are no public service vehicles on this road and one can only use private or hired means, or the bicycle passenger service locally known as boda boda, to reach the village. The bicycle is the main means of transport here at Kogelo Village and one pays about 3 US dollar for a return journey. It costs more if the “taxi man” has to wait for you for some time. The village has low lying hills and valleys covered with tropical vegetation comprising of indigenous and exotic trees, including mango trees for miles around, concealing grass-thatched huts and a few modern buildings made of concrete and blocks. The village is part of the bigger Alego clan of the Luo community (tribe), the third largest in Kenya, which has had enormous political influence in the country’s history over the last 45 years. It was here that the American Senator’s father, the late Barack Hussein Obama was born in 1936 as the first born son to Mama Sarah and Hussein Onyango Obama. The senator’s grandmother Sarah gave birth to eight children six of whom are alive. The senator’s three uncles, Said Hussein Obama, Yusuf Okoth Obama and Obama Onyango, are all alive. Yusuf, who joined his late brother Barack Obama Snr in the US to pursue studies in the 1960s, is now also an American citizen. Said Hussein and Obama Onyango, live and work in Kenya, while their three sisters are happily married in Kenya. “Apart from Barack Obama in America, I have several other grand children who visit me regularly. I feel very proud of them and especially of Barack who comes all the way from the US to visit me as he did last August,” said Mama Sarah in an interview. Barack Obama Snr returned to Kenya after staying in America for seven years. After his studies, Obama Snr was felt he had to return home to work in Kenya and to his first wife and children. According to his mother Mama Sarah, her son wanted to bring home to Kenya his American wife but her parents refused. He explained to them the nature of his family set up back in Kenya, that he had another wife and that his traditions allowed polygamy. Senator Obama’s American grandparents were hesitant to allow their daughter and her young son to come with Obama Snr to far away Africa. He nevertheless came back and landed a job with the Kenya government as a senior officer in the Ministry of Finance and National Planning where he worked until his death in 1982 in what his mother explains was motor vehicle accident.

African Interest African Interest



•The grave of the Senator Obama’s grandfather, Huseein Onyango Obama at Alego Kogelo

•The grave of Barrack Obama snr, Senator Obama’s father. He died in 1982.

•The full view of the Obama home in Alego Kogelo, Siaya , Kenya , with Mama Sarah’s house in the center. The others are kitchen and store

•Senator Obama’s grandmother Sarah Obama speaks to African Interest in her sitting room.

•Agile Grandma SarahObama, takes a stroll around her compound

Mama Sarah says he kept in close touch with his family in America and their family, back in Kenya knew about their American relative who kept sending them pictures of the boy as he grew up. Obama Snr’s remains are interred next to those of his father Hussein Onyango Obama at their Alego Kogelo home. On his grave are the inscriptions: Barack Hussein Obama: Born 1936, died 1982. On the grave of his father are the inscriptions: Jaduong (Elder) Hussein Onyango Obama: Born 1870; died on 29th November 1975.May his soul rest in peace. Before he went for studies in America, Obama senior had married his first wife Ruth Obama. Ruth lives at home in Alego Kogelo with Grandma Sarah with her three sons. Her only daughter Kezia Obama lives in England.

Obama was named after his father. She says it was a mutual agreement between Obama senior and the senator’s American mother to name him after the father. “My husband was born Lucas Onyango Obama in Kendu Bay near the shore of Lake Victoria in the present Rachuonyo District,” Mama Sarah explains, “ but he became Hussein Onyango Obama when he converted to Islam in Dare salaam, Tanzania where he worked as a young man.” She says while her husband converted to Islam in his youth, largely to conform to his environment in Dare salaam, the family has had a liberal approach to matters of religion. “Many of my children and grand children are Christians and that is why I feel offended when I hear of attempts by those opposed to

The senator’s step brothers are all married and with children and the family have kept in touch. A chance for reunion as was offered by Obama’s visit in August 2006 is celebrated. During my visit to the village, Ruth Obama was in England to visit her daughter Kezia. A visit to the family home reveals a closely knit family that is regularly in touch despite living in different continents. Obama is a widely used family name, which originated from one of their great grand fathers about two centuries ago. A number of people were named after the great grand father and the name lives on, passed from one generation to another as is common in the Luo tradition. According to Mama Sarah who seems to know the family history very well, Senator

my grandson(Senator Obama) vying for the American presidency attempting to use Islam against him” says Mama Sarah Obama. During the interview, Mama Sarah, 75, expressed anger at what she felt were attempts by Senator Obama’s critics, including sections of the American media, to cast aspersions on her grandson’s background. She says the family is getting sensitive about the way the media have been writing about her grandson and the family and she refuses to answer questions about her family and grandchildren saying they have explained this repeatedly but people still don’t understand. “Many people including the media have been coming here to interview us but many

African Interest


Cover are just looking for negative things to ruin my grandson’s reputation and bring him down politically,” she told this writer in an interview. “We have decided as a family that we shall no longer grant interviews to the press to avoid distortions but we welcome those who want to visit us or wish to confirm that indeed the senators come from a stable family background here in Kenya.” They have decided as a family to limit media interviews and the senator’s uncle, Said Hussein Obama who lives in Kisumu, is now the person to talk to and not the grand mother. He was not at home when African Interest team visited Alego Kogelo and efforts to trace him in Kisumu were fruitless. Mama Sarah is now suspicious of visitors to the home although she is still welcoming in the tradition of the village and community. She parried a number of questions about her family saying it had all been in the media and that there was no more to say unless I was part of her grandson’s opponents who wanted to manufacture false stories to bring him down now that he was going for the big office. The elder lady, born in 1922, is stout in build and still strong enough to do her household

chores including doing farm work. She says since Obama’s last visit in August 2006, they have been overwhelmed by visitors to their Alego Kogelo Village. The visitors have been both locals and foreigners, just anxious to set their eyes on this village which has produced one of the greatest African sons of his time who now want to be at the helm of the most powerful country’s affairs. Mama Sarah lives in a modest but neat four-room brick house set in an undulating leafy surrounding overlooking a valley. The compound is neat, with her son’s houses on either side of her house according to Luo traditions. Just outside her fence is the senator ’s step mother Ruth Obama’s home (Barack Obama snr’s home) built after his death. It is here that Ruth Obama lives with her sons, the senator’s step brothers. Obama attended his father’s funeral in Alego Kogelo in 1982 and made the first contact with his ancestral home and relatives. They had only been seeing him in pictures which he and his mother kept sending from America. On the wall of his grandmother’s sitting room hang many group pictures of the senator and relatives when he came to attend his father’s funeral.

There are also several pictures of his late father, uncles, cousins and ants. There are also some of his pictures sent from the US and some of the pictures that were taken during his recent visit in August last year. Some enterprising individual and admires printed thousands of his pictures, some on calendars that sold and still sell across Kenya like hot cakes. One of such calendars with several of Obama’s pictures and those of other family members hang on the grandmother’s wall. “You can see he is at home with the rest of the family members each time he visits us,” says the grand mum Sarah, pointing at several pictures among them where Obama is holding her hands. Sarah’s face beams with happiness and satisfaction as she speaks of her grandson. She has visited the senator twice in America. Her most celebrated moment was during Obama’s last visit in August 2006 when she shared great moments of fame with her grand son in the glare of the International press. However, the fame and glory that Obama has brought to the family and village is increasingly turning into a nightmare and exasperation for Mama Sarah. The throngs of visitors, the endless press interviews, questions and photo

sessions have been overwhelming for her. But for this now famous home and village, life will never be the same

again. More visitors will continue streaming in and Mama Sarah and her family will continue answering numerous queries about their great son and his background.

•The late Barrack Hussein Obama, father to Senator Obama, in an undated picture. The picture hangs on the wall of their family home in Kogelo, Kenya.

•The gate to Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School

•A monument at Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School built in honor of the senator when he visited the school on August 26, 2006. At the back is the Laboratory he opened during the visit.

•The plaque on the wall of the Science Laboratory, indicating that the building was opened by Senator Barrack Obama during his visit to the school Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School,

•A flamboyant tree that was planted by the then US ambassador to Kenya William Belamy during Senator Obama’s visit to the school on August 26,2006.

African Interest



Offspring of Strong Polical Tradition WILLIAM OLOO casts a searchlight on the contribution of the Luo community to political development in Kenya Barack Obama has been the subject of animated discussions among Kenyans since he was elected the senator for the Illinois State in the United States of America. During his campaigns for the senate seat, he was a favorite subject of the local media and many local politicians immediately sought to identify with him. When he was finally elected senator, he became a hero among Kenyans. Some people named their new born babies after him while some printed Tshirts and calendars bearing his portrait. His name even started popping up on buildings across the country and in his ancestral Nyanza Province, some named their prized bulls and pets after him. A local bear brand, “Senator”, hit the Kenyan market and has remained very popular, as a celebration of Obama’s victory in the Senate elections. It is not uncommon to hear bar patrons singing praises to the US presidential aspirant. At prime news time, social halls, hotels and bars with TV sets are often full and with viewers sitting in silent attention in anticipation of some news on Obama. With his announcement in February that he had joined the race for the White House, Obama’s ratings and popularity has shot up in Kenya. The announcement made headline news in the local media and any news on him is given prominence in both print and electronic media here. While he is viewed coolly in government circles, Senator Obama is a celebrity among ordinary Kenyans. “ Obama should win the presidency and help Kenyans overcome poverty,” says Robert Abuga, a teacher in Western Kenya. His sentiments are shared by many other Kenyans who were interviewed. Paul Ndung’u who lives in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi believe Obama’s decision has come at the right time and should be supported. “Americans needs to show the way, that they can overcome racial feelings and elect a person with African ancestry to the White House,” he says. Some believe Kenyan- American relations will improve and more Kenyans could benefit through jobs and higher education. Some say an Obama presidency could result in the cancellation of Africa’s huge debt burden. “Obama understands Africa and will be more sympathetic. He should influence the cancellation of Africa’s debt burden by America and her allies,” says Willis Ndimu, a social reform activist. But many Kenyans are also worried that Obama may have racial challenges to surmount in the campaign for the White

•Young Obama House. However, they are encouraged by the reception he continues to get as he visits various states. “We are praying for Senator Obama to succeed. It will give us a lot of pride that an American with Kenyan roots can also make it to the top,” said Judy Onyango of Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city near Obama’s ancestral home. At Alego Kogelo, every villager is upbeat that Obama will make it to the White House and change their fortunes. The villagers had very high expectations when Obama came in August last year. That he committed to supporting the local primary and secondary schools, was to them a clear demonstration that he valued his roots. To many people in Kenya, Obama’s involvement in American politics has not come as a surprise at all. Although nobody in the bigger Obama family in Kenya is a politician, his Luo community is one of the most politically conscious and influential groups in Kenyan politics since the preindependence days. His Siaya home district has produced some of the most outstanding politicians both in the Luo community and in Kenya. Since independence, the

community has produced some of the most highly educated and skilled Kenyans. Both before and after independence, a significant portion of the Kenyan public service jobs were in the hands of Luo professionals, many of them professors, doctors and engineers. During the colonial period, the Luo benefited from education offered by European Missionaries who established a number of mission stations and schools, among them the Maseno Mission Station which has developed into Maseno University, near Kisumu city. Near Obama’s ancestral home is Ng’iya Catholic Mission which provided a ground for education from the colonial period. It had a teachers training college and now a girls high schools with a history of good performance. From the mission stations such as Maseno and Ng’iya, among others, many Luos proceeded to the then East African premier education centre, Makerere University in Uganda. It was through Maseno and Makerere that one of the most famous Luo sons and perhaps the most influential political figure, the late Jaramogi Oginag Odinga emerged.

Odinga was among the leading fighters for the country’s independence. He was one of the first elected Africans to the Legislative Council in 1957 from where he championed calls for the release of other Kenyan nationalists jailed at Lodwar for alleged involvement in the Mau Mau armed struggle against the British colonial authorities. Odinga led his colleagues in refusing to compromise with the colonial authorities and to lead the country to independence unless Jomo Kenyatta, who was later to become the country’s first president, and six of his other colleagues were released from jail. Odinga, a pan-Africanist and a contemporary of Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, among others, was to become the country’s first vice president from 1963 to 1966 when he resigned over ideological differences with Kenyatta. He quit the government and formed the country’s first post independent opposition party Kenya People’s Union (KPU). His decision to challenge the increasingly autocratic Kanu regime under Kenyatta led to his detention and the other leaders of the party in 1969. His detention came against a background of violence following the death in a suspicious accident of another prominent Luo leader and a minister Argwings Kodhek in 1968 and the assassination in July 1969 of another Luo, Tom Mboya who was then the Minister for Economic Planning. Odinga violently disagreed with President Kenyatta who was visiting Kisumu after the death of Mboya in which his government was implicated, resulting in violence and shooting by presidential guards that left more than 100 people dead. The 1960’s and 70s saw a systematic attempt by the Kenyatta regime and the Kikuyu ruling elite to edge out the senior Luo politicians from the government who posed the greatest threat to their hold on to power. This period marked the beginning of political polarization tribal animosity between the Kikuyu and the Luo that has since then defined Kenya’s politics. After Odinga’s release from detention in 1971, his party remained proscribed and he was barred from rejoing the ruling party Kanu or contesting any political position for the rest of Kenyatta’s regime which ended when he died in August 1978. Odinga retained immense influence on his Luo community who were then subjected to political, economic and social discrimination. The Luo region of Nyanza suffered greatly economically and the pride in education could not hold as discrimination came Continued on Page..16

African Interest



Continued from Page..15

in even in jobs and opportunities for higher education. Kenyatta was succeeded by his vice president, Daniel Arap Moi, from the Kalenjin tribe, who ruled for 24 year till he was voted out in 2002 to usher in National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) led by President Mwai Kibaki, another Kikuyu. Moi, initially a weak and indecisive disciple of Kenyatta, attempted to please the Kikuyu, the most populous and economically strong tribe in Kenya., by declaring that he would follow “Nyayo” (Kiswahili meaning he would follow Kenyatta’s “footsteps”). Moi attempted to woo the Luo to his side in the 1980’s but was still suspicious of them and of Odinga, who was kept out of active politics. In 1982, Odinga’s announcement of his intention to form a new political party to challenge the ruling party Kanu was nipped in the bud and he was put under house arrest while his associate, George Anyona was detained without trial. The same year, there was an attempt by units of the Kenya Airforce, to topple Moi, which he promptly blamed on Odinga and his critics, mostly the left leaning politicians and academics ant the University of Nairobi. Odinga was again put under house arrest while son, Raila Odinga, now a prominent opposition figure and a presidential contender was put in detention together with many other Kenyans. The scare of the attempted coup and increasing criticism of his regime made Moi initiate unprecedented repression and hounding of government critics. Kenya was made a one party state and there was

a heavy clampdown on political activity through legislation. This state of affairs reigned until 1991 when Jaramogi Odinga again mooted the formation of a new party, which was promptly declared illegal on account of the changed constitutional amendment of 1982. But the momentum for change was apparently unstoppable. Odinga was joined in the reform struggle by others, both from the Luo and other communities who also felt the oppression, notably Masinde Muliro, Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia and Martin Shikuku. Inn July 1991, this group and a number of young political activists including Paul, Muite, James Orengo, Kiraitu Murungi, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, and odinga’ younger son Raila and Mukhisa Kituyi, among others, joined the Odinga group to push for political reform. They planned a public rally at Nairobi’s Kamkunji Grounds, famous for for pre-independence meeting on July 7, 1991 but which was promptly outlawed. The government cracked the whip, arresting and detaining Matiba,

Rubia, and Raila while placing the senior Odinga under house arrest. A number of leaders were sent fleeing from Kenya or seeking refuge in foreign embassies tom avoid arrest. The pro reform heat did not abate, supported as it was by international pressure. Under the banner of Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD), Odinga and his colleagues pushed on even as others remained in detention. The following year, Kanu and Moi relented under pressure and amended section 2A, allowing multiparty politics. Shortly before the December 1992 General Elections, the formidable FORD split into two, one (Ford Asili)led by Matiba, a Kikuyu and the other (Ford Kenya) led by Jaramogi. The political rivalry between the Kikuyu and Luo played itself out to the advantage of Moi who won that year’s elections. Jaramogi Odinga became the leader of Official Opposition leading Ford Kenya, his son Raila won the cosmopolitan Langata seat in Nairobi, which he represents in parliament to date. Jaramogi died on January 20, 1993 aged 83 years, leaving behind a legacy of struggle for justice and a political dynasty which his son Raila has fitted

• Besides Raila and the Odinga family other leading Luo politicians who have continued to shape the politics of Kenya include, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, now the opposition ODM-K Secretary General, and prominent lawyer James Orengo who heads the Social Democratic Party •

into. Jaramogi’s elder son, Dr. Oburu Odinga is the MP for Bondo, their rural home. Since Jaramogi’s death, his son Raila has grown in stature and influence. Shortly after his father’s death, he waged a struggle for the control of Ford Kenya which he lost to Kijana Wamalwa, a Luhya who was close to Jaramogi. Raila later formed the National Development Party of Kenya (NDPK) which he later merged with the then ruling party Kanu of retired President Moi. But this merger did not last and in 2002, Raila jumped ship, joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) with which he entered into a coalition with several other parties to form the National Rainbow Coalition which removed Kanu and Moi from power in December 2002. He is credited with playing an important role in campaigning for the current president Mwai Kibaki and maing the famous declaration “Kibaki Tosha” (Kibaki is Fit to be President”), which defused a potential stalemate among the contenders and gave the victory to Kibaki. He was appointed, along with several prominent Luos into government as ministers with him being given the Public Works and Housing portfolio in January 2003. However, disagreements over failure by the president to honor a pre-election deal has made Raila and his colleagues in LDP to walk out of the coalition. Part of the disagreements stem from differing stand points over how to Continued on Page..17

African Interest



“Africa, Take Charge of Your Destiny” Arriving Kogelo sub-location in Siaya District of Kenya, Barrack Obama moved easily through groups chatting in a mixture of English and some Luo. He was personable and free with his time. The Illinois Senator has been thrilling audiences across America as well as in Africa since he joined the senate. Last year was his first ever African tour as a Senator of the United States of America. His mission meanwhile, was definite. He saw the urgent need for Africa to come out of the unnecessary state of underdevelopment that has been the hallmark of life. He came home with a word of encouragement for Africans not to be dependent on foreign countries for goodies and freebies but to emancipate themselves and be part of the global village “Africa must learn to address its own problems and find the solution to them,’’ he said at the beginning of his five day tour of Africa. The tour culminated in what was to become his third visit to his ancestral home. He explained that he had always been in contact with his grandmother. Obama had previously visited the homestead on two occasions. The last time, he came to introduce his lawyer wife, Mitchele, to his African relatives. In his ancestral home, Obama came face to face with unacceptable standard of life in the village where his father was buried. In this region, many of the residents live on less than a dollar a day. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has not speared the villages. The Kenya National Aids Control Council (KNACC) puts the Continued from Page..16

complete the constitutional review process which began under Moi. Last year, the Administration presented a draft of the constitution to a referendum but it was shot down by a majority vote over accusations that it had “doctored” sections that provided for a less powerful executive and the creation of a parliamentary system of government. Raila and several other politicians teamed up in what is now known as the Orange Democratic Movement (Party) to campaign and defeat the draft document which the government side wanted passed and adopted as the constitution. Led by Raila, the Luo community continues to play an important role in the politics of Kenya. They are a fiercely independent and united community whose solidarity and resilience in the fight for democratic and social change has not been easy to manipulate by successive Kenyan regime. One of the nationalists among the “Kapenguria six”, who were jailed with the first president Jomo Kenyatta, Ramogi Achieng’ Oneko, a Luo is still alive and highly regarded.

Evans Wafula captures Senator Obama’s charge to Africans on his tour of the continent prevalence rate among adults in the province at between 16 per cent and 17 per cent. The province also accounts for the largest number of Aids orphans in Kenya. It is here where the Illinois Senator and his wife Mitchele took an HIV test and launched a campaign against its spread. Expectations are high in the region for the American senator. In his ancestral home, he was expected to build a house in line with the Luo tradition of a man duty to construct a house on the land of his forefathers. Mrs Sarah Obama, the Senators’s grandmother, had located a parcel of the family land for the Senator to put up a symbolic house. ‘‘Mano nyakwara mane onyisa ni obiro duogo goyo dala.’’ (My grandson promised to come back and build a home here). Today, things have really changed a great deal at the Obamas, there are no more huts, and pit latrines, their place has been taken by four permanent self contained apartments. The provincial administration has also improved security in the area. In the village, a school has been named after the senator. And expectations are high that the people will be encouraged and the school which caters for mostly children from the poor neighbourhood will open door of opportunities to the rest of the country. The school’s head teacher Peter Olengo, already thinks so. There is an increase in

pupil enrolments and the school will require more classes and facilities to cope with the high demand from all over the country. Partick Omondi, a resident of Nyang’oma Kogelo, hopes that the Senator’s eventual election as the president better the lives of ordinary Kenyans. “I hope that after he is elected the president of the United States of America, he will come back home and continue from where he had left, he should come back to the village and bring hope to the youth as he now understands the way of life in this village,’’ Omondi says. In Nairobi, most Kenyans are optimistic that the senator will make it to the presidency and open a new chapter in the new world order. “Obama represents a new generation of the American struggle, he has the all it takes to lead the United States and inspire other people. He understands the challenges facing diverse population of the world, knowing that his father was raised from such a humble background,” Patrick Kimani, a newspaper vendor in Nairobi noted. However, analysts view him as a possible realisation of the dreams of younger Africans. Professor Wanyande, a lecturer in political science at the University of Nairobi, believes that Obama has the credentials to shape America’s foreign policy in Africa. “For the short time he has headed the Senate committee charged with African

Affairs, Obama has proved that he is capable of transforming Africa from a dark continent to a continent of hope and prosperity,” Said Wanyande. Obama is believed in Africa to be behind a senate vote that increase funding for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which allowed the redeployment of more UN troops to monitor the transition. Obama has also criticised US president George Bush for his policy on Iraq and has called for a quick withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country. He did not spare African leaders too in his criticisms. He frowned at the Kenyan government for failing to fight graft and for harbouring Rwanda’s most wanted war criminal Felician Kabuga who is wanted for the 1998 Rwanda genocide in which 800,000 moderate Hutu and minority Tutsi were massacred by militias known as the Interahamwe. The Kenyan government did not like these criticisms. Among ordinary Kenyans however, Obama is a saviour and a champion of the poor. During his address to students at the University of Nairobi, the Senator inspired young students to take leadership positions and to transform the politics of tribalism and hatred. Back in the province, the Luo Council of Elders’ chairman Riaga Ogalo maintains that Obama’s visit to his ancestral home was just a normal occurrence that brings a son back home to his parents and should never be understood beyond that. The senator left with a promise to his grandmother that he will return again.

During the Kenyatta regime, Oneko was for a short time the Minister for Information but he quit the government with Odinga and joined the opposition Kenya People’s Union in 1966. He was among the longest serving detainees even under Kenyatta. Other prominent Luo politicians include the late Argwing’s Kodhek, a minister in the Kenyatta government who died in a mysterious car crash in 1968, Tom Mboya, then Economic Planning Minister who was assassinated in July 1969 and Dr.Robert Ouko, Kenya’s longest serving foreign Minister was found murdered in 1990. The Kenyatta government was implicated in the the deaths of Kodhek and Mboya while the Moi regime was implicated that of Dr. Ouko. Besides Raila and the Odinga family other leading Luo politicians who have continued to shape the politics of Kenya include, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, now the opposition ODM-K Secretary General, and prominent lawyer James Orengo who heads the Social Democratic Party. Following the LDP fall-out with the Kibaki administration, over the referendum in November only one Luo, Raphael Tuju, now serves in the

cabinet, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. No single momentous epoch in Kenya’s history have the Luo, Senator Obama’s community in Kenya, ever missed to play an important role. From the fight for independence in the 1950 and 60s, the formation of the first post independent opposition party and challenge to Kenyatta’s growing autocracy in the 1960s and 70s; the fight for the re-introduction of multiparty politics in the late 1980 to the 1990s and battle for the constitutional reform process. The community is still at the fore front of challenging the new regime in its failed promise to tackle corruption, complete the constitution reform process and the growing intolerance to divergent political opinion. But this role has not been smooth. There have been political and socio-economic casualties and prize to pay. The Luo areas continue to be marginalized in the distribution of resources, development of infrastructure and industries, job opportunities, education and healthcare among others. There have been assassinations, arrests, torture, and harassment of Luo politicians since by each successive

regime. Increasingly, the Luos have suffered isolation and hate campaign for “demanding too much” or being “perpetually dissatisfied in each successive regime. Tribalism is rife in Kenya and some time it takes the form of larger linguistic groupings. The Kikuyu who got into power at independence and are back at it since 2002 belong to the Bantu linguistic and cultural group, the largest in Kenya. The Luo belong to the Nilotic linguistic group, with the Kalenjins, the Maasai and the Teso. In the heat of political competition, these linguistic groupings and cultural ethnic differences are exploited by the politicians negatively. The Luo are politically conscious and active but lack economic power which is wielded by the Kikuyu. These have implications for the politics of Kenya. However, a sense of nationhood continues to build despite these negative tribal and political divisions and increasingly Kenyans are voting on the basis of issues and n ot tribe. But these gains can be reversed easily in the absence of a sustainable and acceptable constitutional order that guarantees the rights of Kenyans and checks the excesses of the ruling elite.

African Interest



Obama and Kenya-America Relations Senator Obama is a role player in the relations between the Unied States and Kenya according to WILLIAM OLOO

•President Kibaki •President Bush When he visited Kenya in August 2007, Obama made headline news for several days and was given prime time on TV. He attracted huge crowds in Nairobi, Kisumu and his village of Alego-Kogelo and had choice words for the local audience. He expressed strong views on governance and corruption which rubbed the Kenya government up the wrong way but which were welcomed by the opposition and other critics of the Mwai Kibaki administration here and abroad. The current regime was elected by an overwhelming majority in December 2002 to replace the 24 year regime of former president Daniel Arap Moi and the ruling party KANU, which had been in power since independence in 1963. The Moi regime was characterized by endemic corruption, resulting in the plunder and looting of state resources and massive political repression that saw many people tortured to death while other were detained without trial. One of the biggest financial scandals during the former President Moi’s regime was what became known as the Goldenberg Scandal in which the government lost more than 100 million US dollars in export compensation schemes for non export of gold. The export compensation was paid to Goldenberg International, a company associated with some Kenyan Asians who were believed to be close to influential personalities in the Moi administration. For Kenya’s small economy, that was a lot of money that could finance a number of development projects. The Moi regime did not prosecute those involved and it was hoped the new administration would do so. The Kibaki administration which was elected on a platform of zero tolerance on corruption has not only failed to prosecute the

Goldenberg suspects but has appointed some of them into cabinet. Instead, the new administration has itself been caught up in another monumental financial rip-off of public resources through what is known as the Anglo Leasing Scandal. Through this, the government has lost millions of dollars through payment of money to phony companies through questionable tendering procedures and nondeliveries of security equipment among other things. Some senior government officials, including a Permanent Secretary in charge of Treasury but their cases have dragged on in court for the last four years. Whistleblowers have instead been intimidated. Due to mounting public and international pressure, four ministers who were implicated were sacked in the wake of the scandal but even after much noise and demands from Kenyans that they be prosecuted, three have been reappointed to the cabinet. It was within this context that that Obama spoke at the University of Nairobi and in some of his other speeches during the visit. Kenya’s ambassador in Washington DC, Rateng Ogego fired a critical response from Washington asking Obama to respect the Kenyan government and its people, in what was generally considered undiplomatic and an overreaction. The corruption claims against the present regime were a matter of public knowledge, locally and internationally. The Anglo Leasing scandal gained international exposure after a senior government official John Githongo, who was the Permanent Secretary in charge of Ethics and Governance in President Kibaki’s office fled into exile in London fearing for his life.

Earlier on, the British government had barred the then Internal Security Minister Dr. Chris Murungaru from entering the United Kingdom over the corruption claims. He has challenged that decision in a London court but the case has not been concluded. So in official circles, Obama is not a friend. That he traces his Kenyan ancestry to the Luo community that is generally perceived to be in the opposition may not help matters either. Obama is generally perceived to be close to Raila Odinga, a Luo and a leading presidential hopeful and a virulent critic of the Kibaki administration which he fell out with over the non-implementation of a preelection deal, and later over the referendum on the draft constitution which the government lost. Raila played a pivotal role in the election of president Kibaki, who towards the General Elections was confined to a wheel chair following an accident during which he was seriously injured. He was appointed Minister for Public Works and Housing but their relationship did not last after he and other members of the ruling National Rainbow Coalition disagreed with President Kibaki over a pre-election power sharing deal. Raila has been making frequent trips to the US during which he has held talks with Obama. The trips have been criticized by the government including by President Kibaki himself who claim they are used to paint the government in a negative light. However, Kenya has had excellent relations with the US since independence in 1963. The Independence government led by President Jomo Kenyatta was largely pro West during the Cold War.

America joined Britain, the former colonial ruler as the principal supporters and contributors to Kenya’s post colonial development programs. Because of Kenya’s strategic location in East Africa, both America and Britain maintained a tight friendship and grip on the affairs of Kenya throughout the cold war period. America has continued to maintain a heavy presence in Kenya, through economic and military partnership. America has bases in Kenya from where it polices in the volatile Horn of Africa and Middle East Region. It was because of this influence and presence in Kenya that terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the US embassy in Nairobi and Dare Salaam in 1998, killing more than 200 people. Terrorists also later bombed a tourist hotel owned by an Israeli at Kikambala, near Kenya’s coastal resort city of Mombasa. While Kenya remained pro-west at independence in 1963, its neighbors, Tanzania, under Dr. Julius Nyerere went fully socialist, leaning towards the Chinese while Uganda, then under Dr. Milton Obote, also started making deliberate steps in that direction. Kenya’s strong relations with America was nurtured through among others, the friendship between the JF Kennedy family and the then Kenya’s Minister for Economic Planning Thomas Joseph Mboya. Mboya, a veteran trade unionist and one of the key fighters for Kenya’s independence developed friendship with a number of influential American leaders and labor movements. Between 1963 and 1969 when he was assassinated, Mboya helped many Kenyans to go and study in America in what was Continued on Page..19

African AfricanInterest Interest



Cover Continued from Page..18

known as the Students Airlift program. It is believed Among the beneficiaries was Senator Obama’s father. Mboya was a close confidant of President Kenyatta who was largely pro-Britain. Forsome time the two operated very well, keeping the influence of the East at bay and securing the Anglo-American interests. The Soviet Union and China were involved in fierce competition with America and Britain for influence over Kenya. Locally, the pro-East forces revolved around then Vice President and later leader of Official Opposition, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Jaramogi Odinga was the father to Raila Odinga, a prominent opposition leader from the Luo community to which Obama traces his Kenyan ancestry. The ideological divide played itself out in the 1960 through to the 1980s and only reduced following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the 1990s. The pro-West axis under Kenyatta and Mboya triumphed and maintained a tight grip on Kenya, ensuring sustained cordial relations with America. Mboya was assassinated in July 1969 in what was believed to be a plot by the powerful forces around the aging Kenyatta. Mboya was considered America’s blue eyed boy and was even perceived to be an agent of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). These claims, coupled with British interests and fears among the Kikuyu tribe ruling elite that Mboya nursed ambitions of succeeding the aging Kenyatta, were believed to be at the core of the intrigues that led to his assassination on July 1, 1969 on a street in Nairobi. The radical pro-East leaning politicians led by Jaramogi Odinga had been neutralized in 1966 through a party coup forcing him to quit the post of vice president and form the first post independence political opposition party, Kenya People’s Union (KPU). Following riots over Mboya’s murder and the stoning of Kenyatta when he visited Kisumu city, Mboya and Odinga’s home town in the western part of Kenya, KPU was banned and its leaders including Odinga detained by Kenyatta. Both Mboya and Odinga, both from the Luo community, played an important role in the fight for Kenya’s independence but fell out ideologically after independence. After Mboya’s assassination and detention of opposition leaders, including Odinga and many other Luos who were in the opposition, the community remained outside the government and retained a fighting and antiestablishment spirit which endures to date. Under Kenyatta’s successor, President Daniel Arap Moi, the Luo were briefly rehabilitated but they found themselves again at the helm of the fight for increased democratic space in the repressive period following an attempted military coup in 1982. Kenya was declared a one party state and political dissent was not tolerated. Many Kenyans, including members of the Luo community bore the brunt of state repression for questioning the regime’s excesses. Many politicians and academics were jailed, among them the former vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son Raila . Raila served for a record 8 years in detention under former president Daniel Arap Moi. When the fight for the re-introduction of multiparty politics gained momentum from 1990, the forces rallied around the senior Odinga, his son Raila and other key politicians of the time including Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, Martin Shikuku and Masinde Muliro. Kenya-American relations suffered a jolt because the then American ambassador the late Smith Hempstone supported the proreform movement and offered sanctuary to some of the anti-Moi elements when they were being pursued. Hempstone became the target of verbal government attacks and unsavory descriptions. He was at one time called the “Nyama choma” envoy on account of love for eating roast meat in open places in Nairobi, sometimes in the company of perceived antigovernment elements.

It was at this time that Kenya suffered substantial cuts in donor support which the government blamed on America and the West whose envoys in Nairobi often joined Hempstone in speaking out against corruption and bad governance. The 1991-2002 period was most difficult for Moi and his KANU regime. In Febrary 1990, the then Kenya’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Robert John Ouko was murdered in grisly circumstances. His badly burnt body was found in a thicket near his home with eyes gorged out after he went missing for three days. His death came after a reported disagreement with President Moi and some members of his delegation during a prayer breakfast in Washington DC. It was understood Moi was put on the spot by the American media over corruption and bad governance which Ouko innocently helped to stave off, making powerful forces around Moi believe he was working with the American to undermine the president. Reports said Ouko was left behind in Washington and when he jetted back into Kenya was quietly stripped of his ministerial position and security before state agents went and dragged him from his house at night to un unknown destination. An autopsy report said he was shot and tortured to death before his body was burnt and later deposited in a thicket near his home to create an impression that he had committed suicide. The murder and subsequent cover up through a lengthy Commission of Inquiry was part of the build up that accelerated demands for a return to multi-party democracy. With the Cold War over an America and the West’s dwindling support for dictators, Moi’s regime started losing ground. Successive American envoys, Aurelia Brazil and Prudence Bushnell might not have been like Hempstone but they nevertheless did not try to prop up the Moi regime, nor did they help in persuading donors to resume aid to Kenya. Since the change of regime, the Kenya American relations improved but there have been hiccups, especially over frequent travel advisories by the US authorities to its citizens over security fears, especially possible attacks by alleged terrorists. The US embassy in Nairobi has over the past few months consistently warned its citizens about possible attacks with the ambassador Micheal Raneberger saying Kenya lacked capacity to tackle and guarantee the security, not only of its people but also of foreigners including America. The Kibaki administration had criticized such travel advisories accusing America of being alarmist and discouraging foreign investment. Insecurity has increased to alarming levels in Kenya with the police virtually proving no march for the criminals who are armed with sophisticated weapons. There is an unofficial shoot-to-order policy now in place which has seen many suspects shot to death but this has been criticized by human rights groups. There is a growing feeling within government circles that American officials including Senator Obama, have been warming up to the robust opposition at a time when the regime has been under siege over its inability to stem corruption. However, America remains one of Kenya’s most dependable partners. Kenya occupies a strategic place in East Africa that is useful to American interest in containing suspected terrorists some of whom are believed to be hiding in neighboring Somalia. Kenya is the preferred choice for Americans with interests in the Great Lakes Region including the volatile Congo Democratic Republic, Rwanda, Burundi and even Sudan, Ethiopia and most of Central Africa. Every year, thousand of American soldiers dock at Mombasa from the Middle East or other bases in Asia, Europe and other parts of Africa to relax. Thousands of other Americans come in each year as tourists. Many American companies have invested heavily in Kenya and there have always been very quick moves to resolve and teething problems between the two countries. The cordial relations between the two countries are likely to remain so or be improved further given the two countries long history and interest.

Homecoming Blues NDUKA GEORGE relates how Kennis Amobi Uzoukwu, a US based Nigerian lost his N20million worth of consignment to greedy Custom officials and agents at the Lagos Ports Years after leaving home in 1995, ken dreamt and ate Nigeria. Though he had visited the country two years earlier, for the first time since his sojourn in God’s own country, courtesy of the America visa lottery programme, the US trained accountant cum businessman longed to touch what legendary country music idol, Kenny Rogers, referred to as “the green green grass of home.’’ On the 10th December 2004 he backed his longing with action as he touched down at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos aboard a KLM flight to commence his Christmas vacation. To ensure proper funding for his stay and settlement of domestic financial commitments, Ken had shipped a 40ft container carrying used cars and computers from the US. Unknown to him, that decision will be a source of anguish and tribulation. By the time Ken was through with his vacation he had become N20m poorer and marred in petty debts. For Ken the road to financial damnation began when he established contact with Fortune Chibuzor a long-standing pal who paraded himself as a Customs Licensed Clearing and Forwarding Agent. After negotiation, the sum of 1.4 million was agreed as the cost of clearing the consignment and settlement of all duties and legal Customs charges arising. Sequel to their agreement Fortune received the sum of N1million and the bill of lading with NO-SJ1493406 and export reference NO04 OCTR-08784 to commence work on the project on December 11. This was followed by fresh cash calls of N250.000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) and N50.000 (Fifty Thousand Naira), which were promptly met by Ken. But his nightmares were just beginning. Well into the New Year his consignment against all his calculations were still lying uncleared at the Apapa Ports. Desperate to get result, Ken was impelled to fug out a fresh N 550.000 (Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) bringing his total expenses to N1.85m (One Million and Eight Hundred Thousand Naira) on February 3, 2005, which is far in excess of the N1.4m agreed sum. This amount also excludes an additional N85.000 (Eighty Five Thousand Naira) payment made to Fortune to facilitate the clearance of the goods. Again, the matter was far from resolved. Smelling a rat and with Fortune now at large, Kennis decided to conduct a personal investigation. Armed with duplicate copy of the customs duty receipt, which Fortune claimed to have paid, Ken approached the commercial bank where the said payment was made for authentication. His worst fear moved from nightmare to reality when the bank teller

told him to his face that the receipts were fake. Similar checks at the Apapa Ports Customs office also confirmed the receipts as fake. Crestfallen and dejected Ken turned on the law enforcement agents for succour but fresh shivers were in the offing. In a petition to The Comptroller –General of the Nigeria Customs Service, which was received by Alhaji Sani Abubakar, the Assistant Comptroller General in charge of investigation, Ken chronicled his woes and pleaded with Abubakar to release his consignment which by now has been confiscated by the Customs. “This is the predicament I have found myself and consequently Sir, I plead that consideration be given to me for appropriate clearing of my consignments using a more reliable agent while at the same time requesting that you spread your dragnet with a view to blacklisting this criminal cum economic saboteur,’’ he stated in the petition. After several visits to Abubakar at the Abuja Customs Headquarters, the ACG referred the matter to the Apapa Ports Comptroller for action. From that point it was intrigue and horse-trading all the way. First, Fortune was arrested and later freed after few days without charge, despite admitting to have been involved in the forgeries in his statement to the Police. The Apapa Customs Comptroller suddenly stayed action on the subject when he discovered that a Nissan 4x4 was part of the consignment. The Comptroller now declared Ken a wanted man claiming that the importer must have connived with Fortune to dupe government by not paying the required duties. Gradually, frustration gave way to despair and despair soon led to for grim resignation. Though Kennis Amaobi Uzoukwu has moved on with his life, the scar remains indelible in his subconscious. Ken’s pathetic story pales into insignificance when compared with the massive seizures of cars over flimsy excuses by corrupt Customs officials working hand in gloves with clearing agents. Every year massive haul of seized vehicles are sold off at ridiculous prices or distributed to friends and lackeys. Shortly before the 2003 Presidential election, the rumour mill had it that about 400 vehicles seized by the then Customs boss Alhaji Ahmed Mustapha were handed over to Vice President Atiku Abubakar at his request for onward transmission to supporters as “settlement’’ in good time for the election. Under the new helmsman Mr Jacob Buba the age long tradition has been sustained. Buba regularly dispenses cars to friends and well wishers with the ease at which a caring dad doles out chocolate to a beloved kid.

African Interest



Nations When the decision to reposition the Nigeria’s defence apparatus, was taken late 1999 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, it was based on a matter of urgent national importance. The nation was under threat of external aggression by its neighbour-Cameroon over the disputed territory in the oil rich Bakassi Peninsula. Cameroon, a once friendly neighbour as a preparation for the outcome of the judgment of the world court in Hague, had embarked on spirited shopping for military armament and indeed foreign allies in readiness for a showdown with Nigeria. The Nigerian defence sector was neither unmindful nor combat weary. But Obasanjo’s immediate challenge it would appear was to reposition the nation’s Armed Forces to full professionalism, away from the lust of political power and politics. In order to achieve this, a careful inventory of the nation’s defence assets was taken visà-vis their combat readiness particular the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) whose potency on air is required in the event of an assault. However, five years after the idea was muted, the leadership of the defence have been engaged in petty politicking even with a project as urgent as the upgrade of MiG 21. First, the three reports carried out at the instance of the defence Headquarters were jettisoned by General Theophilus Danjuma, who was the minister of defence. This was due to the defence brasshats veiled preference for one of the vendors who entered the race at last minute through the back door and who was variously adjudged as lacking in capacity to handle the upgrade programme. According to the expert report which was dated February 2001, Obasanjo’s drive to professionalise the military brought to the fore the need to restore the operational capabilities of the Nigerian Air Force NAF. To achieve this the available options was to either procure new aircraft fleets or re-activate, Return to service RTS, and upgrade the available aircraft in NAF inventory to modern aircraft status to meet immediate and medium term needs. “The latter option was more preferable considering the cost implications and other competitive demands. According to current estimate, the cost of one new combat aircraft can upgrade about 1020 old one and return it to between 95100 percent capability of modern combat aircraft. This is apart from the fact that the procurement of new aircraft fleet will involve lengthy negotiation sessions before commencement of manufacturing. Further to this was the consideration that the crew (both air and

Romancing Keg of Gunpowder Fresh facts about the NAF MiG 21 Aircraft upgrade programme reveal how national interest is sacrificed on the altar of power play. Idowu Bakare Writes.

•Ex-President Obasanjo

ground) would have to undergo conversion training to adapt to the new aircraft type, which will ultimately take long time longer time and will not meet NAF immediate requirement of combat readiness” the report stated. It was on this basis that a federal government delegation led by the minister of state for defence at the time, Modupe Adelaja, embarked on a sixday visit to Israel and Romania to forge areas of military cooperation in this respect. The visit which took place from May 1926, 2002, had in the delegation commodore KAC Amauche, PSO to Adelaja who double as representative of the Chief of Defence Staff; two fighter pilots who specialized in MiG 21 namely; Group Captain O. Faloyin and Wing Commander H.A. Nashehu both representatives of chief of Air Staff CAS, Dr. Y. Oyekan, Director, Air Force Dept. (MOD) Alhaji H.B. Ibrahim, Director Army Dept (MOD) and Dr. O.O Matanmi special assistants to Adelaja and scribe to the delegation. June 16, 2002, a Technical Evaluation Team led by Isaac Alfa, the Chief of Air Staff embarked on a follow up tour of the two countries with a view to

identifying the most competent company to execute the up grade programme of the MiG 21 aircraft fleet. As stated in our last week report, several companies over have made overtures to NAF for the overhaul and upgrading of NAF combat aircraft. The companies are; Elto of Romania, BAC, United Kingdom (UK), Hundustain Aircraft industries (HAI) India, Dassault, France; Isreali Aircraft industries IAI and Elbit systems Ltd. Consequently, the Alfa-led technical evaluation team visited Israel and Romania between 16-30 June. The team includes: Major General K.O Ojomo, Director General, Defence Industry corporation of Nigeria DICON; Air Vice Marshal O.G Martins, Air Officer Logistics Hq NAF, Group Captain S.A Atawodi, Director of operations Hq NAF Group Captain O.A Olagoke, Director Armament Hq NAF, D.O Oyegun, permanent secretary of Defence, Adolphus Wabara, member, senate committee on defence as well as H. Yabo, chairman, defence committee and Ned Nwoko, a member of defence committee. The visit to Romania and Israel afforded the NAF, the ultimate end users of the

products, the opportunity to make findings and recommendations based on first hand experience. The team inspected and examine the various investments and facilities of Elbit system Ltd that are located in Israel and Romania with particular emphasis on the upgrade of MiG-21 aircraft, and the rehabilitation and upgrade of helicopters, alongside the ground combat system. The motive was to confirm claims and presentations earlier made by the company in connection with the upgrading of NAF fleet of MiG-21, revival and upgrading of NAF maintenance facility in Nigeria, as well as the servicing and upgrading of the T55 tanks for the Nigerian Army. In its assessment report at the end of the tour, the Alfa team corroborated earlier report submitted by Adelaja. The report noted in part that; apart from IAI and Elbit, no other companies showed any capability to carry out upgrade programme on MiG-21, which was the highest on the priority of NAF. The report, highlighted the various findings. Quoting from the Alfa report, “Elbit system Ltd., with a vast structure in both Israel and Romania, has eight areas of specialization or product line. These are Aircraft upgrades, Helicopter upgrades, unmanned Airborne vehicles (UAVS), C31 (i.e. Encompassing all kinds of command and control aviation) combat vehicle upgrades, Naval combat system integration Thermal imaging and Laser systems and space systems. “At the briefings, the competitive advantage that Elbit systems Ltd enjoys globally was attributed to its primary concern about optimal solutions to customer needs and the philosophy of total responsibility for technological services rendered by the company”. The company is active internationally, with 39% of its industrial presence in Europe, 27% in USA, 23% in Israel and 11% in other parts of the world,” the report stated. Similarly, a very strong point made for IAI, a government owned company, according to the report is “the very highly sophisticated radar the company is offering in its MiG 21 upgrade programme. The radar (2032-v2) is a multimode radar with capability for multiple target detection and advanced Air to ground moves. IAI has a long experience in the aircraft industry and has made some reputation in various aircraft upgrades, overhaul and Continued on Page..21

African Interest



Nations Continued from Page..20

maintenance. We were shown around their various departments; there is no doubt that the company has some capabilities in these areas. We were however not fully satisfied that the company has experience in the upgrade of MiG-21 aircraft.” Further in its analysis, the Alfa report says, “on Elbit System, the delegation observed that Elbit in partnership with Aerostar of Romania reactivates overhaul, RST and upgrade the MiG 21. The consortium has so far delivered about 90 upgrade MiG-21s to the Romania Air Force. Aereostar has been dealing with the MiG series of aircraft since 1953 while Elbit has been in the forefront of electronics for the past 40 years. The two companies’ team effort provided the highly successful MiG-21 Lancer.” Elbit system, the delegation added, offered some advanced systems in its upgrade programme such as the Display and sight Helmet- (DASH), with an improved weapons mix system, from both eastern and western countries and a much better pilot’s cock view. The DASH-a mounted system that slaves all aircraft weapon systems to the pilots line of sight without turning the aircraft towards the target and without operating radar at close range, which saves critical time permitting quick target acquisition. The system is a very important asset in a dog-fight. In the area of air combat where High off Bore sight seeker (HOBS) missiles are affective, the Helmet Mounted Displays provide ‘look and shoot’ capability with rapid employment of weapons”. After a thorough analysis of the package offered by the two companies- IAI and Elbit, the Alfa delegation went into a closed session to deliberate on which of the companies would provide better mileage. The delegation examined the proposal based on set criteria, such as experience and noted that Elbit has more experience in executing upgrade on MiG 21 aircraft. The company has upgrade 90 aircraft for the Romania Air Force while IAI is yet to deliver any aircraft to any of its customers. “The aircraft we saw was the experimented one undergoing development, the report stated, On DASH it was discovered that only Elbit offers this option, though the report noted in the IAI upgrade programme.” Other criteria used include radar, in which the report said IAI offers a more advanced system than Elbit, however, Elbit has offered to install their most advanced radar-aircraft the F-22. On weapon, the menu suite offered by Elbit is more comprehensive than that offered by IAI. Although both could deliver

ordnance from the East and the West, the package offered by Elbit is richer and more sophisticated. Another essential feature sought was the flare and chaff dispenser- which is vital to crew survival. IAI does not offer flare and chaff dispenser system in its upgrade programme, Elbit does” Other considerations include: upgrade programme, capability, pilot cockpit view and technological transfer all of which Elbit was rated best. According to the analysis, “both companies promised to aid the NAF by way of technological transfer. Only Elbit showed a practical example in what was done in Romania. In addition to these, Elbit promised to invest 5 million dollar in the Nigeria Air Force irrespective of whether they win the upgrade project or not. The report stressed that IAI was most likely to be bogged down by bureaucracy due to its link with the government it in addition that IAI was evasive in answering some of the questions raised during the discussion sessions suggesting lack of openness on their part. Curiously however, the report further said of IAI “We are aware that IAI is actively supporting Cameroon militaryindeed the company has a project to supply some KFIR-advanced fighter aircraft to Cameroon. Most worrisome is the fact that some of the aircraft to be supplied are those being upgrade to modern capabilities in their facilities. All

attempt to get the company to pledge that they would not supply superior equipment to our neighbouring countries failed. The company is giving some logistics supports to our potential enemy. Dealing with such a company will obviously have serious security implications for Nigeria. Elbit system does not have such a link and promised not to initiate one if they eventually win the contract. Consequently, the delegation recommended to Theophilus Danjuma, the then minister of defence, “that NAF MiG-21 aircraft upgrade package be considered in favour of Messrs Elbit”. However, things took a dramatic turn, few weeks after the team returned from the trip. First the Rosoboronexport of Russia, which was not in the original list of vendors, surfaced through the backdoor. The company, though the original manufacturer of MiG 21 was never given a consideration because it declined to carry out an upgrade but instead offered to sell new improved version to Nigeria. And since it was cost effective for NAF to embark on upgrade, Rosoboronexport was never in reckoning” a source said. Rosoboronexport had in fact stopped the production of MiG-21 since 1985. According to the source, Daisy Danjuma, now senator and wife of the then defence minister allegedly called Alfa, impressing it upon the CAS to include the Russian firm in the negotiation. Alfa the source said had

flatly refused the suggestion, on the premise that the negotiation had gone far and that inspection have been conducted and recommendations made. The altercation that followed, the source further alleged “earned the CAS serious insult”. That was Alfas greatest undoing. “Danjuma not only relieved him of his post two weeks later, the work already concluded by the Alfa led team was put in abeyance for eight months. Obasanjo obviously misinformed by his defence leadership later accused the Alfa team though jokingly of corrupt practices when they visited him at the villa. “Of course we took serious exception to the allegation and challenge them to prove it,” a member said. The aftermath of all these was that nothing was said of the contract until about a year later when a new committee on the NAF MiG 21 upgrade was set up. July 2001, another ministry of defence delegation was sent to Israel, Romania and Russia, for verification exercise. After due assessment of the four companies facilities, capabilities, competence and other related matter on the MiG 21 upgrade, it was observed that Messrs, IAI, Elbit and Aerostar have each met most of the NAF requirements “The Russian Federations Rosoboronexport, represented by Midwest Aviation Trading Ltd has facilities for MiG 21 aircraft upgrade, but the standard of their avionics and other components fell far below NAF’s specifications”- However, out of the upgrade requirements, IAI showed no evidence of their experience in actual overhaul, upgrade and delivery of MiG 21 aircraft to any known country. The failure of IAI to disclose any country for which it had successfully upgrade MiG 21 aircraft, purportedly for reasons of confidentiality, created doubt about their level of experience in this area ultimately the race was then reduced to Elbit system and its Romania ally Aerostar. Elbit, the team noted has excellent avionica components for MiG 21 aircraft upgrade, but does not have the overhaul and installation facilities that usually go along to rely on Aerostar’s facilities in the past. On the other hand, Aerostar has the facilities for MiG 21 aircraft engine and airframe and avionica installation but its design and production of avionica components for the upgrade is limited to minor items Elbit has an edge in this area. Yet these two companies acting jointly in Romania Air Force Programme have produced the most successful MiG 21 upgrade so far known” the report stated. The air of controversy over the upgrade of the NAF MIG 21 may be far from being over. Sources, said the National Assembly may be forced to intervene by calling a public hearing to resolve the matter. African Interest


•Milestones• University President Honored by District of Columbia Hall of Fame Society Seyi Oduyela writes Trinity University President, Patricia McGuire was inducted into the Washington, District of Columbia Hall of Fame Society on Sunday, April 15. This Regional Award came in recognition of her many contributions to the Washington, D.C. region. The awards honor exceptional leaders and contributors to the growth of the city. President McGuire has focused Trinity University’s mission on meeting the educational needs of the city of Washington and, in particular, the city’s women of color. Trinity enrolls more District of Columbia residents than any other private university in the city; 45% of the students are District of Columbia residents. Under her leadership, President McGuire is opening the doors to new populations of women, once largely excluded from higher education, who are discovering the empowerment of a women’s college: 85% of Trinity’s students are African American or Latina. President McGuire’s achievements extend far beyond Trinity’s campus and extend into the business community, the Washington region and the national higher education arena. In the Washington community and education arena, she recently completed her tenure on the board of the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, and she serves on the boards of the Washington Metropolitan Consortium of Universities, Goodwill of Washington and

Honor For McGuire


the Joint Military Intelligence College. She serves on committees of the American Council on Education, the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, and other civic and

educational organizations. She was appointed by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and the D.C. Financial Control Board in 2000 to a special term on the Education Advisory Committee overseeing the D.C. Public

In the Rank of the greatest

Emmett W. Chappelle’s is the 14th African-American Inducted into Inventors Hall of Fame after decades of meritorious engagement for his country. April is indeed a month of rewards. is the 14th AfricanAmerican in the Inventors Hall of Fame as he is inducted this April, which is fitting for someone who has been recognized as one of the 100 most distinguished African American scientists and engineers of the 20th Century. Chappelle’s work in bioluminescence techniques is what brought him to the attention of the Hall of Fame. Chappelle was in charge of developing instruments used to scrape soil from Mars on NASA’s Viking probe, when he realized how chemicals gave off a measurable light when mixed with materials containing living cells. Chappelle used two chemicals from fireflies that give off light when mixed with ATP (adenosine triphosphate), an energy storage compound found in all living cells, which could provide a method of detecting life on Mars. But like many discoveries made in the space program, it led to much wider applications. Chappelle applied his technique (Patent # 3,423,290) to detect bacteria in urine, blood, spinal fluids, drinking water, and foods. ATP bioluminescence has long been used as a reliable and successful approach for rapid microbial screening. Chappelle received a Bachelor of Science in 1950 from the University of California. From 1950 to 1953, Chappelle was appointed an Instructor in Biochemistry at the Meharry Medical College. A year later, he received a Master of Science from the University of Washington. Between 1955 and 1958 Chappelle was a Research Associate at Stanford University. Later (until 1963), he was appointed Scientist and Biochemist for the Research Institute of Advanced Studies at Stanford University.

•Chappelle Between 1963 and 1966 he worked as a Biochemist for Hazelton Laboratories, as Exobiologist (1966-1970) and Astrochemist (19701973). Chappelle also was a Biochemist for the division of Research Center for Space Exploration. In 1977, he began working with Goddard Space Flight Center as a Remote Sensing Scientist. Chappelle retired in 2001 after 37 years of federal service. Throughout his career, Chappelle mentored numerous talented minority high school and college students in his laboratories.

Schools. In 2006, she was appointed by the American Red Cross Board of Governor to serve on a 7-member Independent Governance Advisory Panel. About President McGuire Patricia McGuire has been President of Trinity for about eighteen years. Before coming to Trinity, Ms. McGuire was the Assistant Dean for Development and External Affairs for Georgetown University Law Center, where she was also an adjunct professor of law. Earlier, she was project director for Georgetown’s D.C. Street Law Project. She was also a legal affairs commentator for the award-winning CBS children’s newsmagazine “30 Minutes” and the Fox Television program “Panorama” in Washington. President McGuire earned her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Trinity College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is currently a member of the boards of directors of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Washington Hospital Center, the Women’s College Coalition, the Washington Metropolitan Consortium of Universities, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Goodwill of Greater Washington, the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative, the Joint Military Intelligence College, and the UNIFI Mutual Holding Company and its subsidiary the Acacia Mutual Life Insurance Company. She is a member of the Independent Governance Advisory Panel for the American Red Cross. She serves on committees of the American Council on Education, the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, and other civic and educational organizations. In 2000, President McGuire was appointed by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and the D.C. Financial Control Board to a special term on the Education Advisory Committee overseeing the D.C. Public Schools. In June 1998, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin appointed President McGuire to serve as a member of the first-ever citizens’ advisory panel on coinage, the 8-member Dollar Coin Design Advisory Committee, which recommended the image of Sacagawea for the new dollar coin. President McGuire has received honorary degrees from Georgetown University, the College of New Rochelle, and the College of St. Elizabeth. Washingtonian magazine has named her among the “100 Most Powerful Women of Washington” on several occasions, most recently in 2006. She has also received honors and awards from the Washington Business Journal, D.C.College Access Program, Gallaudet University, Georgetown University Law Center, and other civic and educational organizations. President McGuire writes and speaks on a wide variety of topics concerning higher education, women and Catholic education, and her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Current Issues in Catholic Higher Education, and a wide variety of other publications. Founded in 1897 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Trinity enrolls more than 1,700 students in degree programs. Another 3,000 students participate in Trinity’s continuing education programs, including professional workshops for teachers. In February 2003, Trinity opened the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports, a $20 million state-of-theart athletic complex that is the largest facility in the nation with a particular focus on women and girls in sports.

African Interest


•Pot Pourri• African Woman Means Business, Yes She does Two hundred and fifty African business women, have urged African governments to assist promote women entrepreneurships in Africa, so as to make the black continent more economically competitive and dynamic. The women had made the call in Yaounde in the first ever pan African conference on the theme, “promoting African Women in Business (AWIB) Development: For an economic and social leadership.

The conference was organized with the support of the African Development Bank (ADB), the African Network for the support of Feminine Initiative (RASEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). For the two days, the two hundred and fifty women, who came from all the African countries, are members of RASEF, which has some sixty five thousand members, used the conference to debate and brainstorm on how to propose ideas to their

respective governments on ways of financing their local initiative. They also examined the involvement of women in men reserved business initiatives. The presidents of business women associations, international organizations, public administrations, chambers of commerce, national and regional professional organization, researchers, entrepreneurs and non governmental, admitted that they represent have of the African

Tuka Baribor is one of the many hard working Nigerians living in the United States. In 2005, Mr. Baribor sent a sum of $1,000.00 to his sister in Nigeria. To Baribor’s surprise, his sister called him that the money had been received by an imposter. She did not get the money. How can someone get the transaction information he dictated to his sister over the telephone? Mr. Baribor called Western Union and reported the case. When they told him that the

money had been received by the receiver, Baribor requested to see the claim form filled and signed by the receiver. After one month, he got it. After thorough examination, it was discovered that the same person who filled the receiver section of the form is also the same person who filled and signed the cashier section. Based on this new discovery, Baribor petitioned Western Union and requested for a refund. Western Union investigated found his

petition genuine and offered to refund the $1,000.00. Mr. Baribor is not alone in this. Last year I got a call from my bank that my credit card information had been compromised. Someone had used my credit card information to transfer $847.00 to United Arab Emirate. I called Western Union and they gave me the details of how much was sent and to who. After verifying my information, the transaction was canceled. In actual fact, Western Union

population, but yet many of their contributions are invisible and their voices are muted by inequality. This, they said, is due to the lack of available date on their contribution to the national economies of their respective countries. They expressed regrets that, their voices are muted political, socially and economically. Statistics show that women in parliament represented only 9.1% in Africa in 2001 ranging between 2.9% in the African

Western Union: Still the Wise Way

HIV/AidsThe Deaf Must Hear Deaf people in Zambia have complained that information on HIV-Aids is not reaching them because of barriers in communication. Zambia Federation of The Deaf HIV-Aids programme officer James Kapembwa has lamented that all voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) centers in the country do not have deaf counsellors and interpreters. Mr. Kapembwa says when deaf persons go to VCT centers; they fail to communicate with the counsellors because they (counsellors) lack sign language skills. He observes that VCT is supposed to be confidential and that there is no way a deaf person can go for an HIV test with an interpreter who will be a third party. Mr. Kapembwa says the deaf feel discriminated because they cannot access VCT facilities. “We don’t want other people to speak for us; we want to speak for ourselves. Why is everything against us, Mr. Kapembwa asked”? He said deaf people do not even know how a pack of Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs looks like despite some of them being infected with HIV- the virus that causes Aids. He disclosed that in Lusaka alone, about ten deaf people die every year of Aids related diseases. Mr. Kapembwa regretted that even at hospitals, doctors and nurses do not

know sign language a situation he said results in poor diagnosis of diseases. “When we are sick and go to hospitals for treatment, Doctors or nurses fail to communicate with us because they don’t have the sign language skills. We also cannot afford to hire sign language specialists to accompany us to the hospital because we have no money” He lamented. Mr. Kapembwa revealed that most times, deaf people do not go to health centres when they are sick because the health staff will not communicate with them. He said the deaf have now resorted to taking any drug without prescription. “We take everything that comes our way be it Panadol or any antibiotic” Mr. Kapembwa disclosed this when he presented a paper on ‘Access to treatment for the disabled’. This was during a one day Panos Institute Southern Africa workshop for Journalists held at Cresta golf view hotel in Lusaka. The Zambia Federation of The Deaf has demanded that all medical personnel in Zambia should undergo sign language training. Mr. Kapembwa said the move will make access to treatment for the deaf easier. He also demanded that VCT centers should have staff trained in sign language to enable the deaf have access to the facilities. Currently, Zambia has a total of 3, 000 deaf persons. One in every six Zambians lives with HIVthe virus that causes Aids.

told me that since the transaction was done online, the sender is required to call Western Union from the telephone number provided to confirm the transaction. Within three days, Western Union refunded my money. Since cyberfraud has become a serious issue, Western Union has intensified effort to educate customers and also develop an anti-fraud system. By Seyi Oduyela, Maryland USA

sub region and 20.6% in Southern African. The female/male ratio of managers is also still low with 0.2%. Women’s share for labor force was 34.9% in 2001 in Africa; only 15% of female joined the secondary school. In addition, women in micro and small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are m ore present in the economy sector than men because men SMEs, owned by women represent 75% in Botswana, 46% in Kenya, 73% in Malawi, 84% in Swaziland, 66% in Zimbabwe, while their share labor force is 67% in Botswana, 40% in Kenya, 76% in Malawi, 78% in Swaziland and 57% in Zimbabwe. But available date shows that 97% of women owned business are at micro level not growing beyond modest limits and women SMEs segments represents only 2% of MSMEs started by women. The various committees worked on topics like “The African woman in business and economic and social development”, “Strategies for effective women

entrepreneurship”, “Opportunities and constraints of women entrepreneurship in Cameroon”, “Developing the business culture among women”, “Facilitating the financing of women owned businesses” and “Increasing the Access of Women in business to international Trade.” Cameroon’s minister of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME), Bernard Messinga Avomo, the president of RASEF, Françoise Foning, and the principal investment Economist and Task Manager of the AWIB Initiative in the African Development Bank, Leila Mokaddem, all admitted in heir respective words of welcome to the participants that the woman in the pillar of any society. RASEF was created in 1995 in Dakar (Senegal), when a group of African business women came together to reflect on their contribution in the Beijing conference. The aim was and still remains the emancipation of the women in all domains of national and intentional life. Blasius-Charles NJI Yaounde - Cameroon

Child Labour: No No No! With the success of the programme spearheaded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Zambia to combat HIV/AIDS - induced child labour, young people in the country affected in one way or the other can have hope of a better future. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) area office Director Louis NdabaGamye said his organisation is working with the Zambian government to ensure that the programme will be a success. He said, “ILO will fund the programme and hopes that children will be withdrawn from all forms of child labour.” The country has been chosen as the first in the world to pioneer the programme, the health minister, Brian Chituwo revealed in Lusaka. He said: ”Zambia becomes a model in spear heading this important new initiative to cut the vicious circle of child labour and HIV/AIDS.” He noted that millions of children who have lost their parents to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS have been forced to work to survive. This in turn makes them vulnerable to sexual harassment and manipulation, which in turn have in their wake HIV/AIDS and other ills. Dr Chituwo said a number of organisations in Zambia are already beginning to work on the prevention of all forms of child labour and abuse that expose children to HIV infection. Zambia Congress of Trade Unions’ president Leonard Hikaumba said:

“At the moment more than 1/2 a million children are working in farms and other institutions instead of going to school. These children cannot advocate for descent wages because or fight for their rights” He noted that if this trend continues then the future will have illiterate adults who will not participate in the running of their country. He observed that there is need for the government and stake holders to put This exposes them to undue hardwork and poverty which exposes them to manipulation by those who have means. laws in place which will protect these children who do not know their rights. These children work abnormal hours and they get very little as monthly wages. And the phenomenon contradict the labour laws as the labour organisations are already fighting for better wages because most Zambians are living on less than $100 per month. He asked Zambians to revisit the country’s traditional norms and change the system for the advantage of children. He said: “The health care doesn’t give us comfort, especially those infected by HIV/ AIDS. The health facilities are not good we need necessary equipment in our hospitals because most medical professionals have left the country for greener pastures.” “How then can we combat AIDS?” he wondered. Victoria Phiri, Lusaka, Zambia

AfricanInterest Interest African


The New African Diaspora With a perspective from Kampala Uganda, Esther Nakkazi charges the new African immigrants into the Western world to take responsibility The lure of the western countries, particularly the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada is both increasing and becoming compelling among young people from Africa. In fact, many young graduates move straight out of the convocation halls of their universities in search more of the nearest foreign embassy than of jobs. They prefer to go abroad for work, any kind of work. Reasons are glaring. The remittances made by those who have made it through long visa queues to these countries are enormous and they greatly contribute to the economies of African countries, at least at the household level. But some analysts have attributed this increased desire of people to move to the phenomenon of globalisation. Globalisation because there is free movement of people across the globe and it is aided by improved technology in the transport systems and which has broken down the barriers of distance and time.

Most of the movements are economically driven initially at regional levels from poorer countries to richer countries in the West and then at the global level from the developing to the developed world. Immigration minders have also attributed the increasing desire by the economically disadvantaged people, especially in Africa to move to the West to the attitude of their relatives in the Diaspora to money. Most Africans in the Diaspora send money to their relatives to buy parcels of land and construct personal residential houses. The majority however, send it for the education of siblings or children they left back home. This can be witnessed by the level of business activity at the Western Union offices and Forex bureaus in a country like Uganda at the start of the school year. Others however simply send money to their families and relatives generally for upkeep and for celebration at festive seasons, a custom very much practised in Africa. Working young people in the

urban areas send money and basic needs to their ageing relatives and the less privileged living in the rural areas at such times. However, for those who can afford to come home on holiday usually during Christmas or one of those festive seasons (once in about five years in most cases) it is usually with pomp and pageantry. They spend big and swiftly, without a care about the prices of the items and also tend to be very generous to all they come across. This creates an impression that they earn big and many people in Africa just understand the Diaspora by the way they send money back home and the way they behave when they come home for holidays. Although some of them confessed to taking up loans to come home, the recipients take it for granted that these people earn money easily. Back home they are never transparent about the type work they do mostly because some feel

ashamed at what they do and fear to be judged if they are highly educated but also some engage in big time spending spree to cover up. For others, who are in the minority though, it is just a sense of celebration and happiness to be home. There is such a yawning information gap between the Diaspora, especially those who moved as a result of economic reasons and those who stay back home in Africa. The way money is spent creates a lot of images on how it is earned. There is a popular belief that hard earned money is not spent easily. So, young people keep imagining things - like going to the West and sit in an office for a year or two and build a mansion back home which is not entirely impossible. But it can also be achieved while working hard in Africa honestly for the development of their countries. The Diaspora could join hands and start sending this money in gainful way for the much needed investment in developing Africa.

Making it the Nigerian Way Who says it is not possible for one to leave the shores of his fatherland, get training in varied fields and degrees overseas, leave as a law abiding citizen of his adopted couintry, make it big there and plough back the fruits of his efforts into the economic growth of his beloved fatherland? Well, they need to check with Bola and Dayo Amon, a well focused America - based family of African descent. The couple knows better. “We have been in the business of providing hospitality, transportation, real estate and construction services for over five years. Our intent and goal is to reshape the stereotypes about Nigeria and doing business in Nigeria. We are out to prove to the world that credible and delightful services can be delivered by Nigerians, in Nigeria, to Nigerians and on-Nigerians alike,” They said. This is a bold statement of a lofty purpose, given the sullied image that others in their category give their countries of origin. The amiable duo have great hopes, especially having seen the need to up the quality of service delivery in Nigeria, especially in the commercial nerve centre of the country - Lagos area. “We are able to deliver such unique services as a result of our philosophy to attract and retain

A budgeoning family business conglomerate owned by a Nigerian family in diaspora is set to take the wolrd by the storm


•Bola honest and trustworthy individuals. Friendliness, Integrity, Honesty, Dependability and Punctuality are the core pillars of our business. They call their business MakeItNigeria. According to them their employees are among their greatest assets. They pride themselves in hiring and retaining

good and committed staff operating in an atmosphere of uncompromising teamwork, collaboration, communication, and sense of self worth to deliver their services. With investments worth about US$730M, MakeItNigeria owns and manages a growing list of real estate properties around Nigeria.

These properties include rental vacation villas, hotel and resorts. They also own and operate airconditioned, secure, comfortable chauffeur-driven car-hire services in the Lagos Metropolis of Nigeria. Some of their properties are located in such areas of Lagos as Lekki, Ajah, Badore, Owutu, Ijede, Ikeja GRA, Eleko Beach, Victoria Island, while otheres are in Ogun State and Abuja. MakeItNigeria has also entered into joint marketing agreements with other organizations within the hospitality sector like Haastade Suites in Victoria Island, Hermitage Gardens Resort at Eleko Beach in the past years. This also goes for real estate entities like Amen Estate, Richland Gardens, Las Colinas and Townhomes. “Our clientelle truly span the globe – ranging from Australia to United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, China, to Ireland and more,” they said. Bola Amon is a U.S.-trained Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from University of Texas at Arlington. Both Dayo holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from the City University of New York and an MBA from

Dallas Baptist University in Texas. Dayo has been in the Information Technology industry for over 20 years working for major corporations. He has spent many years developing, managing and implementing on large-scales: ebusiness (Internet, Intranet, & Extranet), content management, document management (multilingual) and client/server applications for major corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Six Flags, Inc. Dayo & Bola are the proprietors of the world class hospitality, transportation, and real estate business in Nigeria, Dayo & Bola are both United States citizens of Nigerian decent. Though they have lived in the United States for over 20 years, they are both very knowledgeable of the Nigerian culture, terrain and business environment. Dayo is a seasoned technologist and an experienced business strategist wraped in one package, with broad understanding of the technology and business aspects of managing large-scale missioncritical applications and projects. As a visionary project manager, he has successfully managed cross-functional highperformance work teams focused on delivering multimillion dollar mission-critical applications for large corporations. He has also managed external vendor and client relationships, and has effectively managed and overseen these relationships.

African Interest

African INterest Newspaper  
African INterest Newspaper  

African News