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Napping Again? Where is African Leadership in Fighting Ebola?
October 20, 2014 | 1 Comments

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with leaders attending the African Union Summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon poses for a group photo with leaders attending the African Union Summit, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

As the Ebola virus that is currently  concentrated in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone rages on, Africa seems to have been caught napping again leaving the response to the international community which is still to strike the right cords in a coherent strategy for the fight.

Complains have been flying right and left about paucity of funds, conspiracy theories making the rounds, and the unjustified stigma flying beyond the confines of the continent. An African resident based in Europe and not even a native of one of the affected countries was recently subjected to a grueling experience at an airport in a South American country where she had traveled to for work. In the U.S, there is debate going on whether or not flights from West Africa should be banned.

For sure with a virus like Ebola, precautions are worth taking and no one should fault non-African countries for taking precautions. The response of Africa itself has not helped matters at all and tales of Africans stigmatizing Africans are making their way into the international press.

Sierra Leone's John Kamara is grounded by his Greek club. The stigma from Ebola is on the rise affecting Africans who do hail from countries currently battling the virus

Sierra Leone’s John Kamara is grounded by his Greek club. The stigma from Ebola is on the rise affecting Africans who do hail from countries currently battling the virus

The NY Times recently ran a story of the anguish that layers from Sierra Leone were subjected to in the last month or so while participating in the qualifying games of the Nations cup. As uncontrollable as fans may be sometimes, taunting Sierra Leone players with chants of Ebola are simply disgusting. Having them live in secluded hotels, cut off from the public is already demoralizing enough. On his return from the qualifying games to his Greek Club PAS Lamia, of Sierra Leone’s John Kamara  was grounded from training for three weeks despite the fact that there were undergoing daily checkups while in Yaoundé Cameroon during the two leg game.

While Nigeria and Senegal may have gained credit for successfully taming the spread of the virus, the response of the continent as a united entity has fallen short. Where is the African Union? While Cuba is sending Doctors and the US and Britain sending troops, why have African countries not shown greater solidarity? Where are Nigeria and South Africa who are supposed to be leaders of the continent? The leadership fight should not only be about fighting for a fictional Security Council seat but showing the lead in marching the continent head on to confront crisis.

The Ebola crisis are a reminder for the continent to get its priorities straight. The gaping holes in health care services have been exposed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The situation is not different in most other African countries where health care is not considered a priority. It is not just about resources, but getting the priorities straight. There are many African leaders who rush to Europe at the sign of any malaise, but why can there not invest in building adequate health care facilities?

When we compare amounts that have been embezzled from state resources, what is lost from mismanagement, one can only imagine the difference it could have made in using such sums to invest in infrastructure, education, and health care. Even the aid and loans received from the international community has often lined up the pockets of corrupt officials and not used for intended purposes.

Ivory Coast and global soccer Icon Didier Drogba  takes the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many African sports and entertainment stars took the challenge ,there could equally take the lead in making sure ebola does not define Africa

Ivory Coast and global soccer Icon Didier Drogba takes the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many African sports and entertainment stars took the challenge ,there could equally take the lead in making sure ebola does not define Africa

On the international scene one has heard about forums where the President of the AFDB has spoken forcefully on behalf of Africa. The AFDB has equally dedicated resources to the fight against Ebola. What is done by the AFDB should not make African countries shirk the need for expressing solidarity with the affected countries. The D.R.Congo has pledged help, and Ghana seems to be talking of help too. If Doctors can come all the way from Cuba why not from Nigeria , South Africa, Kenya, Uganda etc.? Instead of renegading on hosting the African Nations Cup next year as Morocco did , how about King Hussein’s country thinks of the support it could give to the affected countries to curb the spread of the virus?

And what about the global stars from Africa? All those UNICEF Ambassadors, children are been killed by in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Africa needs their advocacy now.When it came to the Ice bucket challenge, there were so eager to come along, nominating others to take the challenge. How about that same enthusiasm is transferred in helping raise not only awareness but resources needed by these affected countries? The continent needs the global appeals of Genevieve Nnanji, Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, D’banj, P Square and all others who fly high the African flag on the global stage.

Back to government priorities in Africa, research is one area where funding is often not available. The brilliant minds are there, the intellect is in abundance, and there is the added advantage of knowing the continent. What about Traditional medicine, which has suffered from acute neglect over the years?

In the Ebola crisis comes the reminder that where ever there is a leadership vacuum in Africa, someone out of the continent will fill it up. It is not enough to murmur in silence why the USA sent the military to help Liberia in its response, the question should also be asked, what did African countries do? What did the African Union do to coordinate a response? What did the business moguls in the continent do when it came to rallying financial support or should we continue to think it has to be the Bill Gates and the Mark Zuckerbergs doing it? Africa has its own global brands in Dangote, Mo Ibrahim and others.

Dr. Gabriel Logan is one of two doctors at the Bomi county hospital, which serves a county of 85,000 people. In a desperate attempt to save Ebola patients, he started experimenting with an HIV drug to treat them. John W. Poole/NPR

Dr. Gabriel Logan is one of two doctors at the Bomi county hospital, which serves a county of 85,000 people. In a desperate attempt to save Ebola patients, he started experimenting with an HIV drug to treat them.
John W. Poole/NPR

It is not late for Africans to rally together and not remain indifferent to the plight of those in countries affected. There are many who still long for a United Africa as advocated by Nkrumah. Such unity means the continent bonds in good and bad times. No one should make the mistake to think it is something limited to the three West African countries, the virus may have broken out in any of the other countries.

Far from dividing Africa, the crisis should reinforce the need to come together, the need for all Africans to speak truth and call on leaders to get priorities straight, the need to challenge African countries to make the investments needed in health care, infrastructure, technology, research ,education and others. Without these investments, and without getting these priorities right, the continent will continue to remain way short of meeting its potential. Nigeria and Senegal have already gained credit by keeping the virus under check, the continent needs to aggressively rally behind Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and send a message to the world that the continent can take care or at least take the lead in the quest for solutions to crisis of this magnitude. Africa should lead the world in the response to Ebola and not follow the world in response.

 

 

 

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Shekau, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the politics of Boko Haram
September 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Biya of Cameroon and Jonathan of Nigeria Biya of Cameroon and Jonathan of Nigeria[/caption] So it is been reported with more certainty that Shekau or the guy who use to pass around for Shekau is now dead. All the bravado in those videos, standing behind armored tanks and using innocent girls in his background was all for nothing. No doubt the guy could barely read well. His absence will certainly not be missed .Any individual or cause which takes delight in ambushing innocent civilians, preaching hatred and kidnapping innocent girls is not worth the trouble at all. As news of Shekau or his double makes the rounds, the tussle for credit as to who killed him is subsiding. Was it the Nigerian Military or their Cameroonian counterparts? Although claims from the Cameroonian side have remained low, there was information from social media last weekend that the fellow passing around for Shekau was dead killed by Cameroon arm forces. The news was accompanied by pictures on a military face book page. However, the Nigerian side came up with a forceful arguments culminating in a formal announcement from the military top brass that indeed, the gentleman known for the taunting visitors met his waterloo at the hands of the Nigerian military as the sect tried to get into Konduga. “The troops captured some of the terrorists and their equipment.  In the course of those encounters, one Mohammed Bashir who has been acting or posing on videos as the deceased Abubakar Shekau, the eccentric character known as leader of the group died.    Since the name Shekau has become a brand name for the terrorists’ leader, the Nigerian military remains resolute to serve justice to anyone who assumes that designation or title as well as all terrorists that seek to violate the freedom and territory of Nigeria,” a statement from the Director Defense Information, Major General Chris Olukolade. The forces doing the fighting deserve a lot of credit irrespective of which party got him. It is hard to understand how things metamorphosed to this level, but there are so many unanswered questions about Boko Haram and its supersonic rise. How comes the sect has evolved to the point where it can threaten to go toe to toe with the Nigerian military? Nigeria is a country that has been laying claim to a security seat on behalf of Africa, it has flexed its muscles in peace keeping missions from Liberia to Sierra Leone and its military was supposed to be one of the best trained and equipped in the continent. If the giant of Africa is unable to protect its citizens from Boko Haram, how can the rest of Africa rely on it for their security? Who is training the Boko Haram folks, where are their funds coming from, how and from where are there able to obtain fire power superior to that of the Nigerian military in many instances? [caption id="attachment_12366" align="alignright" width="300"]Cameroon's Paul Biya and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fanius celebrate the liberation of the molin-Fournier family last April. The wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali was kidnapped in August and has not been returned. Cameroon’s Paul Biya and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fanius celebrate the liberation of the molin-Fournier family last April. The wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali was kidnapped in August and has not been returned.[/caption] In Cameroon, the situation in the Northern part of the country remains preoccupying. Hardly had the dust settled on the first armed incursions of the sect when President Paul Biya declared that Cameroon was at war with the sect. Cameroonians grew curious about Boko Haram when a French family vacationing in the Northern part of the country was kidnapped. The Molin-Fournier family was released after some two months in captivity and the Cameroon President received the family before their departure to France. Though the French President indicated that no ransom was paid to release the hostages, it turned out that huge sums were indeed paid to secure the release of the Molin Fournier family. How much was given to secure the release of this French family? How much was given to secure the subsequent release of other foreigners kidnapped? Who received the ransom, and was the money out of the Cameroon treasury or from the home countries of the kidnapped folks who have been released? What is the relation between Boko Haram in Nigeria and Boko Haram in Cameroon? Here again more unanswered questions. It was perplexing to see that instead of Jonathan doing the two hour or so flight to meet Biya in Yaoundé or Biya doing vice versa to Abuja, both leaders preferred to honor an invitation of the French President to discuss security challenges. It borders on the absurd that it will take an initiative of the French for Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad to meet and talk about common threats from Boko Haram? A few months back, the wife of Amadou Ali one of the most senior and influential members of the Biya government was kidnapped in an attack that killed several members of the ministers family. Ministers Ali’s wife is still a hostage of whatever group keeping her. Dr Stephen Davis a negotiator from Australia recently ruffled feathers in Nigeria by announcing the names of some sponsors of Boko Haram. Fingered in his revelation were former Chief of Army staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika and former Governor Modu Sherriff of Borno State. It may not have been news that people in leadership were backing Boko Haram but it was one of the few rare times that names have been called. After a largely unconvincing press conference to clear his name, to the chagrin of most Nigerians, former Governor Modu Sheriff was pictured with President Jonathan during a visit to Chad. The optics could not have been any worse, at a time when the press was rife with reports of the Nigerian military taken refuge on Cameroon to flee from attacks from the sect.   [caption id="attachment_12370" align="alignleft" width="300"]L–R: A former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Chadian President, Idriss Deby, at a meeting in Chad. this was a few days after Sheriff was cited by the Australian negotiator Stephen Davis as a key sponsor of Boko Haram L–R: A former Borno State Governor, Ali Modu-Sheriff, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Chadian President, Idriss Deby, at a meeting in Chad. this was a few days after Sheriff was cited by the Australian negotiator Stephen Davis as a key sponsor of Boko Haram[/caption] In the midst of the chaos, the innocent Chibok girls are still missing and nothing is heard from the help that western powers promised Jonathan. With the recent victories of the Nigerian military, releasing the girls will not only bring relieve to aggrieved families, but will also boast that struggling credibility of the Jonathan administration. The biggest resource of every country should be its people and be it in Nigeria or in Cameroon, it is the people that are suffering most. It is unfathomable to understand that for all its wealth, the Nigerian military should be complaining of been ill equipped. This is one struggle which calls to test the leadership mantles of both countries. The struggle for Boko Haram needs no politics, it is not a Northern thing in Cameroon and succession politics should not mingle with it. It should not a North v South fight in Nigeria, or unscrupulous politicians using the sect to work on 2015 agendas of sorts. No one doubts the dent that Boko Haram has put on the continental and international aura of Nigeria, hopefully the recent victories give the military the momentum to actually take the fight to Boko Haram so it can become history. In both Nigeria and Cameroon, openness and transparency in sharing information will help. The people can read in between the lines too and  so far there have been too many missing links and unanswered questions in the whole Boko Haram fight. *Insights Africa is a Blog that seeks to de-complex the complexities of developments in Africa  ]]>

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Jacob Zuma’s Presidency under Siege?
September 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

James N. Kariuki*

imagesAt the end of August this year, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma embarked upon what was called a ‘working visit’ to Russia. Officially, Zuma’s objectives in Moscow included discussing trade enhancement between the Russian Federation and South Africa, searching for investment opportunities and for the South African president to get some rest. But, given their propensity for curiosity, the news media immediately wondered aloud why the details of an official presidential visit seemed to be shrouded by a veil of secrecy in both South Africa and Russia.

Curiosity verged on frustration.  First, the ‘resting’ claim for the president was unconvincing. It is true that the Zuma may have needed some rest given his grueling election campaign earlier in the year, his generally questionable health condition and the turbulent events of the first three months of his second term. But, since the trip coincided with the beginning of one of Russia’s notoriously brutal winters, weather alone virtually ruled it out as a vacationing destination of choice for an aging African leader.

On the other hand, if Zuma went to Moscow to promote bilateral trade cooperation and investment opportunities, why is it that his delegation did not include personnel from the relevant Department of Trade and Industry or from the cabinet’s economic cluster? Oddly, the president’s senior official entourage was composed of only the State Security Minister and the International Relations Deputy Minister. To consummate the intrigue, Zuma was not accompanied by a single journalist.

Given the mystique, news reporters were prompted to speculation. What was the ‘real’ purpose of the trip? Why now and why Russia?’

Analysts reminisced that Zuma’s presidency has always been dogged by controversy. But it was precisely in late August 2014, just prior to the Russian trip, that the same presidency became truly embattled. It was at that time that two domestic political crises converged and seemed to escalate uncontrollably to a crescendo.

Political challenges posed by these crises were indeed daunting, sufficiently unsettling to prompt observers to liken them to the infamous US Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. That political scandal pushed President Richard M. Nixon to his historic resignation of 1974 and infected the American body politic forever. It is said that, as a result of the Watergate scandal, the American political system lost its innocence.

The two issues that may forever define the Zuma’s presidency are captured in the general category of corruption and, specifically, they include the so-called Zuma spy tapes and the Nkandla scandal. Remarkably, the otherwise streetwise President has so far fallen short of finding a way to make either of the two problems go away.

Meanwhile, the public passions that the scandals continue to trigger are inflamed by the fact that each is embraced as a crusade attitude of three influential and highly visible public figures. These include Helen Zille, the leader of Democratic Alliance (D.A.) and the largest opposition party; Julius Malema, the leader of the recently formed and recalcitrant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Thuli Madonsela of the Office of Public Protector. Though they act as separate and distinct entities, these have become Zuma’s political nemeses and are hell-bent to the proposition that, come hell or high water, Zuma will be forced to pay for his political indiscretions.

The most enduring of Zuma’s catalogue of political ‘sins’ is what has come to be known as his spy tapes. Just before South Africa’s 2009 national elections, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cited the tapes as the basis for withdrawing over 700 counts of fraud and corruption allegations against Zuma. But this issue has stubbornly remained unsettled for half a decade and as the core and immovable element in the President’s gathering storm.

The dismissal of the spy tape charges was indeed an indication that the NPA had concurred with Zuma’s contention that the taped conversations between the NPA and the-now-disbanded Scorpions Investigative Unit were convincing evidence that there indeed was a ‘political conspiracy’ against him. The withdrawal eliminated a major legal hurdle for Zuma, clearing the way for him to become president.

However, Helen Zille’s Democratic Alliance (DA), was not convinced.  The timing and alleged grounds for Zuma’s exoneration appeared too convenient to be true. For this reason, the largest opposition party was determined to listen to the spy tapes to determine if there indeed was a bona fide legal justification for exempting Zuma. All told, the DA has spent R10 million for this purpose in six court cases during the past five years to get its hands on the Zuma spy tapes.

Clearly, the DA’s hope in this lengthy pursuit has been to ‘uncover’ whether or not the 2009 decision to withdraw the 700 corruption charges against Zuma was politically-driven rather than legal. More than any other figure, Helen Zille has championed this cause with a devotion far greater than a mere political issue would warrant. This is so because, if the spy tapes can demonstrate that the 2009 withdrawal of charges against Zuma was politically-motivated, those charges can be reinstated in court to the detriment of Zuma and his presidency.

Precisely for this reason, it is said, Zuma has fought tooth and nail for nearly half a decade against the tapes’ lease and at a hefty legal fee borne by the tax payers.  Unfortunately, his animated objection against the release started to crumble in the same, infamous August 2014.  Specifically, on August 28, 2014, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered that the NPA had to release the contested spy tapes to the DA in five days.  Three days later, Zuma departed for Moscow.

The other volatile issue is the Nkandla scandal, the allegation that Zuma has spent R246 million of public funds on his private residence under the guise of presidential security upgrades. In March this year Thuli Madonsela, in her capacity as the Public Protector, released a two-year investigation report that some of the Nkandla modifications were inconsistent with claims of security upgrades and that the President had to pay back for the misspent public funds.

Politically, Julius Malema and Thuli Madonsela are indeed strange bedfellows. The former is the leader of recently formed radical political party, the EFF. As indicated, the latter is the incumbent Public Protector, a government official. Ideologically, they have nothing in common. It is thus a measure of the mounting pressure on Zuma’s presidency that an alliance-of-sorts seems to have emerged between the two in opposition to the Nkandla issue, especially in Parliament. In August, both were demanding from President Zuma a transparent accounting for Nkandla, insisting on the right of the public to know when he planned to pay back for the alleged non-security expenditures.

On August 21, as the EFF aggressively grilled Zuma in Parliament regarding the Nkandla affair, a heated verbal exchange erupted between the Speaker of the House and Julius Malema. As a result of an ensuing chaos and stand-off between the two, the Speaker adjourned the National Assembly while riot police were summoned to physically remove EFF members from the building.

To the extent that the EFF MPs were unrelentingly heckling President Zuma in demanding answers to the Nkandla upgrades, was the President’s failure to provide satisfactory answers undermining proper and respectable functioning of a key branch of government? Are we witness to a specific political scandal of Nkandla escalate into a scathing constitutional crisis of national proportions?

The week before the parliamentary humiliating spectacle, Madonsela had accused Zuma in written form of “being guilty of an attack on the constitution and the rule of law by granting the Police Minister of Police the power to review her (Madonsela’s) findings” on Nkandla. Had the Nkandla infection ballooned into a constitutional crisis for the nation, a matter vastly larger than the original tag of corruption?

Prof-James-Kariuki21Besieged by such rugged news and punishing headlines, President Zuma found himself in a corner.  To think through the bombshells thrown at him, he was probably well-advised to seek a few days of solitude and privacy of far away from his troublesome home.

A week after the fiasco in the National Assembly, Zuma left for Moscow.  But why to Russia?

Reportedly Zuma and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, have evolved a bond in which the South African leader derives considerable comfort, a personal friendship that goes beyond the call of duty. It is said that the two have now become very good friends.

Especially in context of the BRICS fraternity, Zuma and Putin meet fairly often and take time to discuss ex-officially matters of mutual concerns. Those include global issues such as the on-going turmoil in Syria, the Israeli-Palestine recent military crisis and the deteriorating condition in the Ukraine.

In all likelihood, Putin feels that he has received bad publicity over Ukraine and probably needs Zuma to boost his quest for political support in Global South. He is basically fed up with the Western negative campaign against what it calls Russian aggression. He is thus may be eager to garner support from Africa and the developing world in general to counter the sustained ‘propaganda’ of the US and its traditional European allies. Presumably, Zuma can be invaluable in this regard.

Conversely Zuma, given his political woes at home, probably needed a shoulder to cry on and a word or two of encouragement from the world’s greatest political survivor of the twenty first century. In recent years, Putin has defied and successfully resisted attempts of powerful Russian forces to unseat him. Could it be the case that Zuma is seriously concerned about political survival at home and went to Russia to seek consolation and advice from the ultimate expert on ‘how to?’

Seen in the above context, Zuma’s real purposes for the visit to Russia several weeks ago was not so puzzling after all. But it could not be public information.

*James N. Kariuki is Professor of International Relations (Emeritus) and an independent writer.  He is based in South Africa. Views expressed in the blog Global Africa are his

 

 

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Multinational Corporations in the African Economies: Bane or Blessing?
August 23, 2014 | 9 Comments

By TANGWE Abraham

download (18)Multinational corporations (MNCs) are companies with plants or direct investments in one or more foreign Countries. There are also known as Transnational corporations. They have their home or headquarters in one Country and owns and run subsidiaries in other Countries. It is therefore a corporation that operates in a multiplicity of environments. Africa after independence was inundated by a plethora of such companies which have hard a stranglehold on the African economies. They have had some positive fallout but with the limitations of such companies the main reason why African development is still farfetched.

Their origins and evolution in the African economies was well crafted and executed. After the Second World War, their presence was effectively felt and this was explained by the fact that instead of trying to break through tariff and other barriers to be able to export goods to other Countries, many of these companies found it easier to gain access inside such Countries in order to save transportation and other costs so as to make their goods more competitive. Also, many of these Countries offered cheap labour, special tax treatment or exoneration, the new technological innovations and the spread of communication and travels, the containerization of cargo and the emergence of computers capable of storing large amount data all made it possible for MNCs to expand their operations.

Postcolonial Africa faced a mountain of socio-political and economic problems which brought untold misery to the African people and  thereby forced them to look for means and ways of tackling the problem and this made the MNCs to appear useful in salvaging them from such precarious settings.

MNCs provided the much needed capital?, technological and marketing skills in exchange for a very profitable market. This has been compounded with their use of sophisticated marketing methods and organization with maximized linkages with their metropolitan base.  The talk of transferring technology is a farce because you cannot transfer technology and expect it to stick. Technology has to be invented taking cognizance of the inherent societal peculiarities for it to thrive.

However, their activities have helped in job creation, nay, employment improving in the process the national income through their payment of taxes which the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union is sure to put into jeopardy. Such employment and improved income for governments led to improve development, standards of living and the undertaking of reforms.

At first glance, MNCs appear to be real developmental partners but a careful examination of their intrinsic undertones would disclose their devilish savvy in exploitation as they retard African economies, sap resources living the hitherto buoyant natural resource base barren thereby leading to an anomalous situation that injects underdevelopment than development. MNCs are neo-colonialist creation or agents bent on advancing the capitalist ethos.

The dependent theory of Wallerstein is a good base for this argument. This theory argues that the African economies are peripheral or based on primary products to be exploited by the industrialized nations or their agents who are the MNCs. Other theorists like Frank simply posit that the world economies were divided into the developed economies or metropoles and the peripheries or underdeveloped economies with the peripheries dominated by the metropoles. These ideals at face values refer to an era akin to the colonial period but a critical look reveals a different scenario.

As such, we realize that independence to African states was a smokescreen with diminished control over the elites and a “behind the scene” stranglehold of the African economies by the MNCs and their agents otherwise referred to as neo-colonialism. The metropole has therefore ceded that exploitative role to the MNCs who are more ruthless in their drive for profit which has left the African economies under permanent anesthetics or the economic surgeons “thieving” knife.

Unlike the colonial enterprise that was contingent on purity and as far as procedure and end results were concerned, the MNCs opted for a mélange of both; they used all the local mechanisms to extract profit even at the expense of looking for indigenes to control capital. MNCs are in quest of amassing wealth at the detriment of other variables like the welfare and developmental needs of the given societies.

Underneath the MNCs is found a vicious lethal drive for an outright extinction of the African economies. They were seen as offering the so –called modern industries to Africa but their interests in doing so conflict in part with African developmental goals and given the marginality of Africa to global goals or operation, they are in a position to drive very hard bargains.

Perhaps, referring to them as “devils incarnate” may be hard but their destructive base far exceeds their productive base. This could be discern via the Oguni crisis where the late environmentalist Ken Saro Wiwa vigorously  challenged the American oil consortium Shell for environmental pollution without a corresponding  fallout to the affected masses. This led to a kangaroo court trial session for him on trump up charges for allegedly masterminding  the murder of some Oguni chiefs who were against his campaign and was later executed. The late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha therefore cooked this alibi with Shell to silence him.

In 1997, ELF, the French oil company sponsored and masterminded the overthrow from power of Prof. Pascal Lissouba because it was alleged that he was about to grant the exploration of new oil wells to American companies on a better deal. ELF decided to sponsor a stooge in the person of Denise Sassou Nguessou to reverse this trend and allow them a permanent monopoly. In fact, this is what has forced President Yahyah Jammeh of the Gambia to remark that is better to allow the resources to remain in the ground than exploiting them with nothing to show for it by the people.

We can go on and on. What happen to the contract of construction of a bridge linking the economic capital of Cote D’Ivoire, the French, Laurent Gbagbo and the Chinese? Of course, the Chinese who had a better deal were sidelined with the French and their Shylock terms holding sway and with Gbagbo standing trial for war crimes! Take a walk down memory lane with Charles Taylor and the Americans. Is Charles Taylor really guilty of fanning and abating war in Sierra Leone and for war crimes?

What is glaring is that MNCs wield impressive political, economic and social power. It does not matter whether that power is sought or unsought. It exists! More so, if the political survival of the host government is therefore at stake due to the economic operation of an MNC, that host government is pressured unless it can provide expertise through alternative sources to grant favourable concessions to guest MNCs. You can check the former Zaire under Mobutu where extremely favourable concessions were granted to a number of MNCs for exactly the same reasons and suffice to state here that Zaire is just a storm in the tea cup.

images (9)MNCs decisions can either reduce or increase employment levels within a Country, compromise or enhance the security of a Country (Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville) and lead to greater or lesser dependent on it by one country or another. One scholar has rightly remarked that the relationship between MNCs and  the nation-states can be termed as “sovereignty-at-bay” meaning that the power and authority of national governments is being at least challenged if not completely overtaken by MNCs.

MNCs are therefore a bane or trauma to African governments and to solve the problem, nationalization or getting a majority of shares in these corporations is a condition sine-qua-non. Nationals should be allowed to group themselves and allowed to put resources together, safeguarded by national governments for their development. Zimbabwe is trying in this direction but this must be accompany by the requisite through quality education.

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Didier Drogba retires from international football
August 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Chelsea striker made 104 appearances for Ivory Coast and captained side for eight years

 

 

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has retired from international football after winning 104 caps with the Ivory Coast and captaining the side for eight years. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Didier Drogba has announced his retirement from international football with the Ivory Coast.

The 36-year-old, who last month re-joined Chelsea following a two-season absence with spells in China and Turkey, made his 104th and final appearance for Les Elephants during the World Cup in Brazil.

“It is with much sadness that I have decided to retire from international football,” Drogba said.

“I am very proud to have been captain of this team for eight years and to have contributed to placing my country on the world stage of football, taking part in three World Cups and two African Cup of Nations finals.

“I cannot convey enough thanks to the fans for all the love and support during these years. All my goals, all my caps, all our victories are for you.

“I also owe much gratitude to my team-mates – the players with whom I have shared all these emotions and I wish you all much success for the future and a very warm welcome to the new manager (Herve Renard).”

*Source irishtimes
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USA-Africa Relations and the Factor of Counter-Penetration
July 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

James N. Kariuki*

kwame nkrumah and martin luther king

kwame nkrumah and martin luther king

April 4, 2014 marked the 46th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. One of his most publicized acts was to denounce publicly the American involvement in the unpopular Vietnam War. The fact that King was killed exactly a year to the day that he made the anti-Vietnam War announcement still raises eyebrows. Was a bigger force than a lone assassin involved in his murder?

Reverend King was many things to different people but, fundamentally, he was an African American civil rights activist. By condemning American involvement in the Vietnam War King risked alienating Lyndon B. Johnson, an immensely influential and sitting US president who was sympathetic to his civil rights agenda. When asked why he took that chance, Dr. King responded that, to him, justice was indivisible, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Viewed from another perspective, King’s declaration was broader: he could not honestly oppose racial injustice in America yet turn a blind eye to an obvious case of racial injustice in Southeast Asia. Built into this reasoning was a pointed indictment that President Lyndon B. Johnson could not forever get away with the claim of supporting civil rights for Black Americas while presiding over a costly, racially-tainted and brutal war in Vietnam.

Since King’s time, the world has become increasingly sensitive to its demarcation into distinct beneficiaries and victims. At the bottom of the pile, the ultimate casualties as in the North-South divide are Africans and Black people worldwide. But there have been progress in the quest for a solution, partly as a result of Reverend Martin Luther King’s inspiration.

Regarding the gross universal inequalities, the prolific Professor Ali Mazrui has consistently advocated that Global Africa should embrace the strategy of counter-penetration. This means that Black folk who were once openly and blatantly penetrated by Western colonialism should now turn the tables by working to occupy high positions of power within the Western world itself. From such heights, it is said, they are positioned to dispense justice for their fellow brethrens worldwide.

The Ali Mazruis, Chinua Achebes, Ngugi wa Thiong’os, Wole Soyinkas etc. and other American Africans intellectual giants are un-appointed ambassadors of this strategy in the universe of academia. As prominent educators in US educational institutions, these African Diasporans-of-the-Willing have unbridled opportunity to sensitize upcoming generations of future American decision-makers to the agonies and aspirations of continental Africans and Black folk worldwide. Post-colonial American African ‘Diasporans’ in academia are especially suited for this version of counter-penetration.

Equally critical is the role of the black Diaspora of the Unwilling, Diaspora of Enslavement, the descendants of those Africans who were transplanted to the West against their will. They are an integral part of Global Africa lodged in the West, including the most powerful nation on earth, the USA. What has their penetration of power dispensed for Africa so far?

 

James N. Kariuki

James N. Kariuki

The strategy of counter-penetration attributes substantial credit to itself for the reality that the US was less close-minded in condemnation of Kenyans than its European counterparts regarding the 2007 post-elections violence. This open-minded approach was instrumental in ultimately resolving the crisis. Remarkably, it was the African American, Jendayi Frazer, who made an on-site visitation to Kenya and reported her findings to her African America boss, Condoleezza Rice. It is noteworthy that, in addition to being African American, Frazer had studied in Kenya and her doctoral dissertation was on the same country. Presumably, her report on the post-election violence reflected that Kenyans were people with human faces.

The same counter-penetration perspective points out that African American, Colin Powell, reached the pinnacle of American military hierarchy and became the US Secretary of State. Powell had more than a passing interest in the agonies of the Sudan.

African American Condoleezza Rice followed Colin Powell to become the Secretary of State during the George W. Bush presidency. Granted, Rice was not a flag-waving black activist, but her skin is black. At some point, she was touched by one black cause or another. Was it not uniquely symbolic that she wept publicly when Barack Obama won the US presidency to take over from her own white boss, George W. Bush?  Blackness seemed to have overridden the fact that Obama was a Democrat while Rice and her boss were Republicans?  There was more.

In April 2008, Condoleezza Rice, urged the US Senate to pass a law to remove South Africa’s ANC categorization as a terrorist organization from the US database. The unflattering classification was originally attained during anti-apartheid era when the apartheid regime portrayed the party as a terrorist organization. Ten years after the demise of apartheid, ANC members still could not get visas to enter the US without personal waivers by the Secretary of State. In most cases, the mere requirement of the waiver amounted to visa denial.

In 2008 Rice told a Senate hearing that she found it discomforting to have to personally waive visa restrictions for her South African counterpart, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. More disconcerting, she had to do the same for the world-acknowledged icon of peace, Nelson Mandela.

The 2008 bid against ANC categorization was spearheaded by a Californian liberal lawmaker, Representative Howard Berman.  His language was more biting. “It is shameful that the US still treats the ANC this way, based solely on its designation as a terrorist organization by the old apartheid South African regime.” Regarding Mandela requiring a special waiver of the Secretary of State to obtain entry visa for the US, he simply stated, “What an indignity.”

This was not the first time that African American Diasporans-of-the-Unwilling fought for black-ruled South Africa within the confines of the American political system. One of the unsettling landmarks for the demise of apartheid was the passage of the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. That legislation resulted from unrelenting work of the US Congressional Black Caucus under the leadership of a black Congressman, Ronald Dellums. Most notably, its passage was an override over the veto of a popular President, Ronald Reagan.

Before Reverend King, Black Americans in South USA could not vote, much less become legislators. Today, the same black Americans have occupied virtually every political position, including the US presidency. Behind it all is King’s powerful notion that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. After all, Barack Obama’s political calling was first triggered by racial injustice in South Africa. This is a case of counter-penetration at its finest.

**James Kariuki is Professor of International Relations and a private consultant based in South Africa.The views expressed in this blog are his

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Democracy And The Quest For Justice In Cote D’Ivoire.
June 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

By TANGWE Abraham*

index.jpg2Democracy has been defined variously as government of, for and by the people or simply, the rule of the majority over the minority. In effect, the better option is the exercise of the will of the majority and the respect and upholding of the rights of the minority. It should be borne in mind that the cornerstone of such a mode of governance remains the selection of leaders through free, fair, transparent and very credible elections. Here the people through universal suffrage exercise through secret ballot are allowed the liberty to select from the lot a trusted few to steer their destiny with and for them. This can be so if and only if the field is made level so as to accommodate differing views and opinions that do not need to tie with those of the governing class. The thing is, democracy has to tolerate individual rights and liberties with the individuals owing the state the obligation of being patriotic enough to meet the demands of the supreme laws of the land.

Indeed, the concept called democracy is divided into western and African democratic modes. The western mode is near perfect when it comes to practice with the mode in Africa completely adulterated. It is a curse to Africa than a blessing and remains the Achilles heels that this continent has had to grapple with since the advent of independence. All instability of late on the African continent is elections related or democratically linked.

Africans more than fifty years after independence are continuously eclipsed by the knowledge that they may wake up one morning to be threatened by war, starvation and poverty that continue to recur every other year with no end in sight and the ominous development into repressive dictatorship almost everywhere on the continent. Leaders more than ever before have failed to rise above petty partisan politics to occupy a revere position amongst their peers due to egoism. It’s a continent fraught with leaders who behave more like masters and not public servants thus doing all to keep their fear in abeyance by creating even more fear than learning to doing what is just and fair for the people thereby engaging the people more in democratic experimentation, dialogue, genuine reconciliation akin to “Mandemania” in South Africa and the virtues of peace and tolerance which has engendered a new phenomenon of late known as terrorism.

Cote D’Ivoire has seen its own fair share of most of the above insinuations that is slowly building into falsehood and the Houphouet years of claimed economic prosperity which ended up into the mayhem we just witnessed! You may recall that the late Robert Guei after tasting of the juicy nature of the spoils of power did all to transform his military outfit to a civilian one despite the fact that the popular will at the time was in perfect accord that Prof. Laurent Gbagbo, a history guru and opposition chieftain to take over the mantle of leadership.

This ended up in people power demonstrations on the streets that catapulted Gbagbo to power. Erstwhile leader before Guei, Henri Konan Bedie had earlier on introduced the issue of “Ivoirite” to make sure that his arch political rival, Alassane Dramane Ouattara was prevented from contesting elections despite haven served as Houpouet Boigny’s Prime Minister for a very long time. One begins to wonder how someone could be Prime Minister of a Country without being a citizen. Popular opinion however rejected such machinations which was not heeded and ended up plunging this once purported Island of peace to an area fraught with ethnic and tribal upheavals.

Following the 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo challenged the vote count, alleging fraud. He called for the annulment of results from nine of the country’s regions. Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner and was recognized as such by election observers, the international community, the African Union (AU), and the Economic Community of West African States. However, the Constitutional Council, which according to Article 94 of the Ivorian Constitution both determines disputes in and proclaims the results of Presidential elections, declared that Gbagbo had won. After a short period of civil conflict, Gbagbo was arrested by backers of Alassane Ouattara, supported by French Forces of “Operation UNICORN”. In November 2011, he was extradited to the International Criminal Court, becoming the first head of state to be taken into the court’s custody.

The Force Nouvelles led by henchman  Guillaume Soro who had led the Civil war against Gbagbo following the signing of a peace agreement on March 4, 2007,  he became Prime Minister. According to Soro, the group has transformed itself from an armed movement into a force that is “responsible, credible and capable of managing the affairs of state. Today, he is President of the Ivorian national Assembly and a purported “Pan Africanist”.

The principles of democracy were thwarted here whether wrongly or rightly by an international community with vested interests. This problem originated from democratic elections and common sense would have warranted the Ivorian political class to use dialogue and Ivorian institutions to cool down the tempers. The biggest error of the present leadership of Alassane Ouattara was to arraign Gbagbo, wife and followers and sending Gbagbo to the International criminal Court (ICJ) to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

Come to think of it; what criteria was used to determine his guilt? Who started the war? Can we sincerely say that the destruction of lives and properties was the sole preserve of the Gbagbo Camp? In modern warfare, we do not look at victors or vanquished but of the number of casualties with the parties involved in the war made to answer for whatever problems emanating from their actions in equal measure. Should Gbagbo therefore be standing trial alone while the rebel leader and warlord, Guillaume Soro is allowed to parade himself as a responsible politician?

1977439_766296983403982_3978456715859341068_nWhere is the justice in all these? The architect of notion of “Ivoirite” Henri Konan Bedie should also be made to stand trial for inciting ethnic cleansing while Guillaume Soro is also arrested and arraign before the international criminal court for crimes against humanity. If not, no matter how hard the Ivorians try, peace would always elude them. At best, they should withdraw the charges against Gbagbo and bring him home for genuine reconciliation akin to what the icon, Nelson Mandela did in South Africa.

Perhaps, it would be of interest to note that far from being a saint, Laurent Gbagbo’s only crime is his nationalist stance against French neo-colonialist interest in Africa. Of course, he started by boycotting Francophonie summites and demanding a repelling of the French colonial pact and a return of all monies already deposited in the French treasury by dint of that accord. Worst of all, he awarded a multi-billion bridge contract to the Chinese instead of the French. Are you now surprise why the French “UNICORN” aided and abated the Force Nouvelle of Soro to Oust Gbagbo? Are you again surprise that Soro is not on trial like Gbagbo?

Let justice and democracy be allow to prevail in equal measure in Cote D’Ivoire, else the flabby and frantic efforts made at achieving peace there would have a boomerang effect like in the days of Felix Houpouet Boigny.

 

 

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IS CAMEROON BILINGUAL OR UNILINGUAL?
May 20, 2014 | 1 Comments

By TANGWE Abraham*

indexIn most areas of the world, Cameroon is known as a former French colony and hence French speaking. This completely negates the historical background of this country otherwise known as “Africa –in-miniature”. Cameroon  (Kamerun) has been a German colony from 1884 until 1916 when they were ousted by a combined forces of the British and the French during the First World War. This ouster led to an attempted joint administration or condominium between the British and the French which failed due to fundamental differences but prominent amongst which were the authority and territorial issues.

The condominium that had started in 1914 woefully went comatose in February, 1916 occasioning the partition of Cameroon between the British and the French. This partition gave 4/5 of the territory to the French and 1/5 to the British. This partition was later confirmed in 1919 following the Versailles settlement and the League of Nations followed suit and declared Cameroon a mandate after seizure of former German colonies all over the world and this mandate was placed under the tutelage of the British and the French effective from 1922. When the League of Nations became defunct at the end of World War Two, all former mandates were simply transferred to the trusteeship council of the United Nations as trust territories after 1945 still under the British and the French with a key objective being their preparation towards independence.

The era of independence struggle occasioned the holding of a United Nations conducted plebiscite in February 1961 in which the former Southern Cameroon or those under the British voted to join the French Cameroonians. It should be noted that this took place after close to forty years of living as separate linguistic, cultural and historical entities. During this period, the English speaking or Anglophones as they came to be called lived and were mentored under the British parliamentary political setup, economic, educational, judicial and linguistic culture. They only accepted to reunite with their French brothers as a distinct and separate political entity which gave rise to the federal constitution that was crafted at foumban in July 1961 making Cameroon an independent bilingual, bicultural and bijural state of the English and French entities from thence till date.

This brief political history of Cameroon is an attempt to debunk the fact that Cameroon is French speaking even if the Francophone leadership has done all over the years to paint this picture to the world through a well-orchestrated plan that has reduced Anglophones in Cameroon to second class citizens through outright marginalization and debasing the  English language to a level where the President has never address the nation in English. Worst of all, despite the fact that English is one of the two official languages in Cameroon as stipulated in the constitution, all official documents are in French to a level where the language is near extinct in all official circles.

The above stance of Cameroonian leaders is fanned by statements such as the one made by Syd Madicot, former British high commissioner to Cameroon in an interview he granted a local tabloid, THE POST no.01077 of August Monday 17, 2009 in which he claimed that the Anglophone problem is visible and felt when viewed along the different European languages used by Cameroon. According to him therefore, residents of the North West region (English speaking) and the West region (French speaking) share a lot in a common culture also known as the “grassfield culture” and it doesn’t make much if one group speaks French and the other one English.

1977439_766296983403982_3978456715859341068_nThe very fact that such a high British official could make such inflammatory and unguarded statements pointed to the fact that the English component in the Cameroon equation was inconsequential though born out of their heritage and legacy. In fact equating the Anglophones in Cameroon as a mere ethnic group is very provocative, vexing and a diplomatic blunder. It denies Cameroon her international personality of a bilingual state made up of English and French.

Britain had always developed cold feet towards the former British or Southern Cameroon always wanting to submerge it to Nigeria or French Cameroon for one flimsy reason or the other. Britain exhibited such bad fate during the UN plebiscite talks and the fact that Britain refused the English speaking Cameroonians that opportunity to attain its independence before embarking on what form of union it wanted  with the then Cameroon or gaining that independence as a separate state with the right to self-governance. There is overwhelming evidence to show that Britain rigged the votes during the plebiscite for northern British Cameroon to join Nigeria and succeeded! Her game plan was visible through Anglophone Cameroon struggle to negotiate her way with her French brothers and sisters. She stood idly by and watched the Anglophones undergoing humiliation and near annihilation.

It’s a very pathetic and irksome history each time it is revisited and those concern are always dejected and hurt by it whenever it is mentioned. This explains why the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) was created in the 90 s to seek redress and it is advocating for outright secession. In effect, what do you expect them to do in such circumstances when the doors of negotiation are closed to them?

The statement by Syd Madicot is an indirect confirmation of the fact that Anglophones in Cameroon are a storm in a tea cup. It is thumbs up to the powers that be to know that their discriminatory policies against these people are perfectly in order and should continue. It is a tacit approval of witch-hunting  and despise that these people have been subjected to for all these years.

Unfortunately for them, the UN may have realized itself and its errors if recent press statements are anything to go by. According to the Nigerian daily Globaltimes,..the UNO has given an official authorization, signed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, for Prof. Martin Chia Ateh to issue identification cards to citizens of the Southern Cameroons…” In the article that carries the pictures of Presidents Paul Biya and Goodluck Jonathan, Globaltimes, quoting Section 76b of the UN Charter as well as Act 102(1) and (2) noted that the terms of any union between a member state of the United Nations and another country have got to be evidenced in writing and a copy filed at the United Nations secretariat which will publish it. It adds that failure to do so as was the case with the Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun “renders the whole arrangement invalid under international law as it cannot be cited before any organ of the United Nations…

This indicates that something may be happening and may end up restoring the independence of Anglophones in Cameroon and not just that they are an entity almost submerged in French Cameroon. The leaders of Cameroon should borrow a leaf from this and engage in meaning dialogue with the Anglophones on the eve of the 42nd celebrations of the Cameroon national day.

*Tangwe shares  his opinions on critical issues in the Blog African View Points

 

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BOKO HARAM: BEYOND NIGERIA’S INTEREST!
May 16, 2014 | 1 Comments

By TANGWE Abraham

imagesFor a while now, the Boko Haram sect has given the Nigerian and world leader’s sleepless nights over the kidnapping of 234 girls in a boarding school in Chibok in Northern Nigeria on the 14 of April, 2014. This kidnap exposed the government of President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan as a limping duck so near the doldrums of abyss. His non-action or statement over the kidnap for three weeks was the apogee of irresponsibility and a very clear demonstration of incompetence and in the west, he would have simply resigned. As if that gaff was not enough, Dame Patience Goodluck ordered the arrest of protesting helpless mothers; a first lady who herself is a woman haven gone through the pains of labour. What effrontery!

Boko Haram by that kidnap inadvertently shot itself in the leg.  It should be noted that this group started in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a cleric whose aim is an Islamic state in Nigeria. He was killed in 2009. The group’s current leader, Abubakar Shekau, surfaces sporadically in videotaped messages. Boko Haram opposes the education of girls and has kidnapped girls to use as cooks and sex slaves.To it, western education is evil to be discarded at all cost. This explains why after the girls were kidnapped, their leader argued that they were supposed to be married instead of wasting time schooling. They believe in violence and have a great dislike for Christians. It has killed hundreds of children. The group seeks to replace Nigeria’s government with a strict Islamic state. Its home base is the Sambisa Forest, a game reserve in Nigeria’s northeast  region, and it has a few thousand fighters.

The most intriguing of the actions of Boko Haram is that the sect has extended its activities in the North of Cameroon with an incessant kidnapping of Catholic priests and French nationals and also attacking and killing hundreds of nationals. In fact, a few days back, a small bridge linking a border village between Cameroon and Nigeria in the far Northern region of Cameroon was blown off when the sect got wind or suspected that it could be used as a rescue route of the girls.

Such actions by the sect has made reprisal antics far from being Nigeria’s action alone. The notion of “sovereignty-at-bay” in international law counts for nothing in this case as the susceptibility of Nigeria’s immediate neighbours viz: Cameroon, Chad, Niger et al to the effects of the actions of this sect are telling on the denizens of these countries. The case of Cameroon is glaring as Akwaya in the South Western region of Cameroon like the Northern regions is inundated with people fleeing the barbaric acts of Boko Haram besides intermittent attacks from the sect itself on the afore mentioned areas.

It is inconceivable that President Goodluck has not taken very bold steps to get its neighbours involve in the struggle to hem in, annihilate and completely wipe out Boko Haram through diplomatic offensive. That he sluggishly turned to the USA, Britain, China and other world powers for succor without first attempting to get assistance from its neighbours is complete betrayal and spite to the whole idea of seeking African solutions to African problems. In all fairness to President Goodluck, even with the help of these powers, if the neighbours are ignored, whatever is done would just be as the saying goes “throwing water on a duck’s back.

Worst of all, it is a known fact that terrorism anywhere must be fought with vim and alacrity. How then do we explain the belated statement of our darling African Union that has ended at issuing just that statement? Is the issue, a Nigerian issue? One would have expected the A.U. to take the lead in efforts against the actions of Boko Haram because children everywhere are precious but most importantly because the actions of the sect are having an adverse effects not only in Nigeria but her neighbours as well. How then can the AU claim that it has the capacity to secure the continent when the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shaabab in Somalia and Kenya are simply condemned with no action taken by her?

Be that as it may, the activities of Boko Haram  have gone far above the confines of the nation of Nigeria and the Nigerian government should not make the error of trying to go it alone without its neighbours for this would have a boomerang effect. The fight should be led by Nigeria and its neighbours with tactical support from the AU. All western support should have been channeled through the AU to all affected countries. Care must be taken to ensure a safe rescue of the girls as the sect might trap the rescuers by using the girls as human shield. Our hearts go out to the Nigerian nation especially the affected mothers in such difficult moments like this. Indeed, bring home our girls!

 

 

 

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CAMEROON, WASTING SO MUCH YET VERY MUCH IN NEED!
April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

1977439_766296983403982_3978456715859341068_nFor a while now in Cameroon, the people and particularly the fourth estate has been awash with the allocations made by parliamentarians to themselves as car allowances for the current mandate. The Speaker of the house was given 80 million FRS CFA ($160.000), the first Vice speaker had 65 million FRS CFA ($130.000) with the other five vice speaker taking home 60 million FRS CFA each ($120.000). All the questors had 50 million FRS each ($100.000) and the rest of the bureau members each bagged 45 million FRS CFA ($90.000). These allocations do not include free housing for all bureau members, two servants, a lump sum as sitting allowances and one third of the said allowances as car maintenance allowance besides other undeclared allowances. In all, about 2 billion FRS CFA ($4million) was allocated by these bureau members to themselves (21 in all). Wao!

Indeed, this scandal came to the limelight because the other members of parliament felt cheated since the rest of them were each given ‘just’ a paltry 10 million FRS CFA ($20.000) out of this looting or should I say booty? Is this not rather interesting in a Country that is talking of emergence only in 2035? How can the peoples representatives go this far to pilfer from the public purse in the name of comfort at work?

A vast majority of Cameroonians live beyond the poverty line with big cities like Yaounde and Douala in dire need of portable water  and affordable habitable standards and the law makers can afford to divert such huge financial resources that could have been used for development as per diems? How do you explain the fact that Bamenda, Cameroons third major city has no roads and our leaders selfishly see only under their nostrils? The South West region produces more than  60% of Cameroons resources but lack roads and yet we tolerate such waste? Cameroon is one of the only Countries steeped in a vast array of sub soil resources ranging from petroleum, all varieties of agricultural products, timber, diamonds, iron ore amongst others and yet fifty three years after independence cannot boast of a double carriage way in any of its major cities.

It is still amongst the limping few who use more than 65% of the annual budget for the running of the administrative machinery largely made up of octogenarians who are recycled always to keep syphoning public funds. Cameroon has been described as “Africa in miniature” because we are endowed with human and natural resources compared to no other Country on the African continent but due to an entrenched culture of waste and misuse of public resources, we have been reduced to beggars and amongst the wretched of the earth and this due to the lack of political will to turn things around by our leaders.

Due to such mismanagement, unemployment has attained monumental proportion as the churning out of graduates by the higher institutions of learning is far greater than the available opportunities. Reasons why the youths have devised all the dubious means to survive in a cruel society that has refuse to hearken to their yearnings. They are therefore involved in feymania, falsification of documents in a bid to get through to opportunities denied them by no fault of theirs and are blacklisted in most countries of the world. It also explains why the best Cameroonian brains and technicians are in diaspora. Indeed, one of the best high profile surgeons in the US now is a Cameroonian when we need them badly at home

Cameroonians live far below the poverty line with a vast majority struggling to ebb out what is left of life from less than a dollar a day. Such corrupt practices are rife and such brazen thievery and embezzlement of public funds in the name of allowances can go unchecked because the president leadership appears incapable of calling the shots as it should be. Public funds seemingly remains a free for all affair in so far as you can boast of a godfather or just finding yourself makes it a condition sine-qua-non to be able to benefit of such unprotected peoples patrimony. The war against graft is cosmetic because the real perpetrators are left off the hook to keep parading themselves with such reckless abandon while those of them who dare to raise their eyes towards the royal throne are blacklisted, arrested and remanded to custody without much ado..

The Cameroon parliament has proven to be a toothless bulldog only when it comes to acting as a check to the executive. They complain of party discipline and their hands being tied but such party discipline is thrown to the dogs when it comes to rewarding themselves for no work done. This time around, all acted in complicity as even the opposition parliamentarians in the bureau maintained seal lips over the issue simply because a mouth dripping with palm oil does not talk for fear of tainting the outfit. What a shame. In fact, it is quite strange that the western world listens to this and goes ahead to give aid to such regimes!

It is very clear that Cameroons parliamentary leadership is involved in theft and embezzlement and should be probed else, it would suffice for any budget manager to sit and decide what gets into his or her pocket at any time they deem so. As law makers, they should produce a document spelling out salaries beginning from the Head of state, senators, parliamentarians and judges including allowances and not just doing them at the spur of the moment.

Cameroon has the necessary resources to emerge even tomorrow if our so-called leaders can decide to work for the interest of their people more. The culture of waste is so entrenched in the fabric of leadership life in Cameroon and that explains why the President of the defunct economic and social council also allotted to himself a whopping 100 million FRS CFA ($200.000) as car allowances. It is even worse with the Senators just newly elected. It is a real pity that this is happening in Cameroon with its people drowning in an ocean of poverty lacking basic amenities like portable water, electricity, schools, and hospitals and affording three decent square meals a day.

Alan Paton, the South African novelist puts it very aptly “Cry the beloved Country” for we are crying for our beloved Cameroon going down the drain every other second.

 

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On the Concept of Afrabia
March 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Ali A. Mazrui and James N. Kariuki *

 There are different levels of Pan-Africanism, varying in degrees of sustainability. Sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism is a quest for the unification of black people in Africa below the Sahara. Then there are two possible versions of continental Pan-Africanism.

Sub-continental Pan-Africanism seeks union of black states while excluding Arab Africa. This idea has been floated from time to time, but it does not seem to gather much political support. More triumphant has been trans-Saharan Pan-Africanism which formed the basis for Afro-Arab Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the African Union (AU).

Another version of sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism is sub-regional rather than sub-continental. The sub-regional variety has produced organizations like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which in recent years has been more of an activist as a peacekeeping force than as a vanguard for economic change.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) also received a new lease on life when South Africa became a fully fledged member in the post-apartheid era. In December 1999 Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania finally succeeded in reviving the East African Community since its collapse 22 years earlier.

By far the most ambitious idea floating around in the new era of intellectual speculation is whether the whole of Africa and the whole of the Arab world are two regions in the process of merging into one. Out of this speculative discourse has emerged the concept of Afrabia.  Is the Afrabia a mere intellectual fascination or can it be realized in practical terms?

Two tendencies have stimulated the new thinking about African-Arab relations. One tendency is basically negative but potentially unifying: the war on terrorism. The new international terrorism may have its roots in injustices perpetrated against such Arab people as Palestinians and Iraqis, but the primary theatre of contestation is blurring the distinction between the Middle East and the African continent.

To kill twelve Americans in Nairobi in August 1998, over 200 Kenyans died in a terrorist act at the United States Embassy in Nairobi. Four years later, a suicide bomber in Mombasa, attacked the Israeli-owned and patronized Paradise Hotel. There too, three times as many Kenyans as Israelis perished. These incidents of unmitigated violence were mere rehearsals in microcosm of the spectacular September 2013 week-long terrorist attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi where over 60 innocent people were killed.
Apart from the war on terror, Islam as a cultural and political force has also been deepening relations between Africa and the Middle East. Intellectual revival is not only a Western idiom. It is also the idiom of African cultures and African Islam. Hot political debates about the Shariah (Islamic Law) in Nigeria and the political objectives of the contemporary violent Boko Haram constitute part of the trend of cultural integration between Africa and the Middle East.

Recent legitimization of Muammar Gaddafi as a viable African leader contributed to the birth of no less a new institution than the AU. It is sometimes startling how much more Pan-Africanist than Pan-Arabist Gaddafi had become in the years preceding his death. At least before he died, Gaddafi was steadily out-Africanizing the legacy of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The fourth force that may be merging Africa with the Middle East is political economy. Africa’s oil producers need to form a joint partnership with the bigger oil producers of the Middle East.

download (2)In the area of aid and trade between Africa and the Middle East, the volume may have gone down since the 1980s. But most indications seem to promise a future expansion of economic relations between Africa and the Middle East. In the Gulf countries of the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman, the concept of Afrabia has begun to be examined on higher and higher echelons.

It was initially trans-Saharan Pan-Africanism that gave birth to the idea of Afrabia. The first post-colonial waves of Pan-Africanists like Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Sekou Toure believed that the Sahara was a bridge rather than a divide.

The concept of Afrabia now connotes more than interaction between Africanity and Arab identity; it is seen as a process of fusion between the two. While the principle of Afrabia recognizes that Africa and the Arab world are overlapping categories, it goes on to prophesy that these two are in the historic process of becoming one.

But who are the Afrabians? There are in reality at least four categories. Cultural Afrabians are those whose culture and way of life have been deeply Arabized but have fallen short of their being linguistically Arabs. Most Somali, Hausa, and some Waswahili are cultural Afrabians in that sense. Their mother-tongue is not Arabic, but much of the rest of their culture bears the stamp of Arab and Islamic impact.

Ideological Afrabians are those who intellectually believe in solidarity between Arabs and Africans, or at least between Arab Africa and black Africa. Historically, such ideological Afrabian leaders have included Kwame Nkrumah, the founder president of Ghana; Gamal Abdel Nasser, arguably the greatest Egyptian of the 20th Century; Sekou Toure, the founding father of post-colonial Guinea (Conakry), and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Such leaders refused to acknowledge the Sahara Desert as a divide; they insisted on visualizing it as a historic bridge.

Geographical Afrabians are those Arabs and Berbers whose countries are concurrently members of both the African Union and the Arab League. Some of these countries are overwhelmingly Arab, such as Egypt and Tunisia, while others are only marginally Arab, such as Mauritania, Somalia and the Comoro Islands.

Finally, there are the genealogical Afrabians. These are those who are biologically descended from both Arabs and Black Africans. In North Africa they have included Anwar Sadat, the former President of Egypt who concluded a peace treaty with Israel and was assassinated for it in 1982. Anwar Sadat’s mother was Black and his father was Arabic. He was politically criticized for many things, but almost never for being racially mixed.

download (1)Genealogical Afrabians in sub-Saharan Africa include Tanzanian Salim Ahmed Salim, the longest serving Secretary-General of the OAU, and the Mazrui clan scattered across Coastal Kenya and Tanzania. It should be noted that Northern Sudanese qualify as Afrabians by both geographical and genealogical criteria.

These four sub-categories of Afrabians provide some of the evidence that Africa and the Arab world are two geographical regions that are in the slow historic process of merging.

*Ali A. Mazrui is the globally distinguished Professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton.  James N. Kariuki is Professor (emeritus) of International Relations. He is a Kenyan resident in South Africa.

 

 

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THE WEST AND THE CULTURE OF DOUBLE STANDARDS:WHAT HAS AID GOT TO DO WITH GAY RIGHTS?
March 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Tangwe Abraham*

A cartoon from  Kenyan newspaper on linking Aid and Gay Rights in AfricaSame sex or gay relations has for a while now animated debate on the African continent and has refuse to leave the stage as the debate has been reignited with an interview granted the AFP news agency by 69 year old Cameroon  gay rights activist, Alice NKOM. Hear her “When a country uses weapons, the police and all available legal and prison means against a section of its population, while it has a commitment to protect, it is apartheid.”

This comment rekindled in me the rough waters Uganda of late has been treading for daring to pass a bill outlawing same sex relationship. For doing that, the World Bank suspended aid to Uganda and Sweden follow suit and blocked all bilateral aid. It is not too long that President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan of Nigeria despite the internal security threats from Boko Haram signed into law a bill declaring same sex relationship a no go area for all Nigerians. This of course attracted angry reactions from Nigeria’s so-called partners.

The case of Cameroon is peculiar as the authorities despite the gaffs in governance issues have stood their grounds against pressure from the West to legalize same sex relationship. The ranting of the learned Barrister Alice NKOM is in place as it is her right to say what she thinks but that right does not negate the fact that she should not step on others toes. Homosexuality is total anathema in Cameroon and the Penal code forbids it upon pain of imprisonment. Culturally, it is a very strange phenomenon and a vast majority of the Cameroonian people detests it including all legal and constituted institutions in Cameroon.

Perhaps, she is leading a noble course for those who feel that way and have decided to put her in the spotlight with awards (She recently received an award from the German Branch of Amnesty International in Berlin) but she should be reminded that Cameroon is a State of law and no amount of underground networking can change that.

Cameroon is Africa in miniature and the last time I checked as someone with a deep knowledge in history, I did not anywhere see homosexuality as one of the key elements of the richness of Cameroon. We cherish our values and nowhere is it written that homosexuality is part of such values. We refuse as a people to be led to the slaughter because of selfish interests.

The Divine dictates on which we base all moral arguments and reflections be it in the West or Africa forbid same sex marriage and see it as very disgusting. Why should we at any time question that? Why do you think that God in his Divine wisdom created man and woman and commanded them by telling them “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Gen. 9:7) and a mere mortal would stand up and declare that for the sake of human rights, we should spite such a norm?

Is there anyone of them shouting at the top of their voices for the legalization of same sex relationship who is in that kind of relationship? What is the essence of such hypocrisy? Africans are predominantly polygamous and it is part of them. How many Western societies recognized polygamy? For how long shall we allow ourselves to be place under such double standards? Is it only right when it comes from the West and wrong when it is African? Must the world survive when others dominate?

Besides, why should AID be pegged to the legalization of same sex marriage? Embezzling money and robbing people of resources that could be used for national development is a human rights issue and should be treated as such. Besides, Western companies exploiting Africa or fueling conflicts in Congo are human rights issues as the destiny of millions of people and their livelihood are put into complete jeopardy. Again, the very fact that the West has elected to remaining silent while African leaders embezzle and lodge money in western bank accounts without the west blinking is an issue that needs very serious reexamination. Such money that could have been used to transform the lives of the people and the economy is lying fallow and useful to western capitalist while the people go hungry, lacking basic amenities like portable water, health facilities and electricity. And you tell me the West is helping Africa by trampling on her cultural values and rights? It is double standards and hypocrisy at its best to hinge aid on same sex relationship when there are more serious things that tie down Africa.

When Barrister Alice NKOM argues that homosexuality is compared to slavery in America, where does she leave Africa in all these? Is she aware that the non-compensation of Africans and Africa for the millions that she lost in human resources during the era of slave trade constitutes a human rights abuse? Are we sure that she is just an activist fighting for people or she has vested interest related to homosexuality somewhere? Africa has come of age and the people are ready to stand by their leaders on such burning issues of morality. If we should be given aid base on our recognition of gay rights as a people, then such aid can be kept and used to prod homosexuals in the West.

In all these, African leaders should pull their resources on it and issue a common statement. They should stop playing to the gallery and pretending by betraying their peers in the name of maintaining ties with the West. The activists have a right to their opinion but they should desist from abusing the rights of others by trying to force their views on them. Yielding to such western antics would be like dying before your real death!

*Tangwe will be sharing his opinions on critical issues in the Blog African View Points

 

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