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Bushra al-Fadil wins 18th Caine Prize for African Writing
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bushra al-Fadil

Bushra al-Fadil

Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookkler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction(Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

Bushra was joined on the 2017 shortlist by:

  • Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, UK. 2015)
  • Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
  • Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’  published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)

The panel of judges was chaired by Nii Ayikwei Parkes – member of the Caine Prize Council and Director of the Ama Ata Aidoo Centre for Creative Writing at the African University College of Communications in Accra, the first of its kind in West Africa. He is the author of the novel Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape, UK. 2009) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2010.

Alongside Nii on the panel of judges are: Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac; and 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko.

As in previous years, the winner of the Caine Prize will be given an opportunity to take up residence at Georgetown University at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to speak at the Library of Congress. Each shortlisted writer receives £500, and Max Shmookler, translator of Bushra al-Fadil’s shortlisted story (originally written in Arabic) receives £250. The winner is invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Storymoja in Nairobi and Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Last year the Caine Prize was won by South African writer Lidudumalingani for his story “Memories We Lost” from Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa. 2015). Lidudumalingani has since gone on to win a Miles Morland Scholarship and is currently writing his debut novel, Let Your Children Name Themselves.

The New Internationalist 2017 anthology, The Goddess of Mtwara and other stories, is now published and it includes all of the shortlisted stories along with 11 other short stories written at the Caine Prize 2017 workshop in Tanzania. You can buy the anthology at https://newint.org/books/fiction/caine-prize-2017/. The anthology is also available from 11 African co-publishers who receive the print ready PDF free of charge.

The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years.

The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Dr Delia Jarrett-Macauley is the Chair, Adam Freudenheim is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.

Full biographies of the shortlistees are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-shortlist/.

Full biographies of the 2017 judges are available at http://caineprize.com/2017-judges/.

This year 148 short stories from writers representing 22 African countries were received and entered into the 2017 Caine Prize before they were whittled down to the final 5. The judges made their final decision on the winner today.

Previous winners are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014), Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015), and South African Lidudumalingani (2016).

The five shortlisted stories, alongside stories written at Caine Prize workshop held in Tanzania in March 2017, are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), LanternBooks (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somalia and Somaliland), Gadsen Publishers (Zambia), Huza Press (Rwanda),  Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.

The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League and John and Judy Niepold.  Other funders and partners include, The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam Bhattacherjee, Phillip Ihenacho and other generous donors.

Special thanks also go to the Centre of African Studies and SOAS, University of London, for supporting this year’s award dinner, held for the first time in London.

*The Caine Prize

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Uganda: 3 lessons from the Ghetto President’s by-election triumph
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY MICHAEL MUTYABA*

Popular musician Bobi Wine’s landslide victory was about more than just his fame.

Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine on the campaign trail. Credit: Bobi Wine.

Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine on the campaign trail. Credit: Bobi Wine.

By the close of business last Thursday, Kampala was in an uproar. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, a 35-year-old Ugandan musician-turned-politician better known as “Bobi Wine”, had won the parliamentary seat for Kyaddondo East. His landslide victory, with around 80% of the vote, brought to an end a dramatic month of intensive campaigning in the small constituency on the outskirts of the city.

The seat fell vacant after a losing candidate in the 2016 elections, the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) Sitenda Sebalu, filed a suit that successfully overturned the victory of his opponent, Apollo Kantinti of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). When a by-election was called, Kyagulanyi put his name forwards.

His entry into the race was the game-changer. Bobi Wine’s fame in the entertainment industry, cultivated over the past 15 years, became the focal point of the campaign, overshadowing both his manifesto and those of his opponents.

When the country’s music industry, dominated by Congolese music in the 1990s, started adjusting to indigenous Ugandan music in the early 2000s, Bobi Wine’s voice was among the first to hit the airwaves. The quickly thriving industry propelled him and a few other local musicians to stardom, turning them into millionaires overnight. Over the years, his music took an increasingly political tone as his songs critiqued government excesses and defended the poor, cementing his image as a spokesperson for the discontented urban youth.

The meteoric rise of the “ghetto president”, as he is known among his slum peers, would come to symbolise the possibilities open to Ugandan youth amidst tough economic times and a decadent political system. When he announced his candidature in May, therefore, his victory was virtually guaranteed. His rags-to-riches story and his politically-themed music was bound to appeal to Kampala’s youthful and opposition-leaning electorate.

However, this by-election, which captured national imagination and attracted bigwigs on both sides of the political divide, is more significant than what the media – preoccupied with Bobi Wine’s celebrity status – tends to suggest. The poll speaks volumes about the future of the ruling NRM regime, the quickly changing dynamics of the electorate, as well as the preparedness of the opposition to take over the reins of government.

Chaotic elections are the new normal

The ugly scenes that have lately become central to politics in Uganda were seen again. As in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Kyaddondo East by-election was full of arrests, violence, claims of vote-rigging, and heavy deployment of security forces.

Bobi Wine himself was arrested just a few days prior to the election, and there were various reports of pre-election clashes. On D-day itself, voting kicked off peacefully by 8am, but tales of rigging, detentions and police violence had started surfacing by noon, and intensified till voting closed in the evening.

That it has become almost impossible to witness a chaos-free election in Uganda is a sad commentary on the state of democracy in the country. It testifies to the NRM’s determination to bypass democratic institutions and processes to survive.

The opposition is still unable to unite

The by-election exposed the high degree of disorganisation within Uganda’s opposition. The contest was widely seen as one between the opposition − represented by the FDC’s Apollo Kantinti and the independent but Democratic Party-leaning Bobi Wine − and the ruling NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu.

But the opposition could not agree to front a single candidate in a constituency where the NRM was widely expected to rig. In fact, some key opposition figures found themselves in an awkward position unable to publicly campaign for either candidate.

If it hadn’t been for Bobi Wine’s overwhelming popularity, the NRM could easily have taken advantage of the divisions within the opposition and, indeed, tried to do so.

This failure of coalition-building – which has antecedents in the failed Inter-Party Cooperation(IPC) of 2001 and the defunct The Democratic Alliance (TDA) of 2016 – may not have been costly in this instance, but could raise its ugly head again in future with potentially disastrous consequences to the opposition.

The youth are a force to be reckoned with

The by-election also sent a positive message − that Ugandan youth are rising up to take their country’s mantle of leadership. Bobi Wine’s voters mainly comprised of urban youth that were born after President Yoweri Museveni first took power in 1986.  This demographic has grown up with the discontentment of watching high-profile scandals involving high-profile government officials – the so-called ‘historicals’ that fought in the bush war – and seem to be determined to make a difference in the governance of their country.

In many respects, the rejection of the NRM candidate in the by-election was a protest vote by this younger generation against what they perceive as an older, corrupt and inefficient breed of leaders.

Of course, the Ugandan parliament is not a place that inspires much optimism; the house is over four hundred members strong, with more than three quarters of them belonging to the NRM and only a handful of legislators below the age of forty. The opposition and the youth are thus badly outnumbered, and Bobi Wine’s influence will not prevent the NRM’s agenda from passing on the house floor.

Nevertheless, the people that have catapulted the young musician to the legislature are a constituency to watch. For it is this ragtag, city-based, unemployed youth that will likely to determine the commencement and direction and of a post-Museveni era − whether through the ballot box or not.

*African Arguments.Michael Mutyaba is a Kampala-based writer and researcher on African politics. Email: michaelmutyaba@gmail.com

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Mugabe donates $1 million to African Union
July 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe arrives at the African Union headquarters during the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Governments, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Monday he was donating $1 million to the African Union (AU), hoping to set an example for African countries to finance AU programmes and wean it off funding from outside donors.

For years, about 60 percent of AU spending has been financed by donors including the European Union, World Bank and governments of wealthy non-African countries.

Mugabe, who has held power in Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, has said reliance on foreign funds allows big powers to interfere in the work of the AU.

The 93-year-old Mugabe told an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he had auctioned 300 cattle from his personal herd in May to fulfil a promise made to the continental body two years ago.

“Africa needs to finance its own programmes. Institutions like the AU cannot rely on donor funding as the model is not sustainable,” Mugabe said in comments broadcast on Zimbabwe’s state television.

“This humble gesture on Zimbabwe’s part has no universal application but it demonstrates what is possible when people apply their minds to tasks before them.”

The African Union’s 2017 budget is $782 million, increasing from $416.8 million last year. African leaders in July 2016 agreed in principle to charge a 0.2 percent levy on some exports to help finance AU operations.

Zimbabwe, whose economy was devastated by a drought last year, does not disclose its contributions to the AU. The top five African contributors are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa.

*Reuters.(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Roche)

 

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Africa: Don’t Abandon Patriotism, KK Reminds Africa
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda

First Republican president Kenneth Kaunda has reminded Africa not to abandon the patriotism that its founding fathers exhibited when they stood by each other to liberate the continent from colonial bondage despite geographic locations.

Dr Kaunda said good neighbourliness was the cornerstone that the founding fathers built on Africa and liberated it from colonial bondage, and it was important that the current generation did not forget this component of history.

The former head of State said it was important that Africans worked together in love because where there was love, people could overcome any challenges.

Dr Kaunda said this yesterday when visiting Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo paid him a visit at his residence in Lusaka’s State Lodge area.

“Our neighbours may be from another region or origin. They may even be from another political party. We are all brothers and sisters. We work together to do our part in God’s work. With love we can overcome great challenges,” Dr Kaunda said.

He said Africans should not allow themselves to be divided on account of colour, ethnicity, language or religion.

Dr Kaunda said African countries had in the past helped one another attain independence from the colonial masters, and this mutual support should be sustained in the interest of good neighbourliness.

 He hailed the Ghanaian leader for his election to the presidency, which coincided with Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary.

Dr Kaunda said Mr Akufo-Addo’s visit would nourish the deep relations between Zambia and Ghana, which dated many years back when Kwame Nkrumah worked to liberate the continent.

President Akufo-Addo said the warm relations that existed between Zambia and Ghana symbolised love and solidarity.

He said Ghana under his administration would continue to work closely with Zambia to improve existing relations for the betterment of people in the two states.

Mr Akufo-Addo said this was living up to the relationship that existed from the days before independence foe the two countries.

He said Dr Kaunda was an icon of this generation, and that Africa was one people and that he would work with his counterparts to defend the rights of the people on the continent.

*Culled from Times of Zambia

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Liberia: President Sirleaf Declares Assets As Tenure Comes to An End
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sirleaf Johnson

Sirleaf Johnson

Monrovia — When Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia and Africa’s first woman head of state, some eleven years ago, she pledged to set an example for others in her government to follow, starting with the declaration of assets.

“I further call on all Presidential aspirants, to consider in their own interest to do the same” – President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Said Sirleaf on January 6, 2006: “In this respect, I will lead by example. I will expect and demand that everyone serving in my Administration leads by example.

“In an environment of rumors, conspiracies, lies and suspicions, it is important that those holding high public office disclose their financial status to the public” – President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

The first testament of how my Administration will tackle public service corruption will be that everyone appointed to high positions of public trust such as in the Cabinet and head s of public corporations will be required to declare their assets, not as part of a confirmation requirement, but as a matter of policy.”

“I will be the first to comply by declaring my assets. My Administration will also accord high priority to the formulation and passage into law of a National Code of Conduct, to which all public servants will be subjected.”

On Tuesday, Sirleaf, for only the second time in her presidency, notified the public that she had declared her assets, only this time, she put it out in the open for all to see.

The last time Sirleaf made her assets public was prior to the 2005 Presidential elections when all candidates were required per election guidelines to do so.

Assets Total US$1,707,279.64

In assets papers released Tuesday, the President’s declaration put her total worth of her assets at US$1,707,279.64

According to the President, she earns L$1,645,500 as gross salary per anum and US$72,000 in allowances per anum.

The asset declaration form also shows that President Sirleaf has US$49,933.76 in her personal checking account at IB Bank, EJS Farm account also at IB Bank has a balance of L$379,502.20 , EJS personal Account: L$630,363.31 and a saving account with a balance of US$9,777.72.

In foreign accounts, President Sirleaf has savings with Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina in the tone of US$153,006.00 and a UNFC account with a balance of US$7,300.

For treasury bills or investment in securities, President Sirleaf recorded having US$704,314.00 with Vanguard Mutual Funds in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and US$61,003.00 with American Funds, Los Angeles in California.

For real estate, President Sirleaf valued her current residence – a one storey building with a swimming pool and a palavahut at US$164,100. She also owns a bungalow which contains a boys quarters, palavahut and an external kitchen at Corina Park, Congo Town, valued at US$117,300; a compound with two concrete buildings in Congo Town worth US$103,000.00; a vacant family plot on Broad Street worth US$50,000; a US$77,411 residential property in Caldwell, Bushrod Island; a structure on Benson Street valued at US$44, 016; a US$56,800 bungalow on Congo Town back road.

She also owns a vacant 513 acres of land in Todee District which she valued at US$51,300 and four acres of vacant land in Paynesville worth US$4,000. According to the President, her garden is also worth US$5,000.

Last Assets Push was in 2012

In August 2012, President Sirleaf suspended her son, Charles Sirleaf and 45 other government officials for failing to declare their assets to the Liberia Anti-Corruption authorities, in a step seen as a strong effort to battle corruption.

Charles Sirleaf, one of three of the President’s sons appointed to government posts, was suspended from his position as Deputy Central Bank Governor.
In making her Declarations of Assets and Liabilities, which are already in the custody of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Tuesday, the President also released her Income Tax Returns, in an unprecedented move rarely practiced by Presidents in Africa.

Sirleaf, addressing the nation in a special live broadcast to the nation said: “In an environment of rumors, conspiracies, lies and suspicions, it is important that those holding high public office disclose their financial status to the public”.

The President did not stop there. She called upon all high-level officials, particularly those in public fiduciary positions, to do likewise. “I further call on all Presidential aspirants, to consider in their own interest to do the same”, she noted

She then said that the records of her family members, including those based abroad are clear and subject to the stringent laws of said countries, thus addressing any suspicion of family members holding assets that belong to her.

The President’s declaration of her assets comes amid the preliminary results of an ongoing audit process of the Private Sector Development Initiative at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, commissioned by the Minister of Finance, revealing some shocking outcome and results which showed that officials at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning were making loans to themselves in violation of the law.

“We can say with a high degree of confidence that such a scheme set up at the PDSI is clearly a conflict of interest and will be dealt with by the full weight of the law.”

The PSDI is a project, that was established in 2014 at the MFDP to provide loans to Liberian-owned small and medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s).

The loan was meant to financially-strengthen Liberian businesses. In so doing, the process would create jobs and accelerate the participation of Liberian owned businesses in the economy of Liberia.

The President also ordered Dr. James Kollie, the principal administrator of the program during the audit period, to return to Liberia from his official trip to assist in the audit and answer all of the issues associated with it.

Battle Misconceptions About Family’s Wealth

Since her ascendance to the presidency, Sirleaf has been consistently bombarded about her finances and forced to clarify misconceptions about her perceived wealth.

The President acknowledged those concerns in a FrontPageAfrica interview last year as she sought to dismiss what she described as wrong perceptions about her family’s wealth.

Said Sirleaf: “I feel so sad because this is one of the greatest lies that the future will debunk. This family does not have excessive wealth; this family lives by certain principles of my mother.” “We do not steal, we do not steal, do you understand, we have no shares in companies, we have nothing, I personally do not own a piece of property in America where I owned houses before and sold them before coming to Liberia”.

In another interview three years earlier, in 2013, Sirleaf charged: “I myself, what do I have? I have three houses – all built during my years of struggle, going through many things. I live in one house right now; my son Jess lives in the other house; and the one house that is rented, behind the “Y”, where my children grew up. I have some land in Todee, but that’s all. But I’ve earned good money over the years, enough to be able to take care of myself comfortably. I’m not rich, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t care to be rich. My mother taught us humility, honesty, hard work, and that’s the code I live by.

“Fortunately, I won the Peace Prize; that probably gave me the biggest lump sum of money that I’ve had. I’ve already built a school in my ancestral village; I put up money to build a girls’ dormitory in Todee. That building is nearing completion; that’s a commitment I made, and I’m meeting the commitment.”

With less than seven months to the end of her tenure and as she prepares her exit from the presidency, President Sirleaf’s public declaration of her assets Tuesday, political observers say, could go a long way in giving the public some idea into the range of her worth.

*FPA/Allafrica

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Quett Masire (1925-2017), the great African leader you’ve never heard of
June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments
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IMF approves three-year, $666 mln loan deal for Cameroon
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments
Cameroon's longtime leader Paul Biya with IMF's Christine Lagarde,

Cameroon’s longtime leader Paul Biya with IMF’s Christine Lagarde,

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund’s executive board on Monday approved a $666 million, three-year extended credit facility for Cameroon to support economic and financial reforms, an IMF statement said.

The nations of central Africa’s CEMAC currency union have struggled in the face of low oil prices, which have slashed state revenues. Cameroon has also been forced to concentrate resources on combating the threat of Islamist Boko Haram militants along its northwestern border with Nigeria.

“Having initially shown resilience owing to its greater diversification, the Cameroonian economy is now facing decelerating growth, declining fiscal and external buffers, and rapidly-rising public debt,” IMF Deputy Managing director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said in the statement.

The board’s decision allows for the immediate disbursement of $171 million as part of a programme aimed at restoring fiscal and external sustainability and unlocking private sector-driven growth.

The IMF approved a similar $642 million loan agreement for Cameroon’s neighbour Gabon, another CEMAC member state, last week.

*Reuters

 

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Gabon Commits to Protect its Forests and gets Funds to Reduce Emissions by 50%
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Paris, 27 June 2017:  Today the Government of Gabon and the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) signed a Letter of Intent for 18 million US dollars to protect the country’s forests and accelerate the fight against climate change.

A few weeks after the United States’ dramatic shift in its approach to climate change, Gabon gives a strong signal to the whole world by showing its determination to honour its commitments under the Paris Agreement. With CAFI’s support, Gabon gains the means to reduce by 50% its greenhouse gases emissions by 2025, compared to 2005 (as spelled out in its Nationally Determined Contribution).

  1. Régis IMMONGAULT, Gabonese Minister of Prospective Economy and Sustainable Development Programming, fully engaged in the sustainable economic development of his country, emphasized his country’s position:  « The commitment from CAFI donor countries to support our sustainable development policy is a sign of the recognition of the efforts our Government has made for years, efforts to optimize our development while preserving ecosystems and biodiversity.  Today’s agreement reaffirms once more our full adhesion to the Paris Agreement, to which African countries must maintain their engagement despite others’ positions, as reminded, a few days ago during the African Conference of Environment Ministers, His Excellency M. Ali Bongo Ondimbam, Coordinator of the African Committee of Heads of States on Climate. »

The funding from CAFI will be key not only to achieve this climate target, but also to monitor it, and this within the short time-frame the Gabonese authorities have set for themselves.  The Letter of Intent is articulated around three ambitious objectives: a national-land use plan, a system to monitor forests and natural resources, and gains in the governance of forests.

Gabon is one of the most forested countries on earth, with forests covering 88% of its territory. The country as long committed to protect its natural resources, with notably, a vast network of national parks and protected areas, and a Forest Code that imposes sustainable management.

A national land-use plan is considered the missing piece for the country to achieve its climate target while developing sustainably. This plan will enable Gabon to meet its ambitious objective to develop agriculture –  needed for both food security and economic diversification – while ensuring that forests with high carbon and high biodiversity are not converted to crops.

 

Gabon will monitor activities through a National Natural Resources and Forest Observation System that will, among others, help estimate carbon stocks, gain a robust understanding of economic activities in forests, and allow quick enforcement reactions to unforeseen deforestation events. Satellite monitoring is no easy task in one of the cloudiest countries on the planet, but Gabon is at the forefront of monitoring systems in the region.

“This agreement is a big step forward. Gabon is committing to measures that, if implemented, would preserve about 98% of Gabon’s rainforests”, said Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment and chair of CAFI. ” CAFI is proud to support this ambitious but pragmatic plan, which seeks to grow a middle- income economy while preserving invaluable natural capital, for the people of Gabon and for the world.”

The signature of this Letter of Intent is also a major milestone for CAFI, an initiative born less two years ago, with Gabon the second country – after the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year-  to have signed on such deal.

“With this engagement, Gabon could set a standard for sustainable development that could inspire other countries in Central and Western Africa. By accelerating reforms, the country will engage on a genuine green economy path that offers solutions for both climate and agriculture, and is attractive for green private sector investments more generally. The agreement between Gabon and CAFI paves the way for deforestation-free economic growth”, noted Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.

CAFI was established in 2015 to seeks to accelerate reforms so that forests in the Central African region are recognized and preserved for their positive impact on the fight against climate change, poverty reduction and sustainable development. www.cafi.org

 UNDP forges partnerships at all levels of society to promote nations’ resilience to carry out a growth that would improve the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. www.undp.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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International Trademark Association CEO visits Africa to cement collaboration on trademarks and Intellectual Property rights systems
June 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The International Trademark Association (INTA) CEO, Mr. Etienne Sanz
de Acedo who is visiting Africa and Zimbabwe in particular for the
first time has convened meetings with key stakeholders especially in
the Intellectual Property (IP)rights sector to cement collaboration
and support trademarks and related rights systems with the continent.

According to Susan Mwiti, Documentations and Communications Officer
for the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO)
Acedo’s mission is to understand how to better serve and increase INTA
membership in Africa as well as strengthen ties and cooperation with
ARIPO, government departments, the Judiciary and academic institutions
responsible for or who have a stake in the effective use of trademarks
for development.

INTA is the global association of trademark owners and professionals
dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property
in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective
commerce. Recently, INTA has been paying more attention to Africa.
INTA CEO, Mr. De Acedo, says his priorities are “to becoming truly
global” and “engaging as many constituencies as possible.”

INTA undertakes advocacy work throughout the world to advance
trademarks and offers educational programs and informational and legal
resources of global interest.

At ARIPO, the CEO met with the agents, attorneys and brand owners
based in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Acedo, accompanied by the ARIPO Director General, Mr. Fernando dos
Santos, is also expected to meet with the Zimbabwean Chief Justice,
Justice Luke Malaba and Vice President, Vice President Emmerson
Mnangagwa.

INTA has seven member organizations in Zimbabwe and in Africa 248
members from 37 countries. Globally, it has more than 7,000
organizations from 190 countries. INTA members collectively contribute
almost $12 trillion to global GDP annually. For comparison, the 2015
annual GDP of the top three markets was $10.9 trillion (China), $16.2
trillion (European Union) and $17.9 trillion (United States).

The Association’s member organizations represent some 30,000 trademark
professionals and include brand owners from major corporations as well
as small- and medium-sized enterprises, law firms and nonprofits.
There are also government agency members as well as individual
professor and student members.

The not-for-profit Association was founded in 1878 by 17 merchants and
manufacturers who saw a need for an organization “to protect and
promote the rights of trademark owners, to secure useful legislation
and to give aid and encouragement to all efforts for the advancement
and observance of trademark rights.”

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) is
an Inter-governmental organization (IGO). It was created under the
Lusaka Agreement that was concluded and signed in Lusaka, Zambia on
December 9 1976. Membership of the Organization is open to all
African States members of the United Nations Economic Commission for
Africa (ECA) or the African Union (AU).

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Nigeria: Why I Played Strong Sex Scenes in My Latest Film – Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde
June 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

Leading actress, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, has returned to Nollywood. After a three-year hiatus, the 39-year-old is lined up to debut “Alter Ego” alongside Wole Ojo and Jide Kosoko.

PREMIUM TIMES had an exclusive interview with the award-winning actress who has appeared in over 300 films. Omotola opens up about her career, marriage and playing a controversial character inAlter Ego.

PT: You went off the scene for three years. Was this deliberate?

Omotola

Omotola

Omotola: Yes it was. I knew I was going to embark on a break so I starred in a few movies, which have not been released. I shot Blood on the Lagoon with Teco Benson, and another one in London called Amina, which are yet to be released. I got to that point when I felt like nothing was challenging me anymore and I began to feel like my standard was dropping. I went through that period and I knew I needed to stay away and wait for Nollywood to catch up with some of our ideas.

PT: Do you think starring in Chineze Anyaene’s 2010 movie, Ije, in the United States, sort of placed you on a pedestal?

Omotola: Well, I knew cinema movies were the next step for me. After starring in Ije I knew that the industry was not moving fast enough and I knew the only way out for me was to make that sacrifice and just dropout. So I starred in movies that I thought could hold forth for me while I concentrate on other things like building my business. Coming back was hard for me because I was aiming for that movie that would challenge. I was looking for something as strong as or better than Mortal Inheritance. I knew I had to reset my mindset, I was looking for something that would excite me the same way Mortal Inheritance did. I got a lot of scripts and none of them filled that gap. I could have taken up some of them for the sake of money. But I have gone past that point.

Omotola in a scene of Alter Ego

PT: Your fans can’t stop talking about your sex scenes in Alter Ego. Was your husband comfortable with you playing the role?

Omotola: Some of the sex scenes in Alter Ego were downplayed because I’m married. But I won’t play the sex scenes if it wasn’t necessary to be included in the film. I know by starring in this movie that my fans would either hate me or love me forever. While shooting the film, I knew I was doing something quite risky. There are several ways to shoot a sex scene tastefully. I’m all for playing a sex scene convincingly and my husband knows this. I tell my husband, “You know what darling, you married an actor”; and secondly, he is my biggest fan. I tell him, “Do you want me to be great or do you just want me to be good?” He will say, “I want you to be great, sparklingly great”. Then I’ll say, “Ehen, we go love o” and he’s fine with it. He understands but just like every other human being and the professional that he is, he too wants to be convinced that I played a sex scene because it was necessary. I know when he watches movies sometimes he would say, “Did they have to kiss if they were not going to kiss well?”

PT: You got pretty raunchy with your co-stars in your latest movie, Alter Ego. Are you ready for viewer’s criticisms?

Omotola: When I wasn’t even confident, I starred in a movie called a prostitute, which was released 22 years ago. If I didn’t die then, is it now? I’m ready.

PT: Playing a believable sex scene would mean going extra lengths. Do you think Nigerians will embrace such films?

Omotola: You don’t even have to “chop” somebody’s mouth if you don’t want to. If the scene is not about you showing real mad crazy love then you can’t now be showing mouth to mouth kissing or removing of clothes. In Nigerian movies, we have downplayed chemistry. I hope we can bring that back. Back in the day when I shot Mortal Inheritance in 1995, I had to spend time with my co-star, Fred Amata. He was already a renowned director and in those days, directors were revered. So imagine, my director who had directed me in a movie prior now acting as my lover. I was really afraid but we broke the ice by spending time with each other. So, he demystified himself and we had chemistry and you could tell. So, I’m hoping all of this returns to Nigerian movies. So, as professionals, we need to ask ourselves if it is necessary for a movie to have a sex scene and when it is, it should be done well.

Omotola acting a sex scene in the movie Alter Ego

PT: With regards to Alter Ego, how were you able to build some on-screen chemistry with your co-star, Wole Ojo?

Omotola: I was working with Wole Ojo for the first time, so we had to spend time together and we played very rough. I understand the power of being friends with your love interest in a movie so we became like a couple. We ate together and basically just broke down the walls to make sure we were both comfortable with each other and have each other’s backs and interest at heart. So, it spilled into the movie without you even noticing.

PT: Alter Ego appears to be the first Nollywood movie to truly address Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do you think it would appeal to the Nigerian Nollywood audience?

Omotola: We don’t talk about PTS that much in Nigeria, so, when you see someone that is mentally traumatised, the first thing that comes to your mind is, “this person is crazy!”. We don’t talk about depression in Nigeria. We don’t talk about how it affects children, especially those that have been abused.

When you ask a lot of adults, you might find out that some people have been abused as children. And if we want to tell ourselves the truth, how many of us were actually able to tell our parents about this?

In Africa, it’s always a taboo to say, “uncle, somebody touched me”. They will practically ask you one million questions. “What did you say to him? How were you sitting? What were you wearing?” As if it’s your fault, you become the victim. Alter Ego sets out to address how sexual abuse affects victims as kids and as adults.

 Sometimes, you see people as adults behave in a certain way, but because we have not diagnosed this problem – because in Africa, you are either just crazy and should go to Yaba Left; but we don’t think about the fact that people actually have psychological trauma and that PTSD actually affect Africans. We think it’s an Oyibo disease.

PT: Why were you drawn to Alter Ego?

Omotola: It’s the soul of the movie. It must come quickly in a movie and must also be underlining throughout the film. Some come naturally while some don’t. The movie got me on time because I switch very quickly; so if I read through the first 10 pages of a movie script and I don’t get the story, I get bored. I loved the film from the beginning but it was a diamond in the rough. I knew what was lacking in it. So, I called the director and told him we will have to tear the script apart and rebuild it and he gave me his nod. It takes a big mind to shoot Alter Ego.

PT: You once hinted of plans to build a film village in Badagry in conjunction with your husband. Will it be ready anytime soon?

Omotola: I hope it will be ready next year hopefully. I also began another project on Mobolaji Bank Anthony,Lagos, which is supposed to be annex of the film village first called, Double Doors. So, these are some of the things I was busy putting together when I went off the scene. I have always said that what we need in Nollywood is infrastructure. So, I needed to start building infrastructure.

PT: Do you think the Buhari administration has done enough for Nollywood?

Omotola: I think this government needs to wake up. The sad part is that they go around the world and they brag about Nollywood. That’s why I don’t understand how to brag about something you are not helping enough. They need to understand that Nollywood in itself is a force and it should have its own ministry. We have a problem in Nigeria which is that we are afraid to allow ourselves be great. So, instead of allowing someone who knows his or her onions do the job we put stumbling blocks because of “see finish”. But if a white person comes along, we will support him or her. We need to start supportting ourselves. You will be amazed to know that Nollywood is the second (highest) employer of labour in Nigeria after agriculture. I think if they want to be sincere they will say Nollywood is number one. Why don’t we forget our immediate petty jealousy and begin to invest in this industry?

 PT: You have yet to star in a Yoruba film?

Omotola: I starred in one a long time ago titled No Rival and Oyato. I might be shooting one soon. It’s not a fully Yoruba film; it’s a collaboration. I’m currently reading the script.

Omotola acting in a scene in the movie Alter Ego

PT: How have you managed to reinvent yourself year in year out?

Omotola: I think it’s knowing what matters and being authentic and hoping that your authentic self makes sense. I am blessed that from a very tender age I was able to find God and my Christian values have shaped me. The real me is real; “I no dey form, I no dey do pass myself and what you see with me is what you get.” Somewhere along the line in my career, I deviated because of the distraction of money. Our brothers that were bringing so much unnecessary money into the industry and they were the ones dictating the pace. Thank God that I was able to find my core self back.

PT: Did marrying early boost your career?

Omotola : Absolutely. It’s one of the biggest blessings of my life because I look back now and I am like if I wasn’t married then, will I be married now? I can understand that as a celebrity it is hard, really hard, to get people who really love you for who you are and not because of the image of you that they have in mind. So, I can understand what some of my colleagues are going through because it’s not easy. Having said that, marrying my friend, a very wonderful, powerful man, who is confident of himself, has helped me. It has allowed me have that stability and be able to go out and fly.

PT: What’s happening to your music career?

Omosexy : I want to get back to music so bad and I am coming out viciously and it’s not like I care about what people were saying when I launched my music career.

I hope we can get to that place where we can find a balance. But, I want to do music in such a way that I can be in concert like Barbra Streisand. I want to fashion my career like hers I won’t be a Tiwa Savage because music is her career. So, I can’t compete with her because of movies; but I’ve told people in the past that I almost love music more than movies. That is why I love to express myself a lot in music. I want to build my own place and be in concert and have people come watch me. That’s the way I think I’ll be able to do music.

PT: On a final note, will your son produce your songs?

Omosexy : I would love him to produce me but we fight a lot and I complained a lot about that. But, I now understand that he is very finicky. He knows exactly and I don’t know if we can ever work together because we are both very headstrong. I will love to work with him because he is a very fantastic producer. Anyone who has met him says the same thing and he is the future and I’m not saying this because he is my son. Visit his website and check out his music.

*Allafrica/Premium Times

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Uganda Refugee Summit Raises U.S.$358 Million
June 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Refugee Solidarity Summit in Kampala has raised $358.2 million in pledges towards support of refugees in Uganda.

 Two South Sudanese teenagers wait in queue to see a doctor at Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp.


Two South Sudanese teenagers wait in queue to see a doctor at Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp.

The money raised in pledges is way below the $2 billion that the government of Uganda had hoped to raise from the summit hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and attended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

 The European Union (EU) emerged as the biggest contributor to the summit. On Wednesday the EU pledged €85 million (about $96 million) towards refugees support.

Christos Stylianides, the EU commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Crisis Management said the total contribution from European Union and its member states amounted to €210 million (about $235 million).

“On behalf of the people of Europe, I am pleased to announce that the European Union steps up its support to the refugee response in Uganda with an amount of 85 million euro. With the additional separate announcements from the European member states who are present here today, the overall help from the people of Europe amount to almost 210 million euro”, said Stylianides.

 Other EU member states that individually announced pledges included Germany with $55 million, United Kingdom with $50 million, Sweden with $27 million, Italy with $5 million, Norway with 4 million, Austria $5 million.
 Outside the EU, Japan pledged $10 million, United Arab Emirates $5 million, Canada $11 million, China $500,000, African Union $100,000, Gabon $250,000, Equatorial Guinea $100,000, India $1m, Kenya $200,000, Somalia $100,000 among others. MTN Uganda said it was to provide Shs 1 billion.

President Museveni thanked development partners and states for the contribution saying that showed that world is committed towards ensuring a conflict free region.

Guterres, the UN secretary General who stayed to witness the entire pledging conference also thanked development partners for their support to Uganda. He said this will transform the lives of many refugees and also build them into better people that their country needs.

Uganda hosts 1.2 million refugees mostly from South Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Somalia. There are up to 900, 000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda who have fled conflict between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and former first vice president Riek Machar.

Uganda has been lauded for its open door policy towards refugees, as it freely welcomes refugees and offers them land in which they cultivate crops and settle.

On average 2,000 refugees enter the country daily straining the available meager financial resources. In some refugee settlements in the country, refugees complain of little food rations, lack of medicine in health facilities, limited education facilities.

*Allafrica/The Observer

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Something is happening in Congo-Brazzaville
June 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
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