Rachid Taha leaves us Je Suis Africain
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments
A posthumous record? “Nothing to declare!” as Rachid would have said, leaning on the bar counter, with messy hair, bright eyes, and a raspy voice. He’s there, you can’t miss him. He may be laid to rest in Algeria, but he hasn’t left us. He knew that those who are allegedly missing are well and alive: “Do you really know the others?” the master of rock-Chaâbi once asked, quoting the greats Johnny Cash, Oum Kalthoum, and Andy Warhol in a prophetic song titled Andy Walhoo. He wrote this arabic-punk-electro piece with guitars, balafon, and mouth harp before succumbing to a heart attack on September 12, 2018. “I was there with you last night, you told me to come. Every week you tell me, I’m waiting for you in my slum, there’s a Picasso exhibition, go see him. What a bastard, he had a nice mirror, I saw Jean Cocteau kissing Jean Marais,” he sings, ending with a big laugh. So nobody is gone, they live on in us.
With boundless energy, Taha wrote eleven songs together with Toma Feterman for his eleventh solo album, diving deep into his roots as usual. First, Algerian Chaâbi, so subtle, yet so complex. Then rock, which took the world by storm during the postwar period, and punk, its offshoot, in the style of The Clash. Finally, electronica, the musical revolution of the late twentieth century, as hypnotic as the Gnawas guembris or Sufi trance sounds. Rachid was influenced by all of it.
Youyous, flutes, women’s choirs, metal riffs: the French-Algerian, however weakened by the paralyzing effects of Chiari malformation, which he suffered from, created whirlpools, deluges, torrents. He invited us to dance with Andy Walhoo, and also with Like a Dervish, his “first song in English, I know I’m cheating, my English is not so rich.” His plays on words were irresistible: English, backich, dervish, merlich… The troublemaker of the “alternative Koran” also used to speak francarabe, a mix of French and Arabic, which he used to both celebrate and mock the Jewish masters (Lili Boniche, Reinette l’Oranaise, Line Monty…), humming their oriental boleros, such as Chérie je t’aime, chérie je t’adore and Bambino.
That’s why his new record, which he had been working on for two years before he was buried in the Sidi Benziane cemetery, had to be in mandoline-embellished French. One of the songs is called Minouche: “Minouche ma minouche, pourquoi tu te fâches, ne prends pas la mouche, ma jolie peau de vache… Minouche, donne-moi ta bouche” (Minouche, my little Minouche, why are you upset, don’t get into a huff, my pretty vixen… Minouche, let me kiss you). A popular dance tune for sure, with words sculpted by Jean Fauque, who worked closely with Bashung and Erwan Séguillon.
The rough voice and wild blend of styles don’t give an accurate description of this son of immigrants (born near Oran, Algeria, he was raised in eastern France and later settled down in Lyon). Rachid the rebel built bridges, “introducing beautiful people to the world” by singing Charles Trenet’s Douce France with his first band, Carte de séjour (French for “resident permit”), in 1986 to mock French integration while the Marche des Beurs (March of the French Arabs) was being broken up and François Mitterrand was celebrating the creation of SOS-Racisme (a movement of anti-racist NGOs founded in France in 1984). In 1998, he created a transgenerational hit with the album Diwân, which included a cover of Ya Rayah, the anthem of Algerian immigrants composed by the Chaâbi idol Dahmane El-Harrachi (1925-1980).
Throughout these years of experience—which also marked the rise of Oranian Rai music, which Rachid sang the traditional way, following in the footsteps of the great Cheikha Rimitti—he worked with Steve Hillage, whom he met in 1984. The former Gong guitarist was a lover of looped electronic rhythms, and starting in 1997, he infused his energy into the creation of Voilà, voilà, an anti–Front National, anti-xenophobic song that Rachid would never stop singing.
And ever since this sensory overload, Rachid continued to speak to us, and jostle us, in Arabic, French, Franglish, and even Spanish, through the limpid voice of the young Flèche Love (Amina Cadelli, born in Geneva of an Algerian mother), whom he discovered on YouTube after finally being introduced to the digital tablet. This extraordinary tattooed and esoteric artist accompanied him on Wahdi, a song with Gnawa rhythms, to which he added a Mexican trumpet, evoking Ennio Morricone.
The album was produced and co-written by Toma Feterman, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and founder of La Caravane Passe, a band that mixes rap, gypsy jazz, Balkan fanfare, alternative rock, and electro.
Toma and Rachid hung out at the same bars and clubs in the north of Paris (Bellevilloise, Cabaret Sauvage), following their friend Remy Kolpa Kopoul of Radio Nova (a French radio station created in 1981, which played non-mainstream and underground artists of various musical genres), whose death in 2015 left Rachid feeling orphaned.
Toma then asked him to sing Baba, a song that he had just written for Canis Carmina, his band’s next album. Over the course of one night, the two friends recorded a dozen tracks. “I used the recordings from this first session,” Toma said, “without needing to make him sing again, because there was nothing to change.” They improvised, and it was the beginning of a frenetic, productive adventure, of nights partying at Toma’s or Rachid’s, or spent in the studio. Hours of creation and surprises shared with his son Lyes, his friend Toufik, his mandolin player Hakim Hamadouche, and his former keyboard player Yves Fredj Aouizerate, who was also his last manager.
It was a club, a family, a community, a trip. The adventure even passed through studios in Bamako, because Rachid is African, having been born in Algeria, bordering Mali, the Mandingo musical empire. Je suis africain(I am African), the song that gives its name to the album, is an homage to the sounds of this great continent, that weaves together soukouss guitars, an Arab-Andalusian orchestra, Middle Eastern violins, balafon, and talking drums. “I am African, from Paris to Bamako, from New York to Congo”—the magnificent joker is having fun, playing with elegance. He takes the accent of a “fantastical” Africa and quotes Marley and Malcom X, Kateb Yacine, Franz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba, Angela Davis—all of them “African.”
- Source Rock Paper Scissors
Technology is the game changer for sports betting, argues ICE Africa speaker, Seun Methowe
August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments
Seun Methowe, Head of Advertising and Partnership Sales, at global live sport OTT platform, DAZN, believes that new technologies and in particular streaming will create more demand from upwardly mobile players and lead to a transformation in the way that betting brands and broadcasters engage with the market.
Speaking ahead of his appearance at October’s ICE Africa where he will be one of 65 thought leaders contributing to the event’s learning streams, Methowe, confirmed: “DAZN’s platform Goal.com is the number one football destination on the continent with more than 20m users drawn from throughout the regulated gaming economies. We are already working with major broadcasters and betting firms across Africa and there’s no doubt that technology will revolutionize the consumption of live and original sports content.”
He added: “New markets in entertainment, including virtual and fantasy football, are trends that experts in the gambling and betting industry will need to explore. Millennials in Africa are upwardly mobile and aspirational with huge numbers digesting information on sports, news and entertainment platforms with social media contributing to the ‘fuelling’ of this information digest.
“Content providers within the gaming industry are looking towards the creation of sustainable models and with a huge population base in excess of 1.3bn the potential in Africa is massive. ICE Africa is a powerful networking platform for stakeholders and therefore invaluable to any operator, decision maker or executive in the industry to garner knowledge and the opportunities that exist to grow their businesses.”
ICE Africa (2-3 October, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa) provides an invaluable opportunity for operators, regulators and suppliers to meet, network, share best practice and see the very latest gaming products and services from the industry’s leading innovators. Described by industry observers as ‘A showcase event that Africa can be proud of’ attendees will benefit from a programme of engaging content including Thought Leadership, Training, Regulation, Online vs. Retail, Integrated Resorts, Branding, Marketing, Sports and eSports. Seun Methowe will be part of the panel entitled: Sports Content: How will the growth of streaming services impact sports betting and horse racing?
German Expertise is Behind West Africa’s First LNG Storage and Regasification Plant
August 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Akonikien plant will be receiving LNG and distribute it to various industries on the mainland, such as power and cement
|JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 20, 2019/ — German companies ESC Engineers and Noordtec worked closely with Equatoguinean contractor Elite Construcciones on the design, development and construction of the Akonikien LNG project in Equatorial Guinea. The 14,000 cubic metres storage and regasification plant was inaugurated this week by H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, and is the first such facility in West Africa.
The project is part of Equatorial Guinea’s LNG2AFRICA initiative that seeks to develop small-scale LNG projects to supply African gas to African countries and regions with limited infrastructure. The Akonikien plant will be receiving LNG and distribute it to various industries on the mainland, such as power and cement.
“German companies have once again demonstrated their ability to bring valuable technical expertise and technology to meet Africa’s growing and complex energy needs,” declared Sebastian Wagner, founder at the Germany-Africa Business Forum (GABF). “More importantly, this project was realized in cooperation with German SMEs, showing the increasing number of private German companies able to work in collaboration with African entities on key energy project. Germany has developed a strong expertise in gas, power and renewables, which have all become central to the African energy agenda.”
Last month and in order to support the growing energy cooperation between Germany and Africa, the GABF launched a multi-million Euro funding commitment to invest in German energy startups that focus on Africa. The funding commitment, which pledges funds to German startups with exposure to African energy projects, is the first such intra-regional initiative. It goes in line with Germany’s renewed focus on Africa, with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) providing new stimulus to cooperation with the continent through the Marshall Plan with Africa.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi meets Vladimir Putin in Russia
August 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Arnaldo Cuamba
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi begins an official visit to the Russian Federation on Tuesday until 23 August 2019, following to an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The visit is considered historic since it is the first visit by a Mozambican head of state to Russia since the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. The last visit to Moscow was made by former President Joaquim Chissano in 1987.
During his stay in that country, according to a presidential press release, Nyusi will hold official talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, hold a meeting with the Mozambican community residing in Russia, open the Mozambique – Russia Business Forum, as well as visit business ventures.
The presidents of the two countries are expected to sign several agreements in the area of defense and security.
The visit is part of the consolidation and deepening of the friendship and cooperation relations existing between Mozambique and Russia, in the bilateral and international domains, and will provide an opportunity for both countries to define strategies for strengthening political, economic and business relations, among other areas.
Cameroon: Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, 9 others handed life sentences
August 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Yaounde Military court has handed life sentences to leaders of the Ambazonia separatist movement. He and nine others were convicted of charges including “terrorism and secession”, government lawyer Martin Luther Achet told AFP news agency on Tuesday. They were equally ordered to pay in FCFA 250 billion to the court
In a press release from the Communication and Media Committee of the Defense Team of Sessekou Ayuk Julius Tabe and others, Media and Communication Chairman Amungwa Tanyi Nicodemous stated, “Let the entire world be informed that at exactly 5:38 am this Tuesday the 20th day of August 2019, the President of the Federal Republic of Ambazonia and the nine (9) others have been slammed the life sentence by the Yaounde Military Tribunal in gross violation of their rights as accused persons.”
Ayuk Tabe was the first self-proclaimed president of “Ambazonia”, a breakaway state declared in October 2017 in two English-speaking Regions of Cameroon. The verdict brings to an end a case that has been dragging for more than a year now. Observers say this decision has killed all hopes of an effective back to school in the South West and North West Regions.
In January 2018, Ayuk Tabe was arrested with 46 other separatists in the Nigerian capital Abuja. They were then handed over to Cameroon in a move that was ruled illegal by a Nigerian court in March this year. In late May, Ayuk Tabe said he was willing to take part in talks with the government, provided this took place abroad and the government released all who had been detained since the start of the Anglophone crisis.
Renowned Human Rights Lawyer Barrister Felix Agbor Balla in a Facebook post categorically stated, “The sentencing of Sisiku and Co. to life imprisonment is an affront to due process and the rule of law”. “The right to fai trial is a fundermental human right. The sham process is a reflection of the sham management of the country.”
Is Mancho Bibixy next to get life imprisonment?
The Cameroon government is accusing Mancho Bibixy of tampering with the integrity of the nation by “demanding the partition of Cameroon through the creation of the State of Ambazonia.”He is also charged with trying to use violence to demand a return to Federation and for not being in possession of his Identity card
Mancho is being detained at the Kondengui Prison in Yaounde since his arrest in Bamenda on January 19, 2017. The detention of Mancho for thinking about a federal state and at the same time independence of the Southern Cameroons is an indication that he is a prisoner of conscience. “He was abducted and bundled to Yaounde, without being given time to take anything along. It is surprising that he is being accused of not having an identity card,” one of Mancho’s friends explained in anger.
Described as very courageous, ‘liberation spirit’, He is said to have also made close contacts with other Southern Cameroons liberation activists worldwide. “It was so until 21 Nov 2016 when God commanded me to take the struggle to another level,” Mancho is quoted as saying. “I expect Southern Cameroonians to hold on to this struggle as if that’s the only thing they have remaining in this world.
The crisis which has been going on for more than 2 years now has seen many killed, displaced or become refugees in neighboring Nigeria. Attacks by both sides have left 1,850 dead, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, while the UN says 530,000 people have fled their homes. According to UN aid officials, more than one in six people in Cameroon-4.3 million need humanitarian aid, an increase of 30 percent from 2018.
Equatorial Guinea to build West Africa’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage and regas plant
August 20, 2019 | 0 Comments
|The project forms part of Equatorial Guinea’s regional LNG2Africa initiative which seeks to drive gas monetization through in-country gas-to-power projects|
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, August 20, 2019/ — Located at the Port of Akonikien, the landmark regasification plant will enable the storage, transportation and distribution of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country’s mainland; 12 bullet tanks will carry 14,000 cubic meters of storage capacity, supported by a truck loading station and 12-kilometers of ten-inch gas and diesel pipelines; The project will be led by local construction and engineering firm Elite Construcciones; The project forms part of Equatorial Guinea’s regional LNG2Africa initiative which seeks to drive gas monetization through in-country gas-to-power projects.
Equatorial Guinea is set to construct the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification plant in West Africa, advancing efforts to monetize gas resources through the creation of a domestic gas-to-power infrastructure.
Located at the Port of Akonikien on the country’s mainland, the plant will enable the transportation and storage of LNG from the EG LNG plant at the Punta Europa Gas Complex on Bioko Island, to Akonikien on the southern border of the mainland. It will then be fed into the regasification plant to be distributed to smaller-scale power plants and LNG power stations throughout the country, as well as exported to neighboring countries.
The Akonikien project is the first gas-to-power development in Equatorial Guinea’s LNG2Africa initiative. Launched by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons in 2018, the initiative seeks to facilitate the production and trade of LNG through the creation of a domestic gas-to-power infrastructure and intra-African LNG industry.
Spearheaded by local construction and engineering firm Elite Construcciones, the plant will have a storage capacity of 14,000 cubic meters with 12 bullet tanks. The tanks are currently the largest factory-built cryogenic bullet tanks in the world with a capacity of 1,228 cubic meters and dimensions of 31 meters by 9.3 meters by 8.8 meters. Built by American manufacturer Corban Energy Group, each tank is estimated to require 12 hours to complete the 12,000-meter distance from the port to the new plant. Elite Construcciones is also installing a truck loading station and 12 kilometers of 10-inch gas and diesel pipelines.
Other major suppliers include pipe supplier PFF Group, who manufactured 12,400 meters of pipes, shipping agents D&B Shipping Ltd. who facilitated the shipment of 22 40-foot open-top containers, and Meakin Logistics UK. Elite Construcciones also worked closely with German companies Noorwerk and ESC on the design and construction of the plant.
AFRICOM, Ghana Armed Forces Commence Africa Endeavor 2019
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
The theme for Africa Endeavor Leader Symposium (AE-19) is “Signal Training! Install, Operate, Maintain, and Protect”
ACCRA, Ghana, August 19, 2019/ — Ghana’s Armed Forces, in partnership with U.S. Africa Command, is hosting representatives from the African Union, other African regional organizations and 48 nations from across Africa, Europe, South America and the United States for the 14th annual Africa Endeavor Leader Symposium (AE-19) in Accra, Aug. 18-23.
Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Africa Endeavor is an annual senior leader communications symposium designed to help develop multinational communications practices for peacekeeping, disaster response and counterterrorism missions mandated by the African Union and the United Nations.
The theme for AE-19 is “Signal Training! Install, Operate, Maintain, and Protect.” This year’s focus is on training and workforce development and includes areas of cybersecurity, interoperability, Women, Peace & Security, and Enlisted development. AE provides military communications specialists from Africa, Western Partner Nations and the United States with the opportunity to discuss capabilities, address interoperability gaps, and approach solutions as a fully integrated component of a multi-national force improving the training opportunity for an international audience. The symposium has grown in size, scope and capacity given the significance of public, private, partnership integration.
The primary objective of Africa Endeavor is to develop interoperability among African Partner nations in their command, control, communications, computers and information (C4I) systems through: developing shared training and providing information on lessons learned from exercises and operations; developing standard processes and procedures.
Africa Endeavor provides a venue for military leaders to review and analyze their forces current abilities to communicate during multinational operations, and to develop standardized training and procedures to improve future training and support. Since 2006, Africa Endeavor has facilitated training and engagements between the African Union, European Union, NATO, and regional partners, and trained nearly 2,000 communications specialists from six African regional organizations and nearly 50 African countries.
To date, AE has benefitted more than 1,850 communications specialists and military planners in C4I, tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Ministerial gathering to shape Africa’s health agenda opens in Brazzaville
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
Sixty-ninth session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), August 19, 2019/ — The 69th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa opened today in Brazzaville, with Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso calling for stronger health systems, concrete action on counterfeit medicine and universal access to health care.
The Congolese leader drew attention to ongoing health development initiatives in his country.
“Each meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa should better highlight decisions and facilitate the consideration of African health issues by bodies such as the Executive Board and the World Health Assembly, said President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. “The endeavours of African States should be complemented by the global momentum for health for all. This is one of the best bets for humanity.”
In his opening remarks, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted that many countries have made impressive progress in delivering essential health services at the district level, yet large gaps remain. Only one third of people in the 47 WHO Member States can access essential health services, and only one third can do so without fear of financial hardship.
“Strengthening primary health care must therefore be the number one priority for every country,” he said. “The best investment in primary health care is in human capital. Nurses, midwives and community health workers are especially important for delivering the services that can promote health and prevent people from needing a hospital.”
In welcoming the participants, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, highlighted progress made by countries: Access to HIV services has expanded significantly, with the number of people on antiretroviral therapy having more than doubled in the past six years. The region is recording some of the fastest declines globally in new cases of tuberculosis and is on the verge of polio eradication. The Regional Director noted that political will is needed to tackle the emerging burden of noncommunicable diseases, which are expected to account for an additional 28 million deaths in Africa in the coming decade.
“All the health priorities and challenges I have mentioned coincide with an opportunity – that the day for universal health coverage has finally come. If governments, partners, WHO and other United Nations agencies combine our forces towards UHC we will be able to make health for all a reality for people in our region,” said Dr Moeti.
She called for a minute of silence in honour of health workers who have lost their lives while on the job. She remarked that in the face of complex challenges, the Member States are better prepared to respond to emergencies but must overcome huge funding gaps in implementing national action plans for health security. She commended the DR Congo Government for demonstrating sound leadership and ownership of the response to the Ebola outbreak, in coordination with partners.
Among the issues on the agenda of the five-day meeting is the Regional Strategy for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response which if implemented, will improve preparedness and response to disease outbreaks. Delegates will also discuss the strategic plan to reduce the double burden of malnutrition in the WHO African Region. The strategy provides guidance to countries to stem the tide of rising malnutrition, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases by 2025. The Health Ministers will also discuss how to bring vector-borne diseases under control and how to strengthen district health systems for achieving universal health coverage. They will also the nominate the next Regional Director, who will serve a five-year term.
The Regional Committee is the highest decision-making body on health in the region, involving ministers of health from the Member States of the WHO African Region. It meets once a year to review critical health issues affecting the continent and to advise on appropriate strategies to improve health outcomes.
Angola’s Path Forward for Security and Economic Development: Weapons Management and Humanitarian Demining
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
The United States is helping the Angolan National Police (ANP) to improve the physical infrastructure of their weapon storage facilities and train police to manage the stockpiles
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, August 19, 2019/ — Angola greatly benefited from the 2002 peace agreement ending its 27-year civil war, but the remaining poor security of government stockpiles of weapons and ammunition could still threaten its people. After the civil war, the military and police were left not only with a massive surplus of small arms and ammunition, but also inadequate infrastructure to safely and securely store them, which has increased the risk of theft and illegal diversion. If these items fell into illicit circulation, criminals could use them to harm Angolan citizens, and traffickers could sell them to armed groups such as those operating in Angola’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The lack of safe storage conditions and procedures also incurs great risk of unplanned explosions, endangering civilians who live near the munitions depots. In September 2018, lightning struck a depot in Luena, causing a massive explosion that scattered ordnance and debris throughout the densely populated city. With Japanese and U.S. funding, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) deployed teams to destroy the ejected ordnance and educate the populace on how to avoid and report any discovered items.
To prevent illicit diversions, increase the safety of Angolan citizens, and strengthen Angola’s national security, the United States assists the Government of Angola with destroying excess munitions and improving the physical security of munitions depots to protect its stockpiles. Since 2006, the United States has supported The HALO Trust to destroy 102,000 small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) and over 631 tons of munitions. HALO deploys mobile Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) teams throughout the country to assess stockpiles, cut weapons using specialized shears, and destroy surplus ammunition.
In addition to destroying excess munitions, the United States is helping the Angolan National Police (ANP) to improve the physical infrastructure of their weapon storage facilities and train police to manage the stockpiles according to international best practices. Under a pilot project with HALO, the United States is assisting the ANP by building or refurbishing five storage facilities and providing stockpile management training on how to use the facilities safely and effectively.
The first site that HALO refurbished is the Luanda Logistics Store, which the police reopened on June 29, 2019. The depot required a new roof, a new floor, improved ventilation, and security measures such as locks on the doors and grills on the windows. Thanks to these improvements, the facility can safely store and distribute munitions and collect excess weapons for destruction. Between June 29 and July 3, HALO destroyed over 1,000 obsolete weapons stored at the site. The refurbished site serves to prevent illicit proliferation on two fronts by keeping serviceable weapons safe from diversion, and facilitating the destruction of surplus weapons.
Another threat to Angola’s stability and economic development is the lingering presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) which continue to kill and maim civilians, prevent farmers from cultivating their fields, and separate communities from clean water sources and health clinics. According to the Landmine Monitor, 25 people died and another 18 were injured by landmines in 2017. The Government of Angola conducted a nationwide census in 2014 that identified over 88,000 people living with a disability caused by landmines or explosive remnants of war. Since 1995, the United States invested over $131 million in conventional weapons destruction (CWD) efforts in Angola – more than any other international donor – with the vast majority supporting demining operations. The objective of this support is to increase civilian security and lay the groundwork for sustainable development.
CWD efforts have contributed to a wide range of demining activities in Angola, including surveys that identify the exact parameters of hazardous areas, clearance operations via trained deminers and specialized machines, and mine risk education to teach the public how to avoid and report any hazards they encounter.
Twenty-four years of consistent U.S. support has yielded remarkable progress and advanced Angola closer to its goal of being landmine-free by 2025. U.S.-funded projects have removed over 26,500 landmines and 46,200 items of UXO. Additionally, through a combination of survey efforts and clearance operations, U.S. assistance has returned over 395 square kilometers (153 square miles) to productive use – an area more than twice as large as Washington, D.C. Factoring in the 166,000 civilians that have received mine risk education, over 1.4 million Angolans have directly benefitted from U.S. assistance both in terms of increased safety and access to arable land.
Humanitarian demining is profoundly restorative for the social and economic life of communities. As one example, funding from the United States and the United Kingdom enabled MAG to clear two minefields surrounding Lundjacute, a village located in Moxico province, between June 2017 and August 2018. Some residents had fled during the war, and others left after landmine accidents – as recent as 2017 – killed and injured multiple residents. The high number of accidents flagged the area as a priority and the Government of Angola asked MAG to clear them immediately. In March 2019, seven months after MAG finished clearance, MAG returned to the village to assess how clearance had changed the daily lives of the community members.
In just seven months, 37 households had already settled on cleared land. People had returned to the village from Zambia and other places in Angola, and community leaders expect more will follow once they hear their homes are safe again. One of the recent returnees is Charles Kakoma, who decided to return home from a refugee camp in Zambia to settle on cleared land. His first harvest yielded maize, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Another returnee from Zambia is Alfred Chinhama, who brought a grinding machine with him and established a flour production business. Now, farmers can process maize or cassava in the village, eliminating the need to walk 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) to the next closest grinder. Two blacksmiths also moved to the village in November 2018 to produce farming tools.
Lundjacute is a small but powerful example of how demining saves lives and facilitates economic development on multiple levels. The United States is proud to support humanitarian demining as part of a broader CWD program designed to enhance civilian security, facilitate development, and promote stability. Whether it is destroying excess weapons, improving the infrastructure of weapons depots, or clearing landmines from conflict-affected communities, CWD efforts improve the safety and prosperity of everyday Angolans.
Recently, the Angolan Government announced its own significant contribution of $60 million. This is a remarkable and commendable commitment towards their 2025 Landmine Free goal.
“I encourage you to go HOME”, American Comedian Steve Harvey says while commemorating Year of Return in Ghana
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
In commemoration of 400 years since the first black slaves landed in Jamestown, Virginia, American comedian and actor, Steve Harvey, is in Ghana for the ‘Year of Return”, an initiative by the government of Ghana.
The famous comedian and host of The Steve Harvey Show, alongside his family, have visited some selected tourist sites including castles where slaves were kept as he embarked on the tour to expose himself and learn more about Ghanaian history and culture.
“It’s so wonderful to see our brothers and sisters from the African diaspora making the journey to the continent. He is in town with his family and taking in the sights and sounds of Ghana. He even got a brand-new outfit made by a local designer,” organizers of the “year of return” said on a social media post.
Launched last year in Washington, D.C., by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, for Africans in the diaspora to visit the West African country as part of the commemoration 400th year since the first African slaves landed in Virginia, the initiative has gain commendation with several celebrities and Africans in across the globe make their way into Ghana to learn more about their root.
Steve Harvey and his family were welcomed to Ghana by the Minister of Tourism, Babara Oteng Gyasi and the Year of Return committee who met them at the W.E.B DuBois Center in Accra.
Steve’s family had an emotional day after visiting the Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.
“This was real pain I felt going back to Ghana’s slave castles…I could feel my ancestors on me… Powerful beyond words that I can explain. I encourage as many of you as possible to go HOME for your ancestors. Their strength is in each of us and we must honor their ultimate sacrifice in all that we do,” Steve wrote after visiting the Slave Castles.
Note that Steve Harvey is not the only American celebrity to visit Ghana in recent months. In December last year, actor Boris Kodjoe and some of his Hollywood friends and family including; Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons, Micheal Jai White, Anthony Anderson (of Blackish), Rosario Dawson, Jidenna, Cynthia Bailey, Bozoma Saint John spent a significant part of their month in Ghana.
Another Hollywood actor who came to Ghana was Samuel L. Jackson who had earlier traced his roots to Gabon. His adventures in the country included a documentary shoot and visits to local markets in Accra and fish markets in Cape Coast.
Zimbabwe president assures of his country’s ratification of the protocol on establishment of the African court
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, H.E Emmerson Mnangagwa, has given assurance that Harare will ratify the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
He gave the assurance when receiving a delegation of the African Court led by its President, Hon Justice Sylvain Oré, and which included Judge Hon Justice Tujilane Rose Chizumila and senior Registry officials, at State House in Harare.
‘’We will act…we do not want to be left behind,’’ he stated, adding that Zimbabwe strongly cherishes and values Pan Africanism and the organs that exemplify this ideal.
‘’We will ratify the protocol,’’ he stressed, while wondering why Zimbabwe had not already done so earlier. Zimbabwe had signed the Protocol in 1998 but is yet to ratify it and make the Declaration under Article 34(6) to allow its citizens to access the Court directly.
The African Court delegation was in Zimbabwe on 14-15 August on a sensitisation visit at the invitation of the government.
The delegation has already met key stakeholders, including the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and the Acting Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Bar Association, among others.
Over 50 key stakeholders today attended a national sensitisation seminar followed by discussions.
The African Court delegation conducted a similar sensitisation visit last week on 7-8 August to the Union of Comoros.
The President of Comoros, H.E Azali Assoumani, hailed the work of the Court and also underscored the importance of human rights.
‘’We have just set up a human rights commission and we want to ensure that all internal mechanisms are in place on exhaustion of local remedies,’’ he said, apparently in reference to a request made by the Court to make the Declaration under Article 34(6). Comoros ratified the Protocol on establishment of the Court in December 2013 but is yet to make the Declaration.
‘’The sensitisation visits to these two countries (Comoros and Zimbabwe) have been very positive and fruitful,’’ said Justice Oré. ‘’These visits have helped to raise awareness of the Court’s existence.’’
For the Court to discharge its mandate effectively and further strengthen the African continent’s human rights system, Justice Oré said, a greater number of countries must ratify the Protocol and make the Declaration under Article 34(6).
Since the adoption of the Protocol in June 1998, 30 out of 55 AU Member States have ratified it, but only nine State Parties to the Protocol have made the Declaration under Article 34(6). These are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Malawi, Tanzania, and Tunisia.
World Humanitarian Day: UN SG Calls on the Protection of Humanitarian Workers in conflicts
August 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres says world leaders, and all parties to conflict must ensure that humanitarians are protected from harm as required under international law. The UN scribe was speaking as the world celebrates the International Humanitarian Day, with tributes being paid to women humanitarians around the world.
In his address, the UN SG said “World Humanitarian Day honors humanitarians around the world who risk their lives to help save and improve the lives of others. This year, we pay special tribute to women humanitarians and the huge difference they make for millions of women, men, and children in urgent need.”
“From supporting civilians caught up in crisis, addressing disease outbreak, women humanitarians are on the front lines” while adding that “their presence makes aid operations effectively by increasing their reach. It also improves the humanitarians respond to gender-based violence which increases during crisis.”
He added that serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue around the world, and they must be investigated and prosecuted.
In a tweet, David Gressly, UN Ebola Emergency Response Coordinator saluted all the women humanitarian workers who have been at the battlefield against the dreaded Ebola virus. He said, “Each #Ebola crisis has its own challenges. I am Grateful for the amazing #WomenHumanitarians and partners addressing the current outbreak in #DRC.”
He added “I stand with all the #WomenHumanitarians who relentlessly put their lives on the line in the fight against #Ebola. Let’s honor their efforts by working together to ensure no more lives are taken by this terrible disease.”
Allegra Baiocchi, UN Development and Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon on her part tweeted “It is #WorldHumanitarianDay! Stand up for humanitarian workers around the world. Honor their courage, their commitment, and their sacrifice.
As a part of this year’s celebration, the UN and partners are launching the #WomenHumanitarians globe campaign to pay special tribute, and raise support for the work women do to save lives and alleviate human suffering.
The day celebrated every 19 August dates back to 2003 when the UN Headquarter in Bagdad was targeted by a large terrorist truck bomb, killing 22 people including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN’s top representative in Iraq.
Across the globe, 250,000 aid workers are women-a figure that amounts to more than 40 per cent of the humanitarian workforce as aid work becomes increasingly difficult. Since August 2003, more than 4,500 aid workers of all genders have been killed, injured, detained, assaulted or kidnapped while carrying out their work, according to the UN. That averages five attacks per week. Women’s aid workers are also high risk to being robbed, sexually assaulted and other violent attacks.
Last year was the second-worst on record, and the worst for the past five years concerning aid workers security, according to ReliefWeb. In 2018, there were 405 victims, with 131 aid workers killed, 144 wounded and 130 kidnapped across the world. ReliefWeb added that “So far in 2019, some 156 aid workers have been attacked on the job with 57 killed, 59 wounded and 40 kidnapped.”