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Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya
November 30, 2017 | 1 Comments
Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 30, 2017/ — Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya:

Your Excellencies, leaders of private sector and civil society organisations, policy makers at the United Nations and the African Union and fellow Africans,

Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments, to put an end to this outrageous practice and hold responsible parties accountable.

There are three Great Stains on humanity; War, Genocide and Slavery.

They are the Great Stains not only because they are the fertile soil for many other debasing evils; they are Great Stains because they are assaults and crimes against humanity.

The prevalence of war, genocide and slavery historically is by no means the measure by which we as humanity can accept such behavior as normative, then or now.

Slavery has spawned intergenerational social and economic disruption to the Continent of Africa and other areas; and has stolen the liberties and lives of people for the commoditization of their bodies against their will.

The slave trade is a crime against Humanity.

It is abhorrent to humanity.

It is monstrous.

It is an assault on the dignity of all.

Slavery can and must be stopped.

We, Archbishop Tutu Fellows, call upon the United Nations Security Council and its related organs to urgently declare the practice of Slavery – particularly in Libya- a threat against humanity and to work closely with civil society and member states to arrest the slave trade and create an effective punitive framework to combat against the slave trade globally.

We call upon the Africa Union to demonstrate continental leadership in aggregating national voices on ensuring slavery remains a historical footnote.

We call upon all African heads of State to take action to hold each other accountable, and to engage with other states beyond the continent who can make a contribution toward eradicating the Slave trade, and to stanch the capital flows and lack of consequence which makes this vile economy thrive.

We call upon businesses invested in countries such as Libya- which have failed to abide by the unwritten laws of humanity- to divest and support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon the NGO community invested in the fight against human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary migration, social justice and the betterment of the planet to support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon all Africans, in particular the nations of the African North, to support the removal of the Great Stain in all its forms.

We call upon the instruments of justice– national and international- to charge beneficiaries of the slave trade as Enemies of humanity.

As Archbishop Tutu Fellows and as Africans, we request the following immediate course of action:

  1. All African countries to recall their ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Libya, as some have already done.
  2. Appropriate, responsible and action-oriented responses from the countries of origin of our enslaved African brothers and sisters in Libya, with a clear request for support from the international community where needed.
  3. Firm action against Libya from the African Union, of which the country is a member, such as suspension from the multilateral organization once investigations have been concluded.
  4. Other African countries to follow Rwanda’s lead and accept African brothers and sisters who are caught in the slave trade in Libya, and pan-African support for these African host countries.

As a network of more than 300 emerging young African leaders, we, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows, are willing and able to assist where such assistance is needed. We are deeply aware that it is pertinent upon the conscience and humanity of every member of the international community to act against the evils to which our fellow human beings are subject to in Libya. The urgency of the situation is such that we need to act now. Our ancestors fought slavery over hundreds of years and we cannot bear witness to its evils today and do nothing.

The Archbishop Tutu Fellows, of the African Leadership Institute (https://ALInstitute.org), are a diverse group of leading professionals from 42 African countries working at the forefront of positive change on the African continent and representing various sectors  – civil society, government, business, the arts, education, healthcare,  media and more. Tutu Fellows have undergone the Institute’s flagship programme, the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Programme, which is widely considered the premier leadership training programme on the continent. The goal of the programme is to impact the future of Africa through building and nurturing the capability of future leaders of the continent, drawing upon the globally-respected leadership values of ther Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Since the inaugural class of 2006, the network now boasts 300+ Tutu Fellows.

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Sky captain Gyan: Soccer star to launch ‘Baby Jet’ airline
November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kieron Monks*

(CNN)Ghana’s record goalscorer has traveled the world over the course of his career.

during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Serbia and Ghana at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 13, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Asamoah Gyan left his homeland as a teenager and took the scenic route around Europe playing in France, Italy, and England, before taking a detour via China and the United Arab Emirates, and then arriving at his current club Kayserispor in the Turkish Super League.

Gyan has also clocked up the air miles at international level, making 105 appearances for Ghana encompassing three World Cups.
The Black Stars skipper, 32, is now contemplating life after the game. Fittingly, he is planning a career in the travel industry.
The President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo recently announced that Gyan has been granted a license to operate an airline, which will carry his nickname – ‘Baby Jet’.
The new carrier is expected to launch in 2018, beginning with domestic flights before progressing to international routes.
The announcement bought new scrutiny and pressure to the venture, but Gyan was thrilled to have recognition from his president.
“It’s a special honor that the president announced my business and it is positive pressure,” he tells CNN. “All business is a risk and I am ready.”
Gyan has been pursuing the idea for several years after advisers identified aviation as sector with rich potential. Passenger numbers in Ghana have shown strong growth which is expected to continue and accelerate in the coming years.
“I conducted research with my team and we identified business opportunities,” he says. “The airline idea started from 2012 but I waited for the right time and I believe Ghana’s economy is now expanding in many areas (including) the aviation industry.”
Gyan scores against Germany at the 2014 World Cup.

during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Ghana at Castelao on June 21, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The striker says his motivation is a mix of personal and patriotic: “A desire to help my country, to create more jobs, and also to have a good life after football.”

Gyan expects to face new challenges in the aviation industry, but he believes that skills acquired on the pitch will prove transferable.
“I have learned a lot throughout my career,” he says. “Leadership, determination, commitment, perseverance and mental toughness will come into play.”
However, there is one new skill that the soccer star is determined to pick up.
“I will learn how to pilot,” he says. “Hopefully it will become a part time job.”
Should all go to plan, passengers could soon have Ghana’s top scorer wishing them a pleasant flight.
*Culled from CNN
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House Arrest OK’d for Ex-Diplomat Awaiting Corruption Trial
November 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By ADAM KLASFELD*

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and  was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio is highly respected in his native Senegal and across Africa,and was instrumental in the forging of close ties between the USA and Senegal in the fight against terrorism

MANHATTAN (CN) –  U.S. prosecutors lobbied unsuccessfully Monday to ensure the pretrial detention of former Senegalese diplomat awaiting a New York corruption trial.

Once deeply involved in U.S. peacekeeping and anti-terrorism efforts in Africa following the 9/11, Senegal’s former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio was arrested just over a week ago in connection to a three-year bribery scheme.

Alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, prosecutors say 61-year-old Gadio helped Hong Kong-based businessman Patrick Ho funnel $2 million to Chad President Idriss Deby to help tap the nation’s vast oil reserves.

Though a federal magistrate granted Gadio a $1 million bail package, the government contended at a hearing Monday that Gadio should be considered a flight risk since America has no extradition treaty with Senegal.

“People flee, and they flee for rational reasons,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richtenthal said this afternoon.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley III found house arrest under GPS monitoring enough to ensure Gadio’s appearance at trial.

“He’s going to be confined to his home in Maryland,” Pauley ruled.

Defense attorney Sean Hecker said Gadio’s reputation in the international community would be enough to ensure his appearance in court.

“This is a man of honor, a man of deep and well-deserved reputation,” said Hecker, from the firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

A West African nation roughly the size of South Dakota, Senegal has been a key U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell heralded Gadio’s leadership on the issue the year after the 9/11 attacks.

“Senegal took a strong position against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., and in October 2001 hosted a conference establishing the African Pact Against Terrorism,” a U.S. State Department noted in 2002 press briefing.

WikiLeaks also published a cable in which former ambassador Janice Jacobs emphasized senegal’s outsized peacekeeping role in a region rife with conflict.

“Despite high rates of poverty and illiteracy, Senegal retains a high degree of political stability and coherence thus enabling GOS to be a diplomatic player on a continent replete with conflicts,” the Nov. 8, 2006, cable said. “With U.S. training and assistance, Senegal has also become one of the world’s top ten contributors of peacekeepers.”

Gadio has not formally entered a plea, but his attorney made clear the diplomat will dispute the charges against him.

“The facts will come out,” Hecker said. “We’ll have the chance to tell our side of the story.”

Although he lived in Ohio for a decade, Gadio will await trial with his wife and children in Maryland. Hecker said that his wife works for the United Nations, where she is stationed in Equatorial Guinea.

Prosecutors say Gadio’s bribery scheme lasted from 2014 to this year, well after his tenure in Senegal from 2000 and 2009. Before his arrest earlier this month, Gadio posed for smiling photographs shaking hands both with Powell and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

*Culled from Court House News

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AfDB Launches Youth Advisory Group to Create 25 Million Jobs
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ — The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org), Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) (http://APO.af/nRtVAs).

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youth over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.

“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 million per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.

Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment. The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.

“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.

Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa. “40% of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries,” Adesina said.

“66 million African youths earn less than $2 a day, less than the price of a hamburger,” the AfDB President emphasized. “66 million is 8 times the size of Switzerland, 6 times the size of Belgium, the same size as UK, France or Italy, and 80% of Germany’s population,” he added.

The Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.

The PYAG members are: Ashish Thakkar, CEO, Mara Group, Tanzania (Chair); Uzodinma Iweala, award-winning author, Nigeria; Mamadou Toure, Founder / CEO, Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon; Vanessa Moungar, Human and Social Development Director, AfDB and member of President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, Chad; Francine Muyumba, President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jeremy Johnson, Co-founder, Andela, USA; Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO, Hehe, Rwanda; Ada Osakwe, CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria; and Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, Zambia.

On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, President Adesina explained: “We recognize the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table. For this reason, the Bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.”

“The members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group are expected to actively engage private sector partners, government leaders, civil society, donor partners, and other stakeholders; and support the significant amount of work that the Bank is already doing and promoting across the continent through its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy,” President Adesina added.

A youth-led economic transformation agenda

PYAG is an opportunity for leading young voices in Africa to develop new and fresh perspectives and recommend innovative solutions that will shape AfDB’s support to African countries, and reduce the scourge of Youth unemployment.

The AfDB is fully committed to working with the PYAG to scale up and expedite results that deliver decent and sustainable jobs for African youth, through formal employment and successful youth entrepreneurship that allows African youth to become their own drivers of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental sustainability.

Ashish Thakkar, CEO of the Mara Group and Chair of the PYAG, said: “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value. We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work program for the next year and have hit the ground running.”

He described how his family lost everything they had during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

“I have borrowed $5,000 to launch my business without any form of support. Today, Mara Group has 14,000 employees around the world. I was alone, but imagine what we can do together with the support of an institution like the AfDB.”

“I have never heard of an institution as important as the AfDB setting up and advisory group only made of youth. A Chinese proverb has it that if you want 1 year of prosperity, plant a grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, plant a tree. If you want a century of prosperity, invest on people,” said Mamadou Touré, a member of the group.

Also speaking, Ada Osakwe said: “40% of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are women, but 73% operate in consumer retail systems. We need to address that and provide youth with more lucrative jobs.”

To make agriculture more attractive to young people, the AfDB last year invested $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture as a business in 8 countries. It will reach 15 countries this year. The Bank expects to invest 1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to support young agripreneurs.

The AfDB is delivering on its youth strategy

The AfDB has made great progress toward implementing its strategy through three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. In terms of integration, the Bank entered into partnership with the International Labour Organization to strengthen the capacity of African countries to harmonize Youth Employment into national policies.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund which will serve as a financial and operational instrument, with initial support of USD 4.4 million by Denmark and Norway.

The African Development has also developed the Enabling Youth Employment (EYE) Index to measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at country levels.

“With this amazing group of very diverse young individuals, we even hope to exceed the Bank’s goal to create 25 million jobs and 50 million youth equipped with the right skills,” said Thakkar enthusiastically. “It is time to change the narrative about Africa’s youth!”

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Folorunso Alakija Inspires 300 Women at Prestigious 2017 Flourish Africa Conference
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans
LAGOS, Nigeria, November 28, 2017/ — Folorunso Alakija, one of a handful of successful female entrepreneurs on the continent listed as one of Forbes most powerful women in the world, attended the Africa conference. The 66-year-old business magnate has persistently championed the causes of women in Nigeria from her work with widows and orphans through the Rose of Sharon Foundation which Alakija uses as a medium to empower thousands of impoverished women and their children through Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) which is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

Initiatives designed to give them a better standard of living

As CEO of Famfa Oil (www.Famfa.com), one of the largest indigenous oil companies in Africa, she has built schools, science labs, roads as well as providing scholarships to thousands of young students all over Nigeria. Her philanthropic work continues this year with the launch of the women empowerment platform, Flourish Africa.

The first Flourish Africa conference took place at the Renaissance Ikeja Hotel in Lagos at an exclusive invitation only event hosted by Forbes Africa Head of Digital Media and Partnerships and West Africa Correspondent, Peace Hyde, which saw applications from over 2000 women vying for the opportunity to be part of the 300 people who were selected to partake in the exchange of knowledge from powerful women like Folorunso Alakija, Ibukun Awosika, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Mrs. Fashola, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, Uche Pedro, Ayo Mogbepe and many more.

Flourish Africa (http://FlourishAfrica.com) is the first platform of its kind designed to create an impact on the lives of women in Africa by providing the tools they need to fulfill their God given potential. Through a series of conferences, workshops and mentorship programs, the platform hopes to bring women from all walks of life together to share in their unique experiences and become who God has destined for them to be.

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African Union Commission Awards Thirteen Consortia of Institutions to Implement the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa Support Programme
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, November 28, 2017/ —

The African Union Commission (AUC) (https://AU.int) officially awards grants to thirteen successful consortia of institutions that will serve as Regional Implementing Centres for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme. The award ceremony holds on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire.

Following a Call for Proposals in May 2017, a number of African institutions operating in the areas of water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas, applied for the GMES and Africa Support Programme Grants. To evaluate the applications and select the most suitable consortia of institutions that submitted proposals, the African Union Commission instituted a committee supported by a team of assessors comprising African earth observation experts.

Thirteen consortia of institutions were finally selected and the award marks the official announcement of their selection.

1. Central Africa: Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiale (AGEOS) and Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) for Water and natural resources service.

2. East Africa:

  • IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and Regional Centre for Mapping off Resources for Development (RCMRD) for Water and natural resources service
  • Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) for Marine and coastal areas service

3.North Africa:

  • National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS) for marine and coastal area service
  • Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) for water and natural ressources service

4. Southern Africa:

  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for marine and coastal areas service
  • Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre (SADC-CSC) and Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) for water and natural resources service

5. West Africa

  • Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (CSSTE-Obafemi) for water and natural resources service
  • University of Ghana (UG) for Marine and coastal areas service

At the award ceremony, the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, felicitated the successful institutions on their selection, which she said was based on their experience and proven capacities. She implored them to deliver the goods, and promised the African Union Commission’s unflinching support.

GMES and Africa (http://GMES4Africa.blogspot.in) Support Programme is a 30 million Euro joint programme co-financed by the European Commission (https://EC.europa.eu) and the African Union Commission. It will use and adapt the Copernicus Programme data and services to the African context. It is designed to specifically respond to African needs with respect to services related to water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas and to address the global needs to manage the environment, mitigate climate change and ensure civil security. It is to enable the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, formulated to harness the continent’s capabilities in utilizing space science and technology for economic growth and sustainable development. In the implementation agreement, the African Union Commission is the ‘delegated authority’ responsible for the management of the programme.

Indeed, GMES & Africa Programme aimed at improving African policy-makers’, planners’, scientists’, business and private sector and citizens’ capacities to design, implement, and monitor national, regional and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of Earth Observation data and derived information.

GMES & Africa introduced several key innovations: for the first time, with the inclusion of the North African countries, the Programme is pan African. It is totally managed by the African Union Commission, through the Human Resource, Science and Technology (HRST) Department. It engages the African private sector and national and regional academia.

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Merck Foundation conducts 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 in partnership with the Office of the President of Mauritius and their Ministry of Health
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development
PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, November 28, 2017/ —

  • Merck Foundation partners with the Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments for their annual UNESCO-MARS to contribute to empowering Women and Youth in STEM.
  • Third edition UNESCO-MARS 2017 continues to build Research Capacity in Africa with special focus on Cancer and Vaccines Development. 
  • Winners of the 2017 MARS “Best Young African Researchers Award” and “Best African Women Researchers Award” to be announced.

 

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG; President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation follow proceedings at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

As part of Merck STEM program For Women and Youth, Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), a non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Merck (www.Merck.com) KGaA Germany conducts the 3rd edition of their annual “UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit” on the 28th and 29th of November 2017 under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and in partnership with Government of Mauritius, UNESCO, African Union and African Governments.

The President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim emphasized during the inauguration; “We are very happy to partner with the Merck Foundation and UNESCO to empower women and youth in STEM. The UNESCO – Merck Africa Research Summit is a valuable opportunity for all those engaged and interested in health research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of ground-breaking scientific research currently underway, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research and scientific innovation.”

Speaking on Merck Foundation’s support for Research Capacity building in Africa, “We are keen to support young gifted researchers by passing on the knowledge and experience we have gathered over the 350 years of Merck history. Through our ‘Merck STEM Program’ we aim to promote women and youth in scientific research through providing them with training opportunities to advance their capacity with special focus on Cancer care,” Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG & Chairman of Board of Trustees of Merck Foundation emphasized.

“For the third year, Merck Foundation continues their long- term commitment towards building Research Capacity in Africa. Supporting the African research community, with special focus on Women and Youth is one of our most important objectives, this year in partnership with The Head of State of Mauritius together with African Governments, we focus on The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – two critical challenges in Africa”, said Dr. Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre), and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with ministers and dignitaries at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017

UNESCO-MARS 2017 was officially inaugurated by; Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Mauritius’ Minister of Health and Quality of Life.

Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS Awards 2017

During the Summit Award ceremony, five winners from Cameroon, NigeriaRwanda and Mauritius were recognized and awarded respectively for their excellence in research under the category of ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’. Furthermore, three winners from South Africa, SenegalandBotswana were presented with the ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 3rd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Mauritius.

For the first time, an additional three female researchers from Mauritius, were presented with special “MARS Best Mauritian Women Researchers Award”.“This is to contribute to the Mauritian government’s efforts to promote women in STEM with special focus on scientific research in cancer,” Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation added.

After previous successful editions of the Summit, UNESCO and Merck Foundation join hands for the third time to respond to Africa’s STISA (Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa) 2024, reinforcing the axiom that only through building local capacities can Africa rise again to becoming an equal partner in advancing STEM research and education.

To this, UNESCO–MARS 2017 brings together African researchers to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation. These include researchers from Francophone countries such as Benin, Senegal, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, and Anglophone countries such as Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of E. Merck KG, and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation pose for a group photo with President of the Republic of Mauritius, Her Excellency Mrs. Ameenah Grurib-Fakim (centre) at the inauguration of the UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit on November 28, 2017. Also with them are Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO (extreme left) and Dr. the Hon. Mohammad Anwar Husnoo, Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Republic, Mauritius (extreme right)

More than 60% of young African Researchers attending this year, are women, emphasizing Merck Foundation’s long-term commitment towards empowering women in STEM with special focus on Scientific Research in Cancer and Vaccines Development.

Key African ministers attending the Summit to participate in the Ministerial Panels

This year’s Summit has attracted many African ministers of Health; Education; Science and Technology; Gender and Social Development to participate in the ministerial high-level panels which will focus on ‘Empowering Women & Youth in STEM – with special focus on Scientific Research – Challenges & Solutions to be considered in the national strategy in developing countries.’

The ministers participating in the panel include: Hon. Sarah Opendi Minister of State of Health, Uganda; Hon. Leela Devi Dookun- Luchoomun Minister of Education and Scientific Research, Mauritius; Hon. Dr. George Kronnisanyon Werner Minister of Science and Higher Education, Liberia; Hon. Dr Anwar Husnoo Minister of Health, Mauritius; Hon. Susan Shabangu Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, South Africa; Hon. Julia Duncan Cassell, Minister of Gender and Social Development, Liberia; Hon. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, Zambia; Hon. Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Nigeria; Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of Gender Child and Social Welfare, South Sudan; Hon. Fidelis Macdonald Molao and Deputy Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Botswana. The panel also includes, Hon. Samuel Mvondo Ayolo, Ambassador of Cameroonto France, and Hon. Christine Nina NIYONSAVYE and Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Burundi to UNESCO.

About Last year MARS Awards Winners:

In 2016, five winners from Kenya, Burkina FasoGabonUganda and Ethiopia were recognized and awarded for their excellence in research  under the category of  ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ and four winners from BotswanaCameroon, Gambia and Zimbabwe for ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ during the 2nd UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was the first time the ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’ was launched.

The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.

Merck (www.Merck.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.

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The laureate of the US$1million 2017 cycle of the Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education has been announced following its Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya
Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the Board Meeting with other Board Members of Al-Sumait Prize

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, November 27, 2017/ — Laureate for the 2017 cycle of Al-Sumait Prize (www.AlSumaitPrize.org) for African Development in the field of Education has been endorsed by the Prize’s Board of Trustees for its exemplary work in Education development in Africa.

The recipient organization of the US$1million prize of this prestigious award is the African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Nairobi, Kenya. The decision was announced at the conclusion of Al-Sumait’s Board of Trustees meeting in Kuwait City.

The African Women Educationalists is awarded the prize for its achievements in significantly enhancing gender equity and equality in education through targeted programs, having a profound impact on attitudes and practices towards girls’ education and influencing education policies in 33 African countries.

Commenting, Al-Sumait’s Board Chairman H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, said “Our goal, with this prize, is to promote positive change across Africa, and this newly announced laureate of the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development has been working tirelessly in the field of education to create a positive and sustainable difference across Africa.”

Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) (www.KFAS.org), which administers the award, said: “The organization awarded the 2017 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Education represents innovative, exciting initiatives being carried out to address education access and quality as well as gender equity challenges facing Africa”

He added that FAWE will receive the award at the KFAS Prizes Ceremony in December under the patronage of His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah.

The 2015 Al-Sumait Prize in the field of Health is was awarded to Professor Kevin Marsh in recognition of his sustained research and fieldwork to control and eradicate malaria. The2016 prize in the field of Food Security was jointly awarded to the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

Al-Sumait’s Board is chaired by H.E. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Other board members include: Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Kwaku Aning, Chairman of the Governing Board of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Chairman of Ghana Nuclear Energy Institute and Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Abdulatif Alhamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Tareq Al-Mutawa, Executive Member of the Board of Public Gathering Charity Committee and Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa, The World Bank.

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

His Highness the Amir of the State Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah meeting with members from The Board of Trustees for Al-Sumait Prize for African Development and officials from KFAS in 2016

Al-Sumait Prize for African Development, which honors individuals and/or institutions who help advance economic and social development, human resources development and infrastructure in Africa, was instigated on the initiative of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

Al-Sumait award, which covers one of three categories each year: Health, Food Security and Education, is administered by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees who oversee the selection of the recipients. The award commemorates the legacy of the late Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti physician who dedicated his life to addressing the health, education and food security challenges confronting Africa and established the Direct Aid humanitarian organization.

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International Trade Centre Joined Forces with ATIGS 2018
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
ATIGS 2018 and the Sustainable Development Goals
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, November 27, 2017/ — GAA Exhibitions & Conferences, organizers of ATIGS 2018 (www.ATIGS2018.com) today announced that the International Trade Centre (ITC) (www.intracen.org) has joined forces with the Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), to advance the event goals and objectives.

ATIGS 2018 will be held under the main theme “Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”, ATIGS 2018 goals and objectives are aligned with two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): (SDGs 8 and 17).

The vision of ATIGS is built on the model of rotating the location of the summit every two years through a bidding process and organizing country specific ATIGS in between, with upcoming editions in Washington D.C – 2018, Dubai-2020; Beijing -2022; Brussels-2024, Addis Ababa -2026; and, South America-2028. Several high-level speakers have already confirmed to grace ATIGS 2018 from South Africa, Ghana, USA, Nigeria, UAE, Australia, China, and Kenya among others.

The Preliminary Featured Sessions will include: Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, AU Agenda 2063: The Africa Future We Want, Stepping Up the Pace: African Development Bank ‘High 5’, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Doing Business in Africa tracks, Investing in Africa tracks, and Investor talks, Public Private Partnership, Government Keynotes, Regional Focus Discussions, Countries Focus Briefings, and Industrialize Africa tracks, among others.

“ATIGS 2018 is designed to contribute to AGOA, Trade Africa, World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 by playing an important contribution in enabling companies all around the world and global investors to access African markets as a one-stop shop facilitating international trade and investment partners to support all internationally agreed sustainable development goals and objectives” said Bako Ambianda, director GAA Exhibitions & Conferences.

ATIGS 2018 – www.ATIGS2018.com, will bring together new and established partners from around the world under one roof in to increase business ties and partnerships, highlight and showcase trade and investment opportunities across Africa and enable companies from around the world to expand or establish operations in Africa.

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TP Mazembe hold SuperSport to retain Confederation Cup
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mark Gleeson*

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

Congolese giants TP Mazembe held out for a goalless draw in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup final in a cold and rainy Atteridgeville on Saturday to overcome South Africa’s SuperSport United and successfully defend their crown.

Both teams finished with 10 men at the end of a tempestuous tie which Mazembe won 2-1 on aggregate, after home success in the first leg in Lubumbashi last Sunday.

It means Mazembe win a continental title for the third successive year after taking the 2015 Champions League as well.

They played the better tactical game and showed their experience against the South Africans who were in their first ever final.

Mazembe’s line-up had three changes from the first leg in Lubumbashi that suggested they had come to defend their tenuous lead, but came out of the starting blocks in a much more attacking approach than that of their hosts.

They caught SuperSport hopping with their approach and should have been 2-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, missing two sitters right in front of goal that – had they gone in – would have certainly killed off the tie.

After 10 minutes Rainford Kalaba beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but rushed his shot and blasted over the bar.

If that miss was not bad enough, there was further horror for the sizeable contingent of Mazembe supporters from the large expatriate Congolese community who live in South Africa.

Kalaba made a dashing run down the right with a quick burst of pace before cutting the ball back to striker Ben Malongo who slipped at the vital moment, but it fell perfectly for Daniel Adjei behind him, only for the Ghanaian import to somehow fluff his shot just wide when it seemed easier to score.

It took SuperSport at least 30 minutes to settle but as the rain continued to fall they began to win the midfield battles and set up chances.

Centre back Tefu Mashamaite, who had come forward for a free kick, was just offside as his diving header went into the net only to be correctly disallowed by the Senegalese officiating team.

In the second half, Mazembe only allowed SuperSport one clear shot on goal, dealt with competently by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

Mazembe central defender Kasango Chongo got sent off with 10 minutes to go but SuperSport lost their numerical advantage when Thuso Phala got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.

*BBC

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US former Vice President Al Gore to host 24-hour live broadcast about climate activism around the world
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Former US Vice President Al Gore

Former US Vice President Al Gore

  Former Vice President of the USA  and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore will on December 4 to 5, 2017 host 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, a 24-hour live broadcast focused on the climate crisis and its solutions.

  According to a spokesperson, this year’s program will look at the extraordinary climate activism happening all over the world and encourage the millions watching to speak up for solutions.

 

 The Climate Reality Project announced that the seventh-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast , a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on the climate crisis and its solutions will take place December 4-5, 2017.

 Hosted by former US Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will explore the extraordinary climate activism happening all across the planet, encouraging the millions watching to use their voices to speak up for solutions, science, and truth at this decisive point in history. It will be carried by broadcast partners globally, and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org.

  It is also reported that a variety of international celebrities, musicians, elected officials, advocates, and other special guests will join the broadcast, including musicians Annie Lennox, Avicii ft Sandro Cavazza – ‘Without You’ performed by Sandro Cavazza, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Bragg, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, Jason Mraz, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maná, Nile Rodgers, Rag’n’Bone Man and Young Paris; actors including Calum Worthy, Helen Hunt and Patrick Adams; elected officials and thought leaders including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, California Governor Jerry Brown, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab; and television personalities including HGTV’s Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott and Sam Champion.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in our mission to solve the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “While the Paris Agreement gave the world a critical framework for solving the crisis, it’s up to us – concerned citizens of all backgrounds – to keep this progress going, no matter what actions the Trump Administration takes. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality broadcast will highlight empowered citizens taking action across the world, and will inspire those watching to use their own voices to be part of the solution.”

In the US, where the federal government has retreated from the climate fight, citizens have stepped up to push for practical solutions everywhere and in every way possible. In April, 200,000 Americans marched on the White House to demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for climate action. When President Trump announced his plan to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of citizens, business leaders, mayors, governors, and more across the nation stood up to say, “we are still in.”

24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will highlight these and many other voices and share inspiring stories of political, business, community, and personal activism that illustrate how we can all make a difference, right now, when our planet needs us most.

“This year’s theme – Be the Voice of Reality – is a call to action for anyone concerned about the climate crisis and everyone who wants to secure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Ken Berlin, Climate Reality President and CEO. “24 Hours of Reality is a reminder of how far we have come and the work that remains, and we hope to encourage people to join the movement and speak out for climate action at all levels of society – from local city halls to the chambers of Congress.”

The program will begin on Monday, December 4 at 6:00 PM EST and will be broadcast live from New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The broadcast will travel around the globe highlighting stories of climate activism in six regions: North America, Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Al Gore will also share stories and statistics from his slideshow presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth and the recently-released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

Previous 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme related to the climate crisis. Last year’s broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, examined both the challenges and opportunities for climate action and clean energy in the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries.

For more information, one can  visit 24hoursofreality.org and watch a preview of the broadcast at http://bit.ly/2jt1plY.

  Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement of more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, it is  spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions.

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Miracles and Testimonies on Sale
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

It is baffling to watch or read how modern-day preachers and prophets anticipate miracles and testimonies, almost as a form of advertisement for their ministries or churches. On social media platforms, miracle seekers are quick to ‘share’, ‘like’, or type ‘Amen’ on a story in exchange for some spiritual favor. In these transactions, people are expected to fulfill certain conditions if they wish to experience a miracle, have a breakthrough, or obtain any favor.  I recall one of my pastoral visits in Cameroon: a knock at the door brought me into a home where the entire family was glued to “Testimonies and Miracles Show”. As soon as I stepped in, someone changed the channel! This didn’t surprise me at all, because I was aware of the proliferation of healing and prophetic ministries, and I knew that more people were becoming desperate in search for this or that favor from God. Spiritual prostitutes abound, moving from church to church in search for ready-made answers to their problems.

In the case of Cameroon, Pentecostalism gathered momentum in the 1980s, a time of intensifying economic crisis. To console their congregations, the preachers’ messages pivoted on a prosperity gospel, with refrains like, “Poverty is not my portion,” “Suffering is not my portion,” “Death is not my portion,” and so on. Scripture is often twisted to back up such claims, for example in the verse, “Christ became poor so that we should become rich” (1Cor 8:9). But this verse doesn’t refer to material wealth. Paul means richness in Christ, as expressed in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” This richness is also summed up in the beatitudes, in which the spiritually rich are those who are poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek, humble, peacemakers, merciful, and so on (cf. Mtt 5:1-12).

Recently, I watched a video clip circulated by many Catholics, in which televangelist Benny Hinn said, “Many miracles are taking place in the Catholic Church.” Though the evangelist is right, true worshipers don’t need miraculous signs or testimonies to substantiate their faith in God. Oh yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Christ never, ever took delight in commercializing miracles, healings, or testimonies. This wasn’t because he didn’t have social media; it was because Christ was neither out to sell miracles nor to self-promote. Instead, sick persons who were healed by Jesus were often instructed not to tell anyone about it (cf. Mk 1:40-45; Mk 7:36; Mtt 8:4). Similarly, after the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, a huge crowd started following Jesus, but he denounced them for their wrong motives when he said, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). This “lasting food” was his own Body and Blood, which he would offer before his transition to heaven (Mk 14:22).

Decidedly, miracles were not the centerpiece of Christ’s message. It was, rather, calling sinners to repentance. Even the raising of Lazarus was only an illustration of Jesus’ power over life and death (Jn 11:38-53). After all, Lazarus would eventually die. That’s why Christ explains, after the resuscitation of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). Similarly, all the physical healings and miracles of Jesus were only signs to show that, in Him (Jesus), the Kingdom of God has come. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Therefore, miracles were not a substantive part of Jesus’ ministry, they were only signs pointing to the Kingdom. Understandably, when the disciples rejoiced that they had cast out demons, Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice that the demons bow to you, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20). He tells his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added unto us (Mtt 6:33).

In no way does the Kingdom-driven message suggest that Jesus doesn’t care about our physical health, social welfare, economy, and so on. Rather, he implores us to make distinctions between the ephemeral and the eternal, so we can set our priorities right—where your treasure is, there your heart will be too (Mtt 6:21). Remember, the booming economy can crumble within the twinkle of an eye, just like the physically healthy can die in an instant. What, then, shall it profit anyone if he gets all the healing, testimonies, and worldly success he asks for, yet loses his soul? There is much more to abundant life in Christ than mere signs and wonders.

Among other reasons, ignorance and the denial of God’s will constitute the main reasons that many people fall for the miracle and healing business today. Scripture rightly says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). With an unprecedented gullibility, many adherents to modern day preaching fail to identify the characteristics of soothsaying and divination that are exhibited by self-styled prophets. The prophets of God were humble and selfless messengers, called by God to speak on His behalf. The true prophets didn’t preach a prosperity message, neither did they compel their followers to “sow seeds” by giving them money for a luxurious lifestyle. The prophets of God didn’t point fingers, accusing friends and family members of being witches and wizards blocking their progress. The true prophets didn’t promise visas, breakthroughs, wives, or husbands to their clients in exchange for sowing seeds.

In sharp contrast, the prophets preached repentance and conversion. They called out the kings and people against social injustice, bribery, corruption, and persecution of widows, orphans, and the less fortunate in society. They often sounded warnings of impending danger if the people didn’t change their ways (cf. Is 1:4; Jer 8:8-12; Amos 5:10-13). Prophets were not predictors of the future. Rather, the prophets’ primary task was to call the people as a community to accountability and responsibility in their relationship with God. Even when they spoke about the future, it was for the purpose of calling people to be responsible before God in the present (Is 51:7; Jer 20:12).

As earlier indicated, the denial of God’s will is a major spiritual crisis of our time. With their preconceived plans for life, relationships, family, and wealth, many people are in rebellion against God’s will. And when things don’t work out your way, you go in search of quick fixes and instant answers to ordinary, day-to-day challenges. We behave as if our birth certificates stated somewhere that life should be easy! The miracle preachers are already very aware of this desperation, and they use it to prey upon you. Some of them even have agents who survey territories and learn about the people ahead of their miracle crusades, so they can startle you with stories about your own life. Indeed, wonders shall never end!

Of course, it is natural to shout out, “God’s blessings upon you!” to your family and friends. It is impossible to keep quiet after having received some special favor from God. However, Jesus specifically denounced any form vain publicity. For example, he said to the man he had freed from demonic oppression to go tell his family how the Lord had shown him mercy, yet this excited man uncontrollably went spreading the news all over the place (Mk 5:19-20). If Jesus asked us to keep quiet about his own miracles, imagine how much worse it is when testimonies are fabricated and miracles faked as a means to promote a church or ministry. It is sheer extortion when these so-called “men of God” demand that their clients sow a seed by making specific donations in hope of spiritual favor. Inexhaustible forms of duplicity are employed by the modern-day messiahs. Suffice it to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. Beware of false prophets prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds’” (Jer 23:16).

Since antiquity, there have always been traders of the Word; these are opportunists who used the Scripture and the name of Jesus for fame and personal aggrandizement. In Acts 8:9-25, we read about Simon the magician, who wanted to buy miraculous powers from Peter and John. He was condemned for thinking that the gift of God could be bought with money.  Paul clearly states, “We are not like so many others who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity as men sent from God” (2Cor 2:17).

In conclusion, it is time to wake up to all the soothsayers and diviners who pose as prophets and preachers with the sole aim of taking advantage of spiritually weak and ignorant followers. Don’t allow yourself to be lured by commercials for miraculous solutions to the ordinary challenges of life. Be aware that all you see on social media and miracle TV channels has been altered or outright faked. In Jesus’ time, testimonies were spontaneous and sincere, because there was no time for rehearsal or make-up, as there is today.

Be aware of your worth as a child of God. Scripture says, “All who have received him he empowers to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). You have power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions, and if you only believe in Him and do His will, the miracles and testimonies will begin to follow you, and in abundance! No matter how real or exciting someone else’s testimony appears to be, it will never be your own. Therefore, it is better to desist from wasting precious time on miraculous entertainment and testimonies. The best way to use your time profitably is to nourish your mind with good reads. Read and wise up!

*Father Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Profressional and author of  the book  New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa

 

 

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