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Rwanda denies existence of unofficial military detention centers
January 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Minister Busingye says Rwanda has no unlawful military detention centers
Minister Busingye says Rwanda has no unlawful military detention centers

The Government of Rwanda denies the existence of unlawful military detention centers in which some human rights organizations say people are tortured.

 In 2017 Human Rights Watch reported that after conducting  investigation between 2010 and 2016, it confirmed 104 cases of people who were illegally detained, and in many cases tortured or ill-treated, in Rwandan military detention centers.

Appearing before Human Rights Council on Monday, 25th January 2021 while reviewing for the 3rd time the Human Rights record of Rwanda under the Universal Periodic Review, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, Busingye Johnston refuted those allegations.

“There are no unofficial detention centers in Rwanda and as such the Government of Rwanda  rejects such unfounded allegations which, we believe, are motivated by the political interest and agenda of those who advance them”, he said

Busingye  said that Rwanda has separate prison facilities for civilian and military convicts which operate in accordance with law.

“They are accessible and conform to by international minimum standards on the treatment of persons deprived of liberty”, he added.

Minister Busingye, however agreed that Rwandan prisons are overcrowded, a move which he relates to “efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system”.

He promised that government is doubling efforts  to expand options for non-custodial sentences and diversion from the typical criminal justice channel,  building new and renovating  prisons, giving  penalty of community service and the use of electronic bracelets to expand bail options for suspects.

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The National Question and the Quest for Restructuring in Nigeria
January 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chido Onumah*

President Buhari with former former Nigerian leaders Jonathan, Obasanjo and Babaginda.Photo credit Tribune online

Introduction

To paraphrase the historian, mathematician, journalist, and public intellectual, Edwin Madunagu, every political history has its significant dates, landmarks or turning points. In Nigeria’s political history, for instance, landmarks would include October 1, 1960, (the day Nigeria gained independence from Britain), January 15, 1966, (when the first of what would become a tradition of military coups occurred), July 6, 1967, (the official start of the 30-month Nigeria-Biafra war) and January 15, 1970, (the official end of the civil war).

To these dates, I will add January 1, 1914, (the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates by the British to create Nigeria), May 27, 1967, (the beginning of state creation in Nigeria), and May 30, 1967, (the official declaration of the secessionist state of Biafra). The latter dates, May 27 and May 30, 1967, are significant in many ways. On May 27, 50 years ago, Yakubu Gowon, who served as head of state of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975, perhaps in anticipation of the audacious move by the Military Governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, announced the division of Nigeria into 12 states from four regions. The division of Nigeria into 12 states and Ojuwku’s declaration of Biafra were decisions that would change the country forever.

Gowon’s action did not only alter the structure of Nigeria, it led to the reconstruction of the nascent nation through the lenses of the so-called Nigerian military; a military that was provincial in outlook as it was ill-equipped for leadership. The military centralized economic and political power and moved Nigeria from a federal republic to a unitary state. In many ways, we can conveniently say May 27, 1967, was the day Nigeria began to unravel and any attempt to understand the current crises and our inability to make progress as a nation must necessarily return to the action of the military junta on May 27, 1967.  

The road to Biafra

Three days later, May 30, 1967, Lt. Col Ojukwu, a Nigerian soldier of Igbo extraction declared an “independent sovereign state of the name and title of Republic of Biafra,” officially excising the Eastern Region from Nigeria. Ojukwu based his action on the resolution, four days earlier, on May 26, 1967, of a joint conference of the Eastern consultative assembly and leaders of thought that asked him to declare the Eastern region as separate republic at an “early practicable date”.   

The declaration of Biafra was the culmination of a series of tragic events. First was the bloodletting that started with the January 15, 1966, military coup. That coup led to the assassination of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belewa, the country’s first and only prime minister and Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the Northern Region, among other high-profile casualties. Some recollections by Edwin Madunagu in “Settling account with Biafra” (The Guardian, May 4, 2000) are apposite here: “One, the politics of the First Republic (1960-1965) was heavily characterised by ethnicity, especially towards the end of that tragic period. Two: Of the five army majors that are more frequently mentioned as leading the coup attempt, only one, Major Adewale Ademoyega, was non-Igbo by ethnic origin. Three: No Igbo political leader died, and the only Igbo military casualty occurred not because he was a target but because he was considered a ‘nuisance’. Four: The attempted coup was the culmination of a long period of political crisis in Nigeria, a crisis whose centre of gravity was Western Region where, before the military intervention, the crisis had become an armed popular uprising.”

On July 29, 1966, there was another military coup led by officers from Northern Nigeria and Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon became head of state. According to Madunagu, the coupists “first made a move to pull the Northern Region out Nigeria, but when they were advised that they were now in a military situation to rule the whole country, instead of a part of it, they dropped the idea of secession and became champions of ‘One Nigeria’. Lt. Col Ojukwu refused to recognise Lt. Col Gowon as head of state.”  

The second coup led to the assassination, among other high-profile casualties, of the country’s first military head of state, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo, as well as the military governor of the Western Region, Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi. This was followed by, as Madunagu notes, “mass killings not only in the North, but all over the country, except the Eastern Region. Now, multiply the May 1966 tragedy by a factor of 50, add to it the fact that the killings were now led by armed soldiers whose commanders were now in power and add to this the fact that the killings did not abate for at least five months and you begin to have an idea of what happened.”

The criminal indifference of the Nigerian state to the manifest pogrom against people from Eastern Nigeria, particularly Igbos, the repudiation by the Nigerian contingent (and the “unilateral implementation” by the Eastern regional government) of the agreement on decentralization of power reached at a meeting in Aburi, Ghana, involving the main protagonists, Yakubu Gowon and Emeka Ojukwu, at the instance of Gen. Ankrah of Ghana, finally paved the road to Biafra.

The accounts of what took place in those turbulent days are as varied as there are ethnic groups in Nigeria. But one thing is certain: the effects of those events, particularly the actions of May 27 and 30, 1967, are still being felt today. In one fell swoop, the military unilaterally restructured Nigeria according to its dictates. While Ojukwu drafted “unwilling” minorities in the Eastern Region to create a Biafran state where Igbos were in the majority, the Nigerian military which was nothing but the armed wing of a reactionary feudal class that had power thrust on it at independence began the implementation of an agenda of conquest. Interestingly, barely a year earlier, the section of the military that seized power after the January 15, 1966 coup had attempted to reconstruct Nigeria as a unitary state with the promulgation of the unification decree 34 of 1966. That attempt was opposed fiercely by those (including a section of the military) who felt they had lost out in the power equation. The rest is history.

When history repeats itself

Unfortunately, Nigeria is on the cusp of that tragic history repeating itself. Regrettably, 50 years after the declaration of Biafra many young Nigerians of Igbo descent are trying to recreate Biafra. A few months ago there were events in Nigeria and around the world to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra on May 30, 1967. Forty-seven years after the end of the Nigeria-Biafra War, Biafra still resonates with individuals and groups within and outside the country; perhaps, a testament to the fact that the war hasn’t ended in the minds of the protagonists and victims and the reality that many of the issues that propelled the civil war are still with us today.

So, how do we deal with this conundrum? Is Biafra the solution? In other words, can we solve the problems of 2017 Nigeria using the tragic solution of 50 years ago? As S.M. Sigerson noted in The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? “A nation which fails to adequately remember salient points of its own history, is like a person with Alzheimer’s. And that can be a social disease of a most destructive nature.”

Seventeen years ago, Edwin Madunagu, in the piece referenced above, admonished “the young Nigerians now threatening to actualise Biafra (to) forget or shelve the plan. In place of ‘actualisation’ they should, through research and study, reconstruct the Biafran story in its fullness and complexity and try to answer the unanswered questions and supply the missing links in the story. This is a primary responsibility you owe yourselves: you should at least understand what you want to actualise. If 30 years after Biafra, you want to produce its second edition, you need to benefit from the criticism of the first. History teaches that a second edition of a tragic event could easily become a farce—in spite of the heroism of its human agencies. On the other hand, those who enjoy ridiculing Biafra—instead of studying it—are politically shortsighted. My own attitude to Biafra is neither ‘actualisation’ nor ridicule. I propose that accounts should be settled with Biafra.”

Madunagu’s admonition needs no elaboration. It is clear enough for the young people pushing for the actualisation of Biafra, many of whom were born after the end of the Biafra war 47 years ago. The aspect of his position on Biafra that I want to focus on is the aspect that warns of the “political shortsightedness of ridiculing Biafra”.

Balkanizing the nation

When the military regime headed by Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states, it sought to weaken the prospect of the different groups in the Eastern Region uniting against the Nigerian state. Of course, that action was music to the ears of minority groups, particularly those in the Eastern Region, who had long demanded their own state. With the creation of states, however, the military not only unilaterally abrogated the geo-political structure that existed then, it went a step further to destroy the principle of federalism on which Nigeria gained independence in 1960 and which had sustained and kept the country together. We need to understand that this principle was adopted not only to assuage the fear of domination by a single group in the country but as recognition of the differences (multi-ethnic and multi-lingual) of the various “ethnic nationalities” that were brought together to create Nigeria. 

Part of Gowon’s broadcast on May 27, 1967, signaling the breakup of Nigeria into 12 states is pertinent here: “The main obstacle to future stability in this country is the present structural imbalance in the Nigerian Federation. Even Decree No.8 or Confederation or ‘loose association’ will never survive if any one section of the country is in a position to hold the others to ransom.

“This is why the first item in the political and administrative programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council last month is the creation of states for stability. This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.

“As soon as these are established, a new revenue allocation commission consisting of international experts will be appointed to recommend an equitable formula for revenue allocation taking into account the desires of the states. I propose to act faithfully within the political and administrative programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council and published last month. The world will recognise in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

“I have ordered the re-imposition of the economic measures designed to safeguard federal interests until such time as the Eastern Military Governor abrogates his illegal edicts on revenue collection and the administration of the federal statutory corporations based in the East. The country has a long history of well-articulated demands for states. The fears of minorities were explained in great detail and set out in the report of the Willink Commission appointed by the British in 1958. More recently, there have been extensive discussions in Regional Consultative Committees and leaders-of-thought conferences. Resolutions have been adopted demanding the creation of states in the North and in Lagos. Petitions from minority areas in the East which have been subjected to violent intimidation by the Eastern Military Government have been publicised.

“While the present circumstances regrettably do not allow for consultations through plebiscites, I am satisfied that the creation of new states as the only possible basis for stability and equality is the overwhelming desire of the vast majority of Nigerians. To ensure justice, these states are being created simultaneously. To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a decree which will divide the Federal Republic into 12 states. The 12 states will be six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern Region, the Mid-Western will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western Region will otherwise remain as it is.”

What the military regime of Gowon gave with one hand it took with the other. And that would become the hallmark of subsequent military regimes in Nigeria. Gowon failed to realise, or deliberately ignored the reality that the issue wasn’t the division of the country but the reluctance or inability of the military to keep its promise, viz., “This must be done first so as to remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people.”

Unfortunately, that never happened. It couldn’t have, considering the rapacious and parasitic nature of the Nigerian military so-called and the interest it represented and still represents. Once the military couldn’t deliver on that promise, it also meant that the second part of its declaration that, “The world will recognise in these proposals our desire for justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country,” was nothing but meaningless soundbite by a rampaging military sub-class in desperate search for legitimacy.

Since then, there has neither been “justice nor fair play for all sections” of Nigeria. There hasn’t been any serious attempt to “accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.” The sham of a federation that the military created has evolved into a Frankenstein’s monster. Fast forward 50 years. Cleary, it is the nebulous federal government that is holding the country to ransom. The moment the military government took economic powers from the states, there was no way we could ensure justice and fair play. And once you can’t ensure justice and fair play, there is no way you can stop the concomitant disquiet.

The politics of state creation

When Gen Murtala Muhammed created additional seven states—three in the “South” and four in the “North”—bringing the total to 19 states, and a new federal capital territory, Abuja, on February 3, 1976, ten days before his assassination on February 13, he left no one in doubt that the conquest was real. While Gowon showed an inclination to balance Nigeria geo-politically, Muhammed ensured that the “North” had ten states while the “South” had nine. It has been alleged that the decision was to create four new states in the “North” and four new states in the “South”, but when Muhammed announced the creation of states, instead of creating two states (Cross River and Akwa Ibom States) out of the old South-Eastern State, he simply announced the transformation of South-Eastern State into Cross River State.

Subsequent military regimes continued the conquest, not just on the political front, but on the economic front as well. Ten years later, in 1986, when the self-professed evil genius, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, set up a Political Bureau to review the country’s political and democratic system, one of its recommendations was the creation of an additional state (Akwa Ibom State) in “South” to create a geo-political balance of ten states each between the “North” and “South”. Babangida spurned that recommendation. He did create Akwa Ibom State, but he added another state (Kastina State) in the “North” to maintain the imbalance. It was the same pattern that was adopted in subsequent state creation in 1991 (under Gen Babangida) and 1996 (under Gen Sani Abacha). Geo-politically, today, Nigeria is composed of 36 states: 19 states in the “North” and 17 states in the “South”.

Ordinarily this should not matter. After all, in a federation, the federating units (states) are supposed to manage their affairs substantially and contribute to the sustenance of the federation. Therefore, only those who feel their states can sustain themselves would clamour for the creation of such states. Of course, more self-sustaining states would mean more opportunities for the national government to benefit from the exploration and exploitation of resources in every state. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Nigeria.

In a country where the military had hijacked and centralized the control of economic resources and political power by, for example, arrogating to itself the authority to create local governments as well as placing itself in the position of chief dispenser of funds based on its own criteria, including population, land mass, number of local governments, derivation principle, etc., the dog eat dog demand for states was inevitable. Thanks to the military—the armed wing of Nigeria’s dominant power bloc—Nigeria has a weird federation where states can’t create their own local governments; where local governments are listed in constitutions that have been nothing but military decrees writ large. Thanks to the military, Nigeria has spurned justice and fair play and disregarded the genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this great country.

It is not for nothing that Nigeria is described as a federal republic. It was a choice made by the three regions in Nigeria preceding independence. Both the Eastern and Western regions obtained internal self-government (independence) in 1957, while the North got same in 1959. Each region could have opted to go its own way in 1960. We could have had three countries as opposed to one at independence. The decision by the regions to be part of a shared territory called Nigeria came with some obligation and expectation. There is little to suggest that the federating region were willing to jettison the greater part of their economic and political independence for the sake of “one Nigeria”.

In 1963, the regions (the precursor of our current states) controlled 50 percent of the revenues accruing from their region; today we are quibbling whether the states have right to as little as 13 percent. In a sense, this manifest heist by the federal government has perpetuated injustice in some sections of the country while condoning indolence in others. It is this quest for control, or lack of, that is at the heart of the Nigerian crisis.

The question then is what must we do to get Nigeria out of the current quagmire and ultimately save the country from self-destruction?

Mythical nation

There are no easy answers, considering the historical trajectories of Nigeria and the beating the country has taken from rogue rulers (military and civilian) in the last 57 years. But we can start from somewhere. A genuine national conversation founded on shared existential experience can be a good starting point. We must come to the realization that we have very limited choices and time is of the essence. The single agenda of such national conversation is to work out an agreeable and sustainable structure for the country. This is critical for many reasons, the most important being that it is on such agreement that every other thing, including the survival of the country, rests. It is this sentiment that the late politician and lawyer, Chief Bola Ige, expressed when he noted: “There are two basic questions that must be answered by all Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?”

Undoubtedly, majority of Nigerians would respond in the affirmative to the first question. The question then is if we agree to remain together, under what conditions? Do we want a truly federal nation? Do we want a secular and egalitarian nation where the rule of law prevails? Do we want a semi-feudal and religious republic that poses as a modern democratic society? Do we want a nation where some citizens are treated as second class citizens? Do we want a nation where some people feel ostracized, marginalized, dispossessed and neglected or an inclusive nation of equal opportunities, freedom, responsibility and trust? The choice is ours, but that decision must involve majority of Nigerians. Enter the term restructuring!

To understand Nigeria and why we need to restructure the country, we need to debunk a few myths and lay bare certain facts. Myth: God used the British to bring Nigeria together and, therefore, not only is there nothing we can do about that, we shouldn’t attempt to alter what the British put together on behalf of God. Fact: Nigeria was brought together by the British for purely economic and imperialistic reasons. Myth: The size of Nigeria is an asset. Fact: Of course, size is an asset, but no country is great simply by the size of its population. Myth: Nigeria has always been one “united” country. Fact: Nigeria has not always been like this. Nigeria was basically two different countries (Northern and Southern Protectorates). The British brought these two countries together for economic, administrative and expansionist interests as well as its desire to check the burgeoning French interest in Africa. The evil colonialists created one country yet did everything to keep the people divided. The fault lines still exist today. Myth: Once the British “conquered” the people that would later form Nigeria, they lost the right to “self-determination”. Fact: The ethnic nationalities that were “conquered” by the British were not “conquered” collectively as one group and the fact that they were “conquered” by the British does not in any way vitiate their right to “self-determination”. Only a hegemonist and internal colonialist will push such a position. Myth: Nigeria is non-negotiable and indivisible. Fact: Nations are not eternal constructs; they come into being at certain historical junctures due to different factors and can likewise go out of existence for different reasons. Myth: Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. Fact: Nigeria is not a mere geographical expression. The country is simply no longer the sum of its constituent parts. There are people and institutions that are Nigerian.

So, let’s not romanticize Nigeria or take it for granted. Having said that, it is also important that we understand that there is nothing special about the way Nigeria was formed. And this is in response to those who refer to Nigeria as a “fictional nation” or an “artificial creation”.

Who is afraid of restructuring?

For those who fear the word restructuring, let it be clear that it doesn’t imply breaking Nigeria into tiny sovereignties or going back to the status quo ante. That is far-fetched. Of course, there are many positions just as there is much misperception and confusion when it comes to restructuring. Many people genuinely do not understand what is at stake when the issue of restructuring is mentioned vis a vis the politics of Nigeria, while others, for purely partisan and ethnic reasons, decide to conflate the issue.

Make no mistake, the “restructuring” of Nigeria both politically and economically has been a continuous process since amalgamation in 1914. The restructuring in 1939 saw the division of the South into two regions, the West and East. In 1946, the country was again restructured to create a federation of three regions: East, West and North. The process continued in I963 with the creation of Mid-Western Region out of the former Western Region, the unitary system in 1966 and beyond, the creation of 12 states on May 27, 1967, etc. Add to this, the emasculation of the states through the reduction of the percentage of revenue accruing to states from their resources.

Basically, what restructuring willdo is to createnew, workable and generally acceptable rules on how Nigeria should federate. We need to reorder the polity for effective governance. Clearly, our fortunes as a nation is tied to the kind of political, economic and social structure we put in place. We need to review revenue generation and allocation. We can’t talk or wish our way to prosperity as a nation. We must end financial irresponsibility and fiscal rascality by revisiting the issue of fiscal federalism. We must allow states to share greater responsibility in the policing of their states. We must abrogate local governments as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution and allow states to create local governments according to their needs. We must redefine citizenship rights and banish the indigene-settler dichotomy. This is what restructuring is about. We must continue to interrogate Nigeria because our misleaders (past and present) have failed to forge a nation out of what was bequeathed to us by the colonialists. The nationhood question is never settled. The way out is to never be afraid to confront it.  

Any attempt to understand and tackle Nigeria’s seemingly intractable problems must go back to the basic principles of the formation of Nigeria. We may not have it the way it was in 1960 or 1963, but it is important that whatever way we decide to have it, the decision is inclusive and acceptable. That is the essence of restructuring. Restructuring is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all our problems, but trying to solve our national crises without restructuring the country effectively will amount to putting the cart before the horse. 

The bottom line is that Nigeria is not working for Nigerians. It may be working for some Nigerians, either Igbos, Fulanis, Yorubas, Hausas, Kanuris, Efiks, Tivs or Ijaws, but for the majority across the country, it is a nightmare living the Nigerian dream. We can point to poor leadership, bad governance, corruption and the need for attitudinal change, but these are symptoms of a much insidious problem, the existential crisis that confronts Nigeria. 

Nigeria is not working not because Nigerians can’t make it work or are not willing to make it work. Nigeria is not working simply because there is no incentive to make it work; there is no allegiance to the Nigerian dream, if it does exist. That explains the mindless corruption in the country, the contempt the rulers have for the country and its citizens, their eagerness to run it aground and their willingness to run to the Metropole at the slightest opportunity either for medical attention, to educate their children or simply to enjoy the good life. And, the country, the proverbial giant of Africa remains, in the words of Noble Laurette, Prof Wole Soyinka, “the open sore of a continent”; a nation that made billions of dollars from oil, yet (with Pakistan and Afghanistan) is one of the three-remaining polio-endemic countries in the world with one of the highest cases of out-of-school children and maternal mortality.

Reclaiming Nigeria

The purpose of restructuring, therefore, is to set Nigeria on the path of a civic nationhood, a modern egalitarian society, and not to create new fiefdoms for ethnic warlords. It aims to end internal colonialism wherever it exists in the country and to free the creative and intellectual capacities for Nigerians from the east, west, north and south, to contribute to the development of the country.

Can we reconstruct Nigeria? Can we reclaim the country and provide succour to millions of our countrymen and women in the east, west, north, and south who have endured decades of misrule, impoverishment, injustice and oppression? This is the question that should engage true patriots and the current generation of Nigerians. Can the post-civil war generation of Nigerians reclaim the country and create a new Nigeria that can become a global contender? I think it can. But nation building is not a tea party. This generation must learn to overcome the fear and loathing; it mustn’t allow our tragic history to repeat itself.

The future of Nigeria belongs to young men and men, millions who are unemployed and daily roaming the streets of major cities across the country. I share your frustration, pain, suffering, anger and anxiety. But no one feels the pain more than you and, therefore, you are in the best position to bring about the kind of change you and Nigeria need. 

You must rise to the occasion. You are the future of this great nation. Nigeria of 2017 is not Nigeria of 1914, 1960, 1966, or 1967-70. John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, once admonished Americans, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” Kennedy was speaking to Americans and the “right” answer may not be in the interest of non-Americans, but the same principle can apply in our own situation. In seeking solutions to the country’s problems, you must learn from the past but you should not allow the past to cripple you. You must accept your own responsibility for the future. You should see yourselves as Nigerians first before being Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Fulani or Ijaw. And in seeking to deal with the Nigerian question, that should be your guiding principle.

Nigerian youth must seize the moment and define the kind of future they want to create. Nobody will live that future but you. Don’t let our crooked politicians and so-called statesmen define that future. You can’t leave the solution to Nigeria’s problems to those who created it in the first place for, as Einstein poignantly put it, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”Our rulers have defined themselves and the country for too long; they have no right to define you and the future.

Our rulers and so-called elders shouldn’t speak for you any longer. Don’t let a 90-year-old Edwin Clark or Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who as Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University from 1979–1986, was more of a despot than an administrator, ruining the future of many students in the process, speak for you. Don’t let the dishonourable men and women posing as your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives speak for you. Afenifere, Northern Elders Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, OPC, Arewa Youth Forum (AYF), IPOB, MASSOB, and sundry agglomeration of ethnic jingoists and bigots, shouldn’t speak for you.  

Your reality and challenges—in the light of globalization and a world where oil is increasingly becoming irrelevant and advances in science and communication technology are changing the way we live and operate—are different from the realities of your forbears. Don’t let the prejudices of the past hold you down. We have wasted 57 years as an independent nation, we can’t afford to waste the next 50 years. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra and the start of the civil war, we must remember our fellow citizens from the east, west, north and south and everywhere in between who lost their lives or loved ones, were injured or maimed for life in that unfortunate 30-month war and resolve to say never again!

I believe we can a build a nation where no group or individuals place their ethnic, sectional, state, regional or religious interests above the national interest. That is the condition precedent for the survival of Nigeria. That is what restructuring can do for us.

The eternal words of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, the great Pan-Africanist who died on Africa Day, May 25, eight years ago, are apropos: don’t agonise, organise.”

*Onumah is the author of We Are All Biafrans. This essay was written in 2017 as part of a conference presentation. It is being published now because of its relevance to Nigeria’s current situation.

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Cuban health workers arrive in Mozambique to fight covid-19
January 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

14 Cuban medical workers arrived in Mozambique this week following the Mozambican government’s request for support for a more effective response to covid-19 in the country.

The Ministry of Health (Misau) expects the group to start work today. The total number of Cuban health workers expected to arrive in the country is 45, 30 of whom are intensive care specialists and 15 intensive care nurses. The second group of 31 is due to arrive on 2 February.

The Cuban health professionals were received at the airport by a Reception Committee headed by the National Director of Medical Assistance, Dr. Ussene Isse, which also involved the Head of the Cuban Mission at the Cuban Embassy, Deputy National Director of Human Resources of the MISAU and Director for Europe and America Area at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation-.

Speaking to the media at Mavalane International Airport, Ussene Isse said that the arrival of Cuban health professionals was of capital importance as it would complement the work that the Mozambican counterpart had been doing since the outbreak of the disease in the country.

Since the beginning of January, Mozambique has registered a growing number of new cases, admissions and deaths due to COVID-19.

Yesterday, 14 more people have died in Mozambique from covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 319. The latest victims are ten men and four women, all Mozambicans, aged between 49 and 84. They died in hospital being treated for the disease.

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Mozambique: Two killed in collapse of illegal mine in Cabo Delgado.
January 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Two informal miners died on 17 and 20 January following the collapse of a small-scale mine in the Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) concession area in Montepuez district, Cabo Delgado province.

The continued unnecessary loss of human life is the result of unsafe practices by illegal miners who are usually supervised or coerced by illegal gemstone smuggling unions, financed by foreign traders operating in the region.

“MRM believes that garimpeiros are exploited by illegal ruby ​​smuggling syndicates, usually financed by foreign buyers,” said a company statement. The actors behind these syndicates “pay only a fraction of the real market value of rubies that are obtained illegally from the mine and other sources”, it added.

Despite the awareness campaigns it has carried out, informal mining is still “a huge challenge,” MRM said, and deprived the country of tax revenues from mineral resources.

MRM’s chairman Samora Machel Júnior asked the government for help, saying that the company was unable to control the problem by itself. Informal mining is also a highly dangerous activity..

In 2020, at least 25 people, mostly men and young people from other countries or distant villages, died during illegal and unsafe mining activities in MRM’s concession, often buried when the mines collapsed.

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Being and Becoming African as a Permanent Work in Progress:Inspiration from Chinua Achebe’s Proverbs
January 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Francis B. Nyamnjoh*

Prof Francis Nyamnjoh
Prof Francis Nyamnjoh

Introduction

This lecture explores what we could learn about being and becoming African as a permanent work in progress from how Chinua Achebe adopts and adapts Igbo proverbs in his writings. Being African is often claimed and denied with expediency. While all claims and denials may be founded, not every claim is informed by the same considerations. If being and becoming African were compared to shopping at a supermarket, one could argue that some are flexible in what they put into their shopping baskets while others are picky, even when invited to take a lot by attractive offers, sales and discounts. And some have products thrust down their consumer palates through the power of aggressive advertisement or for lack of purchasing power. I am particularly interested in how being African is claimed and denied in history, socio-anthropologically, and politically. In this connection, I have found much inspiration in Chinua Achebe’s use of proverbs as words of salience and significance in crafting the stories and essays that have made him a household name on the continent and globally. Achebe has found in proverbs a powerful resource of complicated repertoires from which he has drawn repeatedly to nourish his characters and oil their experiences and relationships, depicting their multifacetedness and celebrating their humanity.

Proverbs, as condensed wisdom drawn from human experience, provide a rich resource for understanding, inter alia, how African communities have through the ages, negotiated and navigated questions of being and belonging through a myriad of encounters with one another, as well as with people from elsewhere and those they have come to know and relate with through their own mobility. Proverbs are cherished repertoires of humans as dynamic and creative innovators in conversation with the geographies and environments that continually feed their individual and collective selves and appetite for the nuanced complexities of being human.

Like Achebe, I find it compelling to think with proverbs, which, far from being confined to so-called nonliterate or preponderantly oral societies as some have had the habit of insisting erroneously, are “condiments of speech”[1] in every society, regardless of the degree of modernity claimed by the society in question. Let me share a proverb with which many of you are already familiar, from Chinua Achebe’s novel Arrow of God: “The world is like a mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place.”[2] The proverb in the novel is slightly adapted from that in circulation in everyday Igbo language: “Ada-akwu ofu ebe enene mmuo, ‘You do not stand in one place to watch a masquerade.’”[3] Commenting on this proverb, Achebe notes: “The Igbo believe that art, religion, everything, the whole of life are embodied in the art of the masquerade. It is dynamic. It is not allowed to remain stationary.”[4] I would like to adapt the proverb slightly as follows: “Africa and being African are like a mask dancing. If you want to see them well, you do not stand in one place.” To buttress the point with a proverb common among the populations of the Cameroon Grassfields – a proverb about which I have written – “a child is one person’s only in the womb.”[5] As products of culture in its dynamism, proverbs and language cannot but live up to the dancing mask image of that which has parented them. Nimble-footed realities, flexible identities and belonging require nimble-footed and nimble-minded spectators. And nimble-footed and nimble-minded students of Africa and Africans need to bring historical ethnography into conversation with the ethnographic present.

The ideas that hold this lecture together are: Incompleteness, Mobility/Motion, Encounters, Compositeness, Debt and Indebtedness, and Conviviality.

Proverbs in Motion and their Mobilization by Chinua Achebe

If one applies the Achebe proverb referenced above – “The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place” [6] – to the meaning of a proverb, one could argue that the proverb is like a mask dancing, and one does not understand it in its fullness by standing in one place and sticking to a frozen idea of what a proverb is.

Not only are proverbs universal in their use to express emotions, thoughts, experiences and challenges, they are also universal in the very fact of the mobility of humans, ideas and language across geographies. The power of the proverb lies in its eternal incompleteness of meaning, that constantly opens itself up to improvisation and creative innovation in usage with and across cultural communities.

There is an Akan proverb to the effect that “when the rain beats the leopard, its fur becomes wet, but its spots do not wash away”[7]. If colonialism was the rain, and African languages the leopard, what in African languages has proven to be the spots? Central to a language are the figures of speech and idioms, of which proverbs are integral. If Africa’s unequal encounters with European colonialism meant the imposition of colonial European languages, any meaningful claims to independence and decolonisation entailed, at the very least, a reinvestment in and prioritisation of linguistic repertoires endangered by colonialism as a zero-sum pursuit.[8] Chinua Achebe understood this very well, and his novels are exemplary on just how to go about achieving that in creative writing. Achebe maintains that the use of proverbs helped him make words more palatable, likening proverbs to the palm-oil with which words are eaten: “Among the Ibo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.”[9]

Achebe’s creative rendition of Igbo proverbs in the English language enriches both languages, and demonstrates that a true measure of a living language is in its capacity to reach out and embrace the new figures of speech, idioms or proverbs that come with new encounters with and experience of difference. For, while proverbs “represent the wisdom of the past used in a new situation to justify current behaviour, condition or thinking”, this by no means should imply that the past is an insensitive dictator of the present. The teachings, warnings, console, satire and advise of existing proverbs make sense only to the extent that these proverbs and those who employ them are sufficiently flexible and accommodating of the listeners creative and discerning beings.[10] Providing for change and continuity in proverbs is the humility needed through a constant alertness to the fact that “One who does not travel assumes that only his/her mother cooks the most delicious dinner”.[11] This celebration of Achebe through a conversation with how he marshals proverbs to make good bedfellows of change and continuity, is also a tribute to his domestication of a colonial language, through his “ingenuous use of the English language” that has come to serve as “a model for creative writers in situations where English is a second or foreign language”.[12]

Proverbially, Achebe has shown the way to contemporary African writers on how to embellish their art “with oral resources such as folktales, proverbs, sayings, festivals, songs, riddles and myths”, whether or not they write in a colonial European language or in an endogenous African language.[13] To stress that African writers must dance the dance prevalent in their time in a nimblefooted world of myriad encounters and influences by no means should be mistaken as the wholesale embrace of colonialism or the ambitions of dominance of some over others, nor should it surprise anyone – in the manner that it appears to have done Bruce Gilley[14] – that Achebe should find something positive to say about the legacies of British colonialism in Nigeria, even as he was highly critical of the hierarchies of humanity that underpinned colonial encounters and served to excuse the systematic devaluation of Africans – body, mind and soul.

Proverbs as Palm-Oil

Proverbs lend themselves to be used by all and sundry – regardless of gender, class, status, age and location. A socially lowly ranked person is just as able to draw on proverbs in driving home their message, as would a person who is hierarchically superior. This would explain why in Achebe’s novels proverbs come in handy to characters of different social categories and across the broad spectrum of society. In a patriarchal context that is sensitive to hierarchies of various forms, women, the young, the enslaved, the outcaste and the underachievers among men may be reprimanded for using proverbs daringly, but seldom for using them. In recognition of an individual’s freedom to speak democratically, the Igbo invite anyone present at a gathering to “speak his own mouth”.[15] Proverbs afford otherwise passive and voiceless victims of the status quo in a patriarchal society and related contexts of inequalities and injustices to reassert themselves and reclaim the voice otherwise denied them in the spaces and places of formal enactment of power and privilege. In Home and Exile, Achebe calls on us always to remember what proverbs are meant to achieve in a communicative act with these words: “the extravagant attire which a metaphor wears to catch our eye is merely a ploy to engage our hearts and minds.” [16] Proverbs encourage persuasive communication by laying emphasis on the force of argument and not the argument of force. For, as an Igbo proverb goes, “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”[17] The “belief that one man is as good as another, that no condition is permanent” engenders “self-confidence”, highly “competitive individualism”, and an “open society” that make the Igbo “receptive to change”, adventurous, inventive and dynamic.[18]

Gluing Change and Continuity with Proverbs

The invitation by Achebe to flexibility and humility in how we claim, and articulate identities speaks of a writer who used his Igbo identity more as a vantage point for understanding the universal, than as a fixation or a birthmark. [19] To Achebe and thanks to his proverbs, Igbo identity is open-ended and inclusive. His use of proverbs demonstrates that communication is a process in which meaning is multiple, layered and infinite, and where context is cardinal to understanding. Proverbs in Achebe’s works also demonstrate that there is no essentialised Igbo identity as social and political encounters and transformations fashion different ways of knowing and being Igbo, a point superbly buttressed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her remarkable short story, “The Headstrong Historian”[20], which I have analysed elsewhere.[21] Being Igbo in an interconnected world of ever increasing possibilities of encounters with other people from other places and spaces, and with other ways of seeing and doing, far from being a hardback book with a definite introduction, body and conclusion (thank goodness Achebe published in paperback!!!), is always a process of becoming, best understood as flexible, fluid and full of ellipses – an unfinished and unfinishable story. Being Igbo or claiming whatever identity is all about disabusing oneself of fixations with a single story, however compelling and imposing its appeal might appear. This speaks to the potential in proverbs to contribute significantly as epistemologies of decolonisation, especially in Africa where European colonialism and its zero-sum cultural logic tended to impose silences and to whip alternative worldviews and ideologies of personhood into ridiculous defensiveness with infantalising menus of mimickry and one dimensionalism.[22]

Achebe acknowledges change as a permanent feature of being human in a world of continual struggle and motion.[23] He is inspired by the Igbo concept of existence at the heart of which are motion and agility, a cosmology best embodied by the dancing masquerade in Achebe’s opinion: “No condition is permanent”.[24] While it is important to master and respect customs and traditions if one is to participate in and evaluate them effectively, it is just as important to understand that in the course of human mobility and encounters, new questions arise to which old answers are not quite suited. For, one must bear in mind that “A disease that has never been seen before cannot be cured with everyday herbs”[25]. This might require making things up as one goes along, but an old broom, however experienced and thorough, cannot sweep with quite the same effectiveness as a new broom in a new context. Far from being an invitation to abandon the past for the present, it is rather a call to creatively blend the past with the present in the interest of the future. In his writings, Achebe invites his readers to contemplate the intricacies of being and belonging, through the characters he creates, for whom these are not matters with easy choices. If his public pronouncements on his own life are anything to go by, being and belonging to Achebe as an individual are no easy matters either. He recognises that his “life has been full of changes” that have shaped the way he looks at the world, and that renders complex “the meaning of existence and everything we value”.[26]The challenge of being and becoming African or anything else, is not so much identifying with people, places and spaces one is familiar with, but especially with spaces, places and people one is yet to encounter or to become familiar with. In other word, it is about embracing and celebrating incompleteness, and the humility and open-mindedness that calls for.

Achebe the Dancing Mask Humbles Death

Achebe was a consummate composite being, who “was positioned at the crossroads of history, the intersection between the Igbo tradition and the colonial structure”, and who was propelled “by the desire to tell the story of Africa ‘from the inside’ as opposed to the misrepresentations of European writers”.[27] There was always room in him to open up and take the outside in, bring it into conversation with what he had internalised and come to consider almost as a natural or traditional part of his being, and in his intellectual, creative and physical nimble-footedness take the outcome of such conversations along with him for further encounters with and enrichments by composite beings in other places and spaces, local, distant and global.

Achebe – true to the dancing mask that he was – died on March 21, 2013 in Boston at the age of 82 following a brief illness. “He had been living in the US since 1990 after a car crash left him partially paralysed and in a wheelchair, returning to Nigeria infrequently.”[28] Here, just like elsewhere, Achebe had a proverb handy: “When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.”[29] Achebe was buried on May 23, 2013, in his home village of Ogidi, almost as if to prove that a son had returned to assume his final resting place in the soil where his umbilical cord was buried. He had danced the world over, been of service in many capacities, including as professor of English at the Universities of Massachusetts, Amherst, and at the University of Connecticut, Storrs in the USA, and received many distinguished awards, including over 30 honorary doctorates from universities in Nigeria, South Africa, England, Scotland, USA, Canada and beyond.[30] Achebe authored five novels, namely: Things Fall Apart (1958); No Longer at Ease (1960); Arrow of God (1964); A Man of the People (1966); and Anthills of the Savannah (1987), short stories, poetry and many essays. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, published on 17 June 1958, translated into fifty languages, sold over twelve million copies, and in 2007, won the coveted Man Booker International Prize.[31] His life, works, deeds and nimble-footedness[32] made him an exemplary personification of the proverb: “a child is one person’s only in the womb.”[33]

Critical of a contrived universalism narrowly informed by Eurocentric indicators of what qualifies as good storytelling, Achebe was without relent in urging Africans to write back to the West as a way “to reshape the dialogue between the colonized and the colonizer.”[34] The story and achievements of the Heinemann African Writers Series of which Achebe was a pioneer,[35] and of similar initiatives to promote African literature in Francophone Africa[36], provide a window into how far Africa has come in writing back.[37] He insisted that such narrowly informed universalism could only begin to make sense to the colonized by disabusing itself of extravagant claims of superiority with the humility to take seriously traditions of storytelling that such blinkered universalism had silenced with conquering impunity. As he put it: “My kind of storytelling has to add its voice to this universal storytelling before we can say, ‘Now we’ve heard it all’.” [38]

Now that Achebe has metamorphosed into an ancestor of inclusive storytelling, storytellers across Africa and the world beyond, can, like the little bird in one of Achebe’s proverbs, dance daringly in the middle of the road, knowing that they have a worthy drummer in the nearby bush of ancestors. For, to quote Achebe, in the Igbo concept of existence characterised by motion, agility and humility, “No condition is permanent”, not even death.[39] Achebe wrote:

So potent is motion stylized into dance that the Igbo have sought to defeat with its power even the final immobility of death by contriving a funeral rite in which the bearers of the corpse perform the abia dance with their burden, transforming by their motion the body’s imminent commitment to earth into an active rite of passage.

This body, appropriately transfigured, will return on festival or ritual occasions or during an enhanced presence and authority in the affairs of the community, speaking an esoteric dialect in which people are referred to as bodies: “The body of so-and-so, I salute you!” [40]

And so shall it be. We expect Chinua Achebe in his eternal nimble-footedness as a dancing masquerade to continue to make himself available at academic and cultural arts festivals, scholarly conferences, seminars, workshops, lecture halls, publications and palavers on social media, as well as effect related enhanced presences and authority in the affairs of Igboland, Nigeria, Africa and the world, speaking an esoteric language, addressing and encouraging those who appeal to him for wisdom and guidance in negotiating and navigating being and becoming.


[1] Ukwuaba, O.K. (2015). A Linguistic Study of Proverbs and Language Identity in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, MA thesis, Department of English, University of Lago. P.2

[2] Achebe, C. (1974[1964]). Arrow of God. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series). P. 46.

[3] Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Anchor Books. P.65.

[4] Achebe, C. (2012). There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. London: Allen Lane. P.59.

[5] Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2002). “‘A Child Is One Person’s Only in the Womb’: Domestication, Agency and Subjectivity in the Cameroonian Grassfields” in: Richard Werbner (ed.), Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa. Zed Books: London. pp.111-138.

[6] Achebe, C. (1974[1964]). P. 46

[7] Bhebe, N. and Viriri, A. (2012). Shona Proverbs: Palm Oil with which African Words Are Eaten. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Booklove Publishers, p. vii

[8] Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2020). “Amos Tutuola as a Quest Hero for Endogenous Africa: Actively Anglicizing the Yoruba Language and Yorubanising the English language,” Acta Academica. 52(1): 89-98

[9] Achebe, C. (1958). Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series) P.6

[10] Ibid. p. xiii-xv

[11] Obiakor, F.E., Okoro, D., Mukuria, G.M. (2017), Life Lessons of African Proverbs. Milwaukee: Cissus World Press. P. 15

[12] Emenyonu, E.N. (2014). “Introduction,” in: Ernest N. Emenyonu & Charles E. Nnolim, Remembering a Legend: Chinua Achebe. New York: African Heritage Press. P.2

[13] Emenyonu, E.N. (2014). p.4

[14] Gilley, B. (2016). “Chinua Achebe on the Positive Legacies of Colonialism”, African Affairs, Vol.115(461): 646–663

[15] Achebe, C. (2000). Home and Exile. New York: Anchor Books. p.15

[16] Achebe, C. (2000). Home and Exile. New York: Anchor Books. pp.16-17

[17] https://www.theafricangourmet.com/2016/05/throwing-mud-african-proverb.html, accessed 11 August 2020

[18] Achebe, C. (1983[1977]). An Image of Africa and The Trouble with Nigeria. London: Penguin Books. pp.66-69

[19] Achebe, C. (2012). There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. London: Allen Lane.

[20] Adichie, A.N. (2009). The Thing Around Your Neck. London: Fourth Estate

[21] Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2013b). “Fiction and Reality of Mobility in Africa,” Citizenship Studies Vol.17(6-7), pp.671-673

[22] Dei, G.J.S; Darko I.N., McDonnell, J., Demi, S.M., and Akanmori, H. (2018), African Proverbs as Epistemologies of Decolonization, New York: Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers.

[23] Achebe, C. (2000). Home and Exile. New York: Anchor Books. p.18

[24] Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Anchor Books. P.64-65

[25] Achebe, C. (1964). pp.233-234

[26] www.nairaland.com/1233528/famous-quotes-prof-chinua-achebe, accessed July 23, 2013

[27] Okolo, M.S.C. (2007). African Literature as Political Philosophy, London/Dakar: CODESRIA/Zed Books. p.35

[28] www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21898664, accessed 21 August 2013

[29] www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/chinua_achebe_2.html, accessed 21 July 2013

[30] “Chinua Achebe: Why Google honours him today,” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/chinua-achebe-google-honours-today-171116065724595.html, accessed 9 August 2020; Okolo, M.S.C. (2007). African Literature as Political Philosophy, London/Dakar: CODESRIA/Zed Books. pp.35-36

[31] Msiska, M.-H. (2008). “Introduction,” in: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart. Oxford: Heinemann (African Writers Series). p i

[32] Achebe, C. (2012). There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. London: Allen Lane

[33] Nyamnjoh, F.B. (2002). “‘A Child Is One Person’s Only in the Womb’: Domestication, Agency and Subjectivity in the Cameroonian Grassfields” in: Richard Werbner (ed.), Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa. Zed Books: London. pp.111-138

[34] Achebe, C. (2012). There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. London: Allen Lane. P.55; see also, Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Anchor Books. Pp.93-99

[35] Currey, J. (2008). Africa Writes Back: The African Writers Series & the Launch of African Literature. Oxford: James Currey.

[36] Fouet, F. and Renaudeau, R. (1976). Littérature Africaine: L’Engagement. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines; Fouet, F. and Renaudeau, R. (1984). Littérature Africaine: Le Deracinement. Dakar: Nouvelles Editions Africaines.

[37] Currey, J. (2008). Africa Writes Back: The African Writers Series & the Launch of African Literature. Oxford: James Currey.

[38] Achebe, C. (2012). There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra. London: Allen Lane. P.55

[39] Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Anchor Books. P.64-65

[40] Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Anchor Books. P.66

*African Literature Association (ALA) Lecture,Cape Town, 6:00 PM, Saturday, January 23, 2021.nyamnjoh@gmail.com

Join Lecture on the ALA YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaYYHGM8iraoQF48xeCnMKw

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New Report on African media shows western sources dominate how the Africa story is told
January 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

One-third of all African stories in news outlets on the continent are sourced from foreign news services.

One-third of all African stories in news outlets on the continent are sourced from foreign news services according to a new report from Africa No Filter . The ‘How African Media Covers Africa’, highlights the fact that stories about Africa continue to be told through the same persistent and negative stereotypes and frames of poverty, disease, conflict, poor leadership and corruption.

The research surveyed 38 African editors, analyzed content from 60 African news outlets in 15 countries (Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal) between September and October 2020. In addition, four facilitated focus groups were held with 25 editors of African media, editors of Pan African outlets and international correspondents.  The results confirm challenges and experiences that are common knowledge within the industry: advertising revenue and newsrooms are shrinking, influencing the kind of news that Africans read and that news is largely negative and conflict filled.

Key findings from the report show that the sources for news gathering on African countries are problematic, the resulting content continues to feed old stereotypes, and often the quality of local journalism doesn’t allow for nuanced and contextualized storytelling that is critical for telling stories about the 54 countries in Africa.

  • 63% of outlets surveyed don’t have correspondents in other countries in Africa  
  • 1/3 of all coverage on Africa was from non-African sources, with AFP and BBC  accounting for ¼ of all stories found in African outlets about other African countries.  African news agencies contributed minimally.  
  • 81% of the stories analyzed were classified as “hard news” e.g. conflicts and crises driven by events – they were also largely political in nature   
  • 13% of the news focused specifically on political violence, civil unrest, armed conflict  
  • South Africa, followed by Egypt were the countries with the most diverse coverage that was not necessarily linked to  newsy events meaning that those two countries are probably the ‘best known’ on the continent

“Media is incredibly influential in setting the agenda and determining narratives about Africa,” says Moky Makura, executive director at Africa No Filter.  “The research clearly shows that despite years of independence, Africans still don’t hold the pen when it comes to writing our stories.  More importantly, we continue to promote the narratives about Africa being broken, dependent and lacking agency  through the stories we share in our media about each other. We need to take back the pen.”

Africa No Filter is a not-for-profit set up last year to help shift harmful and stereotypical narratives about Africa through research, advocacy and grant-making to storytellers.  It is funded by the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundation, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation and the British Council.

Makura adds: “Ironically, 50% of editors surveyed thought their coverage of other African countries didn’t contain stereotypes. It shows clearly that we have some work to do in educating ourselves about the role we play in perpetuating outdated stereotypes about ourselves.  Narrative matters and it has implications beyond just storytelling, it impacts investment in Africa, on youth and opportunities people see in their countries, on migration, creativity and innovation,” Makura says.

Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter


In response to this report, Africa No Filter is launching the continent’s first and only news agency that will focus on stories of creativity, innovation, arts & culture, and human interest to fill the gap in the market.

About Africa No Filter (ANF):
Africa No Filter (ANF) (www.AfricaNoFilter.org) is a donor collaborative that supports the development of nuanced and contemporary stories that shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant making and advocacy we aim to build the field of narrative change makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns.

ANF’s goal over time is to leave an empowered narrative change ecosystem and an informed community of storytellers who work more deliberately to change harmful narratives within and about Africa.

*SOURCE Africa No Filter

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Sierra Leone: Bio Calls on ECOWAS to intervene on Yenga and border issue with Guinea
January 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has on Saturday 23rd January 2020, urged ECOWAS to intervene into the unsolved Yenga matter between Guinea and Sierra Leone and also the recent closure of border by Conakry   thus calling on the regional body to urgently create a special committee to look into the issue.

President Bio made this call during the video conference of the 58th ordinary session of the ECOWAS authority of Head of state and Government where he said that his country has observed with deep concern the increased instances of incursions by Guinean troops in the Yenga area which is in the undisputed sovereign territory of Sierra Leone adding that the issue remains unresolved and that their Guinean counterparts have continued to encroach on the country’s land and sea borders.

“Sierra Leone calls on this body to urgently create a special committee to look into the unsolved Yenga matter between the two countries through diplomatic engagement with a view to finding a lasting solution to this long-standing boundary dispute,’’ President Bio said.

President Bio added that Sierra Leone is concerned about the restrictions imposed from the Guinean end on the free movement of goods and people between the two countries which he said has created huge economic loss for both countries thus urging the Government of the Republic of Guinea to consider removing these restrictions to enable the free movement of people, goods and services in order to promote cooperation, regional trade, and regional integration.

“It is also time for the community to devote collective efforts towards strengthening intra-community trade, and also to implement the cross-border region project to fast-track regional integration and facilitate the implementation of the AfCFTA. This will further remove all trade barriers between our respective countries and enhance cross border movements and trade. Sierra Leone shares borders with Guinea and Liberia and therefore fostering cross border cooperation (as acceded to in the AfCFTA pact) is important in our community,’’President Bio added.

 He further added that the country favourably welcomes ongoing sub-regional initiatives in the areas of agriculture, mining, energy, water, infrastructure, and education stating that these initiatives improve regional integration with the outcomes of bettering the lives of our peoples in our community.

“Sierra Leone commends and applauds the work of the West African Health Organization in the health sector and for minimising the impact of COVID-19 on our community safe during this pandemicc. Sierra Leone applauds the ECOWAS Commission for demonstrating inspirational leadership and commitment in the preparation of the ECOWAS Vision 2050.  As with Sierra Leone’s Medium –Term National Development Plan (2019-2023), I am informed that the roadmap for preparing ECOWAS Vision 2050 was inclusive and followed broad based stakeholder consultations, including the effective participation of member states,’’

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PROPHET LOVY ANNOUNCES OPENING OF NEW WORSHIP CENTRE.
January 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

2020 was a year many described as unprecedented and filled with curveballs and turns. A year that saw many die, go hungry, lose their jobs or fall sick due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was a year nobody foresaw or could have predicted.

Prophet Lovy Elias, in his cross over service declared 2021 a year of recovery and positioning for those who wait on the Lord. “Revelation brings forth elevation” he says and even though this year will see a lot of surprising occurrences those who hold fast to God will not be disappointed.

Lovy Elias, senior pastor and founder of Revelation Church of Jesus Christ (RCJC) made this known during his weekly online service held virtually every Thursday. Speaking to his congregation and followers live via his Facebook page, website and Instagram live, he also announced the official opening of the church’s new worship center and headquarters on the 7th of February 2021. He said a series of activities are being planned which will culminate with a dedication service on Sunday 7th Feb.

Lovy only recently acquired the property in a deal valued at $8,007,500 put together by ‘Future ins-site Realty’. The building is located at 580 E Easy St Simi Valley, California and was originally owned by Real Life Christian Ministries.

Prophet Lovy Elias better known as Lovy Longomba aka Lovy L. Elias is also a Grammy nominated producer and songwriter.

#lovyElias #prophetlovy #lovy #lovylongomba #lovyelias

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Cameroon: Achiri Victor, DavLinks Launches Online Platforms to Market Cameroonian Movies
January 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Apart from the tremendous improvement in the quality and quantity of films told in Cameroon in particular and Africa at large, there is still a lapse when it comes to the marketing of these films in Cameroon. Most Cameroonians are yet to be exposed to the many films being produced year in year out in Cameroon.

It is for this reason that DavLinks.com is created. Davlinks.com has as its objectives to see into it that the Cameroonian population has access to the many films that are being produced in Cameroon at a minimal cost and in a very convenient way.

Launched on January 20, 2021, DAVLINKS comes in as a movie distribution platform, where Cameroonians can pay and watch top-class Cameroonian films produced in Cameroon by Cameroonian filmmakers.

It is a project of a group of Cameroonians headed by former Biggy237 Housemate and Movie Producer Achiri Victor. It is geared towards solving the problem of movie consumption in Cameroon.

“We call on the entire Cameroonian audience and lovers of Cameroonian culture to rally behind this project to get this particular problem of distribution solved. We can only initiate the idea, but with your help, we can make it big,” a communiqué from DAVLINKS noted.

In the past years in Cameroon, entertainment has been growing at a geometric rate. Filmmaking is one of those facets have gotten a greater share of its growth to, from way back film making in Cameroon has been witnessing remarkable progress in terms of passing the intended message to the audience, better cameras and other filming equipment’s are now used to enhance viewing. Quality is one of the most remarkable areas of growth in the filming profession coupled with professional modes of filming.

How to stream or download movies on DAVLINKS

Go to DAVlinks website (DAVlinks.com); scroll to the preferred movie; select stream (25-XAF) or download (1000XAF) as preferred; select payment method (MTN/ORANGE Mobile Money or Master Card); process transactions; All set, relax and enjoy. These services are also available to the international community.

GOALS

There is nothing we focus more on as a company than the quality of our services, customer happiness and the ease with which we allow our clients to access our services. If you ever have any suggestions on how we can improve, please feel free to let us know!

MISSION

We seek to be the benchmark for Cameroonian movie distributions and exposure of Cameroonian movies to its natives and the world at large and also to Bring filmmakers and movie lovers together with a vision to reach 5 million subscribers in five years.

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CHAN 2020: Zambia’s Coach Micho Sets Sight on Knockout Stage
January 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Head coach of the Chipolopolo of Zambia Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic has set his sights on qualifying for the knockout stages of the ongoing 6th edition of the Africa Nations Championship.

Coach Micho as he is best known around the world has been holding a series of training sessions at the Molyko Omnisport stadium as his side looks to make their way to the knockout stages of the competition.

“We intend to pass the group, once you pass the group anything after is possible. Instead of speaking beyond Tanzania match, we will be disrespectful to the team and disrespectful towards our focus and concentration in tomorrow’s game..,” Coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic said as quoted by FAZ.

In the first encounter against Tanzania in limbe, Collins Sikombe and Emmanuel Chabula were on hand to give the chipolopolo of Zambia all three points.

“In football, the same like in life, you need to plant the seeds and we are planning to plant the seeds in the field of play tomorrow that will give us the performance and result that could talk after. Let not words but action talk louder,” Coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic added.

To Chama who was part of the Zambian team that drew 1-1 with Cameroon in 2016 says the team is here to compete and that “this is a good tournament for us the players who play locally. We are here to showcase what Zambia has to offer the rest of the continent,” Chama said.

Zambia has been in Cameroon since December 31, 2020, and took part in the pre-CHAN tournament in Yaounde, and they got off  to a winning start against Tanzania.

It should be recalled that the President of the Zimbabwean Football federation (FAZ) Andrew Kamanga while visiting the players and staff urged them to look beyond the tournament (CHAN), and look to qualify for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers, something which will be on the mind of Coach Micho in this tournament.

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The Law and Citizenship in Sierra Leone
January 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Recommendation 86 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report observed that ‘’all citizens should be equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship. They should be equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.’’ The recommendation stressed that these principles are to be enshrined in the Constitution of Sierra Leone. This is an imperative recommendation.

For years, there have been concerns from some sections of the Lebanese community in Sierra Leone regarding their rights to citizenship in Sierra Leone. In most cases, their complexions have suggested that they are not considered as automatic Sierra Leoneans. Most of them feel discouraged by such act of discrimination meted against them. One of such persons is Nasser Ayoub, a recording artist, philanthropist and businessman. For him, he is born and raised in Sierra Leone and that he sees no need to apply for a Sierra Leonean citizenship. He considers the country’s citizenship law discriminatory and that such a paradigm is to be changed just where rights and equality matter.

Nasser is not alone on this. There are several other people that are believed and or perceived to be foreign nationals that see themselves worthy of getting the Sierra Leonean citizenship. For them, it is a right and not a privilege. In this regard, on Tuesday January 5th, 2021, the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio granted citizenship to twenty-two (22) African Americans. The new citizens were believed to have traced their origins to Sierra Leone through DNA results and with most of them having roots from Bo and Tonkolili districts.

The new Sierra Leonean citizens expressed gratitude to the government and people of Sierra Leone. To them, this was something they had always longed for. They felt fulfilled and motivated to have been wholesomely accepted. It is such opportunities that other people do not totally go in for. To them, they must not and should not apply because as they put it ‘they are born in Sierra Leone and that this is their motherland.’’

Right activists like Thomas Moore Conteh of the Citizens’ Advocacy Network (CAN Sierra Leone) are on record to have noted that the rights of people matter in any decent democracy. To them, it is such things that keep nations and societies going. “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone made valuable contributions and recommendations that could push Sierra Leone forward when rightfully implemented,’’ Ansu Karim told me.

There have also been diverse views regarding equality in any society. For some people, there appears to be certain sectors of society that enjoy better rights and privileges compared to other sectors these questions the aspect of providing clear and equal opportunities for all and sundry. The world over, citizens have a responsibility of ensuring that they give back to society and help in the development of their nations which many of these white Lebanese, or Indians or white colour people born in Sierra Leone have done for years or even half a century.  This is why it is necessary to have more willing people on board and to encourage them to see the country as their home by granting them citizenship in order to allow them to get their full status and fulfill their fundamental human rights as humans. As a nation it need not be overstated that there is need to catching up with democratic reforms and respect for human rights, from changing the constitution so as to reviewing some of the bad laws, in line with the practice of democracy. The time to act is now, Sierra Leone should provide the level playing field for all concerned.

This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Kenya:Surge in Attacks on Teachers
January 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Student violence against teachers is on the rise in Kenya since schools reopened early this year.

Learning resumed in the East African nation on January 4, 2021, after ten-month of school closure due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

However, since the reopening, many teachers have been exposed to students’ physical attacks under mysterious circumstances.

The latest arrest of a class six schoolboy and his class seven counterpart for allegedly planning to stab three teachers using a kitchen knife has triggered fresh fears.

The learners at Matangamana Primary School in south-western Kenya are now held in the police station pending investigations.

According to the police report, the class six pupil went to school with a knife, with the motive to use it to attack three teachers who had demanded to know why he had missed school.

On the other hand, the class seven colleague was nabbed by police officers after discovering he was part of the plan.

Recently, a form three student accused of stabbing two teachers at Kisii High School in the same region was arraigned in court and charged with attempted murder.

The incident transpired after the student was reprimanded by one of the teachers for reporting to class late.

He was reported to have refused to be punished before attacking the teacher, stabbing him on the forehead, back, and legs.

Another teacher who tried to intervene was also stabbed on the cheeks before his colleagues could restrain the student.

This incident came a day after a form two student at Mokwerero secondary school, still in south-western Kenya, was arrested for attempting to hack the deputy principal.

Fellow teachers rescued the deputy from the botched attack.

Leaders have condemned the recent attacks on teachers, with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) chair Nancy Macharia calling out for mentorship to curb the menace.

“TSC regrets the recent attacks on our teachers by the learners in Kisii and the attempted attack by another student in Mokwerero Sec School in Nyamira County. Let’s all Kenyans of goodwill help mentor our children positively,” she said.

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Sierra Leone:TRC Report Recommends New Constitution
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The current constitution of Sierra Leone came into force in 1991 and ushered in multi-party democracy in the country but today, many human rights, and rights groups including the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report underscored the need for a new constitution in an appropriate time adding that parliament consider the creation of one.

 “The Commission is of the considered view that it is an appropriate time for Sierra Leone to formulate a new Constitution.  The Commission accordingly recommends that Parliament seriously consider the creation of a new constitution for Sierra Leone,’’ TRC Recommendation No.  123.

The reason for the need for a new constitution according to TRC was very clear that, the 1991 constitution wasn’t a participatory process stating that a constitution ought to be the foundation and basis of the society desired by the people.

“The 1991 Constitution that is currently in force was not the product of a wide participatory process,’’ recommendation No. 120.

In July 2013, former President Ernest Bai Koroma launched the Constitutional Review Process (CRC) in order to review the 1991 constitution but ended up not seeing the light of it reviewed implemented despite the millions of dollars spent by donor and international communities for this process to go on as recommended in the TRC Report in 2004.

Lack of good governance, abuse of power, and a blatant disrespect for human rights, greed, and endemic corruption were among the causes of the country’s 11-year civil war, the conflict saw a total breakdown of law and order, dismantling of democratic institutions and culture and cost many lives, leaving a lasting impact and legacy on the lives of citizens of the Former British Colony.

The causes of the war, recommendations and its findings were catalogued in the report starting from the issue’s about good governance, human rights, democratic institutions, youths, the constitution among others were areas looked into in the report and highlighted many imperative actions to be taken by the government.

Executive Director of the Rights based Group, Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) Abdul M. Fatorma,
said that there is need for a review of the constitution in the country adding that the 1991 constitution have several sections that discriminates the fundamental human rights of citizens like freedom of association, assembly and movement among other rights.

“we have not yet reviewed the bad laws the TRC asked us to review, we have not yet separated our political party, the TRC made recommendation for more inclusive of young people into leadership position and party leadership. we are yet to see that instead of they create a wing, young generation, Youth League, women’s wing, instead of opening the space that a young man of a responsible age can compete,’’ he said.

 He added that laws like the Criminal procedures Act which is still under review is that the law does not make fair provision for accused persons adding that it’s an infringement of the fundamental human rights of an individual.

“The law doesn’t make fair provision for accused persons it’s an infringement of human rights, the public order Act, certain provisions if I held a procession today, the police have the right to stop that procession, if I am playing a football match, the police have a right to put a stop to that football match if they think it constitute public disorder. That’s not a law for democracy that a law for a monarch system or dictator system,’’ Fatorma lamented.

Accordingly, the commission believes that the building of a new constitution, requires hard work, the fruits of which will not be necessarily be enjoyed by this generation but even generations yet unborn. This like other recommendations for the need of a new constitution about its positive impact have been underscored by many international and national rights groups notably Amnesty International, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, AdvocAid to name a few on the benefits of a new constitution.

“The decision to build a new Constitution and to act in accordance thereof requires the taking of a long-term view by Sierra Leone’s Parliament and its people.  It requires arduous work, the fruits of which will not necessarily be enjoyed by this generation.  This generation, which experienced the worst of times, will however leave a gift for future generations.  There can be no better legacy to bequeath than the construction of the foundations of society that provide lasting peace and prosperity,’’ TRC recommendation No 126
However, more than ten years since this recommendation was put forward by the TRC this important step hasn’t been realised, with even the new president Julius Maada Bio part of his campaign promises to look into the review process and those recommendations presented by Justice Cowan in 2016.

Mr. Fatorma emphasized that there was as well the need to strengthened our democratic institutions and to make them independent taking politics off those institutions citing the importance of the criminal justice system, which includes the police, court and the correctional service.

 “Participating in governance issues, is a law issue, so if I am equal before the law including the electoral law, why am I segregated, unlikable 30% has been chosen and If I think I am the capable one, just because they have the 30 number, I will be excluded but if the space is open for all, to participate and I fulfil the criteria then I am equal to the man, I am equal to the woman, we need to bring laws that progress the state,’’ the CHRDI boss emphasized.

This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Delay on Court trials still a challenge in Sierra Leone
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Delay in court trials greatly affects the dispensation of justice, the judiciary is an arbiter of justice and solace for citizens whose right may have been trampled upon either by the state or private individual.  The criminal justice system of any nation is a key drivel to enabling justice and harbouring peace and national cohesion. Without a just and independent judiciary there will be no peace and as a nation that has experienced one of the worst civil wars in the world’s community of nations, lack of trust in the independence of the judiciary and other challenges created a mistrust for citizens not to trust their judicial systems in Sierra Leone.  

 Among the many factors that fuel the civil conflict in the country was lack of respect for human rights, lack of justice on the part of the judiciary, endemic greed, poverty to name a few.  Even with the end of the war in 2002 there remains a huge challenge in the full dispensation of justice, delay in court trials, lack of justice and widespread corruption allegation within the justice sector are yet to be wipe off and still remain a challenge.  The causes for delay in court proceedings are limited court structures, in adequate number of judicial officers, absence of jurors, absence of prosecutors to name a few.

The findings in respect of the judiciary are very clear as seen in recommendation N0. 414 of the TRC Report stated that Lawyers and jurists have failed to stand up to the systematic violation of the rights of the people.  

“Corruption is rife at all levels of the judiciary. There is little or no meaningful access to the courts for the majority of Sierra Leoneans,’’ TRC Recommendation No 418. 

The commission further found that lawyers and judges failed to stood up to state tyranny adding that they failed to give meaningful content to the rule of law (TRC Report 420 pg. Vol 2)

According to the TRC Report in particular, the Commission highlights in its recommendations No. 39 in respect of the independence of the judiciary,the role of parliamentand the holding of free and fair elections in the country.  
“The Commission found that, prior to the start of the conflict, government accountability was non-existent.  It concluded that democracy and the rule of law were dead.  The Commission accordingly makes recommendations to strengthen democracy and institutions of accountability,’’ TRC report recommendation 39.

The instances are many with court trials that has been before the courts some for over ten years or more from land cases, petition cases, human rights cases, criminal and civil matters to name a few. Many believed that as a country we haven’t learn much from the brutal experience we went through as a nation on what causes the war. Rights groups and civil society organisations like the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) have called on the government to introduce reforms in the judiciary in addition to improving funding to the sector as it is critical to lasting peace as nation that is referred to as a fledgling democracy.

In 2018, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Dr. Samura Kamara filed a petition challenging the pronouncement of Julius Maada Bio as President of Sierra Leone, the petition was heard for the first time after almost two years on December 3rd, 2020.  

Head of Communications in the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, Elkass Sannoh said on the challenges of the judiciary that they do not have enough judges and Magistrates in every parts of the country adding that as a judiciary they have recently recruited magistrates and judges to help boost speedy trials across the country.

 “we recently promoted three appeal courts judges, and recruit seven new judges in the High Court. These judicial officers go to places as far as Karene, Kailahun and other places were there has never been a judge. We want the judiciary to be very much transparent and accountable, now part of this reforms we have created the sexual offences model court to speedily try rape and sexual gender-based violence cases, Industrial and social security of the high court. Including the Anti-corruption division of the High Court,’’ he said.

“For the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, the judiciary has introduced a virtual court system so as to digitalized the judiciary we have got a situation where in when we piloted the virtual court, a judge can sit here and some who is witness living in the US can have the opportunity of giving live witness in a live court session, an inmate can be in the prison can testify in a matter. All this is done in order to enhance expeditious trials because we wanted justice to people’s door step. We are rebranding the judiciary,’’

Head of Police Media, Supt. Brima Kamara said that the delay in the dispensation of justice sometimes happened as a result of the fact that too many files are taken to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions sometimes again so many files are taken to the regional crime officer or to the Legal and Justice department of the Sierra Leone Police.

“The criminal justice has a tripartite arrangement, we have the police who are the frontline, after the police, you talk about the judiciary they interpret the law and then you talk about the correctional service. Everyone has his part to play. For us during investigation we have to do our work very well and if we don’t do it very well, we would not be able to help the judiciary,’’ he said, adding that in the case of land issues, they will have to write the Ministry of Lands which will sometimes takes longer thus they wouldn’t just charge the matter to court if they haven’t done all the things necessary.

For Pa Sorie Sesay he has been battling with the court for almost five years now to get justice for his 16-year- old son who was allegedly murdered in 2016 stating that since the inception of the matter from the Magistrate Court up to the High Court there has been no head way.

“This case has affected me so much that, since the inception of the matter at the magistrate court up to the high court there have been no head way, all the accused that allegedly murdered my 16-year-old son have been granted bail and that has affected has family so much,’’ he said in a tear.

He added that the boy was his only son and since his death things have not been with him anymore and the family hoping that the court will give his late son justice, although the matter has been in court for a while.

“I hope at the end of the matter they will give my son justice, I hope to God thejury will grant my son justice, because some people do not have God in their heart’’

In May 2012, the Sierra Leone Parliament passed the legal aid Act which paved the way for the formation of the Legal Aid Board providing free legal service, advice to poor people through trained and qualified paralegals and using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to solve disputes which will otherwise goes to the courts and since its inception in 2015 , it has helped thousands of people get justice and saved hundreds of cases been overwhelmed in courts.

“A total of 384, 488 people including foreign national have benefitted from the scheme from its inception in May 2015 to September 2020. There has been a steady increase in the number of beneficiaries over the years as follows: 24, 768 beneficiaries in 2015/2016, 83,053 in 2017, 106, 6555 in 2018, 112, 841 in 2019 and 57, 171 from Jan-September 2020,’’a statement from Legal Aid reads.

Today, Legal Aid Board are in 23 cities and towns across the country and has immensely help in reducing case going to the court and enhancing justice to poor individuals who mostly do not have access to legal representative. 

 In a joint Press release in 2019, Advoc Aid and Centre and Accountability and Rule of Law called the government to decriminalize petty offences in order to reduce prison overcrowding adding that the laws that relate to petty offences, and the ways in which these laws are enforced, have many human rights and economic implications.

“AdvocAid and the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) today launched a Position Paper calling for petty offences to be decriminalised in order to reduce overcrowding in correctional centres and their disproportionate impact on marginalised people in Sierra Leone.

Petty offences are minor offences for which the punishment is ‘a warning, community service, a low-value fine or short term of imprisonment’ (African Commission on Human People’s Rights). Research conducted by AdvocAid and CARL in 2017, monitoring 718 cases in police stations and courts in several cities, found that 33% of offences were petty offences,’’the rights group the rights group said in a joint statement.

 “Delays in the delivery of both criminal and civil justice threaten to cripple the administration of justice in Sierra Leone.  The use of judicial time must be maximised,’’ TRC Recommendation No 183.  

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Backlash as Malawi seals schools for three weeks
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

President Chakwera is at odds with many Malawians on recent measures to curb COVID-19
President Chakwera is at odds with many Malawians on recent measures to curb COVID-19

Education rights activists have questioned government’s decision to order for a three week closure of schools in the wake of bloated Covid19 infections and deaths in the Southern African nation.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who took office last year after his party followers questioned the previous regime of sanctioning Covid19 measures, has come under fire over his recent decisions.

For instance, Chakwera has ordered that all public gatherings be limited to 50, a stance that religious leaders are contesting against. In a letter, Prophet David Mbewe argued why government did not lay out numerical limits to those that gather in places of leisure but only aligned them to timeframes.

At the same time, Chakwera ordered a three week recess for schools, amid growing cases and when about hundred students at some schools in the capital Lilongwe tested positive for Covid19.
However, in a statement, the Malawi Human Rights Commission has faulted government for setting Covid19 measures that are undermining people’s critical rights.

According to Habiba Osman, Executive Secretary for MHRC said there is need for government to formulate measures that strike a balance between right to life and education.

Osman has since challenged government to also formulate special civic education tools that will ensure that people’s lives are not undermined.

Education rights activist, Benedicto Kondowe said there has not been as enough options for students to study as online platforms did not meet the needs of many students.

Kondowe has also told local media that there is need therefore to have as many plans as possible in a bid to address challenges that arise from closing schools.

Most of the latest infections have come after a handful of Malawians that have returned from South Africa.

Some of them bolted from an isolation facility in the commercial city of Blantyre.

Latest deaths include of Ministers Sidik Mia and Lingson Belenyama.

There are slightly 8 thousand active infections now and deaths are slightly over 300 in Malawi.

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European Union may train Mozambican military to fight agaist terrorists in Cabo Delgado
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The European Union (EU) may train Mozambican forces to help fight terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. President Filipe Nyusi met on Wednesday with EU representative and Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva, and the meeting identified three priority areas for cooperation: military training, humanitarian aid and support for the Northern Integrated Development Agency.

Details of the next steps were not given. Silva said that the EU was investing more than €25m in development projects in the region, and believed that there was a need to increase security cooperation, as humanitarian aid and development depended on it.

On the same day, president Filipe Nyusi called for Mozambique’s armed forces to have “increased attention” in defending the natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado province, at the inauguration of the new army chief of the general staff, Eugénio Mussa, and the deputy chief, Bartolino Capitine.

Nyusi said the aim of the terrorists in the province was to “plunder national wealth,” the latest version of a long history of resource-grabbing on the African continent. The natural resources that were supposed to be a lifeline for the continent were now a curse, he continued.

Nyusi said the response must be a “forceful” fight against evildoers. This fight must also be fought against the self-proclaimed Renamo Military Junta dissident armed group. Mussa and Capitine had given “unmistakable proof of their professional pride and patriotism, in defence of the Mozambican homeland,” he said.

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No PPEs as Ghana re-opens schools amid surge in covid-19 cases.
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

It is day three of reopening schools in Ghana after almost eleven months of closure due to the covid-19 pandemic. A visit to some schools in the capital Accra, Tema Oyibi and other parts of the country revealed government is yet to supply PPEs, soaps and sanitizers to most schools to ensure adherence to the covid -19 protocols. The situation is contrary to claims by the Director of Health Promotions of the Ghana Health Service Dr Aboagye Dacosta that over 10 million Personal Protective Equipment’s PPEs have been dispatched in advance for distributions in schools across the county.

Reacting to the development, some stakeholders in the education sector are calling on government to either speed up processes of procuring PPEs and other essential resources for usage in schools across the country or close down schools to prevent risking the lives of the children.

Divine Ekpe is a research fellow at the Africa Education Watch argues that government’s decision to re-open schools was not reached overnight but somewhere in November 2020 and wonder why till now basic resources were not purchased for school in crucial times like this. “In fact, the posture of the GES about the provision of PPEs is not helping because they claim they will dispatch the resources by close of this week. My question is, what were they doing all these while knowing they will reopen schools”.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Education Service together with the Ministry of Education has embark on a series of programs to enable children back to school through “back to school and re-entry advocacy programs, targeted at the children’s whose parents are insisting the school is not safe for their wards and until government put in appropriate measures, their wards will remain in the house.

But Mr Ekpe insisted government is not being sincere with the parent because while they are advocating for children to return to school, there is little preparation forwards their safety. As we visited some schools, we realized there are no supply of PPEs as we saw many children without them, yet they are on televisions telling parents to send their wards to school, he added.

Speaking to Marry Ansah, a mother of three at Anumele in Accra says her children will remain in the house till she is convinced her children will be safe. “My children will not go to school until I am sure they will be safe. I have three children and I can’t risk it letting them go and if something happens? What will I do?” she quizzed.

Among other pressing issues on the ground is class size in most public schools across the county. Instead of the approved recommended class size of 10 to allow proper spacing, in most schools in the case of Ghana most class sizes in public schools exceeded 30. Indicating social distancing remains a challenge.

However, the Executive Director of Institute for Education Studies, IFEST Peter Anti has called for the suspension of reopening of schools if government through the responsible agencies will prioritize the safety of the children. “it is so shocking that the Ministry of Education that had experienced the challenges that ridden sharing of PPEs during the partial lock-down reopening last year. They should have started with the distribution of the PPEs to schools before the reopen this time around. But it looks like no lessen has been learnt”

It is unfortunate the children had to resume without PPEs. He called on parents to step in and make sure their children are safe. In March 16 2020, the President directed closure of all schools due to COVID-19 pandemic. The initial directive allowed for final year students of both JHS and SHS to remain in school to continue with their examinations. When the West African Examination Council (WAEC) suspended the conduct of exams, the final year students of both JHS and SHS were also directed to go home. In June 15, 2020 a gradual reopening of schools for final year students to return to face-to-face instructions came off while observing the protocols.

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): Future of Sports and Entertainment in an Economically United Africa
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

It is still too early to gauge how the AfCFTA will affect the sports and entertainment industry, since the agreement is still in its early stages of implementation.

January 1st, 2021 marked the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. In ratifying the agreement, 34 African countries have created the largest free trade zone in the world by country participation. This is a historic point for the continent, it is the beginning of what is hoped will, at the very least, form a workable framework for a modern African economy. An African economy that will allow free movement of labor and goods within member States – a drastic change from the current siloed economic structures, and hopes to foster intra-African trade, industrialization and self-reliance.

Economic co-dependency or cooperation between sovereign States is not a new economic strategy. Europe has sought to achieve this at the regional or supranational level through the establishment of the European Union. However, the recent decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU shows that the goal of integration is not without its challenges.

The United States has functioned for so long as a collage of economic co-dependent states that few pay much attention to the analogies with modern supranational regional organizations such as the European Union. However, on closer inspection, it is clear that the same rules of a shared currency, open borders and the full economic integration of the states played a large and important role in the growth, stability and development of the US. There are similar associations in Asia – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); and in the Arab region – the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU).

Africa has also championed regional economic integration, but never at the level or scale of the AfCFTA and, indeed, not as successfully as in other world regions. African economic communities like ECOWAS, SADC, EAC and others, have failed to substantially integrate their disparate national economies which would have served to protect the region from exploitation by its neighbors to the east and the west.

With consumer population projections favouring Africa, and a combined consumer and business spending projection of $6.7 trillion by 2030, [1] the time is now for Africans to look inwards for solutions to the continent’s economic woes. The sports, media and entertainment industry is one space where the continent continues to show promise. African content competes favourably on the radio and streaming networks on a global scale, spurring key investments from media giants like Disney and Netflix. The continent is also a major contributor in the world sports industry particularly in consumption and talent exportation. The discussion must now revolve around the question of how the AfCFTA and intra-African collaboration can be best employed to secure these industries’ futures.

The answer: developing local industrialisation, production and distribution infrastructures for the consumption of sports, media and entertainment. This is key to the success of the AfCFTA in these industries. It will be near impossible to unlock the true value of this agreement without Africa first fixing its infrastructure deficit and this is relevant even beyond the sports and entertainment sectors. African countries must aim to localize its production and distribution processes as much as possible to control a larger part of the African market.

For example, the music industry today is primarily dominated by streaming consumers and with the rise of movie streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon TV, the film industry is leaning towards this model as well. From the onset of the digital revolution, China was branded “isolationist” for regulating the entrance of businesses like Google and Facebook into the country to give local alternatives a chance to develop. This move may have been branded as a security move, but it has also proven to be an economic boon to Chinese competitors in these spaces. With this agreement, the time is ripe to develop African digital infrastructures to leverage upon the continent’s population resource in industries like music and film where there is already an appreciable global presence. It is indeed the right time to create our own entertainment giants!

In the sports arena, rather than constantly exporting our best talents, local investment in sports like football, for example, can provide the required infrastructure to ensure that African athletes can thrive right here on the continent. This will serve to effectively reduce talent flight, a major challenge in the industry today. It could eventually place African leagues at par with the popular European leagues where so many players of African descent consistently perform excellently.

It is still too early to gauge how the AfCFTA will affect the sports and entertainment industry, since the agreement is still in its early stages of implementation. We are also yet to observe how committed member States are to this intended collaboration. One thing is for sure though; any initiative that welcomes the free movement of goods and services within Africa and promotes intra-African investments and cooperation on intellectual property rights is a huge step in the right direction for a continent with much to benefit from greater economic integration.

*SOURCE Centurion Law Group .For more information on the AfCFTA or if you have any questions, please contact Oneyka Cindy Ojogbo at Oneyka.ojogbo@centurionlg.com.

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Zambia:FQM’S CONSERVATION FARMING PROJECT WINS KUDOS FROM CHIEF MUMENA
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

The mining firm has provided training and technical support to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers

Chief Mumena, pictured here, is one of the beneficiaries of the training and technical support the Kansanshi Foundation under its Agricultural Livelihoods Project and has himself implemented it with great success
Chief Mumena, pictured here, is one of the beneficiaries of the training and technical support the Kansanshi Foundation under its Agricultural Livelihoods Project and has himself implemented it with great success

SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people of North-Western Province has commended First Quantum Minerals for introducing Conservation Farming in his Chiefdom, which he says is turning North-Western Province into Zambia’s food basket.

Chief Mumena, who is also one of the beneficiaries of FQM’s Kansanshi Foundation Agricultural Livelihoods Project, said that the Conservation Farming practice that the mining company introduced has improved the livelihood of the people in his Chiefdom.

“The support towards the agriculture inputs has brought about notable changes among the people, for instance, our farmers are now able to harvest as much as ten tonnes per hectare from as low as two tonnes because of this initiative,” said the traditional leader.

Through the Foundation the mining company has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers, whose yields have grown from an average of six 50kg bags using conventional techniques in 2010, to a maximum of 56 bags and an average of 21 bags in the 2018/2019 farming season.

In a letter of thanks addressed to the mine Chief Mumena explained that most of the people in the area were constantly cutting down trees to burn charcoal to sell for a living, but that they are now able to sell crops and vegetables for their daily needs, and this has resulted in the protection of the forests for the next generation.

“Our farmers are now able to harvest enough food for the whole year and extra to sell. We no longer have shortages in the villages like it used to be before First Quantum introduced conservation farming,”
Kansanshi Foundation supervisor in charge of conservation farming training and operations at FQM, Maximillian Katanga, said that under its conservation farming project, the mining firm provides education, close monitoring, and input loans to farmers and that the system revolves around a sustainable permaculture rotation of maize, Solwezi beans, cowpeas, soya beans, and groundnuts with minimum tillage, use of mulch, and training farmers on the importance of early planting.
Mr Katanga added that since the project’s inception in the 2010/2011 season close to 40,000 farmers had benefited from the conservation farming programme.

As part of the programme, Kansanshi Foundation’s monitoring and evaluation team has mapped all 7,000 farms and is working on an online interactive site that the public can visit.

The success of conservation farming has led to added dimensions of the programme. In 2015 a plan to help farmers around the mine raise poultry prompted building several chicken runs (at a cost of about $50,000 per run), with each to be managed cooperatively by a group of 50 community members. The Agricultural Livelihoods Project also helps farmers grow vegetables and harvest honey, as well as enjoy access to affordable farming inputs and market linkages.

FQM has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers.
FQM has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers.

First Quantum has spent over US$100 million on its sustainability and community development programmes to improve the health and the quality of life for its employees, their families and their immediate communities.

About First Quantum Minerals
First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.In 2019, First Quantum globally produced 702,000 tonnes of copper, 257,000 ounces of gold and 18,000 tonnes of zinc.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.

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What does The National Commission for Peace and National Cohesion mean for a post conflict Sierra Leone ?
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma*

Chief Minister Professor David Francis in parliament during the passing of the independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion bill
Chief Minister Professor David Francis in parliament during the passing of the independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion bill

Sierra Leone experienced one of the worst human catastrophes witnessed in the world’s community of nations during the 11-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, properties destroyed, economy shattered and left democratic and good governance institutions in ruins. 

The effect of the war in the country still continue up to today even after the war was declared over in 2002 with the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord in Togo.  The country has made tremendous progress from setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (TRC) which provided an impartial recommendation on some of the  things to be done for a peaceful nation and also tasked with addressing the hard lessons that must be learned about the causes of the war to setting up the Special Court for Sierra Leone through the finance of the United Nations to try those who bear the greatest responsibility during the country’s internecine war has been hailed to be one of the greatest steps for Sierra Leone towards its lasting peace consolidation.

According to the  Truth and Reconciliation report in  recommendation 207 stated that  “Years of lapses in governance and unrestrained corruption produced the deplorable conditions that set the scene for bitter civil war in Sierra Leone.  There is no option but to address bad governance and corruption head on.  It would not be an overstatement to say that the survival of the nation depends on the success of society in confronting these issues’’.

Since the war ended , there has been some progress with the establishment of democratic institutions in the country like the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone , the Anti- Corruption Commission , and many other democratic institutions in order to strengthen the good governance of the state. “ A Human Rights Commission (HRC) can serve as both a watchdog and a visible route through which people can access their rights.  Such a commission can help create a national culture of human rights through its advocacy, research  and legal functions.  Above all it must monitor and assess the observance of human rights throughout the country.  Individuals who claim that their human rights have been violated should be able to submit complaints for investigation’’ Recommendation 98 TRC Report stated.

 

The report  further recommended  in 136  that Government should work towards the creation of an independent judiciary.  This includes providing the judiciary with budgetary independence or self-accounting status.

On 8th December 2020, the country’s house of parliament unanimously passed into law the independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion a bill that was presented by the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis. This is in fulfilment of a statement made by President Julius Maada Bio in 2018 upon assuming office to establish a peace and National Cohesion commission.

The Peace Commission and National Cohesion is part of recommendations by the TRC as said by Professor Joe A. D Alie , which  has been welcomed by many Sierra Leoneans including peace experts, Historians as well as  citizens as the country need such kind of democratic institution to strengthen our democracy. The Commission experts believed will foster and strengthen the country’s peace which has guarded so well for the last decades after experiencing the effect of war.

History Professor in the University of Sierra Leone and Dean of the Faculty of the School of the Post graduate studies , Prof. Joe A. D Alie , welcome the  news for the establishment of such a commission but said such an institution has been long overdue, adding that as a country, this is something we would have had not long after the           Truth and Reconciliation Commission submitted it report.

 “There a very strong case was made for the establishment for a peace Commission but unfortunately, we didn’t take it seriously. You see a lot of people think that because we do not hear the sound of guns, you know there is peace, That’s not very true. We need such a commission particularly more so when this is a multi- national or multi-ethnic country,’’ he said.

He said that like most other countries, Sierra Leone as a country is a multi-ethnic country, stating that there are 17 ethnic groups and even though they have co- existed peacefully over the years, once in while there are tensions and several things creates this tension one of which is the political environment.

“we see that normally Sierra Leoneans live peacefully but when we have elections, particularly national elections mischievous people try to play the ethnic card and that usually creates tensions in the country. The Governance systems have not been very people friendly. People friendly in the sense that it has not been particularly in the recent past catered adequately for the needs of the majority people and all of these creates some kind of conflicts and tensions which will eventually lead to conflict,’’ Prof. Alie said , adding that  the country need a commission that will actively foster peace , as well as national cohesion because as he put it this is not a matter of choice, we are in this country, all the ethnic groups are in this country, we don’t have a choice, we have to live in a peaceful way, we have to create a peaceful environment.

The History Professor added that, when there is peace, it goes with development, stating that there is no way development can thrive without peace, referencing even in our homes if there is no peace it will be difficult for family to sit together and plan properly for the future thus  the need peace as a pre-requisite for development, national cohesion and national integration.

 The History Professor believes that peace plays a key role in every one lives in the carrying of our day to day activities adding that Peace starts with us.

“First there has to be a national awareness campaign for us to realise as a people and as a nation irrespective of our ethnic connections , irrespective of our political connections that injustice to one means injustice to all , that what ever befalls one group is likely to affect other groups and that the future , prosperity of this country doesn’t lie in the hands on one ethnic group or one political party or one region.  We all have to work collectively for the good of this country and that what I’m sure the commission I suspect will be preaching,’’ the History Professor recommended.

The Dean of the Faculty of the School of the Post graduate studies further said the growth, prosperity of the country doesn’t lie in the hands of one ethnic group, or  one political party, its everybody, adding that everyone have to be on deck regardless of political loyalty, region or even regardless of your social standing to make Sierra Leone a prosperous nation for us all.

“If Sierra Leone becomes a prosperous country not one ethnic group enjoys, not one political party will enjoy it is all Sierra Leoneans and all ethnic group similarly if there is conflict, if there is a problem it does not affect one group of people, it affects every body. I will give you one example, the rebel war didn’t choose one ethnic group ,it didn’t choose political parties , it didn’t choose region everybody even if you were not directly affected , a member of your family or a friend or some body you know may have been affected so in one way or the other , you were also affected,’’ Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies said.

The Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies said consolidating peace is a continuous process stating that if the country has been a united country not deeply divided the rebel war that ravaged the country couldn’t have taken such a huge dimension. 

“If Sierra Leone was a united country, if we were not deeply divided, even if we have had a rebel war here it couldn’t have taken the dimension it took, you know if we had unity in this country if we had freedom, justice and these are three words of our motto of the country. unity Freedom and Justice. If those things had been present in our body politic, if those things had been practiced individual and collective levels in this country even if we had a rebel war it couldn’t have disastrous as it was. But it became so dastardly because we are not a united people, there was no peace or freedom, there was no justice in this country. ‘’

The Well renowned History professor said the peace commission will further consolidate the peace of Sierra Leone, but it is the responsibility of everyone to support the government and its would be commissioners to attain this great milestone.

TRC Recommendation 39 stated that “The Commission found that, prior to the start of the conflict, government accountability was non-existent.  It concluded that democracy and the rule of law were dead.  The Commission accordingly makes recommendations to strengthen democracy and institutions of accountability.  In particular, the Commission highlights its recommendations in respect of the independence of the judiciary, the role of parliament and the holding of free and fair elections.’’ With this in mind  I believe Sierra Leone has made another landmark history into putting the recommendation of the TRC into reality  as it continue to create Institutions to strengthened  democracy and good governance as it is the only pathway to consolidating peace  in Sierra Leone.  .It is important to note that, there are many recommendations that are yet to be fully implemented but however we should tap ourselves for the progress we have made as a country so far. 

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on: “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.”


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Sierra Leone:The Travails of Women Empowerment
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

For years, women have been neglected, dejected and left behind in every sphere of life from key decision making, participation, and representation on positions of trust even when they account for about 52 percent of the population yet they occupy less than 20 percent of elected positions in the country. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings and recommendations are very clear that “Women have been excluded from decision-making in Sierra Leone.  Women are largely absent in the structures of government and traditional forums that are critical in formulating policies. (TRC Recommendation 347)
The challenges they faced are enormous from effect of culture, traditions and patriarchal attitudes towards them have continuously placed them in that position with many been uneducated, in addition illiteracy among them is very low. However there has been some progress as today more than any time in our nation there are more girls in schools, and women in a position of trust and leadership roles compared to 50 years ago in Sierra Leone, even though more needed to be done to fully realise their aspirations as clearly espoused in many international treaties to which the country is a signatory to.

The country experienced one of the worst civil conflicts in the world’s community of nations in 1991 which ended in 2002. Women suffered the brunt of the internecine war, many were killed, raped, became widow, and lost their children in addition those who were pregnant were mutilated alive. It was a dark history for every Sierra Leonean, and it is a history that as a nation and people will never forget. Years of decadence corruption, unequal distribution of the state resources, lack of respect for human rights to name a few were the factors responsible for our devastating war.

 “Women were subjected to systematic abuse during the conflict.  Violations perpetrated against women included torture, rape, sexual abuse, and sexual slavery, trafficking, enslavement, abductions, amputations, forced pregnancy, forced labour and detentions,’’ TRC Report No. 323.

Head of Media at Feminist United Sierra Leone Allies, Makalay Saidiatu Sonda, said that its almost 17 years since the TRC recommended for a 30 % representation quota for women yet both past and present government have not been able to do this reform despite the lots of campaigns and sensitization by women’s groups in the country.

“ The 50/50 group has been really instrumental in that since after the war to make sure that the 30% representation quota that the TRC recommendation should have been made possible and now we should we should be thinking about the 50/50 gender parity because the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has stated in 2004 that a 30% representation for women  in elected assemblies ,  cabinets and other political posts should be made possible in order for us to increase the 50/50 gender ; parity within the next ten years , that means that , 2004 we should have implemented the 30% quota and within the next 10 years , we should walk our way into the 50/50 gender parity,’’ she said.

However, in its recommendation to the government, the commission recommended that the government work towards achieving of at least 30% women in cabinet and other political posts.

  “The Commission recommends that the Government work towards achieving a representation of at least 30% women in cabinet and other political posts.  Government should also work towards incrementally achieving 50/50 gender parity in cabinet and political posts within the next 10years TRC Recommendation No. 351,’’
She added that governments not meeting the recommendation of the TRC of the 30% quota nor the 50/50 gender parity is something deliberate on the part of governments stating that she cannot understand how as a country we think it should progress by holding back majority of its population.

“women in Sierra Leone make up more than 50% of our population so if these women are not given a sit at the table to make the right decisions, to implement policies, to better us as women, I don’t know where we will be going and we have already so many challenges you know with issues regarding gender issues I will say because now look at the high rate of sexual violence in the country in the past five years, it has been skyrocketing and also just look at the teenage school drop-outs they are mostly girls may be If we have had women in positions of powers, in parliament, cabinet we have majority of women maybe we would have gone past all these social problems,’’ Makalay lamented.

Makalay further said the 30% representation quota is not only a TRC recommendation, but it is also a legal obligation for Sierra Leone as a nation to implement adding that the country is a signatory to key international instruments or laws that makes it binding to implement gender parity or laws within decisions making bodies within our parties and political space.

On Political Participation and Access to Power the Commission recommended for women that political parties to ensure an at least 30% quota of their candidates for public elections for women and urged the country’s National Electoral Commission to enforce this minimum representation.
“The Commission recommends that political parties be required to ensure that at least 30% of their candidates for public elections are women.  This includes national elections, local government and district council elections.  Legislation should be enacted to make this a legal requirement.  The National Electoral Commission should be required to enforce this minimum representation.  Such a stipulation will require all political parties to nurture and develop meaningful participation of women.  This is an imperative recommendation,’’ 349.

However, with this imperative recommendation, none of the political parties have never reached this threshold, more than ever more women and girls are becoming educated yet they do not give them the political space for them to exercise their political franchise nor the country’s electoral enforcing the recommendation on a very important recommendation that has the propensity of making the country reached its women’s empowerment drive for a better nation. In parliament, there are only 16 females in the house in a place where there are men and women and even with the Bio administration the number of female cabinet ministers or in leadership roles in government are minimal. 

Attaining the 30% quota representation as a nation will mean a great step towards women empowerment in the country and a development to the nation as women can contributes meaningfully in diverse ways if they are given the platform their leadership and interestingly research has shown that women can better deliver in leadership and can reduce corruption in the society.
This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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PIASA :Nomination Of Olivia Anani & Charlotte Lidon Co-Directors Of The Department For Contemporary African Art
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Piasa is pleased to announce that Olivia Anani and Charlotte Lidon will be co-directors of the Department for Contemporary African Art from this January onwards.

“This double appointment reinforces Piasa’s leading role and strengthens its involvement in the Contemporary African Art market, of which it was one of the pioneers to highlight in its sales programme,” emphasises Frédéric Chambre.

The Africa + Modern and Contemporary Art Department at PIASA has achieved a solid foundation over the past five years, introducing and cementing the market for several key artists from Africa and its diasporas. Our ambition for the coming years will be to further define the department’s esthetic positioning and amplify its echoes to the art historical canon, as it is written today on the continent and internationally.

It is important, in the current context of accelerated change, for the market to play its due role in shaping the art ecosystem, along with the artists, galleries, institutions and collectors from all backgrounds, who are an essential part of this dynamic scene. We are looking forward to offering a renewed point of vue backed by our expertise and experience to support the current evolutions in collecting and the art market. To mark this fresh start, we are honored to support contemporary creation with a commission to the upcoming Congolese photographer Alain Polo (Born in 1985, Kinshasa, DRC).

The poetry of Alain Polo’s photographic practice touches on themes we are committed to explore, such as the complexity of the gaze and the multiplicity of points of vue.

«PIASA has been a pioneer in the representationof contemporary African scenes and I am happy to this innovative and dynamic sales house as codepartment manager alongside Olivia.

The contemporary African art market has been developing for several years now but is still underrepresented in many respects. Our common vision tends to strengthen the presence of artists from the continent and the diasporas on the global market but also to inscribe their work in an art history specific to Africa. We wish to highlight through future sales, the specificities of the different schools and to renew the vision on the continent’s modern artists, who are still not well known. Given the liveliness of the contemporary art scene, it also seems important to us to support the emergence of a new point of view through the introduction of new artists on the secondary market.

The project is ambitious and the stakes are high, and I am delighted to carry it out with Olivia, whose experience, expertise and commitment to artists and collectors will be invaluable assets.»

Charlotte Lidon

« I am delighted to join the team at PIASA, an auction house known for its curiosity, dynamism, and long term commitment to the African art scene.This position is a first in many ways, and it is with a full understanding of the challenge and responsibility, but also of the immense possibilities that lie ahead, that I bring today my years of experience in both auctions and critical research, to a project that aims not only to strengthen the market

for artists from the continent and its diaspora, but also, as someone born and raised on the continent, a core understanding of the richness of her cultures, and of the role the art market can play in rewriting the canon of art history, when done with awareness, rigor and respect.

For such an ambitious project, I could not have hoped for a better co-head than Charlotte, whom I’ve known for several years. I am looking forward to share and learn from her dedication, focus, wise and experienced eye. »

Olivia Anani

With a background in Asian Studies and Contemporary Art spanning three continents, Olivia Anani has worked for several prestigious auction houses prior to joining PIASA: Sotheby’s, Phillips and Christie’s. In the latter, she was involved in the sale of masterpieces such as Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1963; Alberto Giacometti, Grande Femme II, France’s 2017 auction record for a work of art; the Beyond Boundaries collection of modern and contemporary masterworks, including Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Dan Flavin, Yves Klein and Man Ray, Nicolas de Staël’s Parc des Princes, 1952 as well as works by Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Barthélémy Toguo, Seydou Keita. She was also involved in the coordination of loans and acquisitions for institutions such as the Musée du Louvre and the Louvre Abu Dhabi and in projects such as the iconic charity auction Bid for the Louvre and the African Art Fair 1-54 at Christie’s. As a writer and curator, she is interested in art from a global perspective, with a focus on the African continent, working with the Taipei, Dakar and Kampala Biennales, Zajia Lab in Beijing, France’s Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Centre Pompidou, Fondation Gulbenkian and the Columbia University Center – Reid Hall in Paris.

A board member of the Friends of Palais de Tokyo, an institution she has been supporting since 2013, she was part of the jury for the 2018 Prix des Amis, a prize devoted to supporting young artists for their first major institutional exhibition. She remains a contributor and supporter of independent critical art journals such as Afrikadaa and Something we Africans got.

Charlotte Lidon

After a university degree in art history Charlotte Lidon continued at the École du Louvre. Interested in non-Western art scenes, she began her professional career at the Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie de la  Porte Dorée and then at the Arab World Institute before specializing in the art market, first in galleries, then at the international auction house Sotheby’s, which she joined in 2011 in the Department of Classical Arts of Africa and Oceania. Committed to defending modern and contemporary art from the African continent and its diaspora, it is actively participating in the creation of the Modern & Contemporary African Art Department from 2016. She then contributes to the development of the department and actively participates in the sales held at Sotheby’s London where many auction records are obtained for artists such as El Anatsui, Ben Enwonwu, Irma Stern, Yinka Shonibare, Chéri Samba or Nicholas Hlobo. In Paris, she organises thought the auctions house various events such as round tables, meetings with artists and cultural players from the continent and visits to exhibitions in order to increase collectors’ interest in this speciality and provide them with the keys they need to understand the full richness of this artistic scene.

More recently, she was interested in the existing correlations between traditional art and contemporary African art in a study published in the contemporary art magazine «Facettes». She also regularly curates exhibitions around the contemporary African scene.

The highly complementary skills of these two experts in the sector will thus enable Piasa to increase its mission by being even more attentive to the dynamics of the French and English-speaking markets, by widening the spectrum of observation of the creative processes, and by diversifying its actions beyond the auction sales.

*Save the Date on May 19th for the first auction of African Contemporary Art brought by these new perspectives!

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US Government Imposes Visa Restrictions on Tanzanian Officials Over Elections
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Despite criticisms of the last elections in Tanzania, President Magufuli remains one of the most popular African leaders
Despite criticisms of the last elections in Tanzania, President Magufuli remains one of the most popular African leaders.Photo credit DWE

The outgoing US administration has imposed visa restrictions to unnamed Tanzanian officials for allegedly undermining last year’s general elections and the East African country’s democracy.

The actions of these officials subverted the electoral process, continuing the downward trajectory of the country’s democracy.  Election observers and civil society noted widespread irregularities as well as human rights abuses and violations before, during, and after the election, said the US department of state in a brief statement released on Tuesday.

Tanzania held parliamentarian, presidential and local government elections in October 2020 that saw President Magufuli extend his term in office with a landslide victory.Mr. Magufuli garnered 84.39 per cent of the vote, but opposition rejected results, his main challenger Tundu Lissu subsequently fled the country to Belgium.

 “Opposition candidates were routinely disqualified, harassed, and arrested.  Significant and widespread voting irregularities, internet disruptions, intimidation of journalists, and violence by security forces made this election neither free nor fair.” Noted the Trump administration in one of its last decisions.

The Secretary of State Michael Pompeo whose twitter account has now been archived as he leaves the office had tweeted that there were consequences for interfering democratic process. “Starting today, we are imposing visa restrictions on those involved in election interference in Tanzania. We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and mutual prosperity for both our countries.”

This is not the first time US government bans Tanzanian officials from entering its territory. Last year Washington slapped visa restriction on Paul Makonda, former regional commissioner of Dar Es Salaam, the commercial capital over “human rights violation”.

Tanzania has been a peaceful and politically stable country in East Africa, but under Magufuli presidency there have been reports of the worsening human rights situation amid crackdown on media, human rights activists and opposition politicians. Some media outlets have been suspended, rights activists and opposition politicians regularly detained. The government has regularly denied poor human rights records ‘accusations.

“Civil society leaders remain under threat in the post-election period, and opposition leaders have fled the country out of fear for their safety.” Noted the statement from the department of state.

In the aftermath of the disputed vote, an opposition MP Godbless Lema and his family fled to neighboring Kenya citing threats to his life. The family subsequently got asylum status in Canada.

According to media reports, Mr. Lema was arrested by Tanzanian authorities together with other politicians in the aftermath of the October 28 elections, but was later released on a police bond without a charge.

US has urged the Government of Tanzania to improve the situation and hold accountable those responsible for “the flawed election, violence, and intimidation.”

  “The United States will continue to closely follow developments in Tanzania and will not hesitate to take additional actions against individuals complicit in undermining democracy and violating human rights.”

However, it is not clear whether Joe Biden’s administration will implement the visa restrictions on Tanzanian officials as the new president has vowed to reverse some of Donald Trump’s decisions immediately after inauguration.

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Kenya power rolls out smart meters
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Managing Director Bernard Ngugi
Managing Director Bernard Ngugi

Kenya Power has launched a smart meter technology to facilitate two-way communication between the company and its customers.

Unveiling the project in Kenya’s lake city of Kisumu, the company’s Managing Director Bernard Ngugi said the new system targets 5,000 customers in the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector.

The new technology will enable customers to access real-time information on their consumption and billing through an online portal.

There will be an immediate solution in case of a power outage since the smart meters can communicate directly with the company’s National Contact Centre.

Customers also will receive notifications directly on their phones via SMS.

The Kshs.1.25 billion World Bank-funded project is set to be completed by June 30, 2021.

“These combined benefits of error-free data, prompt network problem identification, and audit of energy consumption will go a long way in enhancing service delivery to our customers in the SME sector,” said CEO Ngugi.

“We believe that the advanced metering technology will further enhance customer satisfaction based on the visibility and prompt detection of power usage and also reduce technical losses which are key to ensuring reliable and quality supply of power,” he added.

The company aims to install the smart meters for all SMEs by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.

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Kenya, Rwanda sign deal to foster tourism
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Agnes Mucuha, the KATA Chief Executive Officer, Fred Odek, the EATP Chairman, Ambassador Richard Masozera, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Kenya (representing RDB and RCOT) and Robert Okumu, RwandAir Country participated at the signing.Photo credit RDB

Kenya and its regional counterpart Rwanda have sealed an agreement in a bid to boost tourism.

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Rwanda Chamber of Tourism (RCOT), the main parties in the deal, agreed to join forces to increase cooperation between the nations to make them competitive as a tourism destination.

According to the parties, the treaty is set to be facilitated by the East African Tourism Platform (EATP).

Agnes Mucuha, the KATA Chief Executive Officer, Fred Odek, the EATP Chairman, Ambassador Richard Masozera, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Kenya (representing RDB and RCOT) and Robert Okumu, RwandAir Country Manager Kenya witnessed the signing of the deal.

KATA, RDB, RCOT agreed to exchange knowledge, expertise and best practices about travel, enhance the exchange of familiarization visits between Kenya and Rwanda and spur tourists flows between Kenya and Rwanda.

Besides, there will also be sharing of the countries respective calendar of events for stakeholders’ information and attendance and engagement of similar counterparts from various African regional blocks under the Continental Free Trade Area.

“We are honoured to partner with Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, and the East Africa Tourism Platform as this collaboration will allow for greater sharing of ideas, resources, and expertise. This partnership places Rwanda and KATA on the path to becoming a regional and continental lead in creating safe travel experiences, yet meet the needs of travellers,” reiterated Agnes Mucuha, Chief Executive, Kenya Association of Travel Agents.

“The signing of these agreements between RDB, RCOT, KATA and EATP represents a visible result of the thriving Kenya-Rwanda relationship. The partnership is also in line with our efforts to transform and build new travel and tourism industry capabilities. As we chart a new path forward for the travel sector, it is crucial to focus on growing local travel for us to help the industry tore bound,” Ambassador Richard Masozera said.

Through the partnership, Kenya’s and Rwanda’s marketing and promotional programmes will be implemented by carrying out joint marketing activities, familiarization trips and educational webinars.

RwandAir’s Country Manager for Kenya Robert Okumu pledge to support the partnership saying the RwandAir (WB) will be the Title Sponsor for the Air Tickets during the familiarization trips to Rwanda. Okumu also disclosed that the airline had released special discounted airfares and holiday packages for the Kenyans to visit the East African nation.

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CAJ Congratulates Moalimmuu on Appointment as Somali Government Spokesperson.
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adedayo Osho

Moalimmu,Vice President CAJ,East African Region and Spokesman Somali Government
Moalimmu,Vice President CAJ,East African Region, and Spokesman Somali Government

Congress of African Journalists, CAJ has congratulated one of its foundation members Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu on his appointment as Spokesperson for Somalia government and Senior Media Adviser to the Prime Minister. 

Moalimmuu is the Vice President of CAJ for East Africa Region and former Secretary General to Federation of Somali Journalists, FESOJ.

According to a press release by Michael Adeboboye, CAJ President in Lagos Nigeria “We received the news of the appointment of one of our foundation members and Senior Somali journalist, Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu with excitement.

“CAJ is using this medium to say a big congratulations to Moalimmuu on this new voyage and prayed for wisdom from the Almighty God for him to excel.

“We do not have the doubt that Moalimmuu will perform excellently in his new assignment to serve the government and good people of Somalia. 

“Undoubtedly, Moalimmuu is endowed with stupendous leadership character to the admiration of CAJ and we are confident that he will serve well in his new assignment to his country.

“As a Pan African organisation of African journalists home and diaspora, Moalimmuu has transported with him in many of his opportunities to visit countries around the globe to speak for journalists protection and welfare, CAJ was no exception.

“It is of a massive hope that Moalimmmu’s new appointment will avail him more opportunity to establishing finest and cordial relationship between Somali government and practitioners of the pen profession in Somalia, Africa and across the border.

Michael Adeboboye,CAJ Global President
Michael Adeboboye,CAJ Global President

“We also believe that Moalimmuu’s appointment will open windows of opportunity for CAJ’s objectives presentation, opportunity for friendship and collaborative efforts towards redefining journalism practice in Somalia”

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The rights of disabled Youths still a pipe dream in Sierra Leone
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A group of disabled youths march on the street of Kabala town, Koinadugu district, Northern Sierra Leone on international day of persons with disability.

“ The denial of a meaningful political voice to the youth has had devastating consequences for Sierra Leone.  More avenues for the youth to express themselves and to realise their potential need to be created.  Political space should be opened up so that the youth can become involved in governance and in the decision-making process.  Youths must have a stake in governance,  the TRC recommendation 312.  .
For years,  despite the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) many youths including disables have been left out in the decision making of the country, with little improvement on their lives and welfare in Sierra Leone, most of the policies geared towards the respect of their rights have been outdated. They still continue to struggle from basic things, employment,  the full realization of  their fundamental human rights even after more a decade with the passing of the Disability Act of 2011.

31-year-old Mohamed Kamara is a disable youth working at the Grafton Camp, a skilled worker in pottery but struggles with life and to get a daily meal for his family. He was born with no disability, but the war left a scar on him when rebels shot his legs during the country’s 11-year civil conflict that left hundreds of thousands of civilians’ dead in which many were left homeless has left him paralyzed only to be walking using crutches. The country has a number of people who were amputated, some left with disability issues as rebels used cruel techniques and means of punishing civilians. Today most of disabled youths across the country wallow the streets of Freetown with nothing to do and some can’t fend for themselves and are forced to begging as it is the means they can fend for themselves.

Even though those disables that are educated, have university or technical and vocational training certificate they still continue to struggle from access to employment, food, shelter, getting access to basic life, and lack of disabled friendly environment.

  Mohamed is not one of, there are others who struggles too with life. The streets, offices, transportation are several challenges disabled struggled with daily with some left on the streets whenever they fend transport as they could not compete with able bodied men. 

‘’War is not good. The rebels left me disabled and paralyzed, now they have left my life in ruins. Life isn’t easy for me ever since and the government hasn’t help us much. most of my other colleagues beg on the streets of Freetown,’’ he said.

He said that due their disability people discriminate them, and when they compete with able bodied men, they are left out adding that despite the passing into law of the disability Act in 2011, most people refused to take them in leadership positions boasting that he is qualified to work in any office.

“I want to urge any disable to report to the disability commission any breach of their human rights especially they been discriminated. we are now have  a legal desk in the commission that specifically look at this issue,’’ said Saa Lamin Raymond Kortequee, Chairman disability Commission.

Saa Kortequee said they as a commission have encouraged many private companies, businesses, and other business that they can hire as many disabled people as possible into their work places and they can give be tax reduction in their firms.

“Private companies, businesses please take this as an opportunity as well as a way you can help in the development of Sierra Leone. By employing many disables, you will help reduce unemployment in the country,’’ the disability commissioner said.

Apart from discrimination, there is still challenge with disable friendly environment as it is visibly seen in almost all the government buildings, streets, offices, colleges, and universities and even in the transportation systems in the country. Many will argue that its only now ten years ago that we have laws for the provisions of disabled friendly environment by the government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) mentioned in its report , recommendation  stated that  Youths were the driving force behind the resistance to one-party state rule in the 1980s adding that  they also bore the brunt of the state’s repressive backlash as  during the conflict, youths formed the bulk of the fighting forces in all the factions. 

“The civil war has aggravated matters for the youth.  After ten years of war, thousands of young men and women have been denied a normal education and indeed a normal life.  Their childhood and youth have been squandered by years of brutal civil conflict.  Many young Sierra Leoneans have lost the basic opportunities in life that young people around the world take for granted.  These young people constitute Sierra Leone’s lost generation.  The Commission recommends that the youth question be viewed as a national emergency that demands national mobilisation.  This is an imperative recommendation,’’ TRC recommendation 313 .

Despite this recommendation, challenges for youths a very huge even with the establishment of the National Youth Commission by the Koroma -led government huge challenges remain from adequate funding ,

“The Commission recommends that Government work towards the transformation of the youth portfolio of the Ministry of Youth and Sports into a National Youth Commission.   Such a Commission should be located in the Office of the President.  The mission of a National Youth Commission would be to address the youth question as a fundamental priority in post-war reconstruction. Currently, the Youth Ministry is constrained by an overburdened civil service bureaucracy that prevents it from carrying out its basic tasks and functions.  At present the Ministry is unable to finance its programmes in the provinces.  In short, the Ministry of Youth does not have the means to address the youth question,’’ TRC recommendation 308  added.
For this commission recommended that government Protection of Human Rights of citizens and also among many other recommendations the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission (HRC). Government has now established a human rights commission in the country and has made several recommendations also highlighting the need for the protection of the rights of youths in the country including the disabled.

“The Commission recommends that all political parties be required to ensure that at least 10% of their candidates for all public elections are youths.113  This includes national elections, local government and district council elections.  Legislation should be enacted to make this a legal requirement.  The National Electoral Commission should be required to enforce this minimum representation.  Such a stipulation will require all political parties to nurture and develop meaningful participation of the youth.  This is an imperative recommendation’’. TRC Recommendation 313
This Renowned Human Rights Lawyer and Expert Rashid Dumbuya Esq.  said that universities in Sierra Leone should create a disabled friendly environment for Persons living With Disability adding that the law is very clear that disables should be entitle to barrier free environment, and as country that is a signatory to many international treaties, the International Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disability, thus the country is obligated under law to honour it.

“We are building colleges; we do not think about disables. The same toilet that even poses challenge for able bodied persons is the same the disabled used which is even much more challenging for them. We are building universities and we do not think about ramps; places where disables can just move their wheelchairs. The classrooms are not sensitive to persons with disability,’’ Lawyer Rashid said.

Lawyer Rashid added that there is no brailing system, including recording and special needs for classrooms in the universities across the country, except for the University of Makeni which carters for the disables.

 “We are calling on the University of Sierra Leone, Milton Margai college, College of Medicine, Njala University, Eastern Polytechnic to emulate the University of Makeni that has created special needs for disables, Lawyer Rashid said in statement marking the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disability in Sierra Leone in collaboration with the National Disabled Women’s Forum.

The Human Rights Expert said the reason why disables are not employed in the country is largely because the buildings aren’t disabled friendly thus stating that it is difficult for organization, private firms not to bring on board disabled in their workplace.

“The challenges are many. I will not be able to name them all here, we know of shelter, transportation, and water. All these things are affecting you. It is not just enough to get the laws, we should implement them,”

Nenneh Kargbo is the Interim Secretary General, National Disabled Women’s Forum (NADWOF), stated that disables are been challenged in all facets of the society.

“Come to think about government building, neither the new ones nor the old that are accessible for women with disability. If you go to the hospital, the hospital that are government owned which disabled should access free medical care, but they are discriminated,’’ she said, adding that it is a real challenged for them and even with banks and other public buildings.

She said many of them have not be able to go school because the schools are disable friendly adding that that is why many are uneducated, unemployed which makes lives miserable for them.

“How many of us have gone far in terms of access to education?  what have we acquired in terms of skills generally? so many of us are in the streets begging. Women with disability have soared in number in the streets more than their counterparts. It is a challenge. How are prepared are we for the future,’’

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on: “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.”

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Sierra Leone: Memories of civil war still fresh in minds of victims on anniversary
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A plaque showing a mass grave of compatriots buried who were lost during the January 6th invasion in Freetown at Kingtom . Photo credit Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

January 6th, 1999 will forever be in the hearts and minds of every Sierra Leoneans as it was the day rebels attacked the country’s capital , Freetown, which remained a memorable and unforgettable day in the history of Sierra Leone. The sounds of guns took over the atmosphere of the former British colony. That day scores of atrocities happened and hundred of thousands of people experienced the worst human rights abuses ranging from torture, rape, and the amputation of legs and hands. The war had originally begun in the rural part of the country in 1991 which started because of bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of state resources, endemic poverty, and concentration of resources to certain few were among the principal reason for the country’ internecine war.

Today more than two decades after one of the world’s worst atrocities  happened , this day is commemorated every year, and those that suffered  and affected during civil  war from amputees, war wounded , rape victims, widows and their children  have continued to live with the war experienced and  the trauma that come with it for decades.

For Jenifer Sesay , a rape victim , the memories  of the war are ever fresh in her mind as she said each year on January 6th ,  she remembered that day when she was abducted by rebel and later been raped by them  adding that the day reminds them of their pain and suffering.

 “For some us they rape us  at a  time I was  not even matured , I was just 12 years old. Like me here I was with the rebels until I become matured not  until they ceased fire that was when they released me . Where I was, was  where the war started . At any time , this day reaches it reflects our memories to some of the dark experience we  had,’’ she recounted.  

She added that successive government has  been ignoring them, leaving them astray stating that many believed that  the war is over but said the war is still the war not over provided that how government will take care of us and our needs.  

“we want to express our thanks and appreciation to Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah for restoring peace who told us to forgive which we did , but we haven’t forgotten yet . We have forgiven our perpetrators, but we haven’t forgotten what happened to us. May be some of the people that did these things  to us are still in our communities and I have my kids they are all grown up and if I explained  to them that this is what this person did to me may be, I may not have the bad intention to harm him or her , but my kids may revenge,’’ Jenifer Sesay said.

Jenifer added that Like most of them that were sexually abused , some of them had children that they didn’t plan to have at the time stating that  they now have children whom she said they too are struggling with life , they needed counselling and psychosocial support.

“We the sexual abuse victims are traumatized , physically we are okay but inner part we are not okay. We the victims , it is us that will say the war is over or  war is not over yet. Imagine I was at the age of 12 years when the rebels captured me , now I have a 20-year daughter which I didn’t wish to have at the time . I didn’t allow her to live with me I had to take her to my mother to take care of her. She grew up with my mother . I only took her to be with me when she had become grown up. Even when she has come to live with me , my husband isn’t comfortable with my daughter. At times when I and my husband go into confrontation, he takes my situation to laugh at me so I do not feel happy , so my daughter who at home is getting all this  information ,she will develop bad intention it will bring war to our country,’’ Sesay said in a broken voice.

In its recommendation about the war , the Truth and Reconciliation Commission  No. 1 stated that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000 (“the Act ‘’) requires the Commission to make recommendations concerning the reforms and measure whether legal , political , administrative or otherwise needed to achieve the object of the Commission ;namely providing an impartial historical record , preventing the repetition of violations or abuses suffered , addressing impunity , responding to the needs of the victims and promoting healing and reconciliation. Many believed that little has been done by past and present governments towards the implementation of the recommendations in the  report  in order to have a lasting peace as a nation. Many of the experiences , Jenifer and others have gone through not to see a repeat of what has happened in the war as clearly state The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hasn’t been fully realised although there have some steps in the establishing of democratic institutions like the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, the National Commission for democracy and the democratic reforms to name a few has been hailed a step towards peace consolidation in the country.

Mohamed Tarawallie , National President war wounded and amputees said that they as  war wounded and amputees who were affected during the eleven years civil war haven’t seen government focusing on their issues adding that  government is giving public holiday for what happens In South Africa in which lots of children lost their lives , but what happened in our nation during the 11 years especially January 6th , when the rebels entered Freetown , the casualties that took place , the people who lost their lives , properties , hands, feet ,  thus stating if government is really serious , they should have made this day , a public holiday where in no offices will function , or business on that day.

 “Everyone should sit at home and ponder on what happened on that fateful day. Just as the government didn’t take the January 6th incident seriously , they didn’t take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report seriously which  has made people not to even think about the TRC .  Yes , they put together in the report what they are supposed to do for  the victims of the war, some who have lost their legs , hands , rape victims what they are supposed to do for them . They do not think about these things . we do not see any momentum , even when its new year you do not hear in the President’s speech do not include us in his many speeches,’’ he said.

 Tarawallie added that government should do something for them so that they can take courage us by providing us with medical facilities , provide scholarships for our children  who wanted to get a university or college degree  stating that they are  extremely challenged.

“They just promise , promise, how long will they continue making promises to us , they wait until we die?  This is not good  for us as a country . TRC recommendation they say it but they do not implement it . Go to the provinces , go to places like Kailahun ,           Kenema , Bo , Makeni and see the number of war victims that are suffering . Even the Norwegian Friends of Sierra Leone houses they built for us are  in bad shape ,we do not have any body to rescue us from this housing challenge’’.

The war wounded and Amputees National President further said some of the donors that have been helping them are tired, adding that  they need the intervention of government to rescue them  from their suffering  and if they don’t rescue them , tomorrow their  kids they have  given birth to , if they do not have better and good education , this will create another problem for the country  which they do not wish anything to happened again.

Sulaiman Sesay , an amputee said he has lived all his life from childhood on to adulthood been amputated which he said a memory he will lived on with  till death  but praised a woman Madam Faith and other good organisation  who has made it a norm to celebrate with them on every January 6th by giving them help and assistance .

“It’s really painful that you were not born an amputee but ended up been an amputee victim , A very young man like me they chopped off my hand  since I was small up to today when I am grown up man I have lived with this trauma and situation ,  I will never forget January 6th. We have a challenge the government do not think about us even the NACSA cash transfers to vulnerable people we didn’t benefit from that . we are pleading to government to help with proper medical care services , transportation, and housing facilities. Imagine if it were not for some good will NGOs that built for us war victims , some of us  we would have been on the streets’’.

Professor Joe A. D Alie , Professor of History and The Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies , Fourah Bay College said consolidating peace is a continuous process stating that if the country has been a united country not deeply divided the rebel war that ravaged the country couldn’t have taken such a huge dimension. 

“If Sierra Leone was a united country, if we were not deeply divided, even if we have had a rebel war here it couldn’t have taken the dimension it took, you know if we had unity in this country if we had freedom, justice and these are three words of our motto of the country. unity Freedom and Justice. If those things had been present in our body politic, if those things had been practiced individual and collective levels in this country even if we had a rebel war it couldn’t have disastrous as it was. But it became so dastardly because we are not a united people, there was no peace or freedom, there was no justice in this country. ‘’the history professor said.

Like the TRC Report No 3. The Commission is of the view that the adoption of its recommendations will assist the people of Sierra Leone to rise above the bitter conflicts of the past, which caused unspeakable violations of human rights and left a legacy of dehumanisation, hatred, and fear. This will greatly help in the restoration of a lasting peace in democratic Sierra Leone

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Pan-African-Vision Agenda and Aspiration Five [5] Shine as President Mnangagwa Signs Fact-Book .
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Africa’s heritage path was paved for its future generations on the 19th of January. This very day President Mnangagwa signed the Africa Fact-Book. It was accompanied by letters to 54 countries of Africa for them to use it as a tool of African Heritage.

The Africa Fact-Book carries unique un-told history of our beloved continent Africa. President Mnangagwa cleared the air that time has come for Africa to rise high up and shine. He spoke State House in Harare accompanied by George Charamba ,  Deputy Chief Secretary for Communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet .

‘’Today I have signed copies of the Africa Fact-Book which Zimbabwe has honor and privilege to host at conceptual age ‘’

‘’We launched this book on 9 September 2020. The 1st edition had been produced under the theme ‘’Busting the myths’’

‘’Let us burst the myths that Africans have never discovered anything. Let us burst myths that Great Zimbabwe walls were not built by Africans ‘’.

‘’I launched this book together with President Cyrill Ramaphosa of South Africa. The reason is we have the same heritage, culture, values and identity ‘’.

The book according to Kwame Muzawazi , Director of INSTAK , Institute of African Knowledge is  a tool for Africans and future generations to learn more about themselves , the history made by those who left us , those with legacy of liberation .

‘’This is a tool for Africans and even those around us to learn more about our identity, culture, values and all that matters and link this ideology. We celebrate through it our being African, our identity, culture and values are greater than ever ‘’.

‘’The book will be distributed soon for people to read and explore their history. This is ever to live African Heritage ‘’. he spoke

The idea to launch the Africa Fact-Book was vitiated and initiated at one of the meetings of the African Union Commission during the time of Dr Nkosazana Zuma of South Africa’s tenure in office at the African Union headquarters. She admired Zimbabwe’s African Book of Records. Then she recommended the country to come up with the Africa Book of Records.

The Fact -Book directs the Pan-African-Vision agenda 2063 of the African Union and Aspiration Five that enhances our African strong culture, identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics. Pan-Africanism and common history, identity, destiny, heritage  , respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people  is highly cherished ..

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Kenya government imposes 1.5% tax on all social media “influencers”
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

In Kenya, social media influencers will have to pay 1.5 per cent Digital Service Tax (DST), said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

The authority noted the influencers would not be exempted from the new tax saying facilitating online business and individuals earn them income.

“Social media influencers will be liable to pay digital service tax since their income is derived from or accrued from the provision of services through a digital marketplace or by providing digital advertising services in Kenya,” KRA said via public notice.

KRA defined an influencer as a person who commands a following through a media platform through the products or services they use or engage in to drive sales or fame.

The taxman said the new tax that took effect on January 1, 2021, targets both residents and non-residents providing services within the country.

The influencers will pay DST on or before the 20th day of every month.

“Kindly note the tax will be collected and remitted by agents appointed by the commissioner of Domestic Taxes,” KRA noted.

KRA targets above 1,000 businesses and people under the new digital tax. Early this month, it set out a target of ksh5 billion ($45.37 million) to be collected between January and June this year. 

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