Choosing Peace For The Horn Of Africa
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka*
The Horn of Africa and the global community witnessed two dramatic events on July 8 and July 14 as the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea visited each other respectively. The smile and the big hug exchanged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki on Sunday, July 8 surprised many people who have followed the bitter conflict and sour relationship between the two countries in the last few decades. The two historic visits we have witnessed these past days express the joy and hope that come with ‘choosing peace.’ To further the peace process, the embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia was opened once again on Monday July 16.
From the UN general assembly vote to make Eritrea a central component of Ethiopia in 1952 to the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1958 and the decades following the two events, the two countries have had turbulent relationship especially few years after the independence of Eritrea in 1993. Between 1998 and 2000, the crisis reached its pick and had continued these past two decades with attendant human, economic, mutual distrust, political and social losses.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean crisis negatively impact the Horn of Africa as is evident in Djibouti and Somalia. The area has been affected by years of famine, disease, low economic development, weak governance, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate social services and the growth of different militia groups. These threats to human well-being and peace in developing countries that should apply their little resources to promote the dignity of persons and communities torn apart by avoidable conflicts show the nobility in the decision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki a noble one. A careful and committed completion of this process will reassure the return of peace and development in the region. It is a movement of courage because order requires courage to say no to violence.
In a time when African peace is continuously threatened locally and regionally from South Sudan to DR Congo, Burundi to the Central African Republic, Cameroon to Nigeria, etc., with untold hardship, deaths, displacements, and starvation, every step towards peace and reconciliation must be appreciated. In a time in the continent when millions of children die of malnutrition and diseases of all sorts resulting from violent conflict situations, when women and their daughters are mercilessly raped and violated by security agents and militia groups alike, when the Mediterranean sea and the desert have become the graveyard of African youths fleeing their continent in search of life and hope, peace ought to be pursued with every sense of urgency. The destruction of human, social, moral and economic fabric and resources of Africa through violent conflicts invite us to use nonviolent initiative for peace as a way of life.
The gesture of the two leaders represent what it means to choose peace as they bear eloquent testimony to the words of the Psalmist, “how good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together”(Psalm. 133: 1, The New Jerusalem Bible). The above was illustrated when the Ethiopian Prime minister’s chief of staff said to the President of Eritrea, ‘welcome home President Isaias.’ Peace is possible when we make the courageous choices and understand that “it is by considering our peers as brothers and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts” (Francis, 2016). Peace is possible when we understand that we are ‘one family under God’ irrespective of our religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural identity and affiliation. Peace benefits all just as war destroys all. The gesture of the two leaders is a sign of hope for the millions who have waited for the day of peace in the region. The day of order introduced by this brilliant move must be appreciated as we look back to the cost of conflict suffered the two countries and their neighbors as well as humanity at large.
It is important to remind ourselves that in the last two decades, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused among other things 80,000 deaths, more than 600,000 displacements of people, and a massive damage to the economy of both countries and their neighbors( (Negash & Tronvoll, 2000; (Bazebih, 2014). Thus, “the war left ineffaceable imprints in the minds of the schoolchildren in Mäqällä. The inhumane killing of innocent children in Aydär is still fresh in the minds of many residents and families of the victims. The Eritrean leadership claimed that the bombing was targeting a military site but in reality, it was the Aydär Elementary School’s 58 pupils and civilians that lost their lives and 185 were injured by cluster bombs (Tronvoll, 2003). Most shockingly, “at the height of the war, Ethiopia increased the total size of its army from 60,000 to 350,000 and increased its defense expenditure from $95m in 1997/98 to $777m in 1999/2000. Overall, the cost of the war for Ethiopia was nearly $3bn. In the meantime, the size of Eritrea’s army increased to 300,000 (almost 10 percent of the population) through National Service Conscription following the outbreak of the war, and the government has been using the intractable stalemate between the two countries as a justification not to demobilize the unsustainably high number of troops for a small nation like Eritrea” (Allo, 2018).
What the bitter truth about the two countries and all of us must deal with is that in the destructive conflict, the two developing countries lavished hundreds of millions of dollars on the war. Thus, the resources could have been used to fight diseases, poverty and other development issues that threaten the dignity, existence, and freedom of the poor citizens of the countries and their neighbors. From the thirty years of war with the Mengistu regime to the present times, the two countries have known the harsh cost and consequences of war.
Looking back to the loss of the two countries in the last two decades, Abiy and Afirkwi in the previous few days re-affirm by their action that , “violence is wrong that we can live in peace, that peace works, that peace is possible, indeed that peace is the only way for the human family to live and survive.” (Dennis, 2018). The two leaders have recognized that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (Madison, 1795). Both countries cannot regain what they lost in war, but they can avoid more losses by refusing to adopt the culture of war and violence. Precious lives were cut short in the conflict of the last two decades putting families and communities in pain and sadness.
The two leaders by this act are chatting a new path for Africa and the global community. They teach us to embrace nonviolence initiative as a way of life. This is a unique moment in African history. A moment to reawaken the consciousness that peace is about dealing with our differences in a nonviolent manner as ‘build bridges, fight our fears and pursue a style of dialogue that is open and sincere seeking the good of all citizens” (Francis, 2015). This special moment invites African leaders, stakeholders and all people of good will to see from the lens of John Paul 11 that, “war is a lie….because it destroys what it says it wants to defend”(John Paul 11, 2002). For two decades, war has lied to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and by their noble gesture, Ahmed and Afwerki say no to the lies war.
What if we say no to the lies of war and conflict in other parts of Africa where millions of our people have lost their lives? How many lives do we defend by killing our people? How can we not see the pain of the child whose ribs can be counted because of the lies of war? How can we not know the agony of the woman who walks hundreds of miles with her children and loads on her head in search of shelter and peace because of the lies of war? How can we not feel the tears of the young girl who has been raped and violated many times because of the myths of war? How can we not see the lies of war in the child soldier who has been forced to carry the gun, kill and be traumatized all his life? How can we not see the destruction of Africa with our own hands at this time? A friend of mine from Ethiopia told me last Monday that he cried when he saw how the people of Eritrea came out to the streets to receive this good news of peace. He said to me, ‘the common man does want war, war is designed by the arrogance and interest of the elites’. It is evident that, “for much too long, powerful people and political decision-makers have been promoting a paradigm that justifies enormous loss of human life and widespread destruction of the planet in pursuit of an elusive peace, false security, national geopolitical interests and tremendous profit for few people and companies”(Dennis, 2018). The poor people in Africa ask our leaders for just a peaceful environment as they struggle to survive.
African elites who have become conflict entrepreneurs ought to listen to the voices of citizens as we saw in Eritrea and Ethiopia this last week. African elites need to see in the action of Abiy and Afwerki a call to embrace ‘active nonviolent action’ as a tool for social change and African transformation. A peaceful environment where justice and dignity of all are upheld enlarges people’s freedom and choices. The poor citizens in Africa are mostly affected devastatingly by wars, not the elites. African political leaders and elites need to appreciate that peace starts from within just as these two leaders have shown. The goodwill, the resolve, the process and implementation ought to begin from within not neglecting external contributions.
Is the world listening to these two voices from the Horn of Africa? .Because we do not hear the sounds of bombs and guns in the Horn of Africa, the view of peace echoed by these two leaders may be ignored. Gestures such as the two leaders made this last week must be encouraged in Africa as effort must be made stop supplying arms to Africa thereby reducing African citizens to objects for money making by transnational companies and their governments. Arms and we open of war do not build peace. Disarmament should be encouraged and promoted by local and global policymakers. Are the warmongers and those who specialize in increasing military spending, building and bragging for nuclear weapons armament listening to these two leaders? Are governments, global and regional regimes, transnational co-operation who see Africa as a money making a machine for weapon transaction listening to these voices re-affirming that we spend much less to build peace than to embark on war?
What if we choose peace and promote the path to nonviolence as Abiy and Afwerki have demonstrated? The action of these two leaders is at the core of the Nonviolence initiative of Pax Christi International encapsulated in the understanding that various forms of violence at the cultural, structural, systemic levels that affect interpersonal, social and international relationships can be transformed without resorting to violent means (Dennis, 2018). What we witnessed from the two leaders is a statement that says no to more than two decades of war as a means of addressing differences. They have seen that “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence,nor repressions which serve as the mainstay for a false civil order”(Paul VI, 1968)
Our hope is that the step initiated by these two leaders and all people of goodwill restores peace in the Horn of Africa. The global community is urged to embrace the ‘Nonviolence Initiative’ of Pax Christi International, make it a lived experience and approach for sustainable peace because war no matter how just it looks is always “a defeat of humanity” (Francis, 2013). It is the position of nonviolence initiative of Pax Christ that extraordinary steps such as the one taken by Abiy and Afwerki can heal and reconcile peoples and the planet more than any weapon war of war. Battle defeats us. War diminishes us and questions our moral fabric.
*Rev. Fr. Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Howard University in Washington DC.
Chad: Austerity measures killing students’ dreams and ambitions
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Balkissa Ide Siddo*
The wind blew and coloured the landscape in dusk-like orange as we settled to meet with a group of university students under a neem tree in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
It was about 5.30PM. My colleague and I were part-way through a field mission to investigate the devastating impact of government-mandated austerity measures on ordinary people, and we were eager to hear from some of the many students whose bright futures were now in doubt.
16 public university students from different parts of the country had gathered to discuss, to describe to us the financial hardships they have faced since the government decided in August 2016 to scrap the US$53 (XAF 28,000) monthly scholarships for all students, except for those enrolled in medical schools, at vocational universities or studying abroad.
After an introduction about the objectives of the meeting, one of the students stood up and set the tone:
“These decisions are unfair and contradictory to the authorities’ claim according to which education is a key priority […]. They did not consult us,” he said.
“They said they will reinvest the money saved (from cancelling the scholarships) to improve our study conditions through the university student welfare centre… Nothing was done. Our study conditions are dire. Did you visit the Toukra University? We don’t have electricity it’s been over a year now and water on the campus is scarce […]. When we protested against the decision, we were beaten up, arrested and some of us were imprisoned”.
One by one, the students took turn to speak. We listened to their disappointment and sometimes anger over the austerity measures that have sparked numerous protests over the past two years. Even the wind calmed down, as if lending an ear to their testimonies.
Many scholarships scrapped
Besides healthcare, education has been a major casualty of the government’s severe spending cuts. Almost one third of all higher education students in Chad have been affected by the government’s abolition of the monthly scholarships. This is especially crippling for students from marginalized communities such as those from rural areas and poor family backgrounds.
Most of the students that spoke to us under the neem tree come from rural areas and used their scholarships to pay their rent, food, transportation to the university and other bills. Now that these have been scrapped, many students are finding themselves in a dire situation.
“I have six months’ rent arrears and I do not know where to go for support,” said Bachir, and orphan whose family live in a village.
“Before, I used the scholarship – even though it came late – to pay my rent and other needs. Now it doesn’t exist. Since it was cancelled by the authorities, I don’t know what to do.”
Jobs are scarce in Chad
Some of the luckier students have been able to find jobs as security guards, selling cellphone credit cards or driving motorcycle taxis. But then they struggle to combine work and study, with the majority too often forced to miss classes to earn a little more to make ends meet.
Officials from the Ministry of Higher Education have told us that they plan to reintroduce scholarships for disadvantaged students and to increase the budget of the student’s welfare centre to improve study conditions, but they admitted that none of this had happened and could not confirm when it would.
Piling on further misery – increasing registration fees
In October 2017, the authorities made students’ lives even more difficult by doubling the registration fees for public universities – except for students at medical and vocational schools. A new student now has to pay US$94 to enrol (XAF 50,000). A new re-registration fee was introduced for returning students who must now pay US$53 (XAF 28,000) to continue their studies. Previously, re-registration fees were subsidized by the government.
These higher fees have made it even more difficult for students to pay for their courses and their bills. Most of the 16 students we met told us they feared not being able to continue their studies.
They particularly worried about their friends from rural areas and poorer backgrounds because this new measure would stop people from embarking on the path to higher education, denying them a better future.
Peaceful protests are met with violence and prison
In protest at the negative impact the government’s austerity cuts have had on their lives and hopes of academic success, many students have taken to the streets in peaceful demonstrations. On several occasions they faced police violence, beatings, and arrests and in some cases imprisonment. Three of them and a 21-year old high school student who joined our discussion later, were arrested and sentenced to prison after taking part in protests against the impact of austerity measures on education.
From January to March 2018, Amnesty International has documented the arrest of at least 150 people for “engaging in unauthorized protests” and “public disorder”. The majority of those arrested were students, at least 42 of them were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to four months.
There is a different way
Instead of using measures that are hitting some of the poorest hardest whether in the education or health sector, the Chadian government should look for alternative ways of balancing their budget. Closing tax loopholes and tackling corruption would have been not just fairer but more effective options in addressing the revenue gap. According to the IMF, Chad lost US$1.09 billion to tax evasion in 2013. This amount is nearly double the country’s total education and health care spending in the same year, which was US$555 million before cuts were applied.
Keeping promises and meeting legal obligations
I can’t help but think about what President Idriss Deby Itno said during the global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar in February 2018. Referring to poverty, underdevelopment, conflict and terrorism, President Itno said: “The only sure way to combat these scourges in a sustainable way is to ensure that all children, including the most marginalized, have a good education.”
During the same summit, he also announced that the Chadian government is committed and determined to increase the share of the national budget for education to 20 per cent of the national budget by 2020.
After nightfall, we left the group of students after a few words of encouragement. On our way back to our hotel, my colleague and I were silent. One question remained in my mind: Will the commitment made by President Idriss Deby Itno during the 2018 global Partnership for Education Financing Conference be a reality one day for all these Chadian students yearning for accessible quality education and a better future?
It’s in the hands of the authorities to improve the prospects of all young people in the country.
As a start the authorities need to carry out an assessment of the impact of austerity measures on the rights of Chadian people to access education and other sectors such as health and social services. Such an assessment should be used to guide the law and policy reform needed to ensure that Chad meets its legal obligations to guarantee that everybody has the opportunity to enjoy their economic and social rights.
On 16 July, Amnesty International launched a report to highlight the consequences of the austerity measures on the population’s economic, social and cultural rights.
*Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International Central Africa Researcher
NEMA And Maihaja’s Triumph Over Distractions
July 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Olu Ajayi*
There are certain public offices in Nigeria, which are focal, sensitive and indispensable to the responsible functionality of Nigeria as a nation. The welfare of the citizenry is a cardinal principle of state enshrined in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land and every leader abides by it.
Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (6)
July 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Solomon Ngu*
In my last article I focused on the Amba Fighters – how they are perceived as freedom fighters ready to take bullets for their people (https://www.panafricanvisions.com/2018/life-war-zone-30-days-ambazoniaanglophone-cameroon-5/). We must understand their activities as part of the Anglophone project to de–Francophonize Ambazonia. They are of a generation that is hostile to all forms of tyranny. And anyone who stands on their way, be s/he armed or not, is treated as an obstacle to freedom. We are now caught in a scenario where the government no longer has monopoly to discipline bodies or openly inflict pain on people through the gun. This dramatic change within the past nine months has seen disenchanted youths fighting what they see as occupational forces (https://www.panafricanvisions.com/2018/life-war-zone-30-days-ambazoniaanglophone-cameroon-4/). Their resistance is part of the greater project of making Ambazonia ungovernable. In this post I take a look at Ghost Town, a passive resistance method that was unthinkable just two years ago. This is framed within a context where the government and its gluttonous Anglophone elite have lost legitimacy at the grassroots in the Southern Cameroons.
After the police brutalized protesting lawyers and teachers in late 2016, there were calls, primarily on social media, for Anglophones to demonstrate solidarity with the protesters. Anti-Francophonization demonstrations on the streets had become dangerous – people were dragged in mud, others were shot, university girls were raped, some youths were arrested, etc. I can remember a Facebook group calling for people to stand with Anglophone teachers. It was within this context that Ghost Town emerged as a more practical and collective offline protest at the ways in which the Anglophones leaders were manhandled. By this passive resistance, it was meant no economic activity took place on a day that was designated for the Ghost Town. All businesses remained closed. By 2017, Monday had become the official Ghost Town day. It is now called contri Sunday (native Sunday). In addition to this, all official or national days are assigned Ghost Town status, meaning people in the Anglophone zone are not expected to participate in celebrating whatever is celebrated in Cameroun such as the Youth and National Days. Some of the Ghost Towns – particularly those referred to as mami wata Ghost Town – have been so tense that state employees simply do not turn up for work.
At the early stages of the resistance, the government and local councils responded to these developments by intimidating citizens, informing them that whoever observed the Ghost Towns would be punished. Patrick Ekema, the Mayor of Buea, threatened to shut down or fine shops that observed Ghost Town, that is, shops rented out to shopkeepers by his Council. Frustrated that the citizens were exercising this passive resistance, the government threatened to punish parents who didn’t send their children to school. Parents ridiculed the government, saying they stood to lose if their children were harmed; the people knew the government would not protect them, their children or property if they were to resist the call for Ghost Town. They had lost trust in the government, so to speak.
It was time for the government to gamble on another strategy that had hitherto worked in most instances. It sent Anglophone elite to act as mediators and quite a lot of them spoke of the need for the people to stop the passive resistance. But the government failed to know that these French Cameroun-based individuals have lost legitimacy among their people. Anglophones have been questioning the dishonest elite for a long time; they are perceived as thieves, as swindlers who do not account to the villagers what they do with investment money handed over to them by the government. This question is asked within a wider concern as to why the elite collaborate in the Francophonization of Ambazonia.
In any case, those who have failed to observe Ghost Towns have been treated unkindly; the shops, cars, motorbikes and schools (just to name a few) of defaulters have been torched by the population. And the government has not been able to do nothing about it. This aside, those elite that have sided with the government and those who have urged the villagers to denounce the passive resistance now find themselves in uncomfortable situation. Some of them have been told they are not welcome in their villages. And the youths delivering these bans have not spared those elite who ignore the injunctions. A few collaborators of the regime in power have been caught, stripped naked and humiliated. Unfortunately, some have been tortured. These are all recorded and shared on social media. Basically, these elites have been told that they can no longer speak for the people of Ambazonia. And it doesn’t bother the Francophone government that these tokenistic elites aren’t representing the people.
By and large, the militarization of Anglophone Cameroon has had as specific aim of protecting French and Francophone investments and system of oppression. This means the military is there to provide a secure environment for the French and Francophones to exploit resources in Southern Cameroons. The oppressed are by the military intimidation told their attempts to oppose oppression is futile in the face of heavily armed government troops. Now, come to think of Ghost Town operating in a militarized zone. La Republique du Cameroun conceives power mainly in terms of brute force and this would require that the police/military is physically present to enforce discipline. In this sense, citizens respond to authority only out of fear of physical or psychological injury that could be brought to bear on those who resist the Francophonization of Ambazonia. This is unlike in Ghost Towns where citizens respond to calls from physically-absent leaders, some of whom are only imaginary.
While in Bamenda in mid-April 2018, I realized that people observed Ghost Town more rigorously as compared to Buea. All businesses were closed, the streets were scanty and only a few transport services were operational within the city. I could not leave the city before evening because of the Ghost Town. On our way back to Buea that evening we passed through high security military control on the Anglophone site of the country. The darkness was terrifying. We stopped, descended from the bus, showed our identity cards and then trekked for about 150 meters before getting back into the bus. The frightened military police had their guns pointed and were perhaps ready to shoot.
One would expect the government to be in total control in parts of the country that are militarized. And being in control here would entail among other things, guaranteeing the running of daily activities in a direction the government wishes. This could be either out of fear or respect. It could even be both. But the passive resistance in Ambazonia has proven that brute force does not necessarily make people to conform, fix or adjust themselves to an oppressive condition. The oppressor can use the gun to control people if s/he can find them, if the people are within spaces where the oppressor can control. But if the oppressor can’t access people within controllable spaces, the gun and its frightful sight, (powerful as it is), is just what it is: a potential object of repression.
When you are on the ground in Cameroon, you quickly realize that threats from the government, elite and local authorities are taken less seriously nowadays in the Anglophone region. Even after the government disconnected the internet and threatened to send to jail anyone posting information/images related to the war, Ambazonians still update the world about the ongoing war. Anglophones are by this passive resistance signaling that they are ready to use any means to fight oppression. To engage in Ghost Town would mean people are ready to sacrifice – willingly or by force – their present economic benefits in view of a better life in the future.
Lest anyone interpret this article as glorifying the suffering of the oppressed in a war zone; it is more about their resilience and courage in the face of a calamity!
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues
Un Agent Partnerships Strive To Save Women, Children , Populations At The Receiving End Of Poverty ,And Vulnerability For Human Development In Zimbabwe.
July 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu.
The United Nations Population Fund has over the past couple of years made great strides in supporting humanitarian programs in maternal health, family planning, sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence and HIV and AIDS .United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] gives support in these thematic areas in order to bring back home open space for Health well-being. This is for social status improvement, capacity building for knowledge indoctrination, and advocacy for community development.
One successful results based area of their focus is Family Planning . It has over the years shown improvements in delivering World low and steady population growth .It is campaigned for so as to match the 7billion World population with available resources. Family planning and Sexual Reproductive Health advance women and the girl child to have personal moral choices concerning their rights as related to sex and sexuality and parenthood .
Maternal Health is for safe motherhood as women receive professional medical and nursing care during delivery .Gender based violence brings gender equality, equity and socio-economic balance between men and women to combat HIV and AIDS and opportunistic infectious disease, Tuberculosis prevalence rates.
On a deep note in gender analysis of the above mentioned, 80 percent of women bear the brunt of challenges related to Maternal health linked to complications at giving birth, sexual abuse and the contraction of HIV and AIDS. It is a true fact that women are on the receiving end as they are most affected and disadvantaged according to the survey done by ZIMSTAT.
On the core of the survey, Maternal Health is an area which contemporarily needs first professional attention. Poor maternal health standards lead to maternal mortality. Maternal Mortality according to the survey has declined to 651 per 100 000 live births from 960 per 100 000 live births since 2010.
According to Experts in Health, this is still unacceptably high and far from the Ministry of Health and Child Care 2020 target of 326 per 100 000 live births. Another survey reported an increase in skilled birth attendance at delivery from 66,2 percent to 78 percent while women attending at least 4 or more Antenatal care visits increased from 64,8percent in the last survey to 75,7percent. Maternal health is concerned with the giving birth of women receiving antenatal care for safe motherhood.
United Nations Population Fund Representative in Zimbabwe, Esther Muia sidelines with such surveys which are a long way in solving complications which are mainly met by women especially during the time of giving birth. Secondly, women become aware of their rights, choices and they gain knowledge on planning families, raising children, curbing HIV and Aids.
The Representative said the work on Zimbabwe Demography and Health Survey helps at global level in giving information in various areas . It is vital to find solutions to problems and therefore formulate development policies and programs at national level.
”Such surveys help inform our work as they provide reliable and timely data that can help Zimbabwe in the formulation of development policies and programs. Although there is a decline in maternal mortality to 651 per 100,000 live births from 960 per 100,000live births in 2010, this is still unacceptably high and far from the Ministry of Health 2020 TARGET of 326”, she said
Women remain on the receiving side as they are a bit higher affected by areas of other surveys taken, which are like the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, Gender based violence, Family planning, HIV and AIDS. Facing a chain of these challenges, women are bent bore heading towards fighting to bring change through the assistance of UN families.
Some of these UN Agencies are UN Women for Women empowerment and gender equity and equality, UNICEF for child rights and educational resource support, and UNDP for HUMANITARIAN DEVELOPMENT projects to advance the above mentioned. Also relevant in funding are Non-Governmental Organizations , USAID , PEPFAR , DFID and countries , USA and UK which work in other areas of development
Survey findings snap glean of information that, nearly one third of the deaths among women 20-24 years are maternal health related. Skilled Birth Attendance at delivery is moving well, to achieve the 2020 target of 90 percent of women undergoing for ANTI NATAL CARE visits.
This is manifested by factors which show that health profession literacy is growing every day in the country. Secondly, increase of health care service clinics and increase in medical equipment supply is vital. Evidence is that nearly 99,9percent of women with tertiary education give birth with a skilled provider and only half of the non -educated, 49,7 percent do not .
ZIMBABWE did better on the Millennium Development Goals number 4 and 5 on child mortality and , maternal Health , goal 3 , gender equality and women empowerment and goal 6 on HIV and Aids. The United Nations is now focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were launched in 2015. .
On Sexual and Reproductive health, Adolescent fertility remains high among young girls 15—19 years old. This calls for several interventions which UNFPA must put forward in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies while girls are still in school. These above all range from working on policies to do with sexual and reproductive health education in schools which goes deep into SEX AND SEXUALITY, HIV and AIDS, Care and COUNSELLING. Nearly 1 in 10 adolescent girls gives birth every year .This calls for further adolescent lessons which goes well with, advocacy, awareness and capacity building in young people .
Abstaining sex of adolescents leeway them into priority areas to forward their education. According to this writer’s research findings, adolescents who indulge in sex at an early age get affected by Reproductive Tract Infections like obstetric fistula, a human biological abnormality which causes sterility, late pregnancy and complicates birth.
Eclampsia which is a condition linked to severe high blood pressure which can lead to the neo-natal’s death is one of the biological problem in adolescence who get pregnant. Cephalo – pelvic disproportion is another complication which affects young girls in early birth life when the size of the baby does not correspond with the size of the pelvis.
Under such circumstances women go through caesarian operation. Sometimes long term problems in young women takes place especially during puberty that is when they indulge in sex with men who have records of sexual transmitted infections like Syphilis and HIV opportunistic infections like tuberculosis. .Today according to UNFPA , ADOLESCENTS in total population clocks 1 billion worldwide . It is time to challenge family planning health providers , discuss on sex and sexuality and to look at Sexual and Reproductive Health .
Commenting on fertility and family planning, Lovejoy Gamba of Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, said teenage pregnancy has dropped in urban areas not in rural areas. She cited that, this is mainly because of education on contraceptive use and availability of numerous youth friendly resource centers in urban area. Secondly access to various media on health issues. HIV and Aids and sexual and reproductive health education media disseminate a lot on the effects mentioned above.
‘’I think we haven’t done well in the rural areas where teenage pregnancies records are high. It tells that Reproductive health education has gone broad in urban areas where young girls and women experience the bite of economic life hardships. Like you, really know, Non – Governmental organizations and health facilities are more in urban areas.
It is the spread of information on effects of HIV related opportunistic infections like tuberculosis which turn away many people from unprotected sex. Condoms and family planning methods continue playing a crucial role, protecting young girls and women from sexual transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and HIV’’, she said.
‘’The other point might be that women and young girls have resorted to these services because of reasons related to economic global liquidity crunch. Some reasons are related to the spread of family planning education and subsequently planned parenthood and the need to bear children less in number, who they can afford to take care of at a time employment opportunities are scarce in an economically dynamic world .’’ she concluded . HIV and Sexual Reproductive Health findings revealed 50 percent increase in testing last year for both men and women. Giving a presentation on the sideline of HIV knowledge, circumcision and domestic violence, Maqhawe Ndlovu of ZIMSTAT said increase in HIV testing is explained by the successful rollout of the prevention of mother to child transmission program in both rural and urban settings. For men he talked of the HIV testing in the voluntary medical male circumcision program.
Ndlovu explained that 14percent of young men have gone for circumcision program shouldered with faith that circumcision reduces chances of HIV infection by almost 60% . Circumcision protects from the spread of cancer in both partners. Lastly it protects men from cancer of the penis.
‘‘The increase in HIV testing contributes to HIV prevalent rate decrease and teaches on behavior change and abstinence from unprotected sexual intercourse,. The prevention of mother to child transmission , abstinence ,circumcision , voluntary testing and counseling and the increase in condom use contributes to HIV prevalence rate decrease ‘’.
Ndlovu pointed out as well that the survey came up with information that 84percent women use condoms and 88percent are men. The two figures show massive spread of information on HIV and AIDS. He stressed that the percentage of women who had experienced violence had decreased from 18, 4 percent in 2010 to 14,5percent in2015.
Domestic violence prevention contributes to the reduction in HIV spread. As long as the domestic violence act works as it is , marital violence decrease , this indicating decrease in HIV spread as women and men become aware of implications behind .
Over the past decades , women almost 60percent succumbed to sexual , physical and economic abuse because of lack of education related to the law and mostly cultural and traditional values which ruled in marital families and relationships .These values supported male chauvinism and sexism which ruthlessly ruled over women freedom and emancipation .
It is a long journey taken through a narrow path in winning most of these goals. In effort investment to achieve the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, strives to achieve goals on child health and nutrition, an area of parental care of which mothers centre their concerns on.
Presenting on this topic, Grace Chaora of ZIMSTAT elucidated that slight changes have been recorded but still we need effort to win on some areas. She talked of infant mortality which is 50 deaths in 100, 000 births. Infant mortality is the number of babies born, who die before their 1st birthday , child mortality before 5 years. Neonatal, born babies die before 1 month. In Zimbabwe it is 29 deaths per 100, 000 births.
Maternal mortality remains a little bit high in developing countries. In Zimbabwe as of 2015, it is 651 deaths per 100,000 births from 930 death. As compared to the developed world, it is 4 deaths in 100,000 births .In order for the developing world to be on the same level with the developed world, there is need to scale up maternal programs, to reduce complications at birth and give provision of quality and professional services at birth.
On Breastfeeding, Grace Chaora presented a paper stating that 2percent of babies under 6 months were no longer breastfeeding, 48percent were on Exclusive Breastfeeding, 28Percent were given foods below 6months and 22percent were on water and bottled milk. She indicated on the issue of Anaemia suffered by 37 Percent, mostly children under 24 months.
‘’Increase in morbidity death is caused by Anaemia and stunting in children , which refers to lack of sufficient diet in children especially those in developing countries . Although mothers can be HIV positive , the first 6 months , they are encouraged to do exclusive breast feeding , meaning feeding a baby with mother milk only , but still mothers need more education on breastfeeding since these days they can breastfeed to 2 years’’, she said
Mother’s milk remains best for babies since it contains maternal oxytocin and docosahaenic acid which keeps babies health and alive. Mother’s milk contains proteins which build up on bones and keeps the baby strong thereby scaring away stunting which is at 13 percent in Zimbabwe. Breastfed babies are health, buxom, smart, and lovely and disease free.
Stunting is of serious effects in babies in terms of their health. It is defined as loss in weight caused by lack of milk suitable for babies as they grow up . GRACE CHAORA also touched on BCG VACCINATION which she said is 90 percent, polio 89 percent health service provision in Zimbabwe.
According to the UNFPA country representative, support for the survey came from partners like United States Agency For International Development [USAID] , United Nations Development Program [UNDP] , United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] , the United Kingdom Department For International Development , Irish Aid, Royal Danish Embassy , the Australian Agency For International Development [AUSAID] , European Union [EU] and the Government of Sweden.
*Nevson Mpofu Is A Long Standing Award Winning Published Writer. He Is Currently Working On His Value Chain Education Project …email-Nmnevsonmpofu755@Gmail.Com
Forces in the current power struggle in Nigeria
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Edwin Madunagu*
Although participation in “bourgeois politics”—as we used to call electoral politics—has never been absent from the Nigerian Left’s general programme, it has also not been made a “categorical imperative”. I am, however, now persuaded that it has become generally accepted in the ranks of contemporary Nigerian Leftists that intervention and participation in the country’s electoral struggle—for office or for power, as an organized political force and in alliance or acting separately—have become both categorical and urgent. The following notes are offered as a searchlight in support of this anticipated revised programme of the Nigerian Left. The Left should see the political terrain more clearly.
The contradictions highlighted may assist the Left in deciding on alliances if that political strategy favourably suggests itself. But the Left should, first of all, construct a serious and viable organization and develop a people’s manifesto. My notes will be presented in three steps.
Step One: Unity and disunity in Nigeria’s ruling class: A proposition I made in a recent piece, Movements of Nigeria’s ruling class (June 1, 2018), goes like this: “Nigeria’s ruling class is characterized by this duality: On the one hand, as a national ruling class, it is fundamentally united by capitalism (as dominant mode of production) and capitalist rules and logic (which unite and run the entire economy). On the other hand, the class is divided by many things: history, places and roles in the economy, primitive/primary accumulation of capital, ethnicity, regionalism, religion, culture, etc.” I may add that the class is also divided—at a secondary level—by differences in education, exposure and personal development.
It is because the ruling class is united that it is able to enforce, protect and defend its collective interests against the interests of other classes and strata, and be able to close ranks at critical times when its rule, as class rule, is challenged. We may look at just two illustrations. Why has the National Assembly, which has been engaged in so many civil wars, not been able to engage in a serious debate on its scandalous emoluments since the birth of the Fourth Republic? And why has the Federal Executive Council or the Presidency not thought of reviewing the “contract system”—knowing full well that it is the biggest source of corruption and state robbery?
On the other hand, it is because the ruling class is disunited along the lines indicated above—and other lines—that it has, within its ranks, different political parties, factions of political parties, different “sociopolitical” and “sociocultural” groups, secret cults and fraternities, insurgent groups, elders’ and thought-leaders’ forums, criminal gangs, mafias, etc, etc.
The ruling class of Nigeria is engaged in two simultaneous struggles: one external and the other internal. The external struggle is the struggle against the other classes, groups and strata which the ruling class dominates and exploits. The internal struggle is the range of battles going on within the class between factions and groupings earlier listed. The president heads two fighting forces. He heads the ruling class in its fight against the oppressed; and he heads the hegemonic faction of the ruling class against the other factions. If he loses one of the two positions, or both positions, he may still remain in office, but not in power.
Step Two: Nature of politics and power struggle: Let us define a social formation as a “society or social structure at any level (such as a nation, city, business, university or even a family) with all its complexities (economic, political and ideological relations) as it is historically constituted.” Nigeria is a social formation. And this social formation is called capitalist not because capitalist relations of production are the only relations in the economy. No. There can be, as in Nigeria, several pre-capitalist and non-capitalist modes of production in an economy designated as capitalist. Nigeria is called capitalist not only because the capitalist mode of production dominates in the economy, but also because the logic and rules of capitalist exploitation govern the administration, reproduction and development of Nigeria as a social formation.
The main proposition here is that politics is played and political power struggles are waged “holistically” at the level of the social formation—as different from other forms of struggles (economic, ideological, cultural, etc), which are waged at “sectoral levels”. For instance: a party of the ruling class does not address only members of its class when campaigning for votes. It addresses the social formation.
Similarly, a revolutionary socialist party should not address only the toiling and working masses— although these are in overwhelming majority. It must address all classes and groups including the oppressors and exploiters— because it aspires to rule over and transform society as a whole—for the good of all.
The language of politics is therefore different from that of economic struggle. For instance: The language of labour disputes—which accept the fact of capitalist ownership—should be different from the language of disputes over factory ownership! Similarly, the language of minimum wage struggles should be different from the language of struggles to occupy Aso Rock and determine labour policies!
Step Three: Forces in Nigeria’s current power struggle. This third and final step consists of applications of the preceding steps to the current political battles. We may first look at the ruling class parties, properly so called. They include, in the main, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the newly energized African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Of these five political formations, the first two (APC and PDP) are nation-wide in spread; they are stronger than the others; and the balance of power within each of them reflects the balance of power within the ruling class as a whole. In other words, each of APC and PDP, though national, has centres of gravity—like the ruling class itself. APGA is limited geopolitically by history and current practice. SDP and ADC aspire to be like APC and PDP in geopolitical spread. From the point of view of the Left, the only concrete difference between these five thoroughly capitalist formations is in their positions on the “national question”, specifically “federalism” and “restructuring”.
One particular point in the preceding paragraph should be lifted and underlined. And this is the fact that each of APC and PDP—and perhaps, SDP and ADC in the future—reflects the unity and disunity (that is the contradictions) in the country’s ruling class (as described in Step One). So, when a particular national political question, such as “federalism and restructuring”, is raised, one discovers contradictions in both APC and PDP: while some segments in each party say they are categorically committed to it (with details still unclear), others are ambivalent. The balance of forces in each of the two parties today is not a categorical commitment to “true federalism” and “restructuring”.
What is the place and role of the Nigerian Left in this survey of political forces? Are they irrelevant to the power struggle? Are they external to it? In response we may paraphrase a passage from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution (1932). It goes like this: “Without a guiding organization, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a pistonbox. Nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam”.
In its 75-year history, the Nigerian Left has had tremendous impact not only among the working and toiling masses and the “wretched of the earth”, but across the social formation and in the country’s political process. But that impact has been dissipated like steam not enclosed in a pistonbox!
*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.
Zimbabwe:Mahatma Gandhi, Civil Society And The Media, The Influential Voice Behind Total Emancipation Of Women
June 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Great living words by India’s founding Father Mahatma Gandhi leave a bone to chew for women of the World as Zimbabwe’s elections are close by .It is their time to amplify their voices to yearn for their change and to learn from other countries and exchange experiences. This is time for Representative, Participatory and Liberal Democracy to work for women. The true observation is that women always need a start kick in voice before they call in their concerns.
Mahatma Gandhi of India who stood for women rights and emancipation left a quotation of influence as he encouraged women to stand up and voice their concerns.
‘’Women be the change you want to see in this World’’.
Their move towards total equality with men leads to achievement of Sustainable Development Goals .However, way to their total equality with men is still long a way to go since there are some policy gaps they need to soil up , unite and bind a social cohesion to wrestle feministic development challenges .This is where United Nations Women and civil society , NGO’s comes in .
According to the Gender and Media Connect of Zimbabwe, Gender Expert, Abigail Gamanya , civil society strategizes and opens the way for women programs of which media amplifies the voices in crescendo .
‘’Let us not forget its Media and Civil society voices of collective action which emancipate women .It starts with civil society way-forward in community action then follows Media voices in Information dissemination like on sexual abuse and violation of women at marital level, at the work place and across all streams of gender crossings in what is called Gender mainstreaming.
‘’At the same time, violation of female Journalists rights is still rife. We need to create gender safety in media houses .Let us create a fair playing field between men and women. Also women must avoid the dependency on male counterparts at work’.
‘’All lies on policies at work place to address this. If this is not addressed, women’s Human Rights are trodden underground and this leaves them vulnerable, disadvantaged and they get exposed to other forms of abuse.
‘’That is the reason why we have International protocols like the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration for Human Rights , the Covenant on Social Economic and Cultural Rights of 1966 of which signatory countries borrow a craft of their Laws from ‘’, expounded ,Abigail . .
Several International protocols have rescued women of the World without prejudice. Every one counts according to the Universal Declaration for Human Rights of 1948 .It is beyond doubt that Governments of the World have tirelessly worked harder than before to pave way for International protocols work in their respective countries in order for these countries to craft their Legislations and policies .
Zimbabwe as signatory to the UN has made great strides to come up with Laws which at most protect women. Good examples are the Domestic Violence Act, the Equal Salaries Act , Laws on Children and women , on Media freedom and those on Inheritance and sexual abuse .In doing the work tirelessly, it hooked several Non- Governmental Organizations to do their Humanitarian work following those International protocols .
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women[CEDAW] of 1979 in the decade for women 1970 to 1980 pushed countries of the World to weave and craft policies and Legislation endorsed through their Justice Ministries and Parliaments .
A strong push to women’s freedom and equality came with force after the Beijing Declaration for Action of 1995 in Beijing , China .Women have made it through hardships in their long journey to emancipation . .
Despite the fact that they have achieved in equality at some angles in search of their rights, there is need for Governments and Non -Governmental Organizations to remove stint in a stink, to light the way further for Universal emancipation of all Human beings.
In strengthening and fortifying Universal gender equity and equality, removing forms of sexual abuse and violation of human rights and promoting frameworks for Human Rights, Gender Media Connect is following footprints of Mahatma Gandhi and Civil Society to combat sexual harassment at the workplace so as to promote Female Journalists Rights and Gender safety.
Gender Media Connect cherish the equality of men and women at work place , combat sexual harassment through information dissemination with training of all Journalists regardless of media house and sex . Gender Media Connect is building heavy structures of the organization, firstly through the recognition of female Journalists rights in all Media houses, where sometimes female journalists face challenges related to sexual harassment and violation of their rights.
‘’As an organization, we are obliged to create space for Human Rights recognition of all Journalists’’.
‘’My call is to encourage media houses create space for female journalists by desisting from sexual harassment and violation at the workplace by men.
‘’It is everywhere, it applies at all work places, where women can face challenges related to sexual harassment’’, she said.
The SADC protocol on Gender works in the Region to promote Gender equality in families, at work place and where women strive to achieve their determined goals. Its BAROMETER monitors Gender equality and equity .In Parliament women must also have equal seats with men. The call is 50——50 Seats.
Another Gender and Media Expert, Patience Zirima comments on women represantation as still low . Much is needed to be done to raise their voices in the next elections so that they can get Parliamentary representation although they are not part of Presidium contestants.
‘’Women under representation is still low in the News rooms and Parliament as low as 27% in Democratic Republic of Congo ,Angola ,Namibia ,South Africa ,Mozambique and Malawi ’’ .
‘’Women need open space and an environment at work in which they are safe. They need room in decision making in order for them enjoy full freedom. In fact those who brave to enter the field and succeeded, grappled with challenges, she said ‘’.
Gender Expert Fiona Magaya reiterated that Men top management is still high by almost 72% in the Region. Fiona attributes this to traditional values, social norms and culture .Gender imbalances are mostly perpetuated by some of these factors among them, gender stereotypes meaning how we perceive a human being according to sex, social and cultural belief long time borrowed from past, cultural belief that boy child does well than the female counterpart, he needs allocation of more resources than the girl.
‘’Women still have a long way to go . The long way is perpetuated by culture and tradition which we need to address to its bone , killing male chauvinism and patriarchy at all sectorial levels’’ , she said
‘’There is more to it that we are currently experiencing’’,,,, bounced in Susan Makore an ICT and Gender Expert. Her sentiments touched on Information Communication Technology as one modern challenge stepping in .
‘’The Digital shift in the Industry led to discrimination against female journalists who took it up slow to adapt to Technology. That is the main challenge as well. Thus why there were programs initiated to capacitate women on ICT issues and make grow their knowledge in the Region,’’.
According to Agness Kadzunge from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Work place discrimination affects women mainly; they are taken inferior, of low value, not quite able to push for change. This contributes to lower socio- economic status of women who sometimes end in psychological stress and end losing hope .This is mainly attributed to organizational culture and mixes more with the way people are brought up in a community.
‘’We need to work more on crafting other policies and Laws especially those focusing at workplace. Research is vital to fill gaps. Legislation, policies and regulations, thus the weapon that can bring sanity to any forms of inequality and discrimination’’
‘’As we focus strongly on this, multi- sectorial co-ordinated response and stakeholder involvement help us in coming up with strategies meant to address in-equalities.
‘’For Media, advocacy for gender sensitive and inclusive environment is crucial for gender equality. Women need more robust capacity building on some areas affecting them especially where tradition and culture is centered. Lastly, we need to close policy gaps and walk the new talk on Gender in a modern World ‘’, concluded the Acting Director in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
As food for thought, in every field women choose to enter, they can expect to earn less over lifetime than male counterparts. This means over 47 years of full time work. This gap amounts to an estimated loss in wages for women of US 700,000 for High School Graduates, US1,2 million for College graduates and US 2 million for Professional School Graduates . What a staggering amount.
3 YEARS LATER… AND YOU DIDN’T FAIL TO DISAPPOINT
May 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ephraim Adiele*
Happy Democracy Day, Mr. President
How are you, work and family?
Dear Sir, I have not been a fan of you as Nigeria’s president since you emerged as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 because I have done proper ground research and realized you have nothing good to offer. You were not an exemplary leader during your first stay as Head of State – You even overthrew a democratically elected government. You are not exactly a role model when it comes to being a businessman so I did not expect you to revolutionize the economy. So pardon my pessimism about your leadership skills (I was not wrong anyways)
My first draft of this open letter was quite lengthy and might have probably gotten me arrested because I was pretty pissed while I was writing and had a lot of things to say about how terrible your administration has been and the unimaginably horrible impact it has had on the Nigerian people as a whole. After writing for a while (about 1200 words) I stopped and realized I was ranting, then I realized I did not really need to analyze how bad your administration has been because Nigerians are feeling it and do not need an article reminding them of their very sorry condition. Asides that, I recall writing 3 different letters to your daughter, son and wife within the first year of your administration.
Then I remembered that fateful day – December 24, 2014 – when I was invited to Oriental Hotel, Lagos as part of a number of young leaders of thought to come and have audience with your then-Vice Presidential aspirant, Yemi Osinbajo. On that day, we were given the APC manifesto (which should be attached to this article) which I went through and laughed heartily because I realized that you and your party members really take Nigerians for fools (well, aren’t we?) by making promises that can never be fulfilled even in the next 20 years except a miraculous revolution occurs.
After I was handed the manifesto, I went through it and underlined several of those phantom promises which I knew will never be fulfilled. I will just list them here and probably just make a few additions later.
THE APC PROMISED THE FOLLOWING:
- “Within the first year of your administration, employ 740,000 (20,000 per state + FCT) young graduates in immediate employment and empowerment scheme.” – This promise was never fulfilled and this is already the 3rd year and no signs of this EVER happening.
- “After NYSC, we will pay graduates stipends for one year under a vocational scheme where they build entrepreneurial and work-readiness capacity.” – NYSC alumni… how market?
- “Create an additional middle class of at least 4 million new homeowners” – Please when and where is the next landlord meeting holding. I have to attend.
- “Provide free meals in school to drastically reduce the number of out of school children. Osun State provides free lunches and got its enrolment to 80%” – This was APC using Governor Rauf Aregbesola as an example! I’m stunned!
- “Targeting up to 20% of our annual budget for education.” – By my last check, only 7% of the 2018 budget was allocated for education.
- “Ban Medical Trips for government officials” – Yes, you read right! This same Buhari promised to ban medical trips to the abroad for government officials.
- “Tuition reimbursement for health workers willing to relocate to rural areas” – I know many of my friends in the medical field who would dive at this offer if ever it is made, but what do I know? “Buhari has fulfilled his campaign promises”
- “In different phases over 4 years, APC will make monthly direct cash transfer of N5,000 to the 25 million poorest citizens, if they immunize their children and enroll them in school” – Dear Mr President, I strongly believe I am among the 25 million poorest Nigerians and my children are immunized and in school, where can I join the queue to collect my N5k?
- “Generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24 hour basis … by 2019” – I will borrow the words of Mr President himself when he was talking about his friend, Olusegun Obasanjo, “Where is the power?”
- “Will guarantee the independence of EFCC and ICPC” – The same EFCC whose chairman was spotted wearing a Buhari re-election badge during a recent interview with Channels TV? Issokay!!!
In summary, a good look at the APC manifesto shows that the Presidency has failed woefully as regards fulfillment of its promises to Nigerians.
Asides the aforementioned, it is pertinent to note the following anomalies who have assumed order of the day since the President took oath of office.
Incessant killing of innocent villagers by herdsmen (Fulani or not), people are being killed and nothing is being done about it! Benue, Taraba, Plateau… name it!
Just before the election, I used to have discussions with my friends and they were all of the opinion that you were the savior Nigeria badly needed. I used to laugh and tell them you will do exactly what you have been doing and are still doing.
I would like to go on, but the point is clear, you proved no point to me, except that which I already knew before you won the 2015 election: You have no business being the President of Nigeria. I like you, but I don’t like you as the President of this country.
*Ephraim Adiele is a Media and Digital Marketing Specialist. Contact him on @baba_random on all social platforms
Why it is Vital For All African Countries to Sign The Free Trade Deal
May 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Ahmed Mheta
The African continent is home to approximately 1.2 billion people and growing everyday. The challenge for most African governments is maintaining sustainable development and growth. One of the best ways to achieving sustainable development and accelerated economic growth is the implementation of free trade as a vehicle to attaining economic integration throughout the continent. Free trade will increase the continent’s combined GDP which currently stands at above US$2.5 trillion.
African leaders agreed to meet in Rwanda allowing 44 nations to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. The agreement is the biggest trade deal since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. Like most impactful establishments, authorities still face challenges in getting the largest economies to sign the agreement. South Africa and Nigeria, two of the continent’s largest economies did not sign the trade deal stating that they need more time to consult with trade unions and businesses about potential risks. Some of the concerns the two giant economies have with the agreement are fear of displacement of communities and some industries closing due to competition from other regional businesses.
Benefits of the Trade Agreement
Despite potential risks, we should take into account the benefits that the agreement will offer to the continent. The deal will accelerate economic growth, improve sustainable development, allow customers to access a wide variety of goods from other nations at lower prices, promote cultural exchange and advancement of infrastructural projects. The benefits associated with the signing of the trade agreement will lead to creation of jobs and a single continental market for goods and services.
If all nations come together and sign the agreement, the continent’s combined GDP will most likely double or go way above the US$6 trillion mark.The gross domestic product(GDP) increases will largely be attributed to the increase of intra-trade on the continent and free movement of goods without high tariffs. For example, the continental trade deal will remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods allowing easy access to products while saving money.
The agreement will also encourage the free movement of people as well as the full implementation of a single continental passport. Once all nations have agreed to sign and participate, the establishment of a single continental currency is possible. The deal will encourage a culture of regional peace and understanding.
Despite the potential success of the agreement, leaders still have to address the challenges the continent will face. Solutions need to be formulated and adapted for each problem executives will encounter while trying to establish the deal successfully.
One of the main challenges leaders will face while implementing the agreement include the complex task of fostering cooperation among a multitude of national and regional economic actors with trade interests that will diverge at times. Another challenge officials have to deal with is the fear that enterprises will go out of business and the displacement of some communities. Officials believe the trade deal will encourage economic migrants to permanently settle in nations that have bigger economies posing a challenge to governments that are not prepared to deal with the potential influx of migrants.
Despite the challenges the continent will encounter, viable solutions should be implemented to facilitate the success of the trade agreement. The African Union has to persuade remaining countries to sign the deal by promoting a solution based approach to any challenge. For example, the union needs to provide enough resources to ensure the success of the agreement. Leaders need to establish a secretariat to coordinate the goals of the agreement and work closely with members of the union. Funding for infrastructure is important to ensure goods are transported efficiently and timely. Rail lines, ports, airports and roads must be further advanced so that goods are easily transported in and out of nations.
Leaders can set up a dispute resolution committee to solve arguments and differences that may derail progress. Creation of social policies that will assist citizens that might lose jobs due to increased competition from other regional businesses is important to ensure communities are intact. Governments will need to develop entrepreneurship programs that boost local businesses in a way that matches other regional enterprises. When continental trade begins at a large scale, the pricing of goods should be set and adjusted to meet the standards of other regional partners.
Many of you will agree with me that the benefits of establishing the trade agreement with full participation from all African nations, outweigh the challenges associated with achieving success. Future African generations as well as the whole world will benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. Leaders and lawmakers should do everything in their power to make this game changing economic move.
‘The educator must be educated’
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Edwin Madunagu*
This piece is a memo to the Nigerian Left. In an ideal situation, on account of the importance I attach to the subject, the document would have appeared, first, as an internal memo to an appropriate organ of the movement. For the same reason of importance, it would not have stopped at the organ or leadership level. The memo would have passed to the movement as a whole and, thereafter, to the public.
However, because the situation is not ideal—and this is the subject of the memo—I am moving directly to the public. The message in the memo comes at the end of the article. It is a short and direct one. I am therefore utilizing the available space to reflect on a related issue of general interest. The “related issue” supplies the title of the piece. And, “for the avoidance of doubt” and “for completeness”, I define the Nigerian Left in this historical epoch as the aggregate of Marxists, socialists and partisans of popular democracy.
Found in one of the “mountains” of papers, drafts and study notes left behind by Karl Marx at his death in 1883 was a rough document carrying a series of his critical observations on the works of the materialist philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach. The discovery was made by Marx’s life-long friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels. The latter considered the note important enough to be edited, titled and published post-humously as an article and later used for a larger publication. This post-humous article, written by Marx in Brussels in the first half of 1845, and published in 1888 by Engels, has been passed to history and to us as Theses on Feuerbach. In Engels’ view, the “note” which later became Theses on Feuerbach was “the first document in which is deposited the brilliant germ of a new world outlook”, that is, the Marxist theory of history and society. That is for interested students and researchers to examine.
It may interest Nigerian Leftists, progressives, patriots and radical democrats to know that I have also discovered important “theses” in the papers left behind by a number of our departed comrades and compatriots. I have drawn the attention of some comrades to this development. What is interesting in the latter discoveries is that the “theses” have now shed more light on some critical issues that were bitterly debated in the Nigerian Left some decades ago. Some of these issues had led to seemingly irreconcilable divisions and fights; others had led to frustrations, disillusionment, abandonment and premature retirement from struggle.
Back now to Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach. There are eleven of them, or rather, in my view, Engels and latter editors handed over Marx’s theses on Feuerbach to us in eleven segments of unequal lengths. Historically and in broad terms, Marx can be classified, along with Ludwig Feuerbach, as a “materialist” philosopher in contrast to “idealist” philosophers of whom the most famous and best known in Europe of Marx’s time was Hegel. Marx, a student of philosophy and history, started off as a radical or Left Hegelian.
From here he became a critic of Hegel and came under the influence of Feuerbach, a radical anti-Hegelian. It was in the course of confronting the “inadequacies” of Feuerbach that Marx formulated his “theses”. In these theses he called Feuerbach’s materialism the “old materialism” or “mechanical materialism” and his own “the new materialism”. The latter was later codified—after Marx’s death—as Marxist theory of history and society.
I consider three of Marx’s eleven theses on Feuerbach—the second, the third and the eleventh—as the most lucid and direct applications of dialectics to the study of history and society. The second thesis can be rendered as follows: “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory. It is a practical question. In practice, a human being must prove the truth, that is, the reality and power of his thinking. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking which is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question”.
The third thesis may be rendered like this: “The doctrine that human beings are products of circumstances and education and that, therefore, changed human beings are products of other circumstances and changed education forgets that the educator himself needs educating. That doctrine as presented by old materialism or contemplative materialism necessarily arrives at dividing society into two parts—one of which is superior to the other. That is not so. In reality the changing of circumstances and human activity coincide; and the coincidence can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice.”
The eleventh thesis is the most well-known and is often quoted by revolutionaries and reactionaries alike: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”. To these three theses we may add the following line from Marx’s The Holy Family written just before the Theses: “If a human being is formed by his/her circumstances, then his/her circumstances must be made human.”
We may now move to my message to the Nigerian Left—the main subject of this piece. The message resolves into seven propositions. The first is the “covering” proposition. It is general in nature. The other six are specific. One: There should be initiated in the Nigerian Left a process of internal criticism, education and correction. It should be a process that ends in an organizational leap. The process and the leap are now demanded more than ever before in our post-Civil War history. Two: The national situation in our country now strongly demands that the existing political groups, organisations and parties of the Nigerian Left—as well as unaffiliated Leftists— should combine to form a central political platform. Three: This platform should have a dual form: electoral and non-electoral.
The fourth proposition is this: Independently, Marxists within the Nigerian Left should establish an educational-ideological centre with the capacity for minimum continuity. Five: The centre should be appropriately allied to the political platform; and the two should support and nourish each other. Six: The Nigerian Left should articulate and publish a manifesto that goes beyond being a general presentation. The manifesto should take clear and precise positions on the burning questions of the time. Seven: If the Nigerian Left cannot meet these elementary conditions to confront the challenges of the present stage of our history then it has no basis to enter electoral politics or seek electoral alliance with anybody.
In May 1949, at the start of the anti-communist hysteria which swept America after World War II, a number of American Marxists who were also academics and public intellectuals came together and established an enlightenment-ideological centre. The centre went on to establish a monthly “independent socialist magazine” called Monthly Review.
Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman were the magazine’s co-founders and foundation editors. Today, 69 years later, Monthly Review is not only still appearing monthly and circulating all over the world, it had long become a global institution—carrying out intellectual, academic and ideological programmes and projects in all the continents of the world including America, in particular. Among the articles that appeared in the foundation issue of Monthly Review in May 1949 was one by the world-historic physicist, Albert Einstein. The article was titled Why socialism?
In addition to the Monthly Review magazine, there are now Monthly Review Press and Monthly Review Foundation. The Press publishes highly valued books authored by writers spread across the globe and also distributing important non-Monthly Review books. In other words, Monthly Review Organisation has maintained what I call minimum continuity through almost seven decades—influencing Left and radical politics throughout the world, including America, in particular.
*Madunagu, mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.
The man who’s awaken the world about Congo
April 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Jesse Jackson Snr*
CHICAGO, United States of America, April 19, 2018/ — Finally, the world met in Geneva on Friday 13th of April to gather the necessary financing to bring relief aid to desperate people of DRCongo. And this, subsequently to the efforts of DRC’s -Prime Minister Samy Badibanga Ntita. It is the first time ever that the International Community met to pledge financing for humanitarian aid to a war-torn country, big as one fourth of the United States, with some of its people unfortunately living in hellish conditions.
The hundred million Congolese thought the international community had abandoned them to their fate, in a crisis hidden behind the horrific news from Yemen and Syria. The stakes are high, with almost two billion dollars needed, which tells how much this mega-crisis has been forgotten and underfinanced.
Behind the figures, it is about humanity. It is challenging our hearts and willingness to deliver solidarity on a global scale. This is the unbelievable story of fifteen million people whose villages have been burnt down, their hospitals, schools and livelihoods looted and destroyed. The Congolese people of Kivu, Kasaï, Tanganyika and other regions of DR Congo have been attacked by armed men, in some cases by the Government security forces. Five million of them have been forced to flee and hide in the forests, after witnessing and being subjected to brutal rapes and killings of men, women and their children; the weapons of choice being guns, gasoline and machetes. In Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri, heart bleeding testimonials of survivors describe a situation which looks like the broad day light slaughterhouse of human beings
As we’ve just lost Winnie Mandela, who successfully fought apartheid in South Africa, as an eternal contribution to the freedom of black people in Africa and worldwide, it is shocking and outrageous. And it is sad that 13 million people are left in great need for relief aid after suffering so much violence. Today indeed, the DRCongo is the most important challenge to human dignity and global solidarity in Africa, if not in the world. This is coming out as an embarrassment to the International Community, when one considers that the equivalent of a 9/11 has been happening daily, for more than ten years, a problem now being exacerbated in the regions of Kasaï, Kivu and Ituri.
We also remember our fellow compatriot Michael Sharp brutally killed and beheaded in Kasaï, central DR Congo, together with Zaida Catalan, during an investigation for the United Nations. We pray for them and for their families.
Though the United Nations signalled alert calls after summer 2017, little has happened since. Aid workers and NGOs are still left to make impossible choices with little food aid or healthcare. Sadly, information indicates that the Government is hindering aid delivery, claiming taxes on relief aid, and finally refused to participate to the Geneva Conference.
We owe this first ever International Conference for DR Congo people to a man from Congo himself, my friend Samy Badibanga, who embarked in November last year on convincing the United Nations, the European Union, and developed Nations around the world to organize an International Conference to gather 1,68 billion dollars to finance the humanitarian needs of the people of DR Congo. Samy has led this work with Cardinal Mosengwo and Reverend Bokundoa towards its completion and deserves high recognition for the good and hope he just brought to his people.
The world now sees and knows what is going on in the Congo, and the everyday life of millions of women, left alone to provide for their children, amid their villages being burnt down and their husbands slaughtered in front of them. I hereby applaud Samy’s decisive commitment, faith in God and humanity, his work and achievement with the Churches of Congo. We now pray for relief aid to rapidly bring food, schools, healthcare, shelter, protection and security.
At Rainbow Push (https://RainbowPush.org), we’ll now pray for hope and strength to fill the heart of our fellow humans in DR Congo. Faith without deeds is indeed a contradiction. God bless Samy, the Congo and the whole Africa.
Keep Hope Alive
*Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr is Founder & President Rainbow Push.
Rawlings writes: The deceit of western propaganda
April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Jerry John Rawlings*
Is the world not in a frame of mind to express gratitude to Putin and Russia for not firing back at those Western vessels?
I have spent many hours pondering over what to say to Macron and Theresa May. What to say to the knowledgeable statesmen and women of the world. What to say to the masses of this world whose ignorance and belief in the Western propaganda and deceit would have emboldened Macron, Theresa May and the blowman in the White House to do what they did Friday night.
I don’t know what I can say or do to make people wake up to the fact that Putin and Assad are innocent of the charges leveled against them.
What can I say to people around the world to make them realize that Macron, Theresa May and presumably Trump should all be aware that two other countries very much aligned to Britain, France and the US have been responsible for this gassing operation all this while.
If the masses of this world and the supposed intelligentsia cannot even see which two nations could very well be guilty of this gassing operation then they do not deserve the freedom and justice that is slowly but surely being curtailed by the savagery of capitalism.
The British have told this lie in a hysterical and passionate manner, while the French have told theirs in a cold and calculating manner.
If Theresa May, Macron, Trump, Boris Johnson, some selected personnel around them and their intelligence machinery are prepared to subject themselves to the polygraph test to prove to the world that they did not know that the allegations they were directing at Putin and Assad were false, and Putin and Assad to also prove their innocence which I believe in, I will spend the rest of my life apologizing to them (West) and wage a campaign telling the world what monsters Putin and Assad are.
If Assad the supposed monster were to be subjected to a polygraph test, I believe and I know that he will pass the test…his truth will pass the polygraph test. If Putin of Russia were to be subjected to a similar test, I believe and I know his truth will also pass the polygraph test. I also believe and know that if President Macron, Prime Minister Theresa May, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were also subjected to the same test on a polygraph, their truth will fail the test and they know it. Assad and Putin are no saints but they definitely are not guilty of this monstrosity brewed in a Western pot.
Events of this kind have been staged many a time by warmongering nations and exploited for their own political ends.
Wars have broken out following the staging of these kinds of deceitful events. The last well known example was the one the US staged at the UN. By the time the truth had been established, America and her so-called allies had prosecuted the war against Iraq with its indefensible consequences.
On 11th April 2017, a similar staged gas attack was orchestrated right on the verge of a joint Assad/Putin victory in the Syrian conflict and the global outcry fed into Western agenda.
Almost to the date of the anniversary of this atrocious crime, it has been committed again when the Assad government has just about won the war.
The most recent attempt to stage and accuse Russia and more directly Putin was on British soil but was fortunately exposed by another British institution.
What other evidence did the world and its statesmen and women need to recognize the intentions of some of these Western nations? We all remained silent risking the probability of a World War.
Is the world so unaware of how close we came to the outbreak of war? We may therefore not be in the correct frame of mind to recognize the need to express our gratitude to God, Putin and Russia for the restraint they have exercised in this provocation. We must also congratulate the Russian and Syrian military for intercepting most of the recent missiles.
How could Theresa May, have fallen for this act? How could the capitalist West feel threatened and intimidated by a Russian leader who has earned the true respect, admiration and loyalty not only of his people, but the world at large?
The leadership of both China and Russia are providing the needed international stability while the US and her allies find their feet and their moral compass. The leadership of China and Russia appear to have adopted a sympathetic and supportive role to enable the West recover. In spite of this, the West and her allies are abusing human rights with downright impunity and insensitivity.
The cool-headedness of Putin as opposed to the desperation and sometimes hysterical behavior of certain Western leaders has made a heroic figure of Putin well beyond his borders.
A fine opportunity to create a better and stable world based on freedom, justice and morality is being undermined, being rejected in what appears to be a desperate attempt to restore a Cold War climate. Can’t leaders of this world speak out?
For those of us in the developing world, we only need to remind ourselves of the powers that kept the brutal apartheid regime propped up for so long. A cursory glance at the fate of Palestinians and Yemenis should tell us the callous creature that the savagery of capitalism has turned out to be since the collapse of the bipolar authority.
America and her allies have over the years appeared determined to maintain a unipolar power no matter what it takes through incidents of unjust wars, wanton provocation, intimidation and casting of judgment without trial.
If integrity, truthfulness and justice must give way to falsehood and deceit to enable them control and rule the world, so be it and to hell with it. If the integrity of intelligence operatives and others can be subjected to polygraph tests to ascertain their integrity and truthfulness, what puts politicians and others above the truth in circumstances of this nature?
*John Rawlings is former President of the Republic of Ghana