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February 18 2014

10 Dishes From Sub-Saharan Africa Everyone Needs to Try

We simply cannot let February, which is Food Month here at Global Voices Online, pass without sharing with you ten delicious dishes from Sub-Saharan Africa. Make sure to add them to your recipe collections!

1. Kamba wa nazi (Prawns in coconut sauce)

Kamba (Prawns/shrimp) is loved in the coastal region [East Africa]. Shrimps taste better if cooked for just a few minutes on high heat. In the past I preferred fried shrimp only, but shrimp cooked with coconut milk is something that I would advise everyone to try. Believe me; you may never want fried shrimp ever again if you try this recipe. This recipe is exotic.

Follow the instructions from the YouTube video below from Miriam Kinunda:

2. Efo riro (Nigerian vegetable soup)

Efo Riro is a Nigerian vegetable soup. Image used with permission from Dobby Signature.

Efo Riro is a Nigerian vegetable soup. Photo used with permission from Dobby Signature.

Efo riro” is a Yoruba word which simply means “Vegetable soup” and it’s enjoyed by many. This is because it’s really versatile and could be eaten with meals such as Rice, Yam and any type of Swallow. When I got to the market to buy the ingredients for cooking this meal, I actually got so confused when it came to choosing which Leaf to use for the soup.

3. Ceebu jenn (Senegalese rice and fish)

Senegalese national dish cebe..... Photo released in the public domain by Wikipedia user KVDP.

Senegalese national dish Ceebu jenn. Photo released in the public domain by Wikipedia user KVDP.

There are about as many variations for spelling ceebu jenn (thieboudienne, thiep bu dinenne, ceebujenn…) as there are to making it. This rice (ceeb) and fish (jenn) recipe is the national dish of Senegal and can also be made with beef (ceebu yapp). If the dish looks familiar, it’s because it’s a descendent of paella.

4. Seswaa (Botswana's slow-cooked shredded beef)

Watch the video below to learn from Freedes Em how to make this scrumptious recipe from Botswana:

5. Matapa

Matapa is a typical Mozambican dish prepared with young cassava leaves piled with garlic and flour extracted from the tubers, cooked with crab or shrimp. Many Matapa dishes add cashew nuts and can be eaten with bread, rice or alone.

Cook Guru Mozambique Cuisine has simple instructions for you to make your own Matapa:

Matapa...ooh, what a delicious dish! Photo by Brandi Phiri. Used with permission.

Are you ready to eat Matapa? Photo by Brandi Phiri. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

- 1 kg of shrimps
- 750 gr of peanuts
- 1 kg of cabbage leaf or cassava leaf
- 1 coconut
- 2 L of water
- salt to taste

6. Ghana's Benne (sesame) soup with guineafowl (or Cornish game hens)

Below are the ingredients needed:

1. Fowl (I'm using 2 Cornish game hens, around 4 lbs, total)
2. 1.5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3. 1 cup of tahini (or less if you prefer)
4. 3 – 4 cloves of garlic
5. About 2-inch chunk of fresh peeled ginger
6. 1 onion (about 1 cup, red, if available)
7. About 4 habanero, or other milder chile peppers, seeded and membranes removed, if desired. (When ground they should make about 1 Tablespoon of pepper paste). Americans use milder chile peppers, remove seeds, etc.)
8. 6 small-to-medium tomatoes (or about half a large 28 oz can of tomatoes; I imagine this might also be a small can, but I never have them in the house): enough to get 1 1/2- 2 cups when blended.

Read the full cooking instructions from Betumi here.

7. Doro wet (Ethiopian/Eritrean stew made from chicken and hard-boiled eggs)

Watch the YouTube video below made by Makonnen Wolde to learn how to make Doro wet:

8. Injera

Doro wet (above) is traditionally eaten with injera, a spongy flat bread made from the millet-like grain known as teff:

Ingredients

5 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon yeast
enough warm water to make a thin batter

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder and yeast in a large bowl. Add enough water to make a batter the consistency of thin pancake batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside.

Full cooking instructions are here.

Ethiopian/Eritrean injera (flat bread), which can be eaten with dishes such as Doro wet. Photo released under Creative Commons by Wikipedia user Rama.

Ethiopian/Eritrean injera (flat bread), which can be eaten with dishes such as Doro wet. Photo released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0 FR) by Wikipedia user Rama.

9. Chapati (flat bread)

Chapati or “chapo” as we fondly refer to them in Kenya, is a very popular flat bread that is a staple in many homes in East Africa. The dish has it's origins in India as do many of our foods in Kenya. This owing to the large Indian population that has lived in Kenya since the 19th century, and whom we consider as our fellow Kenyans. Though this flat bread shares the same name with another flat bread in India, the preparation of the dough and the type of flour used make them different. The Indian chapati is made of a combination of whole wheat flour (atta) and all-purpose flour whereas the East African version of the chapati uses only all-purpose flour. When making the East African chapati, oil is used whereas no oil is used in kneading the dough for the Indian chapati. In that regard, the East African chapati is more similar to the Indian flat bread called “Paratha”. But what's in a name? A chapati by any other name would still be delish :)

Chapati and chapati roll. Photo released under Creative Commons  (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Flickr user Kalyan.

Chapati and chapati roll. Photo released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Flickr user Kalyan.

Learn chapati cooking instructions here.

10. Ndole (spinach/bitter leaves and peanut soup):

Writing about Cameroonian dish Ndole on her blog, food blogger Immaculate writes:

At the top of my favorite Cameroonian food is Ndole, which is always present at parties ,and when cooked properly flies off the table. It is an absolutely irresistible combination of peanuts, bitter leaves (substitute spinach), meat (stock fish, shrimp,) crayfish (dried shrimps) and oil. If I could eat this every day I would, It is rich, high in calories and loved by many. It tastes like a stew spinach dip with all the spices and meat.

Follow Immaculate's instructions here to make your own Ndole.

Sub-Saharan Africa has many more yummy dishes to offer the world than those listed above. Make sure that you explore the blogs linked in this post for more!

Reposted bytowsertowser

January 26 2014

Cries of Discrimination as Israel Detains Illegal African Immigrants

La grève des immigrés africains  à Tel-Aviv

Screenshot of African immigrant demonstrators in Tel-Aviv via Zahi Shaked on YouTube 

About 30,000 undocumented Africans living in Israel [fr] mounted a three-day strike and a series of protests backed by human rights defenders in early January against an act that allows Israeli authorities to place illegal immigrants in detention without any trial nor case review for up to a year.

Aside from the new law, approved on December 10, 2013, protesters denounced the refusal of Israeli authorities to consider their applications for refugee status as well as the detention of hundreds of them. The video below highlights the scale of events and presents protesters demands:   

The Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, near the border between Israel and Egypt, already has received numerous inmates since December 2013.

The site irinnews.org offered an idea of the centre's capacity

Holot can house 3,300 migrants and is set to expand, eventually reaching a capacity of between 6,000 and 9,000 people, according to Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel's Public Security Minister.

The anti-illegal African feeling has reached alarming levels, fed by hate speech, such as the “Le sentiment” video published by Djemila Yamina. The video shows Israeli citizens stating in a public gathering that illegal immigrants are “psychopaths, scum and manure that need to be expelled from our country”

Elsewhere, minority extremist groups have attacked immigrants. In Israel, the government and the judiciary systems are taking an active part. Previously in July 2012, Allain Jules condemned [fr] on his blog:

 Ce qui se passe en Israël actuellement est indigne. Entre un ministre qui demande que les clandestins soient simplement assassinés, puisqu’il recommande qu’on tire sur eux au moment où ils tenteront de franchir les frontières, un autre qui parle du risque d’impureté future de l’État d’Israël qui doit garder son caractère juif 

What is going on in Israel is shameful. Between a minister demanding that illegal immigrants are simply assassinated, suggesting we shoot at them at the very moment they try to cross the borders, and another minister that talks about the risks of impurity for the future state of Israel that must retain its Jewish character

Racism was apparent even before the new law. On July 18, 2013, Darfuri asylum-seeker and actor, Babaker (Babi) Ibrahim was arrested simply for not having a receipt for his bicycle.

Jean Shaoul explained [fr] the reality for asylum seekers in Israel on his blog cameroonvoice.com: 

En vertu de la loi israélienne, il est interdit aux immigrés de travailler tant qu'ils ne sont pas enregistrés comme demandeurs d'asile. Ce qui leur est pratiquement impossible. En effet, selon l’agence des Nations unies pour les réfugiés, alors que le taux de reconnaissance national moyen des demandeurs d’asile est de 39 pour cent, en Israël ce taux est inférieur à 1 pour cent. En Israël, la plupart des demandeurs d’asile sont des Erythréens et des Soudanais qui connaissent un taux de reconnaissance international moyen de 84 pour cent et de 64 pour cent respectivement.

By virtue of the Israeli law, work is prohibited for immigrants as long as they are not registered as asylum seekers. Which is virtually impossible for them. In effect, according to United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), while the national average recognition rate for asylum seekers is 39 percent, in Israel this rate is lower than 1 percent. In Israel, the majority of asylum claimants are Eritreans and Sudanese, that have an international recognition rate of 84 percent and 64 percent respectively.

 In a post published on a Mediapart blog, JOSEPH AKOUISSONNE [fr] wrote:

Ce racisme est incompréhensible de la part d’un peuple qui a souffert de l’abjection nazie, avec sa cohorte d'actes odieux visant à l'extermination des juifs. Pourtant, c'était bien Madame Golda Meir qui proclamait que  : « …les Africains et le peuple juif partagent des points communs. Ils ont été victimes de l’histoire : morts dans les camps de concentration ou réduits en esclavage… » Dans les années 1960, l'état d'Israël avait tissé des liens très forts avec le continent noir. Des étudiants africains étaient accueillis dans les kibboutz. Inversement, nombreux étaient les Israéliens qui allaient en Afrique pour soutenir le développement des états fraîchement indépendants. Il faut aussi rappeler le combat des juifs sud-africains, aux côtés de Nelson Mandela dans sa lutte contre l’apartheid. Sans oublier ceux qui s’engagèrent avec les militants des Droits Civiques aux États-Unis.

This racism is incomprehensible coming from people who have suffered under the Nazis, with its cohort of heinous acts aimed at Jewish extermination. Nevertheless, it was Golda Meir who proclaimed that:  “… Africans and Jews share common points. They have been victims of history, who died in concentration camps or have been enslaved… “. In the 1960s, the Israeli State forged strong links with the African continent. African students were welcomed into the kibbutz. Vice versa, there were plenty of Israelis who were involved in supporting the development of the newly enacted independent states. It is worth mentioning too the struggle of South African Jews alongside Nelson Mandela in the strife against apartheid. Not to forget those who engaged with the Civil Rights activists in the United States.

What is it about illegal immigration that provokes so much hatred in Israel? In response, JOL Press site presents figures [fr] from the Freedom 4 Refugees Association:

“Environ 50 000 demandeurs d'asile et réfugiés africains vivent aujourd’hui en Israël. Nous avons fui la persécution, les forces militaires, la dictature, les guerres civiles et le génocide. Au lieu d'être traités comme des réfugiés par le gouvernement d'Israël, nous sommes traités comme des criminels » explique Freedom4Refugees. ”Nous réclamons l’abrogation de la loi, la fin des arrestations, et la libération de tous les demandeurs d'asile et les réfugiés emprisonnés”, ont encore déclaré les réfugiés dans une pétition relayée par l’association Freedom4Refugees. Principalement d'origine soudanaise, sud-soudanaise et érythréenne, les manifestants demandent également que les demandes d'asile soient effectuées de “manière individuelle, équitable et transparente ”.

“Approximately 50,000 asylum seekers live currently in Israel. We fled persecution, military forces, dictatorship, civil wars and genocide. Instead of being treated as refugees by the government of Israel, we are being dealt with as criminals,” explained Freedom4Refugees. “We demand that the law be revoked, the end of arrests, and the release of all asylum seekers and refugees imprisoned,” the refugees declared in a petition communicated by the Freedom4Refugees Association. Mainly Sudanese, South Sudanese and Eritrean demonstrators further demand that asylum applications are made “in an individual, fair and transparent way”.

Al Monitor website noted the discriminatory character of measures taken against African immigrants:

At the same time, however, there are some 93,000 “tourists without valid visas” in Israel, about half of them from the former Soviet Union. Needless to say, the government is not building special detainment centers for them. The number of people requesting asylum is also significantly lower than the number of legal guest workers in Israel (approximately 70,000), much to the relief of those companies that arrange to bring them to the country and employ them.

There has been striking indifference at an international level. In an article published on Rue89, Renée Greusard disclosed everyday racism against Israel's black population:

Quand nous abordons ce sujet ensemble, David Sheen, le journaliste américain, pèse ses mots et parle plus lentement :

“Le niveau de racisme actuel en Israël, il peut être comparé à ce qu’on a connu dans d’autres pays occidentaux, il y a cinquante, soixante ans. Les gens se font insulter dans la rue. Souvent, quand les Noirs entrent dans les bus, les gens se bouchent le nez, bloquent les places à côté d’eux, ouvrent les fenêtres, pestent : “Ah ! Mais on n’a pas besoin de tous ces Noirs !”

Dans les autres pays, les gens sont gênés par leurs pensées racistes. Ils ne les disent pas en public. Là, non. C’est un racisme assuré, et dont les gens sont fiers. “

When we address this issue together, American journalist David Sheen weighs his words and talks slowly: 

“The current level of racism in Israel can be compared to what has been experienced in other Western countries 50, 60 years ago. People are insulted in the streets. Often when blacks board buses, people would plug their noses and block the seats near them, opening the windows while ranting ‘Ah! But we don't need all these blacks!' 

In other countries, people are embarrassed by their racist thoughts. They do not divulge them in public. Here, not quite. They are confident and proud on their racism.”

These anti-black sentiments can be observed even from the comments published on blogs and online media such as  lemonde.frseneweb.com and tempsreel.nouvelobs.com.  

These types of comments frequently arouse passions on both sides of the issue. An article by Jack Guez on Yahoo News has received 2,410 comments, and many of these comments have in turn attracted plenty of “likes”. The comment below has received 82 favourable opinions

People criticize Israel but no one says a thing about Saudi Arabia, why? 

Saudi Arabia expelled 200,000 Africans a few weeks ago!

The death of Ariel Sharon brought the protests and strike to a temporary halt for a few days. However, the struggle of the undocumented migrants in Israel continues. After marching outside the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as other foreign embassies in Tel-Aviv, protesters have held demonstrations in front of The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the government continues to herald sluggish proposals.

December 04 2013

Traffickers Force Smuggled Refugees to Rape Each Other in Sinai

About 30,000 people have been trafficked to Sinai, Egypt, over the last five years. Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew tweets from a Press conference on the matter, to shed light on “a hugely under-reported issue.”

She tweets:

Bel Trew explains:

And then provides staggering figures:

Out of those people trafficked, 95 per cent are from Eritria:

In a series of tweets, Trew provides a horrific insight to what those trafficked go through:

She provides a chilling testimony of one refugee:

And this is not all. Trew adds:


Further reading:

Jadaliyya: Human Trafficking in the Sinai: Refugees Between Life and Death

Spiegel Online: Imprisoned, Tortured, Killed: Human Trafficking Thrives on Sinai Peninsula

Sign the Petition:
Take Action to Stop Human Trafficking in Sinai

July 11 2013

Israel to African nations : take our Asylum_seekers and we will give you arms

#Israel to African nations: take our #Asylum_seekers and we will give you arms
http://africasacountry.com/israels-arms-for-african-asylum-seekers-affair

In the last few days more details have come to light about Israel’s operation to deport African asylum seekers back to the continent, to whichever country wants to take them in exchange for “benefit packages.”  On Tuesday  Israeli newspaper #Yedioth_Ahronoth published an article in Hebrew, followed by a slightly different English version on its website revealing that the [...]

#Benjamin_Netanyahu #Eritrea #Hagai_Hadas #Sudan

January 23 2013

Politics Left Aside, as Ethiopians Celebrate their Fight in AFCON 2013

Ethiopians across the world are celebrating TeamEthiopia, their national Soccer team, who fought a hard draw against defending champions Zambia in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in Nelspruit, South Africa.

Besides the beauty of the Ethiopian game and the composure the players showed after a long absence from the AFCON tournament, Ethiopian politics was at the centre of the online discussion. Ethiopian fans in the stadium displayed various placards and flags representing different political interests.

Ethiopian Muslims continue protesting the Ethiopian Government while supporting Ethiopian Team in South Africa at The Cup of African Nations 2013.

Ethiopian Muslims protest the Ethiopian Government while supporting the Ethiopian Team in South Africa at The Cup of African Nations 2013. From the Awolia School Support Page Facebook Page

In a bid to create a sense of deja vu for Ethiopians the blog Addis Rumble published a few historical photos from old AFCON tournaments in which Ethiopia had participated.

In the pictorial post titled, The Ethiopian comeback they also write

This week Ethiopia is making a surprise comeback at the 2013 Cup of Nations in South Africa after knocking out neighboring rivals Sudan through an aggregate 5-5 draw in the final qualification round. In the days after the qualification was secured in October last year, Addis seemed like a transformed city. Previously you would hardly notice any football celebrations in the city scape (other than of the usual English Premier League teams) but following the qualification most of the capital’s blue taxies and mini busses – usually the best way of distilling public opinion – started displaying posters of the national team with a ‘Yes We Can’ text added.

The occasion was also packed with interesting Ethiopian political tidbits. Mohamed Ademo, a blogger based in New York wrote on Facebook about how different groups stood behind one team despite their variation on the political and cultural spectrum:

Sport brings people together. The cheerful Oromo crowd in South Africa today is a good example of that. In the states, rarely do we see both sides (Oromo and other Ethiopians) cheering for the same team. We have separate sporting tournaments and federations.

For Ethiopia's football fans in South Africa, the choice today was between OLF flag, the defacto Oromo flag, and the EPRDF (Ethiopia's ruling party) flag. As you have said so eloquently, whether the Oromo and non-Oromo fans of Team Ethiopia displayed different flags didn't matter. They both supported one team.

For far too long, at international sporting events and bazaars, a monolithic image of Ethiopia have been presented to the world. An Ethiopia with 3000 years of history that is still a christian island, has one flag, and speaks only Amharic.

But in reality, Ethiopia is a truly diverse nation with divergent aspirations and historical experiences. As a result, contending national sentiments (isms) have emerged. Under previous Ethiopian regimes, for example, the use of Afan Oromo in public spaces and government offices was banned.

In EPRDF's Ethiopia, while linguistic and cultural rights are - at least in theory - respected, wearing or displaying an OLF flag amounts to an act of terrorism. What you saw today (the bitching and moaning about Oromo flag from those who still want to control the narrative of Ethiopia) is an extension of that false sense of unity. I concur with you that, at the absence of “national” consensus, the way forward is to recognize our differences and respect people's rights to identify however they see fit.

In the same vein, our Oromo activists should also stop pouncing on every chance to question the nationalism of those who are passionate football fans - and chose to look beyond politics.

All the while, it's imperative to stay civil and use this opportune moment to ask: who is Ethiopian, what's the Ethiopian identity, does the EPRDF flag represent the aspirations of the diverse people of Ethiopia, does waving OLF flag automatically make one a secessionist, why do Oromos love the OLF flag, why are non-Oromo Ethiopians so scared of assertive Oromo nationalism etc.

Shared by Ermias M Amare on Facebook

Shared by Ermias M Amare on Facebook

On Twitter, under the hashtags of #TeamEthiopia and #Eritria, there was also a great deal of discussion about sport and politics! Kweschn Media tweeted:

While #Zambia's fans waved only 1 flag, #Ethiopia's side had more than 2 flags. Politicized soccer - Reflection of unresolved issues.

But for Zerihun it would have been great for Eritreans if Eritrea was still a part of Ethiopia. Mentioning the alleged failed coup attempt by Eritrean rebel soldiers. He tweeted:

If you hadn't been allowed to secede, you could have enjoyed the game with us :) #Ethiopia makes fun of today's #Eritrea Coup #TeamEthiopia

Ethiopia will face Burkina Faso in the second match of group C AFCON tournament while Zambia will play Nigeria. The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, also known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, is ‘the' football championship of Africa organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).  This is the 29th Africa Cup of Nations, and is being held from 19 January to 10 February 2013.

December 27 2012

Africa's Tainted Global Media Coverage

The #Kony2012 campaign led by the Invisible Children NGO certainly contained a few over-simplifications about Africa. This prompted a counter-campaign #WhatILoveAboutAfrica aimed at rectifying these 'stray shots'.

poster for Kony 2012.

The Kony 2012 campaign poster. Public domain

Inaccurate media approximations about Africa is not a rare phenomenon - even if the comedy of errors has steadily declined over the last few years. The misrepresentation of the continent in the media is not a trivial subject, as Professor Charles Moumouni explains [fr]:

La mauvaise représentation de l’Afrique dans les médias occidentaux n’est ni un
phénomène nouveau, ni un phénomène exceptionnel. Elle fait l’objet de préoccupations depuis les années 1970, notamment dans le cadre des discussions sur le Nouvel ordre mondial de l’information et de la communication (NOMIC). Mais l’image que propagent les médias occidentaux de l'Afrique est d’autant plus préoccupante qu’elle influe négativement sur les efforts de développement de l'Afrique

Poor representation of Africa in Western media is neither a new nor an exceptional phenomenon. It was already a subject of concern during the 1970s, notably in the context of discussions about New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO). But the image of Africa currently being propagated by Western media is all the more concerning as it adversely effects African development efforts.

African media itself, however, is certainly not immune from criticism of this sort. Several initiatives have emerged, in recent years, to help improve the accuracy of African media. The African Media Initiative and Media Monitoring Africa are just two examples.

Here is a summary of the gems, errors and other inaccuracies in global media coverage of Africa and in the African media itself:

Global media coverage of Africa

Canada - RDC:  ”Stephen Harper enters Africa's heart of darkness”

This was the title given to a CBC news article concerning the Canadian prime minister's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during a summit of the International Organization of the Francophonie. Although the title refers to Joseph Conrad's book, Heart of Darkness, it also evokes an outdated, condescending vision of black Africa as a savage, dangerous land. The article adds:

It's the most wretched country on the face of the earth.

 

The article makes it seem as though prime minister Harper ought to be given a medal for his courage in visiting the DRC.

Israel - “Sub-Saharan Africans are not rapists”

Slate Afrique explains the context of this original (to say the least) headline [fr]:

Les noirs ne sont pas des violeurs. Tel est le message que veulent faire passer des demandeurs d'asile Africains subsahariens en Israël. Ces derniers sont pointés du doigt par l'opinion publique israélienne à la suite d'un cas de viol très médiatisé, ayant impliqué quatre demandeurs d'asile érythréens en Israël. Pour contrer une stigmatisation des noirs, un centre d'aide aux travailleurs étrangers a aidé des Africains à rédiger des «lettres ouvertes au peuple israélien», rapporte le quotidien israélien Haaretz le 20 mai.

Blacks are not rapists. This is the message that asylum-seeks from sub-Saharan Africa want to make heard in Israel. Israeli public opinion had been pointing the finger at sub-Saharan asylum-seekers after a highly publicized rape trial implicated four Eritreans. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 20 May that to counter the stigmatization of black people, a support center for foreign workers has been assisting Africans in preparing “open letters to the Israeli people”.

France - Confusion between Guadeloupe and Madagascar for I-télé 

The clashes in Guadeloupe between the Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon [note: leading body for trade unions and social movements] and security forces coincided with the most intense political crisis in Madagascar. The two events were so close to each other in time, in fact, that I-télé (a cable-TV news channel in France) compiled the following little montage in which the commentary confuses the events in Guadeloupe with those in Madagascar  [fr]:

USA - DRC: “Orphaned, raped and ignored”

This is the title of an article by journalist Nicholas Kristof about a 9 year-old child that was the victim of gang rape in the DRC. As Laura Seay explains in a translation on Slate Afrique, this article raises several ethical issues [fr]:

Après de violentes polémiques, Kristof posta une réponse sur son blog dans laquelle il promettait de ne pas le refaire, tout en réfutant les critiques affirmant qu’il mettait l’enfant en danger en l’identifiant. Il reconnut cependant qu’imprimer son nom violait la politique du Times, même s’il avait reçu l’autorisation d’une femme qui jouait le rôle de tutrice de l’enfant. Difficile d’imaginer un rédacteur en chef, quel qu’il soit, laisser une telle «bavure» se produire dans un article concernant une victime occidentale de pédophilie.

After several forceful debates, Kristof posted a reply on his blog in which he promised not to do it again - all the while refuting criticism that he had endangered the child by identifying. He recognized, however, that the publication of the child's name violated the policy of The Times, even if he received permission from a woman playing the role of the child's guardian. It is difficult to imagine an editor in-chief that would have allowed for such a ‘blunder' to occur in an article concerning a Western child-abuse victim.

African media 

South Africa - Rape-victim indirectly identified in an October 2012 report  

Musa Rikhotso reports that:

A story sourced from Sapa entitled, “Sentence Slashed over rape of Stepdaughter” (The Star, 10/10/2012, p.7). The article names a Limpopo man, whose sentence was reduced from life imprisonment to 1- years for raping his 15-year-old stepdaughter; in so doing, failing to protect the identity of the rape victim.

 

Senegal - “Senegalese repatriated from the Ivory Coast”

During the height of the crisis in the Ivory Coast, the Walfadjiri-l'Aurore ran the headline “Senegalese repatriated from the Ivory Coast take it out on [President] Wade“:

wade sénégal côte d'ivoire

Page 2 of a Senegalese daily containing an article about the crisis in the Ivory Coast- public domain

 

Le Post explains that this was an error [fr] because:

justement ces hommes et femmes reprochent au gouvernement de n'avoir pas été “rapatriés” mais bel et bien d'avoir du rentrer par leurs propres moyens.

these men and women criticized the government precisely because they had not been “repatriated” but had been simply required to return by their own means.

November 19 2012

On World Toilet Day, Introducing the Crap Map Project

With both big technology players and local partners in Ghana, we’ll be hacking together our “crap map” using existing open source tools and software paired with meaningful offline facilitation around behavior change in sanitation.

Molly Norris of Ideo.org explains the objective of the Crap Map project: “to stimulate collective action to improve community-wide behavior and pressure the public sector and others to make investments in improved sanitation solutions.” On World Toilet Day, it's worth noting that in West Africa, only 37 percent of inhabitants can access a clean toilet, posing important issues of public health and human dignity. The WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring program (JMP) estimates that Eritrea and Niger have the highest ratio of population forced to defecate in the open.

March 14 2012

After Kony 2012, “What I Love About Africa” Reclaims Narrative

Anyone following online citizen media closely this month, would inevitably have come across the heated global debate over the Invisible Children viral campaign to stop Ugandan war criminal and rebel army leader Joseph Kony.

While the Kony 2012 campaign certainly received the attention it sought, many Ugandans and Africans felt its message lacked the nuance required by context, and was more focused on raising funds for the organisation's own survival rather than empowering the people affected by the conflict.

Furthermore, many African citizens felt that once again, the narrative of a highly publicized story about Africa centered on a negative story and neglected the upwards trends the continent has witnessed.

As a counter measure, many people started posting stories on Twitter about “what they love about Africa” with the hash tag #WhatILoveAboutAfrica.

what I love About Africa trending worlwide by Semhar Araia - @Semhar

The initiative, spearheaded by Semhar Araia, a blogger at the Diaspora African Women Network (DAWNS), started to trend worldwide on Twitter on March 13, 2012.

The Other Side of the Story

While no one argues with the merit of exposing the despicable crimes perpetuated by Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, the following citizen media commentaries explain why this debate is more than just a “meme war” but a struggle to reclaim the international perception and narrative about an entire continent.

When a group of North Ugandans, the main victims of Kony's crimes, were showed the Invisible Children's video in a public screening, they were not particularly pleased with the content of the video as is seen in an Al Jazeera English video below.

“If people in those countries care about us, they will not wear t-shirts with pictures of Joseph Kony for any reason,” says one man interviewed. “That would celebrate our suffering.”

A Ugandan man at another screening says, “There is some kind of people, some NGO, who are trying to mobilize funds using the atrocities committed in Northern Uganda.”

The campaign to show the positive sides of Africa has garnered quite a bit of clout as well in the social media scene. American student and Afrophile Karen Bilger collected a few of her favorite posts about the meme, and also quotes African blogger Tatenda Muranda on Twitter as to why she wrote the post:

@IamQueenNzinga: It's about time we ushered in the era of afro-optimism through words and action”

Kenyan journalist Paula Rogo curated on Storify of the “best and the worst” of the “WhatIloveAboutAfrica” conversation. Here are a few posts from her selection:

@mwanabibi: #WhatILoveAboutAfrica The youth! Hopeful, optimistic and innovative”

@Sarenka222: #WhatILoveAboutAfrica resilient, perceptive, courageous, independent press, even in the face of intimidation (cc: @dailymonitor :)”

@RiseAfrica: RT @texasinafrica: Innovations like mobile money, crowdsourced crisis mapping. #WhatILoveAboutAfrica”

Map of Africa tagged by participants of Barcamp Africa in October 2008, from the Maneno Flickr photostream

The Old Struggle for the African Narrative

Reclaiming the narrative about the African Continent through social media is not a new endeavor. In 2007, a similar campaign brewed throughout the African social media when several prominent bloggers invited fellow bloggers to weigh in on “Why I blog about Africa”.

Ivorian blogger Théophile Kouamouo asked in 2008[fr]:

Bloguons nous pour la diaspora et le vaste monde, coupé de nos contemporains sur le continent ? Blogue-t-on sur l'Afrique comme on blogue sur l'Europe ou l'Asie ? La blogosphère afro-orientée a-t-elle quelque chose de spécifique à offrir au concert de l'universel version 2.0 ?

Do we blog for the diaspora and for the world at large, cut off from our contemporaries on the continent? Is blogging about Africa done in the same way as blogging about Europe or Asia? Does the African-oriented blogosphere have something specific to offer to the world version 2.0?

The meme was remarkable in that it not only managed to spurt plenty of reactions in the West African region but also spread across the continent to the African Anglophone blogosphere. As a commentary to the meme back then, Rombo of “What an African Woman Thinks” provided an inspiring response to What she loves about Africa :

Africa is under my skin. Africa is the voices in my head. Africa is the itch on my back that I can’t quite reach.
[…] She’s beautiful and she’s strong and she’s got so much to give, she inspires me and I love her truly madly deeply.
She’s battered and bruised and sometimes broken and I love her even more.
She’s always on my mind and in my heart.
It’s not so much, then, that I choose to blog about Africa. It’s that I can’t not.
I really wish the world would see in her all that I see in her.
That’s another reason why I blog about Africa: To make this wish come true.

Sokari of Black Looks added back then:

… she makes me angry and frustrated, lets me down, goes on walkabouts and is influenced by some pretty horrible characters many from distant lands. But I cant help loving her deeply - she is alive, she is real and wise with so many wonderful meaningful stories of humanity and life. She is rich in stature and spirit. I love the way she moves, her facial expressions, the taste of her food and the smell and colours of the earth

The struggle for the narrative is an old story indeed. Binyavanga Wainaina wrote a famous essay about “How to write about Africa” in 2005. This essay was turned into a video called “How Not to Write About Africa” narrated by actor Djimon Hounsou:

In view of the long, drown out struggle to portray the positive side of the continent, one might wonder why it is such a challenge to change the global perspective of the continent and why it matters so much to many people.

An answer to why it is important to highlight the positive side of the continent was offered during the TED Africa conference by Euvin Naidoo, president of the South African Chamber of Commerce. He argues that trust is an important component for investments in Africa, and that a better understanding of all the nuances of the continent is required. He states:

George Kimble said, ‘The only thing dark about Africa is our ignorance of it.' So let's start shedding light on this amazing eclectic continent that has so much to offer [..] The first myth to dispel is that Africa is not a country. It’s made up of 53 different countries. So to say ‘invest in Africa' is a no-go. It's meaningless.

March 12 2012

Italy Condemned for Violations of African Refugee Rights

On February 23, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has come to a historic judgment, that Italy violated the European Convention on Human Rights by intercepting and sending back Eritrean and Somali migrants to Libya.

African Refugees by Vito Manzari on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

African Refugees by Vito Manzari on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Unione Diritti Umani Blog explains [it] the events:

Il caso Hirsi e altri contro Italia riguarda la prima operazione di respingimento effettuata il 6 maggio 2009, a 35 miglia a sud di Lampedusa, in acque internazionali. Le autorità italiane hanno intercettato una barca con a bordo circa 200 somali ed eritrei, tra cui bambini e donne in stato di gravidanza. Questi migranti sono stati presi a bordo da una imbarcazione italiana, respinti a Tripoli e riconsegnati, contro la loro volontà, alle autorità libiche. Senza essere identificati, ascoltati né preventivamente informati sulla loro reale destinazione. I migranti erano, infatti, convinti di essere diretti verso le coste italiane. 11 cittadini somali e 13 cittadini eritrei, rintracciati e assistiti in Libia dal Consiglio italiano per i rifugiati dopo il loro respingimento, hanno presentato un ricorso contro l’Italia alla Corte Europea, attraverso gli avvocati Anton Giulio Lana e Andrea Saccucci, dell’Unione forense per la tutela dei diritti umani.

The Hirsi case and others versus Italy pertains to the first push back operation carried out on May 6, 2009, in international waters, 35 miles south of Lampedusa. Italian authorities intercepted a boat carrying some 200 Somalis and Eritreans, including children and pregnant women. The migrants were then taken on board an Italian ship, sent back to Tripoli, and handed over against their will to Libyan authorities. They were not identified, no one  listened to them or informed beforehand of their actual destination. In fact, the migrants were convinced that were heading toward the Italian coast. After this operation, 11 Somali citizens and 13 Eritrean citizens, who were found and helped in Libya by the Italian Council for Refugees, brought action against Italy before the European Court of Justice. Assistance was provided by Anton Giulio Lana and Andrea Saccucci, from the Union of Lawyers for Protection of Human Rights.

GiulioL [it] described the operation upon their arrival in Tripoli [it] on the blog ilmalpaese:

Sul molo di Tripoli li aspettava la polizia libica, con i camion container pronti a caricarli, come carri bestiame, per poi smistarli nelle varie prigioni del paese. A bordo di quelle motovedette c’era un fotogiornalista, Enrico Dagnino, che ha raccontato la violenza di quell’operazione. Poi fu censura.

The Libyan police were awaiting them on the dock with container trucks ready to pick them up, like livestock onto cattle cars, and then send them to various prisons around the country. A photojournalist, Enrico Dagnino, who was on board the patrol boat, described in detail the violence in this operation. After that, the proceedings were censored.

This action led to the non-implementation of the principles governing the treatment of people fleeing from danger, Henry Oliver explains on the UK Human Rights blog:

 The return involved a violation of Article 3 (anti-torture and inhumane treatment), Article 4 of Protocol 4 (collective expulsion of aliens), and  Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). The patrols that returned migrants to Libya were in breach of the non-refoulement principle.

An immigrant's t-shirt saying "I am an immigrant using soap and water" to avoid abuse. By Cristiano Corsini on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

An immigrant's t-shirt saying "I am an immigrant using soap and water" to avoid abuse. By Cristiano Corsini on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The old Italian government, formed by Silvio Berlusconi's party, Popolo della libertà (People of Freedom), and Umberto Bossi's extreme right party, the Northern League, created a legal arsenal and took steps against immigration in Italy, which have been denounced on several occasions by civil society and the Catholic Church. Italy has also been condemned on various instances for its anti-immigration [it] policy, which is inconsistent with European treaties.

Gabriele Del Grande's blog fortresseurope.blogspot.com [it] publishes information about Fortess Europe's activities for the defense of immigrant rights. The association has produced a great number of reports, first hand accounts and films on refugee treatment in Italy as well as in other European countries.

Here he describes prison life [it] in Libya during the rule of the old regime:

Siamo a Misratah, 210 km a est di Tripoli, in Libia. E i detenuti sono tutti richiedenti asilo politico eritrei, arrestati al largo di Lampedusa o nei quartieri degli immigrati a Tripoli. Vittime collaterali della cooperazione italo libica contro l’immigrazione. Sono più di 600 persone, tra cui 58 donne e diversi bambini e neonati. Sono in carcere da più di due anni, ma nessuno di loro è stato processato. Dormono in camere senza finestre di 4 metri per 5, fino a 20 persone, buttati per terra su stuoini e materassini di gommapiuma. Di giorno si riuniscono nel cortile di 20 metri per 20 su cui si affacciano le camere, sotto lo sguardo vigile della polizia. Sono ragazzi tra i 20 e i 30 anni. La loro colpa? Aver tentato di raggiungere l’Europa per chiedere asilo.

We are in Misratah, 210 km east of Tripoli, in Libya. All the prisoners here are Eritrean asylum seekers, arrested offshore of Lampedusa or in immigrant neighborhoods in Tripoli. Collateral victims of Italy's and Libya's cooperation against immigration. More than 600 people, of whom 58 are women, there are also several children and babies in the group. They have been in prison for over two years, but none of them has been tried. Up to 20 people sleep laid out on mats or foam mattresses in windowless rooms measuring 4 meters by 5. During the day, they are placed under the police's vigilant eye into a courtyard, measuring 20 meters by 20, onto which the rooms open. They are all between 20 and 30 years old. And what did they do wrong? Attempt to reach Europe in search of asylum.

The blog observatoirecitoyen.over-blog.org discloses [fr] that:

Le principe de non refoulement, inscrit dans la Convention des Nations unies sur le statut des réfugiés de 1951, interdit de renvoyer une personne vers un pays où sa vie ou sa liberté peut être menacée. …

Quelque 602 migrants ont été interceptés en mer et immédiatement refoulés de mai à juillet 2009, principalement vers la Libye, un pays où “toute personne détenue risque d'être soumise à des mauvais traitements sérieux” ou d'être renvoyée vers un pays où existent de tels risques, note le CPT (Comité de prévention de la torture).

Certes, reconnaît-il, “les Etats ont le droit souverain de protéger leurs frontières et de contrôler l'immigration”, mais l'Italie doit revoir ses procédures pour s'assurer que tous les migrants interceptés reçoivent d'abord des soins et puissent déposer une demande d'asile.

The principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in the 1951 in the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, prohibits sending a person back to a country where his life or freedom may be threatened. …

From May to July 2009, some 602 migrants were intercepted at sea and immediately turned away. They were chiefly sent back to Libya, a country where “every person arrested risks being subjected to serious mistreatment,” or of being sent back to a country where such risks do exist, the CPT remarked (Committee for the Prevention of Torture).

Of course, the CPT admits, “States have the sovereign right to protect their borders and control immigration,” but Italy should review its procedures to ensure that all intercepted migrants first receive care and can apply for asylum.

Unfortunately in Europe, Italy is not the only country to carry out forced mass repatriations. This association reports [it] that:

Dal 1988 sono morte lungo le frontiere dell'Europa almeno 18.058 persone. Di cui 2.251 soltanto dall'inizio del 2011. Il dato è aggiornato al 7 dicembre 2011 e si basa sulle notizie censite negli archivi della stampa internazionale degli ultimi 23 anni. Il dato reale potrebbe essere molto più grande. Nessuno sa quanti siano i naufragi di cui non abbiamo mai avuto notizia. Lo sanno soltanto le famiglie dei dispersi, che dal Marocco allo Sri Lanka, si chiedono da anni che fine abbiano fatto i loro figli partiti un bel giorno per l'Europa e mai più tornati.

Since 1988, at least 18,058 [it] people have died along Europe's borders. Of this only 2,251 have died since the beginning of 2011. This data was updated on December 7, 2011, and was based on the census data from the international press archives over the past 23 years. The real figure could be much higher. No one knows how many ships have wrecked since we have never heard. Only the families of the missing persons know. These families, from Morocco to Sri Lanka, have been questioning for years what has happened to their children who left one day for Europe and never came back.

Paolo Lambruschi, for his part, wrote [it] on website of the Italian Episcopal Conference's newspaper:

E, cosa che interessa tutta l’Ue, andranno riviste le operazioni Frontex di pattugliamento del Mediterraneo perché per la prima volta viene equiparato il respingimento di gruppi alla frontiera e in alto mare allé espulsioni collettive. A 22 ricorrenti su 24, 11 somali e 13 eritrei, l’Italia dovrà versare un risarcimento di 15 mila euro più le spese processuali. Gli altri due sono morti.

And, something which concerns all EU countries, the operations of Frontex patrols in the Mediterranean will be revised, because for the first time the pushing back of groups at borders and on the high seas is tantamount to mass deportations. Italy will have to pay 15,000 euros plus legal costs to 22 of 24 plaintiffs, 11 Somalis and 13 Eritreans. The other two are dead.

Gabriele Del Grande's blog fortresseurope.blogspot.com concludes [it]:

Un giorno a Lampedusa e a Zuwarah, a Evros e a Samos, a Las Palmas e a Motril saranno eretti dei sacrari con i nomi delle vittime di questi anni di repressione della libertà di movimento. E ai nostri nipoti non potremo neanche dire che non lo sapevamo. Di seguito la rassegna completa e aggiornata delle notizie, dal 1988 a oggi. Per un'analisi delle statistiche, frontiera per frontiera, leggete la scheda Fortezza Europa.

One day, at Lampedusa and at Zouara, at Samos at Evros, at Las Palmas and at Motril, shrines will be erected with the victims' names from these years of repression of freedom of movement. And we won't be able to tell our grandchildren that we didn't know. Here you can find a comprehensive presentation and updates of information, from 1988 until today. For an analysis of the statistics, border by border, read the map Fortezza Europa (Fortress Europe).

March 07 2012

Africa: Interview With Africa Desk Officer at the Committee to Protect Journalists

Abdoulaye Bah (AB): First of all, who is Mohamed Keita ?

Mohammed Keita (MK): I run the Africa desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which is based in New-York.

AB: What are the aims of CPJ?

MK: CPJ is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide since 1981. CPJ was founded by a group of eminent American journalists, including the late Walter Cronkyte and Dan Rather, to support their colleagues around the world during a period of kidnappings and murders of journalists in Lebanon and Latin America in the 1980s. CPJ cherishes its independence from any government and does not take any contributions from any state.

Abdoulaye Bah (AB): First of all, who is Mohamed Keita ?

Mohammed Keita (MK): I run the Africa desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which is based in New-York.

AB: What are the aims of CPJ?

MK: CPJ is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide since 1981. CPJ was founded by a group of eminent American journalists, including the late Walter Cronkyte and Dan Rather, to support their colleagues around the world during a period of kidnappings and murders of journalists in Lebanon and Latin America in the 1980s. CPJ cherishes its independence from any government and does not take any contributions from any state.

Logo of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Image source: http://cpj.org/.

AB: What are the African countries where freedom of expression is most at risk?

MK: Eritrea: President Isaias Afewerki brutally closed down the independent press in this Red Sea nation in a September 2001 crackdown on dissent. Since then, Isaias' information minister Al Abdu runs and directs the propaganda machine of the state-controlled press. The government directs journalists what and how to report on. It is the African country whose prisons are holding the largest number of journalists (at least 28). All the journalists are held in secret prisons without charge or trial and without contact with their families, with many of them thought to have died in custody. Only Iran is imprisoning more journalists worldwide.

Ethiopia: In February 2011, Ethiopian police threatened to throw into prison dissident blogger Eskinder Nega if he did not stop comparing the Arab Spring uprisings to Ethiopia’s 2005 pro-democracy protests. Eskinder was arrested 9 months later on terrorism charges and faces a possible life sentence in a politicized case based on his critical online writings. Ethiopia operates sub-saharan Africa’s most extensive snd sophisticated Internet censorship infrasctructure and was ranked among CPJ’s top 10 Online Oppressors.

The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is trailing only Eritrea in imprisonment of journalists. Almost all the journalists, including two Swedish reporters, have been charged with terrorism for reporting on opposition and rebel groups. With a series of restrictive laws, Meles' ruling EPRDF has tightned absolute grip over media licensing and regulation, the public state media and all public institutions. The independent press is limited to a handful of private newspapers and one radio station. The government also jams radio programs from Voice of America and Deutsche Welle and bans journalists’ access to the Ogaden where a rebellion is taking place. Meles' government has driven into exile the largest number of journalists in the world over the last decade.

Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh's years of intimidation of the press, a series of arson attacks on media houses, the closure of newspapers and radio stations, the unsolved murder of Deyda Hydara and the disappearance in government custody of reporter Ebrima Chief Manneh, have created a climate of terror for journalists in Gambia and forced the best journalists into exile.

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe arrested and prosecuted a man last year for posting a political comment on Facebook. President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has allowed only a handful of independent newspapers to operate in Zimbabwe while retaining absolute grip over media licensing and regulation and national airwaves. Journalists operate under some of the world's most restrictive security and media laws.

Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang's grip on the oil-rich nation is based on strict control of news and information. The president and his associates control all the media outlets in the country and no journalist is able to report independently about national priorities or spending or corruption.

Rwanda: Paul Kagame justifies restrictions on the press by invoking Radio Milles Collines, which in fact was a government-sponsored radio station, not an independent station. Kagame's government also abuses laws against “genocide ideology” and “ethnic divisionism” to prosecute and jail critical journalists and opinions contradicting the official version of the 1994 genocide.

Somalia: all belligerents in Somalia's conflict target journalists who are caught in the crossfire between rival militias, warlords, government and insurgents. Somalia is the deadliest country for the press in Africa: at least 40 journalists have been killed since 1992.

South Africa: President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress has faced press criticism over its record on corruption, crime and poverty. To silence the critics, the government has introduced a series of legislative proposals that would criminalize investigative journalists, including the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, which critics have called the secrecy bill. Verbal and physical intimidation of journalists, particularly by the ANC’s youth league is on the rise.

Angola: President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos and his associates of the ruling MPLA control most of Angola's media outlets and enforce censorship of news and information. only 2 newspapers and 2 radio stations were not controlled by the government. Journalists reporting about official corruption are prosecuted and given prison sentences. Security forces attacked and intimidated journalists reporting on anti-government protests by youths calling for Dos Santos to step down.

Angola and Cameroon have introduced legislative measures to combat “internet crime” but the laws punish the electronic dissemination of photos and videos of public events with prison terms.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Journalists operate at the mercy of security forces, rebel groups and powerful politicians who abuse journalists in total impunity. at least 8 journalists have been murdered since 2005 with justice falling short of solving the murders.

Ethiopia's dissident blogger Eskinder Nega. Photo courtesy of Lennart Kjörling.

AB: Bloggers from North Africa have contributed significantly to the success of revolts in the countries of North Africa. Is it conceivable that in sub-Saharan Africa bloggers play a similar role?

MK: Social media tools have become platforms for the kind of dissent that is repressed offline and they are used to organize protests offline. Some governments, such as Ethiopia, Angola, and Cameroon, are beginning to crack down on this use of the Internet, by passing laws against “cyber crime” or intimidating bloggers. In addition, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube users who are posting photos and videos from the streets using their cell phones are breaking some of the biggest news in Africa these days, and traditional media is trying to keep up with them.

AB: In Mozambique, in 2008 and 2010, well before the revolutions in the Arab world, the civil society was able to organize a demonstration against the rising cost of living using SMS. In Ghana, in 2010, citizens participated massively in constitutional review by using Facebook and mobile phones. Should these examples be regarded as exceptional cases or other similar events may occur elsewhere?

MK: Social media in the hands of young citizen journalists is fueling protest movements in Angola, Nigeria and Senegal.

The cover of CPJ

AB: What role do you attribute to social media in Africa and what are the obstacles?

MK: They have democratized news and information - making it more difficult for governments and the enemies of press freedom to keep a nation into the dark. it has created a virtual bridge between Africans in the Diaspora and those in the home countries. but the users are still largely unprepared to the dangers lurking online. Zimbabwe arrested and prosecuted a man last year for posting a political comment on Facebook. and many governments regularly demand email passwords of journalists in custody. Data security is the next challenge for journalists as more of them start to mostly work online.

AB: What can we expect from the African Union?

MK: The AU has a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression but she works only part time and lacks the resource to do her job. AU member states still lack the political will to respect press freedom and protect journalists. Regional human rights instruments like the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) give us hope. The court issued landmark rulings against the Gambia on cases of disappearance and torture of journalists, but the problem is enforcement.

AB: The year 2011 was difficult for the press freedom in Africa, how do you see the year 2012?

MK: Each new year brings new challenges in this battle to keep the press free. The secrecy bill in South Africa has to be defeated, because South Africa is a model of democracy and free press for the continent, and this bill threatens to undo 18 years of progress since the end of Apartheid. South Sudan, the world's newest nation, is already abusing press freedom, this is also worrying. Ethiopia and Burundi's abuse of terrorism laws to prosecute and jail critical journalists is a disturbing new trend that has to be stopped. Press freedom is on the brink of extinction in Ethiopia, Angola, Gambia and Rwanda. Niger is probably the best example of a country where press freedom has advanced.

You can follow Mohamed Keita on Twitter @africamedia_CPJ and also read his articles on CPJ blog.

 

June 20 2011

South Sudan/Eritrea: Eritreans Thriving in Juba

A blogger visiting Juba, Southern Sudan, reports that Eritreans are thriving in the city: “The Eritreans I observed there were cliquish, befriended the SPLM generals, pay bribes generously (so I was told), smuggle in young Eritrean girls and so forth…At one stage I saw over one thousand youngsters at one place partying – a totally Eritrean affair (with Eritrean music, food and all).”

May 13 2011

Eritrea: The Plight of Eritrea Refugees in Egypt

Release Eritrea, a charity based in the UK, is concerned about the plight of Eritrean refugees in Egypt: “In recent days, five Eritreans have been shot by the Egyptian border guards on the border with Israel. They managed to cross the border despite their wounds, but later died in Israel of their injuries, reports coming from Israel confirm.”

March 03 2011

Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa censors Mideast protests

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Some African leaders do not want citizens to know what is happening in North Africa and Middle East: “As news of Middle Eastern and North African protests swirl around the globe, satellite television and the Internet prove vital sources of information for Africans as governments fearful of an informed citizenry and a free press such as in Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Zimbabwe impose total news blackouts on the developments.”

February 15 2011

Eritrea: Capital Eritrea News site

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

capitaleritrea news is an online news platform covering the latest from Eritrea. The site is managed by volunteer editors and authors.

Eritrea: Invest in Eritrea blog

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Invest in Eritrea is a blog about business and investment activities in Eritrea.

January 22 2011

Eritrea: Isaias Afwerki comes out dead last in African Presidents Index!

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Asmarino reacts to first annual “African Presidents Index” released by the Nation Media Group: “Obviously our own totalitarian leader Isaias Afworki didn’t disappoint us. Not only did he make it to the “Morgue” category with flying colors, he also ended up dead last within that category…”

December 11 2010

Eritrea: Eritrea and the shadow of WikiLeaks

By Ndesanjo Macha

Gabriel Guangul discusses WikiLeaks in the context of Eritrea: “Somewhere along the lines of US embassy cables being laid bare on WikiLeaks, one could imagine the dark clouds behind the façade of Eritrea’s defiant image. In fact, that is exactly what it was all time – a shop window for total control and defiance.”

November 03 2010

Eritrea: Regional Aggressor or Regional Scapegoat?

By Ndesanjo Macha

Is Eritrea a regional aggressor?: “Eritrea is often labeled by journalists and governments as a regional aggressor (here and here). The most often cited evidence for this designation is that Eritrea has been engaged in conflict with each of its contiguous neighbors as well as an overseas state.”

October 27 2010

Eritrea: The Asmara All Stars

By Ndesanjo Macha

Meet the Asmara All Stars (Eritrean Jazz): “Love their sound! They've been getting a lot of publicity from various websites too. See more about the The Asmara All Stars at this Youtube channel. Listen to a playlist of their songs on the Addis Tunes website and read the article below.”

October 21 2010

Africa: Journalists Still Struggling for Press Freedom.

By Lova Rakotomalala

Reporters Without Borders published the Press Freedom Index today (10/20/2010). The section of the report on Africa mentions that Eritrea is last for the 4th consecutive year and that amongst the French-speaking African nations, Rwanda, DR of Congo, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Madagascar show worrisome signs for press freedom. [fr]

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