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December 17 2013

Explaining the Evergrowing Tradition of “Chanté Nwèl” (Singing Christmas) in the French West Indies

Between late November and December 25, a unique tradition is taking place every year in the Francophone Caribbean islands, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe. “Chanté Nwel” [fr] is a time when people come together to not only sing traditional Christmas songs but also share a meal as a community. Although the tradition of singing Christmas carols has slowed down in France, it has grown stronger than ever in the french west indies [fr]. Hélène Clément explains the sad origin of the tradition that has been turned into a festive celebration [fr] :

L’article 2 du Code noir promulgué par Louis XIV en 1685 prévoyait « l’instruction religieuse des esclaves ». Les jésuites, chargés de poursuivre cette instruction religieuse, enseigneront aux esclaves à jouer de certains instruments dans le but de former des choristes pour les offices religieux [..] Le « chanté Nwèl » dans les Antilles françaises reste un moment de partage et de solidarité.

The article 2 of the Code Noir [Black Code] promulgated by Louis XIV in 1685 stipulated that “religious instruction be provided to slaves.” The Jesuits taught slaves through the religious instruction to play some instruments in order to assemble a choir for religious services [..] The “Chanté Nwèl” in the French West Indies is first and foremost a time of sharing and solidarity

Here is a video of one of the most known carol :Joseph mon cher fidèle (Joseph, my dear faithful) [fr]:

Daniel, from Martinique, explains the drinking tradition during “Chanté Nwèl” [fr]:

Autrefois, lors des ces « chanté Nwel», on servait en dehors du traditionnel punch, du sirop d’orgeat aux dames, ainsi que du chocolat à l’eau épaissi au toloman pour se réchauffer du « froid piquant » des nuits de décembre… dès la fin du mois de novembre, on prépare le  schrubb avec des écorces d’oranges que l’on fait macérer dans du rhum au soleil.

Back in the days during “Chanté Nwèl”, the traditional cocktail punch and chocolate water thickened with toloman were served to warm the “sneaky cold” December nights; orgeat syrup were reserved for the ladies … at the end of November, the schrubb is prepared with orange peels that has been soaked in rum and exposed to the sun. 

 The following video shows how residents of Gros-Morne, Martinique are celebrating the tradition today [fr]:

November 25 2013

Césaire, « nègre fondamental »

L'année 2013 marque le centenaire de la naissance d'Aimé Césaire, disparu en 2008 à l'âge de 95 ans. Parmi les hommages rendus au poète et dramaturge martiniquais — aujourd'hui au Panthéon —, on retiendra la parution prochaine de ses œuvres complètes, non pas dans la Pléiade, comme on aurait pu (...) / France Outre-mer, France, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Colonialisme, Culture, Idées, Langue, Littérature, Théâtre - 2013/11

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 23 2012

La Caraïbe, un territoire à géométrie variable

A la confluence des trois Amériques, la Caraïbe en tant que territoire est issue d'un long processus de construction historique. Pourtant, ses limites restent de nos jours encore floues et varient selon les perceptions locales insulaires. L'étymologie du nom donné à cette région est porteuse d'enseignements, elle est le soubassement des multiples perceptions que les habitants de la Caraïbe ont de leur territoire. Le terme lui-même fût inventé par les Européens, et non par les Caribéens. C'est donc (...) - Visions cartographiques / Caraïbes, Europe, Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Cuba, Amérique centrale, Amérique du sud, Esclavage, Cartographie

August 24 2012

Caribbean: Escape from Tropical Storm Isaac

Caribbean netizens have their eye on Tropical Storm Isaac, the ninth such weather system for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. (Its predecessor, Tropical Storm Helene, brought torrential rainfall to Trinidad and Tobago, which resulted in extensive flooding, landslips and some fatalities.) Isaac has been steadily moving up the Leeward Islands, and storm warnings and watches have been issued for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

From Cuba, Havana Times has been charting the storm's path. Yesterday, the blog posted that Isaac was moving “towards a predicted landing in Haiti or the Dominican Republic by late Friday or Saturday”:

A hurricane warning is in effect for all of Haiti and portions of the DR, while a tropical storm alert is in effect for all of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Weather Service (INSMET) is advising caution, stating the storm could present a threat to Cuba.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, News of St. John reported that people were being asked to prepare “for tropical storm conditions beginning Wednesday with torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and building seas”, although the storm was predicted to pass south-west of the island. In nearby St. Thomas, bloggers were also “battening down the hatches”. Yesterday, the St. Thomas-based blogger, Captain Jay, reported “hot and sticky” weather…

with some heavy rain and winds gusting into the thirty plus mile per hour range. It doesn't look like much damage from here. This one has left us alone.

Then he quipped:

I think God has other plans for Isaac, thinking he might drop a message on the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay next week. Just saying.

News of St. John, in an update earlier today, also had little damage to report, but linked to video of the storm's “winds - er, strong breezes”, here, here and here. There was also a video of the storm's effects in Guadeloupe, posted here.

Understandably, there is concern for the effects the storm may have on Haiti, as much of its population in Port-au-Prince is still living in tent cities after the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake. The country has weathered storms before, of course, but the Livesay Haiti Weblog explained it this way:

Nobody needs this, especially not the left-half of Hispaniola.
Hoping and praying it shoots off into the Caribbean and leaves the islands alone.

Haiti Chery thought that the Haitian government was not doing as much as it could given the circumstances:

For Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s southern coast, a hurricane warning is in effect. Such a warning means that both countries should be urgently preparing to protect life and property.

In Haiti, the storm is expected to make a direct hit on the area including Jacmel, the Ile de la Gonave, and the populous capital city of Port-au-Prince where about half a million people still live under tents. So far, the National Center for Meteorology (CNM, Centre National de Météorologie)…and the government have merely issued color-coded alerts and warnings to avoid rivers and windows.

The heavy precipitation might cause flash floods and mud slides. On the coasts, there will be dangerous waves, and storm surges could raise the waters 3 to 5 feet above the normal tide levels.

Already there is talk of a resurgence of cholera with this coming storm; but contaminated drinking water causes cholera, not hurricanes. It behooves the Haitian health officials to take full responsibility for guaranteeing that all emergency bottled water distributed during the storm is verified as being safe to drink.

The post went on to give regular weather reports. In an updated blog entry today, Dady Chery said, tongue firmly in cheek:

Haitian government officials finally did something about Tropical Storm Isaac. They gathered 32 boats and 1250 temporary shelters as peace offerings to the storm gods. Then they gave a press conference at which they demanded that all those in charge of safety — whoever they might be — do their jobs, whatever these might be… like, help Haitians through ravines, for instance.

At the least, this keeps people too busy to ask the government officials to do their jobs.

The storm gods listened to all that the Haitians had to say. Then they went and listened as closely to ABC News, which prayed dearly for the winds and rain to make a mess of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Feeling unwanted in Haiti but welcome in Florida, the gods held a congress and made their decision. They would sail their 32 boats to Tampa.

And this is how Isaac disappeared from the Caribbean Sea to reemerge as a category 3 hurricane directly over the GOP National Convention. In the U.S., it was all news, all weather, all the time. In Haiti, it was a beautiful, drizzly, carnival night! A miracle.

April 30 2012

Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana: Is “Miss Black France” Acceptable?

While French people are still in the midst of the presidential elections [En] with its second round coming up on May 5-6th 2012, another vote buzzed last week: the “Miss Black France” [Fr] contest.
The home page of the event scheduled on Saturday April 28th 2012 says[Fr]:

Célébrons la Beauté Noire!

Let's Celebrate Black Beauty!

The “About” section of the Facebook page of the contest explains [Fr]:

Les jeunes femmes noires vont enfin avoir leur élection. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui très peu représentée en France – et en tout cas pas dans les concours de « Miss » que l’on connait –, la beauté noire va pouvoir être mise en avant à sa juste valeur.

L’élection Miss Black France est ouverte à toutes les jeunes femmes françaises ou étrangères vivant en France, de métropole, des DOM-TOM ou d'Afrique, âgée…s d’au moins 16 ans, sans autre critère que l’élégance et le charme.

Black young women are eventually going to have their election. Black beauty, which has been very little promoted in France up to this date -at least, not in the usual ‘beauty pageants'- will be showcased there.

All young women, French nationals or foreign residents, native of France, the French Overseas Regions or Africa are eligible if they are at least 16 years old and with no other criteria than elegance and glamour.

This introduction to the genesis of this pageant has raised many questions among French people and bloggers, among which Bondamanjak from Martinique, who wonders [Fr]:

Dérive communautariste ? Acte militant ? Impérialisme yankee ? Bizness ?

Excessive communalism? Activist move? Yankee imperialism? Business?

These questions are justified by the founding motto of the French nation, according to which all citizens are equal and cannot be distinguished on account of ethnicity or religion. In this perspective, having a national contest based on the ethnicity of the pageants seems heretical to many netizens.

A post published on a Martinican blog People Bo Kay explains both points of view [Fr] and where the division lies.

Supporters of the pageant advocate the need for more visibility:

mettre la lumière sur ces femmes noires extrêmement nombreuses que l'on voit peu dans les médias.

cast the light on these extremely numerous Black women, who are little represented in the media.

En France, les seules miss noires que nous avons connues étaient soit métissées ou originaires d'outre-mer. Il n'y a jamais eu de filles issues de parents sénégalais ou algériens. Ces filles là ne se reconnaissent pas encore dans le concours de Miss France. Elles pensent qu'il n'est pas pour elles et donc s'auto-censurent.

In France, the only Black pageant winners that we have ever known were either mixed-raced or natives of the French overseas regions. There has never been any girls from Senegalese or Algerian parents. They cannot identify with the Miss France pageant yet. They think it is not made for them and become self-conscious to the extent of self-censorship.

This last point was made by historian and specialist of cultural diversity matters, François Durpaire [Fr], during an interview on French national channel, France 2 [En].

One of the cons to this pageant was that to some, it symbolizes reverse discrimination - the most recurrent question being, “What if a fair blonde French young woman wants to participate?”

A comment published following the post at Bondamanjak says [Fr]:

La couleur noire n'est ni une identité, ni une classe cela est ridicule de faire une quelconque différence face à une miss blanche. Le combat qu'on doit mener n'est pas à ce niveau. Contruisons avant une communauté unie , solidaire défendant notre mémoire pour contruire une vraie identité.

The color black is not an identity, nor a social class. It is ridiculous to make any difference with a white contestant. Our struggle does not belong there. Let's build a united and self-reliant community to defend our collective memory and our true identity.

Although this beauty pageant has been very controversial and triggered much division among people over its legitimacy, one thing make people come together: why use the adjective “black” in French, instead of “noire”.
The answer is that black sounds more like a marketing success than “noire”.

The results of the pageant are published along with the picture of the winners on this post at People Bo Kay:

A 21-year-old marketing student from Senegal, Tiah Beye was crowned ‘Miss Black France 2012′ along with her two runners-up, 22-year-old, Ivorian-born Romy Niaba and 23-year-old, Aissata Soumah from Guinea.

March 28 2012

Guadeloupe: A Cuban-born Mulatto, Mayor of Paris

Guadeloupean blogger B.World Connection posts about the release of a book about the first non-white Mayor of Paris, who accomplished much towards secularity and social progress in the 19th century French Republic, yet fell into complete oblivion until now.

February 14 2012

Antigua, Guadeloupe: From the Common Past

For the past decade, the tight historical and geographical bonds between the West Indian islands of Antigua and Guadeloupe have been analyzed by historians. A recent conference entitled “Antigua: From the Amerindians to an Independant Nation” [Fr] was organized in Guadeloupe by the group Yo Té Pou Nou Sé. Bloggers at PerspeKtives [Fr] explain the importance of this project.

November 07 2011

Caribbean: the meaning of identity

Creative Commess hosts a blog symposium “about Caribbean people, about West Indian people, about our contemporary experiences … ranging through race & identity to culture, mental health to constructs of beauty and more,” with contributions from seven Caribbean bloggers.

March 04 2011

January 17 2011

Jamaica, Guadeloupe, T&T, U.S.A.: MLK Day

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

“Dr. King's importance lies in his challenge to expand our moral imagination”: Geoffrey Philp and other regional bloggers pay tribute to the late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

September 08 2010

Getting to Know the Global Voices Latin America Team

By Eduardo Avila

As outgoing Editor for Latin America, I have seen the Global Voices team from Latin America grow tremendously over the past three years. Each of the volunteer authors has dedicated time and energy to serve the mission of Global Voices, and to share their part of the world with a global audience. At any given time, each of the countries that make up the Latin American region has been represented by a talented blogger tasked with the challenge of presenting a wide range of issues in a balanced and fair manner. Now that I am moving on to take the helm at Rising Voices, I am eager to see how the team will take the coverage of such a diverse region to greater heights under the leadership of the new Latin America Editor, Silvia Viñas. Continuing a recent tradition, let's meet some of these amazing people that have been part of the Latin American team (in alphabetical order by first name).

Members of GV Latin America with friends from GV Portuguese and GV Caribbean. Photo by Suzanne Lehn

Andrea Arzaba [Mexico] - I don't think I've seen a single picture of Andrea in which she was not smiling. Her enthusiasm and friendliness is both sincere and contagious. Recently back in Mexico after spending a semester studying abroad in Spain, Andrea is very active in youth conferences and blogging competitions. She was recently chosen to represent the Think About It organization at the UN Summit to be held in New York City later this month. Read her blog One Lucky Life [es] and follow her on Twitter: @andrea_arzaba.

Belén Bogado [Paraguay] - Belén is quite the multimedia star in her native country of Paraguay. Not only is she an accomplished print journalist, but she has also hosted her own radio show and television program. In addition, she has brought special recognition to Paraguayan bloggers, including an introduction to the first blogger to write in the Guaraní language, who was featured in a GV post and which caught the eye of the local CNN affiliate.

Catalina Restrepo [Colombia] - Many of us have seen how much Catalina has grown over the past three years. She started as one of the participants of the Rising Voices' project HiperBarrio. Since then, she has really come into her own, gaining confidence by the day and asking for more challenges. In addition to being invited to speak at international conferences, she was also recognized at home when she was awarded the Talented Young Woman [es] prize in Medellín. Read her blog: Cosas del Alma [es] and follow her on Twitter: @catirestrepo

Felipe Cordero [Chile] - Felipe joined Global Voices in 2010, and his participation began shortly after the tragic earthquake struck his country of Chile. He was living in Columbia, Missouri at the time when he volunteered to help with the coverage, as way to draw more attention to the tragedy and reconstruction. His posts helped make the Special Coverage Page of the earthquake timely and diverse. Since graduating from college, Felipe has taken part in many interesting training programs and internships, including one at the Chilean Mission at the United Nations. Read his blog: Política Online [es] and follow him on Twitter: @felipe_cordero.

Gabriela García Calderón [Peru] - At the Global Voices Summit in Santiago, Chile, Gabriela received recognition for being the GV member with the most number of translations across all Lingua sites. With more than 2000 translations under her belt, Gabriela wanted to get involved with GV even more. So, she volunteered to become a GV author by focusing on some of the non-political facets of Peruvian society. Read her blog: Seis de Enero [es].

Issa Villarreal [Mexico] - To say that Issa is interested in the urban arts scene in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, would be an understatement. In her free time, Issa covers local concerts and music festivals [es] on her blog and other publications. In addition, she is a videographer, and one of her most recent works was filmed a local amusement park. Her three-part series exploring graffiti and urban art across Latin American stands among some of her most classic posts. She also covers other topics, including the #internetnecesario campaign, although I was unable to convince her to write a post on the Mexican delicacy of eyeball taco. Read her blog: Perdida en el Súper [es] and follow her on Twitter: @hiperkarma.

Members of GV Latin America meeting with GV Board Member Rosental Alves at the GV Summit in Santiago. Photo by Juliana Rincón and used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic CC license.

Jenny Cascante [Costa Rica] - Jenny is another of our authors that is active in her country in the arts and cultural scene. She has been a part of the super-stylish arts digital magazine De La Bimba [es]. Read her blog: Nube Número Nueve [es] and follow her on Twitter: @nubecina.

Jorge Gobbi [Argentina] - Buenos Aires is one of my favorite Latin American cities and most times that I've visited, I've managed to stop by to say hello to Jorge. I don't think I realized how well-known he is in the Argentine blogosphere until he was featured in the La Nación newspaper as one of 5 of the most important bloggers [es] in the country. Probably best known for his travel blogging, he won Best Travel Blog in Spanish awarded by Lonely Planet. Jorge is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. Read his blog: Blog de Viajes [es] and follow him on Twitter: @morrissey.

Juan Arellano [Peru] - Ever since Juan has taken on the leadership role for Global Voices in Spanish, the site has thrived. The roster of active translators that he has recruited makes it one of the most diverse and willing teams to bring GV content into the Spanish language. The partnerships and collaborations that he has pursued serves as a model for other Lingua sites. In addition to translating posts, Juan also makes sure that local issues in his native Peru makes it to the pages of Global Voices. Read his blog: Globalizado [es] and follow him on Twitter: @cyberjuan.

Juliana Rincón Parra [Colombia] - While I had less interaction with Juliana than before, it was because she was promoted to Global Voices Video Editor. However, she still managed to provide great coverage of important videos from the region, which was whenever she was not knitting or podcasting. Read her blog: Medea Material [es] and follow her on Twitter: @medeamaterial.

Julián Ortega [Colombia] - Digital media has become an integral part of Colombian politics over the past several years, and Julián has provided a service for helping GV readers wade through the vast amount of tweets, Facebook groups, and blog posts. He is extremely knowledgeable about the subtle nuances and context of Colombian politics. Julián is also very active in the equinoXio [es] digital magazine. In addition, he holds a special place in his heart for his cats, who can be seen on his Flickr account. Follow him on Twitter: @julianortegam.

Laura Vidal [Venezuela] - Laura has been personally responsible for making sure that Venezuela is not portrayed as a country that only revolves around polarizing politics. She has made sure GV readers learn about many of the country's talented musicians, writers, artists, and cultural projects. Currently pursuing her Master's degree in Education Sciences at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in Paris, Laura has always offered me a place to crash on her floor during my stops in Paris, and also showcased her culinary skills to me when she made delicious arepas. Read her blog Sacando la Lengua [es] and follow her on Twitter @lenguaraz.

Luis Diego Molina and Adriana Vargas [Costa Rica] - I hesitate to not give each of these young authors their own recognition, but they've been working together on the citizen journalism project Habla Costa Rica, where they have reported from the ground during events like the protests at the University of Costa Rica. I've been thoroughly impressed with their willingness to learn and how much dedication they have put into their project. Follow the project on Twitter: @hablacostarica.

Lully Posada [Colombia] - Lully is such a strong supporter of citizen media projects around the world, but there is one that has attracted more attention than others. In fact, she has started volunteering with the HiperBarrio project helping out with workshops, but more importantly, providing encouragement and motivation to the new bloggers. She is also one of the co-founders of the equinoXio digital magazine, and provides interesting interviews. Read her blog: Reflexiones al Desnudo [es] and follow her on Twitter: @lullyp.

Milton Ramírez [Ecuador] - Milton or perhaps I should write Dr. Ramírez, has been one of the most prolific GV authors from the region over the past several years. Milton holds a doctorate in Education and is extremely interested in examining the relationship between education and technology. He is also a champion for local technology projects and events in his native Ecuador, including extensive coverage of BarCamps and other digital campaigns. His love for his home region of Loja has placed the city on my must-visits someday. Read his blog: Education and Tech and follow him on Twitter: @tonnet.

Renata Avila [Guatemala] - As one of the resident Creative Commons experts within the Latin America team, Renata is the lead for the Creative Commons project in her native Guatemala. She is also serving as one of the co-leads in the Technology for Transparency project at Global Voices. Renata also holds a special interest in the plight of the indigenous communities in her country and which has served as a subject for many of her articles on Global Voices. Read her blog: Nothing is Permanent [es] and follow her on Twitter: @avilarenata

Rocío Díaz [Dominican Republic] - Rocío is our first author from the island of the Dominican Republic. She took great care in presenting a wide range of issues from the colorful characters of Carnival to the national sport of baseball, as well as the DR's response to the earthquake in neighboring Haiti. She started blogging as part of a national movement for community action, which helps draw attention to problems, as well as solutions in the island's municipalities. Read her blog: Monaco [es].

Silvia Viñas [Uruguay/Chile] - As the new Regional Editor for Latin America, Silvia has always been willing to fill in whenever needed, whether it be about issues facing Chile or Uruguay. No wonder she is so flexible, since she describes herself as half-Uruguayan and half-Spanish, and has lived in five Latin American countries. This allows her to be a great fit for the role of Latin America Editor, who needs to be well-versed in the affairs of an entire region. When she is not online posting and editing, she is the mother of an adorable two year-old, who just celebrated her birthday. Read her blog: Walking Around [es] and follow her on Twitter: @silviavinas

This is only a partial list, as there are many more authors who have recently joined or who have been recently inactive, but have been an integral part of making the Latin America region as strong as it has become. These authors include: Claudio Ruíz [Chile], Clotilde Castillo [Panama], Nike Jung [Chile], Muna Annahas [Paraguay], Roy Rojas [Costa Rica], Celeste Calvet [Argentina], Aaron Ortiz [Honduras], Leonidas Mejia [Honduras], Mario Durán [Bolivia], Carlos Suasnavas [Ecuador], Mario Blanco [Uruguay], Tim Muth [El Salvador], Rodrigo Peñalba [Nicaragua], Melissa De León[Panama], Luis Carlos Díaz [Venezuela], Rosario Lizana [Chile], Iria Puyosa [Venezuela], Claudia Cadelo [Cuba], Alvaro Berroteran [Nicaragua], HJ Barraza [Mexico].

As you can see, the Latin America team is very diverse, not only in the part of the world that they coverage, but in their own personal interests and background. Congratulations to such an amazing team of volunteers for making the Latin America region so well represented at Global Voices.

August 23 2010

Global: The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

By Abdoulaye Bah · Translated by Lova Rakotomalala · View original post [fr]

August 23rd is The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. By selecting this date in 1998, The UNESCO wanted to mark and help remember the tragedy of the slave trade and slavery. For the occasion, a series of events are organized in different regions of the world  by various organisations for the promotion of human rights.

Mrs Koïchiro Matsuura, then head of UNESCO, articulated the reason for such a celebration, a message that is still relevant today. On their website, Gens De La Caraibe remind us [fr] of the gist of her message:

It is in the following spirit that I invite all of you to organize, initiate and support all activities with youngsters, teachers, artists and intellectuals- that could help awareness  of the slave trade and encourage an ethical reflections on its impact and consequences, notably on the new forms of slavery and to promote solidarity with the peoples who have been victimized by slavery.”.

Reso.Net explains why August 23 was the selected date and the objective of the commemoration [fr]:

On the night of 22 to 23 of August 1791, an insurrection started in Santo-Domingo that played a critical role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Toussaint Louverture via Wikimedia Commons- CC license share alike

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), an NGO that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals and community-building through on-line technologies explains in more details what they hope to achieve on the day [fr] :

Bringing to light all aspects of slavery is essential to constructing an overall dispassionate vision of this tragedy. UNESCO's Slave Route project endeavors to promote such research that helps to explain, understand and reconstruct the threads of sometimes conflicting narratives and fill the silences of the past.

Many activities are scheduled around the world this year. In Nigeria,, an international conference  is organized by black Nationalities which will include the participation of Nigeria's president Ebele Jonathan Goodluck. The objectives  of the conference are:

To promote general discourse and inter-cultural dialogue among the various peoples of the world with a view to promoting understanding and encouraging the Black race to aspire to greater heights in an increasingly inter-dependent world

In the DR of Congo, Boris Kharl Ebaka on his blog brazzaville-adiac urges his readers to remember [fr]:

The first commemorations of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition happened in many countries, in Haiti in 1998 and on Gorée Island, Sénégal in 1999. Cultural events and debates were also hold; in 2001, le musée de l'Étoffe in Mulhouse (France) joined the commemoration and organised a workshop showcasing fabrics called ” Indiennes de Traite” that were used as currency for salves in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In London, the  National Maritime Museum organizes a series of events that will include conferences, dances and film projections, starting at 11:00 am until 4:00 pm:

Trace the history of the transatlantic slave trade through rare and revealing manuscripts from the Museums archive collections.

According to  Panafricanfestival, in Trinidad & Tobago, the celebrations already started at the end of July:

One of the most popular highlights of the period is the Emancipation Day parade on the morning of August 1. Some 20,000 participants on the street, and tens of thousands more who crowd the sidewalk, create a spectacle of colour dominated by African motifs, textiles and designs adding visual vibrations to the rhythm of ancestral drums and chants, and modern African musical expressions of the diaspora. Exponents of the African martial art, capoeira, draw spectator attention with their dramatic flips and “sequencias”.

One of the most ambitious poject in terms of eduction in the field was initiated by UNESCO, “Breaking the Silence” spans over several years and involves the participation of schools from 24 countries in Africa, Americas and Europe.

According to the organisation, the goal of projet is :

The goal of the project is increased awareness of the causes and consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade - including modern forms of slavery and racism - through educational exchanges, sharing best practice and developing and diffusing educational material.

The noir au feminin blog notes [fr] that in France May 10th is also an important day as it celebrates the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in France and all its colonial territories:

The decree of april 27 1848 seals the absolute end of slavery in France and all its colonial territories.  158 ans later, on january 2006, French President  Jacques Chirac selected May 10 as the Day of commemoration of the abolition of slavery.

On may 9th 2007, in a speech posted on ldh-toulon.net,   former  international football player now authorLilian Thuram reminds us [fr] of:

The silence of history books and the invisibility of its victims.  The duty of remembrance is critical to rehabilitate the resistance, both physically and culturally that its victims displayed.  More importantly, it is important to archive the racism that prufundly affected the culture and society where these events happened.

Franck Salin on afrik.com cites French president  Nicolas Sarkozy speech on January 10  2008 about the measures he took with respect to this commemoration [fr]:

Slavery and its abolition will be introduced in the new programs for primary schools. Slavery was a tragedy that affected many continents for a long time. It is a deep wound that weighs on all of our consciences. The memories will carry on the weigh of this chapter of history.

In the  Dossier du 10 Mai that noir au feminin blog dedicates to this day, Eric Koua describes the condition of women during slavery and  the spirit of resistance women  exhibited [fr] :

The refusal to be enslaved sometimes meant committing suicide rather than live under these conditions. It also sometimes meant aborting a pregnancy when colonial authorities encouraged marriages and reproduction.

July 27 2010

Francophone: Like Fine Wine, Twitter Experience Gets Better With Age

By Lova Rakotomalala

An unexpected but deliciously nostalgic hash tag, #jesuisvieux,  has been trending on the French speaking social media scene.  Since July 26th,   twitter users have been going down memory lane,  posting  tweets  relating their memories from youth with the hash tag #jesuisvieux ( #Iamold for men) or #jesuisvieille ( #Iamold for women).  The timeline for the hashtag was filled with often humorous, sometimes sweet updates and provides a good snapshot of the evolution of information technology usage and its demographics.
It is unclear whether the article in the New York Times on July 15 entitled: “Aging Gracefully, the French Way” has anything to do with the twitter trend but aging is certainly on a lot of people's mind in the francophone world and they seemingly embrace it openly.
A few newspapers have collected and curated the best of them. Here is an article by Coline Bérard at L'Express.fr: “Twitter c'est pour les vieux”, (twitter is for old people in English) and Belgian newspaper Le Soir is currently posting and monitoring a live blogging session about the #Jesuisvieux hashtag on the Cover It Live platform.

Screenshot of the #Jesuistropvieux tag on Trendsmap.com

According to Hashtags.org, #jesuisvieux hash tag made up to 0.03% of tweets worldwide on July 27.
Here are a few tweets that have caught out attention:

From @JocelyneRobert in Montréal, Canada:

On ne brimait pas nos élans sexuels avec la menace des ITS mais avec la menace de l'enfer #jesuisvieille

We did not suppress our libido with the threat of STDs but with the the threat of hell #IamOld

Pierre Côté:

J'ai surfé sur le WWW en utilisant NETSCAPE #jesuisvieux

I surfed the web using Netscape

Anna Gueye from Senegal and La Hague, Holland:

#jesuisvieux il y avait des 1ères classes dans le métro #jesuisvieille

There were first class seats in the metro

slim404 in Tunisia:

Le 7 nov. 1987 j'étais content. Mon père m'a dit : “tu va pas à l'école aujourd'hui, on ne sait jamais” #jesuisvieux

On Nov 7 1987, my dad told me:” You are not going to class today, who knows what can happen.

@bravepatrie:

J'ai vu des ministres démissionner quand ils étaient mis en cause dans des affaires. #jesuisvieux

Ministers actually resigned when they were implicated in scandals

Necessepas:

J'ai été amoureuse d'Albator #jesuisvieille http://youtu.be/SpE9Yo9dmIo

Boris:

Je me souviens avoir vu la comète de Halley #jesuisvieux

I remember seeing Halley's comet

sophiedurocher:

Dans ma jeunesse, il n'y avait pas Internet pour que des anonymes qui n'ont pas de vie déversent leur haine et leur mépris. #jesuisvieille

When I was young, There was no internet for no-life anonymous people to pour down their hatred and comtempt

Dugomo:

Voler des 33 tours, c'était quand même plus héroïque que télécharger #jesuisvieux

Stealing LP records took more guts than downloading songs

Kristalynm9:

J'ai déjà imprimer un travail de Cégep sur une imprimante a ruban de Commodore 64 a @tremblay96 #jesuisvieux

I did a print job for CEGEP on a Commodore 64 printer in @tremblay96

fastclemmy:

on est tous le vieux de quelqu'un #jesuisvieux

We all are someone else's elder

Finally Lionel suggests that one of the top contributors to the meme is Global Voices own's Anna Gueye:

lionelchollet:

L'une des toutes meilleures séries #jesuisvieux #jesuisvieille, au niveau mondial, est, sans conteste, celle d'@annagueye http://is.gd/dN00B

One of the best #jesuisvieux #jesuisvieille series worldwide is wihtout a doubt @AnnaGueye's

June 21 2010

Martinique: Regional Reactions after Insult

By Fabienne Flessel

Martinican Bondamanjak [Fr] tries to explain the dismissal of Martinican native football player Nicolas Anelka [Fr] after he insulted his coach. Meanwhile, Guadeloupean B. World Connection has re-published [Fr] posts [Fr] about the latest developments.

May 09 2010

Guadeloupe: “No to Violence” Day

By Fabienne Flessel

In Guadeloupe, both Bondamanjak and Anba pyé mango-la post the announcement of an event designed to say “Yes to peace, No to violence” on May 8th, 2010.

Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana: Nestlé Going Local

By Fabienne Flessel

Blogger Anba pyé mango-la [Fr/Fr Cr] is sharing skeptical opinions about the new moves of multinational food company Nestlé towards the adaptation of local products and recipes from the French Caribbean.

April 27 2010

French West Indies, Haiti: Immigration then & now

Indiscrétions tells the story [Fr] of a Haitian girl deported from Guadeloupe by the French customs authority, for allegedly presenting fake identity documents at the airport, while Gwakafwika announces [Fr Cr] a conference about Guadeloupean immigration in Haiti from the 1800s to the 1900s.

Martinique, Guadeloupe: Celebrating two great women

Imaniyé pays homage [Fr] to Martinican-born actress, Jenny Alpha, who, at nearly 100 years of age, is the oldest French artist alive, while CaribCreoleNews announces [Fr] two events in memory of Guadeloupe's first female lawyer, communist and feminist activist, Gerty Archimede, who would have turned 101 this year.

March 20 2010

Martinique: Election, tension and abstention

On Sunday March 14th, all French citizens including those in the four French overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion) were asked to vote for the regional elections and the regional assembly in charge of devolved powers such as planning adult professional training, building and funding public high schools, financing and promoting cultural projects.

The vote took place in a very busy electoral period: Martinicans were asked to decide for more autonomy in their department, only in January.

Two major elections in a three-month period may have been too much for the 55.55% of Martinican voters who decided to stay home and not vote, as shown by Bondamanjak's post [Fr].

Blogger Evolution Martinique comments on [Fr] this high abstention figure:

Le grand vainqueur de ce 1er tour, est à l’évidence le taux record d’abstention (plus de 55%) […].

The winner of the 1st round is obviously the surprisingly high abstention rate (more than 55%) […].

In the same post, the blogger also gives possible reasons to explain why people resorted to abstention:

1. La répétition soutenue des consultations et des scrutins sur une période très dense entre le 10 janvier et le 14 mars.

2. La question du statut institutionnel aura été un enjeu majeur aux yeux des électeurs, reléguant les régionales dans la sphère de la politique politicienne.

3. La qualité bien terne du débat et des propositions politiques de même que le climat délétère dans lequel se déroula cette campagne.

4. Le choix incongru du vote au 2ième tour.

1. The repetition of ballots in a very short period from January 10th to March 14th.

2. The issue of the institutional status must have been more important in the eyes of the citizens, whereas the regional elections are considered as politicking.

3. The low quality of the debate and of the political programs as well as the noxious atmosphere of the campaign.

4. The incongruous choice of voting for the 2nd round.

Martinican blogger [moi]'s playground shares her opinion about the first round of the elections, in a post which details the results for each list, along with her personal comments. Incidentally, she sums up the central stake of this election in Martinique [Fr]:

Trois listes se maintiennent donc pour un second tour ou le duel Marie-Jeanne/Letchimy annoncé va connaître son épilogue.

Three lists are still in for the second round, in which the legendary duel between Marie-Jeanne and Letchimy will meet its end.

The same duel is acknowledged by Bondamanjak in a post entitled “André Lesueur, la troisième voix” (André Lesueur, the third voice).

Both [moi] and Bondamanjak comment on the significant decrease of right-wing voters in Martinique. She wonders [Fr]:

Depuis combien de temps la droite ne s’était pas retrouvée à un second tour d’élections régionales ?

Since when hasn't the right-wing qualified for the second round of regional elections?

A comment to Bondamanjak's post says [Fr]:

Juan […] j'ajouterai
pour terminer que la droite pour moi est menacée d'inutilité politique.

Juan […] to conclude, I'd say that in my opinion the right wing is threatened by political uselessness.

The remarks made by Martinican bloggers concerning the poor quality of the campaigns, the tiredness of the population with elections and the difficult position of the right-wing parties is not an exclusive feature of the overseas departments, since mainland French elections followed the very same pattern, as this post by French blogger Ma Liberté, explains.

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