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February 10 2014

INFOGRAPHIC: Pursuit of Happiness in Africa

Happiness Value Index for the African Continent via Afrigraphique CC-NC-2.0

Happiness Value Index for the African Continent via Afrigraphique CC-NC-2.0


The Afrographique blog mapped the happiness index for the African continent. Topping the ranking are Angola and Mauritius who hold the same happiness index as Albania and Russia, respectively. In related news, the Pharell’ single “Happy” has been used by dancers around the world to celebrate the new year 2014. All the videos are compiled at the blog We are Happy from . Below are the videos from Antanannarivo, Madagascar:

and Cotonou, Benin:

January 17 2014

Mauritius Tops Index of Economic Freedom Ranking in Africa

the 2013 Index of economic Freedom in Africa via Heritage Foundation - Public Domain

the 2013 Index of economic Freedom in Africa via Heritage Foundation – Public Domain

The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal published the latest Index of Economic Freedom and Mauritius ranks highest among African nations [fr]. It also ranks in the top ten worldwide. The index cites the following reasons for Mauritius high ranking:

Efficient and transparent regulations underpin a dynamic entrepreneurial environment and support diversified economic development

December 28 2013

PHOTOS: Humans of Comoros, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands

“The Humans of _____” concept is a photo project featuring street portraits and interviews of regular people collected from all over of the world. Originating with Brandon Stanton's popular Humans of New York, the idea has generated hundreds of spin-offs worldwide, from Latin America to South Asia to the Middle East and North Africa.

Though the African island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean counts its own Humans project, the phenomenon hasn't taken off yet on the nearby Mascarene Islands to the west or on Comoros to the northwest. We hope that the many talented photographs from the region will take up the challenge. To get started, here are a few photographs from Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Réunion.   

Humans of Comoros 

The following photo was taken by David Stanley in Moroni, the capital city of Grande Comore (Ngazidja). A young woman can be seen transporting a jar of water. Access to clean water is still a struggle in many part of Comoros:

Children collecting water from public taps in Moroni, Grande Comore, Union of the Comoros by David Stanley CC License -BY-2.0

Children collecting water from public taps in Moroni, Grande Comores, Union of the Comoros. Photo by David Stanley, CC License BY-2.0

Humans of Madagascar

Joey Ayoub, a Global Voices contributor who recently published a photo post on the Humans of the Middle East and North Africa, helped create the Facebook page for Humans of Madagascar. He then passed on the project to Lalah Ariniana, also a Global Voices contributor living in Madagascar. Here is the latest post on the Humans of Madagascar Facebook page:

“Tarika Mainty”a band created by kids playing drums and dancing in the streets of the Capital City by Lalah Ariniaina with her permission

In the accompanying blog post, Lalah goes into further detail about the life of these three children who started a band to earn a living [fr]:

j’ai fait la connaissance de trois garçons d’une dizaine d’années du groupe « Mainty » (Noir). Fabrice est à la batterie, Christian fait du bruit avec une corne (comme celle qu’on utilise pendant les fêtes d’anniversaire) et Cédric danse. Ils offrent des petits spectacles de rue en faisant le tour des quartiers du centre-ville.

I met three boys who are all about ten years old. They created the band “Mainty” (Black in Malagasy). Fabrice is on drums, Christian is using a self-made horn (like the one used at birthday parties) and Cedric provides the dancing. They do small street performances by touring neighborhoods of downtown Antananarivo.

Humans of Mauritius

There isn't yet a Humans of Mauritius blog, so the Humans of Dubai page posted a few photos to initiate the project. Here is a photo of a typical snack store in Port Louis:

Man in front of grocery store in Port Louis via Humans of Dubai with permission

Man in front of grocery store in Port Louis via Humans of Dubai with permission

Humans Of Reunion
A Humans of La Réunion page also hasn't been created yet, but a good starting place is the photos shared by Ile de La Réunion Tourisme (IRT) Facebook page. They provide a wide variety of photographs illustrating the diversity of the island. Here is a photo of artists from Saint Maxime, Reunion island:

Maxime Laope and their kids in Reunion with their permission

Maxime Laope and their kids in Reunion with their permission

January 02 2013

Mauritius and Reunion Island Brace for Cyclone Dumile Impact

Rain falls hard in Mauritius as Cyclone Dumile makes landfall via lexpress.mu -Public Domain

Lexpress.mu reports that Mauritius is on high alert [fr] as cyclone Dumile makes landfall on the island. Agaléga island was hit hard [fr] and was in blackout for 24h. Réunion island is also on high alert [fr].

November 12 2012

February 29 2012

International Mother Language Day in Francophone Regions

[The original article in French was written jointly by Samy Boutayeb, Claire Ulrich, and Suzanne Lehn.]

International Mother Language Day was celebrated worldwide on February 21. (editor's note: the original article in French was published on February 21.) It is an officially recognized festival or celebration which showcases languages and the efforts which have been made to preserve them.

A little known fact is that the celebration of  Mother Language Day originated in Bengladesh to honor an act of patriotism :

The date, February 21, was chosen as International Mother Language Day to commemorate the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to uphold the dignity of their Mother Language Bangla, on this very day in 1952. This was one of the rare instances in world history where people fearlessly gave up their lives for the sake of their mother language.

February 21 is a holiday in Bangladesh; though it is celebrated worldwide, it is not an official holiday elsewhere. This day was proclaimed an International Day by UNESCO in 1999.

The occasion is so meaningful in the region that it has inspired a joint celebration at the border of India and Bangladesh to strengthen the existing ties between the two countries.

India and Bangladesh will jointly observe International Mother Language Day in the no-man's-land along their borders, in an initiative to encourage individual relations between the two nations.

Africa : the rise of African languages

The theme of the Day this year is the introduction of mother languages in school instruction. With the re-awakening of local identities and cultures in Francophone Africa and elsewhere, one can see a resurgence and a renewed effort to promote African languages.

In Côte d'Ivoire, the action of the Ivorian Academy of Mother Languages resulted in the drafting of a decree [fr], concerning the teaching of mother languages.

On the island of Mauritius, social workers describe [fr] their hopes and concerns about the impact of optional courses in creole language on the long-term success and fundamental development of children:

L’introduction du kreol prévient donc les torts qu’on peut causer à un enfant en lui niant sa langue maternelle… Ces méfaits sont connus : baisse de la confiance en soi et impact négatif sur l’apprentissage des autres langues.

The introduction of creole prevents the potential detriment to a child by denying his or her mother language. These impacts  are well-known : loss of self-esteem, and a negative impact on the learning of other languages.

In Guinea, Global Voices author Abdoulaye Bah  notes [fr] on his personal blog, Konakry Express :

Depuis quelques jours, le bruit courait que le gouvernement du Président Condé allait bientôt introduire l’enseignement des langues nationales dans le système d’enseignement dans le pays. C’est bien étrange que dans le monde entier, il n’y a rien de nouveau dans cette initiative. Mais le 25 avril, j’ai reçu un message d’une amie me disant:

“Le décret vient d’être signé pour créer un ministère des langues nationales et de l’alphabétisation.”

In recent days, it had been rumored that the government of President Condé would soon introduce the instruction of national languages into our country's educational system. This is quite strange, in that worldwide, there is nothing new about this initiative. But on April 25th, I received a message from a friend, saying:

“A decree has just been signed to create a Ministry of National Languages and Literacy.”

The Internet in the service of endangered languages

It is on the Internet that mother languages which are rare, endangered, or little-used because of the lack of computer keyboards adapted to their calligraphy, are progressing. For example, the project “Enduring Voices” launched by the National Geographic Society in America, which puts “talking dictionaries” online:

giving listeners across the world a chance to hear sounds which are among the least-known in human discourse.

There are eight dictionaries thus far : Tuvan, Ho, Siletz Dee-Ni, Matukar Panau, Chamacoco, Remo, Muniche and Saura.

A new alliance has been born between African languages and technology, thanks to podcasts. It is through them that a very old form of popular culture, the folk story, is being reborn in Apple Stores and in other audio-file libraries. For example, this story in the Bambara language (from Mali)  ”L'écureuil et le serpent (The Squirrel and the Snake)” recorded by another member of  the Global Voices Francophone community, Boukary Konaté.
“L”écureuil et le serpent “Conte en langue bambara (mp3)

The french version can be found  here.

Other signs of a new alliance between technology and African mother languages, previously little-appreciated in business and in society: the increasingly frequent appearance of iPhone applications written in African languages, for example in Yoruba.

Young girls in Bretagne, France. By ghislainedarmor on Flickr (Creative Commons license)

In metropolitan France, linguistic regions also have a renewed interest in their mother languages, and the city of Quimper marked the occasion with a Breton-language tour [fr] of the sights of the village. Meanwhile, the city of Parthenay celebrates “Parlanjhe“, its own regional language, or langue d'oïl.

As maybe a sign of the times,  the album Bretonne by French singer Nolwenn Leroy, sung in Breton, has sold more than one million records, without raising an eyebrow among the French. Today, in the era of mixed families and languages, it is possible to have more than one mother language, without causing jealousy. And it's all for the better.

October 26 2011

Mauritius: Tikoulou, Children’s Literature Success Story

Christophe Cassiau-Haurie writes about  the sucess story of Tikoulou, a collection of books for children published in Mauritius, which has captivated  4 to 9-year old  Mauritian children since 1998.  Tikoulou has now become a best seller of Francophone children’s literature.

October 17 2011

Poetry Slam Activism in Francophone Africa

In the past 10 months social movements have sprung around the world at an impressive pace. It all started with an act of despair in the town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, and has now spread across 87 countries and 951 cities around the world according to the organizers of the United for #GlobalChange (October 15) Movement.

Demonstrating outside institutions is one way of expressing a desire for change in a society.  However, other forms of activism have existed for a while now and are now rekindled all around the world as a show of protest against the status-quo. Poetry slam is a well-known channel of expression for many activists in North America but the rest of the world has now embraced this unique blend of poetry and rhythmic oral story telling.

Many have found it difficult at times to relate to a form of expression that is often wrongly perceived as limited to the urban youth of North America. Poetry slam is however now firmly entrenched in the culture of many countries, especially in Africa because it incorporates the African tradition of oral story telling. Here are a few examples of poetry slam across the African continent and the context in which they were expressed.

The Arab revolution

King Bobo on UniversalSlam wrote a tribute to the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya entitled ‘Liberté chérie j’écris ton nom‘ ( Beloved freedom, I write thy name) [fr]:

Liberté chérie j’écris ton nom
Ecoutez ce vent de liberté qui souffle dans toutes les langues
La jeunesse tunisienne s’exprime sur les murs
Avec des slogans tracés à la peinture
Liberté, liberté, liberté
La jeunesse égyptienne grave sur les sépultures
Des hiéroglyphes modernes inscrits pour le futur
La jeunesse syrienne ne voit que des balles perdues
Qui ricochent un peu partout et qui tracent sur les murs
Les poètes libyens de Benghazi murmurent
Des poèmes satiriques comme des caricatures

Beloved Freedom, I write thy name
Listen to the wind of liberty that blows in all languages
Tunisian youth write on the walls
With slogans drawn as paintings
Freedom, freedom, freedom
Egyptian youth etch on the graves
Modern hieroglyphics inscribed for the future
Syrian youth only see stray bullets
That ricochet around and leave marks on the walls
Libyan poets in Benghazi murmur
Satirical poems as caricatures

Algeria

Fodil Belhadj, an Algerian author, poet and blogger on Regards Africains (African eyes) [fr], slams about the promise of Algeria's independence [fr] and makes an analogy with his own story and his exile from his homeland [fr]

Fodil Belhadj also posts on his blog an open letter to the Algerian army [fr] :

.. Cela s’appelle l’autodétermination Chère Armée Algérienne. L’aurais-tu par je ne sais quel crime oublié ? Ah oui j’avais oublié que les Algériens s’étaient « trompés » en mandatant 188 députés du Front islamique du salut. Oui c’est vrai z’avaient qu’à pas voter pour de méchants islamistes, alors que toi tu es tellement, tellement sympathique. Chère Armée Algérienne. C’est tout ce que tu as trouvé comme argument spécieux, s’il en est, pour écraser ton propre peuple et rassurer « ta » communauté internationale…!
Sache donc grande muette puisque tu feins de ne point le comprendre, et à défaut de l’admettre, que démocratie signifie : Se soumettre au verdict des urnes.

.. it's called self-determination, my dear Algerian army. How could you possibly forget? That's right, I forgot that Algerian “made a mistake” by voting for 188 MPs [Members of Parliament] of the Islamic Front (FIS). It's true that they should not have voted for the bad, mean Islamists and that you are so much more sympathetic. My dear Algerian army. Is that all the argument you have left to keep oppressing your people and reassure “your” international community.. ?
You ought to know, oh great silent one [nickname given to the army in many francophone nations], even if you pretend not to get it, that democracy means accepting the verdict of the voting poll

Republic of Congo

Abd al Malik is a well-known singer and poet who grew up in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Socially and politically engaged, most notably on the perception of Islam in France, he created with other artists the group ‘New African Poets' (NAP) [fr]. In his poem, ‘Soldat de plomb' (Toy soldier), Malik describes the struggle of a disaffected youth trying to fit in:

Soldat de plomb, soldat de plomb
Bien sûr qu'un sourire nous aurait fait plaisir,
Juste un peu d'attention et peut-être ça aurait été autrement.
Nous aurions été des enfants normaux et pas des enfants soldats,

Toy soldier, toy soldier
Of course a smile would have been nice,
A little bit of attention and maybe things have gone differently
We could have been normal children instead of child soldiers

Morocco

In Morocco, the independent news portal Mamfakinch described how the February 20 movement voiced their desire for change a few months ago in a different manner [fr]:

Nous sommes jeunes, nous sommes capables d’innovation ! Pour ne pas tomber dans la banalisation de nos formes de protestation, et au vu de l’essoufflement que peuvent ressentir nos concitoyens et principalement les jeunes par les sit-in répétitifs, la coordination de Rabat des jeunes du 20 févier a décidé de diversifier ses formes des contestations.
C’est dans cet esprit nous avons choisi, après un long débat, de faire un Flash-mob: Plus précisément, un Freeze ( on explique plus bas le principe) et un petit concert de musique et poèmes contestataires.

We are young and we are capable of innovating! For the protests not to grow stale, and since we've seen citizen movement, especially the youngsters grow tired by the repeated sit-ins, the coordination committee decided to diversify its way of protesting.
After a lengthy debate, we chose to do a flash-mob, more precisely a freeze, a small concert and some activist poetry.

Here is a video of part of the protest:

Madagascar

Some may argue that the original seeds of peotry slam were sowed in Madagascar. Malagasy culture has always incorporated Hainteny (Malagasy for “knowledge of words”), a traditional form of Malagasy oral literature and poetry involving heavy use of metaphor.

Kabary is the the spoken public discourse of the Hainteny and the earlier form of Kabary dates back to the 18th century. Kabary are often used during social gathering such as engagement parties or wedding where the speaker for each family would engage in verbal jousting. Usually declined by men, here is a rare instance of a Kabary spoken by Malagasy women [mg]:

Mauritius

Poetry slam has also taken a foothold on the island of Mauritius. Stefan Hart de Keating also known as StefH2K is one of the pioneer of poetry slam in the Indian Ocean. StefH2K explains that the presence during the slam is just as important as the quality of the text.

Fictif discusses the identity crisis that the Asian minority can sometimes feel in Mauritius [fr, kr]:

LE Sino-Mauricien

Aujourd’hui
Je veux slamer
Pour tous ceux
Qui comme moi en ont marre
D’être mis à l’écart
Car je ne suis pas qu’un petit Chinois
Mais un Mauricien
Comme toi… comme toi… comme toi
Oublie mon accent chinois
Ma langue maternelle, c’est le créole
Ki to ti kroir toi ? Mo pa konn koz kréol ?
Même si je regarde Jackie Chan à la télé
Ou pratique le kung-fu
Fou, hein ?
Ma danse préférée reste le séga

The Chinese-Mauritian

I want to slam
For those like me
Who are tired
Of being ostracized
Because I am not only a small Chinese guy
I am also a Mauritian
Like you, like you, like you
Forget my Chinese accent for a minute
My mother tongue is Creole
What did you think? That I cannot speak Creole?
Even if I watch Jackie Chan on TV
Or practice Kung-fu
Fooled you huh?
My favorite dance is still séga

There are many causes for which people protests in the streets or engage in political discourse. What has come to fruition is that the manner in which we do so tend to feed into one another more rapidly. Similarily, poetry slam has moved beyond borders to reach as a unique channel for self-expression and social activism. In fact, the rise of social media probably played a role in the quicker dissemination of poetry slam as a universal voice for the oppressed.

September 16 2011

Mauritius: The First Rally of the “Outraged” Youth

Khal Torabully on Africultures analyses [fr]  the emerging  movement of “outraged” (indignés) youth in Mauritius, where their first demonstration[fr] took place on September 10.  “What if this “digital 2.0″ movement heralded a genuine revolution, making room for a new political culture, and encouraging the country to reflect in a more modern way on the political and economical issues of this small democracy anchored in the Indian Ocean?”.

February 28 2011

Africa: Let's Talk About African Governments

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

lgazissax discusses African governments: “The uprisings in northern Africa and the Middle East had gotten me wondering about certain things I’d read about problems of African government in general, and I wanted to see how they played out in different countries.”

February 08 2011

Mauritius: Press freedom slipping away

Written by Ndesanjo Macha

Mauritius is no longer a shinning light for press freedom in Africa: “Mauritius is cited today as one of the few havens of press freedom in Africa, but for Raj Meetarbhan, left, editor-in-chief of the island's largest newspaper L'Express, the country is fast losing its glow.”

November 07 2010

October 08 2010

September 17 2010

Mauritius: Facing Their Past in South Africa's Footsteps

By Abdoulaye Bah · Translated by Savannah Goyette · View original post [fr]

South Africa came up with the idea for a national commission for justice, victim rehabilitation, and national reconciliation in order to heal the wounds left by the apartheid policy, implemented from 1948 to 1991.

In an article on Togo from July 21, Kodjo Epou explained [FR] the justifications and goals of a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission on the site afrik.com:

La recherche d’une co-existence pacifique d’anciens ennemis a conduit, dans une trentaine de pays à travers le monde, à mettre sur pied des structures éminemment politiques appelées : Commission Vérité-Justice et Réconciliation (CVJR). La plus connue sur le continent africain, est celle d’Afrique du Sud. Des pays comme le Rwanda, le Ghana, le Maroc, le Nigéria, la Sierra Léone, la Centrafrique l’ont choisie pour paver la voie vers la réconciliation. Le Kenya a crée sa propre commission après les violences électorales de décembre 2007.

“The search for peaceful co-existence among former enemies led, in about thirty countries worldwide, to the development of eminently political structures called the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR — Commission Vérité-Justice et Réconciliation en français). South Africa's is the most well-known on the African continent. Countries such as Rwanda, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Central African Republic have chosen it to pave the way towards reconciliation. Kenya created its own commission after the election violence in December 2007.”

In South Africa, thanks to the goodwill of leaders such as Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk and Msgr. Desmond Tutu — all three of whom have received the Nobel Peace Prize — the results were generally positive. The country made a smooth transition from a policy that was racist towards the majority to a majority government without a hint of vengeance. As Claude Wauthier recalled [FR] on the online version of monde-diplomatique.fr in 2005:

Le principe en était simple : bénéficieraient d’une amnistie tous ceux qui viendraient devant la commission « confesser » en quelque sorte leurs exactions – il s’agissait surtout de membres de la police qui avaient torturé, et parfois tué, des militants des mouvements de libération noirs, principalement le Congrès national africain (ANC) de Nelson Mandela. L’amnistie des requérants était soumise à deux conditions : d’abord de ne rien omettre de leurs crimes et délits dans leur déposition, ensuite d’avoir agi sur ordre de leur hiérarchie tout en croyant servir un « objectif politique » (une prétendue défense de la race blanche, par exemple). Contrairement à ce qu’avait publiquement craint l’ancien président Frederik De Klerk, la révélation des sévices souvent atroces infligés par les bourreaux n’a pas entravé la réconciliation entre les communautés noire et blanche. La Commission a ainsi réussi la catharsis qu’elle s’était fixée comme objectif.

The principle was simple: all those who came before the commission to “confess” to their abuses of power in some way would receive amnesty - they were mainly members of the police who had tortured, and sometimes killed, black liberation activists, especially those of Nelson Mandela's African National Congress. The claimant's amnesty was subject to two conditions: first that they omit nothing about their crimes and offences in their statement, and to have acted on the orders of their superiors while believing to serve a “political objective” (a supposed protection of the white race, for example). Contrary to what former President Frederik De Klerk had publicly feared, the exposure of the often atrocious abuse inflicted by the executioners did not hinder the reconciliation between black and white communities. The Commission thus achieved the catharsis it had set as a goal.

Flag of Mauritius by timparkinson on Flickr- CC license 2.0

In 2008, Mauritius decided to follow South Africa's example to think about injustices with even older origins. A bill for the establishment of a Truth and Justice Commission [FR] was passed by Parliament in 2008. It started its work in April 2009. The site grioo.com thus explained [FR] the wounds that need healing:

L’Ile Maurice a connu dans un premier temps l’esclavage, avec plus de 66 000 esclaves venant non seulement d’Afrique mais aussi d’Inde et de Malaisie. Après l’abolition de l’esclavage, en 1835, le système de l’engagisme y a été mis en place, en même temps qu’à l’île de la Réunion ou qu’aux Comores. Travailleurs africains, antillais, indiens et malais étaient exploités et même s’ils avaient retrouvé la liberté première et brisés leurs chaînes. C’est ainsi que l’Ile Maurice s’est construite, développée et enrichie.

Mauritius first experienced slavery, with more than 66,000 slaves from not only Africa but from India and Malaysia as well. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, the system of indentureship was put in place, at the same time as Réunion and the Comoros. African, Caribbean, Indian, and Malay workers were exploited, even if they regained their freedom first and broke their chains. In this way, Mauritius was built, developed, and enriched.

Gérard Cateaux thus reported [FR] on the establishment of this CVJR and on the Prime Minister's speech to the Parliament on the blog Le mauricien:

Dans son intervention au Parlement, mardi dernier, en présentant le projet de loi sur l’institution de cette Commission Justice et Vérité, le Premier ministre, le Dr Navin Ramgoolam, n’en a pas été plus clair : il ne s’agira pas de règlements de comptes à rebours de l’histoire, mais d’aller à la recherche de la ’réconciliation, de la justice sociale et de l’unité nationale à travers le processus de rétablissement de la vérité historique… ’

Ces mots ont leur importance : ’Réconciliation’, ’Justice sociale’ et ’Unité nationale’. Nous en ajouterons quelques-uns : ’Rassembler ce qui est épars… ’ Cette Commission aura la lourde tâche de se réunir pour établir et prévoir - si tant est que la démarche soit possible - de mettre en lumière ce que sera le citoyen mauricien du siècle présent et la qualité dominante préludant à son bonheur.

In his speech to Parliament last Tuesday as he introduced the bill on the establishment of the Truth and Justice Commission, the Prime Minister, Dr. Navin Ramgoolam, could not have made himself more clear: It will not be about going back in history to settle scores, but about going in search of ‘reconciliation, social justice, and national unity through the restoration process of historical truth…'

These words are important: ‘Reconciliation', ‘Social Justice' and ‘National Unity'. We will also add: ‘Gathering the scattered…' This Commission will have the difficult task of getting together to establish and plan - that is if it is possible - to highlight who the Mauritian citizen of this century will be and the main quality preluding his or her happiness.

This article provoked the following response from Louis-René Dalai highlighting the differences between the cases of apartheid slavery and the indenture [FR]:

Je trouve l’idée de créer une “Commission Justice et Vérité” à Maurice, une excellente initiative, à condition que le but final soit d’aider à construire une “Vraie Nation Mauricienne”, et non pas de diviser notre population en “descendants d’esclaves”, en descendants “d’Engagés”, et en descendants de “Méchants Colons”…..

D’essayer de copier la “Commission Justice et Vérité”, mise en place en Afrique du Sud, avec un résultat très bénéfique, puisque ceux qui sont venus témoigner, étaient responsables “eux-mêmes”, des “deux côtés”, des crimes commis contre “leurs frères Sud Africains !!!….Mais dans le cas de l’île Maurice, les responsables de l’Esclavage, ainsi que leurs victimes, ne sont plus là, aujourd’hui, pour apporter leur témoignage !!!…..

Etant, moi-même, descendant d’ancêtres” esclavagistes”….avec le décalage des générations depuis la période 1835/1840…..Je ne me considère nullement responsable des “crimes” commis, éventuellement, par mes ancêtres !!!…tandis qu’en Afrique du Sud, la situation est totalement différente !!!…

I think the idea of creating a “Truth and Justice Commission” is an excellent initiative, provided that the final goal is to help build a “True Mauritian Nation,” and not to divide our population into “descendants of slaves,” descendants of “soldiers,” and descendants of “evil colonists”…..

To try to copy the “Truth and Justice Commission,” established in South Africa, with a very beneficial result, since those who testified, were “themselves” responsible, from “both sides,” for the crimes committed against “their South African brothers”!!!….But in Mauritius' case, the people responsible for slavery, as well as their victims, are no longer here, today, to give their testimony!!!…..

Being, myself, descended from “slave owner” ancestors….with the generation gap since the 1835/1840 period…..I do not at all consider myself responsible for the “crimes” committed, possibly, by my ancestors!!!….whereas in South Africa, the situation is totally different!!!…

On August 25,  lexpress.mu online reported that:

Des 350 dossiers enregistrés à ce jour à la Commission Justice et Vérité, la majorité concerne des revendications de terrains. Sur les six cas entendus ce mercredi 25 août, devant le président Alex Boraine, cinq font état de réclamation de terrains, allant de 100 toises à 78 arpents. Pour Jacques David, l'un des assesseurs de la Commission, chaque cas a son importance et il fait bien ressortir qu'un titre de propriété est seulement le début d'une longue série de recherches.

Of the 350 cases registered so far at the Truth and Justice Commission, the majority are land claims. Of the six cases heard this Wednesday, August 25, before president Alex Boraine, five cite land claims, ranging from 213 yards to 78 acres. For Jacques David, one of the Commission's assessors, every case is important and it is clear that a title deed is only the beginning of a long series of investigations.

July 21 2010

Mauritius: Wooden sculptures at Caudan

By Ndesanjo Macha

Photos of beautiful wooden sculptures at Caudan in Mauritius: “Somehow, each time I go to Caudan, I need to go near those guys sculpting those wonderful crafts.”

July 09 2010

African Soldiers on the Champs Elysees on Bastille Day

By Mialy Andriamananjara

RTL Info writes about France's invitation to former colonies to parade on the Champs Elysees on July 14, Bastille Day.
“Des détachements de treize pays africains (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, République centrafricaine, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Sénégal, Tchad et Togo) défileront aux côtés de l'armée française sur les Champs Elysées. En Belgique, la participation de militaires congolais au défilé de la Fête nationale, le 21 juillet, un moment envisagée, a été annulée à la suite du tollé déclenché par une déclaration faite en mars par le ministre de la Défense, Pieter De Crem.”
“Thirteen african countries (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, République centrafricaine, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Sénégal, Tchad et Togo) will parade beside the French army on the Champs Elysees. In Belgium, participation of Congolese soldiers at the national day parade, July 21, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Congo's independence, has been cancelled after the vehement protests following the declaration in March of the Belgian Minister of Defence, Pieter De Crem.”
Hubert Falco, secretary of state for veteran affairs, explains :
« Le président de la République a invité nos partenaires africains à ouvrir le défilé », a-t-il déclaré mardi au musée de l’Armée, à l’hôtel des Invalides de Paris. Il inaugurait un cycle d’hommage aux anciens combattants africains intitulé « Force Noire - Tirailleurs 2010 » qui comprendra, outre le défilé, la publication d’un manuel scolaire sur ce thème et des expositions.
« La présence de détachements des forces armées africaines sur les Champs-Élysées, leur défilé devant leurs aînés, anciens combattants de l'armée française, sera une image forte de cette année 2010 », a avancé Hubert Falco. « Pendant cent ans, depuis la création des premiers corps de Tirailleurs sénégalais par Napoléon III en 1857 jusqu'aux années 1960, ils ont servi la France avec loyauté, courage, abnégation », a-t-il ajouté.
La « Force noire » était le surnom donné aux troupes coloniales par le général Charles Mangin. Ces troupes étaient également appelées Tirailleurs sénégalais, bien qu’également originaires de plusieurs pays, aujourd'hui la Mauritanie, le Mali, la Guinée, la Côte-d'Ivoire, le Niger, le Burkina Faso ou encore, entre autres, le Bénin et le Tchad.
“The President has invited our African partners to open the parade.” he announced tuesday at the Museum of the Army, at the Invalides of Paris. He opened a cycle of hommage to former African soldiers entitled “Black Forces - Tirailleurs 2010″, which comprises, the parade, but also publication of a school textbook on the theme and other exhibits. ”The presence of African armies on the Champs Elysees, them parading before their elders, veterans of the French army, will be a strong image of the year 2010″ Hubert Falco supposes. During 100 years, since the creation of the Tirailleurs senegalais by Napoleon III in 1857 until the 1960s, they have served France with loyalty, courage, abnegation”, he added.  The “Black Force” was the nickname given to colonial troops by the general Charles Mangin. These troops were also called Tirailleurs senegalais, even though they came from many countries, nowadays called Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, and among others, Benin and Tchad.
Out of 14 countries to which invitations were issued, only Cote d'Ivoire declined, as reported on Afrik.com :
“Les Forces armées nationales de Côte d’Ivoire ne prendront pas part au défilé militaire prévu le 14 juillet à Paris, avec la participation des troupes des anciennes colonies africaines de la France, lit-on sur Abidjan.net. “Le président Gbagbo a tranché, nos troupes ne participeront pas au défilé du 14 juillet. Elles ont d’autres occupations au moment où la Côte d’Ivoire est en guerre”, a expliqué samedi l’ambassadeur de Côte d’Ivoire à Paris, Pierre Aimé Kipré. Il a également rappelé les contentieux qui opposent les deux pays depuis le début de la rébellion, en septembre 2002, notamment la destruction en 2004 de la flotte aérienne ivoirienne par les forces françaises et la mort en 2005 de plusieurs citoyens ivoiriens fauchés par des balles françaises.”
The Ivorian army will not participate in the military parade organized on July 14 in Paris, with the participation of other former African colonies of France, one reads on Abidjan.net. President Gbagbo has decided, our troups will not participate in the parade of July 14. They are otherwise occuped at this time when Cote d'Ivoire is at war”, has explained Pierre Aime Kipre, ambassador of Cote d'Ivore in Paris. He has also reminded the contentious issues opposing the two countries since the beginning of the rebellion, in september 2002, notably destruction in 2004 of the Ivoirian Air force fleet by French forces, and numerous Ivorian citizens' death in 2005 under French bullets.
On Jeune Afrique, Deb comments:
“Mais pourquoi meme défilé en france.. on dit le cinquantenaire d´independance  des pays africains et non de  l'europe..franchement .Comme si apres 50 ans l´afrique n´est pas capable de feter son anniversaire seule sans impliquations exterieurs.. la CI ny participeras pas, oui j'en suis fiere…”
But why even parade in France… One says this is the Fiftieth anniversaries of African countries, not European ones… Frankly… As if after 50 years Africa is unable to celebrate her anniversary alone, without external interference. Cote d'Ivoire will not take part in this parade and I am proud of it…
For others, this African Bastille Day reflects the ambiguity, the impasse of French politics towards Africa.
On lemonde.fr, one reads:
que fête-t-on ? A l'évidence, le bilan de ce demi-siècle d'indépendance pour les peuples concernés n'est glorieux ni pour la France ni pour les Etats africains. Rend-on hommage aux sacrifices des tirailleurs coloniaux des deux guerres mondiales ? Pas de quoi pavoiser non plus, puisqu'il a fallu la récente décision du Conseil constitutionnel pour que le principe de l'égalité des pensions des anciens soldats africains et français soit enfin reconnue. Quant au défilé sous l'Arc de triomphe d'armées africaines dont certaines ont participé récemment à de sanglantes répressions, il apparaît pour le moins ambigu.”
What is one celebrating? Evidently the results of this half-century of independence for involved people is not glorious for France, nor for the African states. Does one honor the sacrifices of colonial soldiers under the two world wars? Nothing to be proud of either, because the recent decision of the Constitutionnal Council was sorely needed for the recognition of the principle of equality between retirement benefits for African veterans and French veterans. And seeing African armies parade, under the Arc de Triomphe, some of whom have recently participated in bloody repressions is at the very least ambiguous.
The ambiguity is a common theme reprised across African bloggers.
Joachim Vokouma on lefaso.net:
“A vrai dire, de nombreux Africains s’interrogent sur le sens de la participation des troupes africaines au défilé  du 14 juillet. Faut-il rappeler les horreurs, les massacres et les assassinats qui ont jalonné l’occupation coloniale ? Que célèbre t-on ?
La fin du mépris, des humiliations et du paternalisme ? Une Humanité enfin réconciliée ? Que le cinquantenaire des indépendances soit l’occasion, pour ceux dont l’humanité avait été mise entre parenthèse durant l’esclavage et la colonisation, de faire le point sur ce qu’ils ont fait de leur liberté recouvrée est sans doute plus que nécessaire.”
Many Africans wonder about the opportunity of African troops participating at the July 14 parade. Must one recall the horrors, massacres, murders that punctuated colonial occupation? What is one celebrating? The end of contempt, humiliations and paternalism? A finally reconciled Humanity? May the fiftieth anniversary of independances be the opportunity, for those whose humanity was put in between parenthesis during slavery and colonization, to deliberate on what they have done on their recovered freedom.

Mampouya, a Congolese blogger:
“Ce 14 juillet donc, les naïfs spectateurs français s’apprêtent à applaudir ce qu’il faut bien appeler des milices d’Etat (en tout cas au moins pour le Congo Brazzaville) sous couvert d’armées nationales. Prudent, le gouvernement français a pris grand soin d’éviter que les organes de presse “hostiles” rencontrent les membres des détachements militaires invités. Il y aurait-il des choses à cacher ?”
This July 15, the unsuspecting French onlookers are getting ready to applaud what one must call state militias (at least for Congo Brazzaville) masquerading as national armies. The French government has carefully avoided inviting “hostile” media organizations, and they will not meet with military guests. Are they hiding anything?
Joachim Vouakoma again on watching armies with sinister acts parading on the Champs Elysees :

« Verra t-on défiler toutes les armées y compris celles qui ont commis des massacres ? », interroge une journaliste allemande.
Allusion aux massacres de 150 civils commis par l’armée guinéenne fin septembre dernier dans le stade de Conakry. Jacques Toubon qui est tout sauf un néophyte en affaires « françafricaines », feint pourtant l’ignorance, botte en touche et renvoie la question à son auteur : « Pourriez-vous me dire quelles sont les armées qui ont massacré ou qui massacrent ? ». Il finira par révéler que de toute façon, ayant pris son indépendance en 1958 après son refus du référendum de la même année, la Guinée ne faisait pas partie des invités. Au Niger, où un coup d’état a mis fin à la dérive autoritaire de Mamadou Tandja, Paris espère que des élections seront organisées d’ici juillet. Quant au président malgache, c’est en catimini que Jacques Toubon l’a rencontré à Paris et son cas est pour le moins embarrassant.
Will we see armies parading including those who committed massacres, asks a German journalist. Reference to the massacres of 150 civilians committed by the Guinean army end september in the Conakry stadium. Jacques Toubon is all but a newbie in Francafrican business, and feigns ignorance, asks the question back “Can you tell me which armies have massacred or are massacring”. He ends up revealing that after getting its independence in 1958 after having rejected the referendum the same year, Guinea will not be part of the guests. In Niger, where a coup d'etat ended the authoritarian drift of Mamadou Tandja, Paris hopes that elections will be organized by July. As for the Malagasy President, Jacques Toubon met with him in secret in Paris, and his case is at the very least embarrassing.
Alain Rajaonarivony, a Malagasy blogger :
Une quarantaine de militaires de la Grande Ile qui doivent défiler pour le 14 juillet sont depuis hier à Paris. 36 officiers malgaches ont été décorés pour «service rendu à la France». 8 militaires français ont reçu en retour des distinctions, on ne sait trop pourquoi. Roindefo Monja a profité de son séjour hexagonal pour déposer une gerbe au monument des soldats malgaches morts pour la France, au Bois de Vincennes. Et le ministre de l’Education est en train de détricoter complètement les réformes de Marc Ravalomanana pour s’aligner sur le système français. On revient aux trimestres au lieu des bimestres, et au Lycée, on aura désormais les filières S (scientifiques) et L (littéraires) comme en France. Quand on vous dit que tout va bien… !
About forty soldiers of the Great Island who will parade on July 14 have arrived in Paris yesterday. 36 Malagasy officers have been decorated for “rendered services to France”. 8 French soldiers have received in return mentions, one does not really know why. Roindefo Monja (Note of the author : former Prime Minister) has taken advantage of his stay in France to place flowers at the monument of Malagasy soldiers fallen for France, at the Bois de Vincennes. And the minister of Education is busily dismantling Marc Ravalomanana's reform to align the Malagasy educational system with the French one. We are back to trimesters, no more semesters, and  we will have now S (Scientific) and L (Literary) high school diploma fields. When I told you everything is all right…
Others wonder why Black African countries are the only one parading:

sans revenir sur les détails du débat, la question à laquelle la France et ses partisans africains ne peuvent pas répondre, c’est de savoir pourquoi c’est l’Afrique Noire seule qui est invitée à cette cérémonie et non pas le Maroc, la Tunisie, l’Algérie, le Vietnam pour ne citer que certaines anciennes colonies françaises?
Cette cérémonie ne commémore pas notre indépendance mais bel et bien notre dépendance. C’est simplement insultant pour les peuples Africains.

Without rehashing the details of this debate, the question that France and her African partners cannot answer is why is it that only black African countries were invited to this ceremony and not Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Vietnam among the former French colonies? This ceremony is not to commemorate our independence but actually our dependence. This is just plainly insulting for African people.

Senegalese historian Fadel Dia on his blog:

:

“le minimum serait d’exiger que la France fasse auparavant ce qu’elle n’a pas fait en 1960 : solder ses comptes à l’endroit de ses anciens combattants d’Afrique, qui l’avaient servie et s’étaient sacrifiés pour elle. Les soldats que Paris se propose d’inviter en 2010 sont les héritiers de ces combattants oubliés dont ils doivent porter les revendications et auxquels la France peut rendre justice, définitivement et solennellement, pour boucler un demi-siècle d’occasions manquées.
Si les soldats africains doivent défiler à Paris le 14 juillet 2010, alors que ce soit plutôt les éclopés et les survivants de 39-45, d’Indochine et d’Algérie, pour étaler aux yeux des Français leurs illusions perdues et leur détresse de serviteurs mal récompensés. Il est temps, enfin, que la dette du sang que leur doit la France cesse d’être un « contentieux  », pour devenir le « gage d’une histoire commune », que les Tirailleurs Sénégalais ne soient plus, comme le craignait Senghor, des « morts  gratuits », que les Français réalisent qu’il ne s’agit pas ici seulement « d’un devoir de mémoire » mais « d’un devoir d’histoire et de vérité » selon le mot du député socialiste Alain Rousset.”
The minimum would be to demand from France that she does what she did not do in 1960 : to settle her accounts towards the African veterans, who have served her and sacrificed themselves. Veterans that Paris invites in 2010 are the heirs of the forgotten veterans whose demands they should endorse, and to whom France can render justice, definitively and solemnly, to bring an end to this half century of missed opportunities. If African soldiers must parade in Paris on July 14 2010, it must be as survivors and war wounded of 39-45, of Indochina and Algerian wars, to showcase to the French their lost illusions and their distress of ill rewarded services. It is time, at last, that the blood debt owed by France ceases to be a “contentious point”, to become “a token of common history”, that the Tirailleurs Senegalais will not be, as Senghor feared, “gratuitous dead”, that the French realize that this is not only a “duty of memory”, but also “a duty of history and truth”, as told by the socialist parlementarian Alain Rousset.

June 28 2010

Mauritius: 30 Prisoners escape from jail

By Ndesanjo Macha

“Around 30 prisoners have escaped from the GRNW jail in Mauritius this evening. The prisoners attacked the jail officers at around 18.30 hrs today and fled as members of the public watched the scene with an utmost astonishment,” Island Crisis reports.

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