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February 26 2014

8 Dishes From Africa We Dare You To Try

Mopane worm. Photo released to be used freely by  Arne Larsen.

A live Mopane worm. Photo released to be used freely by Arne Larsen.

As we conclude “Food Month” here at Global Voices Online, let's take a look at eight dishes from Sub-Saharan Africa that might take you out of your culinary comfort zone. We dare you to try them”

1. Madora (mopane worms):

Delicious Mopane worms ready to serve. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com

Delicious Mopane worms ready to serve. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com

Madora (Gonimbrasia belina) is a species of moth found in much of Southern Africa, whose large edible caterpillar, the mopani or mopane worm, is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous Southern Africans.

If you want to try mopane worms, follow Zimbo Kitchen instructions here:

Before you run-off, madora are high in protein to the extent that it’s just what the doctor ordered. Here is the power of protein according to WebMD – “protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood“. No wonder why the folks in rural Zimbabwe escape many diseases suffered by us urbanites.

In Zimbabwe, this delicacy is often prepared in a simple and straight forward manner – frying. This is how I intend to do them today with a little variation of my own involving black pepper. You are good to go when you choose this combo: sadza, green veggies and mbuya’s tomato and onion soup to accompany this dish even though it’s still possible to have madora on their own as a crisp snack or with other combinations. Enough said, let’s start frying!

2. Nsenene (grasshoppers):

A male grasshopper. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Bruce Marlin.

A live male grasshopper. Photo released under Creative Commons license by Wikipedia user Bruce Marlin.

Nsenene” is the Luganda name for a long-horned grasshopper (more commonly called bush cricket or katydid) that is a central Ugandan delicacy as well as an important source of income. The insect is also eaten in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Follow these seven steps to make your grasshopper dish.

3. Bullfrog:

African bullfrog. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Stevenj

African bullfrog. Photo released under Creative Commons License by Wikipedia user Stevenj

Science in Africa blog explains how the frog is eaten in Namibia:

In Namibian traditional cuisine the entire frog is eaten, with the exception of the alimentary canal, which may be fed to dogs or poultry.

It continues:

Generally people are advised to wait until the Giant Bullfrogs start croaking or until “after the third rain” before eating them. Despite this caution people in some areas choose to eat frogs prematurely. However when they do so very specific anti-poisoning preventative measures are usually taken.

People from the Oshakati/Ongwediva [northern Namibia] area prevent poisoning by lining their cooking pots with pieces of dry wood from a tree locally known as Omuhongo (not to be confused by Omuoongo, the Marula tree). This wood apparently neutralises the frog poison while also preventing the frog skin from sticking to the pot bottom. “Nobody becomes ill from the disease when this cooking method is followed. In the Okambebe/Oshikango areas, where the Omuhongo tree appears to be unknown, people use the Omuva and Oshipeke trees instead. “Only two small pieces cut from Omuva or Oshipeke, when used to line the bottom of the pot while cooking frogs, will prevent the disease from attacking the culprit.

4. Mazondo (Beef trotters):

Mazondo (beef trotters) ready to be eaten. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com.

Mazondo (beef trotters) ready to be eaten. Photo used with permission from www.zimbokitchen.com.

Mazondo (Beef trotters) are amongst one of the favourite dishes for most Zimbabwean men and some women too. It’s best to slow cook them on your stove if you’re not cooking them pamoto (using firewood). The way to prepare them is pretty straight forward, much like pork trotters, maguru (tripe) or even beef stew which are prepared in more or less the same way here in Zimbabwe.

5. Termites:

Termits (white ants) in Sudan. Public domain photo from the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Termites (white ants) in Sudan. Public domain photo from the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Termites are also known as “white ants”, although they are unrelated to ants. They are a delicacy in many African cultures.

Here are photo instructions on how to fry flying termites.

6. Blood and milk:

Thomson Safaris blog notes:

[...] but much more fascinating [about the Maasai diet] (and possibly a little off-putting to the western palate) is the tradition of drinking raw blood, cooked blood, and blood-milk mixtures.

This is the traditional method of obtaining cow's blood:

they [Maasai] eat milk and blood which is harvested by puncturing the loose flesh on the cow's neck with an arrow. The wound is closed after a gourdfull of blood is obtained. This operation can be repeated every month or so with no harm to the cow. The Masai typically drink blood mixed with milk.

Brave enough to try it? Make a blood and milk concoction as follows:

Cow blood can be cooked with fresh or sour milk as follows: Pour the fresh blood through a sieve to separate it from the clots. Mix three parts liquid blood to one part milk (or equal parts blood and sour milk). Cook over low heat, stirring often, for twenty to thirty minutes. The mixture should thicken like scrambled eggs. If desired, butter, fried chopped onions, or salt can be added during cooking. Serve with Ugali, Fufu, or boiled Plantains, or Rice.

7. Mbewa (mice):

Mice is a well-known delicacy in northern Malawi, where it is known as “mbewa”, as well as in eastern Zambia.

The YouTube video below from Peter Larson shows roasted mice for sale:

Writing about “mbewa”, Peter Larson says:

Malawians are largely divided as to the culinary merit of Mbewa. Most love the Mbewa and consider it a delicious snack food. Others decry them as unfit for eating. Mbewa are caught and roasted over a fire, but clearly not roasted long enough to burn off the copious amounts of visible fur. Malawians then garnish them with salt and cayenne pepper and gnaw on them like jerky, consuming them completely, bones and all.

If you want to know all the social and cultural dynamics involved in mice-eating and, more importantly, how to hunt your own mice for dinner, read this blog post.

8. Palm tree larvae:

Next time you are hungry, try this one! Photo released under Creative Commons by Luigi Barraco.

Next time you are hungry, reach for one of these! Photo released under Creative Commons by Luigi Barraco.

Palm tree larvae is a delicious tropical treat and a great source of protein.

Follow cooking instructions [fr] from Cuisine Au Kamer to make your own delicious plate of palm tree larvae:

Nettoyer les larves: les laver à grande eau les ouvrir avec les doigts et enlever le liquide marron qui se trouve à l'intérieur des larves

Disposer directement chaque larve nettoyée dans la marmite qui sera utilisée pour les cuire. L'enlèvement du liquide marron à l'intérieur des larves colore les doigts en couleur marron, mais cette couleur s'enlève au lavage.

Préparer les condiments nécessaires: ail, basilic africain, oignon, pèbè, feuille de gingembre (odzom). Mélanger avec les larves et mettre au feu doux. Ne pas ajouter de l'eau. laisser cuire 25 à 30 mns à feu doux, le temps que les larves produisent leur huile, puis servir.

Wash really well with water, open the larvae with your fingers and remove the brown liquid that is inside the larvae.

Put each larva directly into the pot (don't worry if the brown liquid stains your fingers, this color can be removed with washing).

Prepare the necessary condiments: garlic, African basil, onion, pébé [a local spice in Cameroon], ginger leaves. Mix with the larvae and cook on a low heat. Do not add water. Cook for 25-30 minutes on a low heat until the larvae start melting, and then serve.

February 25 2014

Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Tendai Biti's House Bombed for Second Time

Zimbabwe's former finance minister Tendai Biti.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Photo released under Creative Commons by Chatham House.

Zimbabwe's former Finance Minister Tendai Biti's home was reportedly bombed in the early morning February 25, 2014, Twitter users and other media houses announced. He is one of the key members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a staunch critic of President Robert Mugabe.

Biti is the secretary general for Movement for Democratic Change, led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. His home was first bombed in 2011. No suspects have been arrested so far.

Although many people seem to suspect the government, one Twitter user, tinashe chirape, suggested that it was the work of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC):

Another user said the news of the bombing is fake:

February 17 2014

On the 11 Wives of Convicted Zimbabwean Preacher

Following the conviction of End Time Message church leader Martin Gumbura on multiple charges of rape, Sibusisiwe Bhebhe asks whether his 11 wives are victims, villains or victors:

In past weeks, Zimbabwean gossip – from the mainstream media to social media to bars and public transport – has been dominated by talk of the conviction, on multiple charges of rape, of End Time Message church leader Martin Gumbura’s, and the accompanying fate of his eleven wives.

“Who will now have his women?” asked one online publication.

An interesting question, and one which suggests these women are in need of rescuing – and salvation from (sexual) solitude – after their husband has been sentenced to 40 years in prison on four counts of rape and one for possession of pornographic material. It is also quite interesting that while such questioning suggests that these women are “his” (Gumbura’s), it is concurrently implied that these women are now public and charitable goods that someone must take over ownership of.

February 16 2014

The End of Zimbabwe's Kubatana Blog

Kubatana.net, an online community of Zimbabwe's activist, is discontinuing its blog:

Hello everybody and anybody out there!

Just a short note to say that we are discontinuing this blog so you won’t see any new posts on it. This isn’t because we’ve fallen asleep over our keyboards, it’s because we are hopefully going to be launching another platform soon that will keep some elements of this blog as well as adding some spice!

Change starts with us. Right?

Bye for now.

August 23 2013

At 89 Years Old, Zimbabwe President Mugabe Sworn in for Five More Years

President Robert Mugabe took the oath of office in Zimbabwe's capital city of Harare on August 22, 2013 after beating his closest rival, former Prime Minister of the coalition government Morgan Tsvangirai for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in the disputed July 31 presidential election.

Tsangirai boycotted the inauguration ceremony calling it “a robber's party”.

Mugabe, who is 89 years old and has been in power for 33 years, will continue to rule the country for the next five years. Election observer missions from the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) endorsed Mugabe's victory amid claims of massive electoral fraud coming from the opposition and Western nations led by US and the UK. Botswana is the only African country that called for an independent audit into the election.

Mugabe responded to allegations of rigging by telling critics to “go hang.”

President Robert Mugabe is the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

President Robert Mugabe is the oldest leader in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

In his inauguration speech in front of 40 heads of state and thousands of his supporters, Mugabe dismissed Western nations “as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mourn.”

Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans online have been discussing the event on Twitter using the hashtags #inauguration and #zimbabwe.

Trevor Ncube (@TrevorNcube), a Zimbabwean entrepreneur and owner of the South African Mail & Guardian, assessed the mood in Harare:

otukile ben ‏(@otukileob) wanted to know Mugabe's secret for being in power for 33 years:

the people (@nowisthetime_13) wondered:

Sizani Weza (‏@Sizzle769) questioned the timing of the inauguration:

The opposition MDC and Tsvangirai withdrew their election petition following a failed legal challenge at the High Court seeking permission to access all materials used in the elections. In an unexpected turn of events, the judge ordered the arrest of Tsvangirai's lawyers for alleged contempt of court following statements made by Tsvangirai in his Electoral Court application, which questioned the integrity of the judiciary.

Pole Sana (@takawiram) wrote the following about Tsvangirai:

zenzele Ndebele (‏@zenzele), editor at Radio Dialogue FM, wrote:

Referring to Mugabe's seventh term in office, Voice of Reason (@DiscipleofLogic) said:

ZimElections2013 ‏(@Zimelections13) reported that people attending the ceremony were treated to chicken from a popular Zimbabwan take-away while Mtarazi (@chamapiwa) wanted to know the source of funds for the food:

All Things Zim (@Zimtweets) tweeted a photo of the free chicken:

Talking about the same issue, Sekuru Simba (@zimhipster) asked:

Trevor Ncube (@TrevorNcube) advised the opposition MDC:

Finally, Gareth Bench-Capon (@garethbc) shared a joke making the rounds online about Mugabe rigging family vote for holiday destination:

August 20 2013

Achille Mbembé : « les pays de l'Afrique australe choisissent la stabilité au détriment de la…

Achille Mbembé : « les pays de l’Afrique australe choisissent la stabilité au détriment de la probité électorale » - Entretien - RFI
http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20130820-achille-mbembe-sadc-malawi-mugabe-organisation-sous-regionale-afrique-a

La Communauté de développement d’Afrique australe (SADC) vient de clore son sommet au Malawi ce week-end du 17 et 18 août. Un sommet au cours duquel « le camarade Robert Mugabe » a été félicité, et même nommé au poste de président suppléant. Pourquoi ce soutien au président du Zimbabwe ? Pourquoi la SADC n’a toujours pas réussi depuis 2009 à résoudre la crise politique malgache ? Quel bilan peut-on faire de l’action de la SADC ? Achille Mbembé, intellectuel camerounais et professeur d’histoire et de sciences politiques à l’université Witwatersrand de Johannesburg est l’invité de RFI.

#SADC #Afrique_australe #Zimbabwe

August 07 2013

Robert Mugabe Wins Re-election in Zimbabwe Amid Claims of Fraud

President Robert Mugabe won Zimbabwe's presidential election on Saturday 31 July, 2013, beating his closest rival, the former Prime Minister in the coalition government Morgan Tsvangirai.

The peaceful elections were the first since the formation of a coalition government between Mugabe's Zanu PF party and Tsvangirai's The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The coalition was formed following the last disputed and bloody elections in 2008.

Mugabe, who is 89 years old and has been in power for 33 years, will continue to rule the country for the next five years. Election observer missions from the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) have endorsed Mugabe's victory amid claims of massive electoral fraud coming from the opposition.

Botswana, however, is the only African country that has called for an independent audit into the election. Some SADCC members have qualified their endorsements by arguing that the election was free “but not necessarily fair.”

President Robert Mugabe is the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

President Robert Mugabe is the oldest leader in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

The election took place despite protests from Mugabe's coalition partners and Zimbabwean citizens after he unilaterally declared 31 July, 2013 as the date the country will hold elections. The Constitutional Court ordered Robert Mugabe to hold elections by 31 July following a successful application by Jealousy Mawarire, director of the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA).

Using the hashtags the hashtags #ZimElections, #ZimbabweDecides, #ZimDecides and #ZimbabweElections, Twitter users from different parts of the world react to Mugabe's victory.

A Zambian based in the the UK and the founder of CrossFire Radio, Mueti Moomba (@Muweight) wondered who voted for the 89-year-old leader:

Zimbabwean social entrepreneur Sir Nigel (@SirNige) has not not given up hope:

Andiva (@AndyAndiva) from Kenya blamed the opposition MDC for participating in a flawed election:

South African author and brand advisor Thebe Ikafaleng (@ThebeIkafaleng) quoted Tendai Biti, the Secretary General for MDC, making fun of those arguing that the presence of two million dead people on the voters’ roll did not cost the opposition:

Zim Elections (@ZimElections) showed the seriousness of dead voters’ problem:

rakim allah (@LDaviano) commented on the same issue of “dead voters”:

Al Jazeera's Azad Essa (@azadessa) questioned the African Union's assessment of the election:

Investigative journalist and film maker Stanley Kwenda (@stanleykwanda) noted that participation of police could have intimidated illiterate voters:

South African businessman Another_craig (@@Another_craig) tweeted about reports of a 135-year-old soldier who “voted” in the election:

Replying to @Another_craig, South African entrepreneur Sello Rabele (@sellorabs) wrote that he wishes to be a soldier when he grows up:

arnold chamunogwa (@chamunogwa) was not surprised that the ruling party rigged. He is surprised by something else:

Akuzike Polela (@Mulengi) from Zambia noted that Morgan Tsvangirai has one African friend:

Zimbabwean Kudzai (@shuestrait) would like to see Zimbabweans living in the country decide what is good for their country:

Kenyan David Ogara (@david_ogara) came to a bitter conclusion about elections in Africa:

July 14 2013

The State of Zimbabwe's Relations With The West

Simukai Tinhu, a political analyst based in London, asks, “Are Zimbabwe's relations with the West warming as elections approach?”

June 22 2013

Zimbabwean MP Killed in ‘Suspicious’ Car Crash

An outspoken Zimbabwean member of parliament who was investigating the ties between the ruling party and the country's diamond industry has died in an automobile accident under what some are calling suspicious circumstances.

Edward Chindori-Chininga died on June 19, 2013 after the vehicle he was driving reportedly failed to stop and rammed into a tree. Chindori-Chininga, who was a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy and a former minister, was looking into the plundering of the country’s diamonds allegedly by colleagues from the Robert Mugabe-led Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front).

Last week, Chindori-Chininga released a detailed report showing the involvement of ZANU PF officials and allies in the diamond industry.

Many Zimbabweans are suspicious because of Zimbabwe's long history of mysterious car accidents involving top politicians. The country has since independence in 1980 witnessed scores of deaths of politicians who met their fate on the road, leaving unanswered questions about the suspicious accidents.

Alan Martin, the director of research with Partnership Africa Canada, a Canada-based global diamond watchdog, has claimed that Chindori-Chininga confided to him that he “knew that he was a marked man”.

This prompted Zimbabweans to take to social media sites to express their dismay and suspicion on what is seen as yet another political killing in Zanu PF’s chequered history.

Edward Chindori-Chininga's car after the accident. Photo source: Baba Jukwa Facebook page.

Edward Chindori-Chininga's car after the accident. Photo source: Baba Jukwa Facebook page.

Writing on Facebook, journalist Lance Guma recorded one reader’s suspicion:

If the car VEERED OFF THE ROAD AND HIT A TREE where is the airbag???? and why is the windscreen intact????????????????????????????”
Reader on Nehanda Radio Facebook fanpage commenting on Hon Edward Takaruza Chindori-Chininga accident.

Baba Jukwa, an anonymous Facebook phenomenon who is privy to Zanu PF’s political machinations, was the first to warn that the late MP’s life was in danger. He intimated that Zanu PF officials thought Chindori-Chininga was the man behind the mysterious Baba Jukwa. Following his death, Baba Jukwa wrote:

The Mashonaland Central mafia, has done it as l warned few weeks ago. Chindori Chininga openly told them that he will join the Vapanduki (rebels) crew if they continued with their attempt to nail him down and l wonder why he didn't listen when l was all along warning him of the impending danger.

Doesntmatter Tongogara believed that the MP was strangled:

This does seem to be a natural accident, i would like to agree with BJ [Baba Jukwa] that he was strangled and car deliberately rammed on tree. My heart bleeds for Hon Edward Takaruza Chindori-Chininga . I talked to him of facebook an warned him that as Chairman of Mines Portfolio he is at high risk if he does he job professionally. Zanupf is mafia they do not want to be exposed especially anything do do [sic] with Diamonds. RIP Hon Edward Takaruza Chindori Chininga

Minister David Coltart (@DavidColtart) took to Twitter:

@DavidColtart: I am sorry to hear of the death of Edward Chindori Chininga this evening. A brave MP whose recent exposé of corruption in mining was superb.

Journalist Nqaba Matshazi (@nqabamatshazi) posted:

@nqabamatshazi: Reports that Zim MP Edward Chindori Chininga died in a car crash. Only days after he released a damning report of abuse of diamond revenue.

This being election year in Zimbabwe, journalist Nqobile Bhebhe (@nqobilebhebhe) noted:

@nqobilebhebhe: that season of Zimbabwe politicians dying in car accidents & some arrested on sexed up charges is upon us

Sal Amanda (@Zimbird) posted:

@Zimbird: Chindori-Chininga said earlier this month that he knew he was a “marked man”. Hmm 2 car accidents a few months apart, the 2nd one tragic.

June 15 2013

Anonymous ‘Baba Jukwa’ Facebook Dishes Dirt on Zimbabwe Politics

A new Facebook phenomenon has Zimbabwe talking as elections approach. An anonymous character calling himself Baba Jukwa (BJ) has become a major talking point as Zimbabweans hungry for political intrigue visit “his” Facebook wall to get the latest on what is happening in President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) political party.

BJ, as he is called, is said to be a member of ZANU-PF’s inner circle and describes himself as a “Concerned father, fighting nepotism and directly linking community with their Leaders, Government, MPs and Ministers” and is dishing the dirt on the party, much to the delight of his followers.

It is however suspected that BJ is a group of people who post regular updates from different parts of the country, but whatever the case, BJ, with 144,104 Facebook likes at the time of writing this post, has forever changed Zimbabwean politics and how social media is appropriated in contemporary political discourse ahead of elections expected this year.

Baba Jukwa's profile photo. Photo source: Baba Jukwa Facebook page.

Baba Jukwa's profile photo. Photo source: Baba Jukwa Facebook page.

Most of his revelations include the names and sometimes telephone numbers of politicians, intelligence officers and army officials. In one of his posts, he talks about corruption involving a Chinese firm and officials from the president's office and indigenisation office.

Whilst Zimbabwe is saying China is here to help, only government officials and Zanu goons are benefiting. Can I share with you this information; there is a company which is being run by a Chinese guy Tsao Xuecheng. It has been operating for the past 5 years. It’s the company that installed new elevators at Zanu pf recently. Shamu and other Zanu goons got their shares in this deal. On the 14 of May the company was paid US$250 000 as deposit to install a new CID HQ. The material is on its way from China. This Chinese guy works with Kasukuwere and Neville Mutsvengwa from indigenisation office.

In another post, he names an ICT expert trained in surveillance who pretend to be working for a railways company:

Patrons at Belgravia sports club are advised that there is an operative who is spending much time there these days by your place. He is an ICT guru and covers by working for a Railways company. He is well trained in tracking, and very good those close to the Prime Minister Tsvangirai.

He names the people who were behind Zimbabwe involvement in the Second Congo War:

Zimbabwe do you know that the Zimbabwe National Army’s involvement in the DRC conflict was motivated more by Mugabe, Mnangagwa and the military junta’s desire to enrich themselves on Congo’s rich natural resources? Among them was Robert Mhlanga, a former Air Force Vice-Marshal and Mugabe’s personal helicopter pilot, who retired a millionaire shortly after his tour in the DRC. This thug Robert Mhlanga was also a key state witness in the treason trial against MDC President, Morgan Tsvangirai in 2003.

He describes Zanu PF's planned tactics to rig this year's election:

Those who follow this page would remember that some weeks ago i posted that Zanu Pf's rigging machinery is divided into three stages, namely registration and inspection,campaigning and finally voting and counting.

I told in the first stage has been confirmed by the most unlikely source,Amai Mujuru [...] Be that as it is, my message today is that Zanu Pf has recently resolved to shift a gear up in its rigging strategy,that is,stage 2, Campaign Stage,thereby prompting me to come back to you Zimbabwe so that you won't duped by these cunning old people.

His mysterious air and revelations have got many talking. Zimbabwean comedian Carl Joshua Ncube (@CarlJoshuaNcube) wrote:

@CarlJoshuaNcube: my non Zimbabwean friends asking me who Baba Jukwa is and I am like “all I know is that he is a short little white
man with a walking stick”

Zimbabwean journalist Mike Madoda (@mikemadoda) described BJ's popularity:

@mikemadoda: I dare say this Baba Jukwa fella is now more popular/infamous (depending on ur affiliation) than Jonathan Moyo [Jonathan Moyo is the much maligned former Information Minister] was at his zenith.

Citizen journalism site Living Zimbabwe asked Zimbabweans on Facebook:

Given the nature of the content that Baba Jukwa shares with the world, do you think he (or they) could have an impact on Zimbabwe's political landscape?

Because of what appears to be BJ's incredible insider knowledge of ZANU-PF, Twitter user Madzibaba Sir Revita (@AwkwardZimbo) made a request:

@AwkwardZimbo: Baba Jukwa should do us all a favour and expose Bona Mugabe's [Bona is President Robert Mugabe’s daughter] Instagram account

A not-so-impressed Conor Walsh (@ConorMWalsh) asked:

@ConorMWalsh: Does Baba Jukwa really think a terminally deformed formation like ZanuPF can reform itself?

The state broadcaster (@zbc_news) made fun of BJ’s growing popularity:

@zbc_news: While y'all busy counting the number of “likes” on Baba Jukwa's fb page, we are already counting our votes for the next election – Zanu PF.

Mushongera (@GMushongera) poked fun at the powers-that-be:

@Mushongera: Accessing Baba Jukwa right in front of the parliament. Tapanduka! [We have rebelled] — Africa Unity Square: an Internet hotspot http://t.co/FBTcA8YnF6

And the influence and popularity of BJ seems to have reached others shores outside Zimbabwe. Blogger Sir Nigel (@SirNige) reported:

@SirNige: @stanleykwenda: So some young boys in UK are setting up a Baba Jukwa & Mai Jukwa fashion label” //Serious?

According to Jeffrey Smith (@Smith_RFKennedy) BJ has started blogging:

@Smith_RFKennedy: #Zimbabwe: Notorious & increasingly popular ZANU-PF mole, promises “darker secrets,” starts new website:
http://zimbabwean-at-heart.com/ @BabaJukwa

Eve Queeniie Parkes commented on Facebook that BJ has made Zimbabwean politics more interesting:

FROM MAKANDIWA AND ANGEL [popular local "prophets"] TO MAI AND BABA JUKWA ZIM POLITICS GETTING INTRESTING [sic] LIKE NEVER BEFORE WAS SO TIRED OF THEM FAKE PROPHETS SICK STUNTS….

The BJ excitement has been irresistible for even non-Zimbabwean bloggers such as Joel B. Pollak who thinks BJ's impact could have been widespread if more people had access to Internet in the country:

If only more than 1 in 6 Zimbabweans had Internet access, it might make more of a difference.

Visit BJ's Facebook page for what is happening behind the scene in Zimbabwean politics.

June 13 2013

President Mugabe Unilaterally Declares Zimbabwe Poll Date

Ignoring protests from his coalition partners and Zimbabwean citizens, President Robert Mugabe has unilaterally declared 31 July, 2013 as the date the country will hold elections.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been in a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe since 2009, says he will not accept the date.

Political parties have been pushing for a later date since last month when the Constitutional Court ordered Robert Mugabe to hold elections by July 31 following a successful application by Jealousy Mawarire, Director of the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa (CEDSA). Five main opposition parties immediately protested the time-frame set by the court arguing that more time was needed to implement major electoral reforms to guarantee a free and fair election.

President Robert Mugabe will be the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.


President Robert Mugabe will be the second oldest presidential candidate in Africa. Photo released to the public domain by the U.S. federal government.

However, a human rights activist Nixon Nyikadzino has filed an application with the Constitutional Court seeking to compel President Robert Mugabe to proclaim an election date after complying with the constitutional requirements. He argues that it is legally and constitutionally impossible to hold elections by July 31, 2013 without infringing his rights.

Immediately after the announcement, Zimbabweans took to Twitter to express their reactions.

Conor Walsh (@ConorMWalsh) pointed out that it was Mugabe who “ordered the court to order”:

@ConorMWalsh: @Mavhure @DrMupakati Gushungo [Gushungo is President Mugabe’s totem] will enforce Court order because seasoned observers know it is the order Gushungo ordered the Court to order.

Busie Bhebhe (@BusieBhebhe) posted:

@BusieBhebhe: @hoperuswa @zenzele I hope he invents a voting machine that cannot be manipulated since he will be free from politics

Nqaba Matshazi (@nqabamatshazi) asked:

@nqabamatshazi: Is the declaration of an election by Mugabe an act of brinksmanship, or a calculated gamble?

NewsDay Editor Consta Chimakure (@cchimakure) noted that Mugabe bypassed the parliament:

@cchimakure: Mugabe used presidential powers to amend electoral act and proclaim election date bypassing parly

Crisis Coalition (@crisiscoalition) explained the legal basis of the announcement:

@crisiscoalition: Mugabe used the Presidential Temporary Powers to choose a date,Presidential Powers (Temp Measures Amendment of Electoral Act) Regulations'13

mandlenkosi mpofu (@mdutshwa) asked:

@mdutshwa: @nqabamatshazi @NcubeNjabulo is this a bluff or is he for real? cant say whether its arrogance or confidence

Stanley Kwenda (@stanleykwenda) reported:

@stanleykwenda: PM (Prime Minister Morgan)Tsvangirai goes to court to overturn Mugabe proclamation & urges claim among Zim's

Finally, Marko Phiri, blogging at Kubatana blog, asked, “Democracy, what democracy?”:

One certain thing about this latest declaration is that it entrenches apathetic attitudes to electoral processes as some say if Mugabe can unilaterally call for polls despite Tsvangirai’s own earlier declaration that he holds the keys to elections, what is to stop him (Mugabe) from declaring himself a winner in the elections, or as he did in 2008 refuse to accept defeat.

Yet that should be motivation enough for Zimbabweans who have heeded the call to register and also check the voters roll to exercise their franchise to the fullest and show the power mongers who is in charge, or else attempting to kick Zanu PF in the butt will equate to just another fool’s errand.
Look who’s laughing now. Democracy, what democracy?

March 19 2013

Outcry After Zimbabwe Police Arrest Top Human Rights Lawyer

One day after millions of Zimbabweans approved a new constitution that will bring about presidential and parliamentary elections later this year, prominent Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested after demanding a search warrant from police who were attempting to arrest her clients.

Police detained Mtetwa and her four clients, all officials of the Movement for Democratic Change, the party of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on March 17, 2013. She appeared in court two days later to answer charges of obstructing justice after Zimbabwe police ignored a court order to release her.

Mtetwa, who was described by the New York Times in 2008 as “Zimbabwe's top human rights lawyer”, has been targeted in the past by police and the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), a secret police force which critics say President Robert Mugabe uses as a tool to suppress dissent.

Her arrest comes on the heels of a referendum in which nearly 95 percent of voters approved a new constitution for Zimbabwe. The new charter will see Mugabe and Tsvangirai face off against each other in elections expected this summer, marking the end of the pair's coalition government formed after disputed results in the 2008 elections led to violence.

Beatrice Mtetwa in the back of a police van. Photo courtesy of Zimbabwe

Beatrice Mtetwa in the back of a police van. Photo courtesy of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

Zimbabweans took to social media to express their dismay at Mtetwa's arrest.

Dewa Mavhinga (@Dewamavhinga) wrote:

@Dewamavhinga: president Mugabe & his family in Rome for Pope Francis 1′s inaugaration – back in #Zimbabwe lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa remains in police custody

Consta Chimakure (@cchimakure) tweeted:

@cchimakure: No joy yet for Beatrice Mtetwa. She is still in police custody despite High Court order. It seems rule of law is alien.

Sokwanele (@sokwanele) posted an action alert:

@sokwanele: ACTION ALERT: Stand by the woman who would be the first to stand by YOU if your rights were being violated: http://bit.ly/15h0cL6 #zimbabwe

Education Minister David Coltart (@DavidColtart) praised Mtetwa:

@DavidColtart: Well done Beatrice Mtetwa – many of years of consistent and courageous upholding of the rule of law. Amhlope! [congratulations]

David Coltart (@DavidColtart) tweeted again:

It is very difficult to adequately convey the depth of my disgust at the ongoing detention of Beatrice Mtetwa…. http://fb.me/1tRXqejo2

Trevor Ncube ‏(@TrevorNcube) wrote:

Sad that Beatrice Mtetwa has spent another night in custody for doing her legitimate work.A reminder that #Zimbabwe still far from normal

Kudzi ‏(@Kudzi_Siphiwe) reacted:

Really disturbed about Beatrice Mtetwa, even more disturbed by people who continue to defend the indefensible.

Panimaha Dube ‏(@KadomaKid) noted:

This Beatrice Mtetwa thing is now just getting out of hand , the cops need to perform better than this!

Blogger Sir Nigel observed:

We are well aware of the Machiavellian tactics of the law enforcement agents and other state institutions who have everything to fear from lawyers who represent their clients without fear or favour and insist on full compliance with the law and constitutional safeguards.

These retrogressive forces believe that such tactics will intimidate Beatrice and have a chilling effect on other human rights lawyers who continue to soldier on bravely in representing all manner of human rights defenders who have suffered serious rights violations. There is a misguided belief that by attacking lawyers, as well as their clients, positive forces who believe in a new professional way of behaving will be cowed, and civil society engagement in issues of human rights and democracy will be destroyed.

March 10 2013

The State of Torture in the World in 2013

On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:

“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.

March 09 2013

A Zimbabwean Salute to Hugo Chavez

Zimbabwean blogger Takura Zhangazha salutes the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez: “In mourning Chavez from Zimbabwe and from Africa it is key that we remember him for his principled global leadership example and his people centered policies and politics.”

February 19 2013

African Reactions to the Pope’s Resignation

The announcement by Pope Benedict XVI of his intention to resign with effect from February 28, 2013 provoked many reactions in Francophone Africa, both in traditional media and on social networks. The predominant feeling was that of admiration for the Pope combined with the wish that certain African leaders would follow his example.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Photo Catholic Church (England and Wales) on Flickr, licence CC by-nc-sa/2.0

Varied opinions, with underlying admiration

In a well-reported article from Togocouleurs blog entitled ‘Must the Pope Die Pope?’, Charles Lebon wrote that [fr]:

La nouvelle est tombée ce 11 février comme un coup de tonnerre dans un ciel serein. Ce coup aurait été moins violent si c’était le décès du pape, qui, dans ce cas et trop souvent prévisible, obligeait les journalistes à attendre sous les fenêtres du saint homme en agonie avec micro, camera et bougie. Mais ce n’était pas le cas. Il s’agit de la démission du souverain pontife au sens de : « renoncer à sa charge ».

The news hit on February 11 like a thunderclap in a quiet sky. The shock would have been less violent if they had announced the death of the Pope who, on this occasion, as on many others, made journalists wait under his windows in agony with a microphone, camera and candle. But this was not the announcement that was made. It was actually the resignation of the reigning pontiff, in the sense of: ‘renouncing his burden’.

Diery Diallo’s blog quoted Father Jacques Seck of Dakar [fr] :

Je dis que je suis heureux que le Saint-Père (Pape Benoît XVI) ait pris cette idée personnellement. Les hommes de Dieu que nous sommes (…) ne sont pas des fonctionnaires qui travaillent. Je suis heureux que le Saint-Père à la tête de l’Eglise nous donne l’exemple. Les évêques, Cardinaux, Pape, ne sont pas des fonctionnaires, quand ils ne peuvent plus ils cèdent la place aux autres », a réagi Abbé Jacques Seck sur les ondes de la Rfm. Rappelons que le Pape Benoit XVI a annoncé sa démission de ses fonctions de Pape pour le 28 février 2013. Il a donné comme raison, son âge avancé qui ne lui permet plus d’exercer le ministère Pétrinien.

I say that I am glad that the Holy Father (Pope Benedict XVI) has taken this step personally. Men of God such as we [...] are not functionaries with a job. I am pleased that the Holy Father as the head of the Church has given us the example. Bishops, Cardinals, the Pope, are not functionaries, when they can no longer go on, they give their place to others.” reacted Father Jacques Seck on the airwaves of RFM. Let us remember that Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from his papal duties would take effect on February 28, 2013. As reason, he gave his advanced years which no longer allow him to fulfil the duties of the Holy See.

On the facebook page of Radio France International, a widely-listened to station in Francophone Africa, many reactions were posted [fr] during a programme dedicated to this event:

File:Benoît XVI synode 2008.jpg

Many Africans seem to wish their leaders would be inspired by the courageous act of Pope Benedict XVI. Source photo:
commons.wikimedia.org

From Conakry in Guinea Hilal Sylla [fr] wrote that:

Pour peu que cela ait du sens, cette démission de Benoit XVI me renvoie au Film culte sur l'église et les illuminatis. Une façon de dire que l'église n'a plus de force dans un monde dominé par tant de perversion. Une question : la fin du monde n'est-elle pas proche?

Although it doesn’t make much sense, Pope Benedict’s resignation reminds me of the popular film about the church and the Illuminati. A way of saying that the church no longer has strength in a world dominated by so much perversion. One question: Is the End of the World nigh?

For Samuel Azabho [fr] from Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Cette démission est normale par le fait de l'age. son pontificat est positif dans la mesure où il est le précurseur de la lutte contre la pédophilie. je pense qu'il était un homme de décision. Et celui qui doit venir après lui doit relever le défis de l'avenir de l'église catholique et de toute l'humanité peu importe sa race et ses origines.

This resignation is not unusual because of the matter of his age. His papacy was mainly positive in so far as it was the precursor of the fight against paedophilia. I think that he acted as a decisive man. And whoever follows him must be up to the challenges in the future of the Catholic Church, and of all humanity, no matter his race or origin.

From Yaoundé, Ben Mbele remarked that [fr]:

nous pouvons cependant dire ke le pontificat de benoit xv1 n'a pa été un fleuve trankil, de son discours sur l'islam et la violence en passant par le scandal des prêtres pédophiles et enfin du débat sur le mariage gay,au demeurant notons ke la décision salutaire de benoit xv1 fera un précédent car il lancera le débat sur la modification du droit canon en matière du mandat du pape, personnellement il ne faut pa trop attendre du nouveau pape en matière d’émancipation sur certains sujets car la plus part des cardinaux actuels ont été nommé par benoit xv1 et jean paul 2 eux très conservateurs.

However, we can say that the papacy of Benedict XVI has not been plain sailing, from his speech about Islam, through the scandal of paedophile priests, finishing with the gay marriage question, for all that, we note that the salutatory decision of Benedict XVI will set a precedent because it will launch a debate on whether Canon Law regarding the Pope’s mandate should be modified, personally I don’t think we should expect too much from the new Pope regarding emancipation of certain groups of people because most current cardinals were named by Benedict XVI and John Paul 2, and are very conservative.

Alpha Ulrick Marcellus from Brazzville, in Congo thought that [fr]:

La décision du Pape est courageuse. Il ne démissionne pas mais il renonce, il renonce au ministère pétrinien. Une décision qui n'est pas facile à prendre. Son pontificat a été à mon avis celui des grandes épreuves, des discours aux vérités sans détours et choquant. Benoit XVI à donné le meilleur de lui-même, dans la direction d'une Église en conflit avec un monde de plus en plus excentrique. Pour le futur Pape plaise à Dieu de choisir celui qui est apte, valide à prendre des décisions courageuses contre les déviations que le monde légalise pour préserver l'intégrité de la foi et de l'Église.

The Pope’s decision was courageous. He did not resign, but renounced, he renounced the Holy See. Not an easy decision to take. In my opinion, his papacy was one of great trials, of shocking and hard-hitting speeches about truths. Benedict XVI has given the best of himself, for a Church in conflict with a world becoming more and more eccentric. Let us hope that, for the future Pope, God chooses the one who is best-suited, capable of taking courageous decisions against the deviations that the world legalises, to preserve the integrity of faith and of the Church.

The BBC also broadcast special programmes about Francophone Africa, which were played by local radio stations. The BBC’s facebook page about Africa has more than 17,000 fans [fr]. During the programme about this resignation, Africa Live on February 16, many Africans gave their points of view. Michel Djadji Anigbe from Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, wrote that [fr]:

Relativement à la décision de démission du Pape, son motif me laisse perplexe et pantois. Comment un grand intellectuel tel que lui a pu accepter ce pontificat avec tous les sacrifices que cela demande. Surtout avec ce que son prédécesseur, le vénérable Pape Jean Paul II , a fait du sien. De plus, son argument est trop facile avec le scandale qui nous a été servi par l'affaire de son majordome. Et quand on sait aussi que le Vatican n'est pas ignorant et étranger à tous ce qui passe actuellement dans le monde.

Relative to the Pope’s decision to resign, his motive leaves me perplexed and speechless. How could a great intellectual like him have accepted this papacy with all the sacrifices which that demands? Especially with what his predecessor, the venerable Pope John Paul II, had achieved with his. What is more, his argument is too simplistic regarding the scandal of this business with his majordomo. And when you also realise that the Vatican is not ignorant of or a stranger to what happens in the world today.

Didier Didou Mady posed an interesting question [fr]:

Le rejet de la démission du Pape est-il envisageable au regard du droit canon? Quoi de plus normal que les touristes au Vatican visite à la fois le pape et l'ex-pape. Difficile d'avoir un pape infatigable!

Is the rejection of the Pope’s resignation conceivable with regards to Canon Law? What could be more normal than tourists at the Vatican visiting the Pope and the ex-Pope at the same time? It is difficult to have an indefatigable Pope!

An Example for some African leaders?

Africa has many badly run countries. Is this linked to the fact that on this continent we also find heads of State who have been in power the longest?:

Many Africans have commented on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI by relating it what has happened on their own continent. Josiane Kouaghe from Cameroon wrote [fr] on his blog:

Passés ces moments de disputes, les vraies questions s’imposent. Et les comparaisons ne tardent pas à suivre. «Ah…Il me rappelle Nelson Mandela. Tu te rappelles, en 1999, quand il a démissionné après seulement cinq ans? », demande Éric Ntomb, 64 ans, à son ami. «Tu parles Éric. C’est la même chose avec le pape. Il n’est là que depuis 2005. Si seulement nos dirigeants africains pouvaient faire comme lui», répond l’ami en poussant un long soupir. L’ami dit haut ce que des millions de personnes pensent bas. Et je vous arrête. Ne dites pas que le pape a démissionné parce qu’il est un homme de Dieu. Non!  Il dirigeait le plus petit et puissant État du monde.

After these disputes, the real questions make themselves felt. And the comparisons are quick to follow. “Ah, he reminds me of Nelson Mandela. Do you remember, in 1999, when he resigned after only five years?” Eric Ntomb, 64, asked his friend. “Now you’re talking Eric! It’s the same thing with the Pope. He’s only been there since 2005. If only our leaders in Africa could do the same as him”, answered the friend with a deep sigh. The friend said out loud what millions of people think deep down. And I am stopping you! Don’t tell me that the Pope resigned because he is a man of God. No! He was leading the smallest and most powerful state in the world.

Josiane Kouagheu then reviewed the list of African presidents who resigned their duties voluntarily:

However, by far the most famous of all African leaders to leave power voluntarily was unquestionably Nelson Mandela, in 1999, a fact which has invited these comparisons between Mandela and Pope Benedict XVI.

February 07 2013

Her Zimbabwe: A Platform for Women to Share Views

Her Zimbabwe is an online platform for women to share their views, discuss issues and carry out open debate about the things that affect them.

February 06 2013

When Bob Marley Went to Africa

Sean Jacobs reviews Kevin MacDonald’s critically film, “Marley,”: “The film opens on the Ghanaian coast at the remnants of a slave post, the camera then pans over the Atlantic, finally settling on the green hills of rural Jamaica (Marley’s birthplace Nine Mile) from where it picks up Bob Marley’s story, thus cementing a link between the continent and its new world diaspora.”

December 14 2012

A Timeline of 50 Years of Conflict in the D.R. of Congo

The current conflict between the M23 rebels and the Congolese army cannot be completely understood without recollecting the history of the genesis of conflicts in this region of great lakes. Here is a detailed chronology of the last 50 years of confrontations in this region.

On Congo Forum, Jacques Mbokani wrote [fr]:

Depuis son accession à l’indépendance la R.D.C. a toujours été en proie à des conflits de tous ordres. … L’exposé consiste essentiellement à identifier les causes des conflits en RDC. … Les causes des conflits en R.D.C. peuvent être regroupées en deux catégories majeures. … les causes externes … et d’autre part, les causes internes.

Since the DRC became independent , it has been prey to all kinds of conflicts. … … The presentation is mainly focused on identifying the causes of the conflicts in the DRC. …The causes of the conflicts in the DRC can be grouped into two main categories. …external causes … and, on the other hand, internal causes.

The Congo was declared independent on June 30, 1963, and renamed Congo-Leopoldville. Power was shared between the head of state Joseph Kasa-Vubu and the Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. On November 25, 1965, supported by governments of Belgium and the United States, General Joseph Desire Mobutu deposed President Kasa-Vubu, removing him from power and naming himself president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He would remain in power for 30 years. The country was renamed Zaire between 1971 and 1997.

This video covers the history of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba [fr]:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOYQjegItnM

Another video tells of the coming to power of Mobutu, King of Zaïre, Conquest of Power [fr]:

Important economic issues at stake

Jacques Mbokani continued [fr]:

Dans le film intitulé : « Blood Diamond » (le diamant du sang) un vieil homme soupirait en ces termes : « j’espère qu’ils ne vont pas trouver du pétrole… alors nous serons réellement en danger… ». Les propos de ce vieil homme, révèlent en réalité la question des ressources naturelles comme sources des conflits.

In the film entitled “Blood Diamond”, an old man sighs in these terms: “I hope that they’re not going to find oil… then we really will be in danger…”. The words of the old man reveal the real question about natural resources as sources of conflict.

On the website Maps of the DRC [fr], we learn that :

Qualifié de scandale géologique, le sous-sol de la RD du Congo regorge de plusieurs minerais et d'énormes réserves énergétiques. Les ressources minières les plus connues sont celles des groupes de l'Etain, du Nobium et du Cuivre, auxquels on peut ajouter le manganèse, l'or et le diamant. Concernant les richesses énergétiques, on peut citer le pétrole off-shore de l'Atlantique et d'importants gisements du nord-est, lesquels aiguisent déjà, beaucoup d'appétits de tous les milieux mafieux aussi bien congolais qu'internationaux, au mépris des populations locales. De même, l'uranium dans le sud-est pays, ainsi que le gaz méthane du lac Kivu, font partie des ressources énergétiques dont le pays ne semble pas maitriser la gestion présente ou future. Ce manque d'autorité et de contrôle de ses propres richesses, se traduit par un trafic sans précédent à l'EST du pays, opéré par des bandes armées avec, malheureusement souvent, la complicité des congolais eux-mêmes au détriment de leur propre pays.

Often called a “geological scandal”, the subsoil of DRC is bursting with various minerals and enormous reserves of energy. The most well-know mining resources are those of clusters of tin, nobium and copper, to which we can also add manganese, gold and diamonds. As for energy wealth, we can point to the oil off-shore in the Atlantic, and to major deposits in the north east, which have already stimulated many appetites within the Mafia-like underworld, as much Congolese as international, to the disgust of local people. Also, uranium from the south east of the country, as well as methane gas from Lake Kivu, make up part of the energy resources that the country cannot seem to manage properly right now or in the future. This lack of authority and control of its own wealth, betrayed by unprecedented trafficking operations in the east of the country, controlled by armed gangs with, unhappily often, the complicity of the Congolese themselves to the detriment of their own country.

The causes of the internal conflicts within the DRC date from the dictatorship of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who remained in power until 1997:

La raison du plus fort était la meilleure, … médiocrité de la classe politique, … l’effondrement et le manque d’indépendance de l’appareil judiciaire …inexistence des services publics tant administratifs que sociaux. … Le recrutement des militaires que ce soit par le processus normal ou dans le cadre du brassage ou mixage, ce recrutement se fait sans tenir compte de la citoyenneté, de l’âge, de la moralité ou du passé judiciaire

The strongest reason was the best, … mediocrity of the political class, … the collapse and the lack of independence of the judiciary …non-existence of public services, both administrative and social. … The recruitment of soldiers, be it by the standard process or within the framework of brewing or mixing, this recruitment is done without taking account of the citizens, of the times, of morality or of the judicial past

The following video shows the hold that Mobutu had over the DRC during this period: Mobutu, King of Zaïre 2, Master of the Game [fr]:

Website Konexinfo [fr] traced how several countries found themselves implicated in this conflict:

La situation actuelle en RDC, dans la région du Kivu, découle de plusieurs conflits qui ont eu lieu depuis une vingtaine d’années dans la région des grands lacs africains. Ces multiples conflits sont liés les uns aux autres. De nouveaux seigneurs de la guerre prennent la relève de ceux qui accèdent au pouvoir.

The current situation in the DRC, in the Kivu region follows from several conflicts which took place over twenty or so years in the African great lakes region. These many conflicts are all linked to one another. New warlords take over from those who have acceded to power.

Seven countries at war on Congolese soil

Meeting between Kabila, Bush, Kagame and Annan at NYC in 2002 by Eric Draper - public domain

Meeting between Kabila, Bush, Kagame and Annan at NYC in 2002 by Eric Draper - public domain

The Ugandan Yoweri Museveni recruited and organised an army of 6,000 men at the frontiers of Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda and overthrew the elected president of his country, Milton Obote in 1986.

In Rwanda between 1990 and 1993 the FPR with Paul Kagamé at its head fought against the regime of the sole party of the president, Juvénal Habyarimana.

In 1994, the genocide in Rwanda, which has a common border with the DRC, forced around 2 million people to migrate to Eastern DRC.

From Zaire to the Democratic Republic of the Congo [fr] and to the current chaos, website la documentation francaise gave a detailed chronology [fr] of events in the DRC:

In 1996, in South Kivu, the Banyamulenge rebellion started, involving Congolese Tutsi of Rwandan origin (who had migrated to the region from 1959 to flee the violence in Rwanda), with the military support of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. With others opposing the president of Zaire, Marshall Mobutu, they regrouped as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire, ADFL, led by Laurent Desire Kabila.

After 30 years of power, President Mobutu left in exile before the rebels’ victory. Laurent Desire Kabila named himself president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the new name for Zaire. The rebels took control of capital Kinshasa on May 17, 1997.

Dismantling the camps of Rwandan refugees infiltrated by former Rwandan armed forces and extremist Hutu militia - the Interahamwe - responsible for the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda.

Kabila then broke his alliances with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

In 1998, a new Tutsi rebellion, among the Banyamulenge broke out in Kivu against Kabila’s government troops, supported by his ex-allies Rwanda and Uganda. A new political-military coalition was formed - the Congolese Assembly for Democracy (RCD) - led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba.

Seven countries at war on Congolese soil, with Congolese rebels supported by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi….capturing Kisangani, capital of the Eastern province and the country’s third city. They would be stopped in their advance towards Kinshasa by the intervention of troops from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

This resulted in the partitioning of the country, with North and South Kivu falling under the control of the RDC and the West remaining under the control of Kabila and his allies Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Also in 1998, another rebellion, this one led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, in the province of Equator, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), took control of the region. With the support of Uganda, they took the city of Kindu and the mining regions of Kasai and Katanga.

On May 17, 1999, Wamba’s RCD split into two movements: RCD-Goma, led by Emile Ilunga Kalambo and supported by Rwanda, and RCD-Kisangani, which remained under Wamba’s control, and was supported by Uganda. Uganda were also still supporting Bemba’s MLC.

Kabila’s government no longer controlled the western half of the country.

The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement (Zambia), signed in July 1999, changed nothing with respect to the massacres. The Rwandan army occupied one part of the Eastern province, North and South Kivu as well as North Katanga. The Ugandan army controlled the north parts of Equator and Eastern provinces. Despite the agreements, fighting and massacres continued. Both countries disputed control of the city of Kisangani, global hub of the diamond market, leading to the death of two hundred citizens.

In 2001, following the assassination of President Laurent Desire Kabila, his son Joseph Kabila was named head of state, on January 17.

 

Countries directly or indirectly involved in Congolese Conflicts

Countries directly or indirectly involved in Congolese Conflicts by Jaro7788 - Public Domain

 

Since then, United Nations resolutions and peace agreements between aggressors and attempts at democracy have periodically punctuated the repeated massacres and rapes as a weapon of war. The cyclical conflicts have allowed foreign powers and companies to access the precious minerals [fr] so vital to mobile phones worldwide.

Jacques Mbokani concluded [fr]:

En résumé, la cause centrale réside dans la faillite de l’Etat congolais qu’il faut reconstruire. C’est parce que l’Etat n’existe plus que les Etats voisins pillent, violent et font ce qu’ils font. C’est parce que l’Etat n’existe plus qu’il y a la prolifération des seigneurs de guerre et la prolifération des armes légères.

In summary, the central cause resides in the failure of the Congolese state which must be rebuilt. It is because the state no longer exists that neighbouring states steal, rape and do whatever they want. It’s because the state no longer exists that there has been a proliferation of warlords and of heavy weapons.

December 02 2012

Voting for the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

An annual competition has been launched for the public to vote for the seven best natural wonders of Africa, with the voting currently underway. The competition is organized by global grassroots endeavor Seven Natural Wonders and at this point includes 12 sites from across the African continent.

Discover the shortlist and other suggested contenders which didn't make the cut this year.

The Okavango Delta, Botswana

Hippos bathing in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, the world's largest inland delta by John on Wikipedia CC-license-by

The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta, created from the rains that fill the Okavango River. The Namibian government has plans to build a hydropower station which would regulate the Okavango's flow, but environmentalists fear that this project could destroy most of the fauna and flora in the Delta.

The Red Sea Reef, Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea

The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. Its Reef stretches over 1,240 miles along the coast of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea and contains more than 1,100 species of fish.

Anthia goldfish in the Red Sea from Wikimedia commons. Image in the public domain.

Anthia goldfish in the Red Sea from Wikimedia commons. Image in the public domain.

Mount Kenya, Kenya 

Mount Kenya wall

Mount Kenya wall by Radu vatcu CC license-BY-3.0

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. It was covered by an ice cap for thousands of years. The Mount Kenya ecosystem provides water directly for over two million people. The park receives over 16,000 visitors per year.

The Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Local people on the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar. Image on Wikimedia commons, in public domain.

Local people on the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar. Image on Wikimedia commons, in public domain.

The Avenue of the Baobabs is located between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in the Menabe region in western Madagascar. Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, stand about 30 meters in height and this particular species is endemic to Madagascar. The site was present in the news recently because it was victim of a wild fire that burnt down newly planted trees around the giant trees.

 The Stone Forest of Bamaraha, Madagascar

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar. Image on Wikipedia (CC-license-BY-3.0).

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve in Madagascar. Image on Wikipedia (CC-license-BY-3.0).

Tsingy de Bemaraha is a nature reserve located near the western coast of Madagascar in the Melaky Region. This National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the main attraction is the stone forest that is composed of limestone needles originating from erosion patterns from groundwater and winds.

Zuma Rock, Nigeria

Zuma Rock near Abuja by Jeff Attaway on FlickR license (CC-BY-2.0).

Zuma Rock near Abuja by Jeff Attaway on FlickR license (CC-BY-2.0).

Zuma Rock is a 725 meter high monolith found in Nigeria on the road out of Abuja. Its nickname ‘Gateway to Abuja' is derived from this road.

The Peak of Furnace, Réunion Island

Eruption at the Peak, April 2007 on FlickR by zatiqs (CC license-BY-NC-SA).

Eruption at the Peak, April 2007 on FlickR by zatiqs (CC license-BY-NC-SA).

Le Piton de la Fournaise (The Peak of Furnace) is a shield volcano on the eastern side of Réunion island in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

The Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles

Aldabra Island, Seychelles on FlickR by Johny Shaw (CC-BY-2.0).

Aldabra Island, Seychelles on FlickR by Johny Shaw (CC-BY-2.0).

Aldabra is the world's second largest coral atoll and forms part of the Seychelles. Aldabra is almost entirely free of human interference and is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 

Kibo on Mt Kilimanjaro by Chris 73 (CC-NC-BY).

Kibo on Mt Kilimanjaro by Chris 73 (CC-NC-BY).

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world at 5,895 meters. The current shrinking and thinning of Kilimanjaro's ice field is similar to other glacier retreat in mid-to-low latitudes across the globe. At the current rate, Kilimanjaro is expected to become ice-free some time between 2022 and 2033.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

A young male lion at the hunt in Ngorongoro Crater by Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia (CC-BY-3.0).

A young male lion at the hunt in Ngorongoro Crater by Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Ngorongoro Crater is a large, unbroken, unflooded volcanic caldera located in the west of Arusha in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The crater plays host to almost every individual species of wildlife in East Africa, with an estimated 25,000 animals within the crater.

The Serengeti Migration, Tanzania

Wildebeest crossing the river by Stefan Swanepoel in Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

Wildebeest crossing the river by Stefan Swanepoel in Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Serengeti migration is the longest and largest overland migration in the world. Each year, the great wildebeest migration begins in the Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania in January to March, when the calving season begins; some 750,000 zebra precede the migration of 1.2 million wildebeest.

The Sahara Desert

Camels in Guelta d'Archei, Ennedi, north-east Chad. Image on Wikipedia (CC-BY-2.0).

Camels in Guelta d'Archei, Ennedi, north-east Chad. Image on Wikipedia (CC-BY-2.0).

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world. The desert encompasses, at least in part, the countries of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia. The southern border of the Sahara is marked by a band of semi-arid savanna called the Sahel.

Bloggers' suggestions

A number of natural wonders were omitted from the shortlist, so a few bloggers have added their own suggestions via their blogs. A slight controversy was the fact that a few countries were featured several times while others were not mentioned at all, despite having worthy candidates.

The Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is already selected as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Image on wikimedia commons, released into public domain by Ian Restall.

Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Image on wikimedia commons, released into public domain by Ian Restall.

Blyde River Canyon, South Africa 

The Blyde River Canyon is located in Mpumalanga and forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. It is 16 miles (26 kilometers) in length and is on average around 2,500 feet (762 meters) deep. The Canyon consists mostly of red sandstone.

The Weeping Face of Nature located in Blyde River Canyon. Image by Ptosio on Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

The Weeping Face of Nature located in Blyde River Canyon. Image by Ptosio on Wikipedia (CC-BY-3.0).

Feel free to add any sites that you feel were omitted in the selection process in the comments section below.

Africa is a Woman's Name

MyWeku shares a documentary titled “Africa is a Woman's Name“:

Synopsis: The lives of three extraordinary African women from different social levels and origins determined to bring about radical transformations in their day to day realities: Kenyan attorney and reputed lawyer Njoki Ndung’u, Puthi Ragophala the committed school principal of a remote South African village and Zimbabwean housewife-entrepreneur, Amai Rosie.

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