Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

February 18 2014

February 14 2014

“Another Face of Africa”: Call for Photos, Stories

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A group of young volunteers from southern Germany, many of whom have lived in Africa, are calling for photos, essays, videos, blog posts or poems by locals of five major African cities: Lagos, Addis Ababa, Gaborone, Kigali and Kinshasa.

With a forthcoming exhibition called “Sichtwechsel,” their goal is to show another face of Africa than what typically appears in German media — modern, urban, rapidly developing societies.

See their website at in English, French and German. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2014.

Sponsored post

February 09 2014

Five of the Most Celebrated French-Language African Films

The Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou or FESPACO) is the largest film festival in Africa, held every two years in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The festival usually takes place in March of every year it is held. Founded in 1969, it has honored a great number of movies whose impact is still felt today. In celebration of the upcoming film festival, below are five of the most celebrated French-language African films (award-winning or not) that have left their mark on an entire generation of movie-watchers.

Ivory Coast: ”Bal poussière” (Dancing in the Dust)

Poster du film BAL POUSSIERE - Domaine public

Poster for the film “Bal poussière” – Public domain

“Dancing in the Dust” is a 1988 Ivorian film directed by Henri Duparc. Seen by over 300,000 people in France, this satire of polygamy tells the story of Alcaly (a.k.a. “Demi-God”) who, despite already having five wives, becomes infatuated with Binta, a young woman who has returned home from the big city of Abidjan. See a French-language clip from the movie below:

Gapont [fr], contributor on Allociné in Paris, explains what he found striking about the movie:

Un petit bijou de fraîcheur et de spontanéité. Ce film a la candeur du cinéma de Renoir ou de Pagnol. Petit budget pourtant, acteur souvent amateurs, tourné en super 16mm et pourtant la magie est là, on se laisse porter par ces personnages incroyables. Du vrai cinéma.

A fresh and spontaneous little gem. This movie has the candour of a [Jean] Renoir or [Marcel] Pagnol work. Small budget, many amateur actors, shot in Super 16 mm, yet the magic is there, these incredible characters simply carrying us away. Authentic filmmaking.

Ethiopia: “Va, Vis et Deviens” (Live and Become)

Poster du film Va, Vis et Deviens - Public Domain

Poster for the film “Va, vis et deviens” – Public domain

“Live and Become” is a 2005 French-Israeli film by Radu Mihaileanu. In an Ethiopian refugee camp in Sudan, a Christian mother makes her son Shlomo pass as Jewish in order to survive and be included in Operation Moses, which brought many Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Declared an orphan, Shlomo is adopted by a Sephardic Jewish French family living in Tel Aviv. He grows up fearing that his secret past will be revealed. See the trailer below:

Janos451, an IMDB commenter from San Fransisco, loved the movie's dramatic intensity:

What makes the film extraordinary – what creates all the crying in the audience – is its honest and effective portrayal of the young refugee's isolation and loneliness, made worse by his belief that his escape is at the cost of his mother's life

The film is based on the history of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews) who, despite their efforts, have experienced a great deal of difficulty gaining acceptance after immigrating to Israel. The movie has seen renewed interest recently as many African immigrants in Israel have been demonstrating for their rights.

Chad: “Un homme qui crie” (A Screaming Man) 

“A Screaming Man”, originally titled “A Screaming Man is Not a Dancing Bear”, is a film by Chadian director Mahamat Saleh Haroun, released on September 29, 2010. It received the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize in 2010. The original title is a quote from “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” by Martinican poet Aimé Césaire. The film tells the story of 55-year-old Adam, a former swimming champion turned hotel lifeguard in N'Djamena. When the hotel is taken over by Chinese investors, he is forced to surrender his job to his son Abdel.

The blogger at Words of Katarina explains what makes the movie so compelling:

A Screaming Man talks about loss of self, not as a consequence of happenings beyond our control, but of the choices we make when life throws us off guard. . . It is in fact up to ourselves to decide what kind of person we want to be and how to express and live up to the decision once it has been made.

Algeria/Morocco: “Indigènes” (Days of Glory) 

“Days of Glory” is a 2006 Algerian-Moroccan film directed by Rachid Bouchareb. The film tells the stories of one Moroccan and three Algerian soldiers serving in the French army during World War II: Abdelkader, Saïd, Mesaoud and Yassir. While they are disillusioned by the discrimination they experience during the war, the movie also illustrates their emerging sense of hope and political consciousness.

Sarah Elkaïm, french writer and african affairs expert at Critikat explains the film's historical significance [fr]:

Personne ne s’était encore attaché à relater le sort de dizaines de milliers d’Africains, du Maghreb et au-delà du Sahara, qui, au sein de l’armée française, ont participé à la libération du pays qu’ils n’ont jamais, pour la plupart, cessé de considérer comme leur patrie. [..] c’est ce qui fait la force et l’émotion du film : les personnages sont construits, et pas prétextes. Ils sont humains : parfois lâches, peureux, ils sont avant tout des hommes venus libérer leur pays du joug nazi.

No one had yet endeavored to tell the story of tens of thousands of Africans from North Africa and beyond the Sahara in the French army, who helped liberate the country they always considered their homeland. [...] That's what makes this movie so emotional and powerful: the characters are fleshed out, not clichéd. They are human, sometimes cowardly or scared. Above all else, they are men who have come to liberate their country from the Nazi yoke.

Madagascar: “Tabataba”

“Tabataba” (“rumblings” or “rumors” in Malagasy, but also the code name given to the events of the 1947 Malagasy Uprising in Madagascar) is a 1988 film by Raymond Rajaonarivelo. The film tells the story of a Malagasy village fighting to achieve independence from French colonial rule. For the villagers, rebellion takes different forms. Some believe in the power of democracy; others believe in the power of arms.

Director Raymond Rajaonarivelo describes how he wrote the screenplay for the film [fr]:

Tout le monde me racontait une histoire, jamais la même. Cela a donné lieu à une rumeur, Tabataba, qui me paraissait refléter ce que j’avais entendu là-bas. Ce sont toutes ces mémoires qui m’ont servi à écrire le scénario

Everyone was telling me stories, but never the same one. This resulted in a rumor, tabataba, that seemed to reflect what I had heard there. These are all memories that I used to write the script.

Valérie Andrianjafitrimo, the reporter of Rajaonarivelo's remarks, adds [fr]:

Car ce qui est crucial, dans ce jeu de balance auquel on assiste entre déni et commémoration, entre interprétation française renouvelée et pluralité des perceptions malgaches, ce n’est pas la vérité de l’historiographie, dont on voit bien qu’elle ne résoudra rien des ombres de la mémoire ni de la dimension symbolique de l’événement. C’est peut-être la voix alternative de la rumeur, ce « tabataba », ce bruit sourd, permanent, varié et variable, tantôt ténu, tantôt éclatant, tantôt victimaire, tantôt héroïque, qui est importante.

For as we try to balance denial and commemoration, the balance between France's reinterpretations of the events and the Malagasy people's various perceptions, what is crucial is not the truth in historiography. That clearly resolves nothing when it comes to the shadows of memory or the event's symbolism. Perhaps it is the rumor as an alternative voice, the “tabataba” – this muffled, continuous, multifaceted sound, ever-changing from restrained to deafening and from victimized to heroic – that is more important.

January 12 2014

Hockey, Diving for Crosses and Other Christmas-in-January Traditions

For Christians of the Western hemisphere, Christmas comes a little earlier than for their counterparts in Eastern Europe, North Africa and other countries. According to the Gregorian calendar, one of many man-made concepts to measure time and the calendar the globe uses today, Christ was born during the night between December 24 and December 25 just a little over 2,000 years ago. According to the Julian calendar, still used by many religious organizations in the world, those dates correspond to January 6 and January 7.

Among those who celebrate Christmas on those January dates are most Orthodox and Coptic Christians, from Eastern Europe to Egypt and Ethiopia. We called on the wonderfully diverse team of over 700 Global Voices authors to share their favorite local Orthodox and Coptic Christmas traditions and learned that the world is indeed a festive place, long after the Western world has taken down their Christmas stockings and stripped their Christmas trees.

Markos Lemma from Ethiopia explains how a game of hockey is the centerpiece in this North African country's Christmas celebrations:

Christmas falls on December 29 of the Ethiopian calendar (January 7 according to the Gregorian calendar). Ledet (Christmas), it is celebrated seriously by a church service that goes on throughout the night after 43 days fasting known as Tsome Gahad (Advent), with a spectacular procession, which begins at 6 a.m. and lasts until 9 a.m. After the mass service, people go home to break the fast with the meat of chicken or lamb or beef accompanied with injera and the traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Traditionally, young men played a game similar to hockey called genna on this day and now Christmas has also come to be known by that name.

The case in Serbia is far from similar, but followers of the Orthodox faith in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina celebrate Christmas Eve on January 6, the last day of the same 40-day fast observed in Ethiopia, and then break that fast on Christmas Day, January 7, with a similar family feast abundant with meats of all sorts and special Christmas dishes. Different regions of these countries have somewhat different traditions, but this author chose to share one particular tradition that the vast majority of Orthodox families still uphold in this part of Southeast Europe:

On Christmas Day, January 7 according to the Julian calendar, Orthodox Serb households welcome a young male or male child, called a Položajnik, into the house in the early morning. The young male is usually a younger cousin, grandson or neighbor and he should be the first to enter the house that day. He brings in a wreath or bundle of small well dried oak branch tips, hay and such, called a Badnjak, with him and uses it to light the fire. In urban households, most of which don't have a fireplace, the stove is used to light the Badnjak. As sparks from the dried leaves and branches float around, he chants “As many sparks, that much health; as many sparks, that much wealth; as many sparks, that much love; as many sparks, that much luck…”, in no particular order. Different communities and families have their own versions of this ditty. The položajnik is considered a representation of health, prosperity and all things good. He brings luck, health, and love into the home. He then receives a gift from the family and joins them for Christmas breakfast.

Expat blogger David Bailey, better known as “An Englishman in the Balkans”, posted this video explaining the traditional breaking of the Christmas bread, known as the Česnica, on Christmas day in an Orthodox home in Bosnia. The Česnica, however, takes on different shapes throughout the region and in the Vojvodina region of Serbia, for example, is very sweet, resembling baklava more than bread.

The traditional Christmas greeting in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro is “Christ is born!”, to which the proper response is “Truly He is born”. Coincidentally, Lebanon, a country relatively far from Eastern Europe, now uses the same Christmas greeting. Thalia Rahme explains:

In Lebanon … its becoming more and more trendy to say the formula you just mentioned as in reaction to the secularization of Christmas

While usually we used to say that in Easter – Christ is risen, Indeed he is risen – now we also say [it on] Christmas – Christ is Born, Indeed He is born.

Lebanon seems to be a particularly special case when it comes to calendars and Christmas celebrations, with a plethora of faiths and traditions truly all its own. Thalia managed to unravel some of the marvels of Lebanese Christmas for us:

Lebanese Orthodox celebrate Christmas with Catholics on December 24.

Only Armenians Orthodox do have it on January 6 and, since it happens to be Epiphany for us Catholics [marking the baptism of Jesus], it's a kind of double celebration and an official holiday in Lebanon as part of giving each community its rights.

We have a small Coptic and Orthodox community and [an] Ethiopian one who celebrate it on January 7.

On the other hand, Armenian Orthodox choose to celebrate their Easter with us Catholics, but this is not the case for other Orthodox communities [...] but this year Easter for both Catholics and Orthodox is falling on the same date

At the mention of the marking of the Epiphany, many other Eastern Europeans chimed in with their stories of this frequently forgotten, not-so-minor Christian holiday. Global Voices’ veteran author from Bulgaria Rayna St. wrote in to say this:

For the French, January 6 is Epiphany so people eat Galette des Rois (and yes, it's yummy).

For Bulgarians, January 6 is also Epiphany, also called Yordanovden, when everyone named Yordan/ka, Daniel/a, Bogomil/a, Bojidar/a celebrate. The day's name is also Bogoyavlenie (God's appearance) and it is believed to be the day when Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River. When He came out of the waters, the skies opened and there was a voice saying, “You are my beloved Son, all my good will is in You” or something along these lines.

The most exciting moment of this nowadays is the ritual that accompanies this day: the priest throws a cross in the river and young men jump in to fetch it. As you may imagine, it's quite sporty as temperatures in Bulgaria differ from Jordan… :) So, when a guy catches the cross, he is believed to be blessed, fortunate, and to have iron health for the coming year. The priest also goes through houses and, in my region at least, fills in the rooms with tamyan smoke (a specific kind of wax mixture) so it chases away bad spirits. Bogoyavlenie is actually the last one of the Dirty Days and only meatless dishes are served for dinner.

Interestingly enough, while a common Christmas date may not be something all Eastern European Christians share, swimming for crosses in ice cold waters on Epiphany is. This tradition is also the same as Rayna describes in Russia, Serbia, Montenegro and other countries of the region. The dates of when they mark the Epiphany and break the January ice, however, do differ, with those who follow the Julian calendar coming in 13 days “late” again.

But back to Christmas in that region. Busy with following Ukraine's 2013 Euromaidan protests, which continued throughout the Christmas holidays and into 2014, Tetyana Bohdanova set aside a few moments from these worrying events to fill us in on how Christmas is traditionally celebrated by Orthodox followers in this country when they aren't out in the streets holding anti-government rallies by the hundreds of thousands:

In Ukraine most people celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, according to the Julian calendar. On Christmas Eve, January 6, we gather for a traditional dinner that consists of 12 meatless dishes honoring the 12 Apostles. The dinner may begin only after the first star appears in the sky indicating that Christ has been born.

Another Christmas tradition is Vertep, which originally included a puppet theater representing Nativity scenes. A contemporary version, however, refers to a group of people acting out the story of Christ’s birth. Vertep also commonly includes folk characters and singing of Christmas carols. This year Ukrainian Vertep has been influenced by the political turmoil in the country. Among dressed up actors one may recognize Biblical and folk figures along with contemporary politicians, who are not necessarily represented by the good characters!

Tetyana Lokot, also from Ukraine, echoed what Tetyana Bohdanova had to say about caroling and added video evidence of this community holiday tradition:

One [tradition] is caroling – going around singing carols and bringing people the good news, for which carolers sometimes get candy and small change. It is typical for carolers to dress up in national costumes and go in groups, and the carols’ tunes and texts have been carried through generations. One of the most popular ones, and certainly my favorite, is Schedryk (known in English as Carol of the Bells), an old Ukrainian song. [The video] is a recent version from 2011 by Oleh Skrypka, a Ukrainian musician. The cartoon that goes along with it is strangely hinting at the Euromaidan spirit of 2013 and 2014, but also reminds us that we are all kids at heart :)

While Orthodox Coptic Christians account for the largest Christian community in Egypt, they form an even larger percentage of the Ethiopian community. Befekadu Hailu from Ethiopia reminds us that many of us may not even be in the same year, much less on the same date:

As you may know, our [Ethiopian] calendar is also different so we didn't start a new year with most of you. We started 2006 in September and this is the 2006th birthday of Jesus. We are just celebrating Christmas tomorrow [January 7] – which is a public holiday. The Orthodox Christians will also complete their 40 days of fasting season tomorrow. So, it will also be a day of eating much meat products. People spend it at home and as usual coffee ceremony, holiday food, family gatherings are the features of the holiday.

Thus, we end this quick journey through what may be a belated Christmas to some, where we began – in North Africa, with a traditional Christmas song performed by an Ethiopian choir. May your Christmases be as plentiful, warm, and well-rehearsed as theirs, wherever and whenever you choose to celebrate them. In the meantime, some of us are off to prepare for Orthodox New Year's Eve, coming up on January 13 – and you're all invited!

January 05 2014

PHOTOS: Humans of Ethiopia

Inspired by Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York (HONY), Nina Steinberg has created a Facebook page Humans of Ethiopia that provides glimpses into people's lives in Ethiopia.

The description reads:

As I explore Ethiopia this summer I have decided to create a space where I can share my glimpses into the lives of strangers, new friends, and the fascinating way of life I am coming to understand here. Inspired by Brandon's Humans of New York.

Take a look at a few photographs republished from the Humans of Ethiopia page. 

Weaving. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.

Traditional cloth weaving is a centuries-old tradition in Ethiopia. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.


Ethiopian soldiers walking in an empty street. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

Ethiopian women carrying wood on their back. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.

Ethiopian women carry wood on their backs to make a living. The load they carry goes up to 70 pounds and the hike distances that can be more or less than 18 miles. Some of these women may even weigh less than the load they are carrying. Their average daily income is less than two US dollars. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

Ready for Ethiopia coffee ceremony. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a beautiful ritualized way of drinking coffee. The green coffee beans are roasted and then the pan is walked around the room so that everyone can get a waft of the coffee aroma. The coffee beans are crushed, mortar-and-pestle style. The coffee powder is then boiled in a clay pot called a Jebena (seen in the left of the photo). Finally, the coffee is poured into little china cups on a tray and served to everyone – it is served three times. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

I caught them waving chat at the goat and laughed at the thought of a goat getting high. But when I came over to snap a photo, the father wouldn’t smile until he clarified that he was only feeding the goat chat… not his precious little girl. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.

I caught them waving chat at the goat and laughed at the thought of a goat getting high. But when I came over to snap a photo, the father wouldn’t smile until he clarified that he was only feeding the goat chat… not his precious little girl. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

Eat at facefood. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.

Eat at facefood. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.” -John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia.
“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
-John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

Ethiopian designer, Salam Nigussie, showing off her product: “I designed and made what I'm wearing.” – Salam Nigussie. Photo by Humans of Ethiopia. Used with permission.

December 19 2013

#Kality Tweet Chat on Ethiopian Imprisoned Journalists

Join Tweet chat on Ethiopian imprisoned journalist using the hashtag #Kality:

Ethiopian journalists Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega have been locked up in Ethiopia’s Kality prison since 2011 – simply for being journalists trying to hold their government accountable for its actions. Although they have been honored with numerous prestigious journalism awards, the Ethiopian authorities continue to insist that Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega are terrorists. There is no doubt that their arrests and convictions were politically motivated and that their rights as journalists, who are constitutionally protected by freedom of the press, have been violated.

December 05 2013

Five Little-known Energy Resources in Africa

Electricity supply problems are once again news in several African countries with recurring power outages in Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Madagascar, to name just a few of those most recently affected.

In Benin, a private Nigerian company supplies much of the country’s electricity.

A report on the Kongossa blog [fr] describes the current situation in Cameroon.:

Malgré des investissements réalisés ces dernières années par la firme américano-camerounaise AES-SONEL chargée de la production, du transport, de la distribution et de la commercialisation de l’énergie électrique, le problème est loin d’être résolu.[..] Si à Douala et Yaoundé, les coupures d’électricité durent en moyenne quatre à six heures, dans d’autres localités des pays, notamment dans les zones rurales, des témoignages concordants rapportent que les coupures d’électricité peuvent durer jusqu’à trois jours d’affilé

Despite investments made these past years by the American-Cameroonian firm AES-SONEL in charge of production, transportation, distribution and sale of electrical energy, the problem is far from being resolved. [...] Power cuts in Douala and Yaoundé last on average four to six hours while in other areas of the country, notably in rural zones, eyewitnesses consistently report that power cuts can last up to three days in a row.

In Côte d’Ivoire, outages are so frequent that they are listed on the Facebook page of an imaginary supervillain, Delestron [a play on words with the French term for outage], created by Ivoirian internet users.

Finally, in Madagascar, many communities are furious with the national electricity company Jirama, accused of frequent failures to meet requirements. For example, in the community of Ambohibao Iavoloha [fr]:

Par exemple, la coupure totale sans avertissement qui a eu lieu entre le 06 et 11 novembre dernier. A partir du 11 au 15 novembre, les habitants ont été confrontés au délestage et l’électricité ne revient que le lendemain vers 2h du matin. Tel est le cas de l’électricité mais la faible pression de l’eau de la Jirama fait aussi grogner les habitants.

For example, the complete loss of power which happened without warning from November 6th to the 11th. From November 11th to the 15th, inhabitants had to put up with controlled outages and electricity was only available around 2am the following day. That is the situation regarding electricity, but the low water pressure from Jirama also gives inhabitants something to grumble about.

Rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa are the worst off since only 8.4 percent have access to electricity. However, in light of the growth projected [for Africa], the needs of the continent are certainly going to increase. In 2007, annual energy consumption from primary sources was only 15.4 British thermal units (Btu) per person. By comparison, global energy consumption per person per year was 70.8 Btu while that of Americans was 337.1 Btu (almost 22 times that of the mean in Africa).

However, the African continent is not lacking in natural resources which could meet the energy requirements. Any problems are exacerbated by the global intensification of the race towards energy independence. Many countries are turning to the natural resources of the African continent to supply their energy.

PIDA Africa Electricity Transportation Map

Programs for production and transportation of electricity in Africa by 2040. Map by PIDA, used with their authorisation.

Here are five of the lesser known energy sources  on the African continent:

Heavy Oil of Madagascar

Although Madagascar oil remains relatively unknown internationally-speaking, it has been the object of much speculation. Despite the political crisis, interest in the oil of Madagascar [from overseas] has never lessened. Madagascar news website author Antsa explained [fr] Japan’s interest:

Une délégation japonaise a rencontré les responsables du ministère des Hydrocarbures, à la recherche d'information sur la situation actuelle du secteur des ressources pétrolières, ainsi que des lois et règlementations en vigueur. «Malgré la crise politique, les investisseurs sont restés et d'autres viennent encore pour l'exploration de pétrole. Même s'ils ne sont que dans la phase d'exploration, des avantages sont déjà acquis, à l'exemple de la création d'écoles, d'hôpitaux, l’amélioration et le renforcement de capacité, etc. De plus, le gouvernement ne paie rien, malgré le partage de production», a informé le DG des Hydrocarbures. Notons que trois compagnies pétrolières japonaises ICEP, Jog Meg et Mitsibushi, s'intéressent actuellement à Madagascar.

A Japanese delegation met with representatives from the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to find information on the current situation within the petroleum resources sector, as well as on the laws and rules in force. “Despite the political crisis, investors have stayed while others continue to come for the oil exploration. Even if they are only in the exploration phase, some advantages have already been seen, for example, schools and hospitals have been built or expanded, etc. What is more, the government pays nothing, despite sharing production”, stated the Hydrocarbons Manager. Three Japanese petroleum companies – ICEP, Jog Meg and Mitsibushi – are currently interested in Madagascar.

This growing interest from petroleum businesses could however bring risks. Holly Rakotondralambo, Madagascar partner of Friends of the Earth, explained [fr]:

Alors que les prix du pétrole et des métaux sont de plus en plus élevés en raison d’une demande mondiale croissante, les grandes entreprises et les investisseurs se ruent sur Madagascar. Dans un contexte politique très fragile, ce phénomène risque d'exacerber des conflits avec les populations et de dégrader, encore davantage, des écosystèmes très riches déjà en sursis.

Although oil and metal prices are higher because of growing global demand, big business and investors are rushing to Madagascar. In an extremely fragile political context, this phenomenon threatens to worsen conflicts with the people as well as further despoiling rich ecosystems already living on borrowed time.
natural ressources of Madagascar and the corporations vying for them. Graph posted by  Front Patriotique Malagasy on Facebook, with his permission

Natural resources of Madagascar and the companies competing to exploit them. Map published by the OMNIS agency on Facebook, used with permission


Tar Sands of the Republic of Congo

Tar sand deposits are an important source of synthetic crude oil. However, they are difficult to exploit and controversial because of their environmental impact. Italian company ENI is the first oil company to exploit the African tar sands. In the Congo, ENI collects tar sands 70km from Pointe-Noire, Congo-Brazzaville, in the Tchikatanga and Tchikatanga-Makola regions. Exploitation of these bitumen-rich sands can be risky, as explained here by the blog Vivement la désintox [fr] [I can’t wait for the detox]:

Exploiter les sables bitumineux est la façon la plus sale, la plus chère et la plus énergivore de produire du pétrole. Extraire 1 baril de pétrole bitumineux nécessite 5 barils d'eau et émet jusqu’à 5 fois plus de gaz à effet de serre que le pétrole conventionnel. L’extraction des sables bitumineux est également synonyme de déforestation et de pollution des eaux. En effet, afin de séparer le pétrole du sable, les compagnies injectent des solvants qui polluent massivement les sols et les rivières.

Exploiting tar sands is the dirtiest, most expensive, most energy-demanding way to produce oil. Extracting one barrel of tar oil takes five barrels of water and releases up to five times more greenhouse gases than normal oil. Extraction of tar sands is also synonymous with deforestation and water pollution. In order to separate the oil from the sand, the companies inject solvents which pollute massively the soil and rivers.

The Windmills of Cape Verde

The Cape Verde islands are the site of the largest windmill farm in Africa. The electricity production equipment on four of the islands could lead to the greatest supply of electricity from wind energy in the world (in proportion to the size of the country), as explained in the following video:

Juan Cole explained the country’s wind energy gamble:

The lack of electricity and its high price have been serious obstacles to economic development and job creation, and thus major reasons for mass emigration of the population. Whereas European wind power often depends on substantial subsidies, the project in Cape Verde is based on strong winds. Electricity generated from wind power is distinctly cheaper than the power sources used hitherto in the islands.

The Potential of Solar Energy in Benin

With energy consumption growing rapidly in Benin, (and estimated to grow by 11% in future years by the state Electrical Energy Company), lack of investment in the sector coupled with losses during distribution and transportation (of around 18-30%) are the main reasons of the current necessity for controlled outages. Leomick Sinsin, a blogger from Benin, described the potential advantages of investing in photovoltaic energy [fr] in his country:

Avec un rayonnement variant de 3 à 6 kWh par m² selon la position géographique, le principal atout d’une installation solaire en Afrique est sa capacité à fournir suffisamment de puissance pour répondre aux besoins quotidiens. D’autre part, l’avantage d’un système solaire est la décentralisation du système de production. Quand l’on connait la vétusté des infrastructures existantes, nul ne saurait contredire le bien fondé d’un système où le site de production juxtaposerait le point de consommation. Le bon exemple est la maison isolée avec des modules surplombant la toiture. [..] Le dernier argument et pas des moindres est le travail d’efficacité énergétique qu’ impose une installation solaire. Un système solaire est une énergie intermittente qui dépend de plusieurs paramètres comme la météo, la qualité de l’installation etc. De ce fait, la consommation implique un recours vers des appareils sobres et peu énergivores. Nous réduisons ainsi le niveau de consommation tout en préservant le même niveau d’utilité.

With power varying from 3 to 6 kWh/m2 depending on geographical position, the main advantage of solar installations in Africa is their capacity to provide enough power to answer daily needs. Another advantage of solar power systems is decentralisation of production. Knowing the antiquity of the existing infrastructure, no-one could be against starting a system where the production site is beside the point of use. A good example is a remote house with panels on the roof. [...] Last but not least, the work towards energy efficiency that a solar installation imposes. Solar power gives intermittent energy which depends on several parameters such as the weather, quality of the installation, etc. As a result, its usage implies a move towards energy-saving equipment. In this way the level of consumption can be reduced while keeping the same degree of usability.

Geothermic energy from the Rift Valley

Recently, several energy companies have stressed the importance of geothermic energy as both a response to the energy needs for countries within the Horn of Africa [Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia] and the Rift Valley as well as an integral part of the program for “green growth”. SciDev.Net reported that Djibouti could become a major player [fr] in geothermic energy:

Le potentiel d'énergie géothermique de la région du Lac Assal de ce pays, qui se trouve dans la vallée du Rift, est à l'étude [..] La production d'énergie sur le lac Assal pourrait commencer en 2018 pour un coût de US$ 240 millions, générant 40 à 60 mégawatts. La BAD recommande que les partenariats entre les secteurs public et privé développent ces projets d'énergie en raison de leurs coûts élevés.

The potential of geothermic energy in the Lake Assal region of this country in the Rift Valley is being studied [...] Energy production around Lake Assal could start in 2018 for a cost of 240 million US Dollars, generating 40 to 60 megawatts. The BAD recommend that public and private sector partnerships develop these energy projects due to their high cost.

G. Pourtier added that Ethiopia is also starting to explore thermal energy [fr]:

Située à 200 km au sud d'Addis-Abeba, la capitale éthiopienne, la nouvelle centrale produira d'abord 20 MW à partir de 2015, puis 500 MW en 2018 et enfin 1 GW quelques années plus tard [..]. La surface acquise par Reykjavik Geothermal en Éthiopie couvre 6500 km2, dont 200 km2 ont déjà été identifiés et où la température s'élève à 350°C.

Located 200 km south of Addis Abbaba, the Ethiopian capital, the new power station will start producing 20 MW from 2015, then 500 MW in 2018 and finally 1 GW several years later [...] The area acquired by Reykjavik Geothermal covers 6500 km2, of which 200 km2 have already been identified as having temperatures reaching 350°C.

November 13 2013

Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Immigration Crackdown

On November 4, 2013, Saudi Arabia began enforcing a crackdown on illegal immigrants. Saudi Arabia is believed to be home to more than seven million foreign workers and their families. The Saudi government issued an amnesty period in April 2013 giving illegal immigrants seven months to gain legal status or leave the country.

Immigrants from Ethiopia, a Sub-Saharan African country, are one of the most affected by the crackdown, which has resulted in riots and violence. The Ethiopian government is repatriating its citizens living in Saudi Arabia illegally after it was reported that an Ethiopian was killed by Saudi police.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia Tedros Adhanom acknowledged the right of Saudi Arabia to expel illegal immigrants but condemned the use of force and rape against Ethiopian immigrants as it has been reported on different news and social media sites.

Below is a video posted on YouTube by user Amharictube showing mass exodus of immigrants in Saudi Arabia:

A petition has been created on to alert the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International about the plight of Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia online have been using the hashtag #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to condemn the treatment of Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia.

Mahlet (@Mahlet_S) noted that immigrants are not criminals but job seekers:

Addis Standard (@addisstandard), a monthly magazine in Ethiopia, wrote:

Some users revisited the historical relationship between Islam and Ethiopia. Hafsa Mohamed (@hafsamohamed1) pointed out that:

Kali (@KaliDaisyy) wrote:

Pschologist Antonio Mulatu (@AntonZfirst) referred to advice given by Prophet Muhammad about Ethiopia:

The relatonship between Ethiopia and Muslim dates back to the time when Ethiopia provided a safe haven to Muslims who were fleeing persecution from the rulers of Mecca. Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habash, one of the foremost companions of Muhammad and the first Muezzin, the person who recites the call to prayer, was Ethiopian.

Ethiopia is home to Harar, which is considered the fourth holy city of Islam, with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.

Ethiopia is also the site of the First Hijrah, the migration of Muslims to escape persecution, in the history of Islam.

However, anoof (@anoofesh) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, disagreed with the comparison between Ethiopia immigrants in Saudi Arabia and Muslim immigrants in Ethiopia:

Melak Mekonen (@melak_m) observed that:

Lee Jasper (@LeeJasper), a member of Respect Party in the UK, saw the plight of Ethiopian immigrants similar to that of Palestinians under Israeli occupation:

جبرتينهو (@iabj) opined:

Ethiopian human rights specialist based in Geneva, Switzerland, Yehenew Walilegne (@YeheneWalilegne) opposed Saudi Arabia's candidacy to the United Nations Human Rights Council:

Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Cuba won seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, November 12, 2013.

anoof told Ethiopians:

October 16 2013

Ethiopian Journalists Challenge Anti-Terrorism Law

Ethiopian veteran journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and online journalist Reeyot Alemu have filed a complaint against Ethiopia at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, challenging the country’s abuse of its anti-terrorism law to suppress free speech. Both were convicted under Ethiopia’s notorious 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation for asking critical questions about government policies — simply put, for doing their job as journalists. Mr. Nega is currently serving an 18-year prison term and Ms. Alemu one of 5 years. Their cases are but two of many more that have been brought under the guise of “combatting terrorism” in the country.

Eskinder Nega and his wife Serkalim Fasil

Eskinder Nega and his wife Serkalim Fasil. Photo used with permission of owner.

Ethiopia is one of many countries that has adopted anti-terrorism laws modeled after expansive legislation that specifically targets United States policy. Hundreds of journalists and other dissenting voices in the country have been prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation since it entered into force in 2009. With its overly broad provisions, which even explicitly make practising journalism a crime, it has been employed as an effective tool of oppression in a context that wasn’t conducive to a free press to begin with.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Ethiopia 137th out of 179 states in its 2013 World Press Freedom Index, 10 places lower than its 2012 ranking. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more journalists fled into exile from Ethiopia in 2011 than from any other country worldwide and between 2008 and 2013, a total of 45 journalists went into exile from the country. Journalists and opposition political party members face frequent harassment, particularly when their coverage is critical of the government. Self-censorship is a routine consequence of the situation.

Two of the journalists prosecuted under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation are Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. For Mr. Nega, the founder of many independent publications in Ethiopia, all of which have now been shut down, this is the eighth time authorities are persecuting him because of his work. Together with Ms. Alemu, a political columnist for the now-banned independent newspaper Feteh and a regular contributor to the online news outlet Ethiopian Review, he is now challenging the legislation on which he previously wrote critical opinion pieces where he questioned the way the law was being used to jail journalists.

Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu. Photo used with permission of owner.

Their petition asks the African Commission to refer the case to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which could issue a binding ruling against the Ethiopian government. This is necessary, they argue, because their case is merely an example of the many more journalists, activists and political opponents who are being prosecuted as “terrorists”. Under the African Charter, the Commission has the power to refer matters to the Court that concern a “serious or massive violation” of human rights. The complaint of Mr. Nega and Ms. Alemu sets out that the systematic prosecution of those critical of the government constitutes exactly that.

Their decision to challenge the Ethiopian government is a very brave one. Since their imprisonment, both journalists have suffered repercussions for speaking out on their situation and those of others. Mr Nega and Ms. Alemu have both been denied visitation rights on a frequent basis and Ms. Alemu has been threatened with solitary confinement.

Mr. Nega and Ms. Alemu are represented before the African Commission by Nani Jansen of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Patrick Griffith of Freedom Now and Korieh Duodu of Lincolns Inn. The next upcoming session of the African Commission will take place in Banjul, The Gambia from 22 October – 5 November 2013.

August 08 2013

Ethiopian Muslims Arrested, Beaten During Eid al-Fitr Protests

An aggressive crackdown on protests against the country's mistreatment of Muslims ended in hundreds, including women and children, reportedly beaten, tear gassed and arrested by police on Thursday 8 August, 2013, the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Ethiopian Muslims have been protesting online and offline for over a year and a half against alleged government's interference in their religious affairs.

One of the issues they are opposed to is the election of the Islamic Council that took place in October 2012, which they argue the government influenced the process in favor of government-friendly members. They also accuse the government of trying to promote a more liberal form of Islam known as al-Abhash.

Ethiopian Muslims protesting the Ethiopian Government.

Ethiopian Muslims protesting early this year during the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. One of the t-shirts reads, “Stop Abhashism in Ethiopia.” Photo source: the Awolia School Support Page Facebook Page

Muslim cyber-activists have been using Facebook pages such as DimtsachinYisema [amh] (Let Our Voices Be Heard) and EthiopianMuslims to coordinate and share information about the protests.

Last year, Ethiopian Christians supported their fellow citizens in online messages of unity, which went viral in the Ethiopian digital space. Many Ethiopian Christians changed their Facebook status in July 2012 to announce their allegiance to Ethiopian Muslims in their quest for non-interference from the government.

Following the crackdown on Eid protests, Amnesty International released a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to end repression against Muslims. The statement takes note of an incident last week related to the protests that reportedly ended in the deaths of an unconfirmed number of people in the town of Kofele in Oromia region.

Reports of police brutality and arrests after Eid prayers are trending on Twitter under the hashtags EidDemonstration and EthioMuslims.

Mahlet (@faantish) was sad for the treatment of peaceful Muslims:

@faantish wrote that most of those who were beaten and arrested were women:

Human rights activist Soli (@Soliyee) saw one female detainee with a new baby boy:

An online network of Oromos, Oromo Network (@OromoRT), wondered how one can trust the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF):

StunningHabesha (@stunningHabesha) shared photos showing the extent of police brutality:

The Africa desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (@africamedia_CPJ) reported the alleged censoring of coverage of Eid prayer service:

Given the country's treatment of Muslims, @atnemac wrote that it is as if being Muslim is an offense in Ethiopia:

Soli (@Soliyee) and her friend Faantish (@faantish) were lucky because of their non-Muslim dressing code:

Despite massive condemnation from Twitter users in Ethiopia and around the world, there were some who were supporting the crackdown.

EthioZagol (@EthioZagol) considers the protest part of the spread of Islam extremism in Ethiopia:

Ethiopian human rights activist and writer Kiflu Hussain (@HussainKiflu) responded to the “extremism” accusation by asking:

An Ethiopian student in Finland, Henok (@henoksheger), asked Muslims to respect the law:

July 23 2013

Haile_Selassie, Speech to UN October 6 1963 - YouTube

#Haile_Selassie, Speech to #UN October 6 1963 - YouTube

H.I.M. Haile Selassie address to the #Unted_Nations Oct 6, 1963

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates:
Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of #Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenseless nation, by the Fascist invader.I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.

Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best - perhaps the last - hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.

In 1936, I declared that it was not the Covenant of the League that was at stake, but #international_morality. Undertakings, I said then, are of little worth if the will to keep them is lacking. The Charter of the United Nations expresses the noblest aspirations of man: abjuration of force in the settlement of disputes between states; the assurance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; the safeguarding of international peace and security.

But these, too, as were the phrases of the Covenant, are only words; their value depends wholly on our will to observe and honor them and give them content and meaning. The preservation of peace and the guaranteeing of man’s basic freedoms and rights require courage and eternal vigilance: courage to speak and act - and if necessary, to suffer and die - for truth and justice; eternal vigilance, that the least transgression of international morality shall not go undetected and unremedied. These lessons must be learned anew by each succeeding generation, and that generation is fortunate indeed which learns from other than its own bitter experience. This Organization and each of its members bear a crushing and awesome responsibility: to absorb the wisdom of history and to apply it to the problems of the present, in order that future generations may be born, and live, and die, in peace.

The record of the United Nations during the few short years of its life affords mankind a solid basis for encouragement and hope for the future. The United Nations has dared to act, when the League dared not in Palestine, in Korea, in Suez, in the Congo. There is not one among us today who does not conjecture upon the reaction of this body when motives and actions are called into question. The opinion of this Organization today acts as a powerful influence upon the decisions of its members. The spotlight of world opinion, focused by the United Nations upon the transgressions of the renegades of human society, has thus far proved an effective safeguard against unchecked aggression and unrestricted violation of human rights.

The United Nations continues to sense as the forum where nations whose interests clash may lay their cases before world opinion. It still provides the essential escape valve without which the slow build-up of pressures would have long since resulted in catastrophic explosion. Its actions and decisions have speeded the achievement of freedom by many peoples on the continents of Africa and Asia. Its efforts have contributed to the advancement of the standard of living of peoples in all corners of the world.

For this, all men must give thanks. As I stand here today, how faint, how remote are the memories of 1936.How different in 1963 are the attitudes of men. We then existed in an atmosphere of suffocating pessimism. Today, cautious yet buoyant optimism is the prevailing spirit. But each one of us here knows that what has been accomplished is not enough.

The United Nations judgments have been and continue to be subject to frustration, as individual member-states have ignored its pronouncements and disregarded its recommendations. The Organization’s sinews have been weakened, as member-states have shirked their obligations to it. The authority of the Organization has been mocked, as individual member-states have proceeded, in violation of its commands, to pursue their own aims and ends. The troubles which continue to plague us virtually all arise among member states of the Organization, but the Organization remains impotent to enforce acceptable solutions. As the maker and enforcer of the international law, what the United Nations has achieved still falls regrettably short of our goal of an international community of nations.

This does not mean that the United Nations has failed. I have lived too long to cherish many illusions about the essential highmindedness of men when brought into stark confrontation with the issue of control over their security, and their property interests. Not even now, when so much is at hazard would many nations willingly entrust their destinies to other hands.

Yet, this is the ultimatum presented to us: secure the conditions whereby men will entrust their security to a larger entity, or risk annihilation; persuade men that their salvation rests in the subordination of national and local interests to the interests of humanity, or endanger man’s future. These are the objectives, yesterday unobtainable, today essential, which we must labor to achieve.

Until this is accomplished, mankind’s future remains hazardous and permanent peace a matter for speculation. There is no single magic formula, no one simple step, no words, whether written into the Organization’s Charter or into a treaty between states, which can automatically guarantee to us what we seek. Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. #Peace is not an “is”, it is a “becoming.” We cannot escape the dreadful possibility of catastrophe by miscalculation. But we can reach the right decisions on the myriad subordinate problems which each new day poses, and we can thereby make our contribution and perhaps the most that can be reasonably expected of us in 1963 to the preservation of peace. It is here that the United Nations has served us - not perfectly, but well. And in enhancing the possibilities that the Organization may serve us better, we serve and bring closer our most cherished goals.

I would mention briefly today two particular issues which are of deep concern to all men: disarmament and the establishment of true equality among men. Disarmament has become the urgent imperative of our time. I do not say this because I equate the absence of arms to peace, or because I believe that bringing an end to the nuclear arms race automatically guarantees the peace, or because the elimination of nuclear warheads from the arsenals of the world will bring in its wake that change in attitude requisite to the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. Disarmament is vital today, quite simply, because of the immense destructive capacity of which men dispose.

Ethiopia supports the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty as a step towards this goal, even though only a partial step. Nations can still perfect weapons of mass destruction by underground testing. There is no guarantee against the sudden, unannounced resumption of testing in the atmosphere.

The real significance of the treaty is that it admits of a tacit stalemate between the nations which negotiated it, a stalemate which recognizes the blunt, unavoidable fact that none would emerge from the total destruction which would be the lot of all in a nuclear war, a stalemate which affords us and the United Nations a breathing space in which to act.

Here is our opportunity and our challenge. If the nuclear powers are prepared to declare a truce, let us seize the moment to strengthen the institutions and procedures which will serve as the means for the pacific settlement of disputes among men. Conflicts between nations will continue to arise. The real issue is whether they are to be resolved by force, or by resort to peaceful methods and procedures, administered by impartial institutions. This very Organization itself is the greatest such institution, and it is in a more powerful United Nations that we seek, and it is here that we shall find, the assurance of a peaceful future.

Were a real and effective disarmament achieved and the funds now spent in the arms race devoted to the amelioration of man’s state; were we to concentrate only on the peaceful uses of nuclear knowledge, how vastly and in how short a time might we change the conditions of mankind. This should be our goal.

When we talk of the #equality of #man, we find, also, a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge to breathe new life into the ideals enshrined in the Charter, an opportunity to bring men closer to freedom and true equality. and thus, closer to a #love of #peace.

The goal of the equality of man which we seek is the antithesis of the exploitation of one people by another with which the pages of history and in particular those written of the African and Asian continents, speak at such length. Exploitation, thus viewed, has many faces. But whatever guise it assumes, this evil is to be shunned where it does not exist and crushed where it does. It is the sacred duty of this Organization to ensure that the dream of equality is finally realized for all men to whom it is still denied, to guarantee that exploitation is not reincarnated in other forms in places whence it has already been banished.

As a free Africa has emerged during the past decade, a fresh attack has been launched against exploitation, wherever it still exists. And in that interaction so common to history, this in turn, has stimulated and encouraged the remaining dependent peoples to renewed efforts to throw off the yoke which has oppressed them and its claim as their birthright the twin ideals of liberty and equality. This very struggle is a struggle to establish peace, and until victory is assured, that brotherhood and understanding which nourish and give life to peace can be but partial and incomplete.

In the United States of America, the administration of President Kennedy is leading a vigorous attack to eradicate the remaining vestige of racial discrimination from this country. We know that this conflict will be won and that right will triumph. In this time of trial, these efforts should be encouraged and assisted, and we should lend our sympathy and support to the American Government today.

Last May, in Addis Ababa, I convened a meeting of Heads of African States and Governments. In three days, the thirty-two nations represented at that Conference demonstrated to the world that when the will and the determination exist, nations and peoples of diverse backgrounds can and will work together. in unity, to the achievement of common goals and the assurance of that equality and brotherhood which we desire.

On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa Conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson: That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all #Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

The United Nations has done much, both directly and indirectly to speed the disappearance of discrimination and oppression from the earth. Without the opportunity to focus world opinion on Africa and Asia which this Organization provides, the goal, for many, might still lie ahead, and the struggle would have taken far longer. For this, we are truly grateful.

But more can be done. The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome. In pursuance of resolutions adopted at the Addis Ababa Summit Conference, African States have undertaken certain measures in the economic field which, if adopted by all member states of the United Nations, would soon reduce intransigence to reason. I ask, today, for adherence to these measures by every nation represented here which is truly devoted to the principles enunciated in the Charter.

I do not believe that Portugal and South Africa are prepared to commit economic or physical suicide if honorable and reasonable alternatives exist. I believe that such alternatives can be found. But I also know that unless peaceful solutions are devised, counsels of moderation and temperance will avail for naught; and another blow will have been dealt to this Organization which will hamper and weaken still further its usefulness in the struggle to ensure the victory of peace and liberty over the forces of strife and oppression. Here, then, is the opportunity presented to us. We must act while we can, while the occasion exists to exert those legitimate pressures available to us, lest time run out and resort be had to less happy means.

Does this Organization today possess the authority and the will to act? And if it does not, are we prepared to clothe it with the power to create and enforce the rule of law? Or is the Charter a mere collection of words, without content and substance, because the essential spirit is lacking? The time in which to ponder these questions is all too short. The pages of history are full of instances in which the unwanted and the shunned nonetheless occurred because men waited to act until too late. We can brook no such delay.

If we are to survive, this Organization must survive. To survive, it must be strengthened. Its executive must be vested with great authority. The means for the enforcement of its decisions must be fortified, and, if they do not exist, they must be devised. Procedures must be established to protect the small and the weak when threatened by the strong and the mighty. All nations which fulfill the conditions of membership must be admitted and allowed to sit in this assemblage.

Equality of representation must be assured in each of its organs. The possibilities which exist in the United Nations to provide the medium whereby the hungry may be fed, the naked clothed, the ignorant instructed, must be seized on and exploited for the flower of peace is not sustained by poverty and want. To achieve this requires courage and confidence. The courage, I believe, we possess. The confidence must be created, and to create confidence we must act courageously.

The great nations of the world would do well to remember that in the modern age even their own fates are not wholly in their hands. Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse? It is not only the small and the weak who must scrupulously observe their obligations to the United Nations and to each other. Unless the smaller nations are accorded their proper voice in the settlement of the world’s problems, unless the equality which Africa and Asia have struggled to attain is reflected in expanded membership in the institutions which make up the United Nations, confidence will come just that much harder. Unless the rights of the least of men are as assiduously protected as those of the greatest, the seeds of confidence will fall on barren soil.

The stake of each one of us is identical - life or death. We all wish to live. We all seek a world in which men are freed of the burdens of ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease. And we shall all be hard-pressed to escape the deadly rain of nuclear fall-out should catastrophe overtake us.

When I spoke at Geneva in 1936, there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the League of Nations. I am neither the first, nor will I be the last head of state to address the United Nations, but only I have addressed both the League and this Organization in this capacity. The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none. This, then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image. And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us. We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.

#The_Lion_of_Judah #rastafari #war
#bob_marley #musique

May 20 2013

Are Indian Companies “Land Grabbing” in Africa?

As foreign companies and governments buy or lease land in countries across Africa, the debate continues as to whether this will encourage development or is simply land grabbing, which displaces local populations and threatens food security.

The Hindu's Addis Ababa correspondent Aman Sethi (@Amannama) has recently written about Indian companies’ involvement in Ethiopia and Mali, and on 19 May he took part in a Q&A session on Facebook on the issue of so-called Indian land grabs in African countries.

Susanna Myrtle Lazarus asked:

What is the purpose of land grabs in Africa? Is it for the property value or just for resources like water etc?

Aman Sethi noted that the term “land grab” is disputed:

Well that's an interesting question: the jury is still out on the whole question of “land grab”. The UN, for instance, has come up with a set of guidelines on land investment. Host countries tend to lease out land, rather than sell it, so it isn't usually about property value because the lessor company cannot sell the land. Investments are invariably for the resources then – so it could be minerals, it could be timber, it could be soil and water to grow crops. The big question of course is – are host countries getting enough back in return for leasing out land and (often) displacing people?

Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, Managing Director of Karuturi Global Ltd., Gambella, Ethiopia. Photo by Flickr user Planète à vendre (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, Managing Director of Karuturi Global Ltd., Gambella, Ethiopia. Photo by Flickr user Planète à vendre (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Jayakarthik Sabarathnam's question was:

Don't you think Africa's land problems are a result of confusion over who owns the land, whether it is an individual or the government, since individuals have been staying on government land under the assumption that they are the owners whereas the government considers the land as its own?

Sethi answered:

I think this is a key and crucial point – that in at least two countries that I wrote about – Ethiopia and Mali – there is significant confusion over land titles. In Ethiopia for instance, all land is owned by the state and is leased out to private individuals and companies. In places like Gambella – as I mention in the second part of the story – communities often have pre-existing communal claims on the land, which are not acknowledged by the state. This creates a serious problem. The Ethiopian government believes that the Commune Development programme – or villagization – will actually streamline the process of land use by giving land titles to the people who are resettled under the scheme. However, this will of course involve a radical change in the way the community conceives of land.

Roybath Mylaks wanted to know if Indian investment actually helped to increase local skills:

Are Indian companies adding to capacity building of locals there? Do they hire locally or bring in workers from India?

Aman Sethi replied:

On labour – the Ethiopian government is very clear that they want companies to train local workers. Last year, I wrote about how liquor Baron Ponty Chadha had come up with a plan to bring farmers from Punjab to Ethiopia – but the plan was shot down by the government. Most governments allow companies to bring in highly skilled technicians and managers, but try to get companies to train people to become machine operators etc.

Samiksha Srivastava's question was along the same lines:

Don't you think Indian-owned companies are enhancing the development there?

Sethi didn't think there was a simple answer to that, and referred to the controversy surrounding Indian company Karuturi Global, which has been heavily criticised for its operations in Ethiopia:

Well, I think that a lot of developing countries are still figuring out what development really means to them – what path should they take, what resources should they allocate, what should be the role of the state and the market? Thus, I think that Indian companies have become a part of this debate by participating in these developing economies. Many in Ethiopia are unhappy with the fact that a foreign company has acquired such large amounts of land – while others believe that companies like Karuturi will help the country earn foreign exchange – so the debate is wide open right now.

Pranay Sinha asked:

Do you think the government needs to put in place some minimum standards for corporates operating abroad so that locals are not abused in the process of these investments, or should it be a self-restricting corporate code of conduct?

Referring again to Karuturi Global, Aman Sethi responded:

Well, I think most governments have legal frameworks to safeguard the rights of project-affected communities – however, many (much like in India) cannot effectively monitor these companies. In Karuturi's case for instance, no laws have been broken – but there seems to be a structural problem with the way the project was conceived – so I think we probably need to think beyond a legal regime and perhaps begin by trying to understand these processes as best we can. It's easy to say “neocolonial land grab” and end the discussion – but that doesn't help our understanding of the world – rather it restricts engagement because the discussion is effectively over.

May 03 2013

In Violation of Constitution, Ethiopian Blogger Will Face 18 Years in Prison

This post originally appeared on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It has been modified for the Global Voices Advocacy audience.

On May 1, the Ethiopian Supreme Court upheld the conviction and extreme sentence of award-winning online journalist Eskinder Nega, who now faces 18 years in prison. Nega was arrested in September 2011 and charged with “terrorism” under a vague law in Ethiopia that has been used to target online journalists and political dissenters. His trial and appeal faced repeated delays, while international human rights and free expression groups continued to criticize his imprisonment and punishment. EFF, PEN America, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others campaigned for his release, and a United Nations panel found his conviction to be in violation of international law.

Mohamed Keita of the Committee to Protect Journalists said in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, “The persecution of Eskinder and other journalists is the hallmark of a regime fearful of the opinions of its citizens.”

Free Eskinder campaign image.

Free Eskinder campaign image.

Eskinder Nega went to the United States for college, studying at American University before returning to Ethiopia to become a journalist. He founded four newspapers—all of which were shut down by the Ethiopian government—and has been jailed repeatedly for his outspoken articles.  His journalism license revoked, Nega moved to the digital world, becoming a blogger and using online platforms to discuss the political situation in Ethiopia. While many journalists in Ethiopia have been silenced or fled the country to protect their lives and the lives of their family members, Eskinder Nega refused to leave or stop writing. His courage and dedication as a journalist have made him an international symbol of press freedom and the power of the Internet to maintain free speech in repressive conditions.

Eskinder Nega wrote passionately about the opportunity for Ethiopia to embrace human rights and free expression.  In one blog post, he wrote:

Tyranny is in retreat everywhere. It has lost one of its two last great bastions, the Arab world. The momentum is now on the side freedom. Freedom is partial to no race. Freedom has no religion. Freedom favors no ethnicity. Freedom discriminates not between rich and poor countries. Inevitably, freedom will overwhelm Ethiopia.

Eskinder Nega’s writings have provided a window into the realities of life on the ground in Ethiopia and served as inspiration for people in Ethiopia and around the world. His continued imprisonment denies the world of a unique and powerful journalistic voice from an area of the world that is hungry for accurate, fair, and multifaceted reporting.

April 11 2013

Ethiopia Accused of Ethnic Cleansing Over Mass Amhara Evictions

Thousands of ethnic Amharas in western Ethiopia are being expelled en masse from the country's Benishangul Gumuz region, where many have settled, in what some are condemning as a campaign of “ethnic cleansing“.

Ethiopia has been divided into nine ethnically based and politically autonomous regional states and two chartered cities since 1996. The Amhara people, reportedly including children, pregnant women, and the sickly, are being uprooted to a rural area of Ethiopia's Amhara region, which contains their historical homeland.

Human rights advocates say the deportation is illegal according to Ethiopian and international law. Ethiopian authorities have always claimed that these claims are unsubstantiated. The government officials claim that they been uprooting indigenous and local farmers in the name of villagization programs.

This isn't the first time Ethiopian officials have forced Amhara people to move to another region. A reported 22,000 Amharas were evicted from southern Ethiopia and their homes confiscated in 2012.

A report by Ethiopian Satellite Television in March 2013 and made available on YouTube [amh] quotes opposition party leaders condemning the eviction.

Many Ethiopians are opposed to the government policy of the rural population's mass eviction. An online petition, demanding the government stop the unlawful campaign targeting the Amhara people, had 1,764 signatures at the time of this post's publication on April 9, 2013.

Displaced Amharas waiting for food and shelter. Photo courtesy of Ethiopian Satellite Television.

Displaced Amharas waiting for food and shelter. Photo courtesy of Ethiopian Satellite Television.

The petition page, which is addressed to Dr. Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and many other Ethiopian government high officials, reads:

According to the information that I have, the eviction is poorly organized and is marred by several cases of human right violations. This petition is in protest of this eviction and is intended to get the plight of these voiceless Ethiopians to the attention of the Ethiopian government and international rights organizations. Please sign the petition and invite your friends to sign as well. This is the least we can do to show our solidarity with Ethiopians who are being victimized by a misguided and irresponsible policy.

Jawar Mohammed, a political analyst and blogger, theorized on his Facebook page about the reasons behind the mass evictions of the Amharas:

Its my view that the mass eviction at this time has well calculated political agenda and is being hatched by the real power holders. By instigating attack on vulnerable Amharas who reside outside their regional state, the regime would like to stir ethnic victim-hood sentiment. This is meant to force Amhara political leaders to resort to open ethnic partisan advocacy, which would undermine their pan-Ethiopianist narrative. What does the regime benefit from this?

Since the 2005 election, the [Tigray People's Liberation Front] has been trying hard to transform its ethno-nationalist narrative to that of statist nationalism. That is it wants to justify its continuous rule by presenting itself as guardian of the Ethiopian state and its historical legacy. However, before it can achieve that, it has to displace the previous claimant–the Amhara elites. Hence such surgical attack on their ethnic brethren would eventually force Amhara elites to embrace ethno-nationalism and give up the throne of Ethiopian nationalism to the new claimant- Tigrean elites.

The sad thing is while the rulers experiment with all kind of dirty tricks to prolong their days in palace, innocent and poor farmers struggling to survive on a dollar a day income are pushed around. Making these farmers homeless at the time when people are barely surviving at their home due to the unbearably high cost of living is a heartless crime that sets a dangerous precedent, that must be condemned by everyone, in regardless of who we are or what political opinion we have.

Blogger Ephrem Eshete asked [amh] Ethiopians to strongly denounce the evictions:

 ሊወገዝ የሚገባው ተግባር መነሻው ምንም ይሁን ምን፣ የክልሉ ፓርቲ ከማንም ጋር ይስማማ አይስማማ በነዚህ ዜጎች ላይ የተደረገው ተገቢነት የሌለው ነገር ነው። የዜጎች በአገራቸው ውስጥ የመዘዋወር፣ የመኖር መብት እንዲህ በጥቂት የፓርቲ ሹመኞች መወሰኑ የሚያስጨንቅም የሚያስደነግጥም ምልክት

This action should strongly be denounced. The parties administering their respective regional states might have agreed on terms [for evictions] but it is wrong regardless of the reasons for the uprooting of these citizens of Ethiopia. It is alarming as well to know Ethiopian citizens’ rights to movement in their country is decided by political party officials.

Abraha Desta, an activist based in Ethiopia's captial city Addis Ababa, identified [amh] three reasons for activists to support the Amhara people:

ሰዎች ከቀያቸው በሃይል (በግፍ በዘርሓረጋቸው እየተለዩ) ሲፈናቀሉ (ሲባረሩ) የከፋ የሰብኣዊ መብት ጥሰት ነው። ዜጎቻችን (ወገኖቻችን) ሲፈናቀሉ የሚደርሳቸው ኢኮኖሚያዊ፣ ማሕበራዊና ስነልቦናዊ ቀውስ (Helplessness) መገመት ኣይከብድም። ሁሉም ኢትዮዽያ ሊተባበራቸው ይገባል፤ መንግስት ይህን ተግባሩ እንዲያቆም ተፅዕኖ ማድረግ ኣለብን።

እኛም እየተፈናቀሉ ካሉ ሰዎች ጎን መሰለፍ ያለብን ይመስለኛል። ምክንያቱም (1) ወገኖቻችን ናቸው። እኛ ኢትዮዽያውያን ያልደረስንላቸው ማን መጥቶ ይረዳቸዋል? (2) ዛሬ በኣማራ ተወላጆች እየተፈፀመ ያለው ግፍ (ኣሁንኑ ካልቆመ) ነገ በእያንዳንዳችን እንደሚፈፀም ማወቅ ይኖርብናል። (3) የማፈናቀል ተግባሩ የብሄር ፖለቲካ ችግር ኣባብሶ የጥላቻ ፖለቲካ ስር ሰዶ የኢትዮዽያ ሀገራችን ኣንድነት የሚፈታተን ይሆናል።

The following should be our reasons to stand by the sides of our fellow citizens: 1) The people are Ethiopians, so if we are not standing by their side who is going to support them? 2) If what happens to the Amharas does not stop here by now we should know that tomorrow it is going to happen to everyone. 3) These acts might inflame ethnic politics which might turn into hate politics that will jeopardize the integrity of Ethiopia.

However, Mesfin Negash warned [amh] that these acts should not be taken as acts of a certain ethnic group against another ethnic group but rather acts of people who don’t have any sense of decency:

የዛሬ አፈናቃዮች በብሔረሰብ ካባ ለመደበቅ ቢሞክሩም ሕግ ፊት የሚቀርቡበት ቀን እንደሚመጣ አምናለሁ። ተፈናቃዮዩቹ በሙሉ የአማራ ብሔር ተወላጆች ቢሆኑም አፈናቃዩ ወገን ግን የየትኛውም ብሔር ወኪል እንዳልሆነ እናስታውስ፤ አደራ። ግፈኞቹ፣ መዝባሪዎቹ፣ ወሮበሎቹ፣ ሆድ አደሮቹና ዘረኞቹ አፈናቃዮች ብሔራቸው “ነውር” ነው። ነውረኞች።

Today’s culprits of these mass evictions are trying to paint their acts and hide under ethnicity, but I believe a day shall come when these people will stand before a court of law. Though the evictees are Amharas, we should believe the perpetrators are not representatives of a certain ethnic group. Please be reminded that the ethnicity of wrong doers, looters and racists is indecency!


April 05 2013

Ethiopia's Ex-First Lady Claims Late PM Meles Zenawi Was ‘Poor’

The widow of late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has ruffled feathers in the east African country with a claim that her husband lived on a meager monthly income of 220 US dollars, the equivalent to 4,000 Ethiopian birr, while in office.

Azeb Mesfin‘s remarks came during the 9th convention of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front on March 25, 2013 as she complained that the party's official eulogy for her late husband was missing important details. She claimed the late president was a simple man who did not have a bank account, a driver's license, or an ID card.

“Meles came to this world with nothing but ideas and he contributed these ideas to his fellow humans,” she told the convention. “His salary after tax and other contributions to his party was around 4,000 birr. He lived by that and for that we are proud of him. He never considered his family and what will happen to them in the future. He was an honest man who committed himself to his work.’’

Ethiopian netizens are making funny of remarks by the former First Lady. Image courtesy of @MahletSolomon

Ethiopian netizens are making funny of remarks by the former First Lady. Image courtesy of @MahletSolomon

Many were skeptical and balked at her comments, some pointing to reports that Zenawi had a net worth of three billion US dollars.

Satire blogger Abe Tokichaw commented [amh] on his Facebook page:

አራት ሺህ ብር ላጥ እያደረጉ ደሀ ነን…

አቶ መለስ ዜናዊ በወር ተቆራርጦ የሚደርሳቸው ብር አራት ሺህ ምናምን ብር ብቻ ነበር ሲሉ ባለቤታቸው ሰሞኑን ሲቀውጡት ሰምተናል፡፡

ከንግግራቸው ሁሉ ግን ያስገረመችኝ እንደማንም ሳይስገበገብ… የምትለው ናት፡፡ ማነው የተስገበገበ…!? ደግሞም ቀጠሉ በፔሮሉ ብቻ የሚተዳደር መሪ ነው፡፡ አቶ ሃይሌስ በምንድነው የሚተዳደሩት ማለት ነው…? ሌሎቹስ…?

የወሮ አዜብ ንግግር ግን ከኮመዲያን ተርታ የሚያሰልፋቸው እንደሆነ ብዙዎች ተስማምተዋል፡፡ እኔም እስማማለሁ፡፡ ኮመዲያን ሀዜብ ሆይ እባክዎ በሳቅ አይግደሉን! በስንቱ እንሙት…

You are gulping down 4,000 Birr and yet want sympathy.

We have just heard that the widow of Meles Zenawi is creating a storm by claiming that her husband received a monthly salary of only 4,000 Ethiopian birr. From her speech, I was particularly impressed with her remark stating that Meles was never gluttonous like others! Say what? Are any of his peers gluttonous?! She continued…Meles was a leader who was being paid only from payroll. Here I ask again, do other officials got their income from other sources? Where does Prime Minster Hailemarim Desalegn get his salary? What about others?

Many have agreed that her speech made her look like a comedian! I couldn't agree more! I am asking your highness Comedian Azeb, please don’t kill us with laughter.

Blogger Seble Teweldebirhan summarised online commentary following Mesfin's remarks.

AddisNeger, one of news media sites blocked in Ethiopia under its Internet censorship policy, used their Facebook page to share the buzz created on Twitter following Mesfin's comments:

The Ethiopian social media particularly, Twitter is now ablaze with #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin campaign to challenge Azeb Mesfin's narrative that tries to picture her and her late husband as poor people. Samuel Larsson, a Swedish journalist who is actively following the campaign said the campaign “carries strong witnesses of real poverty”

Twitter users used the hashtag #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin to remind the former first lady that she is not poor.

Abiy Teklemarim (@abiyetk) wrote that Mesfin must be confused:

@abiyetk: #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin that she must have confused it with his poverty in political morality.

Mahlet Solomon (@MahletSomon) treated the claim with sarcasm:

@MahletSomon: #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin that I believe she is poor and that I have a vegetarian dog.

Gudu Kassa (@Gudu_Kassa) attempted to give Mesfin a dose of reality:

@Gudu_Kassa: #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin poor is the women who had to give birth in the woods because you sold their properties as farmlands.

Tamerat (@Tamefeyisa) reminded her what poverty really is:

@Tamefeyisa: #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin that you know you are #poor when you have to decide which one of your children should or shouldn't go to school

Mahlet Fantahun (@faantish) asked Mesfin to go on Twitter to know what is being said about her:

@faantish: #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin to come on twitter and go through #SomeoneTellAzebMesfin


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”.

February 07 2013

Work for Project to Assess the Impact of Factory Jobs on Workers’ Wealth

Work for Chris Blattman in Ethiopia to assess the impact of low-skill, low-wage factory jobs on the worker’s wealth, health and politics (among other things).

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.”

January 23 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shared by Ermias M Amare on Facebook

Shared by Ermias M Amare on Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

January 18 2013

Gabon to Mali: History of French Military Interventions in Africa

[All links forward to french articles unless otherwise stated] 

The French military intervention in Mali, known as Operation Serval [en] started on January 11, 2013 following the advance of terrorists groups towards Bamako. Lauded by a substantial part of the Malian population [en] and many outside observers, the military intervention diverts, however, from the non-interventionist line professed by French President Hollande in Africa.

View L'intervention militaire étrangère au Mali in a larger map
Google interactive map of the Malian conflict by Jeune Afrique

Francis d'Alençon wonders why French interventions in Africa do not raise protests around the world:

Bizarre, bizarre… L’intervention française au Mali ne dérange personne alors que des actions américaines similaires soulèveraient des tempêtes de protestation… De l’avantage de ne pas être une super puissance.

This is odd… The french intervention in Mali does not bother anyone whereas similar actions by the USA would have raised a storm of protests.. There are perks to not being the world's top super power.

To illustrate his point, he quotes from the Cech newspaper Lidové noviny :

Les Français sont intervenus plus de 50 fois en Afrique depuis 1960. Ils ont combattu au Tchad, dans la guerre non déclarée avec la Libye, protégé les régimes de Djibouti et de République Centrafricaine des rebelles, empêché un coup d’état aux Comores, sont intervenus en Côte d’Ivoire. Que ce soit pour préserver des intérêts économiques, protéger les ressortissants français ou démontrer le statut de grande puissance du pays, les locataires de l’Élysée, de gauche comme de droite, ont fréquemment manifesté leur penchant pour les actions unilatérales. … Pourtant personne n’a jamais protesté. … Si les États-Unis intervenaient avec une telle véhémence, il y aurait des protestations interminables en Europe. Et les ambassades américaines verraient défiler des diplomates fâchés, à commencer par les Français.

The French have now intervened more than 50 times in Africa since 1960. They fought in Chad, in the war with Libya, protected regimes in  Djibouti and the Central African Republic from rebels, prevented a coup in the Comoros and intervened in Côte d'Ivoire. Whether to preserve economic interests, protect French nationals or showcase the still imposing power of France, the main tenants of the Palais de l'Élysée, either from the left or from the right wings, have frequently expressed their penchant for unilateral action. But … nobody has ever protested. If … the United States intervened in such a manner, there would be an endless sequence of protests in Europe. U.S. embassies would see angry diplomats coming through their doors, starting with the French ones.

Carte de la rébellion touareg au Azawad, au nord de Mali indiquant les attaques des rebelles au 5 avril 2012

Map of the Tuareg rebellion in Azawad, Northern Mali showing rebel attacks as of April 5, 2012 (CC-BY-3.0)

Below is a chronology of these interventions [There are indeed quite a few of them but contrary to what the Cech newspaper stated, there were less than 50 french interventions in Africa ]. It is based on two articles:  one is a review written by  Nestor N’Gampoula  for Oeil d'Afrique and  another one by Jean-Patrick Grumberg for Dreuz Info. Grumberg adds that most of the French interventions in Africa took place on former colonial soil :

In 1964, airborne french troops landed in Libreville, Gabon after an attempted coup against the regime back then.

From 1968 to 1972, French troops took part in the fight against the rebellion in the Tibesti region in northern Chad.

In 1978 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), 600 French legionnaires went into the town of Kolwezi, in the south-east to help thousands of Africans and Europeans threatened by Katangan rebels. The mission was in response to a call for help made by President Mobutu Sese Seko to help his country. The operation cost the lives of five legionnaires, but allowed the evacuation of 2700 Westerners.

In 1979 in CAR, Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa is removed by French paratroopers during the Operation Barracuda.

From 1983-1984 in Chad, France undertook Operation Manta, a 3,000 men strong operation to face armed rebels supported by Libya. Two years later, another French military action, composed of mostly aerial attacks called “Operation Epervier“, was deployed after an anti-government attack.

In Comoros in 1989, after the assassination of President Ahmed Abdallah and the takeover of the country by the French mercenary Bob Denard, about 200 French soldiers arrived in the country to force them to leave the country.

In 1990, Paris sends troops to Gabon in Libreville and Port-Gentil in reinforcement of the French contingent after violent riots erupted. The operation allowed the evacuation of some 1,800 foreigners.

In 1991 in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), the Belgian and French troops managed to evacuate foreigners after violent riots and looting occurred in the country.

In 1991 still, French troops based in Djibouti help the Afar rebellion to disarm Ethiopian troops that had crossed the border following the overthrow of Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

In 1994, French and Belgian soldiers evacuate Europeans while Rwanda Hutus massacred hundreds thousands of Tutsis. Later in the year, some 2,500 French soldiers, supported by african troops, launched “Operation Turquoise“, described as a humanitarian effort, in Zaire and in eastern Rwanda.

In 1995, a thousand men involved in Operation Azalea ended another attempted coup against Comorian President  Said Mohamed Djohar by Bob Denard.

In 1996 in the Central African Republic (CAR), operation Almandin secured the safety of foreigners and the evacuation of 1,600 people after the army mutinied against President Ange-Félix Patassé. The following year in 1997, specifically after the murder of two French soldiers, a French operation against the mutineers was mandated in Bangui (Central African Republic).

The same year, 1997, some 1,200 French soldiers rescued French and African expatriates during fighting between the Congolese army and supporters of the military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso, now President of the Republic of Congo.

In 2002, French forces undertook Operation Licorne to help Westerners trapped by a military uprising that effectively divided Côte-d’Ivoire in two regions.

In 2003, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Operation Artemis in Ituri  secured the area and put an end to ongoing massacres. This was followed by the deployment of 2,000 peacekeepers,  80% of which were French.

In 2004 in Côte-d’Ivoire, France destroyed the small Ivorian airforce after government forces bombed a French base.

In 2008 a new French intervention strengthens the regime of Chadian President Idriss Deby and evacuated foreigners while rebels from neighboring Sudan attacked.

In March 2011 in Libya had the French airforces were the first to bomb Gaddafi forces after the vote at the United Nations authorized intervention in Libya to protect civilians caught up in the rebellion against Gaddafi. NATO took command of the overall mission on March 31, a mission that helped the Libyan rebels to defeat the forces of the government and take power.

In 2011 in Côte-d’Ivoire,  French forces alongside UN forces tip the balance in favor of Ouattara during the civil war. The war broke out after the refusal of Laurent Gbagbo to resign and accept the verdict of the election that pronounced Alassane Ouattara as president.

France had decided to break with his role as “policeman of Africa” by refusing to intervene again in the Central African Republic  where François Bozizé (former army chief who came to power by overthrowing the elected president Ange-Félix Patassé on March 15, 2003) faced a rebellion uprising. Little did he know that the events in Mali would force his hands :

In 2013 in Mali,  French bombarded Islamist rebels after they tried to expand their powerbase  towards the Malian capital, Bamako. France had already warned that control of the north of Mali by the rebels posed a threat to the security of Europe.

At the same time, France has mounted a commando operation to try to save a French hostage held by al Shabaab militants in Somalia, also allied with al-Qaeda. The hostage was  killed by the militants.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.
No Soup for you

Don't be the product, buy the product!

YES, I want to SOUP ●UP for ...