(Globe and Mail) Africa’s new brooms clean house

Robert Rotberg (The Globe and Mail)

Robert Rotberg (The Globe and Mail)

ROBERT ROTBERG | Special to The Globe and Mail | Published Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 8:00AM EST


(VOA) CPJ Report Highlights Journalists’ Struggles in Africa

The Committee to Protect Journalists has released its annual report on the killing of reporters around the world. The report looks at the state of media freedom in Africa. Forty-six-year-old Waweru Mugo has been a journalist in Kenya for the last 15 years and now runs his own media consulting firm.

It is not always easy. Last October, Kenyan lawmakers considered a bill that would ban the press from reporting on parliamentary matters. The controversial clauses were eventually removed amid protest from civil society and media organizations.

Intimidation, censorship

According to Mugo, journalists in Kenya and all of Africa face challenges, especially attempts by governments to intimidate and censor them. This, he says, has limited the growth of a free press.

“When you try to highlight some of these issues, the government tries to crack the whip,” he said. “The government demands that you do ABCD, that you’re not supposed to be unpatriotic, they label you as unpatriotic, they say that you’ve been bought off by foreign interests, you are working for the opposition. So the journalists also kind of bend to the whims of the government through self-censorship.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists says 69 journalists around the world were killed while on duty this year. Many died at the hands of Islamist militant groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State.

The biggest number came from Syria, but 11 were killed in Africa, including five in war-torn South Sudan.

Careful reporting

Felix Odimmasi, of the School of Law and Diplomacy at the University of Nairobi, says the lack of government support makes journalists cautious about reporting from conflict areas like South Sudan, Somalia and northern Nigeria.

“… Because one, they would not go out there and report, and two, those who dare to go out and report still know they are at risk, so they have to be very careful about what they report about and where they go. It’s the general lack, weakness of the rule of law,” he said. “The laws that exist are not necessarily being followed and there’s no strong legislation in some of these weak states to protect the media.”

Members of Africa’s Fourth Estate have come under fire across the continent from multiple regimes. Amnesty International says the South African government and ruling African National Congress party are pushing for a tribunal to regulate the media under the guise of “transformation.”

Amnesty notes that in Ethiopia, many journalists and media workers are currently in prison or have been convicted in absentia because of their work.

Benji Ndolo, a civil rights activist from the Kenya-based Organization of National Empowerment, says a concerted effort from non-state actors is the only way to halt the intimidation.

“International processes, civil rights movements, non-governmental organizations and even church organizations as well as the media will push these countries into a corner where they will be held to account for loss of lives. They will not have impunity forever and so change will absolutely come to these countries, accountability will be there,” said Ndolo.

Besides South Sudan, other African countries where journalists were killed in 2015 included Somalia, Kenya, Libya and Ghana. Another five were killed in Somalia’s neighbor, Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden.

This article was published on Voice of America.

Are you an African leader? join the Young African Leaders Initiative

Providing the Tools, Training, and Technology to Promote Leadership: The YALI Network

The YALI Network provides virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces to equip young African leaders with the skills and connections they need to foster change in their communities and their countries. Established by the President in April 2014, the Network already includes almost 150,000 members. Using yali.state.gov and social media, the United States provides online courses and materials, and connects members with global leaders in their fields to help members develop leadership skills.

black business faces


Join the YALI Network to take advantage of virtual training, tools, and technology:

  • Online courses & certificates: The YALI Network platform has created 13 tailor-made online courses on leadership, business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management featuring U.S. university professors and experts in their fields. The training videos provide tips on everything from creating a business model to developing public-private partnerships, with supplementary guides with discussion questions and developmental actions.
  • Follow YALI Network on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for professional development and online discussions, including monthly  #YALICHATs with experts, professors and U.S. Government officials.
  • YALI Network face2face group– the ability to make connections with other young leaders in person: the YALI Network face2face Facebook group enables members to connect, network and collaborate on new initiatives.

In addition to virtual resources, YALI Network members in 9 countries will soon have access to state-of-the-art YALI Spaces. Over the next two years, American Corners in Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Senegal, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and Rwanda will be outfitted to provide YALI Network members opportunities to meet, learn, and incubate their ideas. YALI staff or trainers will facilitate online courses and provide advising sessions on everything from business start-ups to opportunities for study abroad. Meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, and business tools will allow YALI Network members to work together to create social ventures, community service projects, and new business start-ups.

Partner with the YALI Network

YALI Network members appreciate the opportunity to connect with leaders from a wide variety of industries. They value the lessons to be learned from those who’ve succeeded in business, finance, civil society, agriculture, natural resource management, media and health care to name a few. Eager to develop personally and professionally, Network members gain valuable insight when leaders and innovators share their experiences and best practices. By connecting with the more than 140,000 members of the YALI Network, you are empowering these young African leaders to develop the skills and networks they need to build brighter futures for their communities, their countries and their continent. Don’t miss out on your chance to speak to the next generation of business, civil society and government leaders. If you’d like to know how you can make a difference to the future leaders of Africa, contact us at YALINetwork@state.gov.

more information is provided via the links below:



Copy data from other devices in Android 5.0 Lollipop setup (CNET)

Synopsis: Quick guide: choose: Option 1: Tap and Go or Option 2: Log-in and select and you are set with regards to configuring your new Android  device.

Want to get all of your apps and settings on another device without looking for each one on the Play Store? Check out the new copy data feature during setup that makes switching or adding a device a breeze.

Nicole Cozma/CNET


Setting up a new Android device can be quite an inconvenience if you have to reinstall apps

Setting up a new Android device can be quite an inconvenience if you have to reinstall apps individually. If you have root access, you can take advantage of an app like Titanium Backup, which will bundle your apps and settings to make the transition easier. However, for those who are not rooted, Google has developed a solution with their new copy data feature.

The copy data feature will allow you to copy all or some of your apps to a new device, without the hassle of finding each app yourself. You have two options to start restoring your apps:


Option 1: Tap and Go

This option lets you connect devices through NFC, and then copy data over Bluetooth. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Make sure NFC is enabled on your source device. Your new device will likely have it enabled by default. If not, swipe down on the notification shade with two fingers and look for the NFC icon to enable it.

Step 2: Tap the backs of the source device and new device together until you hear the an alert tone.

Step 3: Authorize the Bluetooth data transfer from the source device.

Step 4: Sign-in to your Google account on the new device.

Step 5: Check the Google Play Store to make sure your apps are queued for download.

Option 2: Log-in and select
For this option, skip the Tap and Go screen, then sign-in on your new device. Now follow these quick steps to copy your apps:
After logging in to your Google account, you should see this screen.
Nicole Cozma/CNET
Step 1: Select the source device for your apps. The setup wizard will show you the available devices and when you last used each.
Uncheck apps that you don’t want to install. Pay special attention to manufacturer apps.
Nicole Cozma/CNET
Step 2: Tap the next drop-down box under the device name and select which apps from the list will be installed.
Step 3: Check the Google Play Store to make sure your apps have started installing.

The new copy data feature is a welcome time saver for individual users who are adding or replacing a device, as well as businesses that are managing many devices on a regular basis.

For more Lollipop tips, please see CNET How To’s guide to Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Read More at CNET.com

Chip promises faster computing with light, not electrical wires (CNET)

A three-university project builds a prototype chip that communicates directly with fast fiber-optic links. Commercially viable versions are on the way.

Today’s computers may look very different from room-sized machines of the 1940s, but they still send data the same way, with electrical signals in metal wires. Researchers at three US universities, though, have built a chip that transmits data with light instead, lifting speed limits and lowering power consumption. 

The technology involved, called silicon photonics, is an active area of research at chipmakers like Intel and IBM, but so far it hasn’t been a commercially viable idea. The researchers behind the new development — at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus — think they’ll have test versions of commercially viable chips ready to go in early 2017.


Inside today’s computers and smartphones, electrical signals travel along countless metal wires that link processors to memory, networks, storage devices and USB ports. For longer distances spanning countries, cities or mammoth data centers packed with servers, it’s economical instead to send data as light traveling inside fiber-optic cables. Fiber optics can handle tremendous quantities of data, but the technology isn’t cheap.

The university researchers hope to change that with photonic components built directly into the chip that can send and receive light signals. Their approach, to be detailed in a paper in the journal Nature on Thursday, can be built with today’s chipmaking equipment and silicon ingredients, making it easier to slot into today’s computing infrastructure.

If they succeed in bringing their prototype out of the research lab, consumers will eventually benefit. For data centers, where messages shuttle among thousands of servers, silicon photonics could speed up services like Google search or Facebook image recognition or let those companies introduce performance-intensive features not economical today. For personal computers and smartphones, silicon photonics could uncork performance bottlenecks without hampering battery life.

Silicon photonics don’t make chips themselves run faster, a key problem facing today’s computing industry. Instead, they keep chips supplied with data so they don’t waste time idle, and that efficiency improves overall performance.

Building the first chip that communicates with the outside world optically is a milestone, said Vladimir Stojanovic, the Berkeley associate professor who led the chip development. But as a business, the biggest challenge is packaging the technology affordably, he said. For that reason, the technology will start in data centers before spreading to smaller devices, he predicted.

“We expect the packaging to be completely amortized first in the data-center applications so that it can then get cheap enough to penetrate the mobile and PC market,” he said.

The ideas aren’t merely academic. Two startups are betting on the technology: Ayar Labs, which is trying to commercialize its photonic interconnect technology, and SiFive, which is trying to base a business on the freely available RISC-V chip design used by the processor.

Later, Stojanovic expects the technology to connect individual chips within a computer, one processor talking to another, for example, or fetching data from memory.

Beyond that, the silicon photonics technology could improve lidar, the laser sensors used by self-driving cars, as well as brain imaging and environmental sensors.

Silicon photonics has the potential to rewrite some decades-old rules of how computers are put together. With conventional electrical links, short cable or wire lengths are crucial to fast data transmission — just inches inside a computer chassis, for example. When the computing industry increased the speed of standard USB connections by a factor of ten in recent years, the maximum cable length dropped from about 16 feet to 10 feet to avoid electrical signal problems.

But with optical links, data can travel much farther without needing a boost, so it can be used to hook a chip to a memory bank inches away or another computer on the other side of a vast data center. The university’s prototype used 10-meter optical links, but they could easily reach a kilometer, Stojanovic said.
That means computers working together in data centers don’t have to waste as much time waiting for each other to respond. “Our photonic solution will help processors get faster access to that network,” Stojanovic said.

Unlike sending data through copper wires, optical links only require a tiny amount of energy — enough that the chip itself can handle it. That helps avoid electricity costs and problems that come with overheated electronics.

Other researchers involved in the effort include Berkeley’s Krste Asanovic, MIT’s Rajeev Ram and Boulder’s Milos Popovic.

Read More at CNET.com

Dr. Dennie M. Beach – Ancestry Results: my people are from Angola

I am proud to report based on my DNA results my relatives originated from Mbundu people living in Angola which is good news.

DMB Certificate of Ancestry 9-21-2015


find out Ancestry at http://www.africanancestry.com/home/




(Vice) The Year Africa’s Strongmen Embraced the ‘Constitutional Coup’

By Kayla Ruble | December 22, 2015 | 12:35 pm

Thirty-six people died in Kinshasa in January during demonstrations sparked by perceived attempts by President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to stay in power after his second and final term. A few months later and just across the border, protesters took to the streets of Bujumbura in April when Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a constitutionally tenuous third term in office.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s security forces in the Republic of Congo used deadly force against demonstrators in Brazzaville and put opposition leaders under house arrest in October, when they expressed disagreement with a constitutional referendum to allow the leader to run for a third term. And while mass street demonstrations were noticeably absent in Kigali, Rwanda’s parliament and judiciary successfully cleared several legal hurdles this year to enable President Paul Kagame to run again after his second, seven-year term comes to an end in 2017.

It was rare that a week went by without discussion related to these East and Central African leaders’ efforts to seek a third term in office. All four leaders have been accused of human rights abuses during their tenures, with some of the loudest allegations related to crackdowns against opponents and protesters who pushed back against the maneuvers to extend presidential mandates beyond existing term limits.

Despite the controversies, the leaders kept their titles and remained at the top. This made 2015 the year that the region’s strongmen found ways to legally cling to power. Using a term recently coined by Human Rights Watch, it was the year of the “constitutional coup.”

“Military coups are no longer de rigueur,” HRW deputy director Anneke Van Woudenberg and researcher Ida Sawyer wrote in Foreign Policy in November, noting that the shift was partially caused by the African Union’s decision not to recognize administrations that achieve power by force. “Instead, African leaders who are unwilling to abide by term limits, or unfavorable election results, prefer to simply change the laws and constitutions that stand in their way.”

Constitutional changes and legal judgments helped pave the way for these presidents to pursue lifelong leadership. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC, it was a proposed amendment that would have postponed the 2016 elections until a nationwide census was completed — a move critics believed would let Kabila sidestep constitutional term limits and stay in power for several more years.

After the deadly protests in January, the proposal was revoked. But in the months since, the government has detained protesters and opposition members in an attempt to silence peaceful activists, according to a December report from Human Rights Watch. It’s still unclear what Kabila will do.

Next door in Congo,  Sassou Nguesso used a constitutional referendum to lift both the age and term limits that would have made him ineligible. The changes passed with 92 percent voting in favor — although the opposition accused the regime of lying about voter turnout — and the president is expected to move forward and call elections by spring of 2016. Experts say he is unlikely to step down willingly; he has after all been president since 1997, and before that from 1979 to 1992. Sassou Nguesso has not groomed a successor who would protect the president from international criminal cases and look after the assets his family has secured during its reign, according to Stanford University fellow Brett Logan Carter.

“Sassou Nguesso doesn’t want to risk this,” Carter said ahead of the referendum vote, noting the leader has likely become more fearful after seeing fellow African strongmen like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré fall from power. “There is no one else for Sassou Nguesso to transfer power to, so in a way he’s been forced into this position.”

Most recently, Rwanda held a constitutional referendum of its own on December 18, giving the public the right to chose whether to change the constitutional term limits. The country’s parliament and judiciary had already lifted several hurdles to allow President Kagame to extend his rule, and the referendum was seen as the final step. According to official results, 98 percent voted in favor of the changes that, in theory, will allow the leader to serve another seven-year term, followed by two five-year terms. In other words, he could be in power until 2034.

Earlier this year as the parliament and judiciary began to clear the way for these changes, University of Buffalo political science professor r Reverien Mfizi — a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide — explained that all those legal steps were part of an attempt to give the process a sense of legitimacy.

The constitutional changes have been framed, Mfizi said, as a normal process of Rwandans deciding for themselves whether or not Kagame gets to seek another round as head of state. All of this occurred without any public protest — in fact, the government has frequently referenced a nationwide poll showing an overwhelming majority was for Kagame running again.

“Kagame is a very smart, very thoughtful leader. I don’t always agree with him, but you have to admire how clever he is,” Mfizi said. “What’s missing from that story is it’s virtually impossible to oppose the regime.”

But arguably, the highest-profile power grab this year with the deadliest and most destabilizing effects came from Nkurunziza in Burundi. Almost eight months after the leader announced third-term plans, pushing demonstrators out into the streets to protest the move, the country has been engulfed in continued political instability and violence.

Nkurunziza pursued a new term despite a clearly outlined two-term limit in the constitution, which was established in 2005 as part of the Arusha peace agreement that ended the country’s decade-long civil war. The constitutional court cleared the former rebel leader to run, saying he had been appointed to his first term in 2005, not democratically elected.

Protests quickly turned violent as police cracked down on demonstrators, while opponents and Nkurunziza supporters clashed with each other in the streets. As dozens were killed and tens of thousands fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, and the DRC, Nkurunziza pushed on with his reelection campaign — even as regional and international organizations and governments called on him to step aside. He ultimately claimed victory at the polls in July, and the crisis shifted to politically motivated violence, disappearances, and assassinations on both sides.

A Burundian protester during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Bujumbura, on June 3, 2015. Protesters said they were disappointed that East African leaders didn’t ask President Pierre Nkurunziza to give up his bid for a third term. Photo by Dai Kurokawa / EPA

The situation has hit a critical point in recent weeks. To date, at least 300 people have reportedly been killed and more than 200,000 have fled the country since the violence began in April. On December 11, armed assailants waged a series of seemingly coordinated attacks on three military bases. Gunfire rang through the capital all day as security forces clashed with the fighters, and the next day 87 bodies were found on the streets of Bujumbura. In the day after the attack, a report from the International Federation for Human Rights found 300 young, unarmed civilians had disappeared, 154 of whom have since turned up dead. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein became just the latest to stress the looming risk of all-out conflict, stating that Burundi was on “the very cusp of civil war.”

In response, the African Union took a major step and approved the deployment of 5,000 peacekeepers to be sent to the country. Known as the African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi, the plan is backed by the United Nations Security Council, while the Burundian government has said it would not allow foreign troops to enter its borders.

“If the situation continues, the African Union and international community cannot sit by and watch genocide, if it is going to develop into that,” said Erastus Mwencha, the deputy chairman of the African Union Commission.

The international community now awaits formal notice from Burundi and for the AU to decide whether it will send troops anyway, even if the Bujumbura authorities do not approve. Meanwhile, how Nkurunziza responds internally will be key. For months, observers have cited the leader’s perceived will to get a third term at all costs.

“Is there somewhere in the Bible where leaders are called on to massacre their people?”

A lot of the discussion surrounding Nkurunziza’s political ambitions has centered around his belief that he has risen to power by God’s will. The born-again Christian leader has stuck to the divine narrative particularly hard in recent months, even thanking God for winning the July elections and saying God would take care of the country’s rebels.

His fellow strongman on Burundi’s northern border, Rwanda’s Kagame, has questioned both Nkurunziza’s power grab and his belief in God. In a November speech, Kagame said Burundi should learn from the experience of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, while calling out the government’s failure to stop the internal violence.

“Burundi’s leaders pride themselves on being men of God, some are even pastors,” Kagame said. “But in what God do they believe?… Is there somewhere in the Bible where leaders are called on to massacre their people?”

The article was published on Vice News.

(New African) Guyana calls for African diplomatic help

New African Magazine | 13 November 2015

Guyana has called for diplomatic assistance from the African continent as it seeks to deter aggression from neighbouring Venezuela over a border dispute, writes Ifa Kamau Cush.

guyana african diplomats The provenance of Venezuela’s aggression against Guyana is its 1841 protest against Great Britain’s delineation of Guyana’s western boundary, eponymously known as the Schomburgk Line, named after Robert Schomburgk, a British surveyor and naturalist. At the time Guyana was a British colony.

Incapable of confronting the British militarily, Venezuela asked the United States to arbitrate the dispute. The US government convened an American boundary commission in 1895 in which Venezuela participated “enthusiastically”, according to historical records. The British government participated under protest. Venezuela was enthusiastic because America was its ally; thus, it expected a favourable outcome.

On 3 October 1899, the American boundary commission rendered its decision: the Schomburgk Line will stand! Venezuela ratified the commission’s decision.

For sixty-three years following that decision, official Venezuelan maps showed the Essequibo region as belonging to Guyana, says the Venezuelan author Francisco Toro, writing in the 12 June 2015 edition of the Caracas Chronicles.

According to Toro: “If you know anything about international law, you probably know that accepting territory as belonging to someone else on official maps puts a serious dent on any attempt to convince people that, ‘Oh wait, that land is mine’.”

Immediately after Guyana became independent from Britain in 1966, Venezuela took advantage of Guyana’s small size and population and began plotting to seize the Essequibo territory. In fact in 1969, Venezuelan-trained and equipped Guyanese secessionists declared an “Essequibo Free State”.

Guyana’s current president, David Granger, wrote about this insurrection in his 2012 book, National Defence: “Armed with rifles, machine-guns and anti-tank ‘bazooka’ weapons, the rebels easily seized Lethem, the district centre, and all outlying areas, killing several policemen and imprisoning ‘coastlander’ government employees in the process.”

However, within 24 hours, the rebels were routed by soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force and order was restored.  Where blatant military aggression failed, Venezuela tried bribery and resorted to economic sabotage. In 1978, during a state visit to Guyana, the Venezuelan president, Carlos Andres Perez, offered to finance the upper Mazaruni hydro-electric project if the Guyana government would agree to cede 31,000 square kilometres of territory to his country. Guyana’s then president, Forbes Burnham, rejected the proposal outright!

Venezuela subsequently opposed all efforts on the part of Guyana to obtain the financing needed to exploit its hydroelectric potential, frustrating the country’s industrialisation programme in the process; thus stultifying its economic growth. Fast-forward to 2015 and the same strategy by Venezuela, of using military threats, bribery, and the co-option of Guyanese citizens, still prevails.

Over the past several years, the Venezuelan government has purchased rice from Guyana at obscenely exorbitant prices – paying almost twice the world market price. Political observers saw this as a gimmick on the part of Venezuela to build a constituency of Guyanese rice farmers and their beneficiaries to pressure the Guyanese government to accede to Venezuela’s territorial demands, similar to the strategy employed in 1969 when Venezuela organised Rupununi ranchers to secede from Guyana.

However, with the election of a new government headed by President David Granger on 11 May 2015, observers believe that Guyana now has a leadership made up of individuals who are more patriotic and committed to the preservation of Guyana’s territorial integrity. No wonder, soon after the May elections, Venezuela stopped purchasing rice from Guyana, hoping, experts believe, to trigger unrest in the rice-producing areas of Guyana.  Additionally, with the announcement by ExxonMobil of the discovery of oil in Guyana’s territorial waters, Venezuela has once again invoked what Francisco Toro describes as a “childish fantasy” the idea of the country being a “threat to world peace”.

Last May, the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, reacting to the oil discovery in Guyana’s waters, issued a decree claiming the area as Venezuela’s.  A well-placed source at the Washington DC-based Organization of American States urged Venezuela to respect international law in its dispute with Guyana. The source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, noted that President Maduro’s decree “affects Guyana as well as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Columbia”, raising tensions and contributing to the destabilisation of the region.

While President Granger sees Venezuela’s decades-old aggression as “a fishbone in our throats”, choking his country’s economic life, he, nevertheless, is committed to a diplomatic solution. In that regard, his government has reached out to several global, continental and regional bodies, including the United Nations, the African Union, Caricom, and the Commonwealth to build global opposition to the Venezuelan aggression.

“We are a small nation of less than one million people. Venezuela has a population of over 25 million,” says Granger. “A military confrontation between our two nations will not be in Guyana’s best interests.”

Legal experts believe that a settlement must be imposed by the International Court of Justice. However, Maduro’s government in Caracas, bolstered by support from what Dr. Gerald Horne of the University of Houston describes as a “feisty and combative” elite, is reluctant to take this matter before an impartial panel of judges, fearing another 1899 result, a good 116 years after Venezuela ratified the American boundary commission’s ruling which established the western border of Guyana.

What is happening reminds one of a pattern of Venezuelan behaviour towards its small island neighbours in the Caribbean. In 1816, after Simon Bolivar, eulogised as the founder of the Venezuelan nation, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Spanish forces, he landed on the shores of Haiti to be enthusiastically welcomed by the Haitian revolutionary leaders who, a few years earlier, had routed France’s slave-owning army and established an independent African state.

The Haitians gave Bolivar boats, arms and soldiers. That assistance enabled him to eventually defeat Spain, creating the country we now call Venezuela. Strangely, after defeating the Spanish forces with the arms, materiel, and men provided by Haiti, Bolivar’s Venezuela refused to recognise Haiti’s independence, thus, hastening that country’s capitulation to France’s $21.5 billion extortion requirement, camouflaged as repayment of French expenses on the island. It took Haiti over 150 years to repay. The country never recovered!

Eduardo Galeano, the Uruguayan author of the seminal work, The Open Veins of Latin America, said this about Bolivar’s perfidy in a 2004 article in Progressive magazine: “Not even Simon Bolivar recognised Haiti, though he owed it everything … Haiti gave him everything with only one condition: that he free the slaves [in Venezuela] – an idea that had not occurred to him. The great man triumphed in his war of independence … Of recognition, he made no mention!”

This is why many observers say Venezuela should not be allowed to continue to treat its African-descended neighbours in such a cavalier manner again. It is why Guyana’s new government under President Granger is appealing for diplomatic support from all African nations, and other nations of goodwill, to help bring Venezuela to see the wisdom in good neighbourliness and stop bullying little Guyana for a piece of territory whose boundaries were settled 116 years ago.

Ifa Kamau Cush

The article was published in New African Magazine.

(CNN) Muslims shield Christians when Al-Shabaab attacks bus in Kenya

(Newsweek) The Real Africa, Through the Lens of African Photographers

By On 12/22/15 at 2:00 AM

Africa has long been irresistible to art photographers. The diversity of its 54 nations, its natural phenomena—even, say some photographers, the difference in light compared with Europe and the U.S.—have spawned vast bodies of work and helped inform the way many in the international community regard the continent. The problem is that these photographs have, until recently, been taken by non-African photographers. Through their lenses, we have seen the continent’s beauty and its rawness, the savannahs and the cities—but rarely have we seen this through the eyes of those who actually call Africa home.

The problem comes from a mix of access and interest. African photographers have been showcasing their work within the continent for years. One of the best-known photography festivals in Africa, the Bamako Encounters biennale in Mali, which has run since 1994, is aimed at promoting trends in contemporary African photography and video. The West, however, has been slow to take note. Of the 48 photographer-members represented by Magnum Photos—arguably the most famous and prestigious international photo agency—just one, South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky, lives in Africa.

“Photography is a $10 billion industry, and what part of that does Africa have?” asks Aida Muluneh, a photographer and founder of the Addis Foto Fest in Ethiopia, a biannual event since 2010. “The majority of photos of Africa come from [non-African] white photographers.” That lack of visibility is problematic for more than just monetary reasons. Since the majority of archived images of Africa were taken by non-African whites, many of the continent’s surviving historical documents show not the experience of Africans but the experience of colonizers and the native Africans they often subjugated.

01_01_AfricanPhotography_02 People fill vessels with fuel from an overturned tanker. African photographers are revealing previously hidden sides of the continent. George Osodi/Panos

But a shift is occurring in the international arts community, and combined with the increasing affordability of cameras and improvements in smartphone lenses, it has led a new generation of Africans to the photographic medium. Some are photojournalists, while others work largely in art photography, sharing their experiences and viewpoints with a global audience. New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently exhibiting 100 years of portrait photography from West Africa. The increased exposure has benefited emerging photographers, who are being scouted by international galleries and agents at a much higher rate than ever before.

“Many African photographers are using their work to explore identity, and often this identity is linked to the past,” says John Fleetwood, head of the South African photography school Market Photo Workshop. “Colonial photography prompted the world to become used to a certain image of Africa, and photographers from the continent are now trying to represent it in a different way.”

Sammy Baloji is one such artist. In 2014, he was made a graduate of Rolex’s mentoring program, which pairs young, gifted artists with more experienced ones for a year. Baloji, who splits his time between his hometown in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Belgium, exhibited at London’s Tate Modern in 2011 and at this past year’s Venice Biennale. Much of Baloji’s work focuses on the Congo and the ways he and his countrymen confront their colonial past.

It wasn’t until 1960 that the Congo, as it was formerly known, gained independence and an identity separate from its colonizer, Belgium, though peace was still slow coming. Shortly after its emancipation, coups and a bloody civil war hit the Congo. Ever since, the country has struggled to reconcile its identity before and after colonization—a confusion that comes through in Baloji’s work, which frequently features images of the country’s past superimposed on photographs from its present.

“Many people in the DRC think we have lost our culture—that is, our pre-colonization culture,” says Baloji. “The role of colonization was not just exploiting minerals but educating people in a Western way that erased what came before.”

In one of Baloji’s earlier exhibitions, 2006’s “Mémoire,” washed-out color photographs of the Congolese city of Lubumbashi are overlaid with black-and-white archival images of workers who toiled in the industrial city’s Belgian-owned mines. In one haunting image, two Congolese laborers, one chained by his neck, work in a ditch, watched over by two men. The ghostly, enslaved figures are the only clear markers on the landscape—modern buildings and what appear vaguely to be cellphone towers in the far background are so faded as to be almost unrecognizable.

George Osodi, a Nigerian artist and former photographer, earned international recognition for his photographs of his country—especially a series in which he exposed some of the injustices taking place in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. As oil companies flocked to the south of Nigeria, their activities began to slowly poison the environment and force many Nigerians into poverty. Though the Delta is one of the country’s most profitable regions, its people remain some of the most destitute in all of Africa. Osodi’s photographs, from six years of documenting the area, show slums, billowing clouds of black smoke and the flames of gas flares. In one of the most jarring photographs in the collection, a charred skull looks directly into the camera—the remains of a villager killed in 2003, when oil pouring from a compromised pipeline exploded. In another, from 2006, titled Water Drum, a young girl grips a plastic bucket by the rusting water container—an oil barrel stamped with the white logo of Exxon Mobil Corp. Osodi’s work is currently on display at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, England.

01_01_AfricanPhotography_01 A girl holds onto a jetty as a boy paddles a canoe on Lagos Lagoon in the Makoko district. George Osodi/Panos

Osodi says he entered the world of photography because “a lot of things, unjust things, were happening. There was mismanagement of the country, and this needed to be documented visually.” Just as Baloji is driven to make sense of his surroundings and find identity and a sense of self in them, Osodi says he “had a drive to photograph things that needed to be changed. I needed to photograph to make people aware—that was my driving passion.”

It’s a passion that could have real benefits for the international understanding of African identity. “Photography in Africa has grown dramatically in its popularity, because people want to understand the diversity of the world,” says Fleetwood. As more and more people across the continent gain access to photographic equipment and realize there is a demand for their images, African photography could become a common fixture on the global art scene.