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“For the boys who will never be known

And the girls who become numbers”

– Stars without a Name

            If you have been wondering how the recent happenings in the north-eastern part of the country are going to turn out, you might as well stop wondering and pick up Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday to check if it fits into what you thought they would look like. Not only has Elnathan John ventured into the murky waters of insurgency in the North-East, he has tried as best as he can to explain some of the things happening in the North-east so that those who have never been there nor know next to nothing about what operates in the north-eastern part of Nigeria can understand to a certain extent what the Boko Haram insurgency is all about without having to grapple with details. Elnathan brings to bear the situation in this part of the country through an engrossing story told by a young boy, Dantala, whose growth we witness, from boyhood to manhood.

Divided into four parts with 263 pages, is a book that chronicles the coming of age of Dantala from an innocent Almajiri who learns at the feet of Mallam Jinadu, to a street urchin under the tutelage of Banda, to a mosque boy taken in and groomed by Sheikh Jamal and finally a black spirit, resolute even in the face of death.

The book Born on a Tuesday takes its title from the name of the protagonist Dantala which means someone born on a Tuesday (P.33).  It is narrated in the first person point of view which makes it more personal to the reader. It starts in Bayan Layi, in 2003 where we are introduced to the life of street urchins in the northern part of Nigeria as told by Dantala, a young Almajiri who ends up under the Kuka tree because of circumstances beyond his control. Who sends a child off to a Quaranic school under the instructions of a stranger for 12 years without checking on him and expects the child to turn out okay and return as a perfect man in the sight of Allah and his people?

Elnathan John touches on how politics is a tool that fuels the crisis in the north-eastern part of Nigeria. Although according to the book, the crisis between the Shia and Shiites has been in existence as far back as when Islam started, the elections were what opened the door to insurgency. Crisis are fueled by the politicians who give money to religious leaders to gain their supports causing division between ‘brothers’ who are supposed to have each other’s back.

Religion is supposed to bring equality among all but thanks to Born on a Tuesday, we now know that bigotry also exists in the religious circle. Mallam Abdul-Nur’s betrayal was alluded to him being a Yoruba man and according to Sheikh Jamal,

A Yoruba man is a Yoruba man.

No matter how Muslim they become.

They stab you in the back.

That is how they are. Hypocrites. (p.210)

            Elnathan John does not just leave it at politics, religion and insurgency; he delves into issues like homosexuality, masturbation, adultery and prostitution which are usually not talked about whenever religion is discussed. Dantala’s inability to confront Abdulkareem and Bilal about what he sees and the Sheikh’s decision to ignore Dantala’s masturbation to talk about marriage shows the hypocrisy in the religious circle concerning issues like this.

Worthy of note is Dantala’s journal entries which started when Jibril starts to teach him English. These entries though in simple English which sometimes are wrongly made and cancelled reflects Dantala’s inner thoughts. They are deep and although they are sometimes serious, there are times when you can’t keep yourself from smiling at the humour presented in the narrations.

Born on a Tuesday is such a good read and until you have read it, you just might not understand what it really is about when they say ‘every king was once a crying baby’. We are first humans before religion, culture and tribe separates us.

Thanks Elnathan for bringing to mind the Burni Yadi boys who were murdered in their sleep at Federal Government College Burni Yadi, Yobe on the 25th of February 2014 and the 276 Chibok girls kidnapped from their dormitory at Government College Chibok, Borno State on 14th of April same year.

 

 

kampala city                            Evening view of Kampala city (credits: Joel Nsadha Isababi)

Uganda is commonly referred to as the Pearl of Africa which is not far from the truth considering her natural resources combined with a very hospitable population. Here are some crazy facts about her;

  1. Caesarian sections were being performed in Uganda way before 1879 when R.W. Felkin observed his first successful operation by indigenous healers in Kahura. (reference: Notes on Labour in Central Africa” published in the Edinburgh Medical Journal, volume 20, April 1884, pages 922-930.)
  1. There are about 880 mountain gorillas in the whole world and half of them are found in Uganda.
  1. Ranked as the world’s most entrepreneurial country with a rate of 28.1%. This means that 28.1% of Uganda’s population own or co-own a business that has paid salaries for more than 3 months but less than 42.
  1. Lakes and rivers cover 26% of Uganda which is 91,136 mi² (241,038 km²) making her the 81st largest country in the world by area. You could say Uganda and Oregon are roughly the same sizes.
  1. The preservation of the umbilical cord and the jawbone among the Ganda and Nyoro ethnicities is similar to the customs of the ancient Egyptian kings.
  1. Mountain Rwenzori (Margherita peak) is the 4th highest in Africa and reaches 5109m (16, 761ft). Interesting to note is it’s covered by snow throughout the year!
  1. Uganda is among the top ten coffee growers/ producers in the world as well as the world’s 4th largest exporter of Robusta coffee (2015).
  1. Grasshoppers are an important and popular seasonal delicacy!
    grasshoppers
                                             Pan fried grasshoppers (credits: Pinterest)
  1. Ranked as the world’s most ethnically diverse country (2013), in other words, if you randomly picked any two people from any part of Uganda, they would be of different ethnicities.
  1. Uganda is among the top 16 holiday destinations for 2016 by CNN. Also ranked as a top tourist destination for 2012 by lonely planet.
  1. Unbelievably true is the fact that Ugandans enjoy their alcohol (2013 study). Uganda ranks as number 1 in Africa and number 8 in the world.
  1. Lake Nalubaale (a.k.a Lake Victoria) found in Uganda is the source of the Nile and is the largest tropical lake in the world. The lake is also considered the second largest freshwater lake.
  1. The British christened Uganda its name, which is a Swahili word meaning land of the Ganda. (1900 Buganda agreement.)
  1. The Batwa, one of the endangered ethnicities, is believed to have lived for close to 60,000 years in the forests of southwest Uganda.
  1. Uganda is UNESCO’s sole representative of Barkcloth. It used to be common in Indonesia, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Important to note is, Uganda’s one of the countries that have preserved the custom of bark cloth making.
  1. Is home to rare earth minerals (REE- aluminous clays, yttrium, gallium & scandium) valued to be as much as 300 million tonnages. These minerals can be used in the manufacture of cars, airplane parts, and electronics. Other deposits can be found in China and Canada.
  1. The Luzira head that was discovered at the prisons in Luzira dates back to AD 1000. It is one of the oldest Sub-saharan sculptures yet discovered in Africa. It has been part of the British Museum’s ethnographic collection since 1931.
    luzira head
                                              The Luzira head (credits: britishmuseum.org)
  1. Mutesa II, the first president of independent Uganda, was instrumental in funding the Mau-Mau rebellion against the British rule in Kenya.
  1. The story of the Uganda martyrs and their shrine built at Namugongo is a fascinating one. Thousands of people from East and Central Africa flock the shrine on 3rd June every year to honor the martyrs.
  1. Uganda is known as Africa’s premier birding destination. There are over 1000 bird species recorded in Uganda. It is even believed that some of the birds living in Uganda’s forests may not be classified as yet.
  1. The Kasubi tombs, in the central region, are a classic site of 13th-century architecture in Africa.
    kasubi tombs
    Kasubi tombs (credits:http://www.buganda.com)
  1. There are about 150,000 chimpanzees in Africa and a third of them are found in Uganda. In fact, a significant number of chimpazees across Africa are found in only 4 countries.
  1. The Nile perch is not indigenous to Uganda and was introduced into Lake Naluubale (a.k.a Lake Victoria) round about the 1950s.
  1. Uganda has huge deposits of over 50 precious minerals and most of them have not even been mined or refined.
  1. Uganda is one of the few countries in Africa to design her own car, the Kiira that was unveiled in 2011. The prototype was first designed by students at Makerere University and has since then undergone a couple of improvements and modifications.
    kiira ev
                                        The Kiira (credits: evbud.com)
  1. Misaki Wayengera, a Ugandan, developed a 5-minute Ebola test kit. This fantastic breakthrough is expected to reduce the Ebola death rate through quicker diagnosis.
  2. Uganda is the second youngest country in the world with about 70% of the population below the age of 25.
  3. Bazilio Olara Okello was Uganda’s president (de facto head of state) for two days from 27th July to 29th July 1985.
Flag 3d map of Uganda, physical outside.
                            Flag 3d map of Uganda, physical outside. (credits: map hill)

Courtesy: Oneafricangirl.com

Pan-Africanism is not a concept that easily lends itself to definition. It is a journey. For me, what is important is to understand and underscore the point that this journey has brought us to the point where the talk of the unity of African states is no longer sneered at by cynics or seen as a dream but as something that can happen in our life time. Pan-Africanism for me is an idea of collective understanding of what binds us as Africans not Tanzanian, Nigerian, Congolese, Sudanese or Egyptian but as Africans with a common bond, how we intend to conduct our affairs in today’s globalized world and how we should work together to address our common problems. The idea of a common front against exploitation, degradation, abuse, racism, colonial exploitation and various forms of slavery led to the birth of the Pan-African movement as we know it today.

 

As we struggle to build a Union of African States, it is imperative that we revisit this concept from a political and radical perspective. After all, Pan-Africanism is partly a response to the way Africa and Africans have been treated within the global world since the Berlin Conference of 1884 which divided Africa into tiny enclaves for the benefit of European monarchs and their hangers on. Unlike other contending ideologies Pan-Africanism was ‘developed by outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa ’. It was conceived in the womb of Africa. It is a product made in Africa by Africans. The objectives of Pan-Africanism have changed over time but not the essence. For instance while the Pan-Africanist Movement of the early years was concerned with anti-racism, anti-colonialism as spearheaded by Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Ahmed Sekou Toure (Guinea) and the founding fathers of the Pan African movement; it is now mainly focused on the actual political unification of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah argued that ‘the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.’

For Nkrumah, Ghana’s sovereignty was secondary to the pursuit of the Pan-African dream. So deep was his commitment that all independent states in Africa should work together to create a Union of African States that he was willing to sacrifice Ghana’s pursuit of national sovereignty. On the eve of Ghana’s independence on 6 March 1957 Nkrumah declared that so deep was Ghana’s ‘faith in African unity that we have declared our preparedness to surrender the sovereignty of Ghana in whole or in part in the interest of a Union of African States and Territories as soon as ever such a union becomes practicable. Ghana started this process by creating an anti-imperialist front called the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union of radical African leaders. In his books Kwame Nkrumah further reminded all Africans that imperialism had so thoroughly distorted and disarticulated African social formations that only continental unity could save the region from further deterioration.

 

In Africa Must Unite (1963) Nkrumah enunciated a clear agenda for the establishment of an African common market to complement the Union of African States and Nkrumah argued:

‘The unity of Africa and the strength it would gather from continental integration of its economic and industrial development, supported by a united policy of non-alignment, could have a most powerful effect for world peace.’

This position was supported by various West African nationalist leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria), Modibo Keita (Mali) and Sekou Toure (Guinea). However, this version of Pan-Africanism was not without enemies. Nkrumah’s legacy is still very much a part of the ongoing efforts of the peoples of Africa and the world who seek genuine freedom from colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. We all know the Allegations of American involvement in the putsch arose almost immediately because of the well-known hostility of the U.S. to Nkrumah’s socialist orientation and pan-African activism. Nkrumah himself implicated the U.S. in his overthrow, and warned other African nations about what he saw as an emerging pattern:

“An all-out offensive is being waged against the progressive, independent states,” he wrote in Dark Days in Ghana his 1969 account of the Ghana coup “All that has been needed was a small force of disciplined men to seize the key points of the capital city and to arrest the existing political leadership.” “It has been one of the tasks of the C.I.A. and other similar organizations,” he noted, “to discover these potential quislings and traitors in our midst and to encourage them, by bribery and the promise of political power, to destroy the constitutional government of their countries.”

                While charges of U.S. involvement are not new, support for them was lacking until 1978, when anecdotal evidence was provided from an unlikely source, a former CIA case officer, John Stockwell, who reported first-hand testimony in his memoir, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story. “The inside story came to me,” Stockwell wrote, “from an egotistical friend, who had been chief of the [CIA] station in Accra [Ghana] at the time.” (Stockwell was stationed one country away in the Ivory Coast). The Subsequent investigations by The New York Times and Covert Action Information Bulletin identified the station chief as Howard T. Banes, who operated undercover as a political officer in the U.S. Embassy. This is how the ouster of Nkrumah was handled as Stockwell related. The Accra station was encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents of the Ghanaian army for the purpose of gathering intelligence on their activities. It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched. So close was the station’s involvement that it was able to coordinate the recovery of some classified Soviet military equipment by the United States as the coup took place.

 

Today, globalization is a truth which we have to live with. But today globalization has not led to the breakdown of national boundaries it re-enforced them, allowing those with the military, economic power and resources to try and re-arrange global affairs to suit their national interest. Neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism are the new instruments which pass off as globalization and to me globalization is nothing but a new form of re-colonization in which western powers justify their continued dominance using economic and humanitarian arguments as further attempts to consolidate their stranglehold of the continent. Under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’ the new global powers can invade and blockade any country within their orbit and when this fails and they resort to the use of international institutions and courts where the European Union has united Europe in both a political and economic sense. Where this is not enough it uses global military alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to enforce its rule by other means. On the other hand, Africa which requires this Union to protect its interests globally is still foot dragging while the masses of African people continue to wallow in the ‘quagmire of underdevelopment, poverty, endless border wars, economic domination, the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

 

This problem is further exacerbated by the type of leadership whose interests is sometimes anti national and We must challenge authoritarian rule, mismanagement, poor leadership and the lack of accountability of our leaders and public institutions. It is the historic duty to Africa for all Africans to do so and it is also the only way to help address the perennial problems of underdevelopment, poverty, deprivation and the poor deplorable state of our infrastructure when a lot of resources go to private sources. But we must also have the courage of our founding fathers, the pioneers of Pan-Africanism and African liberation, to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy that holds the view that corruption and authoritarianism is a typical African problem. This stems from the colonial mind-set, allowing international institutions to target African leaders, haul them off to some foreign jail under the guise of answering for impunity. It is inconceivable that the US or Britain will act similarly.

 

This means that African activists need to reappraise and carefully reflect on the sort of activities which passes off as advocacy and campaigning while fueling anti African actions nationally and globally.  Africa’s shameless dependence on the West, the unproductive disposition of our elite to foreign inspired theories and ideas, the wanton abuse of human rights, the appropriation of state power and its resources and hostility to popular and progressive forces have not helped Africa to propel Africa’s glory. Even today Africa remains a continent for denigration, racist jokes, pity and exploitation. The negative stereotyping of Africa in the western media remains a durable part of the Western intellectual landscape Jokes about African leaders abound in the bars and conference halls of westerners with Africans providing the laughter. Even today some westerners still regard Africa as a wild dark jungle largely preserved to satisfy the lecherous and erotic dreams and fantasies of American and European tourist. Africa remains the huge laboratory preserved to satisfy the academic curiosity of European and American scholars with the instability, wars, and strange tales of administrative and political blunders. The personalities of dictators like Nguema, Idi Amin, Kamuzu Banda, Jean Bedel-Bokassa, and Mobutu Sese Seko provide intriguing patterns and models for research into the African personality and idiosyncrasies. But for Pan-Africanism to remain relevant to African lives the creation of the Union of African States should go beyond state-to-state relations and permeate to the people of Africa who by no means would like to live in peace and harmony with each other.

 

African Union meetings should cease being a meeting of presidents and their accolades including a few select civil society groups When African mothers, market women, farmers, traditional queens, birth attendants, etc. get to attend an African union meeting to put before our leaders, the sort of deplorable lives they lead, it would be a major step. Why should African children be transported to New York and not Gaborone, Cairo, Nairobi or Harare? Why are we always complaining that Western media is not reporting African stories? As if being reported by them validates our worth, We NEED to start reading news about Africa not Western media outlets but African media outlets, journalists, bloggers! Support our own! I have argued over and over again that Africa needs first fundamental transformation of the national orders. This transformation has to be people-led, democratic, self-reliant, credible, and viable. Once this is achieved, it will be possible to transform the continent through a continent-wide political agenda arising naturally from the national reconstruction projects and people to people initiatives.

 

Africa needs solidarity we must learn to support each other. Revisiting the Pan Africanism leader’s legacy will provide us with the opportunity to understand the modus operandi of those forces that trot the globe preaching democracy on the world stage but use proxy wars and propaganda to silence and remove leaders who are critical of their unorthodox methods and install puppet regimes sympathetic to their interests.

This is to influential women in our history who have left their marks in their respective industries. These women were great. Their courage surpassed their fear and they held steadfast in their fight for justice and equality for the human race.

The names of African women who made history are relatively unknown or do not come readily to mind as of African male heroes. They should not become forgotten in the annals of Pan-African history. This article is in honor of the powerful and great women who helped shaped the future of Africans.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978) was a leading activist during Nigerian women’s anti-colonial struggles. She founded the Abeokuta Women’s Union, one of the most impressive women’s organizations of the twentieth century (with a membership estimated to have reached up to 20,000 women) which fought to protect and further the rights of women.

 

Taytu Betul

Taytu Betul (c.1851–1918) was a formidable queen and empress of Ethiopia. An astute diplomat, she proved to be a key figure in thwarting Italian imperialist designs on Ethiopia. Later, she and her husband Emperor Menelik II, led a huge army to battle at Adwa, where they won one of the most important victories of any African army against European colonialist aggression.

 

 Huda Shaarawi

Huda Shaarawi (1879–1947) was a pioneer Egyptian feminist leader and nationalist. She helped to organize Mubarrat Muhammad Ali, a women’s social service organization, in 1909 and the Intellectual Association of Egyptian Women in 1914. Her feminist activism was complemented by her involvement in Egypt’s nationalist struggle. She established the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923, was founding president of the north of Africa Feminist Union and spoke widely on women’s issues and concerns throughout the Middle East and Africa.

 

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) was a Kenyan scholar and environmental activist. She founded the pioneering Green Belt Movement in 1977, which encourages people, particularly women, to plant trees to combat environmental degradation. Her holistic approach eventually led her to link environmental responsibility to political struggles of governance, human rights and peace. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

 

 Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana

Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana (1863–1898) was a female spiritualist leader from Mashonaland, Zimbabwe and a key leader in the First Chimurenga, or ‘the war of liberation’, against British colonial settlers in 1896–1897. She was considered to be the female incarnation of the oracle spirit Nehanda. After being captured by the British, she predicted that her spirit would lead the second Chimurenga against the British, which eventually culminated in the independence of present-day Zimbabwe.

 

Nzinga Mbandi

Njinga Mbandi (1581–1663), Queen of Ndongo and Matamba, defined much of the history of seventeenth-century Angola. A deft diplomat, skilful negotiator and formidable tactician, Njinga resisted Portugal’s colonial designs tenaciously until her death in 1663.

 

 Yaa Asantewaa

(1840–1921) was an ‘Edwesohemaa’, a queen mother of the Edweso tribe of the Asante in modern day Ghana. In March 1900, she led an army of thousands in the Yaa Asantewaa War for Independence against the British colonial forces in Ghana. Despite mounting a strong attack, she was defeated in 1901 by the British and exiled to the Seychelles where she spent two decades until her death in October 1921.

 

The women soldiers of Dahomey

Elite troops of women soldiers contributed to the military power of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Admired in their country and feared by their adversaries, these formidable warriors never fled from danger. The troops were dissolved following the fall of Behanzin (Gbêhanzin), the last King of Dahomey, during French colonial expansion at the end of the nineteenth century.

 

 Yennega

Yennega, an emblematic figure in Burkina Faso, was the mother of Ouedraogo, the founder of the dynasties of the Moose chieftains. She is thought to have lived between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Weary of the warrior role in which she had been cast by her father, the King of Gambaga, she ran away and met a solitary hunter. A legendary figure in West Africa, Yennega is the epitome of the female warrior, a free and independently minded woman.

 

 Aoua Keïta

Aoua Keita (1912 – 1980) was an award winning Malian independence activist and writer. Born in Bamako, she was admitted into Bamako’s first girls’ school in 1923. She later obtained a diploma in midwifery. She was a member of the African Democratic Rally (RDA) In 1959 she became a Member of Parliament, the first woman in Africa to be elected to the assembly governing her country.

 

Angie Elisabeth Brooks

Angie Elisabeth Brooks (1928–2007) was born in Virginia, Liberia, and was a diplomat and jurist. In 1969, Brooks was chosen to become President of the United Nations General Assembly, the first African woman to hold this position. She was also appointed the first female Associate Justice of the Liberian Supreme Court. Brooks held several degrees including Doctor of Law degrees from Shaw University, Howard University and Liberia University.

 

Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora (1941–2011) was an award-winning musician from Cape Verde, singing ‘morna’. She was known as the ‘barefoot diva’ because of her tendency to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the homeless and poor women and children of her country. In 2003, she was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album for Voz D’Amor.

 

 Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba (1932–2008) was an award-winning singer and political activist born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was one of the most visible opponents of the apartheid regime, resulting in the revocation of her South African citizenship by the regime due to her activism. She toured internationally and collaborated with artists including Harry Belafonte with whom she won a Grammy award

 

Queen Nanny

 

Queen Nanny was an eighteenth-century leader, warrior and spiritual adviser. Born in 1686 in present-day Ghana, Western Africa, she was sent as a slave to Jamaica, where she became leader of the Maroons, a group of runaway Jamaican slaves. She is believed to have led attacks against British troops and freed hundreds of slaves. She was also known as a powerful Obeah practitioner of folk magic and religion. She continues her legacy with her portrait gracing the Jamaican $500 bank note.

 

Mulatto Solitude

In May 1802, while a few months pregnant, the Mulatto Solitude took part in the Guadeloupian uprisings against the reinstatement of Lacrosse, who had been appointed Captain-General of Guadeloupe by Napoleon Bonaparte and expelled in October 1801 following a coup by the army’s officers of color. After her arrest, Solitude was imprisoned and subsequently tortured, possibly to death, a day after giving birth. Solitude symbolizes all Caribbean women and mothers who fought for equality and freedom from slavery.

 

 Luiza Mahin

Luiza Mahin, born at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was an Afro-Brazilian freedom fighter. A natural leader, Mahin became involved in revolts and uprisings of slaves in the Brazilian province of Bahia. A street vendor by profession, she used her business as a distributory cell for messages and leaflets in the resistance struggle. She played a central role in the significant “Revolta dos Males” (1835) and “Sabina” (1837-1838) slave rebellions.

 

Gisèle Rabesahala

As a celebrated Malagasy woman politician of the twentieth century, Gisèle Rabesahala (1929-2011) devoted her life to her country’s independence, human rights and the freedom of peoples. She was a journalist and political activist who founded the newspaper Imongo Vaovao. The first Malagasy woman to be elected as a municipal councilor (1956) and political party leader (1958), and to be appointed minister (1977), she is regarded as a pioneer in Malagasy politics.

 

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (c.1797-1883) was a leading activist, speaker and teacher at the forefront of the African-American struggle for civil rights. Resolutely non-sectarian, she acted as a bridge between issues such as women’s rights, abolition, and religious freedom. Her astute exploitation of her reputation, through photography and print, helped her to become one of the most well-known orators of the nineteenth century.

Salute all women out there making a difference and trying to bring about effective change to their various societies.

 

 

Nubians are a people from northern Sudan and southern Egypt with a long and proud history. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, many Nubians migrated to remote areas along the Nile. In the 1960s, they faced cultural disintegration when their villages were flooded by the Aswan High Dam, which was constructed on the first cataract of the Nile River between 1960 and 1970.

 
Thousands of Indigenous Nubian people who live along the Nile River could lose their ancestral land, livelihood and culture due to the construction of the new Kajbar dam. The Chinese company Sinohydro, probably the world´s largest hydropower company, announced it had won a $705 million contract to build the Kajbar dam hydropower project for a period of five years. The Kajbar Dam lies along the Nile River in an area inhabited by the indigenous Nubian people who for centuries have lived along the shores of the Nile River but the construction of a hydropower project by the Chinese Company threatens to tore apart their rich culture and traditions that they have preserved for years. Construction of dams along the Nile River by Sudanese and the Egyptian government has seen displacement of thousands of the Nubian community who up to date live in asbestos roofed houses in the country´s semi-arid areas.

 

                                  In the 1960´s, around 120, 000 Nubian people were displaced from their ancestral lands in Sudan and Egypt for the construction of the Aswan Dam. Within Sudan the community was moved to an irrigation scheme 700 kilometers away thus blocking them from practicing traditional cultures and rites. Since the announcement of the construction of the Kajbar Dam on the Nile´s third cataract was made, tension has gripped the Nubian people who have vowed to oppose the intended construction. The Nubians fear that construction of the Dam would lead to displacement, extinction of their language and culture as they could be relocated hundreds of kilometers away from their main source of livelihood.

“We will never allow any force on the earth to blur our identity and destroy our heritage and nation. Nubians will never play the role of victims, and will never sacrifice for the second time to repeat the tragedy of the Aswan Dam,” says a member of the Nubian Association.

The Nubian community started opposing the construction of the Dam as early as 2007 immediately after the government announced plans to construct several dams along the Nile River. The committee cited that they were not consulted as the ancestral owners of the land and such an investment on their land would amount to violation of their human and land rights. In 1954 the Egyptian government and Sudanese government signed an agreement to build the High Dam which surrounds the Sudanese Nubian Indigenous land with the establishment and release of the water from the High Dam, the Indigenous Nubians living in Old Haifa were forcibly displaced and driven to the city now known as New Haifa in Eastern Sudan in 1964.

The Aswan High Dam, completed in 1970, partially flooded the Philae Temple until this structure was moved to higher ground to avoid the flood waters.

This new area, that the Indigenous Nubian from Old Haifa were forcibly displaced onto, had a completely different climate. The land was vast but the water was scarce so another dam was built, the Khash Algrba Dam in New Haifa, to bring water to the people. With this on their minds, the few remaining Nubians on the shores of the Nile River fear that they might be subjected to the same conditions as those of Old Haifa who continue to face a myriad of challenges in their new land. Though the government has continued to support this community to adapt to their new land, new challenges such as disease have continued to wipe out the community as a result of resettlement in a totally different climatic zones and poor housing. The houses the government provided in New Hafia were built with contaminated asbestos roofs, many Indigenous Nubian People who live in these asbestos roofed houses, since the building of the High Dam, have developed many forms of cancer due to the asbestos contamination.

                      The construction of the Dams along the Nile River has had a negative impact on the indigenous Nubian people. They have lost their Indigenous cultural, ancestral land, artifacts, regalia and sense of identity and the further construction of dams in Nubian land would create fear among the community that has already lost some of their vital traditions due to immense displacement that has led to unsustainable development. I observed that the Knash Algrba Dam which was the main resource for farming and water sustainability for the Indigenous Nubians in New Haifa has been completely blocked due to silt build up. This unfortunate occurrence has caused drought and famine amongst the displaced Indigenous Nubian People living in New Haifa. The community have expressed fear that the construction of the Kajbar Dam could result in a similar problems experienced by fellow Nubian people relocated to new Haifa areas.

              Until recently, it seemed that plans to build the Dal and Kajbar dams had been abandoned. But in early November, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir paid a visit to the Saudi king in Riyadh to discuss ways of promoting bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. Following the meeting, the two governments signed an agreement to finance the Dal, Kajbar and Shiraik Dams in northern Sudan. It appears that Saudi Arabia has committed to invest US$1.7 billion for the construction of these three dams.

               The dams and all the so-called associated economic benefits are just excuses the government is using to plunder the mineral resources in the region. They are not considering the people that they were elected to lead effectively. The lack of care from the government and their ineffectiveness of seeing what will happen to the Nubian nation is disheartening. They are willing to risk driving into extinction a whole ethnic group with rich culture and lifestyle.
According to reports, the construction of the Kajbar dam will displace more than 10,000 Nubians and submerge an estimated 500 archaeological sites.

We will continue to support the causes of the Nubian’s and continue to advocate for human rights.

In the beginning, the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. This gave mankind the opportunity to think with oneness of mind. They decided to build a tower that will reach unto Heaven. God saw no reason for this and He confused the source of their agreement – language. As it happened in the beginning, it is happening now. The world has started speaking one language and that language is English.
In this era of globalization and technology, English dominates the world as no language ever has and it appears that it may never be dethroned as the king of languages. Some linguists still insist that linguistic evolution will continue to take its course over the centuries and that English could eventually die as a common language as Latin did, or Phoenician or Sanskrit or Sogdian before it.
The factors that underscore the grip English has on the world are disasters like war or climate change that causes people to migrate or the eventual perfection of translation machine that would make a common language necessary. The current migration of Syrians to Europe especially Britain, America and other English speaking countries will increase the number of English speakers in the world as these migrants would have to learn the language of their new host and use less their native languages (Arabic and Kurdish).

Lingua
Exploring some of the opinions of these linguists, mostly American, the scepticism that the future of English is very bright seems to be a minority view. Experts on the English language like David Cristal, author of “English as a Global Language” said that the world has changed so drastically that history is no longer a guide. He pointed out that this is the first time we actually have a language spoken genuinely globally by every country in the world, and that there are no precedents to help us see what will happen.
John McWhorter, a linguist at the Manhattan Institute, a research group in New York and the author of a history of language called “The Power of Babel”, was more unequivocal. He said that English is dominant in a way that no language has ever been before. It is vastly unclear to him what actual mechanism could uproot English given conditions as they are.
In this new millennium, about one fourth of the world’s population can communicate to some degree in English. It is the common language in almost every endeavour, from science to air traffic control to the global Jihad, where it is apparently the means of communication between speakers of Arabic and other languages. It has consolidated its dominance as the language of the internet, where 80 percent of the world’s electronically stored information is in English. The world is currently experiencing a dominance of English language in technological inventions. For example, most mobile phones and tablets that are being used in the world today have their preinstalled applications in English though provision for a change of language is made available in the settings. According to David Graddol, a linguist and researcher, English is spoken across cultures and it is mostly language of instructions at schools. Children are taught the language to help them become citizens of an increasingly intertwined world. At telephone call centres around the world, the emblem of a globalized workplace, the language spoken is naturally English. In countries where English is used as the second language, broadcasting stations cast their news in English language before their native languages. English has become the second language of everybody, it has gotten to the point where almost in any part of the world to be educated means to communicate in English.
As English continue to spread, the linguists say, it is fragmenting as Latin did, into a family of dialects – and perhaps, eventually fully fledged languages – known as Englishes. A full fledge fragmentation of English may see to the end of the real English we know. New vernaculars have emerged in such places as Singapore, Nigeria and the Caribbean, although widespread literacy and mass communication may be slowing the natural process of diversification. The pidgin of Papua New Guinea already has its own literature and translations of Shakespeare. On the other hand, unlike Latin and other former common languages, English seems to be too widespread and too deeply entrenched to die out instead, it is likely to survive in some simplified international form – sometimes called Globish or World Standard Spoken English – side by side with its offspring.
“You have too many words in English,” said Jean – Paul Nerriere, a retired Vice President of IBM, USA who is French. He has proposed his own version of Globish that would have just 15,000 simple words for use by non-native speakers. “We are a majority,” Nerriere said, “so our way of speaking English should be the official way of speaking English”. While Paul proposed Globish for diverse use especially among non-native speakers, Robert McCrum, the literary editor of the London Observer saw it as an economic phenomenon.
As a simplified form of global English emerges, the diverging forms spoken in Britain and America could become no more than local dialects – two more Englishes alongside the Singlish spoken in Singapore or the Taglish spoken in the Philipines. A native speaker of English might need to become bilingual in his own language to converse with other speakers of global English. Crystal wrote that we may well be approaching a critical moment in human linguistic history and that it is possible that a global language will emerge only once.
The dominance English has on the world today is as a result of successive English – speaking empires; British and American, and continues with the new virtual empire of the internet.
The teaching of English has become a multibillion – dollar industry, and according to Graddol, nearly one-third of the world’s population will soon be studying English. In fact, to enter higher institution in Nigeria and some other countries of the world, at least a pass at credit level in English is required. Most overseas higher institutions require a test of English for an international student who doesn’t speak English as a native language before he/she can gain admission.
By the most common estimates, 400million people speak English as first language, another 300million to 500 million as a fluent second language and perhaps 750million as foreign language. The largest English – speaking nation in the world, the United States, has only about 20 percent of the world’s English speakers. In Asia alone, an estimated 350 million people speak English, about the same as the combined English – speaking populations of Britain, the United States and Canada. In Africa, about 200million people speak the language. David Crystal puts the current estimates of English speakers in the world at 1.5 billion. Thus, the English language no longer belongs to its native speakers but to the world.

A non-native English speaker Yilin Sun, a Chinese, is the current president of the International Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages known as TESOL. Even if English were somehow to collapse as the language of its birthplace, England, Crystal said, it would continue its worldwide dominance unperturbed.
The people who were once colonized by the language are now rapidly remaking it, domesticating it, becoming more and more relaxed about the way they use it, creating pidgins and creoles. The advance of technology that helped push English into its dominance position could pull it down again. Though it still sounds like science fiction, it seems likely that some time, many decades from now a machine will be perfected that can produce Yoruba when it hears someone speaking German. The sociolinguistic fact remains that the dominance of a language endangers and forces other languages into extinction. This has prompted organisation like the Living Tongues in the United States to promote the documentation, maintenance, preservation and revitalization of endangered languages all over the world. Tertiary institutions in Africa especially in Nigeria where at least 512 languages are currently being spoken are gathering word list of these languages for the purpose of research and documentation. Whether English language fragments into Englishes and a standard form like Globish as proposed emerges or it continues its dominance as the king of languages the fact is that the world has started speaking one language.

Many sub-Saharan African countries are experiencing an economic boom thanks to vast natural resources. But the region has another untapped asset that will help its growth outpace counterparts around the world — its young people.

 

The demographics of the world’s biggest cities are shifting toward younger people. And according to a new report from Ernst & Young, African hubs will have an advantage, as its cities become dominated by younger people while other major hubs watch their populations’ age.

 

Researchers note that cities such as Nigeria’s capital of Lagos, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the Angolan capital of Luanda will experience “extremely rapid growth of their young populations.” Ernst & Young predicts that by the year 2030, 90 percent of the world’s young urban population will live in large cities in some of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

 

“Young populations can help to create large and productive labor forces,” the report says, but also drive unrest in countries with underemployment and other social ills.”

 

However, a growing youth population is still an advantage over cities with mostly older residents, where aging citizens leave the workforce without a skilled younger workers to replace them. The phenomenon is happening in 122 of the 750 top cities around Europe, Asia and South America.

 

The stark contrast can provide a much-needed boost to the developing world.

 

“Recent shifts in the age structure towards younger populations present an unprecedented opportunity to catapult developing economies forward,” reads a recent United Nations report. “The ‘economic miracle’ experienced by East Asian economies could become a reality for many of today’s poorer countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.”

 

Nigeria became Africa’s largest economy just last year, and the World Bank recently upgraded its forecast for economic growth in Kenya this year from 4.7 percent to 6 percent. And economists at Standard Bank are expecting a boom in middle-class households across the region.

 

According to the U.N., policymakers must work to capitalize on the younger population to keep growth sustainable.

 

“Policies that empower young people, coupled with efforts to actively engage them in decisions that affect their lives and shape their future can mean the difference between a demographic trend that weighs economies down and one that buoys them,” the report says, with hopes that these countries will be able to benefit from the burgeoning “demographic dividend.”

If you love nature and wildlife then you shouldn’t be a stranger in the world of natural parks and game reserves in Africa. They are also fun places you should consider when planning your vacation and visit. We are going to be exploring the very best nature and wildlife reserves in Africa. Starting with West Africa, we going to explore various and top best national parks and game reserves in North, East and South Africa.
The West African coast from Dakar Senegal to Yaounde Cameroon have a lot to offer when it comes to natural parks and game reserves. Have you heard of Mole, Pendjari and Waza? These wildlife reserves are some of the finest in West Africa – they may not be as famous but the wildlife is just as diverse, safaris cost a fraction of those in eastern and southern Africa and you’re unlikely to be bothered by crowds. Here are our top blissfully low-key West African wildlife parks.

 

 

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone
This small island on the Moa River in Sierra Leone is unlike any other reserve or park in West Africa: with 11 species of primate present in the sanctuary (www.tiwaiisland.org ), it is one of the very few places in West Africa where you are virtually guaranteed to see chimpanzees and other endangered primates such as the beautiful Colobus and Diana monkeys. There are other rare species such as the endemic pygmy hippopotamus, river otters and more than 130 species of bird. There are guided excursions on the islands and nearby villages, and you can stay the night on a simple, covered platform. The sanctuary is easily reached by taxi from Bo or Kenema but do stay the night in Tiwai if you are using public transport.

 

 

Mole National Park, Ghana
The most amazing thing about Mole (www.molemotelgh.com ) is how cheap and accessible it is: independent travellers can easily get here by public transport from Tamale, admission fees are under US$10 and walking safaris are standard (although if you did want to go on a game drive, the park has a 4×4 for hire). And then of course there is the Mole Motel, in an unbeatable location overlooking the park plains, with premium views of what the animals – elephants, warthogs, baboons, antelope and birds – are up to. There is even a swimming pool for a refreshing dip in between outings.

Two elephant bulls in an aggressive confrontation in Mole National Park.

 

 

Cross River National Park, Nigeria.
The largest rain forest in Nigeria and the oldest surviving one in Africa is located in Cross River National Park. Sharing its name with the state, Cross River, it has the highest tropical biodiversity in Africa. Twenty percent of the world’s total known species of butterflies reside in Cross River. This wildlife park is a top tourist attraction. It’s known for its naturally preserved inhabitants that offers so many activities to get the visitors engaged. The park has many localised species of plants and animals such as gorilla, drill chimpanzee, Gwantibo or golden potto forest elephant, Saleginella etc.

 

 

Parc National de la Pendjari, Benin

 

Surrounded by the beautiful Atakora Mountains, the Pendjari (www.pendjari.net ) is probably the best park in West Africa. It has ‘big-ticket’ wildlife – lions, elephants, cheetahs, baboons – and plenty more for those with the patience to seek it. The infrastructure is fantastic too, with sensational guides and accommodation right at the heart of the park to enjoy drives at sunrise and sunset, when wildlife is at its best. Stay at the lovely eco-lodge Pendjari Lodge (www.pendjari-lodge.com), or the more old-fashioned Hôtel de la Pendjari.

 

 

Kakum National Park, Ghana.
Located just 20 kilometres from Cape Coast, the Kakum National Park is home to elephants, monkeys and elusive bongo antelopes which roam among over 800 rare species of birds, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. But beside its vast natural endowment of plant and animal species, the presence at Kakum Park of world class receptive facilities for visitors such as the 333 metre long tree-top walkway and a multi-purpose visitor centre, have accounted for the park’s status as an irresistible destination for eco-tourism.

 
Niokolo Koba Park, Senegal.
Niokolo-Koba, at 900 sq km, is Senegal’s largest national park. Principally covered by dry forests and savannahs littered with limber and bush, the National park of Niokolo Park, counts nearly 1500 different sorts of vegetation. This allows it to home 30 different species of mammals, 36 different reptiles, 20 different amphibians and 60 sorts of fish. Of the more than 830 different species of birds recorded in the park, 109 are protected by the Bonn convention and Bern convention.

 
W National Park; Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.
The W National Park is one park with three sections and each of the three sections is in a different country. The three countries of Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso each governed their respective part of this national park. The wildlife found in the W National Park, includes the lion, the leopard, the serval, the caracal, the cheetah, the Cape buffalo, the African elephant, the hippopotamus, the roan antelope, the aardvark, and the warthog. The W National Park contains a small population (less than 30 individuals) of the rare Northwest African cheetah and more than 350 species of bird.

 
Boucle du Baoule Park, Mali.
Boucle du Baoule National Park is located near the town of Bamako in the western region of Mali, Africa. The park is largely covered in West African savannah although the vegetation is divided into two bio-geographic regions of Sudan Guinea in the south and Sahelian zone for the north. Other parts of the park are combretum shrub, savannah woodlands and a dense rain forest on the banks of Baoule River. Pristine rock art, ancient tombs and varied wildlife make this Boucle du Baoule National Park, an attractive place of visit for the tourists of Mali.

 
Yankari Game Reserves, Nigeria.
The Yankari Game Reserve located in Bauchi State is arguably West Africa’s best known wildlife area… Its prominence as a wildlife destination of choice dates back to the 60s, and since then Yankari has gained global recognition as a great destination for classic West African wildlife (www.yankarigamereserves.com). Yankari is the premier reserve and it is a top destination for wildlife and eco-tourism. It boasts the largest population of elephants in West Africa as well as several endangered species like the leopard. In addition to the wildlife, there are several crystal-clear and infection-free natural warm springs at Yankari, most prominent of which is the Wikki Warm springs. The Wikki Warm Spring is very popular amongst visitors, and is a good place to relax after a long safari. Yankari is an ideal place for bird watchers, because the variety of birds here is astounding.

                                                      Crystal clear Wikki Spring

 
Waza National Park, Cameroon.
The Waza National Park covers an area of 170,000 hectares. It is the most famous park in Cameroon and one of the most spectacular in French-speaking Africa. The Waza National Park in Cameroon is one of the most visited places in this far north side of Africa. The animal population is so great that it also houses endangered species with the likes of the giraffe family, antelopes, bird species and jackals among others. It’s the most important wildlife park in the city of Cameroon and one of the most significant in the country of Africa. This is the only park where you can see animals in danger of extinction. This park is an absolute must to discover.

 

 

The best time to see wildlife in West Africa is December to April, when the grass has been burnt (which improves visibility) and the dry season forces animals to congregate around water holes. Tracks are generally impassable in the rainy season (July-September) and parks are often close.

The Africa Utopia is back for a third year celebrating the act and culture of one of the world’s most beautiful, dynamic and fast-growing continent. The festival looks at how Africa can lead the way in think about culture, community, business and technology and includes topics ranging from fashion, gender and power to politics, sustainability and activism.

 
This year’s festival features some of Africa’s greatest artistes across music, dance, literature and art. The three day event held at London’s Southbank centre features fascinating and exciting events that reflect the richness of African culture and heritage and in some cases, what to expect from African creatives’ based at home and in the diaspora.
The Festival features also interrogate key themes attributed to the narratives of the continent such as migration, and displacement through visual art and theatre.

 
There were lots of events lined up at Africa Utopia. Some of the features from the 3 day festival:
Through Dance, music, art and literature the festival showcased appearances from Tavaziva Dance-when king Gogo met the chameleon,

legendary drummer Tony Allen, one of the acknowledged co-founders of Afrobeat,

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Senegalese super group Orchestra Baobab;

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Phoebe Boswell’s Transit Terminal,

Photo: Africa Utopia

Funmi Adewole,

Diene 'waaw waaw' Sagna, one of the performers at the opening of Africa Utopia, Southbank Centre, 11 September 2014. event. Photo: Carole Edrich

Maia Von Lekow,

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powerfully soulful West African(Mali) singer Kassé Mady Diabaté;

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Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic classical symphony orchestra, Chineke! and lots of others.

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Fashion and food lovers were not left out as there was an African-inspired fashion, a buzzing marketplace and delicious African street food to enjoy.

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Eritrean Food

Africa Utopia Friday Day Pass was an opportunity for people to participate in panel discussion, exploring African politics, technology, education and trade. Everything from disruptive innovation to the power and politics of data in Africa were discussed. A panel of writers with African roots explores migrations real and imagined, asking if we inevitably circle back to where we came from.

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It was a great and colorful festival.

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy: AfricaUtopia

What makes me African?
What makes you African?
What makes us Africans?
What have we become?

 
Many questions yet few answers
We crave for much yet less is worked for.
We talk more than we act
We have become enemies of work.
We have become copy cats
We are about to die
For;
“Curiosity killed the cat.”

 
We have grown a hopeless desire
For things from the west
We claim to be modern
Yet the ways of modernization don’t depict ours.

 
Did our great grand fathers and mothers fight for nothing?
Did our ancestors pray to their gods for nothing
What of the manners they instilled and so much preached,
They would strike us if they had a chance.

 
We are a shame to our own kind,
We fight each other instead of creating bonds,
We have become hurtless monsters,
Not different from the lion that hunts other animals.

 
Our values are diminishing,
Just like our dishes,
Just like our ancient hobbies,
Hide and seek and Omweso.

 
We live by stereotypes,
They define us completely,
And we fight men,
Instead of ideas.
Greed defines our path,
Africans and greed,
We are one.
Our ancestors are all together angry.

 
The lovely night bonfire’s
The awesome beer parties,
The games and hunting of game,
The energy that flowed all day long.

 
We have become servants,
Of western interests.
We are still slaves
Neo-colonialism does that.

 
We have forgotten our music
Our lovely beats,
Even our dances that many pay for to watch,
We call all of it ATS.

 
We have become prisoners
We have imprisoned ourselves,
We believe in the white man,
More than in our selves.

 
We are Africans
Behaving like slaves and servants.
We are Africans
That have forgotten their roots.

 
We teach our children western ways
We teach them how to use these instruments
Of mass destruction and hate.
Socializing avoided.

 
Social media and laziness,
Unemployment and poverty,
If only we knew our worth,
The whites would want to know our secrets.

 

#IAmAfrican

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