Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Sudan’s democratic spring is turning into a long and ugly summer

Protestor’s near the Sudanese army headquarters in Khartoum in April 2019. Photo by M. Saleh (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When protesters forced Omar al-Bashir out of power in Sudan this April after 30 years of dictatorial role, it was an unalloyed good for the world. Bashir has been wanted by The Hague since 2008 for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, and his ouster was a key step towards a free and democratic Sudan, as well as justice for Darfuris.

But what’s followed in Sudan has been far less encouraging. Sudan’s military has promised elections, but not for as much as two years. The Transitional Military Council (TMC), the military leaders now in charge of the country, have included Bashir confidantes like Lt. General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was suspected of leading Janjawid militia massacres in Darfur. Many Sudan observers Believe that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the person really pulling the strings on the TMC, where he serves as vice president. Hemedti not only recruited and led many of the Janjawid fighters who brutally suppressed dissent in Darfur—he has also been accused of having recruited child soldiers from Darfur to fight in Yemen’s bloody civil war on behalf of the Saudis.

Despite the obvious dangers, Sudanese pro-democracy protesters are back out in the streets, demanding immediate transition to a civilian government. Their demands have been met with brutal violence. On June 3, security forces including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose members are veterans of the Janjawid militias responsible for Darfur’s worst massacres—killed over 100 protesters, dumping bodies into the Nile River, raping and robbing civilians stopped at military checkpoints.

Despite these horrific incidents, Sudanese citizens have continued to fight, launching a mass general strike on Sunday June 9.

The struggle over the internet

As with most conflicts today, there’s an important information component to the struggle between activists and the Sudanese military. The protests that ousted Bashir and have confronted the military have been organized by groups of middle-class Sudanese like the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors using social media, especially Facebook. Since the June 3 massacre, Sudan’s mobile internet has been largely shut down, making online organizing and reporting on conditions on the ground vastly more difficult. Sudan’s government previously shut down the internet for 68 days to combat the protests that ultimately led to Bashir’s ouster.

Facebook was an especially significant force in bringing women into the streets to protest against Bashir. Tamerra Griffin reported on a set of women-only Facebook groups that were initially used to share gossip, but which were mobilized to identify abusive state security officials, who were then hounded and sometimes chased out of their own neighborhoods. The presence of women in the protest movements and the Zagrounda chant—a women’s ululation—has become a signature of the uprising. Bashir memorably declared that the government could not be changed through WhatsApp or Facebook. His ouster suggests that the power of social networks as tools for mobilization is routinely underestimated by governments.

But now social media seems to be leveraged at least as much by the military as by the opposition. The internet has not been completely shut down—the government has been able to maintain its presence on Facebook, which features at least four pages controlled by the RSF, which are advertising the militia veterans’ version of events. Sudanese activist Mohamed Suliman is organizing a petition campaign, demanding Facebook remove these pages in recognition that they promote violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan.

In addition to combatting Sudanese propaganda on Facebook, Sudanese activists inside the country and in the diaspora are looking for ways to return internet access to the general population, so they can continue organizing protests and document government violence. Activists are organizing information-sharing networks on top of SMS and voice phone calls, but I’m also getting calls from Sudanese friends who wonder whether technologies like Google’s Loon could be used to put a cloud of connectivity over Khartoum. (The answer: maybe. Loon acts as an antenna for existing telecoms networks, and those networks in Sudan have been forced to cut off connectivity. In addition, a balloon floating 20km over a city is a very attractive missile target.)

Until very recently, the few Sudanese who had access via ADSL had been opening their wifi networks or sharing passwords with friends and inviting them to post messages from their houses. A couple of days ago I was seeing reports—unconfirmed—that even ADSL has been turned off. This may signal the start of a new phase of the crackdown.

Space Cadet@nourality

🔻🔻🔻
Last available internet route “Sudani ADSL” is now reported to be down.

This completes a dark ring over sudan as internet are now Almost completely disabled, this gives the TMC milita “janjaweed” enough lack of media attention to continue abusing and killing the Sudan.

Ahmed Abdalla@A_Abdalla

الآن قطع خدمة انترنت سوداني ADSL أيضاً
الخدمة الوحيدة التي استمرت تعمل منذ إيقاف المجلس الانقلابي الانترنت في السودان قبل عدة أيام.
الآن اكتمل التعتيم على جرائم الجنجويد في السودان والعالم يتفرج#العصيان_المدني_الشامل

85 people are talking about this

On the morning of June 10 Yassir Arman, a major figure in the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, which fought a war against Khartoum leading to the independence of South Sudan, was deported from Khartoum to Juba by military helicopter.

Yassir Arman@Yassir_Arman

I have been deported against my will by a military helicopter from Khartoum to Juba. I was not aware of where they were taking me. I asked them many times. They tied me up in the helicopter together with Comrade Ismail Khamis Jalab and Mubarak Ardol.

1,201 people are talking about this

One major channel for information from Sudan in the future may be from Sudanese who are in touch with organizers on the ground who have been forced to flee the country and report from neighboring countries.

Countries are known by the company they keep, and the military government’s supporters are well resourced: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have provided $3 billion in aid to the military leaders. Given the Trump administration’s tight ties to the Saudi and UAE governments—which have extended to overruling Congress in selling arms to those regimes—it seems unlikely that a petition to the White House to recognize the RSF as a terrorist organization will meet with approval any time soon. (By contrast the African Union—which has a regrettable history of ignoring misbehavior by African military rulers— has suspended Sudan after this weekend’s crackdown.

A few things we can do to help

It’s hard to know what to do as a private citizen when faced with a situation like the one in Sudan. Some thoughts on what might actually be helpful:

– Pay attention and ask others to do so as well. All governments, including military governments, are limited in what actions they can take by public perception. If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates understand that people are actually watching what the Sudanese military is doing, it may limit their willingness to support a government run in part by experienced génocidaires. Reporter Yousra Elbagir is reporting from the ground in Khartoum and her Twitter feed is deeply helpful. Declan Walsh, the New York Times bureau chief, is doing excellent reporting from the groundReem Abbas, a Sudanese journalist and blogger, is sharing excellent content, much of it in Arabic. Al Jazeera’s synthesis of the conflict has been excellent, but I worry that their reliance on Skype interviews to cover events may limit their coverage going forward:

– In the spirit of getting people interested in what’s going on in Sudan, I recommend Hasan Minhaj’s occasionally silly but good-hearted Patriot Act episode on Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the military government’s violent reaction.

– Pressure organizations that are helping legitimate the military government. That includes Facebook, which should not be hosting pages for the Rapid Support Forces, or for any entities associated with the transitional military government.

Sudan’s two telecom operators—MTN and Zain—are international companies which could (in theory) be pressured to violate the military’s demands that they shut down. Zain is a Kuwaiti company, which means they are heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia, but MTN as a South African company might be susceptible to shareholder pressure, lawsuits, etc. The Internet Society has released a statement calling for Sudan to turn the internet back on. It’s unclear whether they would be an organizing point for protests to pressure MTN.

– It can be difficult to get money to the ground in Sudan. While the Trump administration removed some financial sanctions on Sudan in 2017, other sanctions stemming from the Darfur conflict remain in place. My friends in Sudan have pointed me to Bakri Ali and the University of Khartoum Alumni Association USA, a US 501c3 which is using their tax-exempt status to deliver aid to democracy protesters.

It can be hard, in retrospect, to remember the excitement and enthusiasm that accompanied the Egyptian revolution and the broader Arab Spring. But after only a year of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, a military dictatorship took over. The fear right now is that Sudan could go directly from one dictatorship to another—from one Arab winter to another without an intervening Spring. Some Sudanese protesters have been using the slogan “Victory or Egypt”, looking at the return to dictatorship as the worst possible outcome. The worse outcome is even worse—it’s the prospect of systemic military violence like in Darfur, without intervention by the international community. The same folks are in charge, and we are already looking away.

Women In Madagascar Fight Sexism And Victim-Shaming By The Government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

#MySkirtMyRight: Women in Madagascar fight sexism and victim-shaming by the government

Screenshot from the TV5 Monde (national TV channel) coverage on the wave “My Skirt My Right” in Madagascar

Men’s greedy needs to assault women reduce as women wear modest clothes. It is therefore every parent’s duty to guide their daughters towards the right path and stop them from wearing revealing clothes and exposing themselves.

This is the message (since deleted) that was published on the Ministry of Education’s Facebook page on April 12, 2019, as the Malagasy government urged women not to wear revealing clothes in order to avoid being sexually assaulted.

In response, many Malagasy women shared pictures of themselves on social media wearing skirts or dresses using the hashtag #MaJupeMonDroit (My Skirt My Right) to voice their outrage at this sexist request that essentially shames victims instead of sanctioning men’s aggressive behavior. A more rational approach to preventing rape would be to educate people not to assault women. Below is a screenshot of Ministry of Education’s original Facebook post in Malagasy, before it was taken down:

Screenshot of the Facebook post from the Ministry of Education on the 12th April, requesting women to avoid wearing revealing clothes.

The wave of protests rapidly spread online in Madagascar. The movement started on social media by the Malagasy NGO Nifin’Akanga, which is fighting to decriminalize abortion. On the same day of the Ministry’s post, Nifin’Akanga responded quickly on Facebook, inviting the Malagasy online community to participate in an online campaign:

/// Skirt challenge/// 😉 PLEASE SHARE !!
Take a selfie in an outfit that you like: skirt, dress, etc.👗
Add the
#majupemondroit
My skirt, my right…
His zip, his problem with the law.
My body, my right
My uterus…not your decision!

They were joined by activists in the country and members of the Malagasy diaspora. Many activists also used the internationally-recognized hashtag #StopRapeCulture.

An editor in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, Soa Anina, listed on her blog 30 answers to 30 stereotypes of this movement. Here are a few of them:

No, the “sexual needs of predators” will not be kept under control this way, and certainly not if they benefit from the support of the Ministry. The government is only avoiding the issue by pointing the finger at the victim instead of the guilty abuser. No, it is not the responsibility of women to handle men’s and boys’ behaviors: men have to learn to behave with dignity in all circumstances, and parents need to educate their boys to become men. (…) The truth is, no garment will ever protect you. It is not about the garment: the pervert perpetrates the crime not because of his libido, but because he gets his pleasure from power, control and domination, all unrelated to the clothing worn, even if deemed “too sexy”. The Malagasy word “fanolanana” is an accurate description of rape: bend it until its resistance weakens.

The protest storm continued and was amplified by the national newspapers and online publications. Nasolo Valiavo Andriamiahaja is an editor for the newspaper l’Express de Madagascar. He associates all types of restrictive policies on clothing to a regression of women’s rights.  He recalls an anecdote from the King of Morocco during his temporary forced exile in Madagascar:

The Moroccan writer Tahar ben Jelloun shares that the king of Morocco Mohammed V did not hesitate to show off his daughters without the scarf, upon his return from Antsirabe (a province of Madagascar) in 1956, where the French colonial administration had exiled him. “Between the nineteen fifties and the start of the nineteen eighties, most Moroccan women had stopped wearing the scarf. They were wearing the djellaba and kept their head uncovered. It was the Iranian revolution and Khomeyni’s demagogic speeches that brought the scarf back.”

Following this uproar, the Ministry of Education formally apologized in a press release, putting an end to the storm:

Official statement from the Ministry published on Facebook explaining the withdrawal of the action against sexual assaults.

But for a number of activists and journalists like Antananarivo-based Mbolatiana Raveloarimisa, the fight is not over:

A lot of comments were trying to shame women instead of supporting the movement. This sad incident is only the catalyst that opened our eyes to a hidden reality. In Malagasy society, violence against women is only the tip of a huge iceberg. The entire administration is only the crystallization of a national silence on violence against women.

Mozambique: Cyclone Kenneth: Entire villages wiped out, says UN

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Cyclone Kenneth: Entire villages wiped out, says UN

Media caption Eye witness captures moment Kenneth hits northern Mozambique

A powerful cyclone has “entirely wiped out” villages in Mozambique, according to a UN official.

Gemma Connell, the head of the regional Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said it looked from the air like areas had been “run over by a bulldozer”.

Cyclone Kenneth struck on Thursday with winds of 220km/h (140mph).

It came barely a month after Cyclone Idai killed more than 900 people across three countries.

In a video posted on Twitter after flying over the affected area, Ms Connell pledged to work with local authorities “to get people the supplies they need”.

“The weather is still bad, it is still raining,” she said. “But thankfully the winds have died down.”

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The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani reports that damage to power lines in parts of northern Mozambique is making communication difficult.

Almost 20,000 people have taken shelter in makeshift displacement centres, including schools and churches, our correspondent adds.

A UN spokesman said a total of five people have now died, quoting Mozambique’s government, according to reports.

One person was earlier reported to have been killed when Cyclone Kenneth struck after being crushed by a falling tree. The storm also killed three people on the island nation of Comoros.

Is this unusual for the region?

UN weather experts say it is unprecedented for two cyclones of such intensity to hit Mozambique in the same season.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also said that no previous records show a cyclone striking the region as far north as Kenneth.

It said a fact-finding mission would examine the “impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Mozambique’s resilience” to extreme weather.

Family displaced by Cyclones Idai and KennethImage copyrightAFP
Image captionFamilies have been left displaced by the cyclones

Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo said the two storms were “exactly what climate scientists warned would happen if we continue to warm our planet beyond its limits”.

“There is one inescapable and burning injustice we cannot stress enough,” he said, adding: “The people of Mozambique are paying the price for dangerous climate change when they have done next to nothing to cause this crisis.”

What was Kenneth’s impact?

Kenneth made landfall on the northern province of Cabo Delgado on Thursday evening, with wind speeds equivalent to a category four hurricane.

Winds eased on Friday, but France’s meteorological agency said up to 800mm of rain was expected to land on Mozambique over the coming days – nearly double the 10-day accumulated rainfall that flooded the port city of Beira during Cyclone Idai.

The UN’s World Food Programme said it was working on an “emergency preparedness plan” with the Mozambican government and other humanitarian groups.

“The most difficult thing is transportation – we don’t have helicopters yet,” Capt Kleber Castro from a Brazilian rescue team said. “We need a lot of support.”

Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) said 30,000 people had been evacuated from affected areas.

What is the affected area like?

Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.

But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by militant Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.

Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people.

What about other countries in the region?

Comoros is still reeling from damage caused by the cyclone, and in some southern areas of neighbouring Tanzania, authorities have ordered schools and businesses to close.

People stand by damaged houses and fallen trees in ComorosImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Cyclone Kenneth has already devastated areas of the island nation of Comoros

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies shared images of the damage on social media. In a tweet, the group confirmed it had volunteers on the ground assisting communities.

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Despite Zimbabwe being further inland, officials there said they were also putting their disaster management agencies on alert.

“Drawing lessons from Cyclone Idai we cannot take chances any more,” said Department of Civil Protection director Nathan Nkomo.


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Cyclone Idai exposes the gap of disaster risk relief financing in Africa

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘BROOKINGS BRIEF’ NEWS)

 

AFRICA IN FOCUS

Cyclone Idai exposes the gap of disaster risk relief financing in Africa

Mohamed Beavogui

Cyclone Idai that wreaked havoc on southern Africa is reminding us of the need to quickly devise sustainable solutions to confront climate and natural disaster risks. Right now, the humanitarian community and the governments of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe are appealing for resources and emergency relief to assist over 3 million affected people.

The United Nations has classified Cyclone Idai as the worst tropical cyclone to have hit the southern Africa region in decades. The strong winds and torrential rains have put the region in a state of crisis, causing huge losses of life; flattening buildings; triggering massive floods that damaged critical infrastructure and farmlands, and submerged entire communities; leaving affected people in desperate situations without shelter, food, safe drinking water, and sanitation and hygiene.

The governments of Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe have mobilized their limited available financial, logistical, and humanitarian resources for early response in the affected areas. The international community has sent in volunteer rescue workers and humanitarian aid to support local efforts. However, governments of affected countries and United Nations agencies are still requesting additional resources to support ravaged communities.

Recently, disasters such as cyclones, droughts, and floods are increasing in both frequency and magnitude. According to U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, from 1998 to 2017, disaster-hit countries reported direct economic losses of $2.9 trillion, of which climate-related disasters accounted for $2.2 trillion. Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, despite contributing the least to global warming. Climate-induced disaster effects on the continent are particularly devastating and are mainly caused by drought, flood, and cyclones, as well as outbreaks and epidemics of diseases like Ebola, Lassa Fever, and Marburg. The economic and social burden of natural disaster and disease outbreaks was estimated at $53.19 billion in 2014.

In terms of response, the continent has been struggling to allocate part of its limited resources to disaster preparedness, due to various competing priorities in health, education, infrastructure, and other sectors. Hence, the bulk of interventions in the event of disasters comes from donors. Typically, when a disaster strikes, countries, with the help of the international community, launch humanitarian appeals and work to raise funds to respond to the crisis. Meanwhile, the people affected by the disaster are forced to make difficult decisions that deteriorate their livelihoods and reverse hard-earned development gains, forcing more people into destitution, food insecurity, chronic poverty, and, often, involuntary migration.

To change this paradigm, the African Union Heads of State established the African Risk Capacity (ARC) in 2012 to support the development of better risk management systems on the continent, while simultaneously reducing the dependence of African countries on the international community for disaster relief.

ARC brings together three critical elements of disaster risk management to create a powerful value proposition for its members and partners: early warning systems, response planning based on well-prepared and validated contingency plans, and an index-based insurance and risk pooling mechanism.

Several lessons have emerged during the institution’s first five years. The most important is that the resource gap needed to protect vulnerable populations against disasters can be reduced substantially through a combination of efforts and collaboration between governments, international aid, and the private sector. To build sustainable and country-driven responses, aid resources should support government budgets in financing innovative mechanisms, such as risk transfer, and leverage resources from the private sector through, for example, insurance and bonds.

Right now, less than two-thirds of humanitarian appeals are met and only 8 percent of actual losses are covered by international aid in 77 of the world’s poorest countries. The insurance sector covers only 3 percent of disaster-induced losses through payouts. The share of disaster insurance could be substantially increased using innovative risk transfer mechanisms that incorporate governments, international humanitarian agencies, international financial institutions, nongovernmental organizations, insurance companies, and other private sector companies operating in disaster finance. Through this type of scheme, one dollar used to pay for a premium could generate several fold more dollars through a payout.

This model of collaboration could build a sustainable, inclusive, market-based, and more responsive system to drastically reduce the current resource gap. Moreover, the fact that $1 spent for early intervention can save over $4 in a period of six to nine months means the need for overall resources for response would reduce accordingly. Therefore, the availability of adequate resources for early intervention is a solution to explore not with new financing but with already existing resources pre-earmarked by governments and humanitarian partners.

As per current experimentation at ARC, partners such as humanitarian agencies and NGOs can participate in ARC’s disaster insurance schemes through a program called Replica. With help from the German government, these institutions can access aid resources and sign policies with ARC Ltd., the financial affiliate of the ARC group. Under this scheme, the insurance policy taken out by humanitarian partners replicates the policy signed by the government, hence increasing the coverage of the population insured. The actor and the government implement a common response plan when a disaster strikes and the index-based insurance is triggered. The advantage is the ability to provide larger resources earlier after a disaster strikes since money will be available immediately through payouts. The actor will also be able to not only intervene earlier but also provide assistance through an agreed early response plan, thus giving time for international humanitarian efforts to take action.

The combination of early warning contingency planning and index-based risk transfer and pooling is certainly, among others, a solution that can significantly contribute to the reduction of the gap in disaster protection. A solution to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian efforts is in front of us, and all existing actors have a role to play, particularly humanitarian agencies and NGOs.

Mozambique’s president says cyclone death toll may be 1,000

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Mozambique’s president says cyclone death toll may be 1,000

  • Updated 
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Mozambique Cyclone
This image made available by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Monday March 18, 2019, shows an aerial view from a helicopter of flooding in Beira, Mozambique. The Red Cross says that as much as 90 percent of Mozambique’s central port city of Beira has been damaged or destroyed by tropical Cyclone Idai. (Caroline Haga/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) via AP)

JOHANNESBURG — Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi says that more than 1,000 may have by killed by Cyclone Idai, which many say is the worst in more than 20 years.

Speaking to state Radio Mozambique, Nyusi said Monday that although the official death count is currently 84, he believes the toll will be more than 1,000.

“It appears that we can register more than 1000 deaths,” said the PR, adding that more than 100,000 people are at risk of life.

“The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating,” said Nyusi. “It is a real disaster of great proportions.”

Nyusi spoke after flying by helicopter over the central port city of Beira and the rural Manica and Sofala provinces in which he saw widespread flooding and devastation.

Other officials in emergency services cautioned that while they expect the death toll to rise significantly, they have no way of knowing if it will reach the president’s estimate of 1,000.

The Red Cross said that 90 percent of Beira, a city of 500,000, had been damaged or destroyed.

Beira has been severely battered by the cyclone which cut off electricity, forced the airport to shut down and cut off road access to the rest of the country. Cyclone Idai first hit Beira last week and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Beira has been severely battered by the cyclone which cut off electricity, forced the airport to shut down and closed road access to the city, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Monday.

Cyclone Idai first hit Beira last week and then moved inland spreading heavy winds and rainfall to Zimbabwe and Malawi. More than 215 people have been killed by the storm according to official figures in the three countries, hundreds more are missing and more than 1.5 million people have been affected, according to the Red Cross and government officials.

The scale of the damage to Beira is “massive and horrifying,” said Jamie LeSueur, who led a Red Cross aerial assessment of the city. The team had to view the city by helicopter because roads were flooded, he said.

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 percent of the area is completely destroyed,” said LeSueur.

With Beira’s airport closed, the team drove from Mozambique’s capital Maputo before taking a helicopter for the last part of the journey because roads into Beira have been flooded.

While the physical impact of Idai is beginning to emerge, the human impact is unclear.

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“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible,” said LeSueur.

“Beira has been severely battered. But we are also hearing that the situation outside the city could be even worse. Yesterday (Sunday), a large dam burst and cut off the last road to the city.”

The storm hit Beira late Thursday and moved westward into Zimbabwe and Malawi, affecting thousands more, particularly in areas bordering Mozambique.

At least 126 people had died in Mozambique and Malawi, according to the Red Cross. In Zimbabwe, 89 people have died from the floods, the country’s information ministry said Monday.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa both returned from foreign trips to attend to the emergencies caused by the storm.

Zimbabwe’s president returned home from the United Arab Emirates “to make sure he is involved directly with the national response by way of relief to victims of Cyclone Idai,” the information ministry said. The Zimbabwean government declared a state of national disaster.

U.N. agencies and the Red Cross are helping with rescue efforts that include delivering food supplies and medicines by helicopter in the impoverished countries.

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South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls out ‘boring man with no plan’ in feminist hit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls out ‘boring man with no plan’ in feminist hit

Nyaruach. Photo by Tania Campbell-Golding, used with permission.

A man named Gatluak is probably feeling a bit embarrassed as South Sudanese singer Nyaruach calls him out for being a “boring man with no plan” in a hit song shared widely since its release in June 2018. Or, rather several Gatluaks — the name is common in South Sudan and “all know a Gatluak [who behaves this way]”, Nyaruach says.

With fierce feminist messaging, Nyaruach’s playful song reclaims a woman’s dignity after getting burned in love. It also reminds the world that vibrant music and art emerge out of Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, one of the largest refugee camps in the region.

Nyaruach, a single mother of two who lives in Kakuma, told Global Voices during a Skype interview:

South Sudanese men fail women with the wrong kind of love. So, my message is to the young girls of the new generation … Love is killing the new generation.

The catchy song and music video, which features some of Nyaruach’s Kakuma co-residents, released in November 2018, caught the world’s attention for its hypnotic Afro-beats and bold lyrics.

Nyaruach@nyaruachmusic

Ladies… there is nothing worse than a boring man, with no plan 😝. Gatluak pick up your phone ?!? 📞😂💥😂 New video and album with my brother @emmanueljal out now. Click on my bio ☝🏾 Naath Album | Gatluak https://www.facebook.com/nyaruachmusic/videos/762482210751137/ 

See Nyaruach’s other Tweets

Gatluak bought her cold drinks, they went on long walks, and then ghosted her! “You refuse to pick my phone after you get what you want. You are such a bastard guy, I just want to say goodbye! May God bless you where you are. You boring man — with no plan. With no plan!” sings Nyaruach.

“Gatluak” is the second release on the album NAATH (“humans” in Nuer) produced by Nyaruach and her brother Emmanuel Jal, a hip-hop artist who gained notoriety after his autobiography, “War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story”, was published in 2009. As children, the siblings were forced apart through extreme circumstances.

The two draw on Nuer traditional folk and love songs and interlace them with addictive dance beats. “We can’t forget our culture”, Nyaruach said. “We have to remind the new generation about the past — and music makes people happy.”

Nyaruach and Jal named the album NAATH after the “glorious Kingdom of Kush” of the Nile as an antidote to images of war and poverty that have characterized South Sudan.

A long road to music

Nyaruach was born in 1983 in Tonj, Sudan and separated from her family at the age of four when her mother died. Her brother Jal was taken as a child by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and forced to fight. He was then taken to Kenya at the age of 11 with the help of a British aid worker who was married to then-senior SPLA commander Riek Machar. There he discovered hip-hop, which he used to encourage peace.

Nyaruach’s life took a different turn. She spent several tumultuous years with relatives and ran away from an abusive father at the age of 10, surviving several arduous escapes from Sudan, first to Ethiopia and later, to Kenya.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, after a 22-year long civil war (1983-2005). The peace did not last long despite major investments in South Sudan’s development. In 2013, armed conflict broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. This spread to other areas of the country, gradually turning into an inter-ethnic conflict between the country’s two largest ethnic groups: the Dinka, represented by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Nuer, represented by then-Vice President Riek Machar.

Nyaruach did not reunite with Jal until they met in Nairobi. They collaborated on a song called Gua, or “peace” in the Nuer language. She was 22. The song was a hit in Kenya in 2005 and a breakthrough song for Jal, who went on to become an award-winning musician and peace activist.

Jal also faced criticism for contradicting his role model status with using social media to air divisive views that stoked ethnic tensions when conflict erupted in South Sudan in 2013.

In 2015, Nyaruach traveled to South Sudan for a short visit. Upon her return, she spoke out against the violence she witnessed. Pregnant with her second child, she decided to shift to Kakuma, seeking security.

Kakuma Refugee Camp was originally established by the UNHCR in 1992 to host 20,000 Sudanese children and youth known later as the “Lost Boys of Sudan” fleeing violence during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Today, over 56 percent of the population of Kakuma and neighboring Kalobeyei settlement are from South Sudan. At the end of January 2018, the camps hosted a total of 185,449 registered refugees and asylum-seekers.

Nyaruach said that living in a refugee camp is especially hard on women with children.

They give us firewood for a month, it finishes after seven days. We need to eat our meal, we wake up at 4 a.m. to steal. Yes, we have to steal it — and it’s very dangerous. They rape us they can even shoot and kill us. But we can’t report. Who is going to report? We have no voice or authority.

Enduring years of hardship has taken at toll on Nyaruach’s spirit. Reuniting and making music with Jal has felt like salvation. “I have a heart of singing”, says Nyaruach. “Jal taught me how to rhyme.”

‘Woman have no rights’

Nyaruach’s song uplifts women and girls in South Sudan who she says have “no rights, no matter how young you are” in a recent interview with Kenya’s The Star.

South Sudanese women are among the most marginalized, and the conflict has made conditions untenable. More than 80 percent of those who have fled the violence in South Sudan are women and children.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba6tDPYlDZl/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=722&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fglobalvoices.org&rp=%2F2018%2F12%2F01%2Fsouth-sudanese-singer-nyaruach-calls-out-boring-man-with-no-plan-in-feminist-hit%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A3753.499999991618%7DSouth Sudan has gone through several rounds of failed and fragile peace negotiations, but data shows that women have been far less involved than men in the peace process, despite research that suggests including women at higher levels would improve stability.

Machar returned to South Sudan in October 2018 after two years in exile in South Africa to work with Kiir, but many are wary of the peace deal after five years of protracted conflict.

“Women in South Sudan have been treated by government soldiers and armed actors, including local militias, as spoils of the conflict”, UN investigators said in September 2018. “The plight of South Sudan’s women and girls should no longer be ignored”, they said — referring to disturbing testimonies of rape victims.

According to a 2017 survey issued by the International Rescue Committee and Global Women’s Institute, 65 percent of South Sudanese women interviewed had experienced physical or sexual violence.

Nyaruach has her own testimony.

[South Sudanese] men’s ideas are changing about love. They get married to many wives and then destroy our lives. They fail to take care of their children properly. They rape us, use young girls, get us pregnant and leave us.”

Nyaruach says music is her calling. “If I hide what is killing me in my heart, what can I do to make a change?” she asks.

No wonder “Gatluak” is a hit. This is Nyaruach’s chance to demand the men in her life to do better, not just in love but war — and peace.

After cozying up to Chad, Israel reportedly eyeing ties with Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

After cozying up to Chad, Israel reportedly eyeing ties with Sudan

Top official tells Israeli TV that efforts to extend diplomacy to central African Muslim states, including Niger and Mali, driven in part by air travel considerations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara host Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno (L) at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and his wife Sara host Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno (L) at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Israel is working to establish diplomatic ties with a number of central African nations, including Sudan, Israeli television reports said Sunday night, as Chadian leader Idriss Déby made a historic visit to the Jewish state and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 that Déby’s visit was laying the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger.

According to the report, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying over airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has  secured reassurances from Oman that airlines from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muskat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

Israel has long been wary of Sudan, which was traditionally seen as close to Iran. However, in early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Deby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

Under Deby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

The visit to Oman, a major diplomatic victory for Netanyahu, was an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

Also Sunday, Netanyahu added that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Mozambique’s New China-Funded Bridge (Will Cost Them Their Sovereignty)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Mozambique’s new China-funded Maputo-KaTembe bridge, the longest in Africa, comes with high tolls

The Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

On November 10, Mozambique inaugurated the Maputo-KaTembe Bridge, a four kilometer- long piece of infrastructure connecting the center of the capital Maputo with the KaTembe district on the south side of the bay.

It’s the largest suspension bridge in Africa and one of the 60 longest in the world, as well as a symbol of Chinese investment in Mozambique.

The bridge was built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of 785 million US dollars, making it the most expensive infrastructure project undertaken in Mozambique since the country’s independence in 1975. It was 95 percent funded by loans from China’s EXIM bank, to be paid by the Mozambique state in 20 years time at a four percent interest (the remaining five percent came directly from the public coffers).

The construction affected around 900 families, who had to be rehoused. Authorities say the relocation process contributed to delaying the bridge’s inauguration, originally scheduled for June 25, the date Mozambique celebrates its independence.

The government hopes that the Bridge will serve the hundreds of residents of the KaTembe district who commute by small boats and ferry boats to the center of Maputo for work and study.

KaTembe is officially part of the metropolitan area of Maputo, but both regions are very different: the northern half of Maputo is a highly-urbanized center, with a population of around two million, while KaTembe lacks infrastructure and still has plenty of unused lands.

Authorities also hope to boost trade and tourism from South Africa — the driving time between its east coast border and Maputo will now take around 90 minutes instead of the previous six hours.

The bridge, which has no pedestrian lane, will be tolled from 160 to 1200 Meticais (2.60 to 20 USD). Frequent users will have an up to 75 percent discount. Currently, boat-crossing of Maputo costs between 10 and 1050 meticais (0.16 and 17.24 USD).

The inauguration ceremony of the Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

However, the bridge has faced criticism from Mozambicans for the high costs of the loans that permitted its construction — as well as the toll charges that will help service them.

University student Sérgio Wiliamo said on Facebook:

There is here a failure of the government when determining such fees. In projects like those, the fees do not aim to recover the initial investment, but to upkeep the infrastructure. It seems to me, and taking into account the high values I have seen, there are gains that are expected to be obtained above the simple operationalization and maintenance of the infrastructure

Also commenting on the fees, philosopher and professor of Eduardo Mondlane University, Ergimino Mucale, wrote on Facebook:

The essence of a bridge is to connect, to unify, to (re-)establish contact. Mozambique is now the first country in history to distort the traditional meaning of the concept of the bridge. The beautiful and one of the largest suspended bridges of Africa, Maputo-KaTembe, was born to establish or unveil, painfully, the gap between the wealthy and the wretched of one same nation. It is no longer the few miles separating the Maputo residents from here and there, but the many meticais of the coming tolls.

The inauguration ceremony of the Maputo-KaTembe bridge. Photo by Alexandre Nhampossa, used with permission.

A contributor of World Vision, a development organization, Elvino Dias expects the bridge to be a relief for the citizens of KaTembe, but also has reservations regarding the toll:

When we applauded that the Maputo KaTembe Bridge marked the end of the suffering of the citizens of that part of Maputo, I didn’t imagine that it would be the beginning of another form of slavery, and this time without an end in sight.

I do not care where the money came for the construction of the bridge or road came from, because I know I’ve paid taxes that supposedly were for building such infrastructures. That’s why I sometimes wonder where taxpayer’s money goes to. Dear brothers, if they persist with such prices, we must say no to the eliticization of a public good.

Mozambican authorities are expecting the bridge to sustain a daily average traffic of over four thousand vehicles, a significant increase of the average of 200 vehicles that cross the bay by boat today.

Ghana: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Gold Coast West African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Ghana

Introduction Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was re-elected in 2004. Kufuor is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in upcoming Presidential elections, which are scheduled for December 2008.
History Medieval Ghana (4th – 13th Century):The Republic of Ghana is named after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa. The actual name of the Empire was Ouagadougou. Ghana was the title of the kings who ruled the kingdom. It was controlled by Sundiata in 1240 AD, and absorbed into the larger Mali Empire. (Mali Empire reached its peak of success under Mansa Musa around 1307.) Around 1235 a Muslim leader named Sundiata united warring tribes. He then brought neighboring states under his rule to create the Mali empire.Its capital city was called Kumbi-Saleh.

Geographically, the old Ghana was approximately 500 miles (800 km) north of the present Ghana, and occupied the area between Rivers Senegal and Nigeria. Some inhabitants of present Ghana have ancestors linked with the medieval Ghana. This can be traced down to the Mande and Voltaic people of Northern Ghana–Mamprussi, Dagomba and the Gonja. Anecdotal evidence connected the Akans to this Empire. The evidence lies in names like Danso shared by the Akans of present Ghana and Mandikas of Senegal/Gambia who have strong links with the Empire. Ghana was also the site of the Empire of Ashanti which was perhaps the most advanced black state in sub-Sahara Africa. It is said that at its peak, the King of Ashanti could field 500,000 troops.

Up until March 1957, Ghana was known to much of the world as the Gold Coast. The Portuguese who came to Ghana in the 15th Century found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the place Mina – meaning Mine. The Gold Coast was later adopted by English colonists. The French, impressed with the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named the area to the west “Cote d’Ivoire,” or Ivory Coast.

In 1481, King John II of Portugal commissioned Diogo d’Azambuja to build Elmina Castle, which was completed the next year. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves, consolidating their burgeoning power in the region.

By 1598 the Dutch had joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsi. In 1637 they captured Elmina Castle from the Portuguese and Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 17th century, largely English, Danes and Swedes. The coastline was dotted by more than 30 forts and castles built by Dutch, British and Danish merchants. The Gold Coast became the highest concentration of European military architecture outside of Europe. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left and after the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a protectorate.

For most of central sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural expansion marked the period before 500. Farming began earliest on the southern tips of the Sahara, eventually giving rise to village settlements. Toward the end of the classical era, larger regional kingdoms had formed in West Africa, one of which was the Kingdom of Ghana, north of what is today the nation of Ghana. After its fall at the beginning of the 13th century, Akan migrants moved southward then founded several nation-states including the first great Akan empire of the Bono which is now known as the Brong Ahafo region in Ghana. Later Akan groups such as the Ashanti federation and Fante states are thought to possibly have roots in the original Bono settlement at Bono manso. Much of the area was united under the Empire of Ashanti by the 16th century. The Ashanti government operated first as a loose network and eventually as a centralized kingdom with an advanced, highly-specialized bureaucracy centered in Kumasi.

The first contact between the Ghanaian peoples, the Fantes on the coastal area and Europeans occurred in 1482. The Portuguese first landed at Elmina, a coastal city inhabited by the Fanti nation-state in 1482. During the next few centuries parts of the area were controlled by British, Portuguese, and Scandinavian powers, with the British ultimately prevailing. These nation-states maintained varying alliances with the colonial powers and each other, which resulted in the 1806 Ashanti-Fante War, as well as an ongoing struggle by the Empire of Ashanti against the British. Moves toward regional de-colonization began in 1946, and the area’s first constitution was promulgated in 1951.

Formed from the merger of the British colony Gold Coast, The Empire of Ashanti and the British Togoland trust territory by a UN sponsored plebiscite, Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957. Kwame Nkrumah,LIE founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state, was not only an African anti-colonial leader but also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. He was the first African head of state to espouse Pan-Africanism, an idea he came into contact with during his studies at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (United States), at the time when Marcus Garvey was becoming famous for his “Back to Africa Movement.” He merged the dreams of both Marcus Garvey and the celebrated African-American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois into the formation of the modern day Ghana. Ghana’s principles of freedom and justice, equity and free education for all, irrespective of ethnic background, religion or creed borrow from Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s implementation of Pan-Africanism.

Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup in 1966.[attribution needed] It has been argued that this was supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency;[7][8] that assertion remains generally unproven. A series of subsequent coups ended with the ascension to power of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings in 1981. These changes resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new constitution, restoring multi-party politics, was promulgated in 1992, and Rawlings was elected as president in the free and fair elections of that year and again won the elections 1996 to serve his second term. The constitution prohibited him from running for a third term. John Agyekum Kufuor, the current president, is now serving his second term, which ends in 2008 where another election will be held to elect a new president. Last year 2007 marks Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebration of its 50-year anniversary, which was on March 6, 1957.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 239,460 sq km
land: 230,940 sq km
water: 8,520 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,094 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 549 km, Cote d’Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km
Coastline: 539 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north
Terrain: mostly low plains with dissected plateau in south-central area
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Afadjato 880 m
Natural resources: gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone
Land use: arable land: 17.54%
permanent crops: 9.22%
other: 73.24% (2005)
Irrigated land: 310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 53.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.98 cu km/yr (24%/10%/66%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: dry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Environment – current issues: recurrent drought in north severely affects agricultural activities; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: Lake Volta is the world’s largest artificial lake
Politics Government: Ghana was created as a parliamentary democracy at independence in 1957, followed by alternating military and civilian governments. In January 1993, military government gave way to Fourth Republic after presidential and parliamentary elections in late 1992. The 1992 constitution divides powers among a president, parliament, cabinet, Council of State, and an independent judiciary. The Government is elected by universal suffrage.[9]

Administrative Divisions: There are ten administrative regions which are divided into 110 districts, each with its own District Assembly. Below districts are various types of councils, including fifty eight town or area councils, 108 zonal councils, and 626 area councils. 16,000 unit committees on lowest level.[9]

Judicial System: The legal system is based on Ghanaian common law, customary (traditional) law, and the 1992 constitution. Court hierarchy consists of Supreme Court of Ghana (highest court), Court of Appeal, and High Court of Justice. Beneath these bodies are district, traditional, and local courts. Extrajudicial institutions include public tribunals, vigilante groups, and asafo companies. Since independence, courts are relatively independent; this independence continues under Fourth Republic. Lower courts are being redefined and reorganized under the Fourth Republic.[9]

Politics: Political parties became legal in mid-1992 after ten-year hiatus. Under the Fourth Republic, major parties are National Democratic Congress, led by Jerry John Rawlings, which won presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992; New Patriotic Party, major opposition party; People’s National Convention, led by former president Hilla Limann; and (new) People’s Convention Party, successor to Kwame Nkrumah’s original party of same name.[9]

Foreign Relations: Since independence, Ghana has been fervently devoted to ideals of nonalignment and Pan-Africanism, both closely identified with first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana favors international and regional political and economic cooperation, and is an active member of United Nations and Organization of African Unity. In 1994 President Rawlings was elected chairman of Economic Community of West African States.

People Population: 22,931,299
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.2% (male 4,438,308/female 4,329,293)
15-64 years: 58.2% (male 6,661,512/female 6,687,738)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 380,495/female 433,953) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 20.2 years
male: 19.9 years
female: 20.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.972% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 29.85 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 9.55 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.025 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.877 male(s)/female
total population: 1.003 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 53.56 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 59.12 years
male: 58.31 years
female: 59.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.89 children born/woman

Underdeveloped African nations get a go at the China market

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S SHINE NEWS AGENCY)

 

Underdeveloped African nations get a go at the China market

China International Import Expo

Dong Jun / SHINE

Visitors to the import expo check out the pavilions of African countries.

South Sudanese businessman Kuyu Dhel picked up a few Chinese phrases as he manned a stall at the first China International Import Expo.

Bu neng chi, or “not edible,” were the words he uttered most frequently, he said, as Chinese visitors perusing his stand of nuts, dried flowers and sorghum puzzled over gum in small, irregularly shaped blocks.

They were looking at gum Arabic, which is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of two species of acacia trees. Translated from Arabic to Chinese, it’s called a la bo jiao. Dhel tried to explain to curious visitors that the gum is used as a food stabilizer.

Dhel’s business card lists him as a consultant for Ramciel Multipurpose Co-operative Society, and the company’s address is on Chinese Friendship Hospital Road. The company’s presence at expo is all down to the Chinese government.

“The Ministry of Commerce helped facilitate everything including a free booth,” Dhel told Shanghai Daily at his busy booth. “To the best of my knowledge, we are the first South Sudanese to come tapping on China’s door for a new market.”

President Xi Jinping said two months ago that the least developed African countries would be exempt from exhibition fees. He also pledged to increase China’s imports from the region, especially non-resource products.

The United Nations lists South Sudan as one of the 47 least developed countries, based on factors such as gross per capita national income and adult literacy. According to China National Radio, about 30 of the 47 countries on the list are participating at expo, many from Africa.

“The expo has built a very good platform for companies around the world, including those from Senegal,” said Alioune Sarr, Senegal’s minister of trade, consumer affairs and medium-sized enterprises.

He also praised China’s decision to focus on further opening up its markets to foreign goods and services.

Senegal and Ethiopia, both on the list of least developed countries, have national pavilions displaying specialty goods. Underdeveloped countries are mostly in the agricultural and food halls, offering products like tea, coffee, cocoa and grains. African nations have also brought along colorful handicrafts, fabrics, gems and diamonds.

China has been Africa’s largest trading partner for nine consecutive years. By the end of 2017, the value of that trade was US$170 billion, 17-fold higher than that in 2000. Growth is expected to remain in double digits for the next five to 10 years.

Qian Keming, China’s deputy minister of commerce, told a media group in August that China exempts from duties about 97 percent of products from 33 less developed African countries.

When at home, Dhel watches the China Global Television Network (CGTN) program “Africa Live,” where he first learned about the import expo.

“President Xi’s idea of having this import fair in Shanghai is just great because this city has long been a commercial center,” he said.

Dhel, who speaks seven languages, studied and worked in Germany and traveled around Europe before returning to South Sudan to work on Ramciel food imports from Dubai, Kenya and Uganda.

“Our agricultural industry is new, but it is quickly growing,” he said of the young nation.

“I always thought of visiting China in terms of climbing the Great Wall, never thought of doing business here,” he said. “So many Chinese buyers have expressed interest in our products, and some were eager to do deals on the spot.”

He added, “I have been making observations and absorbing so that I can go home and digest all the information that will be useful for our business and for those companies that follow us into China.”

Dong Jun / SHINE

Zheng Qijun, a representative from a small private trading company in Guizhou discusses details of a purchase of nuts with South Sudanese businessman Franco Yousif Dobu.

Dong Jun / SHINE

The gum Arabic brought by Sudanese, which is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of two species of acacia trees.

Dhel’s colleague at expo, Ramciel Managing Director Franco Yousif Dobu, thinks it is also a good platform for Chinese traders.

“China has big opportunities for business with African countries,” he said. “Previously, people wanted to sell to America the most, but now many regard the China market on par with America.”

A Chinese buyer was eyeing Ramciel’s sample of nuts for sale as Dobu talked with Shanghai Daily. The two men quickly got into a serious business discussion, with the Chinese buyer expressing interest in purchasing one or two containers of the nuts. They discussed details of a letter of credit and transport through Mombasa port of Kenya.

“I have bought African products before because they are not genetically modified, but all through other traders,” said Zheng Qijun, who identified himself as a representative from a small private trading company in Guizhou. “I want to take advantage of this expo to see whether I can make some contacts and start some direct purchases.”

Zheng also got curious about gum Arabic. The South Sudanese explained to him that it is an African product that got its name from old Arabic merchants who were the first sell it globally.

Dhel asked Shanghai Daily, “What is tao jiao (peach gum)? Why are all the Chinese visitors asking me if gum Arabic is tao jiao?”

As the journalist explained that many Chinese women eat peach gum regularly as a beauty treatment, Dhel’s eyes lit up at a possible new business opportunity.

“I need to go back and see what we have,” he said.

Dong Jun / SHINE

Zambian participants bring high-quality gems to the expo.

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