Saturday, July 30, 2005

"There's no Aggro or Animosity"- says Zimbabwean Farmers in Nigeria

Robert Mugabe, showcased as "Bob" in the preceeding post: Bob-The Teacher -
“…embarked on one of the most ambiguous projects of all time- land reform. He evicted thousands of white farmers and allocated choice plots to his cronies. On the surface, the concept of land redistribution is warranted given that the white minorities owned slightly more than a third of the land in the country. Compared to black farmers, the land owned by white farmers were also located in areas with surplus rain and more fertile. But there is no economic sense in taking away land from the white farmers, who were mostly commercial tobacco farmers (the major export produce), to black farmers, who are mostly subsistence farmer with little or no skills of commercial farming.”
Bobbie goofed!

Africa and his country need commercialized farming. Yes, he had to deliver on his electoral promise of land redistribution, but the approach he took was wrong. The thousands of white farmers he evicted were producers; they contributed to Zimbabwean economy, and surely their exit did leave a decent hole in the national purse.

"Here we are equal... We are just all one people - and that's good"-Dan Swart, a Zimbabwean farmer

Well his loss is now Nigeria’s gain. Some of the farmers have found a second home in far away Shonga, an agrarian rural community in Kwara State, Nigeria. The farmers were invited by the state governor to help boost food supply in his state. He provided land, some financial and logistical asssitance. Yes, the farmers have settled down now, and they have just finished planting their first set of crops on land leased from the government. Their presence in Shonga promises to be the beginning of a new era to this rural community. Already about 2,000 residents have earned part-time income just assisting the farmers on the field, and that is just the beginning.

Enjoy this BBC photo journal on Zimbabwean farmers in Nigeria.



Bob- The Teacher

Poor Comrade. He used to be the brightest African revolutionary, a celebrated liberator, a teacher and a Marxist. All that has changed now, the people he had once liberated from the ruthless colonialist claws, nurtured and educated, have now turned to his punching bag. The land he once fought to liberate, has been pauperized by no other, than the man himself. His 25 years of governance has been that of absolute power control. His party dominates the national political landscape- occupying 147 out of the country's 150 parliamentary seats- and he gets to hand pick 30 of his own choosing.

“Mid life” Crisis
Absolute power corrupts absolutely they say. It first started as a crackdown on homosexuality. The hallmark of “this war against immorality and sodomy” was the arrest and conviction of Canaan Banana, his predecessor. The Teacher is a self-confessed Catholic, yet he seared two children out of wedlock, while his legitimate wife, Sally, was dying from cancer! He later had a catholic mass to consummate and solemnize his marriage to his mistress, Grace, a woman 40 years his junior, his former secretary, and the mother of his children.

At a time his country’s economy was taking a nose dive, he ventured into the Congo on the pretense of helping out. The world later found out that he and his cronies were busy helping themselves to Congo's mineral reserves.

Senile years
Looking for avenues to energize the electorate, he embarked on one of the most ambiguous projects of all time- land reform. He evicted thousands of white farmers and allocated choice plots to his cronies. On the surface, the concept of land redistribution is warranted given that the white minorities owned slightly more than a third of the land in the country. Compared to black farmers, the land owned by white farmers were also located in areas with surplus rain and more fertile. But there is no economic sense in taking away land from the white farmers, who were mostly commercial tobacco farmers (the major export produce), to black farmers, who are mostly subsistence farmer with little or no skills of commercial farming.

When the “whitties” left, he turned on his own people, he evicted and bulldozed them out of their urban slums. What was the pretense, this time around? The slum dwellers are economic saboteurs, a bunch of criminals, he said. They are responsible for undermining the economy. He calls them “Thrash” and he wants them out! Yet this is the same man that engineered a national system that resulted in an impressive 85% literacy rate, the highest in Africa. What went wrong, Teacher?

The second coming?
The fortune of his nation dwindles as he grows older. The Teacher will be 84 years old by the time his term expires, then he would have ruled for about 30 years. May be he will call it quit then.

He has burnt some many bridges over the years. The modern world want to have nothing of him, his people hate him, his associate dissociate themselves, and he’s been ostracized by one global community after another. Now, it is the IMF: he has to come through with some money owned, and the only name left in his rolodex is China. May be the Teacher will go back to Marxism again and start wearing those safari suits.

You never know with the Teacher. One thing is certain though: Bob- The teacher, once tagged “the African beacon of hope”, has lost his mind!

Post Script
The situation in Zimbabwe is deplorable, and I empathize with Zimbabweans.

It is a baffling phenomenon that Bob has now degenerated into a persona of morbid imbecilic tendencies. Definitely, 25 years is too long a period to govern, even if he has good intentions. There is no difference between him and his once arch enemies- the white colonialists.

What makes the situation even more painful, is that there seem to be no respite in sight- AU leaders seem unperturbed of the signs and symptoms of senility he has displayed so often lately...Then China’s seemingly benevolent gesture (1 billion dollars in aid) is more like a much needed oxygen for a dyspneic, desperate, and dinosaurian despot. Talk of poring gasoline on an already raging inferno…

My prayer is that Zimbabweans don't run into a huge conflagration in the future.

There are many despotic "Bobs" in Africa, and God will deliever us them all!



Sunday, July 24, 2005

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, became a reality with a strong display of support from the Nigerian federal government!

The company was formally launched last week with the Federal Government granting it immediate approval to build a $250 million (about N33.25 billion) refinery in Lagos. TransCorp facility is projected to refine up to 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day when fully functional. President Obasanjo, also announced other concessions which include a “license to build an independent power plant, designated land mass for the construction of free port facility, Continued support to help open up markets on the African continent and to make the corporation a partner in Nigeria's current policy on Private-Public Partnership, and access to government's cassava report for the construction of a cassava processing facility”. Nigeria’s backing for TransCorp is minored after China, South Korea and Japan- countries with successful mega companies that enjoyed significant government backing. TransCorp will be soon be listed on the Nigerian stock exchange, for about 6 naira per share.

Obasanjo (middle) and the Board of Directors:
Ndi Okereke-Onyuike (chairman), Festus Odimegwu, Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Jacob Mayo Ajekigbe, Funso Lawal, Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu, Tony Ezenna, Waziri Mohammed, Adegboyega Olulade and Nicholas Okoye. picture courtesy of

I had pondered on the wisdom of favoring big business over Small and Medium-sized Entreprises (SMEs) in an earlier post Mega business in Nigeria. The argument that big businesses will generate employment is economically flawed. Besides, the nations we are emulating have strong manufacturing base, we do not, yet ! So for the time being:

Is there any hope for SMEs in Nigeria?

The Small and Medium Industries and Equity Investment Scheme (SMIEIS) is a voluntary initiative of all licensed banks in Nigeria to set aside 10% of their Profit Before Tax for equity investment in, and promotion of SME. The SMIEIS is intended to stimulate economic growth and development, develop local technology and generate employment. But since its inception in 1999, this initiative is yet to have any significant impact on SMEs or the national economy. And Abuja doesn't seem to mind!

The SMEs are the work-horse of any developed nation, so why isn't that the case in Nigeria?

Debbie Ariyo an analyst with Africa Economic emphasized on some of the limiting factors facing SMEs in Nigeria, she mentioned:
" serious undercapitalization with difficulty in gaining access to bank credits and other financial markets; corruption and a lack of transparency (an ever present constant)... very high bureaucratic costs; but most damagingly, a seemingly lack of government interest in and support for the roles that SMEs play in national economic development and competitiveness.”
She further explained why SME’s are of great importance to our national economy:
“...A study done by the Federal Office of Statistics shows that 97% of all businesses in Nigeria employ less than 100 employees. (SMEs usually have between 10 and 300 employee and an asset base of up to N200m excluding land and working capital)..., it then means that 97% of all businesses in Nigeria are, to use the umbrella term, "small businesses". The SME sector provides, on average, 50% of Nigeria’s employment, and 50% of its industrial output.
Aside from the government being more proactive and offering a more enabling environment for SMEs. Debbie proffers some commonsensical solutions that caught my fancy:
"...positively encourage the spirit of enterprise among our young people,...universities and other institutions of higher learning must be encouraged to become more commercially focused and more entrepreneurial. They should be encouraged to develop more ties with local businesses and hold more business related activities on campus. Students should be encouraged to take business studies modules as part of their main courses. This will help develop the interest in business, and provide the basic understanding of what to expect when going into business. The knowledge gained will help provide students with a ready option when they graduate, rather than wasting their time looking for the jobs that are not available. This will ultimately help to reduce the pool of unemployed young people in the country..."



Thursday, July 21, 2005

African Oddity: When Husbands Become Pimps

Under what condition(s) would a man “pimp” his wife? For some, it doesn’t take much! Check this out, via Mail & Guardian Online:

Business at the numerous money transfer agencies in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde is typically a brisk affair. Of the many people who frequent the agencies, one group is of particular interest, the husbands of women who have gone abroad to earn money from prostitution...Such scenes become ever-more frequent from June: the start of summer in Europe, where Cameroonian women find work as prostitutes..."I can't tell you what I'm going to do in France. My husband tells me I have a fantastic figure, and that I need take advantage of it for the good of my family," said a 39-year-old government contract worker ..."When my husband compared our sad situation to that of a family friend who has two cars and a villa, he suggested I go and 'work hard' over there."

"My colleague, who's a regular, left three weeks ago and she's supposed to show me the ropes. She really encouraged me to do everything in my power to travel and make a go of it there," ...Women can make up to $20 000 during their stay in Europe. The monthly salary of a mid-level civil servant in Cameroon is just under $200... Rumours also abound of civil servants and policemen sending their wives to have sex with their superiors, so that the men can receive a promotion- or get into the good graces of their managers.

Still, certain women succeed in turning the tables on their spouses..."It seems to me that the wives do get something out of it sometimes," says Ntiaze, "since some of them leave and never come back

Uhmmm! I’m Speechless!! And I’m withered!!!

Is this a form of violence against women? Since the men are in “position of power” in many communities of Africa. Or is this solely a greed-driven situation, a husband-and-wife “limited liability partnership” venture?

While I’m ashamed to admit, there are many African prostitutes all over the world, but this is the first of its kind as far as I know. This will make an interesting research for social scientists… what would make a man “pimp” his wife?

Nothing, but sheer madness!

Read full story at Mail & Guardian Online



Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Niger: Another African Disaster in the Making?

There are three perennial problems in Africa: disease, famine, and war. These are all preventable in some ways. My prayers go to the unfortunate ones in Niger Republic- the newest in the league of distressed African nations. This time, drought and the stark reality of famine loom across the horizon for millions in central Niger.

Many of the calamities that befall Africa are man-made and only few are due to natural causes. The situation in Niger was predicted last year after a very disappointing harvest, yet little was done to avert this current situation. For Niger, a nation that is semi-arid and vulnerable to drought, to be caught off guards is simply absurd; any responsible government would have instituted measures to prevent, or at the very least, mollify this type of mishap.

A counter argument is that the country is geographically disadvantaged, and economically destitute: a land-locked, vast and arid state on the edge of the Sahara desert. It suffered austere military rule for much of its post-independence history. The nation is also losing some of its landmass to desert encroachment, and its main export- uranium- does not bring much forex for national development. In addition, the country went through a devastating locust invasion that destroyed acres of farmland last year.

Each time an Africa nation is plagued with any one these three problems, there is usually an instantaneous and cacophonous call for aids. According to the BBC News:
"Aid agencies are struggling to cope with the thousands of malnourished children facing starvation - the UN has called it a "catastrophic famine"...On Thursday (about two week back), some 2,000 people marched through the capital, Niamey, demanding immediate food aid...But a government spokesman Mohamed Ben Omar said that its food stocks could not be handed out for free... "What civil society is asking is poorly conceived and irrational. The state of Niger cannot engage in such a foolish adventure," said Mr Omar..."
Stating that "a land of 13 million people has failed to find solutions to its problems" an accurate deduction?

Not really. Just because they have failed this time around does not necessarily mean they cannot find sustainable solutions to their problems. Famine (disease and war) are preventable, and what is required is a commonsensical approach to governance. Aids during calamities such as this are necessary, but purely for humanitarian purpose, and the over reliance on aids may be counter-productive. This nation must find the will to overcome this adversity and proffer long lasting solutions to solve this problem. In fact this principle applies to all nations in Africa.

For Starters...during a period of national catastrophe as this, it is morally wrong for any Niger national to eat three meals a day. How about donating at least one meal, or the equivalent, to the hungry? How about using a proportion of high-ranking government officials' salaries in buying food for the needy? How about President Mamadou Tanja of Niger yielding his african robe, cap, and his comfortable official mansion for the time being, and relocating to the feeding camps to help coordinate charity work? How about...African leaders striving to serve their people and not relying on foreign aids all the time?


More on Niger...via Sudan Watch

..."The report says the "international community" has reacted too late to the crisis. I guess the "international community" comprises the UN and donors from 191-member states. What became of all the donations and aid pledged over the past year - not to mention the public outcry on behalf of Africa and intense lobbying on Darfur? Where are all the African voices shouting about Niger? And all those who complained about white-man helping Africa with global campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Live 8? It is sickening to know about Niger at such a late stage. What has the African Union and its neighbours - and massive number of church goers - done to avoid such a terrible crisis in Niger? Once again, the onus appears to be on the West to come to the rescue - when will it end? How much longer do we have to stomach getting criticised by Africans for coming to Africa's aid?"
Good question!

"...Now, across the windswept plains of the Sahel, carcasses of cattle litter the landscape.
Rains have come - but so late they are now a curse, bringing malaria and other disease.
Families are roaming the parched desert looking for help. One family we came across did not even know where they were going.
"I'm wandering like a madman," the father said. "I'm afraid we'll all starve."
They were hundreds of miles from the nearest food distribution point.
Aid agencies estimate that tens of thousands of children are in the advanced stages of starvation.
Children are dying daily in the few feeding centres there are, where their place in the queue could make the difference between life and death.
Amina is so starved she cannot eat even if she wants to.
"She vomits as soon as I give her food or water," says her mother.
"As far as I'm concerned, God did not make us all equal - I mean, look at us all here. None of us has enough food."

From Ingrid, the author of Sudan Watch:
"Sorry to admit it is emotionally draining blogging about African politics and Africa's crises. I'm afraid I cannot take on blogging about Niger right now unless I get some helping hands. If any blogger would like to co-author Sudan Watch, Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch [and possibly Niger Watch], please make contact. In the meantime, if any blogger can put together news items/summaries/round-ups and/or blog round ups for any of those sites, please email me and I will publish them asap with full credit and blog link. Depending on suitability of content, some posts could appear at more than one blog. Thanks."



Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nigeria Direct- the information gateway to Nigeria

Nigeria launched an interactive web portal this month, christened Nigeria Direct . According to the Minister for Information, Nigeria Direct is an information gateway and it will provide a one-stop access to everything about Nigeria, Nigerians, the government and its agencies, and investment opportunities in the country.
"It warehouses everything as a central information pool, leading to links and addresses that will give you the most reliable data on every aspect of our national life...serves as the authoritative reference point for current information about the country's economy, politics, tourism, culture, investment opportunities and all other information on and about Nigeria."
The web portal is accessible in 153 Nigerian languages and the option of being accessed in 13 international languages, according to the information ministry. A customer relationship management component that will offer real time response will be incorporated into the portal later.

Access Nigeria Direct at:



Saturday, July 16, 2005

Nigeria Police Force: A National Catastrophe

To say that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is an epitome of corruption and lawlessness is an under statement- the decadence that have permeated the rank and cadre of the NPF runs deep and wide! From the a former police boss that stole million of dollars, to the killing of six innocent people in the Apo district of Abuja, and for being the ubiquitous trigger-happy, bribe-demanding highway menace. Abundant instances exist that qualifies the NPF as the Nigerian crock-pot of embarrassment, ineptitude and corruption, and it is fast turning into a national catastrophe of huge proportions.

In addition to their blatant disregard for human rights, it is also a common knowledge that when offered the right and adequate "encouragement", many Nigerian police officers can be “bought” and made to “settle scores” on ones behalf- either through simple threat and harassment, or by making your adversary serve a short jail time laced with torture, or through more heinous means that I’ll rather not mention. Some policemen have been known to aid and abet criminals. The situation is that bad, and this not hearsay- this is based on my cumulative and significant experience while living in Nigeria.

Million of dollars have been pumped into the NPF, yet the organization remains comatose, grossly inefficient, and crime rate is perennially high nationwide. The mere physical appearance of a typical policeman indicates that the many billions invested in the NPF are yet to trickle down to those of lower ranks. In fact, the majority of low ranking policemen have defended their bribe-seeking tendencies to “Lack of adequate welfare for the rank and file of the Nigeria Police Force.” Using the statement from a policeman on a highway duty published in The Punch, a Nigerian newspaper:
“Why won’t we collect 20 naira? Sometimes, you assume that policemen are receiving so much money from government. That is not true; we do not see the money. In fact, we read it in the papers the way you people also read it. Now, look at that patrol van. We fuel it from our own pockets to be able to work. We buy our own boots, uniforms and pay for our accommodation. These are things that are supposed to get to us through official funding. If you die on duty, your family suffers and if our colleagues die in the line of duty, we contribute money to take care of the burial expenses...”
What an absurdity! What a shame!

But, there may be some relevance in this statement, even if it stinks to high heavens. Obviously past efforts to revamp the NPF have not worked. We now know that the bulk of the cash needed to sustain the force went straight into the pockets of past kleptomaniac bosses, and the fact that the NPF is a federal agency may also account for the agency's gross inefficencies. A centralized hierarchy promotes corruption and inefficency, also successive federal administrations may have indirectly fueled corruption within the NPF by using it in manners that simply contravenes the tenets of law and democracy. Some Nigerians have advocated the scrapping the NPF as it this- in favor of a decentralized, regional or state force. While this may offer some autonomy, and perhaps makes community policing- a globally proven crime fighting strategy- more feasible and easier to initiate, some dissenters worry that the having a state police force could fuel “political oppression” and this portends a great to the nascent democracy in Nigeria. I was hoping that the recent national conference would deemed it fit to recommend a decentralized police force, but I was not surprised that it did not happen though; many of the delegates are really set in their ways and myopic in their views (this is a whole topic on its own).

What the NPF deserves and urgently needs is a genuine and far reaching reform that transcends the usual window dressing that is characteristic of Abuja. It is only a complete and thorough overhauling of the force coupled with adequate funding that will redeem its image and bring dignity to the rank and file. Imagine the NPF as a well maintained agency with well trained personnel? How about having a different salary structure with significantly higher remunerations and more comprehensive benefits (medical and life insurance, etc) for the personnel? The possibilities are numerous;...maybe it is just time for an outsider to set the NPF straight.



Friday, July 15, 2005

Phone Card Currency

Via BBC News
Imagine a cyber currency that is inflation-proof, and can be sent anywhere in the country at the press of a button, without needing a bank account or incurring high bank charges...

Safaricom , Kenya's largest mobile phone company, Safaricom has more than two million users, unveiled a new service allowing subscribers to buy prepaid phone cards which then enable them to transfer any selected amount of surplus minutes to other subscribers, using text messaging. These surplus minutes can be traded virtually for any service or commodity. Imagine paying for bag of flour with surplus minutes!

This creation of a global market of millions of individuals with tiny buying power, is a classic example of how the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid in many developing nations can be tapped, for the benefits of both the entrepreneurs and the consumers.

Readers may want to check out CK Prahalad's book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid featured in: "My Book Shelf" on the right sidebar.

There is indeed fortune at the bottom of the pyramid!



Innovative Low Cost Housing


Moladi, a South African company has developed a construction technology that addresses six key challenges embodied in the housing shortage facing developing countries namely:
• Lack of resources
• Shortage of skills
• Constraint of time
• Controlled work flow
• Eliminate waste
• Insufficient funds

First, a mould of the designed house is created by using a system of lightweight and plastic-injection moulded form-work. This eliminates chasing, beam filling, plastering and waste. The result is a fast track cost effective, transferable construction technology.

"Simply cast a whole house in a day, employing unskilled labour, reducing time, waste and cost. Eliminating chasing for plumbing and electrical pipe work, plastering and beam filling. Resulting in a wall stronger than brick. A cost effective, holistic design and build technology, that far outweighs poorly designed costly concrete-block and masonry structures..."
Check out Moladi



Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Can The Business Blogosphere Build and Run a Real Business?

I ran into this via Dane Carlson's blog: Business Opportunities Weblog- a moderated list of legitimate of business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Please take a look:

"Do you ever have an idea that drives you crazy? Ever since I read "Wisdom of Crowds" a while back I keep wondering if it's true. I think about it all the time. A few months ago, I decided there was no reason not to test it. So I've built a new site called The Business Experiment where I propose we do just that.

Yes, you heard correctly. Business bloggers and readers will test their cumulative business knowledge by collectively starting and running a business - out in the open.
Can we do it? I don't know. It seems crazy, and counterintuitive to everything that we think about business, but that is why I want to do it.

How will it work?
We will solicit business ideas for products and/or services from the registered users. We will vote on those ideas. The top two will be put to a second vote where majority rules. That's the business we pursue..."
Grandiose Parlor: Crazy but interesting...If you are game, check out BusinessPundit for details.



Monday, July 11, 2005

A Nigerian Company Exports Software

SystemSpecs , a Nigerian company in Lagos, has started exporting its software to three African countries, the Chief Executive Officer of the company, John Obaro, has said. The product, Human Manager, was making waves in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Equitorial Guinea. He said that Human Manager was developed by Nigerian experts and that about 200 companies in the country has already embraced the product. Human Manager is a self-service driven Human Capital Management software solution


In Defiance of Adversity: We’re not!

Defiance, Courage, Resiliency, Ingenious, Tenacity, Amusement. These are some of the words that came to mind about this website- a photoblog sort of- of the world’s response to the latest terrorist attack in London. The site was put up by a South African Web designer- Alfie Dennen .

He told "I thought it would be great to have a place where people could share these feelings." And within two hours was born, asking for images and messages from the worldwide online community to show that terrorists would not change the way people lived their lives. Check it out here.


On a more sober note...The story of the missing Nigerian,via BBC News:
“Terrorism is not the way. We cannot deliver peace by killing people”
-Marie Fatayi-Williams Mother of missing Nigerian


Who is James Shikwati?

I stumbled upon this bright Kenyan economist by accident...I just read his interview ("For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!") with Spiegel Magazine. While I'm not in agreement with him on some issues, I think he has a message and he should be heard(not that he needs me to propagate his message). It is unfortunate that there are few folks like him running the affairs of African nations. So who is James Shikwati? He is an anti-aid proponent! Take a look:

Shikwati on debt relief for Africa:
“Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.”
He believes that huge bureaucracies are financed with the aid money. His advice:
“If they really want to fight poverty, they should completely halt development aid and give Africa the opportunity to ensure its own survival. Currently, Africa is like a child that immediately cries for its babysitter when something goes wrong. Africa should stand on its own two feet...”
Shikwati is known for his often frank, conservative, controversial, but insightful stance, particularly on the economics of western aid to African nations. His comments in Times Online on the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, titled"I do not need white NGOs to speak for me":
“The First World might also rethink its development aid strategy. During the 1980s and 1990s, well- meaning donor countries funnelled billions of dollars in aid to Africa. Unfortunately, much of it fell directly into the hands of corrupt governments, who used it to support their dictatorships or pass the riches on to a select group of cronies. Rather, developed countries should target such funding for genuine problems, such as the purchase of medicines to fight HIV/Aids.”
Recently, while speaking at a meeting organised by TechCentral Station, a U.S. online journal on global public affairs, he made a strong appeal for the introduction of genetically modified crops to feed the hungry in Africa...Shikwati argued that Africa needs these crops:
”Biotechnology would give African farmers the freedom to produce their own goods instead of begging donor countries,...Africa needs this investment and wants to make use of the technology.”
Shikwati is also founder and Executive Director of the Inter-Region Economic Network (IREN), a non-profit independent public policy research and educational organization that promotes market-based responses to contemporary socioeconomic and environmental issues. He stated that:
"The main reason for poverty and unsustainable development in Africa, Asia and South America is oppression by incompetent, violent, and corrupt governments – and an attendant lack of property rights and the rule of law..."
In his article on titled "African debt not a sexy affair", he wrote:
"Foreign aid was meant to fill the gap between domestic savings and investment. It was based on misconceived theory of ‘cycle of poverty’ which was believed to rely on external injections in order to break the cycle...Modern international banking regulations are keen to watch out money transfers that could be linked either to terrorists or drug traffickers. Developed nations will do a great service to the poor by reviewing accounts of the African leadership they very well know embezzle money from their subjects. In 2004, an African Union report indicated that Africa looses US$ 148 billion in corrupt practices alone...How much aid do we African need to obey our own laws, to shun corruption and to simply put our priorities right?"
He concluded with this statement:
"We must open up Africa to African business people and other innovators, we must ask our friends from developed nations to allow us to travel and learn, we must learn to do business with the developed nations and steer clear-off the manna from heaven relationship. I am optimistic that an emerging new generation of Africans will save this continent from the perpetual fixation on life support machine in the name of aid. The African leadership is facing the toughest challenge, they have either to offer leadership or simply act as supervisors for wealthy nations’ interests."
While James Shikwati has taken African economics to slight different level, his ideas on aid are more or less in line with Grandiose Parlor's (and many on the Blogoshere). However, I believe aid, particularly debt relief- which I see as a form of reparations for the many years of looting orchestrated by the colonists- is needed and appropriate; as long as it will not end up in private pockets, and the stipulated conditions will not drown the beneficiaries in more debt. There is no doubt that African nations will only get out of the economic and social quaqmire by institutionalizing an enabling environment that encourages genuine democracy and promotes a vibrant base for small/mid businesses.

Read some of his publications.


The Africa Diaspora Foundation’s Peace Education Initiatives

About ADF
The concept of ADF was born out of the concern that there is a wide gulf among the people of African descent across the globe. Whereas, marginal gains have been made in terms of economic and political emancipation, these gains have not translated into increase economic and political participation of significant proportions among global Africans. In nearly every society globally, people of color and African descent often constitute the majority on the bottom rung of the economic and political ladder, regardless of their overall number in population…

Africa Peace Education Initiative
The Africa Peace Education Initiative is a 30-year project conceived by a number of African and African American communities, organizations, and individuals in the United States of America. The primary objective of this initiative is to provide the tools for the development of peace and nonviolence on the continent of Africa and within the African American communities.

A key component of this initiative involves an infusion of a peace education curriculum in all African universities and American HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). The infusion of this curriculum in select African nations, is a means of introducing the current and future generations to the principles of peace and nonviolence, giving our youth the tools to develop a participatory democracy, free of regional or ethnic strife.

Check out Africa Diaspora Foundation


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ugandan Watoto Children's Choir in Minnesota

Via Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Equal parts inspiration and pluck delivered Candace Smith of Apple Valley, Minnesota all the way to Africa on a mission to help orphans years ago. This week she returned to her home turf leading a globe-trotting choir of Ugandan children.

Smith's journey began with a 10-day missionary trip to Uganda in 2002 to build houses for Watoto Child Care Ministries , which places orphans with families. Three months later, Smith, 25, knew she was destined for Uganda to help children orphaned by AIDS and myriad other reasons.

"Watoto means children. The mission of Watoto Child Care Ministries is to raise the next generation of Ugandan leaders by placing parentless children in families where the necessary love, care, spiritual discipleship and physical needs are provided. Our goal is to equip these precious children with the essential moral values and life skills that will enable them to make a significant and lasting impact on the future of their country and the Kingdom of God. Currently they are responsible for approximately 1200 children. Their goal is to care for 10,000 children in the future."
Read more


Friday, July 08, 2005

Nigerian Blogger in the News

BBC NEWS: A Nigerian-born blogger living in Spain is giving a voice to African women and highlighting gay and lesbian issues on the continent... Ms Ekine blogs from Velez-Blanco, a village of about 2,500 people, which sits on the side of a mountain in southern Spain.

Congratulations Sokari (aka Owukori) of Black Looks.

Read more about Sokari/Owukori/Black Looks on Global Voices


G8 Packages $50 billion for Africa

Via The UK Guardian:

As London and the world recovers from the newest wave of terrorist attack, the G8 Summit came to a close today by announcing a $50 billion package for Africa. Tony Blair insisted that all G8 heads of State must sign the official communique at the end of deliberations. Mr Blair told reporters the leaders would be "held by this, bound by this". "Hold us to it," he said.

And we will!

According to The Guardian, Mr Blair said the Africa plan included a $50bn (£28.8bn) increase in aid, the "signal" for a new deal on trade and the cancellation of the debts of the poorest nations. It also involves making Aids treatment "as close as possible to universal access in the next few years", a commitment to a new 75,000 strong peacekeeping force for Africa and a commitment by African leaders to democracy and good governance. But Mr Blair admitted he had failed in his attempt to get a date of 2010 set for an end to the trade tariffs and subsidies that undermine African exports.

Blair stated that "You don't simply, by issuing the communique, do the work," he said. "The work now has to be done. "But if we double aid, if we cancel debt, if we open up our markets, if we allow conflict to be resolved, if we deal with the main killer diseases in Africa ...Wee will save thousands of lives every day, and millions of lives in the future."

However there are some voices of dissension about this package. Oxfam said the communique had "fallen short of the hopes of the millions around the world campaigning for a momentous breakthrough". In a statement, Christian Aid said: "This will not make poverty history. It is a vastly disappointing result. Millions of campaigners all over the world have been led to the top of the mountain, shown the view, and now we are being frog-marched down again."

My two cents:
Half bread is better than none. A lot now depends on African leaders to show their mettle, and demonstrate to the whole world that they are responsible, and are men of integrity- by running their respective nations with conscience and sound sense of purpose.
Read more


Hamilton Naki: A Self Taught Surgeon Passes on

Naki was a self taught surgeon during the South African apartheid era. He possessed skills his white superiors didn't have, he assisted on the first heart transplant ever performed; yet he got no credit, no one knew him until he dead. In fact I heard of him after his death just as many others...His life synonymized the lives of many other gifted blacks during the dark years of apartheid in South Africa.

"In some of the post-operation photographs Mr Naki inadvertently appeared, smiling broadly in his white coat, at Barnard's side. He was a cleaner, the hospital explained, or a gardener. Hospital records listed him that way, though his pay, a few hundred dollars a month, was actually that of a senior lab technician. It was the most they could give, officials later explained, to someone who had no diploma."

"As a man without any education, he mastered surgical techniques at the highest level and passed them on to young doctors. Mr. Naki frequently recalled how the medical students came to him for guidance."
-Washington Post

RIP Hamilton.

Read more: and Washington Post


Thursday, July 07, 2005

We Need Peace on Earth!

It is another sad day for mankind today (July 7, 2005). Atleast forty innocent souls die prematurely, and hundreds are wounded in London. And the toll is raising.

Given the nature of the activities that had been permiating the world and the Blogoshere in recent weeks- aid and debt relief, safe earth, trade, etc; today is a rude reminder that we exist in a fragile, fragmented and unpredictable world afterall. The events in London are the antitheses of all that mankind yearn for, and it is despicably deplorable!

I solemnly and humbly offer a Prayer for Peace to those most touched by today's terrorist attacks in London and to the whole world in general.

Find Prayer of Peace in other languages here .

May Peace reign supreme in our hearts and on Earth!


Terrorists Hit London!

Update July 24th: Anthony Fatayi-william buried in London
Tears flowed freely from many eyes on Saturday 23rd 2005, as family and friends thronged the Westminster Cathedral for the funeral mass of Anthony Fatayi -Williams.

In a moving ,but brief eulogy to her son, Marie revealed how she and Anthony were so fond of each other to the extent that if they never wanted any member of the family to understand them, they talked in French.
"The times we shared are what I will hold on to forever,"
She told the congregants, and by the time she had finished singing a special song to say "goodbye" in French, tears were already in many eyes. Anthony's dad, Dr Alan Fatayi -Williams said a Foundation for Peace and Conflict Resolutions would be set up to immortalise their first son.

Anthony's mother is Catholic while his dad is Muslim.

Via Nigerian Guardian

Update July 14th
Death Toll now Five for Nigeria: Additional names of missing Nigerians: Yinka Ajanaku, Toyin Olarenwaju and one Ayan.


Update July 13th
It is now confirmed that atleast 2 Nigerians died in the London blast. Nigeria’s High Commission’s acting Information Officer in London, Mr Joel Udegbulam, said in London on Monday that the identified victims were 26 year-old Anthony Fatayi-Williams and Miss Ojara Ikeagwu... Via Nigerian Vanguard


Update July 11th
London Blast Update: Via BCC News:
“Terrorism is not the way. We cannot deliver peace by killing people” -Marie Fatayi-Williams Mother of missing Nigerian Anthony Fatayi-williams Read more...

New details emerge: Three bombs went off almost simultaneously at about 0850 on Underground trains just outside Liverpool Street and Edgware Road stations, and on another travelling between King's Cross and Russell Square. The final explosion was on a double-decker bus. Read more


Update: July 8th
View more pictures on the London blast, via Flickr, courtesy of Jewels in the Jungle .


Multiple blasts hit London transport system, via “I was on the bus,” said a dazed passenger on one of the buses that was hit. “I looked round and the seats behind me were gone.”
A witness at the Russell Square blast said the entire top deck of that bus was destroyed.

"I was on the bus in front and heard an incredible bang, I turned round and half the double decker bus was in the air," Belinda Seabrook told Press Association, the British news agency.

She said the bus was packed with people. "It was a massive explosion and there were papers and half a bus flying through the air," she said.
A doctor at Aldgate said at least 90 people were wounded at that location alone. At least two people were confirmed killed at that station.

"There are some walking wounded at Aldgate," said a spokesman for City of London police, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are not sure of the scale of the incident. Reports are still coming in."

"It was absolutely deafening and all the windows shattered," he said. "There were just loads of people screaming and the carriages filled with smoke. You could see the carriage opposite was completely gutted. There were some people in real trouble."

Via BBC News: "It is particularly barbaric this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa"
- Tony Blair

The BBC has located an Islamist website that has published a 200-word statement issued by n organisation saying it carried out the London bombings. The organisation calls itself the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda [literally the base] of Jihad Organisation in Europe.

"In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate, may peace be upon the cheerful one and undaunted fighter, Prophet Muhammad, God's peace be upon him.

Nation of Islam and Arab nation: Rejoice for it is time to take revenge against the British Zionist Crusader government in retaliation for the massacres Britain is committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.

We have repeatedly warned the British Government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid.

We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all the Crusader governments that they will be punished in the same way if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. He who warns is excused.
God says: "You who believe: If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly."
I do not know what god these zealots worship! One thing is certain: they will fail woefully in their cause, and they and their generations will be cursed and remain cursed till eternity!

It is imperative that mainstream and moderate muslims flush out these barbarians.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Debt Relief for Nigeria!

The recent $18 billion debt relief awarded to Nigeria may not be unconnected to the debt cancellation blitzkrieg initiated by Blair, Bono and Geldof. Even if the deal is not from the G8 nations, the reveberations generated around the issue may have "encouraged" the Paris Club- a consortium of western creditor nations, and partly account for their magnanimity. Kudos to Obasanjo's and his team for pushing forward relentlessly and for doing their homework!

However, more Nigerians need to be prosecuted for their greed and sticky fingers, otherwise...

Via BBC News:
As the battle for debt relief is about to commence on a different tuft, and as "leaders and protesters from around the world are drawing out their battle lines ahead of the G8 summit and African leaders are meeting in Libya to discuss how to capitalise on a high-profile poverty campaign that was boosted by pop concerts..."

Joyce, a Tanzanian peasant farmer and mother of three has this to say, via BBC Photo Journal:
"If I could talk to the heads of the G8 summit I would ask them to put themselves in our shoes, walking long distances to collect water and not able to send their children to secondary school."
Perhaps the Tanzanian president has to "put himself in her shoes" first. So what say you President Benjamin William Mkapa?

G8 Summit 2005