28 November 2007

Swiss spot against Immigration

The Swiss government tries to discourage the arrival of other African citizens with this spot. They say "Don't come to us, there is no work"

27 November 2007

Nigeria: Country in a Diplomatic Spat With EU Over EPAs (1)

"You want to be benevolent and philanthropic to someone and he is refusing your gift, why must you subdue and oppress him to submission if you have nothing to gain?"This is the story behind the EU-ACP imbroglio,read this excerpts from allafrica.com.

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) is fighting back EU Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson's recent accusation that Nigeria is "sitting like an elephant in the middle of the road", regarding her position on EPA negotiations in West Africa.

In reacting to Mandelson's accusation, in view of the weight it carries on the relationship between Nigeria and Europe, NANTS used the metaphor of the elephant or 'the elephant phenomenon.'

In a 5,000-word statement that is being circulated across the world NANTS explains that, first the 'elephant phenomenon' is a popular motif in African folklore evoking both positive and negative attributes depending on which of the tales it appears; but leaves it to Mr. Mandelson to decide which attribute his usage connotes.

"But, how does the 'elephant phenomenon' relate to the position of Nigeria in the ongoing EPA process?" the statement asks and offers an explanation. "The elephant indeed is a prestigious animal at least, for its size and gait, but more importantly for the ornamental value of the tusk. Whether it is walking, standing, or sitting, one fact is clear - it cannot be moved easily from one position to another against its will. This indeed is Nigeria's position as far as the EPA is concerned."

According to NANTS, Nigeria appears to be the only country within the ACP bloc that can sit and stand tall before any other (colonial headmasters inclusive), or even withstand any form of ferocious pressure from any kind of oppressor in the face of negotiations.

NANTS says while this may sound pompous, it is however important for the powers that be to recognize that the era of servant-master relationship or slavery has gradually been overtaken by expression of fundamental human rights. "The rights to protect Nigerians from squalor and degradation, from slavery of any kind and under any kind of pretext expressed by 'cooperation'; - all squarely lie on the shoulders of the Nigerian government."

NANTS says it would not be surprising, but regrettable to see Chief Mandelson trying to resort to cheap blackmail or bullying to calm the ACPs, especially Nigeria into submission. "Yet, according to the EC, 'there is no hidden agenda other than the development of the ACP' if there is no hidden agenda, and if the EPA is not profitable to the EU, why the pressure and why the bullying?", the statement points out.

"You want to be benevolent and philanthropic to someone and he is refusing your gift, why must you subdue and oppress him to submission if you have nothing to gain? Sadly, this is not the first time these oppressive instruments have been employed. It would be recalled that several times within the lifespan of the EPA negotiations, the duo of Peter Mandelson and Louis Michele have continued to treat even the ACP Ministers as if they were offending school children who were inviting the long stick of their masters", NANTS argues.

Giving specifics, the NANTS statement said during the 7th Joint Ministerial Council meeting held in Brussels, Louis Michele was only short of laying the ACP Ministers face down and giving them some 24 slashes of the cane. The only offence they committed was asking for clarifications on how much was set aside by the EC for the EPA adjustment and development fund. It took the bold intervention of the Nigerian Permanent Secretary in-charge of Trade who bitterly called for Louis Michele's apology before the meeting could continue.

Later in the year, precisely in Petersbourg, Bonn (Germany), while the ACP-EU Ministers met on the invitation of the German Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Mandelson allowed his emotion go before him and was almost casting aspersions on Nigeria. "The only crime Nigeria committed was that the then Nigeria's Minister of Trade (Dr. Aliyu Modibbo) in his statement made on behalf of the ACP Ministers, noted that an extension of the deadline for conclusion of the negotiations was required if the EPA is to translate into development and poverty reduction."

Relevant Links

However, in the characteristic elephant attitude, the Nigerian Minister quickly pointed out to the meeting that such bullying should be stopped at the gate of some small islands, as Nigeria is sure bigger than all such countries whose population is counted in some hundreds of thousands or fewer millions.

"An observer has rightly noted that with a population of about 150 million people, if Nigeria doesn't act like an elephant, then something is absolutely wrong. As a matter of fact, what Mandelson and his EC colleagues need to realize is that it is impossible and unfair to compare Nigeria with or treat her like one of those countries whose budgets are dependent on the EC's ODA. This is the quality which no doubt places Nigeria in the category of 'an elephant' which other animals ought to accord respect. Nigeria will continually resist such undue pressure and treatment."

NANTS emphasized that equally true and important is the fact that the elephant has many sides to it and one's position determines what one sees. Hence, the case of the five proverbial blind men who went to see the elephant comes to play. Since they were limited by their lack of sight they would only feel the elephant with their hands and each, would return with a verdict based on what part he touched. Obviously, whatever Mandelson sees Nigeria to be in the entire EPA process could be interpreted in the light of the elephant phenomenon as espoused by the blind men's expedition above. Importantly however, the position of Nigeria in the sub-region perhaps best describes her elephant role in the current EPA negotiations. With a population of over 150 million people, Nigeria accounts for more than half of the population of the entire sub-region, with about 72% of the trade volume and about 60% of the GDP of the sub-region. "Nigeria indeed walks, stands, or sits depending on how you see it as the elephant in the sub-region", the NANTS said. (The battled continues next week)

26 November 2007

China in Africa: Developing ties

One of my early articles in this blog was about the Chinese massive presence in Africa and the favourable terrain they met in obtaining lucrative business deals and at the same time focusing on development.It's quite obvious that west is seeing it's position being relegated to the bottom after years of colonialism and exploitation.The Chinese will not be saints but their massive building of schools,hospitals,various infracstructure and companies has captured even our corrupt governments who are compelled to Chinese style investment in order to survive.The west finding itself in the offside position,is flushing criticisms on the Chinese "massive attack "on Africa yet ti is continuosly binding their ties with China itself.Africa has been sleeping for so long and it's now time to get up from the slumber and if it is China who'll trigger this rise up,then she's very welcome.Personally i'm convinced this is the path to follow,Africa should decide it's future and it's partners alone,for her own good!Read this article from the BBC and comment::::

Chinese workman on site in Addis Ababa

In the first of a series on China's new relationship with Africa, the BBC's Adam Blenford looks at how their economic interests coincide.

The next piece looks at the Chinese firms rebuilding the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

In almost every corner of Africa there is something that interests China.

The continent is rich in natural resources that promise to keep China's booming, fuel-hungry economy on the road.

There is copper to mine in Zambia, iron ore to extract in Gabon and oil to refine in Angola.

In other countries less blessed by natural resources, Chinese companies have spied trading and investment opportunities.

Africa's need for new and better roads, school buildings, computer networks, telecoms systems and power generation has opened a lucrative window of opportunity for Chinese firms.

The new Sino-African dynamic can leave the West ill at ease, reviving memories of Europe's colonial domination in Africa and drawing complaints that low Chinese bids are freezing out Western companies.

China never imposes its own will on African countries, nor interferes in the domestic affairs of African countries
Yang Xiao Gan
Chinese embassy, Addis Ababa

China also offers "no-strings" aid, a marked contrast to Western donors who impose conditions on aid and tie trade sweeteners to human rights issues.

Critics say China's approach has emboldened unsavoury governments, allowing them to ignore Western calls for reform, safe in the knowledge that Beijing will take up the slack.

Sudan, with its vast oil reserves, is the number one recipient of Chinese investment, and sells some two-thirds of its oil to Beijing. As a result, China has been criticised for its links with a government ostracised by many for its role in the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

Elsewhere, stories of anti-Chinese unrest in Zambia and the killing of nine Chinese oil workers by rebels in Ethiopia's Ogaden region have focused Beijing's attention on the price it might have to pay for its African adventure.

Beyond the stereotype

The Chinese insist they are not interested in dominating Africa.

Instead China says it seeks a "harmonious world", an evolution of its Cold War search for "peaceful co-existence", and it wants to coax African countries along the path towards development.

Instead of top-down aid projects, Chinese companies seek profits in Africa as they bequeath the continent a new infrastructure - one that will more than likely be used to increase trade with China.

"China consistently respects and supports African countries," Yan Xiao Gang, China's economic attache in Ethiopia, told the BBC.

"It never imposes its own will on African countries, nor interferes in the domestic affairs of African countries."

Ethiopian officials speak of "owning" their country's development, but do admit that major contracts usually go to Chinese firms because of their ability to keep costs down.

Many Chinese firms employ large numbers of local workers but wages remain low. However, there is evidence that workers are learning new skills because of the availability of Chinese-funded work. Taking advantage of low labour costs, the Chinese are also building factories across Africa.

Observers say Beijing appears ready for the long haul in Africa.

"For China to become a major power, it needs to continue its double-digit economic growth of recent years. For this it needs energy and markets," Prof M Venkataraman of the University of Addis Ababa told the BBC.

Those markets are proving receptive, and trade with the continent is famously booming - up to $40bn in 2004, a tenfold increase in under a decade.

Yet most African countries now have a growing trade deficit with China, in spite of favourable tax-free trading agreements. Ethiopian exports to China reached $132m (£63m) in 2006, a figure dwarfed by the value of Chinese imports of $432m (£206m).

"It is not clear what the long-term effect of the Chinese projects will be," said Mr Venkataraman.

"But the facts are very clear - there are going to be benefits to both sides. China is going to remain in this continent for a very long time."

Potent symbols

The China-Africa relationship shot to attention in November 2006 when 48 African heads of government attended a forum in Beijing.

China's capital was festooned with images of exotic Africa for the occasion. Speeches were made and deals were struck.

See China's $150m gift to the African Union

Tsegab Kebebew, a senior official in Ethiopia's foreign ministry, was in Beijing for the meeting. One year on, he remains enthused about the relationship.

"This is a new strategic partnership. There is no colonial history between Africa and China, so they are well received here," he told the BBC.

"There is no psychological bias against the Chinese."

In fact China has a history of involvement in Africa, and undertook major aid projects in the 1960s and 1970s. Among Beijing's gifts was a railroad linking Zambia and Tanzania, now scheduled to be rebuilt by a Chinese company.

China's gifts to modern-day Africa will soon include a gleaming new conference centre at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa - a symbol of Beijing's commitment to African development, says Mr Yan of the Chinese embassy.

There is symbolism in the shops, too.

With Ethiopia only now marking the turn of its millennium, seven years after the rest of the world, the country is in the grip of a 12-month millennium frenzy.

Banners adorn public buildings and souvenirs are on sale in many shops. The government hopes the outbreak of national pride will spur Ethiopia to a new age of prosperity.

Those browsing a local market for, say, a souvenir plate bearing the legend "Ethiopian Millennium 2000" would do well to turn the gift over and look underneath.

Embossed on the white plastic is a phrase already familiar to all in the West: "Made in China"


21 November 2007

Festival del Cinema Africano - Verona

Dal 16 al 24 novembre Verona rilancia il Festival del Cinema Africano. A 27 anni dalla nascita, la kermesse cinematografica torna a essere una manifestazione indipendente, interamente dedicata all'Africa, con una nuova veste e numerose sezioni. Apre Indigènes, candidato all'Oscar come miglior film straniero.
La pellicola, di Rachid Bouchareb, e' inedita in Italia e ha vinto la Palma d'Oro al Miglior Interprete maschile al Festival di Cannes 2007, del premio Ce'sar alla miglior sceneggiatura originale e candidata all'Oscar 2007 come miglior film straniero.


On CRC anniversary, Ishmael Beah appointed UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War

© UNICEF/HQ07-1714/Berkwitz
Former child soldier Ishmael Beah accepts appointment as UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War as Executive Director Ann M. Veneman looks on at UNICEF headquarters in New York.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, USA, 20 November 2007 – UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War, Ishmael Beah, has pledged to give a voice and hope to children whose lives have been scarred by violence.

UNICEF announced Mr. Beah’s appointment today to mark the 18th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was also celebrated at events in Geneva, Tokyo and other venues around the world.

The 18-year milestone is considered especially significant because it represents the point at which an entire generation has grown up under the auspices of the CRC, which aims to protect the fundamental rights of every child. UNICEF has launched a special ‘CRC@18’ website to raise awareness about the Convention and involve young people in advocating for their rights.

Dedicated to child protection

“I’m very thankful and humbled,” Mr. Beah said in accepting the UNICEF appointment. “I think for me it’s just a way to give me more strength to continue doing what I’ve already embarked on, what I’ve dedicated my life to doing – which is to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t continue to happen to other children around the world.

“I know the nature of what it is to be forgotten, what it is to lose your humanity, and more importantly, what it is to recover from it and to have another life,” he added.

Mr. Beah was forcibly recruited as a child soldier in Sierra Leone when he was 13. UNICEF helped him to escape the conflict and become rehabilitated. He then moved to the United States to complete his education, began advocating for children’s rights and went on to author the best-selling book, ‘A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’.

14 November 2007

cameroonian born BIKA's eighth-round TKO nets him "contender" title

If you're still looking for a fight of the year, you probably don't have to look any further.

.In a grueling, non-stop action battle, Sakio Bika outlasted Jaidon Codrington, scoring a TKO at 2:18 of the eighth round to win the third-season finale of "The Contender" and the $750,000 grand prize o­n Tuesday night at TD Banknorth Garden."That was almost something out of a Rocky movie," said promoter Lou DiBella, who handles Codrington along with The Tournament of Contenders. "The kid [Codrington] is hanging his head now but he should be proud. They should both be proud. They proved everything you can prove. Both those guys proved their mettle. It was a Rocky movie. It was sick."While it seems doubtful that either man will emerge as a serious contender, their fight was unforgettable, providing the crowd of about 6,000 with all the action it could have asked for.The fight began in explosive fashion with a round of the year candidate. Both men were down, both men were hurt and both men were in deep trouble in the first round.Bika (25-3-2, 15 KOs) got it started, knocking Codrington sideways and then hitting him while he was down, a move that could have gotten him disqualified had referee Dick Flaherty noticed the blatant infraction.Moments later, Codrington, 23, of New York, responded with a left hook that dropped Bika, a 28-year-old from
Cameroon living in Australia.

[More ...]http://www.cameroononline.org/index.php?module=shortnews&func=redir&url_id=8119

Annan-founded alliance for African agriculture names first president

Wed Nov 14, 5:56 AM ET

NAIROBI (AFP) - A foundation set up by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to aid African farmers named Wednesday its first president, agricultural expert Amos Namanga Ngongi from Cameroon.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) brings together farmers, scientists, governments, the private sector and civil society with the aim of boosting the productivity and incomes of millions of small-scale farmers by supporting sustainable, innovative agricultural practices.

"There is no acceptable reason for Africa's farmers to be poor," an AGRA press release quoted Ngongi as saying.

"Working with their many allies, farmers can move beyond mere subsistence farming. With access to the needed tools and technologies and with responsible stewardship of our natural resources, we can bring prosperity to Africa's farmers and their families."

Annan, who founded AGRA in 2006 and chairs its board, described Ngongi as "a man of vision, dedicated to the eradication of hunger and poverty.

"He knows the vital importance of agricultural development, and that ambitious goals inspire the energy and will necessary to achieve them."

Ngongi began his career as an agricultural officer in Cameroon, going on to become deputy head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and later leading the peace-keeping mission in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo for the United Nations.

AGRA programmes to date include efforts to develop new varieties of food crops, support for agricultural education, improving seed distribution networks and markets for poor farmers.

10 November 2007

Irish Build 200 Homes for S. Africa Poor

Irish Build 200 Homes for S. Africa Poor



Damian O‚Driscoll poses for a photograph toward the end of a building blitz by nearly 1,400 Irish volunteers Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007. The group completed their mission Friday to build 200 homes in a week in the Freedom Park slum, back left, suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. (AP Photo/Karin Schermbrucker)
Picture 1 of 5

FREEDOM PARK, South Africa - For the first time, Mona Miller has a real roof, solid walls and glass windows. Lights come on at the flick of a switch, water flows from the tap and she has the dignity of a toilet.

Miller will move into her first proper home this weekend thanks to a building blitz by nearly 1,400 Irish volunteers, who completed a mission Friday to construct 200 houses in a week in the depressing, dusty - and hopelessly misnamed - Freedom Park slum.

"It's a solid home, not something that people can drive though," said Miller, shuddering at the memory of the drunk driver who rammed into her shack four years ago, injuring her two young children in this sprawling Cape Town slum.

"I look forward to hearing the rain on the roof because I will no longer have to get up and put buckets underneath the holes. I'm going to close my doors and sleep for a week," she said with a grin, gazing proudly as builders put finishing touches on the mustard-colored house.Read more;

Irish Build 200 Homes for S. Africa Poor