29 December 2007

six french aid workers sentenced in Chad to serve terms in France.

By James Mackenzie Fri Dec 28, 5:51 PM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - Six French aid workers sentenced to eight years hard labor in Chad for trying to kidnap 103 children arrived on Friday in France where they are due to serve their sentences in jail.

France invoked a judicial cooperation treaty with its former colony to obtain the quick transfer home of the six, who were convicted of abduction by a Chadian criminal court on Wednesday.

The four men and two women from French humanitarian group Zoe's Ark arrived at Le Bourget airport near Paris and were interviewed by state prosecutor Francois Molins before being transferred to an unidentified prison.

They were weak and demoralized but otherwise in good health, he told reporters, adding: "They realize that they're facing a period that is going to be difficult."

A group of family members and supporters, some bearing signs with slogans like "They were only thinking of the children" was waiting at the airport but did not see any of the six, who were taken away out of sight of reporters or the public.

"We asked to see them. It was refused," Christine Peligat, wife of the group's logistics specialist Alain Peligat told Reuters. "I'm worried about the medical side."

Their departure from Chad followed a highly publicized legal case and diplomatic imbroglio which had embarrassed France, a key backer of Chadian President Idriss Deby. French troops and planes stationed in Chad have given logistical and intelligence support to Deby's army fighting rebels in the east.

France is also the main contributor of troops to a European Union peace force preparing to deploy in eastern Chad to protect thousands of Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadian civilians.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is on holiday in Egypt and had personally lobbied for the six to be returned to France, spoke by telephone with Deby on Thursday, French officials said.


The aid workers were arrested in October as they tried to fly the children, aged one to 10, from eastern Chad to Europe for fostering with families there.

The workers said they had been on a humanitarian mission to rescue orphans from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, across Chad's eastern border.

But most of the 103 children were found to have come from families in Chadian border villages who were persuaded to give up the infants in return for promises of education.

The Zoe's Ark case sparked anti-French protests in the Chadian capital N'Djamena and in Abeche in the east.

Many Chadians were angry over what they saw as meddling by Sarkozy, who flew to Chad in early November to collect three French journalists and four Spanish flight attendants who were freed after being arrested along with the Zoe's Ark six.

Under pressure from Paris and Madrid, Chad also freed three remaining Spanish aircrew and a Belgian pilot who had been detained in the case.

Zoe's Ark was widely condemned in France but there was shock at the severity of the sentences handed out to a group generally considered naive and misguided but not malevolent.

Being flown to France means the convicted aid workers will be spared hard labor, a sentence no longer imposed in France.

But they may face law suits lodged by families who had offered to look after the children in Europe. Diplomats say some of them paid several thousand euros per child.

It is not clear what effect the repatriation will have on the 4.12 billion CFA franc ($9 million) in compensation that the Chadian court ordered the convicted aid workers to pay the children's families.

(Additional reporting by Moumine Ngarmbassa in N'Djamena, Laure Bretton in Paris; Writing by Pascal Fletcher)

Cameroonian Artists Remember the Elderly during Holiday Season

At Christmastime in Cameroon, human rights organizations and others give gifts to poor young children. This year, a group of women artists is remembering another segment of society that is often ignored during the holidays -- the elderly. From Douala, reporter Divine Ntaryike has the story.

Christmas in Cameroon generally is a time for sharing. Among those remembered by humanitarian organizations are orphans, street kids and other deprived children.

But the Douala-based Dynamic Association of Female Artistes of Cameroon is lavishing elderly persons with an impressive Christmas gift load of energy foods and beauty products.

70-year-old Dingom Joseph Casalance is President of the Mutual Association of Elderly Persons of Cameroon, MUPAC. He says their action is rare, but much appreciated.

Dingom says elderly persons are pleasantly surprised. He says it is the first time he’s ever seen such a thing, since it’s mostly the young who are ever remembered at Christmas time.

He says it’s a commendable stride that should be copied by others and repeated yearly since the old depend on charity like everyone else.

His association, which was created five years ago, includes 5,000 members nationwide. It is open to anyone over 50 years old, which is the retirement age for civil servants here. Members complain that their savings, pensions and other retirement benefits from the government and private companies are not enough to let them live comfortably after retirement.

Dingom’s group has been undergoing reforms since May. Its president says he wants the group to act more as a lobby for better government retirement funds, since many members are jobless and needy. It is also planning to partner with the state and goodwill organizations to build homes for old people across the country, and centers where members still capable of working would be taught job skills.

Well known radio journalist Evelyne Ngo Lambidjeck is the executive president of the association of female artists. She says the group will support the initiative. It is also planning to reach a deal with doctors for free medical consultations for the eldery. She says for a long time, elderly persons have been sidelined by the society here.

"We chose to give to aged people," she says, "because we have to show them that if they’re alone in their family, they’re not alone with us, with our association. It’s to show them that we love them. We need them and they need us, and we’ll not forget them. We want them to be strong and to be well, and it’s now."

Among the member of the women’s group are musicians, journalists, painters, photographers, and writers. In May, it offered an important consignment of gifts to some 70 minors incarcerated at the Central Prison here in Douala. Its president says the association needs financial support if it’s to continue such support to the old and the young, since she says membership contributions are not enough.

28 December 2007

25 December 2007


Christmas in Africa

From Anouk Zijlma,
Your Guide to Africa Travel.
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How Africans Celebrate Christmas

Christmas is celebrated throughout the African continent by Christian communities large and small. There are approximately 350 million Christians in Africa. On Christmas day carols are sung from the Congo on down to South Africa. Meats are roasted, gifts are exchanged and family visits made. The Coptic Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January (rather than the 25th of December) because they follow a different calendar. Kwanzaa is not celebrated in Africa, as it's an African-American holiday.

Gift Giving

Those who can afford it will generally give gifts at Christmas but the holiday is not nearly as commercial as it is in Europe or the Americas. The emphasis is more on the religious aspect of celebrating the birth of Jesus and singing in church, than it is on gift giving. The most common thing bought at Christmas is a new set of clothes to be worn to the church service. Many Africans are too poor to be able to afford presents for their kids and there aren't too many toy stores in rural Africa to shop at anyway. If gifts are exchanged in poorer communities they usually come in the form of school books, soap, cloth, candles and other practical goods.

Christmas Dinner

As in most Christian cultures, celebrating Christmas dinner with friends and family tops the list after attending church. In most countries Christmas is a public holiday and people take the opportunity to visit friends and family. In East Africa goats are quickly snapped up at the local markets and roasted on Christmas day. In South Africa the sun is hot and the beaches are full of families enjoying braais (barbeques) or traditional Christmas dinners with paper hats, mince pies, turkey and plum pudding (a vestige of the British colonial legacy.) In Ghana Christmas dinner is not complete without fufu and okra soup and in Liberia rice, beef and biscuits are the order of the day. Zimbabweans make sure there's plenty of bread, jam and tea to eat along with their goat meat.

Church Services and Caroling

The history of Christianity in Africa dates back to the 1st Century AD. What every missionary has found since that time is that Africans are very spiritual people. (Besides Christianity, the other main religions are Islam and indigenous beliefs). Going to church is generally the main focus of Christmas celebrations in Africa. Nativity scenes are played out, carols are sung and in some cases dances are performed.

One of my earliest Christmas memories in Malawi is watching groups of young children go door to door to perform dances and Christmas songs dressed in skirts made of leaves and using home made instruments. They received a small gift of money in return. In many countries the processions after the Christmas Eve church service is a joyous occasion of music and dance. In the Gambia for example, people parade with large intricately made lanterns called fanals in the shape of boats or houses. Every country has their own unique celebrations no matter how small their Christian population.

Christmas Decorations

Decorating shop fronts, mango trees, churches and homes is common throughout African Christian communities. You may see fake snow decorating store fronts in Nairobi, palm trees laden with candles in Ghana or oil palms loaded with bells in Liberia.

How to Say Merry Christmas

In Akan (Ghana) Afishapa
In Zimbabwe Merry Kisimusi
In Afrikaans (South Africa) Geseënde Kersfees
In Zulu (South Africa) Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle
In Swazi (Swaziland) Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle
In Sotho (Lesthoto) Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse
In Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya) Kuwa na Krismasi njema
In Amharic (Ethiopia) Melkam Yelidet Beaal
In Egyptian (Egypt) Colo sana wintom tiebeen
In Yoruba (Nigeria) E ku odun, e hu iye' dun!

21 December 2007


The Ministry of External Relations launched activities marking the 5th edition of Friendship Days between Cameroon and Europe on December 12, under the theme "Women and Development" at the conference hall of the Ministry of External Relations.

Activities marking the Friendship were aimed at brainstorming and coming up with positive instruments that could improve on the women's role and development in society.

Welcoming participants, the Director of European Department at the Ministry of External Relations, Mrs. Julie Kamto, explained that the theme was not by accident.She said the topic was aimed at knowing the specific contributions of women in the social, political and economic development.

Considering the role that women play in society, she said, it is important for them to participate in decision-making and to improve on their status.Representing the European Union, the Italian Ambassador to Cameroon, Antonio Bellavia, said some of the goals of this relationship entail the promotion of peace and democracy, human rights, gender equality and the fight against illiteracy, genital mutilation and all forms of inhumane practices.

In the colloquium that was organised at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon, IRIC, Chevening Fellow from Nottingham University, Mrs. Moutngui Esther, talked about women and social development.

She highlighted that society must promote women's rights but stressed that it is the woman herself who can effectively fight for this promotion. Legislation must be improved on the issue because although there is a Civil Code that provides for laws on equality, much still has to be done with real promotion, thus the necessity of a family code that effectively elaborates laws on the improvement of the status of a woman.

However, she added that the real problem is at the level of culture and tradition where some practices are unfavourable to women. She thus, called for the promotion of women's careers and the necessity for the woman to take a frontline role in decision making.

The Coordinator of GTZ Project "Tantins", Dr. Flavien Tiokou, presented a project on the necessity to educate young girls on their sexual and reproductive life.He stated that 21 percent of adolescents have unwanted pregnancies, 37 percent abandon school because of unwanted pregnancies and are stimulated or excluded socially.

He also said that practices such as breast ironing, sexual abuse and female genital mutilations should be discouraged, whereas a researcher on HIV/AIDS at the International Research Centre of Chantal Biya, Dr. Giulia Cappeli, dwelled on the role of the African woman in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Relevant Links

Conclusions from the discussions indicated that women's employment is a major tool to help improve on their situation. It was also noted that is important to change those practices that violate the rights of a woman. Discrimination against women should be discouraged and education must be promoted because it is through education that a woman can have access to employment and other values of development.

Friendship Days between Cameroon and Europe falls under the tradition of Thematic Days organised by the Ministry of External Relations to enforce efforts of partners in the diplomatic sector in improving cooperation between Cameroon and these partners.

The first edition of the Friendship Days was launched in 2003.

Edith Wirdze


Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel prize
Wangari Maathai plants a tree in celebration
Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to win the prize
Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is the first African woman to be awarded the peace prize since it was created in 1901.

A surprised Mrs Maathai broke the news to reporters minutes before the official announcement.

The prize committee says Mrs Maathai, Kenya's Deputy Environment Minister, is an example for all Africans fighting for democracy and peace.

The delighted 64-year-old professor said the award was completely unexpected.

The work of Wangari Maathai is proof that responsible leadership will be the only salvation for Africa
Craig H, London

"This is extremely encouraging to the people of Africa and the African woman," she told the BBC.

"It is a recognition of the many efforts of African women, who continue to struggle despite all the problems they face."

Social science

In the late 1970s, Mrs Maathai led a campaign called the Green Belt Movement to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow deforestation.

The movement grew to include projects to preserve biodiversity, educate people about their environment and promote the rights of women and girls.

Known as "The Tree Woman" in Kenya, Mrs Maathai celebrated by planting a Nandi flame tree in her home town of Nyeri, in the shadow of Mount Kenya.

I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance
Wangari Maathai
Nobel Peace Laureate

She said she was delighted that the vital role of the environment had been recognised.

"The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that".

"I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance," she added.

The committee says she has combined science with social engagement and politics, and has worked both locally and internationally.


The professor was the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award was first made in 1901.

A spokesman for the Kenyan government said his country was honoured.

Africa's peace laureates
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
2004 - Wangari Maathai, Kenya
2001- Kofi Annan, Ghana
1993 - Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, South Africa
1984 - Desmond Tutu, South Africa
1960 - Albert John Lutuli, South Africa

"This is a great moment in Kenyan history. To us this shows that what Wangari Maathai has been doing here has been recognised," Alfred Mutua said.

"We're very proud of her and she deserves all the credit."

Mrs Maathai beat a record 194 nominations, including former chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix and the head of the UN energy watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, to win the prize.

Mrs Maathai is the second woman in a row to be awarded the peace prize, which last year went to Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi for her work for the rights of women and children in Iran.

The award, which includes 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.3m) is awarded in Oslo on 10 December each year.

16 December 2007


Sometime ago i registered in the "business in development network"in my continuos fight to help eliminate poverty and sustain development through business and community development projects in Africa,i wish to publish this article and praise one of the winners(of which from cameroon) of this initiative and also to ask others to join the bId network.More activities of this kind would obviously more than influence the positive growth of Africa's future.
The AGA (Africa Growth Action) has won the first prize of the BID Challenge in the category "established enterprises" for its proposal to produce and export dried organic fruits from Cameroon to international markets. The prize is worth EUR 20,000. AGA organizes farmers to grow organic fruits (papaya, pineapple, banana, mangoes) according to international standards. The fruits are processed with solar energy dryers in a manner that preserves their vitamins. The packaged dried fruit are then sent to international markets in the United States and Europe.

The organic snacks project allows snack lovers to enjoy their meal with additional health benefits from the vitamins contained in the fruits. The project will employ 25 people directly and about 80 farmers indirectly by 2008. The prize money will be used mainly for advance payment for technical assistance of farmers and certifications fees, says Laure Yossa, founder and director of AGA and AGA FOOD.

The jury judged the proposals on the basis of three criteria: the entrepreneur, the business plan and its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Pieter Bas Schrieken, one of the jury members explains the jury decision: "Yossa has had a very good university education in the United States. She has built up a strong network and she speaks both English and French. On the other side, she has here roots in Cameroon, so she is connected with two worlds, a unique combination."

The business plan was described as 'solid'. Two major American retailers have recently asked AGA to guarantee its capabilities to provide them with regular shipments of consistent quality and quantity levels. They do not represent the traditional niche players but more conventional players, likely to order and to market huge volumes of products.

The commercial prospects are therefore likely to be very encouraging for the years to come. According to the jury member: "Yossa has also reflected upon almost every detail of the proposal. The infrastructure to collect the fruit from the farmers is in place and so is the cold store facility. She has also thought about the possibility of crop failures in relation to the international contract obligations."

AGA’s contribution to the MDGs lie in the fact that the enterprise is far more than a middleman: farmers own 15 per cent of the enterprise, so they share in the profits. It also provides Farmers with the education necessary to apply to the international food and health demands. The BID challenge is a worldwide business plan competition for small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries, both established and start-ups.

Source: africanews.com

10 December 2007


Bukola Elemide (a.k.a. Asa), the multi-talented artiste and culture ambassador, takes the Nigerian music scene by storm, rekindling hope for a better tomorrow.

By Sylvester Asoya

Unlike her peers, Asa’s emergence as a serious artiste is deeply embedded in mystery. And her name, which means hawk in Yoruba, is no less enthralling. She has managed, in a very short time, to capture the attention of music lovers, especially the upper class, with her sonorous voice, laced with solemn instrumentation and good stage presence.

But she feels that her music is still evolving, just like her character and passion. “My music is a journey, but for now, it will be safe to call it Soul. Asa, as a whole, is unfolding. I am a brand that is still developing and it will be unwise to permanently give myself a name because I am still searching. I am young and still growing and as time goes on, I will add other things to everything that I already know and have,” she said.

However, she acknowledges that her music is a fusion of hip-hop, folk, jazz and many other influences. In a way, understanding Asa requires a glimpse into her childhood. As a child, Asa was restless and swift like the hawk. One day, she strayed away from home, causing emotional trauma to her parents. After many hours of fruitless search in the neighbourhood, her parents and the search party gave up, thinking she may never be seen again. Then suddenly, to the relief of everybody, the young girl appeared in the company of a woman who had found her loitering at a street corner many kilometres away from home. She was re-christened ‘Asa’ in the confusion and excitement that followed her re-appearance in the company of an old woman.

Since then, Asa has lived her new name, doing extraordinary things like the hawk. But the journey to self-realisation was strewn with challenges. First, she remembers the tortuous experience of travelling from Lagos to Jos, Plateau State, a 14-hour journey by road, just to attend secondary school. But that also gave her an early lesson in perseverance. “That was when I saw life from a different perspective because I had to stay with different people and learn about their characteristics and behaviours,” she recalls.

Although Asa had exhibited tendencies towards music earlier in life, it was still a little difficult gaining the confidence of her skeptical parents who thought differently about her line of career. “Like most parents in Nigeria, they hoped and anxiously waited for me to go straight into what they wanted me to do, probably law or medicine. But I refused. So, I will advise every parent, if you find a talent in your child, please help the child develop it. I am a master in what I do. I will be a flop if I go into Law because that is not what I want to do.”

Today, the Abeokuta, Ogun State-born artiste is happy that she followed her mind. Though she refuses to disclose her age, claiming “she is too young to die, and too old to cry,” she is definitely on the path to self-actualisation. Asa has done quite well with her solo performances at different events. She has also collaborated with fellow musicians like Lagbaja and many others.

A few years ago, she undertook a major tour of French cities, following an invitation from the French government. The artiste who recently returned from a musical tour of the United Kingdom has also taken her music to Lisbon, Portugal and other parts of Europe. And for her, no height is unattainable. “I want to see my music making some sense, people appreciating it, and myself being on the biggest stages and performing with great musicians. I have dreams.” Though she sees herself as a young artiste who still has a long way to go, she, nevertheless, confesses that she is overwhelmed at the way people are touched by her music. “My music makes people to sit down and think; it makes people appreciate God the more, and it makes them appreciate music too. That is one thing that makes me glad because it is positive,” she noted. Outside music, Asa is eager to be a veritable role model to young people. In fact, she told TheNEWS that her focus is to inspire young children and, to live what she preaches.

She is, however, worried by new generation of children who are all products of television and radio. She agrees that everybody has been seriously affected by Western influences, yet she believes that we can rescue the next generation by infusing into their lives, African culture, language and ways of life. But she also thinks that parents share in much of the blame, especially the elite, who encourage the exclusive use of English language at the expense of traditional languages. This, according to her, has resulted in not just outright alienation, but also exclusion from African ways of life.

On stage, Asa could easily be mistaken for Tracy Chapman, the Jamaican soul diva, because of her vintage guitar, dreadlocks, stage mannerisms, austere costume and even the genre of music. But she dismisses any influence from Chapman, though she agrees having been influenced by such music greats as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Lagbaja, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye and Eryka Badu. And for those who continually link her with Chapman, Asa has a response: “I have not really listened to her, but just because I use the guitar and I have dreadlocks, people keep saying that I remind them of Tracy Chapman. Or probably the content of my music. I do a lot of conscious music, and she does that too.”

Those who thought lightly of her at the beginning of her career, mainly due to her very quiet disposition, are beginning to have a re-think. Though she is conspicuously missing on the pages of Nigerian newspapers and magazines, Asa is “slowly but surely,” according to her, headed for the top.

But she has a lot to contend with as she consolidates on this upward movement. And she is widely believed to be working hard to maintain a high standard in an industry that is fraught with inconsistencies. Nonetheless, she hopes to draw from her professional experience which began from her days at the Department of Theatre Arts and Music, Lagos State University. Asa also came under the influence of Peter King, a jazzist whose College of Music in Badagry, Lagos, provided lessons for her on the guitar and theory of music. She was also at a school of jazz in France where she honed her skills in voice training and stage techniques. Her journey may have only just begun, but Asa is definitely a good sign of the things to come in the Nigeria music industry.

ASA [asha] - Fire On The Mountain
Video inviato da naiverecords

1st video extract from her latest album!
www.asamusic.net : more vidéos !

Africa: We Don't Need Charity, Continent Tells EU

African leaders who gathered in Lisbon, Portugal for a summit with their colleagues from the European Union yesterday said their aim is not to seek charity but for their countries to be allowed to become major players in the global economy.

Chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré who spoke on behalf of the continent yesterday at the on-going Africa-EU Leaders Summit said at the opening session that "Africa doesn't want charity or paternalism. We don't want anyone doing things for us. We want to play in the global economy, but with new rules."

Konaré also criticised the EU's strategy of pressing individual African regions and states to sign new trade deals, or Economic Partner-ship Agreements, saying it was divisive and would hurt Africa's rural poor and its industry.

Also, John Kufour, Ghanaian President and AU Chairman told the gathering which included President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua that "The real significance of this summit must be to lay the foundations of a new partnership based on mutual respect."

He said meetings like this would help to break and move away from a painful past relationship that included slavery, colonial rule and apartheid. "Europe needs Africa as much as Africa needs Europe," Kufuor said.

African and European leaders are at odds over the EU's insistence that African states sign new Economic Partnership Agreements by December 31 before the expiry of a World Trade Organization waiver of current preferential treatment. Some African nations have complained they will face too much competition and are being strong-armed into signing new deals.

EU leaders have called for a new partnership between the two continents based on common interests, from trade to climate change, instead of the traditional relationship between donors and aid recipients.

Only the presidents of the EU, AU and UN Secretary General were scheduled to make speeches yesterday during the opening session.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is the President of the EU in her speech challenged European and African leaders to confront human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, putting the country's president Robert Mugabe in the spotlight at an EU-Africa summit.

Addressing the meeting in Lisbon attended by Mugabe, Merkel said the world could not stand by while human rights were "trampled underfoot."

Relevant Links

"Zimbabwe concerns us all, in Europe and Africa," she told more than 70 European and African leaders, who were meeting to try to forge a new partnership between the world's largest trading bloc and its poorest continent," she said.

The EU-Africa summit has been labelled by its organizers as a step towards a 'strategic partnership' between the continents, based on respect, solidarity and shared goals and values.

It is only the second such summit in history. A meeting in Cairo between the EU and the then-moribund Organiz-ation of African Unity (OAU) in 2000 produced few, if any, concrete results, while a further summit scheduled for 2003 was repeatedly postponed over the issue of human rights in Zimbabwe.

9 December 2007


After several failed attempts to come together as partners,coupled with the EU's "EPA" and scarcely the Mugabe issue,this weekend finally saw the launching of a summit which is seen by many as Europe's fight to regain grounds in Africa,in a bid to overcome the massive investment of China in Africa.This situation so far has strengthened many African countries who no longer want to be the underdogs in world trade and also to cast away the eternal coat of the "colonized colonies".Read some highlights from Portugal.

Trade row mars EU-Africa talks

EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor, Portugal's PM Jose Socrates at summit, 9 Dec 2007
The hosts dubbed the meeting a "summit of equals"
EU and African leaders have signed a declaration promoting free trade and democracy at a summit in Lisbon beset by rows over trade deals and Zimbabwe.

As the Portuguese hosts hailed a "new chapter" in relations, Senegal's president railed against new EU-African trade deals proposed by the EU.

And Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe reportedly accused Europe of arrogance in criticising his human rights record.

The hosts have lauded the summit as heralding a new relationship of equals.

The 67 leaders gathered at the summit agreed to work together to forge a new partnership on issues including security, development, trade and good governance.

The BBC's Mark Doyle, in Lisbon, says the joint declaration is hugely ambitious in scope, and that clear differences remain on several issues.

Fragile economies

Angry words flew over trade deals - known as Economic Partnership Agreements - proposed to replace existing agreements due to expire at the end of the year.

Picking pineapple crop in Ghana
Aim to replace agreements giving ex-EU colonies preference
Non-African developing countries said old deals were unfair
WTO said old deals must end on 31 December 2007
Proposed EPAs would continue tariff-free access to EU markets for African goods
In exchange, African countries must open markets to EU goods
Some countries fear cheap EU exports will flood their markets

"We are not talking any more about EPAs, we've rejected them," said President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.

Although some east African nations have already agreed to the deals, many other countries argue that they will damage their fragile economies.

The deals - to replace historical agreements which gave former European colonies preferential trade terms - demand that African countries open their markets to European goods in order to keep tariff-free EU access for their own exports.

The summit was seen as an EU attempt regain lost ground in Africa and combat growing Chinese influence in the continent.

But President Wade said that "Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa".

Our correspondent says that while China has massively increased its investments in Africa, it does not tend to comment on issues such as democracy and human rights.


The point was evidenced by tensions over the presence of Mr Mugabe, widely criticised for human rights abuses and economic mismanagement in Zimbabwe.

Today is very clear that Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa
Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade

Although he is banned from the EU, African leaders demanded he be invited to attend. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown boycotted the meeting in protest.

On Sunday Mr Mugabe was reported to have lambasted four EU countries for "arrogance" in their criticisms, according to a copy of a speech at a closed meeting obtained by French news agency AFP.

His comments came in response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's earlier assertion that his policies had "damaged Africa".

"It is important that people keep in mind that Africans fought for human rights from oppressive rule," said Mr Mugabe, who is regarded by many African leaders as the heroic liberator of Zimbabwe.

The meeting was the first EU-African summit for seven years. Previous attempts had collapsed over the question of Mr Mugabe's attendance.

Portuguese PM Jose Socrates, who earlier lauded the gathering as a "summit of equals", said it was an achievement in itself that the meeting had taken place.

4 December 2007


SW Commemorates AIDS Day

By Walter Wilson Nana

The Southwest Provincial Technical Group for the fight against HIV/AIDS did carry out a series of mobilisation activities across the Province on December 1 to commemorate AIDS Day.


Marching against HIV/AIDS

Commemorated under the theme "STOP AIDS: KEEP THE PROMISE" pupils and students marched across the municipality with placards carrying various messages on how to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Some of the placards read; "No To Premarital Sex, AIDS Kills…"

Christians, some elements of the Gendarmerie Brigade and members of the public all turned out to march against HIV/AIDS that took off at the esplanade of the Gendarmerie Brigade, Great Soppo.

Addressing the crowd, Rev. Dr. Nyansako-Ni-Nku, Moderator, Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, PCC, stated that HIV/AIDS threatens the very future of a nation."AIDS diminishes life and brings trauma to the family. As a church, we have a duty to pass on the message to the family, especially our friends of the military, to exercise greater discipline and not to be reckless with our bodies," he cautioned.


He prescribed abstinence and urged the population to take to the advice of medical experts on what to do if they contract the disease.He reminded the population that HIV/AIDS does exist and that it is not a fairy tale.

"It has nothing to do with witchcraft, it is real. It is very much concerned with the way we live our lives. We should live a little more disciplined and take our moral considerations seriously, we can all check the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially if we take care of the other person's worth," he said.

In the concerted fight against HIV/AIDS the Moderator said they have trained and re-trained all their field pastors and many counsellors."The idea is that when they go back, they train other people in their congregations. It's a pyramid form, ensuring that the message goes from top to bottom, right to the grassroots," he said.

The Brigade Commander, Gendarmerie Brigade, Great Soppo, Mama, corroborated the Moderator. "AIDS does exist. It is not an imaginable disease as some people claim."
The Coordinator, Southwest Provincial Technical Group for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Rose Chia Fonchingong, was convinced that their message is going through.

"I'm very convinced. When I hear the population asking questions, I know they are convinced with what I have been telling them. The population is listening keenly and when they are lacking somewhere, they go searching for information on HIV/AIDS on the Internet and other means.

But we want to ensure that they get the right messages. That is what I'm pleading for. The population should not listen to just any body talk about HIV/AIDS," she prayed.The Mayor, Buea Rural Council, Charles Mbella Moki, enjoined the population to show good behavioural practices to our everyday life.


"If we don't take care of our youths, we will not have a tomorrow. Our council will also take this message to our houses, neighbourhoods and to all the corners of our municipality," he said.

Civil society activist, Esther Omam of Reach Out, called on the Ministry of Public Health to bring in more credible and relevant civil society organisations in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"The civil society is at the forefront to compliment the actions of the government to eradicate this pandemic within our communities.

Let the government not relent to work hand-in-glove with the relevant civil society groups to fight this scourge. There should be true partnership. The fight against HIV/AIDS is our problem not the government of Cameroon," she said.

Courtesy of thepostnewsline.com

3 December 2007


Global effort on World Aids Day
Former South African President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Michel arrive at the 46664 World Aids Day Concert in Johannesburg.
Nelson Mandela has been at the forefront of the fight against Aids

Events have been held to mark the 20th World Aids Day, many highlighting the need to fight continued prejudices against people with HIV/Aids.

The UN recently reduced its estimate of the number of people with HIV/Aids, but the figure still stands at 33 million.

Campaigners warn that better treatment has bred complacency about the risks.

"The trend is encouraging but still for every person receiving treatment four others are newly infected," said former South African President Nelson Mandela.

'Breaking the cycle'

Mr Mandela was speaking at a concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, where international musicians, including Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel, were performing alongside local talent.

"If we are to stop the Aids epidemic from expanding, we need to break the cycle of new HIV infections. All of us working together with government, communities and civil society can make the difference that is needed," he added.

The concert was the latest event organised by the 46664 campaign - which is named after Mr Mandela's old prison number and began five years ago.

South Africa has more HIV infections than any other country - five million South Africans are HIV positive.

After years in which the South African government was accused of "Aids denial", the country now has the world's largest programme of antiretroviral treatment.

But Aids campaigners say more must still be done - especially in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Ban Ki-moon
And I call for leadership at all levels to scale up towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010
Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary General

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said strong leadership was needed if the fight against the disease was to be won.

And he called for renewed efforts to focus on helping women, who now make up half of those living with Aids worldwide, and for better funding for prevention and care programmes.

"I call for leadership among all governments in fully understanding the epidemic - so that resources go where they are most needed," he said in a speech in New York.

"And I call for leadership at all levels to scale up towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010," he added.

US fund increase

US President George W Bush on Friday urged the US Congress to authorise the doubling of financial aid to combat HIV/Aids to $30bn (£15bn) over the next five years.

"We will turn the tide against HIV/Aids once and for all," he said, adding that he would visit Africa during 2008.

Miss World competitors
In China, the Miss World pageant is coinciding with World Aids Day

Almost three-quarters of Aids-related deaths during 2006 were in sub-Saharan Africa. Two-thirds of those living with HIV are found there.

But the number of people living with the virus has increased everywhere, with the most striking increases in East Asia and Central Asia/Eastern Europe.

The BBC's David Loyn, in Afghanistan, says that nearly 30 years after HIV/Aids first emerged onto the world stage, it is now moving into the country with unpredictable consequences.

Only 266 cases of HIV/Aids have been recorded in Afghanistan but returning refugees, truck drivers, and Afghans now flying abroad to work are bringing in the disease.

There are fears the official figures are just the tip of the iceberg, our correspondent says.

Vatican view

In India, the Red Ribbon Express, a train with a giant Aids ribbon running the length of its side, has set off on a journey of almost 27,000km (16,000 miles) to spread advice about tackling the disease to almost 60,000 villages across the country.

An estimated two and a half million people in India are affected by the Aids virus - only Nigeria and South Africa have higher numbers.

People standing in front of Red Ribbon Express
In India, the Red Ribbon Express is spreading anti-Aids advice
In Sanya, China, the 57th Miss World beauty pageant is being held to coincide with World Aids Day in an effort to raise awareness.

And Chinese President Hu Jintao has appeared on the front page of major state-controlled newspapers shaking the hand of a woman with HIV.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has said this week that he is spiritually close to victims of Aids and their families, but the Vatican still opposes the use of condoms as a means of fighting the epidemic.

At his weekly general audience the pope called for stepped-up efforts to stop the spread of the HIV virus that causes Aids and deplored the disdain with which Aids sufferers are often treated.

Yet the Vatican refuses to end its opposition to the use of condoms.

Roman Catholics in many parts of the world, however, believe condom use helps save lives, according to an opinion poll published by a liberal Catholic group in the United States, Catholics for Choice.

According to the survey, a majority of Catholics living in Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines and the US all believe that Catholic hospitals and government-funded clinics should be required to include condoms as part of Aids prevention.

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