Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gun-running to South Sudan

Uganda, a key broker of the latest deal to end South Sudan’s civil war diverted weapons to South Sudan’s military despite an EU arms embargo, a new report by Conflict Armament Research says. 
It also asks how a U.S. military jet ended up deployed in South Sudan in possible violation of arms export controls.
The new report is a “forensic picture of how prohibitions on arms transfers to the warring parties have failed,” said Conflict Armament Research’s executive director, James Bevan.
Uganda bought arms and ammunition from at least three EU members — Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia — that were diverted to South Sudan’s military and armed allies in Sudan. 
With the Bulgarian weapons, “South Sudan arranged for Uganda to issue end-user certificates (the essential paperwork for an international arms transfer) ... to make it look like these weapons were for the use of the Ugandan armed forces when in fact they were always destined for South Sudan,” said Mike Lewis, the head of regional operations for Conflict Armament Research.
The report also describes how a network of “jointly owned Ugandan and U.S. companies — controlled by British, Israeli, Ugandan, and U.S. nationals — procured a military jet from the United States and an Austrian-made surveillance aircraft, which one of these companies delivered into service with (South Sudan’s military) in 2015 and 2016, respectively.”
Based on interviews and commercial documents, the report found that the company, Yamasec, transferred both aircraft to South Sudan’s military. The U.S. military jet, after being used by Uganda’s air force, was deployed in South Sudan in 2016, overflying armed opposition targets along with attack helicopters.
Sudan in the past also supplied Chinese-made ammunition to South Sudan’s armed opposition.

Africa—A Field For Investment (1952)

From the December 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard

Africa is a vast continent, with a population of 200 million where 700 different languages are spoken. It is coming more and more into the news, for it offers enormous opportunities for the investment of capital.

The Daily Mail had two articles (4 and 5 Sept) on the proposal to form a Central African Federation, to include Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and which will be discussed at Westminster shortly.

And The Daly Telegraph (10-9-52) reports:
   “A Sahara expedition which will study methods of halting the desert’s advance. Mr. Baker and his three companions will spend a week in Paris meeting French Sahara experts at the Ministry of War and elsewhere. They will visit the plantations in Algeria, and will go to Tunisia, through Laghouat, In Salah 700 miles south of Algiers, and cross the desert through Zinder to Nigeria. They will then drive to Uganda and Kenya."
The Daily Telegraph (6-9-52) reports a “decision to build a £70 million oil refinery on the Kenya mainland opposite Mombasa Island. The Government will freeze 2,000 acres in the interests of the security and well-being of Kenya. Work is expected to be provided for hundreds of Europeans and thousands of Africans. It is widely thought that Mombasa will become an important naval base."

There are all kinds of plans for developing Africa. Experts have been investigating dam sites on the River Zambesi, to harness the power of the Victoria Falls; the Zambesi, one of Africa's greatest rivers, forms the northern border of Southern Rhodesia, and it is believed that, some 200 miles north-east of the Falls, between the high banks of the Kariba Gorge, a dam site would create an inland sea as big as the three largest American dams put together. Cheap electric power could be generated at low cost

Another large plan is the Sabi Lundi development scheme, which has large possibilities for industry, for there are coal and phosphate deposits here.

All these plans need capital.
   “The President of the World Bank, disclosed that the bank has lent £500 million to 27 countries in the last five years. It is helping to finance a £100 million four year plan by Southern Rhodesia " (Daily Graphic 6-9-52).
A booklet has been prepared by the Public Relations Dept, of Southern Rhodesia, and is called “Southern Rhodesia, A field for investment." We are told that, "Southern Rhodesia is admirably placed to be the manufacturer in chief to many millions of Africans inside and beyond its borders. Apart from its own people, Southern Rhodesia can therefore look northwards and eastwards to Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, the Eastern Congo and Portuguese East Africa, to a population of not less than 12 to 15,000,000 Africans, for potential markets for her growing industries."

We thus can see that economic development is going on.

What will be the result of all this development on the native Africans? "The five million whites in Africa fear that they will be swamped and overpowered by the Africans, whose standard of civilisation is incomparably lower than theirs. The Europeans there seek to avert this real danger by retaining all forms of political power in their own hands for as long as possible " (page 42 “Attitude to Africa," by W. A. Lewis, Michael Scott, M. Wight and C. Legum).

The Africans are thus being drawn into the vortex of our present capitalist economy.
I. Flower.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Oil Corporation Corruption

A court in Milan is considering charges of corruption against Eni and Shell in a controversial oil deal that led to Nigeria losing an estimated $6bn.
The campaign group Global Witness has calculated the OPL 245 deal in 2011 deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget.
Eni and Shell are accused of knowing the money they paid to Nigeria would be used for bribes.
The former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, was found guilty by a court in France of money laundering and it emerged he had so much cash in $100 bills that it weighed five tonnes.
"We discovered that Shell had constructed a deal that cut Nigeria out of their share of profit oil from the block," Ava Lee, a campaigner at Global Witness told the BBC's World Business Report."This amount of money would be enough to educate six million teachers in Nigeria. It really can't be underestimated just how big a deal this could be for a country that right now has the highest rates of extreme poverty in the world."
The Italian government is discouraging Nigerian migrants trying to reach Italy by claiming that it will help them at home, but Italy's biggest multi-national, part-owned by the state, is accused of scamming billions from the Nigerian people.

Nigeria goes to the polls.

"The politicians have failed us. I feel like all those elected into office only care about themselves. They only want our votes and don't provide us with the basic needs we demand for."
"Life is difficult. The little money I make is never enough. I have to feed my family from the food I sell, I can't afford to buy them other food."
According to a report in June by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, Nigeria has overtaken India as the world's poverty capital.
The study estimated that 87 million people in a country of nearly 200 million were living in extreme poverty, compared with 73 million people in India.
The report also projected an increase in extreme poverty in Nigeria - Africa's leading oil producer and most populous nation - until at least 2022.
According to a 2018 African Development Bank report, "nearly 80 percent of Nigeria's 190 million people live on less than $2 a day".
Another major concern is corruption, an issue that has long plagued Nigeria due to public officials feasting on funds generated from crude oil exports. Last year, Nigeria ranked 148th out of 180 countries on Transparency International's corruption index.
The country produces more than two million oil barrels per day and holds one of the world's largest gas reserves, but can barely produce electricity to power many of its households and factories. The shortage is also pushing the price of goods up, as they are mostly produced by manufacturing firms running on costly diesel-powered generators.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kenya Tightens Abortion Rules

The authorities in Kenya have banned the international health organisation Marie Stopes from offering any form of abortion services.
The Medical Practitioners Board says it made the decision after investigating complaints that the group's adverts were promoting abortion.  Abortion is illegal in Kenya unless a mother's health is in danger.
Marie Stopes says it operates within the law, offering counselling services including post-abortion care. Some Kenyans fear the ban could lead to a rise in unsafe back-street abortions.
The Medical Practitioners Board says it acted on complaints from, among others, Ann Kioko, campaign manager at pro-life campaign group CitizenGo Africa, and Ezekiel Mutua, chief executive officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board.
Mutua said adverts Marie Stopes were running had "not been approved by the board and they were unprofessional - they were almost making it look cool to have an abortion. Democrats pushed the pro-abortion view and the pro-LGBT stance on us - an agenda that is alien to our own culture," he said.
"Cultural wars across the world being fought on the bodies of black people," was how one Kenyan medical practitioner summed up the situation as the policies of foreign governments have an impact on what Kenyan women are allowed or banned from doing.
Kenya is one of 37 Commonwealth countries that have laws criminalising homosexuality.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Kenya's Children Safaris

In Kenya, there are more than 800 registered orphanages, with an estimated 45, 000 children according to the government. Research suggests that the vast majority of children in orphanages have living parents.
Campaigners trying to fight the exploitation of children in Kenyan orphanages say they are being undermined by a “white saviour” complex among churches and other charitable groups.
The use of orphanages as “tourist attractions” in places like Mombasa is unethical and fuelling trafficking, child support organisations say.
Michelle Oliel of the Stahili foundation, which combats child exploitation in Kenya explained, Traffickers are feeding a market in children, supported by tourists’ desire to visit childrens homes. Oliel said: “I went to visit one orphanage as part of our work on ending the institutionalisation of children. As soon as the children saw me they began to dance for me. This is forced begging. They know that white people come with money. Orphanages are sites of trafficking and that was recently recognised in the US Trafficking in Persons report. There is now growing awareness of the fact that orphanages are damaging. But with cheaper airfares there is a proliferation of orphanages in tourist destinations. People see visiting an orphanage as part of a tourism experience like going on safari.”
Charity worker Sophie Otiende said she struggled to raise money for her work because she wouldn’t let volunteers meet directly with vulnerable children.
“A lot of funding comes from churches and small groups and someone will want to pay $1,200 [£940] to come and hug children for three months,” said Otiende, of Haart Kenya, a charity working to rehabilitate children trafficked into orphanages and return them their own families or communities. “I had someone offering me therapy for our girls. I asked, ‘What qualifications would you need in your country to help a trauma victim? You would need a masters degree.’” It sometimes means they have to turn down offers of money, she said. Sophie continued, “There is a desperate need for funds but if you want to work ethically then you pay a price. We have a short-term rehabilitation shelter and we won’t open our doors for people to come to it. We won’t take volunteers.” Otendie added, “You have child finders who come into the community and take children from vulnerable families They are promised education, food and security in exchange for the child. The families are not neglectful. This is a reality when there isn’t enough support, when a country doesn’t have a social protection system.” For Otiende, there is too the question of why a “tourist” volunteer could do work that a local might be far better qualified for. “For the cost of a flight from the US to Kenya, we could pay for a senior psychotherapist to treat around 20 children and families a month. Otiende wants people to look at why they think they can help. “I ask people, ‘Could you volunteer in your own country in this type of work?’ No. You can’t just come with a dose of optimism.”

Joseph Mwuwara, 20, was trafficked into an orphanage as a child. Now he is being supported through an organisation based in Kenya called Stahili. He described being taken from his home to an orphanage. “A stranger came to my grandmother’s home – my grandmother, who really loved us and still does. The outcome was my brother and I had to leave home and go to an orphanage. We were promised a good education and healthcare but this was not the case. On the first day and second day you are treated a bit well then things start getting worse. Sometimes I had to miss school because volunteers are coming, just to practise songs and dances. Once these volunteers were pleased with what we had done they would donate and give money. They would say, ‘Buy something for these kids.’ That was never done to us – everything that was bought was kept and sold.” Mwuwara was eventually taken back to his grandmother’s by the trafficker, deeply traumatised by his experience. “My grandmother cried a lot when I came back, she was just ambushed. But today I am being helped by the Stahili foundation and they are supporting me in my training in mechanics. They have changed my life.”
Oliel said potential funders are put off supporting the work Stahili does because they prefer to fund orphanages, despite research showing children are better off in a community setting.
“Family-based care is a sixth of the cost of an institution, but when we are working to close orphanages not everybody likes to hear that. It’s entirely possible to get children back to their families. Typically we trace the family, then we work on psychosocial support. Nobody is suggesting getting the orphanages closed right away but if you slowly redirected the money towards family care it would be very easy.”

Unstable Africa

 Africa is the richest continent in the world, and even much richer than Europe if we are talking about natural resources. 30% of the mineral resources of the planet are in Africa, unfortunately, the continent can't utilize their resources, resulting in corruption, poverty, and slow development. Africa is very rich in oil and gas also, and many others. In Ghana and Mali, for example, there is gold (the third largest reserves in Africa), bauxite, iron ore, and phosphates. In 2010, the EU made a list of 14 strategic minerals, which are almost absent in Europe but available in China and Africa, attracting vultures to the continent.
Oil, uranium, gold, diamonds, cobalt, bauxite, iron ore, are some of the precious resources found in Africa. Besides, the continent also has biodiversity, which is still incredibly rich, despite ruthless exploitation.
It doesn't really make sense how rich Africa is, yet millions of people live in poverty due to many illicit reasons, such as fraud, embezzlement, and over-invoice, collectively deemed as corruption. African politics is not for the masses but for the politicians fighting to be in power. Europe and America media are fastinated by all the bad news about Africa, yet, they won't write of things such such as slavery, colonialism, Apartheid, and diseases which have affected the development of the continent.  
Africa's poverty drives mass departure of Africans in the search of greener pastures in Europe, causing the biggest immigration chaos throughout Europe, especially in Italy. According to United Nation's forecasts, the population of Africa will double amounting 2.5 billion people between 2016 and 2050. This is about the same number of the world's population during the era of the Second World War. The question is whether our planet will sustain such a population growth. However, it should be quite clear that migration is not the solution to these problems.
 Europe shamelessly robbed Africa during the colonial era. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was once the property of a lunatic king Leopold II of Belgium. Since after independence Belgium lost the country, Congo has never been stable. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Uganda and the refugees

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 1.4 million refugees live in Uganda, men, women and children who need food, a roof over their heads and healthcare. The situation in Tanzania and Ethiopia is similar. The UNHCR confirms that Ethiopia had taken in 892,555 refugees by the end of 2017, most of them from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. After Uganda, Ethiopia is the second largest host country for refugees in Africa.
Uganda, itself a developing country, is a front-runner when it comes to progressive refugee policy. Duniya Aslam Khan, UNHCR spokeswoman for Uganda, explains: "Refugees are granted freedom of movement, they have access to medical and educational institutions and have the right to work." But, she says, schools and hospitals are not well enough equipped and the local population also needs to be provided with these services.
"Uganda wants to offer a life worth living to refugees and is, therefore, sharing all the little it has. This should be an eye-opener for wealthy states from the west and America when they talk about funding." 
In October, Uganda requested more support from the international community to help it cope with the flood of refugees coming in. Uganda should not be obliged to borrow money for this purpose but feels forced to do so if there is no support from outside.  If financial aid is withheld, the state has to dig deep into its own almost empty pockets. it is not enough to give money and support to refugees but exclude the local population from the measures implemented.
"Therefore, we are pursuing the 30/70 principle", Khan said. This means that 30 percent of all measures invested in must also benefit the local population. "This is to stabilize the harmonic coexistence between the local and the refugee population," Khan emphasized. When Ugandans are also involved, a stable and well-functioning community can evolve —  and emergency measures can become progressive refugee policy.
"We cannot continue seeing refugees as a burden who are dependent on the generosity of the state," Khan said. If refugees are allowed to work, they can contribute to the host country's economy. Northern Uganda is a good example. Local farmers there share their land with refugees, land that would otherwise remain unattended. The refugees cultivate it, take what they need for themselves and sell the rest. Half of the profits goes to the farmers.
A 2017 study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) found out that refugees place an additional burden on Uganda's national budget of  $323 million (€283 million) annually. The reason: Not enough support from other states, says Jennifer Bose who works for Care International, an aid organization advocating for women and children.
"For Uganda we planned $3 million for urgent assistance, but so far we have only received $763,000. That is only 25 percent of what we need to do our job," she said. In a "Refugee Response Plan" different aid organizations jointly note the amount of financial support they need to carry out their work effectively. For Uganda the figure is $947 million, if the government is to be able to continue with its refugee policy. International organizations like the UN and Care International support the "Refugee Response Plan". "But the refugee program is critically underfinanced. so far only 41 percent of the money needed for the the Refugee Response Plan in Uganda has been paid," Khan said.
Jennifer Bose of Care International was there in early November: "In Ethiopia one million people from the south fled to surrounding regions and lost their home, family and livelihood. Therefore, also internally displaced people require help in their own country, in camps and on the spot. That includes water, sanitary installations and relief supplies. Of the required five million US dollars, only 1.3 million have been financed so far," she told DW. The problem today, she says, is the sheer number of crises in the world.  "It becomes difficult to catch the world's attention so they might focus on one specific problematic situation. Especially when it comes to long lasting crises, we speak of forgotten crises." They attract less and less attention and eventually go unnoticed by the international community.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hunger in the Sahel

The number of hungry children in West Africa's Sahel region reached a 10-year high in 2018 due to poor rains, conflict and high food prices, the United Nations said on Friday.
More than 1.3 million children under the age of five suffered from severe malnutrition this year in the six worst hit countries in the semi-arid belt below the Sahara - a 50 percent increase on 2017, said the U.N. children's agency UNICEF.
"When children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, they are more vulnerable to illnesses such as malaria and waterborne diseases," Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa said in a statement.
Hunger is a recurrent scourge in the region, whose growing population grapples with high poverty rates and periodic droughts, the agency said.
This year the problem was particularly acute across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, it added.
An estimated 6 million people did not have enough to eat across the region during the lean season, according to the U.N. food agency (FAO).
Pastoralist communities were among the worst hit because poor rains meant there was not enough vegetation for grazing, said Coumba Sow, the FAO's regional coordinator for resilience.
The Sahel has only one growing season and if it goes poorly due to climate shocks or conflict people must survive on whatever they have until the next one.
Global warming exacerbates the problem by making rainfall more erratic, said Sow, adding the rains were late and suffered a prolonged break, causing many farmers to lose half their seeds.

Friday, November 16, 2018

More on CAR

Central African Republic risks sliding into full-scale war, an aid agency has warned, after the UN security council failed to agree terms for extending a peacekeeping mission in the country.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said international efforts to solve the crisis were failing and civilians were routinely being targeted.
“The UN effort is not succeeding, the donor effort is not succeeding and the government is in no way steering the country toward good governance,” said Egeland. “Nor are CAR’s neighbours playing the role of being good neighbours stabilising the country...The mission is not even close to fulfilling its mandate of protecting the civilian population,” Egeland added. “Civilians are routinely targeted, killed, abused – the sexual violence is beyond belief”. He continued, “If the conflict continues like right now, full-scale war is much more realistic than any kind of reconciliation and reconstruction outcome we thought of in 2016,” said Egeland.
"This is a place where a hand grenade and loaf of bread are more or less the same price,” he said, adding that the prevalence of diamonds and other precious metals has intensified violence by armed groups. “It is very easy to get guns and grenades for a low price, and unemployed, desperate young men are even cheaper.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cities and climate change

Africa's rapidly expanding cities face huge threats from climate change over the next 30 years, which could bring knock-on effects such as higher crime rates and civil unrest, risk analysts said.

Researchers at UK-based Verisk Maplecroft found 84 of the world's 100 fastest-growing cities are at "extreme risk" from the impacts of a warming planet, including 79 in Africa.

That group contains 15 of the continent's capital cities and many of its commercial hubs, including Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria's most populous city Lagos, Tanzanian business hub Dar es Salaam and Angola's capital, Luanda Fast-rising populations act as "a risk multiplier in lower-income cities with poor public infrastructure and inadequate disaster response mechanisms", with more people putting strain on limited resources, the study said.

Kinshasa, for instance, is now home to about 13 million people, but that figure is set to double by 2035. The city is exposed to shocks from extreme weather, including flooding, as well as slower climate pressures such as drought in surrounding areas, which could drive poor farmers into the city while disrupting food and water supplies, the analysis noted. It and other African cities at extreme risk are grappling with high poverty levels, expanding slums, weak governance and limited ability to adapt to climate shifts, researchers said.

 In Luanda, whose population exploded after oil-rich Angola's civil war ended in 2002, the government has built some new housing for poor slum communities, aiming to provide them with running water, sanitation and power - but it cannot meet demand, said housing minister Ana Paula Chantre Luna de Carvalho."The biggest problem we have is financial constraints," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a conference on smart cities in Barcelona.nLuanda struggles with high heat levels, as well as water shortages, she said.

Niall Smith, an environmental analyst with Verisk Maplecroft, warned wilder weather and rising sea levels could "underpin a whole host of secondary impacts and social issues" such as poverty, violence and resource insecurity. "That is something we would foresee as getting much worse in these high and extreme risk locations," he added.

Mami Mizutori, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said rapid, unplanned urbanisation - "where slums are being created overnight" - is increasing disaster risk in many developing-world cities. "Unless we tackle the development issue as a whole, the urbanisation that is becoming a risk driver is not going to stop," she added.

The waste of gas flaring

Flames as tall as 10-storey buildings burn day and night in the village of Ebedei, in Nigeria's Niger Delta. The constant noise sends wild animals fleeing, and people must shout to be heard over the roaring flames. Fields of crops, once green, have turned yellow or stopped growing entirely. The village no longer enjoys the respite of cool or darkness of night.

In the oil-rich Niger Delta of southern Nigeria, 2 million people live within 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of a gas flare. Below the flames, oil is being extracted. With the oil comes gas — considered by the oil industry to be a dangerous waste product to burned off in a process called gas flaring. And this flaring is on the rise again, despite promises to reduce it. Although gas flaring was officially banned in 1984, the government has repeatedly failed to fulfill promises to end the practice. Exposure to air pollutants released by gas flaring have been linked to cancer and lung damage, as well as neurological and reproductive problems.

The gas flaring caused a rise in soil temperature and declining crop yields for Nwaiku and other farmers. "You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead," he said. "It is a disaster."

Edward Obi, co-founder of the civil society group GASIN, said the Nigerian government "has not made sufficient efforts to insist that oil and gas companies put down the necessary infrastructure to capture the gas and utilize it." Nigeria has set itself a deadline to end routine flaring by 2020. But Obi does not believe this will be met. "Nothing on the ground suggests a realistic 2020 deadline — absolutely nothing."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Caring about CAR

The Central African Republic is facing "the abyss," Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told DW.

"...CAR is actually a place where the poorest people on Earth live on top of diamonds, precious metals and enormous natural resources. So armed groups easily get more arms, more grenades, more young unemployed men to fight for them because they have economic interests. And somehow these economic interests are tied to neighboring countries. It's easier to raise a new army here than to fulfill an effective peace process....Central African Republic is richer in natural resources and cultivable land than my country, Norway. So the potential of this country is of course fantastic. It's also a strategic location in the heart of Africa. But it's more likely that it will go the other way in that we will see more conflict. More young unemployed men learn to live by the gun instead of becoming farmers and carpenters for rebuilding the country. "

"We're failing; for people in CAR, it's going nowhere at the moment." We're steering towards another catastrophe. And I think we humanitarians have to call a spade a spade as well and not just behave as if we were helping a lot of people. Actually, we're helping a minority of the people in need.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Remembering World War One

From 1914, British Empire soldiers fought a four-year guerrilla campaign against a small German force in East Africa. It lasted two weeks longer than the conflict in Europe. On November 25, 1918, Allied and German forces received and accepted the terms, bringing an end to four years of conflict that had cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of African soldiers and civilians over 750,000 square miles - an area three times the size of the German Reich.  The war raged in Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi (then German East Africa) and spread to Mozambique and Zambia.
There was less trench warfare. Instead, the Germans and the Allies chased each other up and down the region, often at a pace of 30km a day.  They levelled villages for supplies and enlisted civilians as soldiers to fight and carriers to shift their supplies. Most soldiers and porters died from malnutrition, fatigue, malaria, tsetse fly and black fever, rather than bullets. Britain brought in forces from across its colonies: troops from Ghana, Nigeria, the West Indies, Jamaica, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa.  Together with Allied forces of Belgium and Portugal, their numbers made up 150,000 soldiers. German forces numbered around 25,000.
More staggering was the number of carriers needed over the four years, at a total of more than one million.  And wherever soldiers went, they recruited more. The official loss of life was around 105,000 although these numbers are almost certainly downplayed. Fundamentally, the deaths of carriers were seen as dispensable and not accurately recorded. We may never know how many Africans died during WWI.  There are no official cemeteries for African soldiers and carriers and there are few traces of the battlefields.  In the south of Tanzania, it is hard to find any trace of the battles. Even at the place of one of the bloodiest battles, Mahiwa, where the death count reached the thousands in just three days, there is little trace of WWI.  Churches kept records of daily life in the run-up to the war: they recorded villagers selling all their livestock so they would have enough money to flee, they recorded student numbers in school plummeting. Meanwhile, British missionaries wrote opportunistically about the lands and congregations of German missions that would become available to them after the war. 
Sukuma, a people from northern Tanzania, traditionally farmers and they were heavily recruited as carriers and soldiers by German forces.
One folk song has the lyrics:
 'Boulders fighting one another on the plain
the Germans and the English
they run about taken to flight
 because of cattle'.
The 'cattle' line means assets: resources, land, livestock, money. In other words, the carriers were fully aware that this conflict was fundamentally a colonial project.

Africa and World War One

With World War I raging in Europe, African soldiers were forced to fight for their colonial masters between 1914 and 1918. France recruited more Africans than any other colonial power, sending 450,000 troops from West and North Africa to fight against the Germans on the front lines.

During the war, around 30,000 Africans died fighting on the side of France alone. 

Clemence Kouame, an African student, told DW that "it hurts" to think about Africa's involvement in the war. 

"People from Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali died for France. It's true that France colonized them, but it wasn't their choice. You could almost say they died for nothing, at least not for their countries," she said. 

During the war, African troops were also deployed in Africa itself. A Senegalese infantry helped France seize the German colony of Togo, and the British also fought alongside African troops against the Germans until 1918. Africans served as scouts, porters and cooks.

Germany also exploited Africa, forcing thousands of Africans into military service in Tanzania — the former German East Africa. 

That meant labor shortages in the fields, which led to widespread starvation. The economy ultimately collapsed and around 1 million people died in East Africa as a result.

 Germany's defeat meant the loss of its colonies, with German East Africa, German Cameroon, Togo and German South West Africa all taken over by the victors. 

In Cameroon, the former colony was divided between Britain and France, with the French getting more than four-fifths of the land. After the end of colonial rule in 1960, the divided country was reunified, but by no means peacefully. The country's English-speaking minority, which felt abandoned by the central government, is still fighting for its own homeland today.

 Namibia, once German South West Africa, was not divided but placed under the control of the League of Nations, the forerunner to the United Nations. An independent country was supposed to emerge with the help of South Africa. But the South African government had other ideas and seized control just two years after the end of the war. South Africa imposed its apartheid regime and oppressed the black population until Namibia's independence in 1990.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fact of the Day

About 60% of the world’s arable land is in Africa

Land-Grab Doesn't Produce Food

In order to avoid water conflicts and to stimulate food production in sub-Saharan Africa, large-scale land acquisition should be regulated and focus on food production. These are the conclusions of a new doctoral thesis from Lund University in Sweden.
Only three per cent of all purchased or leased land in Africa is cultivated, with only a few powerful stakeholders such as China, the USA, and the UK behind a large proportion of global land acquisitions.
"The companies cultivate almost no food crops, and what is cultivated requires enormous amounts of water. Altogether, it appears to be a bad solution for the small-scale farmers in Africa, as few of them are offered jobs or other ways to provide for themselves and their families. The majority are dependent on agriculture, and as the land acquisitions continue, their access to land and water is negatively impacted," says Emma Johansson.
 Emma Johansson's thesis investigates how land use is affected by large-scale land acquisition, also referred to as land grabbing, mainly in Tanzania. The land is often acquired by international companies that purchase or rent large areas. The majority of cultivated land is used for forestry, but also for biofuel production; the most common crops are  and sugarcane. Meanwhile, a large proportion of the  consumed in sub-Saharan Africa is imported. "The focus must be on food and technological solutions that are based on local needs and circumstances. The companies should cultivate crops that are edible and use methods that consume less . The villagers must also have the opportunity to participate, otherwise, those in greatest need of development are disadvantaged," says Emma Johansson, graduate in physical geography and ecosystem science, and an associated researcher at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies.
According to the study, it is essential to develop domestic agriculture so that the countries in sub-Saharan Africa can reduce their food imports over time.
"Currently, agricultural policy does not safeguard the best interests of small farmers. Governments in these countries seem to care more about international investments than if the land is actually being used. In my fieldwork, I saw land that was fenced off but not cultivated, and the villagers were not allowed to use the land," says Emma Johansson.
In Johansson's view, the global market for land acquisition, in which companies are often liquidated, sell off their land or allow it to lie fallow, must be regulated. Some regions have extended their nature reserves as part of efforts to preserve biodiversity, which in turn prevents small-scale farmers to expand into these areas. Climate change could also worsen the situation for small-scale farmers if the region becomes drier and water shortages increase.
"Small-holders are caught between nature and the companies. Less land is available, and many of the villagers I interviewed expressed concerns that they will not have any land to pass on to their children," she said.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Climate Change will change Africa

At least 23 percent of deaths in Africa are linked to the environment, the highest of any region worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
This figure is expected to rise as global warming disrupts food supply, water sources and weather patterns, said Magaran Bagayoko, WHO's director of communicable diseases in Africa.
"There is a very direct link between the impact of climate change and the cost of healthcare," said Jean Paul Adam, health minister of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
A disruption in rainfall patterns over the last ten years has raised the costs of preventing dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus endemic to Seychelles, he said.
Dengue outbreaks used to happen only during the rainy season, which lasted a few months a year. But now rain is unpredictable and comes year round, as does the disease, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "With the disruption of rainfall, dengue is now persistent and continuous," Adam said. "Resources are being diverted towards having to be in a constant state of readiness."
Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and zika are expected to become more common, since the mosquitoes that spread them thrive in warmer climates, scientists say.
But mosquitoes are not the only problem.
Climate change causes floods and storms, which can lead to water-borne diseases such as cholera, and diet-related problems through drought and declining food stocks, experts said.
Cape Verde, a group of islands off the west coast of Africa, has struggled with severe drought in recent years and has worked hard to stave off hunger, said health minister Arlindo Rosario. As local agriculture suffers, people are eating more imported food, which brings a variety of other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, he said.
"Climate change hits small countries in a lot of ways," Rosario explained. "I think that when we talk about the impacts of climate change, there should be an international fund for health."

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Mauritania's slavery endures

Slavery is a word spoken in whispers in Mauritania. But no one will admit to owning slaves anymore, and no slave will admit to being one.

Day after day, Aminetou Mint Yarg and her fellow villagers in southern Mauritania haul water from the river and tend to their crops under a burning desert sun. In good years, they grow fields of corn, millet and beans. But the profits are not theirs to reap.
"The land belongs to our masters," says Yarg, referring to members of the light-skinned elite, known as white Moors. When the harvest is good, they come from the city to take their part.
Yarg is descended from a family of slaves that have for decades served a family of masters. This is the predominant structure of society in Mauritania, an Islamic republic on the Sahara's western edge that straddles Arab and black Africa.
Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981, the last country to do so, and criminalised it in 2007. There have been just four prosecutions of slave-owners. The government rejects international figures, saying cases of slavery exist, but the practice is not widespread.
Most are hidden in plain sight, rights groups say. While some are housemaids who pass as employees, many live without their masters, bound by a lack of options and a belief that slavery is their fate, activists say.
"Of course if you're expecting to see people in chains then you won't see that," said Karine Penrose-Theis, Africa programme coordinator for British-based group Anti-Slavery International. "The dependency relationship can be much more subtle, much more invisible than that."
The distinction between slave and former slave is blurred here, as it is rarely more than a generation past, said Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, who was born into slavery and is now a leading activist. Today many descendants of slaves live freely because their labour is not needed, he said. But they or their children will be sent for when the master's family wants a herder or a maid.
"Everyone knows who has a master that still comes often, or who has a daughter with the master in the city," Ramdhane said.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Remedying colonialism

In 1911, the Belgian colonial administration unilaterally awarded Lord Leverhulme of Britain a massive one-million-hectare land concession covering the territories of these communities and many others. Leverhulme, with the support of the Belgian army, used forced labour and violent repression to extract palm oil from the forests for his Sunlight soap factories in the UK and eventually erected several oil palm plantations within the concession area that would come to be owned and operated by the multinational food giant Unilever. In 2009, Unilever sold its DRC oil palm plantation subsidiary, Plantations et Huileries du Congo (PHC), along with a set of contested concession contracts totalling over 100,000 hectares, to a Canadian company with no previous experience with plantations-- Feronia Inc.

Nine communities from the DR Congo took a historic step this week by filing a complaintwith the complaints mechanism* of the German development bank (Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft – DEG). The communities of the DR Congo want a resolution to a land conflict that dates back to the Belgian colonial period with a palm oil company that is currently being financed by a consortium of European development banks led by DEG. The nine communities filed their complaint with the DEG's complaints mechanism on Monday, November 5, 2018. They say that the illegal theft of their traditional lands and forests has deprived them of the means to feed and house their families and earn their livelihoods. Some of the people from the communities work on the plantations, but the vast majority of jobs are as day labourers where wages are below the costs of living. Poverty and malnutrition within the communities are rampant and severe, and the communities say that conditions have worsened since Feronia took over the plantations from Unilever.
Over the years, the communities within the concessions claimed by PHC have sought to regain control over their lands and have called for negotiations with the company and government authorities to determine the conditions under which the company may be allowed to continue to operate. These communities have issued multiple letters, memos and declarations that have been addressed to or have been sent to government authorities, company representatives and the development banks financing Feronia and PHC.
In full knowledge of this on-going legacy land issue, the DEG and other development banks from the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the US have, since 2013, provided Feronia Inc and its subsidiary PHC with upwards of US$180 million in financial assistance. The development funds of the UK, Spain, France and the US directly or indirectly hold shares of Feronia Inc while PHC has received US$ 49 million in loans from a consortium of lenders led by DEG that includes the development banks of Belgium and the Netherlands. Considering their significant involvement and the direct link between denied access to land and hunger and poverty in the communities, development banks have a responsibility for ongoing abuses of human rights and the failure to resolve the conflicts that the two companies are embroiled in.
The nine communities have filed this complaint with the DEG's complaints mechanism in the hopes that the consortium of lenders led by DEG, will finally force the company into a dispute resolution and mediation process with the communities that resolves the land conflict by defining the area of land on which PHC can operate and the conditions under which it may do so. All development banks have justified their investment in Feronia or PHC with their mandate to support development in Africa, which, in this case, cannot be achieved without a resolution of the land conflict.

FGM - Figures down

The number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation has fallen dramatically in east Africa over the past two decades, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
The study, which looked at rates of FGM among girls aged 14 and under, suggests that prevalence in east Africa has dropped from 71.4% in 1995, to 8% in 2016.
According to the study in the BMJ, the rates of FGM practised on children have fallen in north Africa, from 57.7% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2015. In west Africa, prevalence is also reported to have decreased from 73.6% in 1996 to 25.4% in 2017.

UN analysis suggests that rates of FGM among girls aged 15-19 have fallen from 46% in 2000 to 35% in 2015, according to statistics across 30 countries with nationally representative data. The report did not examine the reasons why FGM rates had fallen, but said it was likely to have been driven by policy changes, national and international investment.