Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Lesotho in the Doldrums

 When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world two years ago, the global fashion industry crumpled. Faced with collapsing demand, brands cancelled orders worth billions of dollars and factories across Africa and Asia went belly up. Few felt the effects as harshly as the tens of millions of workers, most of them women, who stitched the world’s clothes.

In Lesotho, the pain was especially widespread. Although small in comparison with global garment-making giants such as Bangladesh and China, Lesotho’s clothing industry is the country’s largest private employer, and more than 80% of its workers are women, according to government officials. Most are the first women in their families to earn a paycheck, a quiet gender revolution built on T-shirts and tracksuits.

In 2001, Lesotho signed on to an American trade deal: the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which guaranteed it duty-free imports to the U.S. of clothing manufactured in the country. Chinese and Taiwanese companies built sprawling factories on the industrial edges of Maseru. Today, textile products account for nearly half of Lesotho’s exports, about $415 million annually, mostly bound for the United States.

“This industry made the women of our country much less vulnerable,” said Sam Mokhele, the general secretary of the National Union of Clothing and Textile Allied Workers Union, which represents garment workers in Lesotho. “But the pandemic devastated that.”

More than 11,000 of Lesotho’s 50,000 garment workers have lost their jobs since March 2020, according to government figures. The job losses were catastrophic in one of the world’s least developed countries, with 2.1 million people and few formal employers.

The cutbacks highlighted the precarious nature of the gains made by the country’s women factory workers and the industry’s reliance on the whims of consumers on the other side of the world, where clothing is bought and disposed of at a blistering pace.

The rapid industrial growth had a profound ripple effect across the city’s economy. Tin shacks sprouted like weeds outside the factory gates, selling garment workers everything from apples and beers to mobile phone airtime and secondhand clothing. Every morning, taxi vans full of commuters wheezed in from the city’s fringes. Landlords built rows of simple cinderblock rooms with outdoor toilets on the edges of the industrial districts, where the city slackened into farmland and herders grazed their sheep beside tiny corner stores and informal taverns.

“When you speak about this industry being devastated by the pandemic, it isn’t just the workers themselves,” said Mokhele, the union leader. “It’s everyone around them, too.”

Experts are uncertain about the garment industry’s future — both in Lesotho and globally. It’s unclear whether the industry will find ways to better cushion workers or will continues its race to the cheapest possible production.

Women of Lesotho's garment industry lose jobs, hope in COVID | AP News

Sunday, March 27, 2022

"Darling Kaunda (1972)

 From the March 1972 issue of the Socialist Standard

We have always been a lone voice when we have said that the struggles of subject peoples of Africa for national independence are a fruitless waste of blood and effort. The fact is that at present all peoples are subject peoples; those of England, Russia or Cuba, just as much as those of Kenya, or Zambia who were until recent times under the rule of British imperialism. And now that the hated British have gone, all that has happened is that the mass of the peoples of black Africa has changed white rulers for black ones. But it would be a bold man who would now say that the change from a foreign to a native ruling class has meant any real gain for the ruled.

The rulers of black Africa make a great hooha because the Tory government has come to terms with the Smith regime in Rhodesia before the achievement of that great desideratum — one man, one vote. Now Socialists are the last to decry the necessity of democracy even under capitalism. On the contrary, we realise that when the time comes that the working class understands the meaning of the need for Socialism, then it is by the exercise of the vote in a democracy, that the new society will be won. In the meantime, the sheer hypocrisy of the African rulers is quite mind-boggling. If any racialist doubted the equality of black with white, they must at least be convinced that a black politician can be every bit as obnoxious a liar and a humbug as his white equivalent. The leading opponent of the deal with Smith is Nyerere of Tanzania who sheds his crocodile tears over the lack of votes and other rights of democracy in Rhodesia for the black inhabitants of that unhappy land where most of the population is disfranchised and the leading spirits of would-be opposition parties are kept in detention without trial.

Yet none knows better than he (who compounds his felonies with the impudent claim to be establishing Socialism in his country — but then that specious nonsense is repeated in all the most unlikely places, Egypt, Israel, India et al) that the same lack of democracy exists in his own country. It is true that the blacks have equality of voting rights: But Nyerere has made sure that the vote is worth nothing by banning all opposition so that in practice you have a vote without a choice. Which is just as much a sordid farce in present-day Tanzania as it was in Hitlerite Germany (or as it is, of course, in Russia or China). And in Tanzania, just as much as in Rhodesia, the place for political opponents, for those who dare to suggest there should be freedom to vote for some other party than Nyerere’s is in gaol. Black political prisoners have, in fact, been languishing in gaol in Tanzania just as long as in Rhodesia.

In neighbouring Zambia, the president, “my darling Kaunda”, as a New Statesman harridan, Naomi Mitchison, once called him, has decided that the faint vestiges of democracy that were discernible (under a microscope) in his country were no longer supportable and he was graciously giving his people a new constitution. A one-party democracy. (And don’t imagine that this square circle is always recognised as such even here. The allegedly liberal Guardian, for example, has often sent its creepy-left reporters like Steele and Adeney and Gott to sing the virtues of Nyerere’s Tanzania and has used the phrase “one-party democracy” without a blush). It seems that a former comrade of Kaunda’s called Kapwepe, had the temerity to use the existing constitution to form another opposition party. Constitution is damned, said that lovable democrat Kaunda and proceeded to shove over 100 prominent supporters of the infant new party where he thinks they belong in liberated Africa. In clink. But still, he wasn’t satisfied. It’s not enough that he throws members of an opposition party into gaol. He must also make sure that they have no paper right to form an opposition party at all, which is why he wants to change the constitution. The poor devils who wish to have a little of the freedom the African nationalists were always prating about must be wondering why he bothers. They will rot in gaol either way.

Perhaps to rub in the anti-racialist lesson that white political crooks and black ones are birds of a feather, Kaunda is not satisfied with playing the role of an African Hitler, he must emulate Stalin as well. It is always difficult to form an opinion as to which particular piece of murderous villainy of Stalinist Russia was the worst, but one that was extremely gruesome was, at the time of the infamous pact with the Nazi beast, then handing over to the Nazis of German Communist leaders who had taken refuge in Russia — Stalin’s own dear comrades. We don’t know whether these victims appreciated the change of scenery as they were taken from a Communist concentration camp to be butchered in a Nazi one, but the episode was one to make a Borgia cringe. And where does our gallant Christian and “socialist” Kaunda come into this? Well, as is well known, his great enemy is the white-fascist-beast, his neighbour Smith of Rhodesia. So what does he do? He rounds up black “freedom” fighters in his own country. And does he gaol them (without trial, of course)? It seems that wouldn’t suit his book. He actually hands them over to the white-fascist murderers, the self-same villains that cause him to inveigh against our wicked Tories (they are undoubtedly wicked enough, including of course that fat cynic Lord Goodman who used to have the nerve to call himself a socialist. Presumably still does). And of course, Smithy gratefully accepts the gift and does what Kaunda expected him to do. Sentence the poor bastards to death.

No doubt you heard the screams of protest from the assembled leftists as they smashed the windows of the Zambian legation to draw attention to this monstrosity. And then you woke up. There hasn't been as much as a resounding tinkle. Exactly the same as in the good old days when Stalin was murdering Russian workers by the millions, including his own Bolshevik comrades. Some, one must say, did demur. A quarter of a century later when Khruschev came out with the news that honest people knew perfectly well at the time. The Guardian did report these grisly goings-on. But there have been no screaming leading articles denouncing Kaunda for the way he treats black men. Yet they are so ardently concerned with the freedom of black people that hardly a day is allowed to pass without a denunciation of Vorster and Co. (who are indeed grim enough in all conscience).

And what does all this add up to? Surely, all the energy that millions of people, black and white, put into reforms such as nationalism, not to mention all the heroism and sacrifice in places like the Mau Mau jungles, all this simply leaves the capitalist jungle intact. And it, therefore, follows that all the jungly things go on and the sufferings of mankind go on with them. Roll on the day when the working class of the world, black, white, brown, yellow, decide that only the cutting down of the capitalist jungle will serve. Because until that day dawns, humanity will have to live with horror.
L. E. Weidberg.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Food in Sudan to Become a Luxury

 UN warns up to 18 million in Sudan could be in need of aid by September as food prices soar due to conflict, poor harvests and economic crisis.

In a joint statement, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation said more than 18 million people could face extreme hunger over the coming months, up from about 9 million currently in need of aid.

“There are already worrying signs that access, affordability and the availability of food is shrinking for most people in Sudan, which is pushing more people deeper into poverty and hunger,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s country director in Sudan.

Harvests from this month’s cereal production are expected to be more than a third lower than last year. Sorghum harvests are expected to be down by 32%, while millet production is estimated to be less than half yielded in 2020.

 A loaf of bread has increased to 50 Sudanese pounds (SDG), up from 30 last week. A 50kg sack of sugar has risen from 18,000 to 30,000 SDG in the last 10 days. A litre of gasoline increased from 320 SDG pounds in November to 672 SDG this week.

Attempts to import cereals into Sudan could be hampered by the weakening national currency, which has fallen sharply since October’s coup, and the war in Ukraine. Sudan is dependent on wheat imports from the Black Sea region: about 50% of its wheat came from Russia last year. Any disruption to the flow will increase prices, which have already risen by 180% to $550 a tonne since the first quarter of 2021.

“The ripple effects created by the bullets and bombs landing in Ukraine will be felt far and wide, including here in Sudan, as families are set to suffer even further with basic meals becoming a luxury for millions,” said Rowe.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Don't forget about the other wars

 Millions of Tigrayans are going hungryThe main planting season is due to begin in Tigray next month, but seeds and fertilisers are running out.

Last year’s harvest was marginally better than feared and coping mechanisms – such as selling off livestock, begging or cutting household spending on health or education – may have temporarily staved off the worst scenario predicted by the UN. 

“We do believe that the resilience, or the coping mechanisms, of the kinds we were looking at early on was higher than what we maybe gave them credit for then,” says a US official involved in the relief effort. “But at the same time, we still assess that roughly 700,000 people in Tigray are in famine-like conditions.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, said there was “nowhere on earth” where the health of millions of people was more under threat than in Tigray.

US officials estimate about 80% of Tigray’s population is still food insecure, up from 15% before war broke out in November 2020. Malnutrition rates have risen to 13% for children under five and more than 60% for pregnant and lactating women. Local people say food prices have doubled and in some cases have risen by 400%.

Since July, Tigray’s population of about 5.5 million has been under what the UN has described as a “de facto blockade”, imposed by the prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, as part of the government’s battle against rebels from the region led by the TPLF. Eight months since the occupying Ethiopian army withdrew from Tigray, less than 10% of the food aid needed has made it to Mekelle, capital of the region, and not one aid truck has arrived in Tigray since mid-December. A single road, which winds through the neighbouring desert of Afar region, has been cleared for humanitarian convoys. Communication and banking services have been shut down. Until last month, barely any medicines or hospital supplies had been allowed into Tigray and the Mekelle’s Ayder referral 500-bed hospital is still not receiving its monthly budget. “Almost all medical units are on the brink of total failure,” says a hospital spokesperson.  “Before the war the hospital had availability of about 80% of essential drugs,” says a Mekelle doctor, who did not want to be named. “Currently it is down to 11.8%, and the state of other services is basically the same as it was in the past months. And not only that, we have a huge number of patients flooding in now because they think they will find medication here.”

A shadow economy, from fuel to finance, has filled part of the gap. More than a third of the population relies on gifts or loans for food, according to a recent World Food Programme study. For those receiving funds from outside the region, black-market lenders distribute the cash but take double-digit commissions. Others rely on smugglers crossing from the neighbouring Afar or Amhara regions, or for aid workers with permits to bring in small cash allowances. Some resort to bribing bank managers to withdraw money.

“Why can’t Abiy allow unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray?” asks a diabetic patient at the hospital. “Why is he using aid as a bargaining chip? Are we not Ethiopians?”

Foreign aid workers and diplomats who spoke with the Guardian say that the Ethiopian government made new commitments at the start of the year to ease restrictions on relief convoys entering Tigray through Afar, as well as to allow medical supplies by air. But recent fighting in Afar has hindered the implementation of those commitments.

‘Trying to survive’: millions in Tigray face hunger as they wait in vain for aid | Global development | The Guardian

Africa's Potential

 In sub-Saharan Africa, a comprehensive approach to food, farming and resources could increase crop production by more than 500% in some countries in the region, according to new research by more than 200 experts.

Malawi’s crucial maize yields could fall by a fifth by 2050 without action, but with a coordinated approach to technology, agriculture, infrastructure and food security, its production could increase by more than 700%.

Tanzania had the potential for a 17-fold increase in crop production.

There is no single technological fix but significant improvements could be achieved with new approaches, based on modelling done by the network of researchers in Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia.

 Sithembile Mwamakamba, director of policy research and analysis at the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, a pan-African organisation explained, “If urgent action is not taken to make agriculture in the region more resilient to climate impacts, our food systems will definitely fail us and push our rural communities to the edge.”

Mwamakamba said “climate smart” policies need to cut across sectors to be effective, recognising that the climate crisis can affect agriculture, health, nutrition and security.  The researchers produced a tool that quantified crop yields, land and water use as well as greenhouse gas emissions and nutrition to model the effects of the changing climate and how policies could have an impact.

There had been successful trials of agricultural methods such as terracing, said researchers, as a way to improve soil health and water availability. The report added that developing new crop varieties were crucial to cope with extreme temperatures and rainfall. It also warned that policies developed in isolation could lead to conflicts. For example, the expansion of agricultural land to increase production could cause tensions over land and water usage.

‘Climate smart’ policies could increase southern Africa’s crops by up to 500% | Global development | The Guardian

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Batwa - Animals are treated better

 Evicted from their ancestral forest homes three decades ago in a move to conserve wildlife, many of Uganda's Batwa people feel betrayed. For centuries they lived off the forests of the mountainous regions on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo as hunter-gatherers. But in the 1990s, the Ugandan Batwa were evicted from the Bwindi, Mgahinga and Echuya forests in the south-west of the country as the areas became wildlife parks, primarily for the protection of rare mountain gorillas.

After their eviction, some Batwa families were given farmland by the government. But as they did not know how to farm, the land was sold off and many were scattered across the region, surviving on charity from neighbours and non-profit organisations.

Numbering less than 7,000 in Uganda, many Batwa have moved to urban areas, like Kisoro, which is near the forests.

"Some neighbours despised us, calling us bush people," remembers Aida Kehuuzo, who is about 80 years old.

 On the edge of the town families squat on public land, in homes built from cardboard and tarpaulin. The community exists on the fringes.

Attempts to do interviews with them proved futile, as many feel exploited by politicians and organisations and they are hostile to outsiders.

"You come here to take pictures and sell them. What do we get in return? I won't talk to you if you don't pay me," shouts one woman.

In 2011, a group of Batwa with support from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), took the Ugandan government to court over the evictions - and late last year, the constitutional court ruled in their favour. It said the community had been treated inhumanly and ordered "fair and just compensation" be paid within 12 months, but the government intends to appeal.

Alice Nyamihanda, who works UOBDU and is one of the few Batwa university graduates, says the community needs to fight for equality.

"I want my fellow Batwa to be like other people," she says - not scrapping for leftover food from dustbins as is often the case in Kisoro. "The animals are being treated better than the Batwa because when tourists come, they pay some money, then the government uses that money, and the Batwa are suffering." 

The animals she speaks of are mountain gorillas. The government charges up to $700 (£530) to go gorilla tracking.

The Batwa want a place to call home and recognition as an endangered indigenous people so they have better protection under international law.

Uganda's Batwa people: Evicted from a forest to help save gorillas - BBC News

Wrong about Kenya? (2006)

 Letters to the Editors from the March 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard

Wrong about Kenya?

Dear Editors,

We have the following observations on the article “Kenya Referendum farce” (Socialist Standard, December).

The struggle for a new Constitution has been going on since Moi took power in 1978. In 1982, the fear by Moi of the setting up of the Kenya Socialist Alliance led the Moi government to convert Kenya into a one party dictatorship. During the 80s, the struggle around the Constitution mainly focused on changing the document to allow for political pluralism. Moi gave in and allowed alternative parties in 1990. But the struggle for a new Constitution continued as Moi continued to use the document to abuse power.

We agree with much of your views that the Constitution will not put food on the table for the exploited workers and the oppressed in Kenya. Our view within the Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance and which we have repeated several times in the past is that the Constitution is a piece of paper which will be violated by the ruling class if their interests are at stake.

From a Socialist perspective, the Constitution can only matter if the power to implement it rests on the hands of the working class, not the thieving ruling class. Even if another “democratic Constitution” is drafted and passed, it will not solve the problem of mass unemployment, mass poverty, exploitation of workers and peasants in Kenya, collapsed health care system and other social and economic maladies brought about by the rot and decay of the deformed capitalist system in our country.

The “Yes” and the “No” bandwagons have no political alternative because parties represented on both sides are fundamentally liberal. We take the position that the real solution to the crisis in Kenya rests on the establishment of a “Workers/Socialist Party” in the country. At the moment, the unworkable system of capitalism is not facing any confrontation.

Our support for the “Orange team” was strategic. Kenyans need to do away with “the problem of the Constitution” so that they can realize that a New Constitution is actually not the solution to the political and economic crisis brought about by the thieving ruling class.

You could have come out clearly in the article to assert that Kenya needs a Socialist government or a “Workers Party” armed with a revolutionary socialist Program for change and transformation instead of talking about a “system which has no frontiers”.

Your article is good. But your writer should also have attacked capitalism directly instead of talking about a system “where money is being worshiped”. By leaving out the dimension of “Socialism” and “Capitalism” in the article (referring to them indirectly) your writer squandered an opportunity to pit Socialism as an alternative against capitalism which needs to be overthrown in Kenya.

We believe that it could have been wrong for us to support the “Yes” side or to sit on the fence as your writer did because the struggle for a new constitution is part of the democratic struggle in our country. While participating in the process, we utilized every opportunity to point out that the Constitution is not the answer to the crisis in Kenya while at the same time pointing out the limitations of the Orange camp which will not be able to go beyond the Constitution to challenge capitalism.

Needless to say, our Comrades on the ground managed to introduce “Mapambano”, our Newsletter, as the official slogan of the Orange campaign. Since the Orange leaders will not be able to deliver even if they came to power, a new force will have to come into play and this is the period we are preparing for.
Okoth Osewe, Secretary, 
Kenya Socialist Democratic Alliance ( )

We don’t understand the logic of your position: why vote for something you know is pointless? We suspect, though, that you have a “vanguardist” approach and were just opportunistically using the No campaign to attract a following and that by “socialism” you mean some sort of national state capitalism – Editors.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Oil: the Niger Delta crisis (2006)


From the March 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard
On January 11, 2006, four oil workers were kidnapped in the Niger delta in Nigeria by the militias and were released only after several weeks of negotiation between the local authority and the central government. As in so many other places, the basic issue was oil.
Nigeria’s Niger Delta crisis goes back to 1920 and the treaties that the forefathers of the people of the region signed with the imperial masters in Bonny. The Niger Delta spreads out over several states and even before Nigeria’s independence in October 1960, there had been serious tensions surrounding the arrangements for the government of the region.

Warri in Delta state is the second most important oil town in the country after Port Harcourt, the capital of River state. Delta state produces approximately 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil, and it is the richest state in the Nigerian federation. Its capital is Asaba near Onitsha, the biggest commercial market in Africa. But Warri town is claimed by three ethnic groups. Port Harcourt, the capital of River state, has a mixture of small ethnic groups.

When you look at the situation in the Niger Delta, you will see reasons why they took fighting the Nigerian federation. The Niger Delta has been devastated by pollution from oil spillages. Shell has caused a lot of destruction on their land. Capitalism is only interested in making profit at the expense of the poor masses. These people have no shelter; no food, no electricity, no hospital, no school, no road, even no water for them to drink.

This struggle started in the sixties when the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro, a renegade Ijaw soldier, declared an Ijaw secession in February 1966. After him came the writer Ken Saro Wiwa. He fought against environmental pollution in the Niger Delta under the junta of General Sanni Abacha. He was tried and condemned to death by hanging in the late 90s. Recently, Alhaji Dokubo Asari, leader of Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force (NDPVF), started a rebellion against Nigeria. The NDPVF has been in existence since the late 1980’s but not on as high a level as today.

The Niger Delta oil is shared in the following ways by the political bandits: Shell owns 30 percent, Total (formerly Elf) 10 percent, Agip 5 percent. The rest goes to Nigeria and the private partners in business. According to OPEC, Nigeria’s total oil production is 2.018 million bpd per day. And a barrel of oil cost $30 to $35. Where is the money from oil since the sixties till today?

The Niger Delta crisis has been going on for years but no government in Nigeria has taken the problem seriously. The people have been appealing to the government to negotiate by a peaceful political process on how to increase the little percent of oil revenues that was given to them but the government never bothers to deal with the request or the suffering of the people. And that is capitalism for you.

On December 30 1998, some unarmed Ijaw youths went on a peaceful demonstration to express their grievances to the military administrator of Bayelsa state to tell the multinational oil corporations operating in Ijaw lands and territorial waters and indeed in the larger Niger Delta to pack and leave. Instead of calming the youths down and passing their message to his boss, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, the governor ordered his military boys in the state house (which was built with oil money) to open fire on the protesters. And some protesters died and some were wounded from the gunfire. And that made the youths to go wild in their struggle.

President Abubakar and the governor who were being paid their salary from the tax collected from the poor people, moved in artillery pieces, tanks and armoured personnel carriers, as well as fast attack amphibious craft with 700 soldiers to kill their fellow compatriots whose gold and glass skyline rose out of the Delta’s wealth of poverty.

The current president, Obasanjo, promised the Niger Delta that if he was elected, he would introduce a comprehensive development plan for them. But, all those promises were false; after all what did he do when, as General Obasanjo, he was head of state from 1976 to 1979?

The Nigerian military regimes have stolen so much money from the country that they have impoverished it. Each time the Niger Delta people protest, the government refers them to the secretary to government or the minister of petroleum resources or some other officials who really have no capacity to take decisive steps to address the problems.

The stealing of the Nigerian mineral resources by few groups of political bandits at the helm of government has caused Nigerians to drench in misery and abject poverty. These politicians are happy to drive Lincoln navigator, Lamborghini, limousine, Cadillac, Ferrari, helicopter and jets. Whereas millions go to bed on an empty stomach in this one world. And thousands of people squeeze themselves into dilapidated buses that have no roadworthiness again or technical control.

The oil in Niger Delta is enough to sustain born and unborn Nigerians happy till eternity if properly shared among the people. Not to mention other mineral resources like coal in Enugu, rubber in Benin, cocoa in the West, palm produce, precious stones, tin ore, bauxite and even groundnuts, etc.

Because of the government's negligence to the masses, unemployment is massive. Master’s degree holders from reputable universities have devised their means of surviving by using motor-cycle to carry passengers for commercial purpose. Armed robbers are terrorising the poor masses. There is no security of life and property as a result of capitalism.

Today the political juggernauts who were elected to improve on the standard of living of the people are now using the resources of the people to buy property overseas. The majority of the Nigerian politicians often have up to ten executive cars in their homes. Some even have helicopters and private jets, all at the expense of the poor masses. Without talking about their special suites in the Nicon-Noga hotel and Sheraton, all in Abuja for free at the expense of the masses from the Niger Delta oil.

The Nigeria finance minister, Mrs Ngozi Okonji Iwuala, is working tirelessly to retrieve the millions of money that was sent overseas by our political leaders, whereas millions of Naira are lying on her doorstep from these corrupt politicians. These politicians don’t pay taxes or rates. They are institutions and untouchable. Nigerian politicians drive their cars freely on the roads without police control because they all have police escorts that are always with them. But, for a poor Nigerian to travel from Lagos to Enugu or Owerri or Umuahia or Abakaliki or Uyo or Calabar is like trying to get into heaven. The Nigerian police and the tax collectors are everywhere in the Niger Delta to the Eastern Nigeria roads stopping commuter buses and taxis every hundred metres demanding for tax and rates from the people whose resources are taken overseas by the capitalist leaders.

It was because of the nonchalant attitude of the government, the marginalisation of the Igbos and other minorities in non power sharing, together with outside capitalist interference, that triggered the declaration of independence by Biafra in 1967. And today many are rising against the state, such as Niger Delta Peoples’ Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and the Oduduwa Peoples’ Congress (OPC) for the Yorubas. Also, the Arewa Republic for the northerners. Today, many Nigerians are no more thinking of one Nigeria but thinking of their own state secession.

Remember too that the oil that is produced in the Niger Delta costs more money to buy in Niger Delta than in Abuja or in Sokoto, which is about 3500km away from Port Harcourt. Capitalism has no soul or respect for humanity in this one world. Capitalism in Nigeria should be totally eradicated from our society otherwise there will be more kidnapping, armed robbery, guerrilla attacks by militias, strikes, violent demonstrations and anarchy that can lead to total collapse of Nigerian federation like Yugoslavia. The cruelty of capitalism in Nigeria is so cumbersome that 70 percent of Nigerians live on under one dollar per day. While a privileged minority of capitalists and corrupt politicians live more like Bill Gates.

Many Nigerians are running away from the country in search of white collar-jobs in the West because of abject poverty, political crisis and ethnic and religious inquisitions that the government cannot control. In the process, many have died in the desert or on the sea trying to cross borders to the West. Many are languishing in prisons in Europe and America, just on immigration offences. Nigerians in the diaspora and at home should organise against capitalism and take the challenge upon them to address the raging crisis in Nigeria for the interest of the people through a political and economic revolution.

Bamidele C. Iloanya

Monday, March 21, 2022

Ample Water in Africa

 Groundwater resources in sub-Saharan Africa are enough to transform agriculture in the region and provide people with adequate safe water for their drinking and hygiene needs, if the resource can be better managed, researchers have said.

Groundwater – found underground in aquifers, rocks and soils – makes up about 99% of all liquid freshwater on earth, and is abundant in much of Africa, but a lack of investment has left it untapped or poorly managed, two major studies have found. The reserves could be used for irrigation and to supply clean and safe water, but there is also a danger that if used unsustainably they could be rapidly depleted or polluted.

Tim Wainwright, the chief executive of WaterAid UK, the charity behind one of the reports, said: “Our findings debunk the myth that Africa is running out of water. But the tragedy is that millions of people on the continent still do not have enough clean water to drink. There are vast reserves of water right under people’s feet, many of which are replenished every year by rainfall and other surface water, but they can’t access it because services are chronically underfunded.”

WaterAid, along with the British Geological Society, found that most African countries could survive at least five years of drought, and some more than 50 years, on their groundwater reserves. Their study, entitled Groundwater: the world’s neglected defence against climate change, found that every sub-Saharan African country could supply 130 litres a day of drinking water per capita from groundwater without using more than a quarter of what can be renewed, and most using only about 10%.

Separately, the UN’s annual World Water Development Report also concentrated on groundwater this year. It found that only 3% of farmland in sub-Saharan Africa was equipped for irrigation, and only 5% of that area used groundwater, even though groundwater is often abundant in the region.

Richard Connor, lead author and editor of the UN report for Unesco, said groundwater was not being used in Africa because of a lack of investment in equipment and infrastructure, and a shortage of institutions, trained professionals and knowledge of the resource. 

There are also dangers to over-exploiting groundwater. Some groundwater is quickly replenished as rain falls, but there are also aquifers that have lain undisturbed for millennia and even millions of years. This “fossil water” is now within reach of modern pumping methods, and has been effectively mined as such, for instance to build cities in the desert in the Middle East. This cannot last, as the water is not replaceable across human timescales.

Connor pointed to other examples around the world of over-exploitation, in south Asia, parts of the US and Australia, where groundwater has been used unsustainably. In India, for instance, more than 30 years of incentives from government to farmers to extract water, without the development of accompanying governance structures to ensure the water was shared equitably and managed for the long-term, has led to rampant over-use, with groundwater depleted beyond its natural ability to recharge. That has left farmers fighting over a dwindling resource, with falling and increasingly polluted water tables.

Connor said public participation was key, with local people being given rights and responsibilities over their resources, and the know-how to extract and use groundwater efficiently and sustainably. 

The Oakland Institute has published a separate study showing that big agricultural commodity companies from overseas are seeing a major opportunity in Africa. 

The report warned that in many cases, far from seeing benefits from the development, local people were often disadvantaged. “When irrigation infrastructure is established, it benefits private firms for large-scale agriculture, often for export crops, instead of local farmers and communities,” the report says. “People living in arid and semi-arid lands are severely impacted by large-scale irrigation projects that reduce available pastures, and prevent flood recession agriculture, while fences and canals cut through traditional routes of people and livestock.”

Better use of groundwater could transform Africa, research says | Water | The Guardian

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Western Sahara - Spain Supports Morocco

 Spain announced a major shift in policy Friday, endorsing a Moroccan plan for an autonomous Western Sahara region under Rabat's rule in what Madrid called the beginning of "a new phase in relations."

The royal palace in Rabat said Friday that King Mohammed VI had received a letter from Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announcing Madrid recognizes "the importance of the Sahara issue for Morocco," and that "Spain considers the autonomy initiative presented by Morocco in 2007, as the most serious, realistic and credible basis for settling the dispute."

The plan envisions autonomy in Western Sahara, which Rabat has regarded as its own since annexing it when Spain abandoned its former colony in 1975. 

But the Polisario Front independence movement wants the region to be a sovereign state for the ethnic Saharawi people. "Spain has succumbed to Moroccan blackmail and pressure," said Polisario's Spanish delegate Abdulah Arabi. He added that Madrid was "paying a toll" to mend political ties and demanded, "the solution has to be based on the choice voted by the Saharawi people."

The shift in policy comes in the wake of a serious diplomatic spat sparked when Madrid allowed Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali to travel to Spain for medical treatment last year. Rabat reacted by allowing upwards of 10,000 people to cross its border into the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta, creating a humanitarian crisis. Rabat also recalled its ambassador to Madrid and has yet to reinstate her. 

Morocco says Spain backs its designs on Western Sahara | News | DW | 18.03.2022