African Voices Challenge the ‘Single Story’

African Voices Challenge the ‘Single Story’

The Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about the traditions of a single story framed by prejudice, stereotypes, and misinformation. The author of “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006), she has several other notable books, short stories, plays and poem anthologies under her belt, but this presentation transcends continents, cultures, and class. View the video here.

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South Sudan. Newest Country. Newest Colony?

10 July 2011 - Last year we reported on Land Grabs in Ethiopia and earlier this year we featured a post on Neo-Colonialism in Africa.

Yesterday, South Sudan became an independent country poised to become the 193rd member of the United Nations.  Simultaneous to its creation representatives from multinational corporations have begun to pour into Juba, the capital of the fledgling nation.  The number of foreigners arriving is so noticeable that locals have begun to complain.

Foreign powers invading and carving up Africa in order to exploit its land and resources is well-known practice.  In the 19th Century the era of European Colonization began in Africa.  At that time, the major players were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Belgium. These countries arbitrarily sectioned off areas of the continent without consideration of tribal or familial connection.

In South Sudan representatives from Chinese and Lebanese multinationals and smaller companies from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Zambia are a few of the countries  seeking to establish a strong hold in the newly formed country.  In the wake of the announcement of the nascent state's formation these Neo-Colonialists have begun a process which will ultimately result in a transformation of the country.

Like many underdeveloped areas of Africa, Juba's dirt roads are crowded with pedestrians carrying impossibly large loads on their heads. People transporting firewood, water and produce for sale.  They traverse the country via dusty pathways and compete with large horned cows for minimal space to either side. Because inhabitants of the country have been engaged in war and survival they are ill-equipped to work the emerging economy.

Thus, it is a certainty that most of the Southern Sudanese people will be relegated to service level job as domestics, cooks, drivers or resort to criminal  activities  such as prostitution, drugs robbery and murder.  Under colonialism these were the only positions available to the indigenous people and they rarely if ever had the opportunity to advance.

While living in Nigeria as a child, I recall the slow transformation of the country as the oil wealth poured into its national coffers.  Unfortunately, the petroleum companies transferred the profits of the 'black gold' back to their countries of origin and the remainder to government official to ensure continuity of service.  Corruption in many African countries is pervasive and an expected cost of doing business.

In Nigeria bribes to government officials are used to encourage them to turn a blind eye to the adverse environmental impact of petroleum pollution to the surrounding territory. When the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill occurred off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico the world was justifiably horrified.

However, on the Nigerian Coastal environment, large areas of the mangrove ecosystem have been destroyed. Oil spill has also destroyed farmlands, polluted ground and drinkable water and caused drawbacks in fishing off the coastal waters. There has been continuous regional crises in the Niger Delta area as a result of oil spill pollution of the coastal ecosystem.

Between 1976 and 1998 a total of 5724 incidents resulted in the spill of approximately 2,571,113.90 barrels of oil into the Delta region environment. Some major spills in the coastal zone are the GOCON’s Escravos spill in 1978 of about 300,000 barrels, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation’s (SPDC’s) Forcados Terminal tank failure in 1978 of about 580,000 barrels, Texaco Funiwa-5 blow out in 1980 of about 400,000 barrels, and the Abudu pipe line spill in 1982 of about 18,818 barrels (NDES, 1997).

Other major oil spill incidents are the Jesse fire incident which claimed about a thousand lives and the Idoho Oil spill in January 1998, in which about 40,000 barrels were spilled into the environment (Nwilo et al, 2000)." (Source: Niger Delta Today)

Despite these gross violation of human rights and environmental protection, there is rarely any outcry from the global community about these abuses.  I distinctly remember walking along the pristine beaches of Tanzania and every so often I would encounter globules of oil washed up on the shore.

As I lifted my gaze from the globules at my feet toward the horizon I saw a mirage like view of a moored oil tanker.  The captain and its crew routinely stopped off the Tanzanian coast to clean the tanks and jettisoned the waste into the Indian Ocean.  Were this to occur anywhere in the Western world there would be a cacophonous outcry but this is rarely the case in Africa.

Given this track record of egregious violations by petroleum companies operating in Africa we can only hope and watch as South Sudan develops its economy based on its most valuable resource.

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Naija Love | 2face Idibia

2face Idibia sings a wonderful anthem to the beauty of African women in his anthem song "You Are My African Queen." It is a video that resonates with me and I am sure it will with you as well. Not only are each of us unique but the women of Africa are vastly under represented in terms of beauty and strength because the Western media typically highlights the struggle and wretchedness of the lives of these women and their children.

Though this is a reality in many parts of Africa, the women of Africa a nonetheless striking, strong, incredibly diverse, intriguing and enchanting. The African beauties most familiar to Western cultures are the Nilotic women from Ethiopia, Eritrea or Somalia. Woman like Iman and Liya Kebede who grace the runways and covers of Eurocentric magazines.

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Fear: The Enemy of Gender Equality

Fear: The Enemy of Gender Equality

"A woman’s fate is determined by men and women who play God. Her first gift is a doll-named-Baby with which she rehearses home maker, wife and mother. She is groomed to be a ‘proper woman’ — the silent one when the men are talking. All these in preparation for her husband’s house; is that not where all ‘good’ women end? A woman’s worth is defined first by her father, then her husband and last by the children she bears. She’s more blessed if she bore boys. If it’s a girl child, irrespective of her career success, she has to follow her mother’s steps. A ‘good woman’ doesn’t break the cycle! That’s not all, these ‘inequality gods’ add spice to her lifespan with other tough stops like the lack of freedom of choice; gender discrimination; rape and assaults of all kind. A woman should not allow these ‘inequality gods’, be they spiritual, economic, political or social, to script her life and that of her daughters." ~ Temitayo O, Nigeria

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Nigeria Mourns Pres. Umaru Yar'Adua

Nigeria Mourns Pres. Umaru Yar'Adua

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, whose election marked the country's first peaceful transition of power from one civilian to another, has died with his wife Turai at his side following a debilitating illness that sparked a leadership crisis in Africa's most populous country.

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Nigeria's Taliban Clash with Police

nigerian-taliban.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 04:12 AM EDT, 11 February 2010

Maiduguri (Nigeria) - In July 2009 violence erupted in Northern Nigeria between Boko Haram and government troops. The equivalent of the Taliban they seek to replace the current penal code with Quran based Sharia law.  Currently 12 of the 36 states in Nigeria enforce Sharia law.

During the clashes the leader of Boko Haram was killed and his followers accused the police of conducting an extra-judicial killing. In the ensuing months the conflict increased in violence resulting in significant causalities.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z2I_Px5Klg]

On Tuesday, February 9, 2010 the news channel  Al-Jazeera aired footage that shows two uniformed men forcing seven young men to lie face-down at the side of a busy road. The uniformed men then fire into the men's backs. The footage could not be authenticated by The Associated Press.

Nigerian Police have been accused of being responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial executions, other unlawful killings and enforced disappearances every year. It also said the majority of the killings go uninvestigated and the police officers responsible go unpunished. If the purported execution of these young men is confirmed, it will be another blow to the image and perception of Nigeria's police force.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlpZr8IRUcY]

Borno state Police Commissioner Ibrahim Abdu says the TV images are false and "a deliberate attempt of the surviving sect members to cause confusion and threats."

Source: The Associated Press