These are news stories related to People of African descent. My mission with this category is to expose news related to our People from all over the world. To read other news from the UK, Brazil and the USA, hover over the tab at the top of the site titled Global Black News.
When the chair of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma walked into the 21st bi-annual Gender is my Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) meeting on Tuesday she was given a reception, I am sure, she does not usually receive when carrying out her official business. Women, who represent the 55 civil society organisations that make up the GIMAC movement, welcomed her with song. This is the first GIMAC meeting since the appointment of Dlamini-Zuma as AU chair last July. This year the AU celebrates its 50th anniversary, and Dlamini-Zuma is the first woman to serve as its leader. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, general secretary of the international Young Women's Christian Association, says the singing was not only in celebration of Dlamini-Zuma's appointment but it was also a way of "celebrating the journey, because we know it has not been an easy journey for her and other women". GIMAC, now in its 10th year, was formed to create a space for civil society organisations to formulate plans and advocate on issues of importance for African women. This has included advocating for equitable representation of women in decision-making positions in the AU. Since its inception, GIMAC has held bi-annual meetings immediately prior to the annual AU summits and has over the years contributed to the adoption of several texts that promote and protect the rights of women. So it is no surprise that the members of GIMAC not only understand the struggle of women but that they feel a great sense of achievement in Dlamini-Zuma's appointment as chair.
The first day of the 21st GIMAC Summit focused on education. With the majority of Africa's population being youth, there is a particular responsibility to ensure that the continent's young people have the skills they need, Dlamini-Zuma said. "Education does not wait - it is a window that closes in time," she said, underscoring the urgency of the situation. The 21st GIMAC Summit was co-chaired by the Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWE), one of the civil society organisations that make up GIMAC. In her welcoming address, Oley Dibba-Wadda, FAWE executive director, said that it is "imperative that women and youth are supported and provided with the right tools so that they can engage and make meaningful contributions to decisions on the future of Africa". Dlamini-Zuma also urged young people to get involved in politics. "Politics shapes the future," she said. "Even if you (youths) stay on the margins, you will inherit that future."FAWE invited several students who have benefited from their educational bursaries to attend the summit. Perhaps inspired by Dlamini-Zuma, Sintayehu Bisetegn, a primary school student in Ethiopia who has received a full scholarship from FAWE, said she hopes to one day chair the AU.
"African Land Grabs" An Action Alert from the Oakland Institute & Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
Ethiopia, which is deemed an "important regional security partner" by the US government and one of the largest recipients of US aid (over $1 billion a year since 2007), is forcibly relocating 70,000 people from Gambella to make land available for investment in agriculture. In doing this they are also aggravating current hunger while laying the groundwork for future famine in Ethiopia, as people are losing their livelihoods and being moved to areas where they cannot readily feed themselves.
A new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirms and elaborates on what the Oakland Institute (OI) and its partner organization, Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), uncovered in several recent reports on Ethiopia (http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/land-deals-africa-ethiopia) where indigenous people and local communities are being coerced and forcibly moved from their lands to make room for large-scale agricultural plantations. Incredibly, the US ambassador to Ethiopia Donald E. Booth visited Gambella in January 2012 and said he witnessed "the people of Gambella benefiting from the fruits of development in the state." Mr. Booth seems unwilling to acknowledge any of the abuse, violence, or coercion human rights groups and the media have reported. Through 100 interviews and 16 site visits, HRW documents how the relocation of 70,000 people from Gambella is far from voluntary and that promised improvements of food, farmland, health clinics, and schools are far from realized. Oakland Institute and its partner Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) confirm the worst details of brutality that HRW puts forth.
While the Ethiopian government is planning to relocate a total of 1.5 million people, its financial backers--especially USAID, one of the largest donors to the Ethiopian regime--need to take a closer look at what they are funding with taxpayer money. We ask for your help to pressure President Obama and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah to take a step back from supporting a repressive regime involved in the forced relocation of long-term and nomadic residents of the area of Gambella and to stop aid to Ethiopia until due diligence is taken to ensure that the well-being and livelihoods of local and indigenous people are valued at least as much as foreign investment. The Oakland Institute's research in Ethiopia shows that not only do large-scale investments disrupt and destroy communities and ecosystems, they do not deliver on promises of job creation, economic development, and food security.
Ethiopia is the largest recipient of US food aid. In FY 2010, the US government provided $932.6 million in assistance, including more than $451 million in food aid. The US should become better-informed as we may well be creating the next famine in Ethiopia by taking valuable food-producing lands from productive small farmers and pastoralists and handing them over to foreign investors to grow flowers, fuels, and other exports. Let President Obama and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah know that it is not too late to put the brakes on, change course, and reevaluate US policy in Ethiopia. US support to the repressive Ethiopian regime and the repercussions of forced relocations will have a great impact on Ethiopia's future food security and poverty in the nation.
Sign the petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/7/stop-forced-relocations-ethiopia/
For Congo Children, Food Today Means None Tomorrow
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — Today, the big children will eat, Cynthia, 15, and Guellor, 13. Tomorrow, it will be the turn of the little ones, Bénédicte, Josiane and Manassé, 3, 6, and 9. Of course, the small ones will fuss. “Yes, sure, they ask for food, but we don’t have any,” said their mother, Ghislaine Berbok, a police officer who earns $50 a month. There will have been a little bread for them at breakfast, but nothing more. “At night they will be weak,” she said. “Sure, they complain. But there is nothing we can do.” The Berboks are practicing a Kinshasa family ritual almost as common here as corrugated metal roofs and dirt streets: the “power cut,” as residents in this capital of some 10 million have ironically christened it. On some days, some children eat, others do not. On other days, all the children eat, and the adults do not. Or vice versa. The term “power cut” — in French, délestage — is meant to evoke another unloved routine of city life: the rolling blackouts that hit first one neighborhood, then another. Délestage is universally used in French-speaking Africa to describe these state-decreed power cutoffs, but when applied to rationing food it illustrates a stark survival calculus, one the head of a household must painfully impose on the rest. And unlike the blackouts, it is not merely a temporary unpleasantness mandated from on high.
“If today we eat, tomorrow we’ll drink tea,” said Dieudonné Nsala, a father of five who earns $60 a month as an administrator at the Education Ministry. Rent is $120 a month; the numbers, Mr. Nsala pointed out, simply do not add up. Are there days when his children do not eat? “Of course!” Mr. Nsala answered, puzzled at the question. “It can be two days a week,” he said. Though residents here frequently gather on crowded street corners to argue politics, their daily struggle may help explain why the capital did not experience sustained mass demonstrations after disputed election results were announced last month. Sporadic protests and street clashes certainly erupted, but the margin of survival here is simply too slim for most people to demonstrate for very long. “People in Kinshasa are so poor, they are living hand to mouth,” said Théodore Trefon, a researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium. “They simply don’t have the means to mobilize for a long time.” Beyond that, the government leaves little room for expressions of popular discontent.
Human Rights Watch said that Congolese soldiers had killed at least 24 people and detained dozens more after the flawed elections that returned President Joseph Kabila to office. Whatever the city’s misgivings about the vote, daily life itself is enough of a challenge. “On the weekend, you’ve got to do everything you can to have food because you are at home with the children,” said Mr. Nsala, the administrator. “But there are days, for sure, when we don’t eat. I’ll say, ‘There isn’t enough to eat, so you, maman and the kids, you take it.’ ” Mr. Nsala, soft-spoken and precise in his diction, stared at the floor of his modest cinder-block, metal-roofed living room. Fuzzy television news played in the background. His wife was selling vegetables out front, to supplement the meager family income. Don’t ask him about meat. “Maybe, if we make a sacrifice,” he said, pointing out that a pound of beef costs $5. At the Berbok household — where Ghislaine’s husband, a teacher, earns $42 a month, adding to her salary as a police officer — there has been no fish in a year.
“Délestage. That means: ‘Today we eat. Tomorrow we don’t.’ The Congolese, in the spirit of irony, have adopted this term,” said Mr. Nsala quietly. He added that the family had eaten the day before: “So, today, there is nothing.” The food délestage is not new in Congo, a country rich in minerals and verdant landscapes yet also one of the hungriest on earth, according to experts. It is last on the 2011 Global Hunger Index, a measure of malnutrition and child nutrition compiled by the International Food Policy Research Institute, and has gotten worse. It was the only country where the food situation dropped from “alarming” to “extremely alarming,” the institute reported this year. Half the country is considered undernourished. Ten years ago, even poor Congolese could expect to eat one substantial meal a day — perhaps cassava, a starchy root, with some palm oil, and a little of the imported frozen fish that is a staple here. But in the last three years, even that certainty has dropped away, said Dr. Eric Tollens, an expert on nutrition in Congo at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, where he is an emeritus professor at the Center for Agricultural and Food Economics.
Dr. Tollens blamed the “total neglect of agriculture by the government,” which is fixated on the lucrative extraction of valuable minerals like copper and cobalt. Less than 1 percent of the Congolese national budget, he said, goes to agriculture. Foreign donors finance “all agricultural projects,” he said, and “massive amounts of food” are imported in this rich land, so food is expensive. “Agricultural productivity is simply gone,” he said in an interview, adding that there was no reason for a lush, fertile country like Congo to be importing 20,000 tons of beans a year. “It’s worse than Niger or Somalia,” he said, citing two sub-Saharan nations perennially teetering on the verge of famine. “Come on, come on. With so many resources, what’s happening?” Half the population eats only once a day, Dr. Tollens wrote in an essay several years ago, while a quarter eats only once every two days. “Before, we ate three times a day; now, we eat by délestage,” said Cele Bunata-Kumba, a tennis coach who lives in the Matongele neighborhood of Kinshasa with his wife and 12 children.
“Today, it’s the children who eat,” he said. “We, the adults, we can sacrifice ourselves. We, the adults, we can get by,” he said, grimacing. “Yes, yes, of course, all day. With nothing to eat. No bread. Sure, that happens,” he added. In the immediate term, the street-smart Kinois — as Kinshasa’s residents are known — famous for hustling and adept at the art of survival in a harsh environment, must cope. They must feed their children, the top priority, a number of families said. In the household run by Elisa Luzingu and her sister-in-law Marie Bumba — Ms. Luzingu’s husband is out of work — the children range in age from 7 to 17. Délestage means no meals, three days a week. “My children are studying, so, it is very difficult,” Ms. Luzingu said. On the days without food, Ms. Bumba said, the children “will be very tired and hungry.” On a recent gray Sunday, at least, “everybody eats,” Ms. Bumba said, standing outdoors in the bare courtyard next to a simmering pot of matembele: sweet potato, palm oil, greens and a little fish. There were smiles all around. The food was almost ready. “The Kinois,” said Mr. Bunata-Kumba, the tennis coach. “For him, eating is day to day.”
South Africa: 1.35 Million Condoms Are Recalled
The government said it was recalling the 1.35 million condoms handed out at the 100th birthday party of the African National Congress after some of them were found to be faulty. It is the third such recall in five years, raising questions about the quality of the 425 million condoms that the government gives away each year. Sello Mokhalipi, a spokesman for the Treatment Action Campaign, an anti-AIDS group, said the current recall was ordered after he told the government that “we had people flocking in, coming to report that the condoms had burst while they were having sex.”