“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Egypt unveils tomb of ancient priestess

Yahoo – AFP, 3 February 2018

A general view shows well-preserved and rare wall paintings inside the tomb of an
 Old Kingdom priestess discovered by Egyptian archaeologists on the Giza plateau on
the southern outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2018

Egyptian archaeologists on Saturday unveiled the tomb of an Old Kingdom priestess adorned with well-preserved and rare wall paintings.

Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters that the tomb on the Giza plateau near Cairo was built for Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, the goddess of fertility, who assisted women in childbirth.

The tomb was found during excavation work in Giza's western cemetery by a team of Egyptian archaeologists led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The antiquities ministry said the cemetery houses tombs of top officials from the Old Kingdom's Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 BC), and that several have already been dug up since 1842.

The newly discovered tomb "has the architectural style and the decorative elements of the Fifth Dynasty, with an entrance leading to an 'L' shaped shrine", the ministry said.

"The tomb has very distinguished wall paintings in a very good conservation condition depicting Hetpet standing in different hunting and fishing scenes or... receiving offerings from her children," it said.

The paintings also show scenes of musical and dancing performances as well as two scenes featuring monkeys -- domestic animals at the time -- one picking and eating fruit and the other dancing in front of an orchestra.

A woman takes a photo inside the newly discovered tomb of Old Kingdom official
 Hetpet who was priestess to fertility goddess Hathor on Egypt's Giza plateau

Waziri told AFP the paintings were unusual.

"Such scenes are rare... and have only been found previously in the (Old Kingdom) tomb of 'Ka-Iber' where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist not an orchestra," he said.

That tomb is located in Saqqara, a necropolis about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Cairo.

Enany told reporters the new tomb includes "a purification basin on which are engraved the name of the tomb's owner and her titles".

"A German expedition had found in 1909 a collection of antiquities carrying this lady's name, or a lady who has the same name, and these antiquities were moved to the Berlin museum at the time," he said.

"And 109 years later, we find this tomb that carries Hetpet's name."

Waziri said archaeologists will continue to excavate the site and hope to make new discoveries.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Nigerians meet their Olympic bobsled team

Yahoo – AFP, Phil HAZLEWOOD, with Jim Slater in Washington, Feb 3, 2018

Nigeria's Seun Adigun (L), Ngozi Onwumere (2L) and Akuoma Omeoga (C) will
become the first African bobsleigh team in Winter Olympic history while Simi
Adeagbo (R) will be the first African to compete in the skeleton (AFP Photo/Stefan HEUNIS)

Lagos (AFP) - Nigerians met their Winter Olympic bobsled team for the first time just one week before the start of the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Thirty years after a Jamaican squad became a global sensation, the trio of Nigerian women Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga will become the first African bobsleigh team in Winter Olympic history.

Born to Nigerian parents they all live in the United States but travelled to Lagos for a rousing Nigerian send-off on Friday night at a corporate reception held in their honour at a luxury hotel.

Their qualification late last year for the February 9-25 Games has since attracted massive interest around the world and won the previously crowd-funded athletes a string of big-name sponsors.

Many people in Africa's most populous nation said they were unaware the country even had a bobsled team. Some were keen to play up their supposed ignorance for comic effect.

"So, you are the driver?" the comedian compering the event said, pointing at Adigun.

"And you are the brake... appliers," he ventured eagerly to Onwumere and Omeoga, as if searching for the correct terminology. "And what is that thing you are pushing? A wheelbarrow?"

"First question," he asked the women's team-mate Simi Adeagbo, who will also make history by becoming the first African to compete in the skeleton. "What is that?"

Despite being new to hurtling down an icy track at 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour, Nigerians -- noted more for their passion for football -- are happy to cheer the team on.

On the hotel's rooftop bar, with temperatures still in the mid-30s Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) by late evening, guests drank champagne and ate "small chop" (finger food). Dance music distorted through a skyscraper of loud-speakers. Most people arrived late. Everyone blamed bad traffic.

But Nigeria's pioneering winter sports team were made to feel at home with fairy lights and Christmas snowflake decorations twinkling overhead, above white plastic sheeting stuck to the floor with gaffer tape.

Nigerian bobsled team member Seun Adigun was a 100m hurdler for Nigeria 
at the 2012 London Summer Olympics (AFP Photo/Stefan HEUNIS)

Dry ice and cotton wool

To complete the frozen idyll, a bored-looking teenager wearing a single red rubber glove operated a dry ice machine that sent damp-smelling fog curling over snow drifts of cotton wool.

Nearby, air conditioning units were set to the equivalent of 16 degrees -- a good 10 degrees below the temperature that normally makes some in tropical Nigeria don a hat and coat.

The team took the gentle ribbing with good humour, batting back comparisons to Jamaica's participation in the 1988 Games in Calgary, Canada, that led to the 1993 Hollywood film "Cool Runnings".

Adigun is the driving force behind the team's Olympic dream, from working with the US team to learn the sport to hammering and nailing together a makeshift wooden sled in Houston and gathering fellow sprinters to make a run at history.

She was a 100m hurdler for Nigeria at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Omeoga was a sprinter for the University of Minnesota and Onwumere was a double sprint medalist at the 2015 African Games.

"I basically got into the sport of bobsledding in 2015 after a little bit of a hiatus from athletics," the US magazine People recently.

"I also learned that Nigeria had never had any Winter Olympians... and then to cap it off I learned the continent of Africa had never been represented, man or woman, by any bobsleigh team.

Their qualification last year for the Olympic Games has won previously 
crowd-funded athletes (L-R): Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, and Akuoma 
Omeoga a string of big-name sponsors (AFP Photo/Stefan HEUNIS)

"So I was like, 'OK, this is obviously something that's going to hang over my head if I don't step in and try and do something about it."

At the reception, questions about the basics of the sport -- from timings to the number of people participating -- were met with polite responses.

But in a country where self-sufficiency is a matter of life and death for most people, the women's hard work and commitment to achieving their goals got the loudest cheer.

Adigun explained that once she had told herself out loud that she was going to try to make the Winter Olympics there was no going back.

"Once you speak (something) into existence, that's an affirmation that you're going to commit," she added.

"Can you speak gold into existence?" asked the compere.

Adigun smiled. Then the dancing started.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Trump says US 'deeply respects' Africa in letter to AU

Yahoo – AFP, January 28, 2018

"I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of
Africa," Trump wrote (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Addis Ababa (AFP) - President Donald Trump said the United States "deeply respects" Africans and will dispatch its top diplomat to the continent, in a letter to African leaders seen by AFP on Sunday.

The letter sent last week comes after Trump provoked a firestorm of indignation among African nations earlier in January when he reportedly called them "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers in Washington.

While Trump has denied the remarks, they are expected to be formally condemned by the 55 member states of the African Union during their ongoing summit in the Ethiopian capital.

"I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa, and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships with African nations as sovereign nations is firm," Trump wrote in the letter.

"Our soldiers are fighting side-by-side to defeat terrorists," he said, and "we are working together to increase free, fair and reciprocal trade."

The letter was not made public, but its existence was confirmed by Chris Meade, a diplomat with the US delegation to the AU.

Meade declined to comment on its contents, but an AU source confirmed the accuracy of the text of the letter circulating on social media.

Earlier this month media reports emerged of Trump demanding to know during a meeting on immigration reform why the United States should accept citizens from "shithole countries", including Haiti, El Salvador and the entire African continent.

Trump defended himself on Twitter, saying: "The language used by me... was tough, but this was not the language used."

In the letter, Trump does not acknowledge the reported comments, but said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would make a "extended visit" in March. He told African leaders that he looks forward to "welcoming many of you to the White House."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Spotted hyena returns to Gabon park after 20 years: researchers

Yahoo – AFP, January 20, 2018

Spotted hyenas have been spotted in Gabon for the first time in 20 years
 (AFP Photo/ISSOUF SANOGO)

Libreville (AFP) - A spotted hyena has been sighted in a Gabon national park for the first time in 20 years, conservationists said Friday, the latest large predator to have returned to a region where many had gone locally extinct.

The Bateke Plateau National Park lies close to Gabon's border with the Republic of Congo.

Its forests and grasslands once teemed with wildlife, including many large mammal predators, but the ecosystem was decimated by decades of poaching.

Officials said a spotted hyena had been caught on camera traps in the park for the first time in two decades giving hope that more large mammals might return after years of conservation efforts.

The sighting comes two years after a lone male lion was photographed by camera traps after returning.

"The return of these large carnivores is a great demonstration that the efforts of our rangers and partners are having a positive effect on Bateke wildlife," professor Lee White, director of Gabon's National Parks Agency said in a press release.

The spotted hyena was so unknown in recent memories that when researchers showed local park rangers the photographs from the camera traps they did not know the species.

But village elders in communities north of the park instantly recognised the hyena, researchers said.

The sightings are a far cry from when researchers first set up their camera traps in 2001.

That year all they photographed in Bateke was a lone antelope and multiple poachers crossing into the park from the Republic of Congo.

The lion first spotted in 2015 has since made the park his home. But he has yet to be joined by any others.

"This lion... has been continuously photographed during his three-year reign of the park, but remains alone, calling for a mate," the researchers said.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Netherlands expels top Eritrean diplomat over ‘diaspora tax’

DutchNews, January 18, 2018


The Netherlands has told Eritrea that its highest diplomatic representative in the Netherlands must leave the country. 

Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, the chargé d’affaires in The Hague is being expelled because of the country’s pressure on Eritreans in the Netherlands to pay a ‘diaspora tax’. 

Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra told parliament that the move is a ‘severe diplomatic signal’ to Eritrea. Eritrea has a diplomatic mission in the Netherlands but no embassy. 

Despite talks with the ambassador in Brussels, no action has been taken to stamp out the payments and the Netherlands has now decided to declare the chargé d’affaires persona non grata

Eritrea has imposed the 2% tax on its nationals in other countries since 1994. However, research by the Dutch government last September, which focused on the tax in seven European countries, found problems with both the legal basis and the way the tax is collected. 

In particular, tax collection is seen as mandatory by many Eritreans, and non-compliance can lead to the denial of consular services or the punishment of family members in Eritrea, the report said. 

The Dutch government said at the time the ways in which the tax is collected are ‘unacceptable’. 

Some 20,000 Eritrean nationals live in the Netherlands.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Protests mark Tunisia uprising anniversary

Yahoo – AFP, Kaouther Larbi and Ines Bel Aiba, January 14, 2018

Protesters shout anti-government slogans outside the Tunisian General Labour Union
headquarters on the seventh anniversary of the 2011 uprising (AFP Photo/Anis MILI)

Tunis (AFP) - Tunisians on Sunday marked seven years since the uprising that launched the Arab Spring, with fresh protests and some people expressing pride but others anger over persistent economic problems.

The North African country is seen as having had a relatively smooth democratic transition since the January 14, 2011 toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

But seven years later, anger has risen over new austerity measures after a year of rising prices, with protesters again chanting the 2011 slogans of "Work, Freedom, Dignity".

On Sunday, several hundred people took part in rallies in the capital Tunis, responding to calls to demonstrate from a powerful labour union and several political parties.

Security was tight as protesters poured through checkpoints into Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the epicentre of the 2011 demonstrations, but no incidents were reported.

Demonstrators chanted against "poverty and hunger" as they marched up the avenue, accusing "thieves" of having stolen the country.

Outside the offices of the powerful UGTT trade union, demonstrator Foued el-Arbi waved an empty basket marked "2018".

Tunisians wave their national flag and the flag of the Ennahda Islamist party as
 they gather on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis on January 14, 2018 to mark the 
seventh anniversary of the uprising that launched the Arab Spring (AFP Photo/
FETHI BELAID)

"This empty basket sums up our situation seven years after the revolution," said the philosophy professor.

But others expressed their pride over the uprising that unseated Ben Ali.

The revolution "is the best thing that could have happened, despite the hardships... As long as there are people (who believe), there is hope," said Mohamed Wajdi.

A wave of peaceful protests and night-time unrest hit cities and towns across the country over the past week, after hikes in value-added tax and social security contributions introduced in early January.

The interior ministry says it has arrested more than 800 people suspected of taking part in violence, theft and looting since the unrest began.

Protesters' demands have included a review of the 2018 austerity budget and more efficient measures to fight enduring corruption.

'Fall of the budget'

More than 1,000 people took part in Sunday's protest outside the UGTT offices. "The people want the fall of the 2018 budget," some chanted, echoing 2011 calls for the fall of the regime.

Unemployment figures and inflation rate in Tunisia. 
Political parties and a union called for fresh protests against 
austerity after a week of unrest. (AFP Photo/Vincent LEFAI)

Hundreds more gathered after Ennahdha, an Islamist party that is part of the ruling coalition, and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's Popular Front party also called for demonstrations.

President Beji Caid Essebsi marked the anniversary by attending the opening of a youth centre in the working-class Tunis suburb of Ettadhamen, which saw clashes between young protesters and police this week.

"This year we will start to take care of the young," he said. "The revolution for freedom and dignity... was in effect led by the young."

Several local residents turned out to air their frustration.

"He says he will help us, and then he goes back to his palace," said Mouna, a high school student.

Tunisia's 2011 revolt was sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit seller in desperation at police harassment and unemployment.

On January 14, 2011, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, inspiring similar revolts across the region in what became known as the Arab Spring.

Tunisian workers hold up a basket with text reading in Arabic: "the basket is empty" 
while shouting slogans against the government in front of the Tunisian General 
Labour Union (UGTT) headquarters in Tunis (AFP Photo/Anis MILI)

Tunisia has been praised for its steps towards democracy in the years since, compared to countries now wracked by war such as Syria or Yemen.

A new constitution was adopted and legislative and presidential polls held in 2014.

But authorities have struggled to revitalise Tunisia's economy, including after deadly jihadist attacks in 2015 dealt a major blow to the key tourism sector.

Seven years on, youth unemployment is more than 35 percent, according to the International Labour Organization, while inflation was more than six percent at the end of last year.

On Saturday, Essebsi announced an increase in aid to the needy and improved health care as part of social reforms.

The action plan, costing more than 70 million dinars ($28.5 million), will benefit more than 120,000 Tunisians, according to the authorities.

Tunisia has secured a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9-billion) IMF loan in return for a reduction in its budget deficit and financial reforms.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Egypt Copts hold Christmas mass under tight security

Yahoo – AFP, January 6, 2018

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks near Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L)
during a Christmas Eve mass at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Cairo on
January 6, 2018 (AFP Photo/KHALED DESOUKI)

Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Egypt) (AFP) - Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians held a Christmas Eve mass on Saturday at a massive new cathedral east of Cairo amid tight security after a year of deadly jihadist attacks on the community.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave a short speech before the liturgy, which was led by Pope Tawadros II, wishing the Christians a merry Christmas and telling them that the country would prevail over the jihadists.

"You are our family, you are from us, we are one and no one will divide us," he said to ululations and chants from some of the congregants and visitors.

Police had set up barricades outside the cathedral in a new administrative capital Egypt is building east of Cairo.

The cathedral, Sisi said, was a "message to the world, a message of peace and a message of love".

Police had tightened security around the country's churches ahead of services following a spate of attacks that began in 2016.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in the violence, including a shooting at a church south of Cairo just last week claimed by the Islamic State group.

Since the military ousted divisive Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, security forces have sought to quell attacks led by the Egypt branch of IS which has increasingly targeted Christians.

While the jihadists have also taken aim at other civilians, including more than 300 Muslim worshippers massacred at a mosque last November, they have focused on the ancient Coptic community.

In December 2016, an IS suicide bomber killed almost 30 worshippers at a church in Cairo located in the Saint Mark's Cathedral complex, the seat of the Coptic papacy.

In the Sinai Peninsula, where IS is based, hundreds of Christians were forced to flee in January and December after a wave of assassinations.

IS suicide bombers killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April and shot dead almost 30 Christians a month later as they headed to a monastery.

The year ended with an IS jihadist killing nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.

Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 93 million people, have long complained of discrimination and intermittent sectarian attacks.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Ex-footballer Weah vows 'better life' after Liberia presidential win

Yahoo – AFP, Philippe SIUBERSKI, December 30, 2017

Supporters of George Weah celebrate after final results in Liberia's presidential
election confirmed his as winner (AFP Photo/SEYLLOU)

Monrovia (AFP) - Liberia's president-elect George Weah vowed Saturday to "improve people's lives" after the former star footballer secured a stunning run-off victory in the country's first democratic transfer of power in decades.

Idolised in Liberia as "Mister George", Weah is to be sworn in on January 22, replacing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2006 took the helm of the West African country first founded for freed US slaves.

The electoral board confirmed Weah's run-off victory on Friday evening, as his rival, Vice President Joseph Boakai, conceded defeat.

In his first public comments since his victory, Weah told journalists in Monrovia he aimed to "improve the lives" of Liberians.

"I declare publicly today that transforming the lives of all Liberians is a singular mission," he said.

A victory speech was however postponed after crowds of energetic supporters gathered around a podium for Weah's address grew too boisterous, an AFP correspondent said.

Weah, 51, who starred in top-flight football at Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan in the 1990s and briefly at Chelsea and Manchester City before entering politics in 2002, won 61.5 percent of the ballot, taking 14 of Liberia's 15 counties.

Boakai said he had called Weah to congratulate him and appealed for unity, saying: "My love for the country is far (more) profound than my desire for the presidency."

The White House called the vote "a major milestone for Liberia's democracy" while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres applauded "all Liberians for the successful completion of the elections process, which was conducted in a peaceful environment".

Former international football star and Liberia's president-elect George Weah told
 reporters he would aim to 'build on the gains' of his predecessor Ellen Johnson 
Sirleaf (AFP Photo/Zoom DOSSO)

'Don't forget your roots'

The tumultuous events of the past 70 years in Liberia, where an estimated 250,000 people died during back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, have prevented a democratic handover from taking place since 1944.

Sirleaf's predecessor Charles Taylor fled the country in 2003, hoping to avoid prosecution for funding rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Two presidents who served prior to Taylor were assassinated.

The Sirleaf administration guided the nation out of the ruins of war and through the horrors of the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, but is accused of failing to combat poverty and corruption.

Weah said he would aim to "build on the institutional gains made under Madame Sirleaf".

His former club Paris Saint-Germain tweeted its congratulations to the "world football legend on the latest chapter of his brilliant career!!!" while former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure and Marseille's former Cameroon midfielder Stephane Mbia also sent their best wishes.

Weah, who grew up in grinding poverty, is already facing pressure to improve the lives of millions of Liberians.

"I think the Liberian people will expect... Weah's presidency to (have a) pro-poor, pro-growth policy that will put the people at the centre of national development," said political analyst Vita Ishmael Tue.

Profile of George Weah who won the Liberian election (AFP Photo/
Paul DEFOSSEUX)

He added that he expected Weah's presidency to see power "given to the people; the provision of education, youth training for disadvantaged and vulnerable youths that are on the streets and who see themselves in him".

Clinton Taryor from Weah's CDC party urged the new leader: "Mr. President, don't forget your roots. We are not behind you because you're handsome or because you are a star.... Some of us are behind you because we know that you walked in our shoes."

Weah, the only African ever to have won both FIFA's World Player of the Year and the coveted Ballon D'Or, missed out on the presidency in a 2005 bid.

His latest campaign was not without controversy, however.

He has drawn some criticism for picking Jewel Howard-Taylor, the powerful ex-wife of former warlord and president Charles Taylor, as his vice-president. Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence in a British jail for war crimes.

Weah also had the backing of a notorious former warlord Prince Johnson, who sipped a beer as his men tortured former president Samuel Kanyon Doe to death.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Turning e-waste into art at Ghana's toxic dump

Yahoo – AFP, Stacey KNOTT, 27 December 2017

A young man carries an old refrigerator at Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra

Joseph Awuah-Darko sits on a stool at one of the world's largest electronic waste dumps, watching polystyrene and insulation cables burn on the blackened ground.

"It's survival and dystopia," says the 21-year-old British-born Ghanaian, surveying the stretch of wasteland around him as dense plumes of acrid smoke rise into the air.

Awuah-Darko and his university friends have ambitious plans for the sprawling Agbogbloshie dumping ground in Ghana's capital, Accra.

In January this year, he co-founded the non-profit Agbogblo.Shine Initiative, which encourages people working at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture.

The dump workers typically risk exposure to harmful fumes by burning obsolete and unwanted appliances such as mobile phones, computers, televisions and plastics that are brought to Ghana from around the world.

After burning, they salvage and resell copper and other metals from these leftovers of modern consumer culture.

The dump and scrapyard sit next to the heavily polluted Odaw River in the slum-like area, home to an estimated 40,000 people.

The United Nations has said that salvaging materials for recycling provides income for more than 64 million people in the developing world.

Ghana is said to have the largest informal recycling industry in Africa and imports some 40,000 tonnes of this e-waste annually.

Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko and his university friends have ambitious 
plans for the sprawling Agbogbloshie dumping ground, encouraging people working
at the dump to turn waste into high-end furniture

'We are suffering here'

When Awuah-Darko first saw the piles of circuit boards, wires and plastics at Agbogbloshie he decided he wanted to use his artistic talent as a force for change.

So he set up the Agbogblo.Shine project with Cynthia Muhonja, a fellow student from Ashesi University, about an hour's drive from Accra.

They repurpose the electronic scraps, "upcycling" them into furniture, and offer training for the young men who work at the dump to create the pieces.

The students straddle two worlds -- a privileged life on the lush campus of a private university in a forested area, and the harsh reality of life for some of Ghana's poorest people.

Mohamed Abdul Rahim, who is in charge of about 20 young men, has been working at Agbogbloshie since 2008.

The 25-year-old from the north of Ghana works 12-hour days, six days a week. On average the workers make only about 20 cedi each ($4.50, 3.75 euros) a day.

He knows the work is bad for his health but doesn't see any other option. However he is optimistic that Awuah-Darko's initiative will help.

Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Accra sits next to the heavily polluted Odaw River 
in a slum-like area that is home to an estimated 40,000 people

"We are suffering here because the heat is there, the smoke, too, it disturbs us. If we see good work we will go join it and leave this," he says.

The toxic fumes hurt his lungs, while his hips and waist ache from carrying heavy objects to burn. The money he earns supports his mother, wife and three children.

The ground he works on is black, muddy and littered with plastic bags, cables, bottles and broken shoes alongside smashed television sets and computer monitors.

Workers use plastics and polystyrene as fuel to melt down components to extract the copper.

Grandfather clock

Awuah-Darko recognises that the people of Agbogbloshie "are basically in pursuit of what we all want, which is a better life".

"Unfortunately, the side effects or the by-product of this is the detriment of their health," he said.

He hopes that his initiative will not only improve their lives but also the planet, as waste from the site is given another life.

When Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko first saw the piles of circuit boards, 
wires and plastics at Agbogbloshie he decided he wanted to use his artistic talent 
as a force for change

Awuah-Darko's first upcycled work is a grandfather clock, made from a galvanised car axle, aluminium and part of a discarded wall clock.

Two high-end hotels in Accra are currently vying to buy the unusual timepiece, he said, and with such interest he has plans to create more and expand operations.

Awuah-Darko sees a future where around 100 people from Agbogbloshie can leave their harmful work to build furniture.

He also wants to exhibit the creations at major galleries around the world and sell them at auction houses.

That would be a world away for someone like Mohammed Sofo, a thin 26-year-old with small tattoos on his face.

But Sofo wants to live in a world where he does not have to burn waste to survive.

"Some people think we are bad because they think we are mad persons," he said.

"If we get money no one will look at us like that. Some day will come when no one will be working here."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Lonely Cape Verde rethinks West African isolation

The Citizen – AFP, Maria da Luz NEVES with Selim SAHEB ETTABA in Dakar

Cape Verde is an archipelago which lies about 500km (300 miles) off the coast
of Senegal and a former Portuguese colony which is home to half a million people

It was supposed to be tiny Cape Verde’s moment to shine: a chance for the Atlantic island nation to take up the rotating presidency of the commission of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

But the archipelago has found itself once again out of step with its mainland cousins, who decided to hand the responsibility to Ivory Coast at a meeting in Nigeria last weekend.

Cape Verde is different. A pillar of democracy, stability and human rights, it is cited near the top of the yearly Ibrahim Index, which measures and monitors governance performance in African countries, this time coming fourth out of 54 nations.

Its nine inhabited islands have weathered different cultural currents for hundreds of years which is shown in its unique musical traditions and racial diversity: 71 percent of its people identify as mixed race, according to official figures.

In the generally culturally conservative West African region, Cape Verde has a vibrant LGBT community. The Afrobarometer polling company found in 2016 it ranked “most tolerant” of all African nations in terms of attitudes to homosexuality.

But its impact is barely felt a hop and a skip across the Atlantic, where its population of 500,000 is dwarfed by giants such as Nigeria (population some 190 million).

“In a world dominated by quantity, Cape Verde feels that it barely registers,” Cape Verdean diplomat Corsino Tolentino told AFP of the former Portuguese colony.

Mutual ignorance

Chronically poor transport links between Cape Verde and the rest of
Africa have not helped to foster ties, says former president Pedro Pires

Whispers of unmet financial contributions began surfacing after the decision to exclude Cape Verde from heading up the Commission but President Jorge Carlos Fonseca took to public broadcaster TCV to denounce “political subterfuge” which he said broke ECOWAS rules.

Created in 1975, ECOWAS is seeking greater long-term economic integration for its 330 million citizens, notably with the longstanding aim of a single currency.

But chronically poor transport links with the rest of Africa have not helped to foster greater understanding, said former president Pedro Pires, who won the Ibrahim Prize for African leadership in 2011.

“Regarding our relationship with ECOWAS, one has to look at everything that makes it complicated,” he said in an interview with AFP. “How do you develop economic links if you don’t have any sea transport?”

In fact, Cape Verde has vastly better flight connections to former colonial master Portugal and fellow former colony Brazil than with West Africa.

Pay more attention

President Fonseca said this weakness was compounded by mutual ignorance, with Cape Verde often unfamiliar with decision-making processes in the bloc.

“Cape Verdians don’t really know how the structure and projects of ECOWAS work. It’s not an accident that there aren’t many of us working in these bodies. And the other countries don’t know what Cape Verde is really like,” he explained.

Cape Verde’s nine inhabited islands have weathered different cultural
currents for hundreds of years, as shown its unique musical traditions

Of the more than 50 protocols and conventions, Cape Verde has signed less than half — the lowest total of all member states.

Former prime minister Jose Maria Neves has defended the country’s ECOWAS record, saying its officials have been appointed to senior posts, even if he admits more is left to be done.

“I don’t think ECOWAS ignores Cape Verde, but the organisation needs to pay more attention to the peculiarities of the archipelago,” he told AFP.

Nelson Magbagbeola, Secretary-General of the ECOWAS parliament, said naming an ambassador to the body and putting into practice the rules of free movement of people and goods would go a long way towards better integration.

The country’s labour market is already saturated, however, making free movement of migrants from the rest of West Africa a difficult proposition, according to the government.