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Post(s) tagged with "Africa"
this should be taught in school
Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961)
Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was assassinated 50 years ago today, on 17 January, 1961. This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed.
Ludo De Witte, the Belgian author of the best book on this crime, qualifies it as “the most important assassination of the 20th century”. The assassination’s historical importance lies in a multitude of factors, the most pertinent being the global context in which it took place, its impact on Congolese politics since then and Lumumba’s overall legacy as a nationalist leader.
For 126 years, the US and Belgium have played key roles in shaping Congo’s destiny. In April 1884, seven months before the Berlin Congress, the US became the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold II of the Belgians to the territories of the Congo Basin.
When the atrocities related to brutal economic exploitation in Leopold’s Congo Free State resulted in millions of fatalities, the US joined other world powers to force Belgium to take over the country as a regular colony. And it was during the colonial period that the US acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo, following its use of the uranium from Congolese mines to manufacture the first atomic weapons, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.
With the outbreak of the cold war, it was inevitable that the US and its western allies would not be prepared to let Africans have effective control over strategic raw materials, lest these fall in the hands of their enemies in the Soviet camp. It is in this regard that Patrice Lumumba’s determination to achieve genuine independence and to have full control over Congo’s resources in order to utilise them to improve the living conditions of our people was perceived as a threat to western interests. To fight him, the US and Belgium used all the tools and resources at their disposal, including the United Nations secretariat, under Dag Hammarskjöld and Ralph Bunche, to buy the support of Lumumba’s Congolese rivals , and hired killers.
In Congo, Lumumba’s assassination is rightly viewed as the country’s original sin. Coming less than seven months after independence (on 30 June, 1960), it was a stumbling block to the ideals of national unity, economic independence and pan-African solidarity that Lumumba had championed, as well as a shattering blow to the hopes of millions of Congolese for freedom and material prosperity.
The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville); a rival central government by Lumumba’s followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville); and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai. Since Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the west saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.
No sooner did this unification process end than a radical social movement for a “second independence” arose to challenge the neocolonial state and its pro-western leadership. This mass movement of peasants, workers, the urban unemployed, students and lower civil servants found an eager leadership among Lumumba’s lieutenants, most of whom had regrouped to establish a National Liberation Council (CNL) in October 1963 in Brazzaville, across the Congo river from Kinshasa. The strengths and weaknesses of this movement may serve as a way of gauging the overall legacy of Patrice Lumumba for Congo and Africa as a whole.
The most positive aspect of this legacy was manifest in the selfless devotion of Pierre Mulele to radical change for purposes of meeting the deepest aspirations of the Congolese people for democracy and social progress. On the other hand, the CNL leadership, which included Christophe Gbenye and Laurent-Désiré Kabila, was more interested in power and its attendant privileges than in the people’s welfare. This is Lumumbism in words rather than in deeds. As president three decades later, Laurent Kabila did little to move from words to deeds.
More importantly, the greatest legacy that Lumumba left for Congo is the ideal of national unity. Recently, a Congolese radio station asked me whether the independence of South Sudan should be a matter of concern with respect to national unity in the Congo. I responded that since Patrice Lumumba has died for Congo’s unity, our people will remain utterly steadfast in their defence of our national unity.
-By Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja
The Dahomey Amazons or Mino were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons of ancient Anatolia and the Black Sea.
King Houegbadja (who ruled from 1645 to 1685), the third King of Dahomey, is said to have originally started the group which would become the Amazons as a corps of elephant hunters called the gbeto.(p20)
Houegbadja’s son King Agadja (ruling from 1708 to 1732) developed the female bodyguard into a militia and successfully used them in Dahomey’s defeat of the neighbouring kingdom of Savi in 1727. European merchants recorded their presence, as well as similar female warriors amongst the Ashanti. For the next hundred years or so, they gained reputation as fearless warriors. Though they fought rarely, they usually acquitted themselves well in battle.
The group of female warriors was referred to as Mino, meaning “Our Mothers” in the Fon language, by the male army of Dahomey.(p44) From the time of King Ghezo (ruling from 1818 to 1858), Dahomey became increasingly militaristic. Ghezo placed great importance on the army and increased its budget and formalized its structures. The Mino were rigorously trained, given uniforms, and equipped with Danish guns (obtained via the slave trade). By this time the Mino consisted of between 4000 and 6000 women, about a third of the entire Dahomey army.
The Mino were recruited from among the ahosi (“king’s wives”) of which there were often hundreds.(p38)Some women in Fon society became ahosi voluntarily, while others were involuntarily enrolled if their husbands or fathers complained to the King about their behaviour. Membership among the Mino was supposed to hone any aggressive character traits for the purpose of war. During their membership they were not allowed to have children or be part of married life. Many of them were virgins. The regiment had a semi-sacred status, which was intertwined with the Fon belief in Vodun.
The Mino trained with intense physical exercise. Discipline was emphasised. In the latter period, they were armed with Winchester rifles, clubs and knives. Units were under female command. Captives who fell into the hands of the Amazons were often decapitated.
European encroachment into west Africa gained pace during the latter half of the 19th century, and in 1890 King Behanzin started fighting French forces in the course of the First Franco-Dahomean War. According to Holmes, many of the French soldiers fighting in Dahomey hesitated before shooting or bayoneting the Mino. The resulting delay led to many of the French casualties.
However, according to some sources, the French army lost several battles to them—not because of French “hesitation,” but due to the female warriors’ skill in battle that was “the equal of every contemporary body of male elite soldiers from among the colonial powers”.
Ultimately, bolstered by the Foreign Legion, and armed with superior weaponry, including machine guns, as well as cavalry and Marine infantry, the French inflicted casualties that were ten times worse on the Dahomey side. After several battles, the French prevailed. The Legionnaires later wrote about the “incredible courage and audacity” of the Amazons. The last surviving Amazon of Dahomey died in 1979.
Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729 – 14 December 1780) was a composer, actor, and writer. He is the first known Black Briton to vote in a British election. He gained fame in his time as “the extraordinary Negro”, and to 18th century British abolitionists he became a symbol of the humanity of Africans and immorality of the slave trade. The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, edited and published two years after his death, is one of the earliest accounts of African slavery written by a former slave in English.
Sudan claims it doesn’t possess cluster bombs, so why have cluster munitions been found on its territory? Cluster bombs cause unnecessary and unjustified risk and harm to civilians. They should not be used by armed forces, anywhere, any time.
Seventy-one countries are party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the use of cluster munitions. Another 40 have signed but not yet ratified the convention.
“don’t panic” by ruth sacks
On 21 March 2004, Human Right’s Day in South Africa, Ruth Sacks hired a plane to write the words ‘Don’t Panic’ in the sky over the Cape Town City Bowl. Each letter was ±2km in length. The ‘Don’t’ blew away long before the ‘Panic’.
Boys peer through a window in their home in Busoru III Village, a former displacement camp. Children in Uganda continue to face persistent poverty and high rates of infant and child mortality. Despite reducing child mortality rates by 27 per cent since 1990, Uganda will not achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 – the goal to reduce by two-thirds the deaths of children under age five.
2919 © UNICEF/Shehzad Noorani
Picture of the Day: Port Harcourt, Nigeria. An aerial shot of an illegal oil refinery along Awoba Creek north of Port Harcourt, an oil hub city. The illegal oil industry in Nigeria is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars yearly. Will you look at that oil sheen on the water..
Fun fact: Over the last five years, Shell Oil has dealt with an average of 172 spills a year. 63 of them last year were “operational,” or over 100kg. Shell has announced that it paid $1.1 million in reparations to affected communities last year.
Bonus: Read this report on environmental and human rights abuses in Nigeria.
Credit: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters. Via.
Much like us, our hairier cousins have their own distinct facial features, unique combinations of jawlines, eye shapes, and nasal widths that make them recognizable on sight. But have you ever studied the differences between other primates’ faces?
Photographer James Mollison was struck by how similar great ape facial features are to human features, and wanted to take their portraits for much the same reason you photograph human faces: to gather a sense of identity. He traveled to Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Indonesia to photograph gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans who were orphaned by the bush meat and live pet trades. Seen together with their unique faces and expressions, it’s hard not to see the apes as individuals with their own personalities.