Posts Tagged ‘AFRICAN’


July 20, 2018

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August 3, 2013

Cassava Bread, the Sweet Smell of Success

By Joelle Bassoul Mojon

Martha dusts a small table with flour then starts kneading the dough, before dividing it into tennis-sized balls. Next to her, Jennifer places the balls on a tray and straight into the oven’s open mouth. The sweet smell of baked bread suddenly fills the air. A few minutes later, the golden, warm rolls are taken out and brushed with margarine, turning into deliciously shiny pearls. The group of six women fills tray after tray, singing happily, oblivious to the sticky mud and pouring rain engulfing their open air bakery in Mwandama, Malawi.

And they have every reason to be happy. Since 2009, the Katete cassava bakery has been going from strength to strength. ‘We were only farming our small plots. We wanted to improve our lives and make an income,’ says Martha Simoko, 62. So a group of women approached the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) and suggested the bakery idea, using locally produced cassava. The small plot of land was given for free by a village headman and the MVP built the oven, at a cost of 500 USD, under a temporary roofed shelter. The group today counts 14 women. They have divided themselves into smaller groups, each using the oven 2 days per week. The MVP and the Malawi Entrepreneurship Development Institute (MEDI) provided a two-week training. ‘We learned to bake bread, doughnuts and cakes, and to fry cassava meatballs,’ explains Martha, displaying a heart-shaped baking tray for special occasions.

The women pull their resources together to buy the ingredients: cassava flour, eggs, yeast, margarine, etc. They bake about 120 bread loaves a day, sold at 20 kwacha (1 US cent) each. Every single kwacha of profit they make goes into a common account. At the end of the year, they divide their earning equally. In 2010, each of the 14 women received 5,000 kwacha (33 USD). ‘I used the money to pay my daughter’s school fees. She’s a secondary school pupil in Zomba,’ the nearest town, 42-year-old Jennifer proudly says. That’s no small feat in a region where girls are more often seen in the fields than in classrooms. ‘Without this money, it would have been a problem to cover the fees. So I’ll keep on baking.’

The women do face some challenges though. ‘We don’t really have a shelter from the rain and we have to get firewood for the oven,’ says Martha. In an area where population growth has pushed villagers to cut down trees and farm the surrounding hills, finding firewood means walking long distances. Nonetheless, ‘I’m enjoying this very much and the community is very happy with the bread,’ adds this mother of six. Previously, Mwandama had no bakery and the only available bread was brought in from nearby towns and sold at a high price. ‘Now we have fresh, warm bread, and it sells fast,’ says Jennifer who gives her own children a roll to take to school or enjoy with a heart-warming tea.

In 2011, 6 more bakeries are scheduled to start in Mwandama. The community’s interest is so high that another group of women have already donated 3,000 bricks for a new oven.

‘The goal is to set up a real bakery to produce quality bread products. It will provide better working conditions for the women and create conditions for hygienic processing of the bread and cakes,’ says Roselyne Omondi, the regional business advisor at The MDG Centre, which oversees the Millennium Villages Project in East and Southern Africa. The new bakery will be ‘mid-sized, with larger surface area, electric equipment -ovens and mixers-, packaging, storage and distribution facilities.’


November 10, 2011



The list of recipients for the 2010/2011 National Honours Awards is unique in so many respects. Not only did it break with tradition by selecting a non-top government functionary to be honoured with the second highest award in the land in the person of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, chairman and founder Dangote Group of Companies, having been accorded the coveted Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.

The conferment of the nation’s second highest award on Dangote, an honour hitherto reserved for vice presidents, senate presidents and chief justices of Nigeria, marked a remarkable departure from the norm in the exercise that was instituted with the enactment of the National Honours Act No. 5 of 1964.

Notably, the National Honours Award Committee was also introspective enough to recognise the contributions of wide array of individuals ranging from retired armed forces personnel, academics and scholars to serving and retired civil servants, and Nollywood actors and actresses, who have made their mark in different spheres of life.

Among the retired military officer who will be decorated with medals of Commander of the Order of the Nigeria (CON) are Lt. Gen. S. Ibrahim, former Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral A. A. Madueke, former Chief of Naval Staff; Vice Admiral P.S. Koshoni, former Chief of Naval Staff; Air Marshal A.M Daggash, former Chief of Defence Staff; Air Marshal N.E. Eduok, former Chief of Air Staff; Air Vice Marshal I. Yisa Doko, former Chief of Air Staff; Alhaji Muhammed Gambo Jimeta, former Inspector General of Police; General D.Y. Bali, former Chief of Defence Staff; and Air Vice Marshal I.M. Alfa, former Chief of Air Staff.

Others are Air Vice Marshal C.A. Dada, former Chief of Air Staff; Maj. Gen. M.C Alu, former Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral S. Saidu, former Chief of Naval Staff; and Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni, former FCT minister.

Undeterred at the possibility of another rejection, the committee for the second time in seven years included literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe, who again was honoured with the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).

This latest honour comes after Achebe in 2004 rejected the same honour bestowed on him by the administration of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. He did not only turn down the award, he, in strong terms, criticise what he referred to as “the dangerous state of affairs in the country.”

In his two-page letter rejecting the award in 2004, Achebe was most critical about the situation in his home state of Anambra.

Also on the list of 364 Nigerians and foreigners that will receive the National Honours Awards are nine state governors, mainly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, except the governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria and Mr. Peter Obi, governor of Anambra State who belongs to the All Progressives Grand Alliance.

PDP governors who were honoured are Senator Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa (Kaduna), Alhaji Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina) Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Chief Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and Alhaji Sule Lamido (Jigawa) who will all be conferred with CON awards.

However, one name that was conspicuously missing on the list of serving governors was that of Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who is roundly acknowledged as one of the best serving governors in the country. The feeling among observers was that Fashola’s name was omitted for political reasons.

The 2010 and 2011 national honours list also recognised the contributions of other Nigerians from various sectors of the nation’s socio-economic and political life, including deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who will receive a CON.

Other notable recipients include Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, a scholar, diplomat and former Minister of External Affairs (CFR); Mr. Kanu Agabi, former Attorney General of the Federation (CON); Maj. Gen. Mamman Tsofo Kontagora, former minister (CON); Chief Akin Olujimi, former minister and Attorney General of the Federation (CON); Chief Bayo Ojo, former minister and Attorney General of the Federation (CON); Mr. Basil Omiyi, first Nigerian managing director of Shell (CON); Prof. Emeritus John Festus Ade Ajayi (CON); and Chief Osayande Omotayo Akpata (CON).

The list also includes other accomplished Nigerians such as Mr. Arumemi Johnson, chairman, Arik Airline (CON); Dr. Tim Menakaya, former Minister of Health (OFR); Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, former Vice Chancellor, University of Benin (OFR); Prof. M.A. Daniyan (OFR); Alh. Muhammed Manga III, the Emir of Misau (OFR); Chief Olusegun Osunkeye (OFR); and Mr. Tunde Lemo, deputy governor Central Bank of Nigeria (OFR).

Other distinguished Nigerians to be honoured include Dame Comfort Chinezerem Obi, publisher and commissioner in the Police Service Commission (OON); Engr. Makoju Joseph, former managing director National Electric Power Authority (OFR); Sir Festus Remilekun Ayodele Marinho, first managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (OFR); Mrs. Amina Sambo, former president of National Council of Women Societies (OFR); Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, publisher and industrialist (OFR); Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi, (OFR); Prince Arthur Eze, (OFR); Mr. Kase Lawal (OFR); Mr. Demian D. Dodo (OFR); Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa (OFR); Dr. Bright Okogwu, director general Budget Office (OON); Mr. Umaru Hamza, DG NDLEA (OON); Ms. Aruma Otteh, former Vice President African Development Bank, DG Securities and Exchange Commission (OON); and Chief Mrs. Eniola Ajoke Fadayomi, former Attorney General Lagos State (MFR).

For the second time in a row professionals in the entertainment industry made a respectable showing on the list of honourees. At least six Nollywood actors, actresses and producers were selected as recipients of the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) award. They are Kanayo O. Kanayo, Iheme Osita, Amaka Igwe, Olu Jacobs, Stephanie Okereke and Genevieve Nnaji.

Also, among those who made the list are many serving and retired civil servants, including Dr. Granville Inya Inya-Agha, a retired civil servant (OON); Mrs Rhoda Nguhemen Tor-Agbidye, a former civil servant (MFR); Alhaji Hanafi Musa Moriki, civil servant (MFR); Mrs Georgina Murako, civil servant (MON); and Mr. Ekok Oyama civil servant (MON).


Professor J. F. Ade Ajayi is 80

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Professor J. F. Ade Ajayi, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Ibadan is 80 years old. Professor Ajayi is a distinguished Nigerian, African and a world citizen. He was born on May 26, 1929 in Ikole, Ekiti State to parents who by the standards of those days belonged to the elite of Ikole. His father was a post master while his mother engaged herself in buying and selling. They were one of the early Christians in Ikole and this early conversion was to leave permanent effect on young Ade Ajayi.

At a very tender age he was put in School and when he had reached the end rung of the ladder in a Christian School in Ikole, he was sent to the famous Central School in Ado-Ekiti which later metamorphosed into the famous Christ’s School. He lived with one of his father’s friends who looked after him while he was in school. In return, he served the latter as a houseboy as was expected in those days of service deserving its rewards. It was from Christi’s School that he took the entrance examination to Igbobi College Lagos where he stayed from 1940 to 1946. Throughout his years in Igbobi College he only came second once out of 12 semester examinations. He was the school librarian in his last year which was an attestation to his academic brilliance.

He gained entry into the Yaba Higher College in 1947 which was the only Higher Institution in Nigeria then. This was a sop to the nationalists who wanted a University type institution in Nigeria to satisfy the educational yearnings of the young and upcoming Nigerians. This institution established in the 1930s did not satisfy the demands of the people for higher education because the certificates issued were inferior to degrees even from Fourah Bay College in Freetown which was an overseas College of the University of Durham in England. Eventually the British granted the request of the nationalists and a proper university was established in Ibadan in 1948 to cater for the educational needs of West Africans. The young Ade-Ajayi was one of the pioneer students of this first attempt at higher education in tropical Africa.

Ajayi was one of the select few to be enrolled in Ibadan. He graduated in 1951 with a general degree in History, English and Latin. He could have become an administrative officer or an assistant district officer like some of his colleagues who graduated with him but right from the beginning he had planned for himself an academic life. He was determined to go for higher degrees abroad. He first set his eyes on Cambridge, but due to the short notice he had to mobilize funds that opportunity slipped away from his hands. He later went to Leicester University College of London to do an honours degree in History. He made a first which was rare and is still rare in the liberal arts.

With this academic distinction, he gained admission to the PhD programme of the University of London. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on Christian Missions in Nigeria, the emergence of a new western educated elite. This thesis was published in a seminal book of the same title. He returned to the University of Ibadan in 1958 and worked with Dr. Kenneth Onwuka Dike to radically change the direction of historical scholarship in Ibadan, Nigeria and Africa. Within a period of five years and at a relatively young age, Ajayi became a Professor. This was to be the beginning of years of further academic and administrative achievements in a life spanning 80 long years.

Ajayi can be said to be the founder of the Ibadan School of History and helped many former students and colleagues to revise their dissertations for publication by Longman Group as part of the Ibadan history series. This writer was a beneficiary of Ajayi’s editorial expertise. My 1970 PhD thesis on Nigeria in the First World War submitted at Dalhousie University in far away Canada was subsequently published as part of the Ibadan history series. Professor Ajayi has many publications to his credit and edited several books to advance the study of African history.

Before Dike, Ajayi, Roland Oliver, Richard Gray and others, Africa was dismissed as a continent without history. Some racists said African history could only be the activities of the Europeans in Africa. The absence of written documentation in most of Africa was used to condemn the entire continent as not being worthy of study. These euro-centric critics forgot to realize that Egypt the home of civilization was in Africa. They forgot Ethiopia and the Nile Valley with their written documentation in Geez was in Africa. The Saharan and Sahel part of Africa were not without Arabic and Ajami documentation. Even the rock paintings in the Namibian desert and the Nsibidi signs of the Ekoi in Cross River could be deciphered.

The absence of written documentation did not mean the absence of history. Oral history preserved by family and palace historians and griots were authentic sources of history. In societies without written documentation there were people specially charged to memorise ported history of the Kingdoms, and failure to recite this properly sometimes cost them their lives. Ajayi and others were able to marshal these points and also to engage in inter disciplinary effort with sociologists, anthropologists, economists, linguists botanists (ethnobotanists) zoologists (serologists) and archaeologist to unravel the past of Africa.

We owe Ajayi a debt of gratitude that he and others cultivated a nationalist historiography that helped give pride and confidence to nationalists in many African countries. Africans were made to realise that they were inheritors of the great civilizations of Egypt, Meroe, Axum, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Zimbabwe, the various pre and post Arab Kingdoms of the Maghreb and of course Oyo, Hausa land, Ancient Borno and Benin.

Ibadan was turned into the Mecca of African studies. Professor Ajayi’s expertise was greatly sought after in Europe and America where at different times he spent Sabbatical years. His country noticed him and between 1972 and 1978 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos and he more than any one built the University of Lagos whose reputation had been ruined by tribal conflicts that undermined the first years of its foundation. Ajayi also served as a member of the council of the United Nations University in Tokyo from 1974 to 1980 and for two years in 1976 and 1977 he served as its chairman. He and others helped to write the UNESCO general history of Africa and he edited the Volume VI.

The University of Leicester was so proud of his achievements that it conferred on him LL.D Honoris Causa in 1975. In 1984, the University of Birmingham followed suit with another D.Litt Honoris Causa. A grateful nation recognized Ajayi’s academic prowess by giving him a National Order of Merit (NNOM) in 1986.

At 80 Professor J. F. Ade Ajayi can look back and give glory to God. He is blessed with a wonderful wife who loves him dearly and without whose support he would never have had the peace of mind and encouragement for his stupendous achievements. He is blessed with a son, a physician, and four wonderful daughters who have excelled in their own different ways. It is a matter of joy to see a man so distinguished and venerated at home and abroad live a fulfilled life. This icon of academic distinction has not only made history, he has written history and lived history. Future generations would certainly know that a J. F. Ade Ajayi passed through this world in spite of having been born in a peripheral part of it.


May 16, 2011





Taking Fela Kuti home

Sahr Ngaujah has spent the last two years playing the great Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti on stage in New York and London. Last month he took the production back to Kuti’s native Nigeria. Here, he describes the extraordinary and emotional trip

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* Sahr Ngaujah
* The Observer, Sunday 15 May 2011
* Article history

Man on a mission … Sahr Ngaujah on the beach near Lagos, Nigeria, in April. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer

The air was humid and thick; a constant wind blew in from the sea, sponging up every sweat bead on our skin. A cacophony of sound permeated the air – revving and idling engines, okada motorcycle taxi horns, heavy bass lines and people talking loud. Posters bearing the faces of various smiling politicians were plastered on every inch of space.

1. Fela!
2. Sadler’s Wells,
3. London

1. Starts 20 July
2. Until 28 August
3. Box office:
0844 412 4300
4. More details

In New York and London, our task was to recreate Fela Kuti’s world in the Nigeria of the 1970s, viewed from within his club, the Africa Shrine. Now we were entering Nigeria to bring Fela back to his own people, to recreate the Shrine of the 70s at a big theatre built by his children and called the New Africa Shrine.

As our plane came over Lagos we were keenly aware that today was election day, the first round, with two weeks to go. We were arriving under curfew. It was a sunny day and as we looked out of our windows it was clear the curfew was taken seriously. All of the streets were clear, no movement save the military men at their posts at junctions throughout the city.

We disembarked amid a flurry of security personnel, some private, some state, some local. We were ushered on to our buses, and with a full military escort we tore out of the airport and began barrelling down the empty expressway to Victoria Island. Welcome to Lagos! We had no idea what would await us in this infamous African metropolis, but we had a mission and a commitment to complete it.

I first visited Nigeria in 2008, just after the off-Broadway production of Fela! closed. I was there for Felabration, a week-long festival that takes place every October to mark Fela’s birthday. I spent my nights at the New Africa Shrine and my days visiting Fela’s house, Kalakuta. I often wondered what sort of impact this type of experience would have on my colleagues after all the effort they’d put into showing other people the world of Fela. Now they were here. We were to play the New Africa Shrine and the Eko Hotel’s conference centre, both holding 3,000. First we had to settle into our new environment and prepare to meet our first audience, the people of Fela’s Shrine.

In those early days my routine consisted of a lot of sleep to get over the jet lag, rehearsing my Yoruba pronunciations and running along the ocean in the Lekki district. Some of my colleagues were having their first experience of African markets and haggling, Nigerian style. At night we could be found recounting the day’s adventures in the courtyard of the Eko Hotel, enjoying the open-air bar while paying Midtown Manhattan prices for our favourite drinks, always under the watchful eye of our no-nonsense security escorts.
fela kuti Afrobeat king Fela Kuti. Photograph: Guardian

Among the richest moments were the time we spent with Fela’s family, with his children Femi, Yeni, Kunle and Seun, along with his siblings, cousins and wives. In 2008 one of Fela’s sons, Kunle, described Fela being buried. He described the scene of thousands of people filling the streets and covering every rooftop in the area. Now here I was with all my colleagues, seeing Fela’s grave. Then they opened the door of his room. His room had been sealed for years. There was his sax, his bed, hundreds of suits, there was everything.

Kunle hadn’t been in the room for 10 years. Seun hadn’t been in for three. But they opened that room to let those people who had dedicated so much to keep his memory alive glimpse Fela, my beloved colleagues who had sacrificed so much of their bodies and their blood to bring Fela’s world to life for thousands of people every night on 49th Street in New York.

Days later I found myself filing off a bus to stand before the New Africa Shrine with those colleagues. As we crushed our way to the entrance we began to hear the sound that had become so familiar to us over the years through watching documentaries about our subject. We heard the voice of the people, calling for Fela, calling for the Kalakutans – the people of Fela’s Kalakuta Republic, the compound where he lived and recorded with his family and his band. As we crossed the threshold of the shrine it seemed as if everyone in the place agreed on what the first utterance to us should be. From the front door to the stage door, all we heard greeting us was: “Welcome home.” Indeed, we had arrived. We were humbled by the reception and had no idea of the measure of beauty awaiting us for the duration of our stay.

Fela Kuti is an immense subject, a bottomless character. Bill T Jones, our director, would say: “Fela was a tornado of a man.” When we first arrived people would say: “How can you bring Fela from America to Nigeria? Fela belongs to us.” Before we left they told us: “Fela has come home.” I don’t think they were talking about us – they were talking about his spirit.

We are holding these experiences in our hearts and can’t wait to unleash them on those planning to join us for the adventure in London this summer.

• Sahr witnessed landmark elections in Nigeria and wants you to help encourage the trend in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( He wore clothes courtesy of Gozi, creative director of his new favourite brand, UMi-1 (


Raymond Cauchetier
The women of Fela
Fela Kuti

By geojane

Apr 11 2011

Category: Uncategorized

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Fela Anikulapo Kuti October 15, 1938- August 2, 1997 Nigerian musician and composer, creator, singer, saxophonist, frontman, inventor, and pioneer of afrobeat music.

How do you say his name, Fella or Fey-la?

NOVA Professor of History, Dr. Joeseph Windham, wise and worldly, pronounces Fela like the latter. Whichever way you say it, his name stands for a powerful and humble man. A paradox that translates in the music he creates.

This is a photograph of Fela Kuti with some of the beautiful women he marries. These particular women became victims of sexual brutality, thus cast out and dishonored in their communities. Fela uses marriage as a means of protecting the women from discrimination. He makes it clear that they are heroines, deserved of the utmost respect and honor.

Picture sourced from:

fela 34.jpg


March 24, 2010


Boy witnesses healthcare bill’s signing on behalf of mom

By Kim Murphy

March 24, 2010

Reporting from Seattle – He has been dismissed by the right as a prostitute for healthcare reform whose mom “would still have died” even with the newly passed healthcare legislation. But 11-year-old Marcelas Owens, who stood quietly next to President Obama on Tuesday as he signed the long-debated legislation, has kept the jitters at bay, friends say, by pretending his mom was sitting in the front row.

She wasn’t. She died three years ago of pulmonary hypertension, largely untreated because she lost her health insurance when she lost her job as an assistant manager at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Seattle.

“It’s tough not having my mom around,” Marcelas, a fifth-grader at Seattle’s Orca elementary school, said at a news conference with Senate Democratic leaders this month. “But she’s been with me in spirit every time I talk.”

Plenty of American families have succumbed to a combination of illness, unemployment and debt. Marcelas’ mother, Tifanny, fell ill in 2006 at age 26 with the crippling condition that causes abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

“If she still had her healthcare, she’d probably still be here,” Marcelas’ grandmother, Gina, told reporters.

The family’s troubles began when Tifanny Owens started missing work because of her illness, said Joshua Welter, who worked with the family at the Washington Community Action Network. Jack in the Box “let her go after she missed so much work,” Welter said.

Jack in the Box spokesman Brian Luscomb said the only Tifanny Owens in their records was a team leader, the equivalent of a shift supervisor, who resigned “for family obligations” in 2006. “She was not involuntarily terminated,” he said.

With no income, Owens couldn’t afford transitional health coverage. Owens would occasionally go to the emergency room, and in one visit, she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, which cannot be cured but can often be treated.

She was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center in June 2007, and died a week later.

Marcelas, a plump-cheeked, soft-spoken youngster, became a celebrity of sorts after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) began talking about his family on the Senate floor.

His prominence has attracted a backlash from conservative commentators, who accuse reform advocates of prostituting and exploiting him as he tells his mother’s story.

Marcelas isn’t paying much attention. He lives with his grandmother, along with his two younger sisters. The local PBS station, KCTS, filmed them one night gathered around the kitchen table in prayer.

“Mom, we miss you and we love you, and we hope you’re having a good time,” Marcelas said. “And I hope you’re getting a lot of rest.”
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times


January 29, 2010

FROM (in Barbados)

The hate and the quake

Published on: 1/17/2010.


THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti.

I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti’s independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.

As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it – and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.

Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.

For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

The French refused to recognise Haiti’s independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth – ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.

The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.

Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.

The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.

The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.

The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.

Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.

The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.

Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.

The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.

Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation – a crime against humanity.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.

The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.

l Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.


January 12, 2010




Zuma Formally Weds 3rd Wife in Zulu Ceremony
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Published: January 4, 2010
Filed at 12:00 p.m. ET

KWANXAMALALA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s president formalized his marriage to his third wife during a traditional ceremony Monday amid media reports he plans to take a fourth bride later this year.

Some 2,000 guests thronged a homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal province to watch the ceremony in which 67-year-old President Jacob Zuma and 38-year-old Tobeka Madiba took part.

The couple are already married under South African law and have three children. Madiba attended Zuma’s inauguration ceremony in May. He paid a dowry to her family in 2007 as is tradition.

Meanwhile, a family member told The Associated Press on Monday that Zuma is also planning to marry again later this year. Other relatives have told South African media that the president plans to wed Durban native Gloria Bongi Ngema. The president’s office has not commented on the reports.

Monday’s ceremony included an hourlong traditional Zulu wedding dance. During the ceremony, Madiba performed a solo dance while holding a spear and a shield to symbolize her acceptance of her new husband.

Zuma, wearing a skirt made of animal fur pelts and sporting bright white tennis shoes, then joined the dance. The bride wore matching sneakers.

Guests dined on traditional Zulu foods, and attendees were told that more than a dozen sheep, goats and cows had been slaughtered for the feast.

Wedding guest Sipho Msomi, a cattle herder, said the wedding made him proud to be Zulu, the nation’s largest ethnic group.

”We love him because he is one of us and does not look down upon us,” he said. ”Zuma can marry as many women as he wants. It is our culture.”

Another guest, 28-year-old Prudence Khumalo, said she also supported the polygamous tradition.

”In the West is frowned upon,” she said. ”Here we celebrate it. It is our culture and we stand by it.”

Zuma, 67, a Zulu traditionalist and an unabashed polygamist, has now married at least five women over the years and has 19 children. He currently has three wives including Madiba: Sizakele Khumalo, whom he married in 1973, and Nompumelelo Ntuli, whom he wed in 2008.

He also was married to other women: Kate Mantsho Zuma, committed suicide in 2000. He divorced the other, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, in 1998, although she remains a trusted aide and is now the country’s home affairs minister.

When he took office earlier this year, all three wives were at the inauguration ceremony, but only Khumalo, his first wife, accompanied him to the main stage set up outside the presidency building in Pretoria. Since then, none of his wives has had a particularly prominent role, in keeping with the practice of South African first ladies before them.

Zuma’s embrace of Zulu tradition — including polygamy — has endeared him to many South Africans. Still, some consider polygamy old-fashioned and expensive, and question how it can endure in a modern country.

And experts say having multiple, concurrent partners heightens the risk of AIDS, leaving some to question what model a polygamous president presents. South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country.

Zuma is not alone among world leaders when it comes to polygamy. In the Gulf, the number of a ruler’s wives and who among them is paramount are a constant source of rumors.



South Africa President Jacob Zuma marries third wife
Jacob Zuma performs a traditional Zulu dance at the ceremony

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has married his third wife, in a Zulu ceremony attended by his other wives.

Some 2,000 guests saw the 67-year-old marry Thobeka Mabhija, 36. The ceremony had been postponed from last year because of his political commitments.

Reports in South Africa suggest he already has another fiancee and his fourth wife may not be far off.

Correspondents say Mr Zuma’s belief in the traditional practice of polygamy has divided South Africans.

Some support him but many younger people believe it should have no place in a modern society.

Under Zulu tradition, Mr Zuma’s two current wives had to approve the wedding and attend the ceremony.

His new fiancee, Gloria Bongi Ngema, took umbondo (wedding gifts) to the Zuma family last week, reports say.

This ceremony is the last traditional event before a wedding and is done after ilobolo (dowry) has been paid to the bride’s family.

Hive of activity

Monday’s ceremony is Mr Zuma’s fifth wedding – he married his first wife Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma in 1973 and Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma two years ago.


Thobeka Mabhija – married, January 2010 (above)
Nompumelelo Ntuli – married, January 2008
Sizakele Khumalo – married, 1973
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – divorced, 1998
Kate Mantsho Zuma – died, 2000
He is also divorced from Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

South African media reported that Mr Zuma’s home in Nkandla, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, was a hive of activity in the run-up to the ceremony.

Large tents were erected to accommodate guests, some of whom arrived in a number of buses on Monday.

Several cows, sheep and goats were slaughtered for the wedding feast.

Locals including Mr Zuma were dressed in traditional Zulu attire – mostly made from animal skin.

When Mr Zuma was inaugurated as president in May, speculation was rife about who would be the first lady.

He has attended some high-profile events with all his wives, including Ms Mabhija.

Mr Zuma, who has 19 children – three with Ms Mabhija – paid ilobolo to the Mabhija family two years ago.

One of his earlier wives, Kate Mantsho-Zuma, died in 2000.

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