Is the Washington Times Promoting Ignorance & Idiocy On Africa?

Shame on you, Washington Times.  Shame.On.You.

Not only do you allow someone with no experience living or working in Africa (hunting doesn’t count) to write an op-ed on Africa, but you allow him to publish some of the most ignorant and racist comments I’ve ever seen.

Well bravo Washington Times! You’ve just managed to promote more ignorance, more idiocy and more fear to your readers and the rest of the world! Rocker musician Ted Nugent may be a outspoken Tea Party member, defender of gun rights and yes, a legendary artist.  But one thing he is not is someone who is knowlegeable enough to speak about Africa and its challenges.   Don’t believe me?

“I get to hunt Africa every year and without the steaks and the guts from the antelope, many African societies would have vanished already. The lunatic fringe is people in extreme denial.”

Genocide is a way of life [in Africa].

Apartheid isn’t that cut and dry. All men are not created equal.

do urself a favor & celebrate massive truth&logic in my new masterpiece at what good people beleieve is alive&well ther

My problem isn’t with Nugent – he’s entitled to share his uninformed and unintelligible opinions.  Its the Washington Times that I’m mad at – for reducing journalism to this shoddy ranting and promoting such shameless ignorance:

Africa isn’t called the Dark Continent for no reason. Africa has forever been a politi- cal nightmare full of overt corruption, tribal warfare, genocide, murderous regimes and brutal dictators.

There is no country in Africa that truly respects freedom or the rule of law. The majority of countries in Africa are in economic ruin because of political corruption and a history ugly with cruel despotism. That’s why starvation and disease are rampant. AIDS is projected to kill as much as half the populations of some countries. Genocide is a way of life. There is little light in Africa.

Africa is an international scab.  Once we swat one of these African cockroaches or intervene in their civil war, where do we stop?

Now in the interest of minimizing traffic to the Times’ website, I refuse to publish the rest of Nugent’s op-ed or give you the link.  But I can only draw two conclusions about their decision to post this incredibly lunatic piece of work:

  1. The Times cares less about informing its readers and more about inciting them, and
  2. Is the lamest attempt at gunning for celebrity activism a-la Tea-Partier style (pun intended)
Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt Opens Its Borders for Somali Refugees Fleeing Libya

Today, Egypt’s newly formed government announced that it will open its borders and accept Somali refugees who are fleeing Libya.

As explained by Somalia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed:

“Also we discussed the matter with other countries bordering with Libya and we are very hopeful that they will also do the same as Egypt did—on behalf of Somali government I am grateful to Egypt for its acceptance to welcome Somali refugees who are escaping from unrest in Libya,” the prime minister stated.

Egypt’s move is a welcome sign.  But how telling is it that the first country to adopt new refugee policies for Horn migrants stuck in Libya was Egypt?  Oh the irony.

Questions remain over how many Somalis and other Horn refugees and migrants will try to enter Egypt and whether more countries will follow suit.

According to the UNHCR, there are 2,500 Somali refugees in Tripoli alone.

Copyright UNHCR/A.Branthwaite

In Benghazi and Choucha, UNHCR reports having hundreds of Somalis and Eritreans in each camp.  Of these arrivals, a small percentage of them have been processed for repatriation into a third country.

Last month, 305 Eritreans, 191 Ethiopians and 153 Somalis were denied evacuation in a camp in Bengazi, while thousands of other refugees from Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh were rescued.

Western and Arab countries have been slow to accept Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians stuck in Libya, despite repeated requests from the UNHCR.  In some cases it may be a logistical delay as many embassies in Tripoli have since closed.

But considering the Horn of Africa’s turmoil, it is surprising that the protection of these civilians hasn’t become a higher priority for donor countries and other more developed countries.

With Somalia’s ongoing violence and forcible recruitment of civilians to fight, the continued threat of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the governments’ presumed inability or unwillingness to take their citizens back leaves thousands of innocent people in limbo, the Horn of Africa represents one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.

The UNHCR recognizes their plight and has identified some arrivals as “persons of concern”.   Many fled due to the political insecurity, lack of economic opportunity and jobs, the indefinite nature of military conscription,  and ethnic or religious persecution in their respective countries.

The most troubling aspect of this story isn’t just the unimaginable suffering these refugees are forced to endure, but the world’s reluctance and failure to respond to their needs.

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Resilience of Somalia’s Women: A Snapshot

The Horn of Africa has a number of humanitarian, political and economic challenges – but its people are not short of resilience, strength and collective power.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, below is a collection of figures that illustrate what life for the average Somali woman inside Somalia (according to main international organizations).

I hope one day to collect testimonials and share actual stories of women on the ground that reflects their gains as well as their challenges.

Photo: Abdi Hassan/IRIN

I’ve been fortunate to meet many Somali women dedicated to improving the lives, well being and security of their communities in Somalia.  Their stories reveal that the estimates the world has are but a fraction of the whole story.

In the meantime, here is a roundup of statistics which capture a number of challenges women face and overcome in Somalia.

  • 6.7 – Number of children born per woman in Somalia. (WHO) The numbers are higher in rural areas, than in urban areas.
  • 27% – Percentage of Somali women who are literate. (UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women – 2008.) The illiteracy rate for Somali women is twice as high as the rate for men.
  • 54% – Percentage of Somali women who take part in the labor force. (UN Data – 2008)
  • 6.1% – Percentage of seats held by women in the national parliament of Somalia.  (UN Data – 2009)
  • About 50% – Approximate percentage of Somali women that suffer from anemia. (Source: FSNAU – 2010)
  • 1 in 14 – Lifetime risk of dying in childbirth. (Source: Unicef – 2008)
  • 9% – Percentage of births by Somali mothers that took place in a health care facility. (Source: Unicef – 2005 – 2009)
  • 32% – Percentage of pregnant Somali women who received ante-natal care. (WHO – 2006)
  • 16% – Percentage of pregnant and lactating Somali women who are either malnourished, or at risk of being malnourished. (FSNAU)
Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Women In Times of War & Peace, Quote from Martti Ahtisaari

“To protect women in times of war, we must first make sure women receive equal rights in times of peace.” – Martti Ahtisaari, The Elders

Posted in Articles, Quotes | Leave a comment

The Glamorous Gaddafi, Africa’s Gangsta Fashionista

There’s just so much to say when it comes to Colonel Muamar Gaddafi’s style of dress.  Where do you begin? Is it fashion? Is it flair?  Or is it some type of desperado-meets-dictator faux pas?

Just as his agenda in the Middle East has evolved (devolved?) into Africa so too has his um, unique sense of style.  All I want to know is – where can I get those Africa continent badges he puts on every other outfit?  And who is that female soldier behind him in nearly every picture?

Check out Vanity Fair’s photo gallery of Gaddafi’s fashion and ABC News’ slideshow over the years:

Continue reading

Posted in Photos | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Libya Cares About Somalis! No Wait – They Care About Us!

(Note: If you or a refugee or migrant you know needs assistance in Libya, call the UNHCR hotline for refugees & asylum-seekers in Libya  at +218214777503)

In the most ironic turn of events, Libya’s political and humanitarian crisis has somehow landed in Somalia’s lap. Yes that’s right, you heard me. Somalia.

On Monday, as calls urging for greater protection over the rights of Sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees in Libya increased, Libya’s Envoy for Somalia, Ambassador  Issee Rabii Ashour ran to the press, to assure every that Libya had the best interests of Somalis at heart.

Isse Rabii Ashour, the Libyan ambassador to Somalia on Monday promised to help Somali refugees in Libya as unrest and violent demonstrations against Libyan leader Moammar Al Ghadafi and his regime are continuing to rage.  Ashour indicated that Libya is committed to assist Somali refugees in its country, saying that they could no longer bear Somalis to be killed intentionally.  He stressed the Libyan government will prevent the individuals who target the fleeing Somalis in Libya.

“Of course, we can feel and understand the worry and woe have the Somali people, but the situation is not how it is thought. Somalis, who live in Libya, as I told you lead in peaceful atmosphere” the Libyan ambassador was quoted by Shabelle as saying.

Just one day later, reports surfaced that Ashour was – strangely enough – granted political asylum to Somalia.   Political asylum! Oh the irony just kills me. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Karibu, Well Come, Pleasant Journey – African Advertising at Its Finest

This weekend, I had the chance to leave town and drive a few hours away to visit family friends in the central part of Kenya.  For so many reasons, I love taking long drives when I’m in Africa because its a powerful glimpse into the heart and pulse of what keeps bringing me back.  I know I am an outsider, with one foot in and one foot out.  I know that I can only understand so much.  But for my own personal reasons, being in the village, in an area where power and water are infrequent, where material things are limited, but love and humanity is infinite, sends me to a quiet place of understanding and wonder.  After nearly 20 years of taking these kind of drives, I delight at the beauty and amazement to this day. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Photos, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

If Libya’s Gadhafi Goes – What’s Next for Africa?

As events continue to unfold in Libya, questions are quickly arising about what Gadhafi’s departure will mean for Sub Saharan Africa.  During the course of his forty-one (41!) year rule, Gadhafi has gone out of his way to redefine his image and brand himself as a leading figure in Africa (interestingly enough, just as his role and influence in the Arab world began to dwindle…but I digress).

What his contributions and policies have meant for Africa, its institutions, and ultimately its people cannot go understated.  Here’s a brief summary of the different ways a change in Libya’s leadership may have dire implications for the Horn of Africa and the rest of the continent.

Libya’s Reach Into Africa

United States of Africa…Really Libya? Really??

If there’s one thing Gadhafi is great at, it’s the ability to reinvent and rebrand himself. Despite his poor track record on governance and human rights, the Leader and Guide of the Revolution has managed to avoid major costs for his continued tight and despotic rule since 1969.  After spending most of his political career focused on Libya’s role in the Middle East, Islamic movements and the Arab world, he shifted his attention in the new century to Sub-Saharan Africa, in an attempt to remain relevant and influential in the global arena.

What transpired over the next decade was a significant outpouring of financial assistance, military support and political positioning towards many of its regional neighbors as well as key countries throughout Central and East Africa. Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Caught in Cairo: The Horn’s Refugees Struggle for Protection

I received an email yesterday from a blogger in Egypt about the current status of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan who are caught in between Cairo’s chaos.

Egypt is a transit hub for many of the Horn’s refugees. Some are fleeing conflict, others insecurity or persecution, others simply seek a better life elsewhere.  Over the last ten years, as the Darfur conflict intensified and the Eritrea-Ethiopia relations worsened, Egypt and the Arab World has been faced with a sharp increase in the transit and resettling of refugees from the Horn of Africa.  Recent reports of Darfuri refugees being denied basic services & protection in CairoEritrean refugees being held hostage in the Sinai,  Israel’s establishment of a detention center for African refugees and Ethiopian domestic workers being attacked in Lebanon reveal a worrying trend of hardening policies towards African refugees in the Middle East.

So what will happen to the thousands of Sudanese, Eritreans & Ethiopian refugees who have been living in Cairo?  Are they being protected during Egypt’s current crisis?  Who is helping them survive through Cairo’s chaos?

Perhaps this note sheds some light on the question:

February 5, 2011

It is four in the morning. I reside about two blocks from Tahrir square. Can’t sleep with the sporadic gunshots ringing around me. I have Al Jazeera on and surfing the internet to have some sense of freedom. I have a lot of activist and blogger friends experiencing a siege as I write. People I have been close to for the last four years. All of them, part of the amazing organic community who is putting pressure on the Egyptian government.

The Black Africans, in this disorder of things, are the silenced community. Of the four years I have spent in Egypt, racism has been a consent companion, at all levels of the Egyptian social structure. This constancy of racial prejudice during time of peace, cannot be imaginable during time of violence and suspicion. This is not to say that the racist behavior has to be generalized to all Egyptians, but the facts are the facts. See for yourself.  Continue reading

Posted in Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Power of Twitter in Africa: Sudan, Ivory Coast, Tunisia & Nigeria

“The Revolution Will be Tweeted.” – One of today’s tweets after what’s been a very busy week in Africa. #Sudan #Nigeria #Ivory Coast #Tunisia

The power of Twitter is simply amazing when you look at what’s happened this week in Africa. A remarkable series of change & growth across the continent, led by the people…and their tweets.

You can say that the second week of 2011 was the people’s week for participation and protest in Africa. Elections and referendums. Protests and coups.

Is Africa facing its next moment of change? Where the youth bulge and generational politics are finally shifting course?

In Sudan, a long awaited vote for freedom is coming to a close and a new chapter of nationbuilding in the South is to begin. For days on end, tweets from resettled Diaspora, Sudanese and international organizations, and local and international media revealed a staggering level of high expectations for the South’s future. Post-referendum peace with the North and development was the greatest concern on everyone’s mind as cautious optimism started to sink the last couple of days.

Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Quotes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment