Boko Haram strikes again

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At least 185 people were killed this weekend in the Northeast city of Baga, Nigeria. Boko Haram, an extremist organization in Northern Nigeria, attacked the city of Baga on Friday. 

Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye said the Boko Haram fighters used heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. He also said they used civilians as human shields during the fighting, implying that soldiers opened fire in neighborhoods where they knew civilians lived.

This attack mirrors many other deadly attacks led by Boko Haram against innocent Nigerian civilians. Boko Haram means “Western Education is sinful” in Hausa, a West Africa language. Their organization was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001 in an attempt to establish sharia law in Nigeria. They are known for bombing churches and mosques in Northeastern cities in Nigeria. Boko Haram’s violence has terrorized both Muslim and Christian Nigerians for years and needs to be stopped.

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Owusu-Ankomah, Microcron – Kusum No.4, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 135 X 175 cm.

Owusu-Ankomah, Microcron - Kusum No.4, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 135 X 175 cm.

Owusu-Ankomah is a contemporary Ghanaian/German painter. His work addresses themes of identity and the body using his trademark motif of Adinkra symbolism.

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April 17, 2013 · 2:10 pm

The situation in Central African Republic (CAR)

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After establishing a peace deal in January, a coup last Thursday has threatened the democratic progress of the Central African Republic (CAR).

The CAR is a mineral-rich nation of 4.5-million people whose recent history has been filled with a series of coups and mutinies. Last week, this vicious cycle continued as President Francois Bozize (who has been president since 2003) was ousted from power by Seleka rebels. The word Seleka means union in Sango, the most popular local language in CAR. However, many people worry that what began as a CAR union may lead to more violence and political corruption. This coup has already unraveled much of the progress achieved by the agreement between the president and Seleka.

After the rebels took the presidential palace on March 24th, President Bozize fled the country (he is currently in Cameroon) and Michel Djotoia declared himself the new president of the country. In addition,  looting has become a huge problem during these politically uncertain times. Many rebels have used the coup to gain access to the capital and gain financial resources. 

The majority of Central Africans currently have mixed feelings about the coup. At first, many were excited for a regime change after having the same president for 10 years. However, as the looting has continued more Central Africans have grown weary of the rebels and some fear Djotoia’s leadership will be simply more of the same. At the present time, Bangui appears to be relatively stable as most people have been simply staying indoors and waiting until order resumes. Yet, the future remains uncertain.

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Kenya votes

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In just four days, Kenya will be voting. Many worry that the national and local elections may cause friction between ethnic groups in Kenya due to the closeness of the race. Yet, I am very hopeful that things will go smoothly.

I find that the media typically name drops “ethnic conflict” every time an African nation votes simply because that’s the easy thing to do. It’s easy to say or buy into sentiments that suggest that an African election will be filled with violence and fraudulent results. However, the fact remains that many African elections occur every year in a peaceful manner with legitimate results.

It is essential that the media stops reverting to the stereotypes that all African elections are fraught with violent bloodshed and ballet stuffing. Each African election climate is different. For example, Ghana’s recent election was a complete peaceful affair. Though the NPP opposition party was upset that it lost the election, the country accepted the results and embraced President Mahama as their leader.

Stories like these are becoming the norm across Africa. Therefore, it is pointless to continue and equivocate violence to all African elections.

For up to the minute Kenyan election coverage, visit the Daily Nation’s Election page. Below are excerpts from the Daily Nation’s candidate profiles.

The Candidates:

  • Mohamed Abduba Dida says he is a candidate for the poor and an agent of human morality and change, having struggled through life from his Wajir home to Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum where his father, a retired junior policeman, lived.

  • Martha Wangari Karua is the leading female candidate eyeing the Presidency in this election. Her candidature follows a fallout with President Kibaki that saw her resign as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

  • Peter Kenneth is Making his maiden attempt at the presidency. At 47 years old, Mr Kenneth will be the youngest presidential candidate. He is in the Eagle Coalition with Raphael Tuju.

  • Uhuru Kenyatta is making his second attempt at the presidency after an unsuccessful bid in 2002. The son of Kenya’s first president, Mr Kenyatta is in the Jubilee Coalition with Eldoret North MP William Ruto. The two are also facing charges at the ICC.

  • Prof James ole Kiyiapi is making his maiden attempt at the presidency. He is a former academic and government bureaucrat. His campaign strategy is selling himself as an unblemished candidate.

  • Paul Muite, a pro-democracy advocate in the 1990’s is making his first attempt at the presidency on a Safina ticket.

  • Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi is making his first attempt at the Presidency. In 2002, he was Uhuru Kenyatta’s running mate in presidential election. His presidential bid follows an acrimonious fallout with the Jubilee Alliance.

  • Raila Amolo Odinga is making a third attempt at the presidency after unsuccessful bids in 1997 and 2007. A former political prisoner, Mr Odinga is now in the Cord coalition with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Minister Moses Wetangula.

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Originally posted on Africa is a Country:

Gather round children and hear “[all] Africans seem naturally networked to religion.” Bow thy heads in shame yea northern heathens for the “Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination, is part of the fabric of all African societies.” Heaven forbid you should get on your high horse and talk of gross generalizations swathed in the tropes of noble savagery and whatnot, for the Lord hath spoken and he sayeth unto thee: “Over the decades that I have traveled in Africa I have met only four African atheists”; that “[in Africa] God is invoked on every occasion, private or public;” and, in a critical new insight, that “[the cause of] wars … in Africa… is usually a dispute over land rights involving two communities that happen to be of different faiths.” 

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The R Word

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Rape is any forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. Rape is about power, not sex. Men around the world use rape as a means of controlling women both mentally and physically. It is particularly rampant problem in developing nations like South Africa.

Last year in South Africa alone over 65,000 sexual offenses were committed. This is one of the highest rates in the world. Yet, police estimate that this number represents just one in 36 rapes committed, as many women do not report rape. Rape has silently destroyed the lives of women for too long. It is time that we speak up to end violence against women.
Yesterday, South African President Jacob Zuma called for “unity in action” to stop rape in his State of the Union address. Zuma’s speech responded to the brutal gang rape and mutilation of Anene Booysen, a 17-year-old girl, last week.

South Africa can no longer ignore the destruction that rape has caused. South Africans must address the issue of rape and teach their young people that sex must be consensual. Sex education for both girls and boys could help young women protect their bodies and teach young men to listen to their female partners.

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The Situation in Mali

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Mali currently resides in a state of utter uncertainty. The vast rift between Northern and Southern Mali is growing everyday. What began as a byproduct of colonialism has grown into a full scale war between the Malian people.

Northern groups like the Tuaregs desire autonomy and freedom from the Malian state. Whereas, Southern groups like the Mande people simply want to return to the way things used to be. Northern and Southern Malians divergent goals for the future of the country make it very difficult for the two sides to stop the fighting and work towards a common solution.

Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of the US Bureau of African Affairs, spoke before the house committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday about the crisis in Mali. He said, “The evolving crisis in Mali is one of the most difficult, complex, and urgent problems West Africa has faced in decades. Mali’s problems reflect the fragility of governance in the region, the lack of economic development – especially in northern Mali – the absence of meaningful opportunities for people to engage with their governments, and the widespread desperation that exists in an unforgiving, arid region with chronic food insecurity. The March 2012 coup and subsequent loss of northern Mali to Islamic extremists demonstrates all too clearly how quickly terrorists prey upon fragile states. Poor governance, weak democratic institutions, and a lack of development and economic opportunity create fertile ground for terrorism and instability.”

Carson’s words highlight the world’s uncertainty about Mali’s future. His speech proposes that the international community come together to support Mali and them limit terrorist threats, restore democracy, negotiate with the North, and support the refugee population in the Sahel region by providing food and shelter for those who have been displaced by the violence.

As Thomas Friedman so famously wrote, the world is flatter now than it has ever been. We can no longer sit back and watch as a humanitarian crisis occurs in Mali because terrorist activities there effect our own national security.

For more in depth information on the situation in Mali, I recommend Dr. Bruce Whitehouse’s article “What Went Wrong in Mali” and his blog Bridges From Bamako.

 

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