News from Africa

By August 14, 2013 September 6th, 2013 Africa News in Brief, News & Current Affairs

LUXURY LIVING IN LAGOS BUILT WITH WORLD BANK FUNDS FOR THE POOR

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Local officials in Lagos, Nigeria, who accepted a $200 million loan from the World Bank to “increase sustainable access to basic urban services,” are instead creating an unaffordable complex of 1,000 luxury units on the grounds where poor and working people recently lived.

According to a new report from Amnesty International, partnering with the Nigerian Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), tens of thousands of Lagosians who lived in the Badia East area which fronts the scenic Gulf of Guinea, have been homeless since their devastating evictions in February on short notice. Self-built homes were bulldozed and the one-time residents were forced to sleep out in the open or under a bridge.

“The effects of February’s forced eviction have been devastating,” said Amnesty’s Oluwatosin Popoola.

It wasn’t the first time the Lagos government diverted money intended to improve life for the large riverine community. Since the early 1990s, grants from World Bank money for ‘slum clearance’ were instead the motive for the mass eviction of area residents without resettlement. In 1997, more evictions were ordered for some 2,000 residents who were chased off by armed guards from even salvaging their own possessions.

A new round of demolitions began in 2003 following a 48 hour notice, but was stopped midway by non-violent resistance. After a short interlude, the evictions resumed again in October 2003. Some 3,000 residents of Oke Ilu-Eri were left without compensation or replacement homes. Again in March 2013, hundreds of homes were demolished by the ‘Kick Against Indiscipline’ brigade.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Lagos state commissioner for housing, Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, provided a different version of events.

“It’s a regeneration of a slum,” he said. “We gave enough notification. The government intends to develop 1,008 housing units. What we removed was just shanties. Nobody was even living in those shanties. Maybe we had a couple of squatters living there.”

The Lagos state Attorney-General claimed they were merely clearing empty land. “It was just a rubbish dump,” he maintained.

As for the new housing, “there’s not a chance they can afford it,” said Felix Morka, SERAC’s executive director told the Times. Badia residents earn under $100 a month on average.

“The Lagos state government has failed to comply with national and international law. It is high time that the Lagos state government and the Nigerian government stop forced evictions and enact legal safeguards that apply to all evictions,” said Amnesty’s Popoola.

Amnesty and SERAC are calling on the governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, to publicly commit to stopping forced evictions, and on the World Bank to put safeguards in place to ensure it does not support any activities which may result in forced evictions in the future. w/pix of homeless family in Badia East

 

NAMIBIA RESTORES AN AFRICAN NAME TO HISTORIC CAPRIVI STRIP

Aug. 13 (GIN) – In a move to restore African names erased by its German colonizers, Namibia officially renamed the historic and touristic Caprivi Strip. The new name is the Zambezi Region.

Namibia was occupied by the German Empire from 1884 to 1919. After a deal struck with England, Caprivi was annexed to German South-West Africa in order to give Germany a route to Africa’s east coast. The strip was named after the German chancellor, Leo von Caprivi.

After Germany, Namibia was administered by apartheid South Africa until 1990. There are some 30,000 Namibians of German descent living in the country.

Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba also changed “Lüderitz” – named for a German merchant – to Naminus, which means “embrace” in the local Khoisan language. The village of Schuckmannsburg was changed back to its original name, Lohonono.

Over the years, the Strip had political-strategic military importance. From the Rhodesian Bush War (1970–1979), African National Congress operations against the South African government (1965–1994) and the Angolan Civil War (1975–2002), the Strip saw multiple incursions by various armed forces using the Strip as a corridor to other territories.

In 2004 Germany apologized for the colonial-era genocide that killed 65,000 Herero people through starvation and slave labor in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half their population. The camps – with their “bureaucratization of killing” – allegedly influenced the Nazis in the second world war.

In 2011, Germany sent back 20 Herero and Nama skulls that had been transported there for racial experiments.

Today there is still anger among indigenous communities who live in poverty and demand reparations from Germany, their shanty town homes contrasting with vast German-owned farms. South African author Patricia Glyn observed: “Changing a couple of names doesn’t really crack it. It’s very little and very late.”

“The Nama people are still living in a ghetto,” she pointed out. Further, “not one of the German concentration camps has so much as a sign and you can still go out in a buggy and find yourself driving over the bones of those who died. I don’t think the Namibian government is doing one-eighth of what it should to honor the dead.” w/pix of Herero women

 

PRESIDENT CLINTON TAKES SWIPE AT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS, BACKS KAGAME

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Former President Bill Clinton, on an African tour with daughter Chelsea, praised the Rwandan government lead by President Paul Kagame despite increasing evidence that Rwanda is backing ruthless rebels in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A feisty Clinton, in an extended interview with the BBC, barely contained himself when reminded that human rights advocates, the U.N. and even President Obama have linked Kagame to the M23 rebel group which reportedly employs child soldiers and uses “terrible acts of violence,” according to the U.S. Treasury which has placed sanctions on group members.

“Where were those human rights groups criticizing” Rwanda today when Hutus were slaughtering Tutsis, Clinton asked BBC reporter Komla Dumor of Ghana. “…where were they when the Hutus went crazy in 1994?” To which Dumor responded: “Where was the world?”

Allegations of Rwanda’s support for M23 rebels in DRC, stated Clinton, “has not been fully litigated.” He added: “Secondly, its complicated by the fact that this section of Congo near Rwanda is full of people who perpetrated the genocide, who spurned the President’s offer to come home and not go to prison…and you can’t get around the fact that the economic and social gains in Rwanda have been nothing short of astonishing under Kagame, and he says he going to leave when his time is up…”

“…So I understand that some people in the human rights community believe that every good thing that has happened in Rwanda should be negated by what they allege they [Rwandans] have done in eastern Congo…”

In addition to support for M23, Dumor said, there’s repression of media and other human rights abuses.

A laughing Clinton said: “Look, I believe in a free press. When I was President, I helped to keep the press free that made a living out of feasting on my bones everyday! And I think too many politicians are too sensitive to being criticized.

“I think we have to be a little sensitive to the fact that if you’re Rwandan, you remember that an alleged free press helped push Rwanda into a boiling cauldron of butchery…”

The Clintons’ tour took them to Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa where they pumped up support for the Coca Cola Company’s Clinton Global Initiative Commitment which focuses on retail entrepreneurship for women.

RITA MARLEY – ‘PHILANTHROPIST AND PATRIOT’ – TAPPED AS ‘HONORARY GHANAIAN’

Aug. 13 (GIN) – Rita Marley, wife of reggae artist Bob Marley and founder of the Rita Marley Foundation, has received a Ghanaian passport in recognition of her contributions to Ghana.

Dr Erieka Bennett, head of mission for the African Union’s Diaspora Africa Forum, said: “We are thrilled to see the Ghana Government recognizing the tremendous contribution Nana Rita has made to Ghana socially, as well as economically. This is a historical day for those of us from the diaspora.”

Nana Rita Marley, born in Cuba and raised in Trenchtown, Jamaica, began her musical career in the early sixties as a vocalist with the all-female group The Soulettes who appeared with the Four Tops, Johnny Nash and other stars of the day.

She repatriated to Ghana over a decade ago and lives at Konkonduru, a village near Aburi. Among her projects, as detailed on the website “It’s About Time,” has been the adoption of the Methodist Local Primary and J.S.S, both schools in her community. Apart from rehabilitating old school blocks and building new ones, she also supports the children by providing lunches for primary school children to supplement their nutrition, and through scholarships.

Mrs. Marley supported the funding and distribution of the five-in-one vaccine for children of the eastern region. Other projects include improving the main road for the Konkonnuru community, and bringing water to the village by drilling a 40 meter deep borehole.

In 2004, Rita Marley and the women in her community began a plantation of cassava and other vegetables. Mrs. Marley has also opened a library stocked with the musical works of Bob Marley and herself at her Tuff Gong Studio at Aburi on the Akwapem ridge.

On her official website she notes, “Reggae is the heartbeat of a person. It’s the people’s music. Everywhere you go, you get the same response from both black and white.”

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About IBW21

IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.