Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 31, 2015

Why the Name: Oran?

Oran

Oran

Oran, “the radiant,” is the name often given to the second most populous city of Algeria. In the past, I used to think that the name Oran had something to do with orient, the east. So from “radiant” to “orient”, which is true? or is there another meaning to the name of this beautiful Algerian city?

The name Oran comes from Wahran, which comes from the Berber word Uharu for Lion. One of the known forms of the word, Wadaharan, could come from “Wad + Aharan“, or “the river of Lions.”

Oran, from City Hall steps, 1894 (Library of Congress)

Oran, from City Hall steps, 1894 (Library of Congress)

Several legends link the name of the city to lions. Legend says that in 900 AD, there were still lions in the area; in the mystic legend, a lion had appeared on the grave of the saint patron Sidi El Hourari. The most common tradition traces the name of the city to the dream of the son of the Vizier of Cordoba, who was running away by sea from the tyranny of his father who opposed his marriage to the woman he loved. On his way, a storm arose, and he had a vision of two lion cubs, and a shipwreck on La Plage des Andalouses in Oran.

Either way, the last two lions were hunted on a mountain near Oran referred to as “mountain of lions,” also known as Djebel Kar, the mountain of rubbles. The French name, Mountain of lions, indicates that there were still lions living in that area at the beginning of the 19th century. Two giant lion statues stand in front of Oran’s city hall, symbolizing the city.

Oran, today

Oran, today

During the Roman empire, the region of Oran was a small settlement called Unica Colonia, which disappeared after the Arab conquest of the Maghreb. Founded in 902 by Moorish Andalusi traders, Oran saw a succession of Arab-Berber dynasties. It was captured by the Spanish under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509, Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708, when the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Spain recaptured the city in 1732. However, its value as a trading post had decreased greatly, so King Charles IV sold the city to the Turks in 1792 (some sources say that it was conquered, rather than sold to the Bey Mohamed El Kebir). Ottoman rule lasted until 1831, when it fell to the French. During French colonization, Oran saw a rapid development and became Algeria‘s second city.

Flag of Algeria

Flag of Algeria

After independence in 1962, Oran remained the capital of the West of the country, and its principal financial, commercial, and industrial center. It is today one of the most important cities of the Maghreb. It is a port city on the Mediterranean sea, located in the northwest of Algeria, 432 km from the capital Algiers, and is the capital of the Oran Province in the gulf of Oran. Oran is a major port and a commercial centre, with three major universities. It is also the birthplace of the Raï, the Algerian folk music made popular by singers such as Cheb Khaled, Cheb Mami, Raïna Raï, and others.

Please enjoy this video of Oran, the city of Lions, Oran the radiant, the city of Raï.

 

 

 

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 28, 2015

“Raising up a Super-Humanity” by Puno Selesho

I really enjoyed South African law student, humanitarian, and poet Puno Selesho‘s TEDx Pretoria 2015 speech on “raising up a super-humanity”. I simply loved the way she recited her poem, full of energy, and emotions, and above all ready to empower humanity. Enjoy and rise up to be the Super-human you are meant to be!

 

Gorille / Gorilla

Gorille / Gorilla

On n’apprend pas le chemin au vieux gorille (Proverbe Fang – Cameroun, Gabon, République du Congo, Guinée Equatoriale, São Tomé et Principe).

You don’t teach the way to an old gorilla (Fang Proverb – Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé and Principe).

Rihanna rocking a Stella Jean's creation

Rihanna rocking a Stella Jean’s creation (allthingsankara.com)

I couldn’t help but notice the African influence seeping its way through the wardrobe of some of the world’s celebrities. Last fall, Rihanna stunned the world by wearing Ankara fabric at the White House. She was sporting Haitian designer Stella Jean‘s creation, and she was stunning.

Wax Hollandais

Wax Hollandais

I also recently heard about Zimbabwean designer Farai Simoyi, the one behind Nicki Minaj‘s fashion line. Before that Farai Simoyi was a Senior designer at the House of Dereon, the clothing house by mega-artist Beyoncé and her mother Tina Knowles.

So watch out: next time you shop, you may be unconsciously buying some African designs. Enjoy this video about some of the up and coming African designers on the international scene.

Slave capture

Slave capture

Yesterday, David Olusoga of BBC Two published a documentary on Britain’s Slave Owners part 1: Profit and Loss. His work was very profound, and was of course very painful, as it dealt with slavery. Here is the synopsis, from BBC Two website:

“In 1834 Britain abolished slavery, a defining and celebrated moment in our national history. What has been largely forgotten is that abolition came at a price. The government of the day took the extraordinary step of compensating the slave owners for loss of their ‘property’, as Britain’s 46,000 slave owners were paid £17bn in today’s money, whilst the slaves received nothing.
The Transatlantic slave trade

The Transatlantic slave trade

For nearly 200 years, the meticulous records that detail this forgotten story have lain in the archives virtually unexamined – until now. In an exclusive partnership with University College London, historian David Olusoga uncovers Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners. Forensically examining the compensation records, he discovers the surprising range of people who owned slaves and the sheer scale of the slavery business.

Slaves on board a ship

Slaves on board a ship

What the records reveal is that the slave owners were not just the super-rich. There were widows, clergymen and shopkeepers; ordinary members of the middle-classes who exploited slave-labour in distant lands. Yet many of them never looked a slave in the eye or experienced the brutal realities of plantation life.”

Check out the BBC Two website which has an interactive view of it. I also liked the video link below about some instruments of torture used in Jamaica to punish slaves.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02wt8p7

Buffle / Buffalo

Buffle / Buffalo

Le buffle ne se vante pas de sa force devant l’elephant (Proverbe Ambede – Gabon). – Il faut partout une autorité; mais n’enviez pas les chefs.

Elephant

Elephant

The buffalo cannot boast about his strength in front of the elephant (Ambede Proverb – Gabon). – Authority is always needed; but do not envy the chiefs.

Francois Hollande, President of France

Francois Hollande, President of France

French flag

French flag

It took over 70 years for a French President to finally admit the genocide perpetrated in Cameroon by France between 1950 and 1970, a genocide which claimed over 400,000 lives, and displaced countless others. In his visit to Cameroon last Friday, French president François Hollande acknowledged that French forces had tried to quash colonial separatists in the 1950s and said he was ready to open up the history books. He said, “I recognize that there have been extremely traumatic and even tragic episodes.” Should we jubilate?

Ruben Um Nyobé

Ruben Um Nyobé

I say NO. It is true that this is somewhat a step forward: recognition of wrong done. However, I call it arrogance to wake up one day, and finally say, “Oh, yes, I killed your fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters, … I showered many of your cities with Napalm, … I decapitated so many of your freedom fighters and hung their heads in the villages’ square, … I killed Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix-Roland Moumié, Castor Osende Afana, Ernest Ouandié, and so many others, … I forced some of you into exile, … and I displaced countless others inside and outside your borders.” And so what? Should we clap for you? where is the apology? Didn’t you think we knew you did that? Where is the reparation?

Decapitated Heads during the genocide in Cameroon

Maquisards’ heads during the genocide in Cameroon

During the Maquis years, many lost a loved one; is there a reparation for that loved one? that father who never saw his children grow up? that mother who never saw her son again? What about those who kept waiting, and waiting, hoping that after so many years the loved ones would come back home?… What about the pain of that young girl walking to school who had to watch the decapitation of ‘maquisards’ on the public place: she was scarred for life! What about those entire villages burnt with napalm? And those who were displaced internally from French Cameroon to British Cameroon, running for their dear lives and leaving behind their lands? What about Ruben Um Nyobé and his family? Felix-Roland Moumié, and his widow who suffered years of imprisonment in the harshest places? and Ernest Ouandié… and all the children who had to watch in horror as he took his last breath under the firing squad’s shots? What about the remaining population whose history was erased from textbooks, those who now have a gap in their past?

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

UPC Leaders (L. to R.) front row: Castor Osende Afana, Abel Kingué, Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié, and Ernest Ouandié

And to stand up there, and say “yes I recognize that we killed you”… it’s like Hitler waking up today, and telling Holocaust survivors and their descendants, “I killed you, jailed your parents, forced you into exile, brought fear into your souls, and decimated every part of you… what can you do?” It is simply arrogant! It is just too easy. Until there is a clear “I am sorry”, until there is a clear “here is what we will do to correct the wrong”, until there is a clear “arrest of all perpetrators”, until there is a clear “story in the history textbooks, opening of all the classified documents”…. until there is a clear “respect for those killed,” until then, there will be no respect for arrogant presidents of the hexagon in our dictionaries!

In 2013, the British government apologized for the massacre of the Mau-Mau in Kenya. We are waiting for France’s apologies for the Cameroonian genocide, and while we are at it, we will also expect France’s apologies for the Algerian and Malagasy massacres too.

Dog

Dog

Ne frappe pas le petit chien qui agite la queue pour toi (Proverbe Mongo – République Démocratique du Congo). – On ne fait pas de mal à celui qui vous aime.

Do not beat the puppy who shakes its tail for you (Mongo Proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo). – Do not hurt the one who loves you.

Kantanka Cars (GhanaOnline)

Kantanka Cars (GhanaOnline)

I came across a video of the Kantanka, a 4×4 All-Wheel Drive made in Ghana by Ghanaians for Ghanaians, on BBC. The car is the brainchild of Dr. Kwadwo Safo, a Ghanaian who always dreamt of making cars and planes in Ghana. He wanted to address the local needs, and demonstrate that it was possible for Africans to design and engineer their own cars for their own roads. Move over Toyota, Honda, Ford, Mercedes, and meet the Kantanka. We do hope that these cars will be solicited by Ghanaians themselves, that they will meet the safety standard, and be a breath of fresh air adapted to their roads and needs. The car is engineless and “green”. The founder’s son, Kwadwo Safo Jr., said, “the non-engine vehicle does not rely on a combustion engine to move, but an electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries. The batteries can be recharged with solar energy or electricity. As you drive the car on the road, it converts the energy from the sun into mechanical energy which powers the car.”

Apart from the lights and tires, everything is done and assembled by local people. The police just bought a few vehicles. The big question will be: does it meet international safety standards? Will Ghanaians be sold by it? Read the article on Forbes and Al-Jazeera, and watch the video on BBC. Enjoy Ghana’s first car, made in Ghana by Ghanaians for Ghanaians!

Les Lionnes of Cameroon (Getty Images)

Les Lionnes of Cameroon (Getty Images)

I was quite proud of the Cameroonian team who succeeded in going through the first round of the 2015 Women FIFA’s World Cup in Canada. This was Cameroon’s first World Cup participation. With no government support, barely any equipment, and little organization, they managed to do well with so little. Here is a quote by the Cameroonian coach Enow Ngachu, “The day we prepare and organize very well, I think an African nation will one day win the World Cup. … We just hope that with our performance many things will change in Cameroon and in Africa.”

Gaelle Enganamouit in action (Getty Images)

Gaelle Enganamouit in action (Getty Images)

On June 20th, China PR survived a tough examination from Cameroon with a lone early strike from Wang Shanshan, thus ending the Lionnes of Cameroon’s journey. Both teams played with high-tempo and intensity from the opening whistle in Edmonton with chances aplenty at either end, but it was the Chinese who remained resilient at the back to advance into the last-eight. We are very proud of these Cameroonian sisters who showed that African women, and women in general, can play very good, entertaining, and amazing football/soccer, and should be equally cared for by their governments and people.  My hat to Gaelle Enganamouit, Madeleine Ngono Mani, Christine Manie, Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene, and all the other sisters who made us proud. Indomitable Lioness Gaelle Enganamouit became the first African to score a hat-trick at the Women’s World Cup. Below is a highlight from the game Cameroon – Switzerland, which was quite intense and beautiful to watch. Enjoy!

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