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

The Clever Son

Affair2

Here is an Ethiopian tale from the Afar region of Ethiopia.  You can read the entire story on the Ethiopian Folktales‘ website.  Enjoy!

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Once there was a very intelligent Afar boy aged fifteen, but he was always upset and angry because he knew what was happening in his house. His father was having an affair with one of his mother’s servants and his mother was having an affair with someone outside the household. And the boy knew about this and he was very angry.

Then one day, as he was asleep in the corner covered with clothes, his mother’s lover came in and didn’t notice him.

And he said to his mother, “You’re a very generous woman. You’ve given me everything I’ve ever asked for. Now tomorrow what I want is to eat the big white ox that belongs to your husband.”

And his mother said, “There’s no problem, as long as you come with ten of your friends.”

White ox

White ox

Then the next day, her lover came with ten of his friends.

She went to her husband and said, “Look, all of my relatives have come and we’ve got to feed them and they’re so many, I can’t give them just injera1 and ordinary things.”

And the husband said, “OK, I’ll slaughter the big white ox for you so you can feed them.”

And he took the ox under a tree and was slaughtering him using his big dagger.

Now the son was very angry and when he went to his father his father had already cut up the pieces of meat and he gave them to the boy, and told him to take it to the guests. Now as they were going along, wherever he passed a rock he bent down and put a piece of meat on each rock. And he continued walking towards the men. And when the father looked up, he saw the pieces of meat on the rock.

I wonder what’s wrong with my son?”

Read More…

Crocodile

Crocodile

Un homme en très mauvais état se présente devant St-Pierre, après une mort apparemment violente.
Celui-ci demande: – Mais qu’est ce qui s’est passé ?
L’homme explique: – J’étais guide de safari en Afrique et j’accompagnais un groupe de six femmes belges et une suisse. En traversant un pont de lianes au dessus d’une rivière infestée de crocodiles, un coup de vent nous a fait basculer. On a tous réussi à se retenir aux cordages. Nous étions suspendus en l’air et comme le pont menaçait de lâcher à cause du poids, il fallait que quelqu’un se sacrifie. Comme j’étais le seul homme…
Une minute plus tard, St-Pierre voit débarquer les six belges dans le même état que l’homme qu’il vient de conduire au Paradis. Il demande immédiatement aux arrivantes: – Mais ce brave homme qui s’est sacrifié, a-t-il donc fait ça pour rien ?
L’une des belges explique alors: – c’est à cause de cette maudite suisse qui nous accompagnait…
Quand le guide s’est laissé tomber, elle a dit: – Un homme aussi courageux, il mériterait qu’on l’applaudisse…

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Applause

Applause

A man in very poor condition appears in front of St-Peter, after an apparently violent death. The later asks: – What happened?

The man explains: – I was a safari guide in Africa, and I was leading a group of 6 Belgian women and one swiss one. While crossing a liana bridge on top of a river full of crocodiles, a gust of wind tipped us. We all managed to hold onto the ropes. We were hanging in air, and since the bridge threatened to falter because of the weight, someone had to be sacrificed. Since I was the only man …

A minute later, St-Peter sees the 6 Belgian women arrive in the same state as the man he just led to Paradise. He immediately asks the newcomers: – But this brave man who sacrificed himself, did he do it for nothing?

One of the Belgian ladies replies: – It is because of that cursed swiss who was with us …

When the guide fell, she said: – Such a courageous man, he deserves to be applauded …

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 21, 2015

Proverbe sur la Convoitise / Proverb on Coveting

Le soleil / The sun

Le soleil / The sun

Si vous ne suivez pas ce chemin, à quoi bon de vous orienter sur le soleil (Proverbe Ekonda, République Democratique du Congo (RDC)). – Ce n’est pas votre femme, pourquoi la regarder! N’enviez pas ce qui n’est pas à vous.

African Woman

African Woman

If you do not follow this path, why bother to walk under the sun (Ekonda Proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)).- It is not your wife, why are you looking at her! Do not envy what is not yours.

Queen Ndate Yalla Mbodj

Queen Ndate Yalla Mbodj

I would like to share with you letters from Ndate Yalla Mbodj, the last Lingeer (Queen) of the Waalo, addressed to the French Governor of Senegal in the 1850s. These are treasures from history, and I thought it very interesting to translate them from French to English. Reading these letters, one can see the duplicity of the French who would take lands from the Waalo people without asking, and will treat the people of the Waalo with great disdain. These are from the National archives of Senegal. For the French version, visit: Seneweb.

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National Archives of Senegal 13 G 91

Correspondence of the Kings of the Waalo

Letter number 85 received by the governor

of Saint Louis on May 23rd, 1851

 

Ndatte Yalla to Mr. the Governor,

The goal of this letter is to let you know that the island of Boyo* belongs to me, from my grandfather down to me today. There is nobody who can claim that that country belongs to them; it belongs to me only. I did not sell this country to anybody. I did not entrust it to anybody, nor to any white person. The people to whom I entrusted my land have to right to do anything to it, I will have nothing to say. Nobody can take this land without their authorization; to prove to you that this letter comes from me, when the dispute had been settled in Lampsar, you went back to the fort. There I came to see you with my husband, you were accompanied by Mr. Alsace and de Bamar, you told me that you wanted to see me alone to talk, I told you that there was only my husband and brother present.

You also asked me who was the King of the Waalo today. I replied that the King of the Waalo was me. If this is true, and this letter comes from me, I desire that no one should take possession of my territory.

The island of Boyo is located in Mauritania, 15 km north of Saint-Louis in Senegal. It houses the village of N’Diago. It is the cradle of the Boye family of Saint-Louis.

Read More…

Location of Khami Ruins in Zimbabwe

Location of Khami Ruins in Zimbabwe

Today we will be talking about the remnants of a great stone civilization in southern Africa: the city of Khami. The Khami Ruins are the remnants of the capital city of the Kingdom of Butua of the Torwa dynasty . It is located on the west bank of the Khami river, 22 km west of Bulawayo in southern Zimbabwe. It was the capital of the Torwa dynasty for about 200 years from AD 1450 to AD 1644. It emerged at the time of the disappearance of Great Zimbabwe.

Khami Ruins (WHC-UNESCO website)

Khami Ruins (WHC-UNESCO website)

Today, the site of the Khami ruins is a national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. The site is dominated by a series of terraced stone ruins, often highly decorated. It reveals seven built-up areas occupied by the royal family with open areas in the valley occupied by the rest of the population. The complex comprises circular, sometimes terraced, artificial platforms encased by dry stone walls. The beautifully decorated 6m-high by 68m-long retaining wall of the Precipice ruin bears a checkerboard design along its entire length. The imposing front façade marked the main entrance. The Precipice Ruin was a ritual center with the longest decorated stonewall of its kind in the entire sub-region. Nearby are the Cross Ruin with its mysterious stone Dominican Cross, believed to have been placed by a contemporary missionary, and the Northern Platform once used to process gold. The nearby Passage Ruin consists of two adjoining semicircular platforms accessed by a narrow passageway. The platforms, rising 2-7 m above ground, carried clay huts and courtyards where the rest of the populations lived. The remnants of cattle kraals and huts for ordinary people can be seen from the Hill Complex. The ruins include a royal enclosure forming the Hill Complex located on higher grounds, stone walls and hut platforms. There are also ruins on the eastern side of the Khami River.

A wall at the Khami ruins showing the herringbone and chessboard patterns

A wall at the Khami site showing the herringbone and checkerboard patterns

To build the structures at Khami required engineering and architectural feats, since the stone found at Khami (laminar granite) was different from that found in other areas of Zimbabwe (biotite). This stone was harder to quarry and produced shapeless building stone; over 60% of the stone produced at these quarries would not have been of building quality. The building blocks thus needed to be shaped, but even then the stones were not suitable for building free-standing dry stone walls. The builders of Khami thus made an innovation and produced retaining walls instead. Moreover, building platforms made the houses cooler than those in the open areas below. Khami’s architecture conforms to that of Great Zimbabwe in a number of archaeological and architectural aspects but it possesses certain features particular to itself and its successors such as Danangombe and Zinjanja. Retaining walls and elaborate decorations were first expressed in the architectural history of the sub-region at Khami.

Artist rendition of what the city of Khami would have looked like (historum.com)

Artist rendition of what the city of Khami would have looked like (historum.com)

Archaeological finds include 16th century Rhineland stoneware, Ming porcelain pieces which date back to the reign of Wan-Li (1573-1691), Portuguese imitations of 17th-century Chinese porcelain, 17th-century Spanish silverware, etc. These indicate that Khami was a major centre of trade, presumably linked (like Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe before it) to the Swahili ports on the East Africa coast.

A passageway at Khami (WHC-UNESCO website)

A passageway at Khami (WHC-UNESCO website)

Unfortunately, Khami was invaded by Changamire Dombo, around 1683, who led a Rozwi army from the Mwenemutapa (Monomotapa) state. The Rozwi made Danangombe (Dhlo-Dhlo) another area of the Khami site as the new capital of their empire, the Rozwi Empire. In the 1830sNdebele raiders displaced the Rozwi from Khami. A small site museum provides useful background information to the site itself. If you are ever in the vicinity, do not forget to visit this amazing site, remnant of a great stone civilization.

 

 

 

Twins

Twins

Quand une mère a des jumeaux, elle doit dormir sur son dos (Proverbe Peul). – Un chef doit être impartial; il doit s’occuper de tout son monde.

When a mother has twins, she should sleep on her back (Fula proverb). – A chief needs to be impartial; he should take care of all his people.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 7, 2015

Made in Togo: A 3D Printer from e-waste

3D printer made by Afate Gnikou (Source: WoeLab.com)

Afate Gnikou and his 3D printer (Source: WoeLab.com)

Just as almost everywhere else in the world, 3D printing offers the possibility of revolutionizing entire industries. In Africa, the 3D printer could bring a new industrial revolution, allowing goods to be made with less dependence on imported commodities, at a cheaper rate, and creating jobs locally. For the past three years, in Lomé, the capital of Togo, members of a small and innovative community have been building 3D printers. The machines are now part of an ambitious education program.

e-waste

e-waste

In Lomé, piles of discarded computers, printers and scanners from industrialized countries accumulate in trash dumps. Afate Gnikou, a system’s developer, has found a place to work on his invention in a group of like-minded computer-lovers. It is called WoeLab; enjoy. BBC also did a video about it.

 

Posted by: Dr. Y. | August 5, 2015

“We must ALL fight Rape Culture” by Teju Cole

Teju Cole

Teju Cole

I really liked what Nigerian writer Teju Cole had to say about fighting rape culture, and how it should be a fight for all mankind, because when women are dehumanized, the entire society is. The author of Open City reacts to the Bill Cosby’s controversy in a very articulate manner, and we should all take the time to read it. Enjoy! For the entire text, visit the New Inquiry website, where it is titled ‘Improving on Silence’ by Teju Cole.

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Last night, reading the accounts by women who had been assaulted by Cosby, I was overcome with sorrow.

Tricky to say anything about this, but silence is simply not an option. This is everybody’s business. But I’ll say some things to the men who are reading.

"Open City" by Teju Cole

“Open City” by Teju Cole

We men benefit, all of us men benefit, from rape culture. We benefit from the pain it causes women because we sprint ahead obliviously; we benefit from the way it knocks them off circuit and opens space for us; we benefit from the way it dehumanizes them so that our own humanity can shine more greatly; and we benefit from the aura of power it gives us as perpetrators or as beneficiaries. And because we benefit, explicitly or implicitly, we are not vociferous enough in our opposition to it. […]

We must fight rape culture, even in its allegedly mild manifestations, we must be grieved with the grief of those who commit the crime and those who benefit from a world built on such crimes, we must oppose men who wade in with stupid explanations and caveats and distractions, we must surrender the poisonous sentimentality that makes us believe a “great artist” over a less well-known woman. Indeed, we must be willing to let anyone go—think of any man you admire, any man at all, alive or in history, close to you or far away, and think to yourself that you must be willing to let him go—if such things are true of him too. And understand that such things can be true of any of them, of any of us. […]

Listen2And above all we must listen, to women, and to the significant but vastly smaller number of men who have also been assaulted. So that, gradually, we can collectively begin to slough off this wretched state of affairs in which the first thing someone who has been assaulted thinks is “no one will believe me.”

That’s to men.

And to women: I believe you. And I’m heartbroken about the many ways in which I fail to live up to that belief.

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!

 

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