Somali Tale : The Black Crow

A crow snacking on some bread (pied crow)

The crow was once a sheikh or priest, and at that time he was white. But all the other birds made an accusation against him.

They said, “On the one hand he eats meat, and on the other hand he eats fruits.

So all the birds came together and said, “You are a sheikh or a priest! But what you do is wrong. The smallest birds should eat meat. And the biggest ones eat fruit. But you eat from both sides.”

In not only Somali but Cushitic culture in general, it was said that the crow was the representative of the Sun God called Wak. Oromos believed in the Sun God also. People believed that the crow interpreted what Wak, the Sun God, said to the people and people would send their messages to the Sun God through him.

The crow, when he speaks, says “Wak! Wak!

But the crow became dishonest and ate from both things – fruit and meat, and so he was punished. They cursed him and he became black.

This tale was narrated by Pr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali on Ethiopian Folktales.

Eyeglasses to fit African Facial Features?

Glasses

Do you think that difference races have different bone structure? Could one look at a skeleton and tell the race of the owner? Well, remember Cheddar man [Ancient Britons were Black, confirming Cheikh Anta Diop’s Work], and how he was identified thousands of years later via DNA and the facial reconstruction to be a Black man based on his bone structure as well? So the big question then is, if each race has a particular bone structure, doesn’t it mean that things like glasses (eyewear) cannot be one-size-fits-all? 

Flag of Uganda

A Ugandan eyewear company thinks so. Wazi Vision is making glass frames affordable for Africans, and to fit African features. Truly, the founder points out true differences that often get ignored: the currently manufactured eyewear out there fits either European or Asian features; leaving marks on our (very African) nose bridges (and the good Lord knows that that’s one feature that is distinctly different from others’), or tightening near the ears, or even sagging down. I love that we have a new generation of ophtamologists, optometrists, and opticians out there who address problems specific to us. Wazi Vision started out to conduct free eye tests, and fit people with affordable eyewear. Wazi Vision now makes frames out of plastic, recyclable materials, cow horns, and much more. I call on others to think outside the box to address our needs. 

Excerpts below are from the article on AfricaNews, and check out the website of Wazi Vision.

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Ophthalmologist glasses (Source: Merriam-Webster.com)

Wazi Vision conducts many eye test camps in hard-to-reach areas around Uganda. The free services cater to those who ordinarily wouldn’t afford to see an ophthalmologist, yet vision problems are common in the country.

And with a cross-subsidization model, those who are diagnosed with refractive errors get eyewear they manufacture, at affordable prices.

… At the workshop in Kampala, the eye clinic is ever open since the needs are huge: “We know that as we grow there is a reading tendency and most people have been cut off from reading because of presbyopia in most cases and we have encountered a lot of those cases“, ophthalmologist Frank Bogere explains.

When a team of innovators started Wazi in 2016, they wanted to create accessibility to eyewear for marginalized communities.

… Using recycled plastic, it is the first company in East Africa to design and manufacture eyewear. They also use other locally available materials like cow horns, bamboo, and offcuts from clothes like jeans. And, they produce custom-made frames.

It is a source of pride for Geogette Ochieng Ndabukiye, the co-founder of CMO: “Eyewear frames that people wear are not for their facial features. They are mostly made for the European and Asian facial features so you find that when Africans, when Ugandans wear their glasses, over time they begin to squeeze them, they begin to get marks here, the glasses fall, but Wazi here in Uganda is the first company to design and manufacture eyeglasses that are fit for African facial features“.

Mixed Reactions to Compaoré’s ‘Apology’

Flag of Burkina Faso

Compaoré’s apology last week raised mixed reactions [Blaise Compaore Apologizes for Thomas Sankara’s Death?]. Almost everybody could smell the trap… It turns out that Compaoré is friend with the current military ruler, and has even visited Ouagadougou, the capital, last month even though he has been found guilty by the country’s courts [Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara].  Many think that he wants a presidential pardon! The coward! See… I always told you that Compaoré is really a coward, always has been, and always will be. After all, he is the one who has changed his citizenship to become Ivorian so as not to be extradited. Imagine that, a man who held the highest position of a nation, finishes and changes his citizenship like some common person… such a coward! Anyways, below are excerpts from AfricaNews.

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Compaore’s apology, issued on Tuesday is leaving mixed reactions as Burkinabe citizens consider the manner and sincerity of the former head of state Blaise Compaoré’s request for pardon.

If they had simply put at the end of the letter, ‘I place myself at the disposal of my country’s justice system’, I would have applauded.” says one passer-by.

… Compaore seized power in the West African nation in a 1987 coup in which Sankara was gunned down by a hit squad. The violent death of his former comrade-in-arms was a taboo subject throughout his 27 years in power.

A Burkina court handed him a life term in absentia in April for his role in the assassination.

… Luc Damiba, Secretary General of the Thomas Sankara International Committee Memorial is disappointed.”You have not been condemned or punished yet nor have you recognised your acts” he says of Compaore.

You deny justice, even defy it and at the end of the chain, when you see that there is no other way out, you come and ask for forgiveness. It’s a forced pardon! It’s as if he was forced to ask for forgiveness.” Damiba lamented. He went further and blasted the apology as “a masquerade… a kind of diversion that he is sowing in people’s minds“.

Compaore’s goal, he said, was “to be able to return to Burkina and get a presidential pardon“.

Blaise Compaore returned to Burkina Faso for several days this month, without facing arrest, after the country’s military leader Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba invited him in the name of “national reconciliation“.

The visit sparked an outcry among civil society groups and political parties, who said uniting the nation should not come at the expense of impunity.

Africa Shines at the 2022 World Championships

Tobi Amusan broke the world record (Source: Getty Images)

Africa had a really good showing at the World Championships in Eugene (Oregon) in the US, this past week, with quite a few gold medals, multiple medals, broken world records, or simply reaffirmation of their domination on their disciplines.

Tobi Amusan of Nigeria broke a world record to win a Gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles, thus giving Nigeria its first gold at a world championship. Compatriot Ese Brume (Olympic Bronze long jump) won the Silver medal in the women’s Long Jump.

Hugues Fabrice Zango getting his triple jump (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Burkinabe Hugues Fabrice Zango who had won Bronze in men’s triple jump at the Tokyo Olympics, giving his country its first ever Olympic medal, went farther to win Silver at the World Championships this week.

Faith Kipyegon (Source: WorldAthletics.org)

Kenyan athletes were impressive as Mary Moraa got Bronze in the women’s 800m while Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir (Olympics 800m Gold medal) won Gold in the men’s 800m. Faith Kipyegon, the Olympics Gold winner, retained her crown as the women’s 1500m queen of the distance with Gold. Conselus Kipruto took Bronze in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. In the women’s 5000m, Beatrice Chebet took Silver, and Jacob Krop took home Silver in the men’s discipline. The duo of Hellen Obiri (Olympic 5000m Silver winner) and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi took home Silver and Bronze medals in the women’s 10,000m respectively; while compatriot Stanley Waithaka Mburu took Silver in the men’s 10,000m. Judith Jeptum Korir took home the Silver medal in the women’s marathon

Djamel Sedjati of Algeria took Silver in the men’s 800m.

Gudaf Tsegay celebrating her gold medal in the 5000m (Source: BBC.co.uk)

Gudaf Tsegay (5000m Olympic Bronze medalist) of Ethiopia won Silver in women’s 1500m, and Gold in 5000m; while her compatriot Dawit Seyaum took the Bronze medal on 5000m.  In the 3000m steeplechase, the women Werkuha Getachew and Mekides Abebe took Silver and Bronze respectively; while Lamecha Girma (Olympic 3000m steeplechase Silver medal) took Silver for the men. Letesenbet Gidey (Bronze at the Olympics 10,000m) won the Gold medal in the women’s 10,000m discipline. Gotytom Gebreslase took home the Gold medal in the women’s marathon, while her male compatriots Tamirat Tola and Mosinet Geremew won Gold and Silver in the men’s marathon.

Soufiane El Bakkali (Olympic gold 3000m steeplechase winner) of Morocco took home Gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Joshua Cheptegei crossing the line (Source: Runnersworld.com)

Oscar Chelimo of Uganda won Bronze in the men’s 5000m. The duo Joshua Cheptegei (Olympic 5000m gold winner) and Jacob Kiplimo (Olympic 10,000m Bronze medalist) took home Gold and Bronze medals respectively in the men’s 10,000m.

Blaise Compaore Apologizes for Thomas Sankara’s Death?

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

Yes you are not dreaming, nor am I joking. Blaise Compaoré, the past president of Burkina Faso, the one who murdered his friend and comrade President Thomas Sankara, has ‘apologized’ to his family. Is it for real? What is going on? Is Compaoré dying? Why the sudden regrets? or is he hoping to come back in power with the new military ruler? Should we applaud for him? NO! We are candidly interested in your apologies… but brother Compaoré, you need to pay! Tell us how you did it! Give us details! Tell us, who helped you; tell us where our brothers, mothers, sisters, fathers bodies are, and share some of the wealth you have acquired illicitly on our backs for the many years of regression and suffering at your hand. And what about Norbert Zongo [May 3rd: World Press Day – Norbert Zongo]? And then, the message read by the speaker goes, “I hope that we can move forward from now on …” Wait a second, so you can send a letter read by someone else, and you expect us to clap and just turn the page? Oh, I am so sick of people saying words, no actions, and expecting us to just forget, and move on! Actions speak louder than words! As you read, do you think Compaoré is really sorry? Excerpts below are from the BBC.

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Flag of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s ex-President Blaise Compaoré has apologised to the family of Thomas Sankara, his charismatic predecessor who was shot dead during a coup in 1987.

In April, Mr Compaoré was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his role in the assassination. He had always described the death as an accident [Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara].

Mr Compaoré has lived in exile in neighbouring Ivory Coast since 2014 when he was ousted in a popular uprising after 27 years in power [Who/What did we Celebrate in Africa in 2014?].

I ask the people of Burkina Faso to forgive me for all the acts I committed during my term of office, especially to the family of my brother and friend Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara,” Mr Compaoré said in a statement.

I take responsibility and deplore, from the bottom of my heart, all the sufferings and dramas experienced by all the victims during my mandates at the head of the country and ask their families to forgive me. I hope that we can move forward from now on to rebuild our common destiny on the land of our ancestors.

The message was delivered to military ruler Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who took power in a coup in January, by an Ivorian delegation accompanied by the former president’s daughter Djamila Compaoré.

South Africa is this year’s Women African Cup of Nations Champion

Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) logo

The 14th edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) just ended with a win by the Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s national female team. The final was a showdown between the Banyana Banyana of South Africa and the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco in Rabat, Morocco’s capital. The Copper Queens of Zambia beat the Super Falcons of Nigeria to take home the bronze medal of the tournament.

South Africa wins championship (Source: pmnewsnigeria.com)

The Women’s Africa Cup of Nations took place over 3 weeks in Morocco. During these 3 weeks, the best female teams on the continent competed for the top title of champion of Africa. Compared to the men’s tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations which has been in existence for almost 7 decades, the Women’s tournament is relatively young at 28 years of age, and also usually is not vividly followed. This year brought in record following with a full stadium at 50,000 occupancy for the final, which is an amazing feat for a Women’s competition on the continent. The most titled nation in WAFCON history is Nigeria with 11 titles, followed by Equatorial Guinea with 2 titles, and now South Africa with 1 title.

South Africa had been coming 2nd for 4 tournaments taking home the silver medal in 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2018, and this year it finally took home the gold medal. Striker Hildah Magaia scored twice to lead her country to victory 2-1 against Morocco.

The Atlas Lionesses (Source: football256.com)

There were top performances and goals from the different countries participating. Some players stood out including the Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak, Nigeria Rasheedat Ajibade, and South African Hildah Magaia who have been the tournament’s top scorers. Cameroon’s Ajara Nchout and Nigeria’s Sumayah Komuntale also shined by their performances.

Congratulations to the champions the Banyana Banyana of South Africa, and to all the women who proudly represented their countries at the tournament and made us happy.

“Blind” by Joseph Kariuki

Broken heart

Let’s end the week with the poem “Blind” by Kenyan writer Joseph Kariuki. Trained like many of the older East African generation at the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda, Kariuki is renowned for his poem celebrating the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, “Ode to Mzee.” Today, we will explore the poem “Blind” which in essence describes a heartbreak and the regret of having made the mistake of loving an ‘ingrate’ or more generally the wrong person. One could call it an awakening: the lover is blinded by the fires of love, and after the romance fails, realizes the deception, and that there were no reason to cry over the loss of the other, for whom one were infatuated. Although short, the poem is quite deep, as it clearly describes a failed romance and heartbreak, the ensuing sadness, and the eventual realization that one was poorly matched, and loved someone who was an ingrate, or a lousy choice for a lover. The title “Blind” fits so well with the proverb ‘love is blind.’ Enjoy! It was published in Poems from East Africa, ed. David Cook and David Rubadiri (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1971), P. 69.

BLIND by Joseph Kariuki

When you left
Without a word,
My heart wept–

Not so much
For lost love
(And a touch),

But the more
For the blinkers
Which I wore

For so long.
For so late
Did I worship
Such an ingrate?