There was a lot to celebrate in Africa in 2013. Here are some of those things.
– In January, South African opera singer, Pretty Yende, was the first African to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. You can watch her interview on BBC.
– On February 10, Nigeria’s Super Eagles won this year’s African Cup of Nations. Stephen Keshi’s team made us all proud.
– In March, FESPACO 2013 was a success and featured movies and documentaries from across the continent.
– On March 14, Uhuru Kenyatta won Kenya’s presidential elections. These elections were the people’s choice, and Uhuru Kenyatta defeated the ‘machine’-chose guy Raila Odinga (Obama’s cousin); a very good example of democracy by Africans for Africans.
– In April, Cecile Kyenge became the first Black minister nominated in Italy. Dr. Kyenge is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
– On 31 July, Zimbabwe general and presidential elections went peacefully with the full re-election of Robert Mugabe.
– In August, 12 political figures from Laurent Gbagbo‘s FPI were released in Côte d’Ivoire. Among them was Pascal Affi N’Guessan, previous prime minister of Gbagbo, who was unjustly detained without hearing for 2 years.
– In September, Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroonian and one of Africa’s best soccer forward) came out with an autobiographic comic book. Birth of a Champion is the first comic book on an African football player, and will hopefully inspire many youths around the globe.
– In November, Cameroonian author Léonora Miano won the 2013 Feminina Prize for her novel La Saison de l’Ombre, which talks about slavery from those who lived after seeing their relatives captured.
– Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, vowed to build the largest privately owned refinery in Nigeria, which produces more oil than any other African country but must import most of the motor fuel and diesel it uses because existing refineries are dilapidated and inefficient.
In the year 2013, we said goodbye to some people, some events, and some things. Here are 10 of those:
– Well, in January, we said goodbye to rebels in Mali thanks to the French intervention with the Operation Serval (the Françafrique is back, and very well).
– The South African athlete, Oscar Pistorius made us almost regret ever celebrating Valentine’s Day with his arrest for the murder (or not?) of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February.
– On 5 March, El Commandante, Hugo Chavez left us. Lots of tears cannot express how we all felt, and how many Africans felt about his passing.
– Chinua Achebe made our world fall apart when he left us on 22 March. We did cry, but above all we reconnected with his great work so that ‘Things [would not] fall apart.”
– On 3 July, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the army which was supported by millions of people.
– There were another rebels in Central African Republic (CAR) with the ousting of president François Bozizé.
– We said goodbye to yet another writer, this time Ghanaian writer/diplomat Kofi Awoonor who was killed during the scandalous Westgate shopping mall shootings in Nairobi on 21 September.
– In 3 October, a boat carrying 500 illegal immigrants toppled in the Mediterranean sea near Lampedusa killing 366 people. Italy declared a national day of mourning.
– The M23 rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were defeated by the Kabila government with help from the UN troops (remember the UN used to be in the region, and never did anything – I wonder what changed this time) at the end of October and beginning of November.
– Le ‘Seigneur’ Tabu Ley Rochereau left us on 30 November2013. We are still celebrating the maestro’s work and his influence on generations of Congolese and African artists.
– We said goodbye to Nelson Mandela on 5 Dec. 2013. Madiba left us, and we all cried for this great symbol of strength, forgiveness, and greatness in Africa.
Today, I would like us to look into Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, a landlocked country located inside South Africa. Maseruis a Sesotho word which means “the place of the red sandstone.” Maseru is located on the Caledon river, directly on the border with South Africa. The city was first established as a police camp, and later on became the capital of the country when it was under British protectorate. Maseru lies in a shallow valley in the Hlabeng-Sa Likhama foothills of the Maloti mountains. Its elevation is 1,600 m above sea level.
Lesotho is the world’s highest altitude country, in other words, it is the only country in the world which lies 1,000 m above sea level; its lowest point of 1,400 m is thus the highest in the world. Over 80% of the country lies 1,800 m above sea level. Lesotho is the land of the Sotho people, and the official languages are Sesotho and English.
One may wonder how come such a small country (just over 30,000 km2) could reside independently inside South Africa, when we know very well the Boers’ expansion in South Africa and their thirst of land. Well, in June 1838, when the TrekBoers attacked the country, the King Moshoeshoe I signed a treaty with the British governor of the Cape colony. After fighting several wars with the Boers from 1858 to 1868, King Moshoeshoe I sought British protection who agreed to make Basutoland into a British protectorate in 1868. In 1869, the British signed a treaty at Aliwal North with the Boers that defined the boundaries of Basutoland, and later Lesotho, which by ceding the western territories effectively reduced Moshoeshoe’s kingdom to half its previous size (see… the colonists never really helped, they just assigned themselves big part of African kingdoms, like that pie Africa became after the Berlin Conference in 1884). Enjoy this video, and discover Maseru.
M’bilia Bel and Tabu Ley Rochereau once sung for the liberation of Nelson Mandela. As we are celebrating both the king of Rumba, Tabu Ley Rochereau, and one of the greatest freedom fighters of our time, Nelson Mandela, I only saw fit to share with you Sisi Mandelasung by the greats to celebrate another Great!
Si vous écrasez une fourmi, toutes les fourmis viendront vous mordre – Proverbe Pygmées [ If you crush an ant, all the ants will come bite you – Pygmy proverb]. G. van Houtte, Ed. L’Epiphanie, 1976, Kinshasa, P.11.
I remember the day Nelson Mandela was freed from jail after 27 years of imprisonment. It was on 11 February 1990. This being a national holiday in Cameroon, we were all at home, and could watch live as Nelson Mandela was released from prison and walked hand in hand with Winnie Mandela, both with their fists raised high up. Later that day, Mandela stood outside the balcony with his fist raised high up, and said: “Amandla!” to which the overjoyed crowd replied “Ngawethu!”, in other words, “Power to the People!” And he finished “iAfrika!” I am leaving you here with some words by Mandela himself.
“I raised my right fist and there was a roar. I had not been able to do that for 27 years and it gave me a surge of strength and joy.” Describing the day of his release from prison in 1990 – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“I am fundamentally an optimist.Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“I found solitary confinement the most forbidding aspect of prison life. There is no end and no beginning; there is only one’s own mind, which can begin to play tricks. Was that a dream or did it really happen? One begins to question everything. Did I make the right decision, was my sacrifice worth it? … But the human body has an enormous capacity for adjusting to trying circumstances. I have found that one can bear the unbearable if one can keep one’s spirits strong even when one’s body is being tested. Strong convictions are the secret of surviving deprivation; your spirit can be full even when your stomach is empty.“ On Prison – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“In the name of the law, I found myself treated as a criminal… not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for, because of my conscience. No-one in his right senses would choose such a life, but there comes a time when a man is denied the right to live a normal life, when he can only live the life of an outlaw because the government has so decreed to use the law. … The question being asked up and down the country is this: Is it politically correct to continue preaching peace and non-violence when dealing with a government whose barbaric practices have brought so much suffering and misery to Africans?I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I, and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated. I will return.” Message read by his daughter, Zindzi Mandela, at a rally in Soweto in 1985.
“It seems the destiny of freedom fighters to have unstable personal lives… to be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a job I had far too little of.” Talking about fatherhood – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness… The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.” On prison – Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“The value of our shared reward will and must be measured by the joyful peace which will triumph, because the common humanity that bonds both black and white into one human race will have said to each one of us that we shall all live like the children of paradise… But there are still some within our country who wrongly believe they can make a contribution to the cause of justice and peace by clinging to the shibboleths [dogmas] that have been proved to spell nothing but disaster. It remains our hope that these, too, will be blessed with sufficient reason to realize that history will not be denied and that the new society cannot be created by reproducing the repugnant past, however refined or enticingly repackaged.” On receiving the Nobel Peace Prize with F.W. de Klerk, 1993.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Presidential Inauguration, 10 May 1994.
“Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another… The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God bless Africa!” Presidential inauguration, 10 May 1994.
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994.
“I am confident that nobody … will accuse me of selfishness if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health with my family, my friends, and also with myself.” On stepping down after his first term as president.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up.” Message at the Live 8 Concert in Edinburgh, July 2005.
Words cannot quite express my sadness at the loss of Africa’s greatest man, and probably one of the world’s greatest icon:Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Just to think that this man spent27 years in jailso that we, Black people, could have rights, could have freedom, could be free to love, live, and work, is beyond amazing! Yes… almost 3 decades, and more, since he did not really lead a ‘true’ family life because he spent most of his time pursuing his cause for the freedom of Blacks in South Africa. What tribute could I possibly give for a man who spent most of his life fighting so that I, a Black child, could walk free in South Africaafter our land was taken by the Boer invader, and we were beaten under oppressive laws?What could I possibly say for a man who epitomizes true leadership, statesmanship, democracy, humility, and love… love in the face of so much hate. Because, for Nelson Mandela to make it, there were those likeSteve BikoorChris Haniwho were killed by the apartheid system. I would just like to say farewell Madiba… for you, I am a proud African child… Farewell Father Mandela, for you, I can roam the streets of South Africa free… Farewell Nelson, for you, I am free… because of you, I am a proud Black child, for you I am a proud African!
I live you with one of his quotes: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”Madiba, you have truly changed my life, and that of millions around the globe! The world is a better place because you stepped on it! So long… Madiba!
Is it possible to talk about Congolese music without mentioning ‘Le Seigneur’ Rochereau (Lord Rochereau)? Is it possible to talk about Africans performing at the great Olympia hall in Paris, without mentioning the first African ever to have performed there? Is it possible to talk about Rumba, without talking about the impact Tabu Ley Rochereau had on Congolese, and therefore African music?
I remember listening to his love ballads ‘Pitié’ on the radio, while growing up. I remember watching the gorgeous M’bilia Bel singing with Tabu Ley Rochereau. Well, Tabu Ley Rochereau was one of those rare artists who have written/composed/performed/produced over 3,000 songs, and have more than 250albums in his repertoire. He is one of the few who could claim to have influenced entire generations both in music and in politics as he later became vice-governor of Kinshasa. Just listening to the interviews of the likes of Koffi Olomide, Lokua Kanza, M’Bilia Bel, Papa Wemba, tells us a lot about him. When asked about the impact of Tabu Ley Rochereau on Couleurs Tropicales, Lokua Kanza (one of my favorites) replied: “Just like an American child can say that Nat King Cole rocked his childhood, Tabu Ley Rochereau rocked mine (Lokua’s),” and that of most Congolese children. That was the impact of ‘Le Seigneur Rochereau’.
As Kinshasa, Congo, and Africa mourns Tabu Ley Rochereau, we will remember ‘Le Seigneur Rochereau’ by dancing and singing to his great tunes. We will celebrate his life (Rochereau even wrote the song ‘Mokolo Nakokufa’ (the day of my death) a bit like Mozart composed Requiem) and influence on all of our lives (even when he stood against Mobutu with the title ‘Trop c’est Trop’). Tabu Ley was a uniter (when Kenya banned Congolese music, he sang ‘Twende Nairobi’ with M’Bilia Bel), a decider, a crooner, a lover, an activist, a melodist, but above all, Tabu Ley Rochereau was a baobab! Listen to ‘Pitié’ below, and do not forget to read these really good articles on his life on Philly.com, AFP, RFI Musique, and the best on Radio Okapi.
On August 8th, 1914, a proclamation signed by Governor Karl Ebermaier was posted on all the principal places of the town of Douala, stating:
“People of Douala, I am here to announce thatManga (Rudolf) Bellis condemned today to death by hanging because he has betrayed the Kaiser and the empire.”
That same day, at 5PM (17:00) in the evening, the respondent was executed by hanging, with his relative and secretary Ngosso Din.
The official statement from the governor stating the charges incriminating the Bell king, continues as follows:
“He [Manga Bell] admitted, at the last minute, that he had been led by the fear of revenge from his countrymen, from those whom you know, who, by fear, secretly remain in the background, those who brood poison and seduce the people. May the blood of Manga fall back on those who led him on the path of crime! He who does not want to become a traitor, like Duala Manga and his aids, should pull away from his seducers, who secretly remain in the background preparing poison! Whoever has fair intentions will be welcome. The government of Kaiser will always be just and grateful to the loyal aids and loyal subjects.
What we deplore is the result of machinations carried by these of men of darkness who – the governor says – have always been at work to excite the people, to maintain it in terror with their poisons and kept under the yoke to their benefit. T ear yourself from them and you will be happy. Manga himself, in his last hour, prayed his people that with his death, loyalty to the Kaiser and obedience towards the government may return into the heart of the Douala people.”
The translation to English is offered to you here by Dr. Y., www.afrolegends.com. You can find the original published in French by the Cameroonian Quotidien Mutations on Bonaberi.com. Don’t forget to read the article by Suzanne Kala-Lobé on NjanguiPress.com.