Ethiopian Airlines Crash: Boeing CEO Apologizes to Families

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An Ethiopian Airlines plane

After the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight last March which killed all 157 people on board, and five months after the Lion Air disaster which claimed 189 lives, Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg has apologized to the families of the victims. Sadly it took the crash of Ethiopian Airlines, and families of the ETH crash suing them, as well as Chinese airline companies, for the CEO of Boeing to finally come out. He has insisted the company is “committed to safety for the long run“, in his first interview since the two 737 Max aircraft crashes. I remember how in the early days of the ETH crash, they tried to put the blame of this accident on the pilot because he was ‘young’ even though he had over 8,000 hours of flying experience, or the co-pilot, or a myriad of other reasons.

Ethiopian Airlines crash_Yared Getachew
Yared Getachew, pilot of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which crashed in March 2019

Speaking to CBS News yesterday, Boeing’s CEO gave another apology, following his video statement in April. After the April apology, the father of the Ethiopian Airlines flight pilot, Dr. Getachew Tessema, had said that it was too little too late, adding,  “Why did they [Boeing] let them fly [after the Indonesia crash]? Because they were in competition. They want to sell more. Human life has no meaning in some societies.” The airline industry’s trade body IATA has said this week that Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft is unlikely to re-enter service before August.

Dum Diversas or The Vatican’s Authorization of Slavery

Slaves on board a ship

I knew that the Catholic Church via the Pope had authorized slavery in the 1400s, but I didn’t know that they had authorized the eradication, subjugation, etc, of African people. Somehow I never connected the two.

The bull,  Pope Nicholas V‘s decree, of 1452 was addressed to Afonso V and conceded Portugal’s right to attack, conquer and subjugate Saracens and pagans; this is also known as Dum Diversas. A papal bull is a document through which a pope of the Roman Catholic Church issues an important public decree, letters patent, or charter

Pope Nicholas V

We grant you [Kings of Spain and Portugal] by these present documents, with our Apostolic Authority, full and free permission to invade, search out, capture, and subjugate the Saracens and pagans and any other unbelievers and enemies of Christ wherever they may be, as well as their kingdoms, duchies, counties, principalities, and other property […] and to reduce their persons into perpetual servitude.”


These clearly refers to the lands along the coast of West Africa. By these decree,  Pope Nicholas V conceded to the King of Portugal Afonso V and Prince Henry and all their successors, all their conquests of Africa, and reduction to perpetual servitude of all people deemed non-believers and enemies of Christ, and all their properties.

A significant subsequent concession given by Nicholas V in a brief issued to King Alfonso in 1454 extended the rights granted to existing territories to all those that might be taken in the future. Together with a second reference to some who have already been enslaved, this has been used to suggest that Nicholas sanctioned the purchase of black slaves from “the infidel”: “… many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been … converted to the Catholic faith, and it is hoped, by the help of divine mercy, that if such progress be continued with them, either those peoples will be converted to the faith or at least the souls of many of them will be gained for Christ.”

This bull is currently conserved at the Institute of the National Archives of Torre do Tomba in Lisboa, Portugal, under the reference PT/TT/BUL/0007/29 and is fully translated to French in the book “le Péché du pape contre l’Afrique” (The Sin of the Pope against Africa) (éd. Al qalam, Paris, 2002) de Assani Fassassi, P. 10 – 21.

Please find below the Papal bull by Pope Nicholas V.

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Papal bull from Nicholas V (Source: © Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisboa, Portugal) –
Dum Diversas_2
Papal bull from Nicholas V p. 2 (Source: © Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisboa, Portugal) –
Dum Diversas_3
Papal bull from Nicholas V p. 3 (Source: © Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisboa, Portugal) –

The Orphan and the Wicked Villagers

Troupeau de vaches
Boys leading a herd of cows

There was once, in a village, a very rich man who owned many herds of cows, goats, and sheep. He had only one child, a son, still very young whose mother had passed away after giving him life!
When the old man felt his own death coming, he worried: who was going to advise his son so that he would not get devoured by the man-eating worms, the man-eating worms that migrated between the two great rivers where every day he went to water his flocks? The villagers could not do it. On the contrary, they would be jubilant at the idea of seeing his son devoured by the man-eating worms. They would happily split his herds among themselves!

Cailcedrat (Source: paysdelaTeranga blog)

He was going to entrust his son to a tree, an old cailcedrat :

  • I am going to die, he said. I entrust my son to you so that you counsel him.

Then he passed away.

In the morning, before taking his flocks to pasture, the young boy would sing to the tree.

  • My father entrusted me to you, great cailcedrat. Should I take my flocks to Toubalitou? Or should I lead them to Diabalidia?

The tree shook its heavy branches laden with leaves three times, and said:

  • Go to Toubalitou. Do not go to Diabalida. The man-eating works will be at Diabalida today!

The young boy led his flocks to Toubalitou, and in the evening came back safe and sound to the village. The villagers were astonished and furious. Someone must be advising the boy for him not to be eaten by the worms! They were going to find out who was counseling him. They hired a hunter for that task, who brought back the secret. They cut down the tree, burnt it, and threw the ashes in the river.

Turtledove Cameroon
A turtledove at dusk

When the orphan came for counsel, he found nothing. He cried, and still sang his song. One never knew. It was a turtledove who answered him. And once again he got home safe and sound. People were once again surprised. They were furious at the hunter, he had lied to them.

The hunter once again told them the new secret, and promised them that he would kill the turtledove. However, he never could. He became insane, and still runs to this day firing shots at the sky taking it for his turtledove.

Since that day, wise men and women tell their children never to kill a turtledove.

The French original can be found on Ouologuem Blog. Translated to English by Dr. Y.,

A la recherche des problèmes … / Looking for Trouble …

Fumier / Manure

Celui qui marche sur le fumier, devra se laver les pieds (Proverbe Bahumbu – République Démocratique du Congo (RDC)). – Qui s’y frotte, s’y pique.

Whoever walks on manure, will have to wash his feet (Bahumbu proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)). – If you go looking for trouble, you will find it.

The Lebombo Bone: The Oldest Mathematical Artifact in the World

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The Lebombo bone

Have you ever heard of the Lebombo Bone? It is even older than the Ishango bone. It is indeed the oldest known mathematical artifact in the world. Discovered in the 1970s in Border Cave, a rock shelter on the western scarp of the Lebombo Mountains in an area near the border of South Africa and Swaziland (now Eswatini). The bone was found on the Eswatini side, and dates from 35,000 BC. It consists of 29 distinct notches that were deliberately cut into a baboon’s fibula.

The bone is between 44,200 and 43,000 years old, according to 24 radiocarbon datings. This is far older than the Ishango bone with which it is sometimes confused. Other notched bones are 80,000 years old but it is unclear if the notches are merely decorative or if they bear a functional meaning.

According to The Universal Book of Mathematics, the Lebombo bone’s 29 notchesmay have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians, because keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar.” However, the bone is clearly broken at one end, so the 29 notches may or may not be a minimum number. In the cases of other notched bones since found globally, there has been no consistent notch tally, many being in the 1–10 range. The Lebombo bone resembles a calendar used by the early men of the area, coming from the San clans of Namibia; this way of making tallies is still used by the San people today.


Lebombo Ishango bones
Top image: Lebombo bone. Bottom: Ishango bone with prime numbers engraving (J.D. Loreto and D.H. Hurlbert Smithsonian)

According to The Universal Book of Mathematics, the Lebombo bone’s 29 notches “may have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians, because keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar.” However, the bone is clearly broken at one end, so the 29 notches may or may not be a minimum number. In the cases of other notched bones since found globally, there has been no consistent notch tally, many being in the 1–10 range. This resembles a calendar used by the early men of the area, coming from the San clans of Namibia. These represent the earliest unambiguous evidence for modern human behavior. An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on recent archaeological discoveries, “Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa” , has shown that bone tools were already present 75,000 years ago and were used in San culture.

To anyone who ever doubted it, Africa is indeed the cradle of humanity… and women (if it is indeed a lunar tool) were quite advanced mathematicians 35,000 years ago, using calculators to make lunar calendars!


Proverbe sur les caractères cachés ou la duplicité / Proverb on Hidden Nature or Deceitfulness

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Eau stagnante / Stagnant water

Les eaux stagnantes sont mangeuses d’hommes (Proverbe Luba – République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), Zambie, Angola). Méfiez-vous des gens qui ne disent rien.

Stagnant waters are man eaters (Luba proverb – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Angola). Beware of people who do not say anything.

Happy Mother’s Day 2019

For this year’s Mother day, I decided to post Lesline’s rendition of “Sweet Mother” by Prince Nico Mbarga. As I told you in my past post, Mbarga’s ‘Sweet Mother‘ is the most loved and most popular African song of all times. Enjoy Lesline’s rendition of this African classic on The Voice Afrique Francophone season 1, and remember to love and pamper your mother this Sunday! Happy Mother’s day.

African Joke: Water in the Carburetor


– “The car cannot start,” says a woman to her husband. “There is water in the carburetor.”

– “Water is the carburetor? But how could you possibly know that? You don’t even know what is a carburetor!

– “I tell you again,” says the woman, “there is water in the carburetor. I am absolutely certain of it.

Car in the swimming pool

– “Ok. I will go see what I can do. Where is the car?”

– “In the swimming pool…

The original in French is found on . Translated to English by Dr. Y.