Fighting to be Recognized for One’s Ideas: The Case of Nkosana Makate

South Africa_Nkosana Makate
Nkosana Makate was pictured outside court in Johannesburg when the legal case began (Source: Getty Images/BBC)

In these days of exacerbated capitalism and companies shipping jobs oversees so as not to pay the locals fair salaries in the face of increasing cost of living, or people’s ideas stolen by big corporations without a single penny in return, it is refreshing to learn the story of Nkosana Makate. Nkosana Makate is a South African man who worked for Vodacom in South Africa and who is the mind behind the “Please Call Me” texting service, yet it took him 14 years to be remunerated for his invention. His story is one of perseverance when in the right, and endurance. How many would have given up? After almost 2 decades of fighting, Makate is now about to receive several millions of dollars in compensation for his idea. Excerpts below are from the BBC.


South African Nkosana Makate’s 14-year court battle against a huge corporate opponent is testimony to the idea that it is sometimes worth fighting on, as he is now in line for a pay-out worth millions of dollars, writes the BBC’s Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg.

Two decades ago, he came up with the concept that went on to become Vodacom’s Please Call Me texting service, which allows customers to send a free message to another user on the same network requesting to be called back.

South Africa_Nkosana Makate - TimesLive
Nkosana Makate (Source:

… Twenty-two years ago Mr Makate was working as a trainee in Vodacom’s finance department.

Rebecca [my wife] was a student at Fort Hare University and we were in a long-distance relationship. There’d be times where she’d want to call me but didn’t have airtime [credit to call].

I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to initiate a call even when you didn’t have airtime?’ That’s how the idea came about,” he beamed, reliving the moment.

He entered into a verbal agreement with the company’s then director of product development and management, Philip Geissler, that he would get a share of the revenue generated by the product once it went to market.

At the time [in 2000] the firm even shared an internal newsletter praising him for the concept.

But something changed at some point and it is not clear why.

Suddenly I was told that I’m being greedy for wanting a share of the profits from what I created,” said Mr Makate.

Instead of accepting the situation and deciding it was not worth taking on Vodacom, he went to court in 2008.

… His team of experts estimate that Vodacom made at least $4.7bn (£3.4bn) from Please Call Me and he has not seen a cent of those profits. Mr Makate has been asking for 15% of that.

At first, the company denied that their ex-employee had come up with the idea and then they said he was not due any financial benefits from it.

The case has gone through a number of courts

Eventually, in 2016, it ended up in the highest court, the Constitutional Court, which found in Mr Makate’s favour and ordered the two sides to negotiate remuneration.

The company offered a settlement of $3.1m saying it was “overly generous“, but he rejected it.

… “For me it’s about what is right, what is fair and it’s about justice. What they are doing is wrong and I cannot allow that,” he said …

… “I’m happy we persisted with the court review because we have now been vindicated,” he said.

Earlier this month, High Court judge Wendy Hughes said that Vodacom had gone against the Constitutional Court ruling and negotiated in bad faith.

Judge Hughes also said he [Makate] was entitled to a much bigger share of the revenue, which could run into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.

… “… I will not give up,” he said, … He wants to make his children proud.

I hope they know that daddy fought a clean good fight and that they learn to stand for something in life. I also hope they learn that nothing worthy comes easy.”

Two Benin Bronzes returned Home to Nigeria

Return of cockerel sculpture and head of an Oba raises hopes that thousands more artefacts could be returned to their ancestral home. Photograph: Kola Sulaimon/AFP/Getty Images – The Guardian

It has been 104 years since Benin City: the Majestic City the British burnt to the ground was looted and destroyed. Now, a century later, two of the numerous Bronze statues that were taken at the time, are being returned. Some may ask, who cares about 2 Bronze statues? These statues are not just a symbol of the craftsmanship of the Benin people, but they also symbolize the essence of the people. Back in those days, the statues were not used like they are by Europeans, to be placarded in museums, they had a symbolic, and some even had a spiritual or energetic importance. Below are excerpts from the article on the Guardian’s website.


Two Benin bronzes were returned on Saturday [19 February 2022] to a traditional palace in Nigeria, more than a century after they were pillaged by British troops, raising hopes that thousands more artefacts could finally be returned to their ancestral home.

The artefacts, mostly in Europe, were stolen by explorers and colonisers from the once-mighty Benin Kingdom, now [part of] south-western Nigeria, and are among Africa’s most significant heritage objects. They were created as early as the 16th century onwards, according to the British Museum.

At a colourful ceremony to mark the return of a cockerel sculpture and head of an Oba or king, spokesperson Charles Edosonmwan for the Oba palace in Benin City noted that some of the bronzes were kept as far away as New Zealand, the United States and Japan.

Rooster from Benin Kingdom (18th century)
Rooster from Benin Kingdom (18th century), exposed at the MET

The two artefacts were handed over to the Nigerian High Commission in October by the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge University’s Jesus College but had yet to return to their ancestral home.

They are not just art but they are things that underline the significance of our spirituality,” Edosonmwan said in an interview on the sidelines of a ceremony attended by traditional leaders.

… About 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage is believed to be in Europe, French art historians estimate. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris alone holds about 70,000 African objects and London’s British Museum tens of thousands more.

Belgium takes Step towards Restitution of African Artifacts

Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Belgium recently shared the inventory list of artifacts looted from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the Congolese authorities. Are we supposed to applaud? In this day and age, what is an inventory list supposed to do? Is this a menu from which to choose what to ask for, and what not to? Are they hiding more: like giving you list A, while the real deal (list B) is kept in the vault? Does the inventory guarantee that all artifacts will be returned? Will the Royal Museum of Central Africa, with one of the largest collection of African artifacts in the world, graciously give back its collection, and lose the money from the million of visitors that come yearly? Moving forward, what will the ‘partnership’ between Belgium and Congo on this subject entail? The excerpt below is from Africa News.


Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo has submitted a complete inventory of Congolese works of art and artefacts [to DRC’s prime minister] which potentially could be returned to the former African colony.

… “I’m not really going to take this as repairing wounds, but I want to take it as a very voluntary act of having relationships today that are not only improved, but very much calmed down in comparison with our expectations“, said Congolese prime minister Jean-Michel Kyenge.

The inventory contains around 84 thousand objects divided in categories.

The Belgian prime minister hailed the moment as a step forward in building a partnership of trust between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This program of restitution is an important element that shows the way we want to work together. It is a partnership between our two countries and a partnership of trust“, added Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo.

The Royal Museum of Central Africa, opened in Brussels in 1898 is the legacy of Belgian  King Leopold II who ruled over Congo from 1885 onward.

France confirms it will withdraw from Mali … moving to neighboring countries and beyond

Map of Mali with its capital Bamako

France just confirmed that it will withdraw its troops from Mali, 10 years after starting the fight against insurgency in the region. They will most likely go park their troops in neighboring countries like Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania? Who knows?… but we know that France has not spoken its last word… it is impossible for them to let go of the gold (after all, they are the world’s 4th producer of gold), uranium, diamonds, bauxite, of Mali just like that. Below are excerpts from an article from RFI.


French flag

France and its allies in its anti-jihadist operations in Mali have announced announced they will begin withdrawing troops after nearly a decade fighting a jihadist insurgency in the country.

The political, operational and legal conditions are no longer met to effectively continue their current military engagement in the fight against terrorism in Mali,” [maybe France and its allies can no longer loot in peace] said a joint statement signed by France and European and African allies, announcing a “coordinated withdrawal” of French, European and Canadian forces. The decision applies to both the Barkhane counter-terrorism force in the Sahel and the 14-member European Takuba force that France had been trying to get off the ground.

France deployed troops against jihadists in Mali in 2013, but the insurgency was never fully put down [because the insurgents were funded by none other than…]. Some 2,400 French soldiers are currently in the country as part of the Barkhane and Takuba operations. Relations between France and Mali have deteriorated after the military junta went back on an agreement to organize elections in February, and instead proposed holding on to power until 2025 [Let the Malian people decide their own destiny].

Flag of Mali
Flag of Mali

France and other countries have also accused Mali of using the services of the Wagner Russian mercenary group, which they say is incompatible with their mission [This is against rule #10 of the colonial tax France is imposing African countries, which state that no African country should have other military partners other than France unless authorized by France – The French Colonial Tax at the Heart of Mali-France Tensions].

… The countries [the allied forces] will continue “joint action against terrorism in the Sahel region, including in Niger and in the Gulf of Guinea” [oh, oh, Africa is in trouble!].

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Niger had agreed to host European forces fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel [does Niger really have a choice?… remember The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa? plus the Niger president is a French puppet].

He also said the remaining forces would provide further assistance for countries in the Gulf of Guinea [let’s invent new troubles everywhere so we can loot in peace, and not pay a dime to the local populations]. “These states are increasingly exposed to efforts by terrorist groups to implant themselves in their territory,” Macron told a press conference in Paris Thursday, shortly before traveling to Brussels for a two-day EU-Africa summit.

Le partage de l'Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884
Le partage de l’Afrique a la Conference de Berlin de 1884

There are a total of 25,000 foreign troops currently deployed in the Sahel region, including the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA established in 2013 and an EU military training mission, the EUTM Mali, along with the Barkhane operation and the Takuba forces [Despite all these forces deployed, insurgencies still manage to flourish?… I wonder why? maybe because the insurgent is paid by … the ‘savior’?]. …


3000-Year-old Ancient Egyptian Love Poem

Queen Nefertari and Pharaoh Ramses II at the Queen’s temple at Abu Simbel

Love songs and poems are a part of every culture in the world… Love is a universal language. It does not have any barrier, race, class, and even time! It is Love… simple, overflowing, and boundless… Some of the world’s oldest love poems were found in Egypt written several millenia ago. Amazing how timeless they are! I chose the picture of Pharaoh Ramses II and Queen Nefertari as it is well-known that Ramses II deeply loved her and had a temple built in her honor at Abu Simbel .

For this Valentine Day, enjoy this Love poem from Ancient Egypt, found in Deir el-Medina, dated about 1300 BC. It is part of the Chester Beatty Papyri I. As you read it, savor it slowly, and stop for a moment to ponder as the lover sings of his sweetheart as the fairest of all, her skin as bright as a star, her hair as precious as the lapis lazuli stone, stone highly valued in antiquity, her arms surpassing gold, her legs parading her beauty, and when she steps outside she is as the sun so beautiful she catches everyone’s attention. I have placed two of the most popular translations next to each other. Enjoy!

Sister Without Peer
My one, my soul without peer,

Most beautiful of all!

Rising like the morning star

At the start of happy year.

Shining bright, fair of skin,

Lovely the look of her eyes,

Sweet the speech of her lips,

She has not a word too much.

Upright neck, shining breast,

Hair true lapis lazuli;

Arms surpassing gold,

Fingers like lotus buds.

Heavy thighs, narrow waist,

Her legs parade her beauty;

With graceful steps

she treads the ground,

Captures my heart by her movements.

She causes all men’s necks

To turn about to see her;

Joy has he whom she embraces,

He is like the first of men!

When she steps outside

She seems like the Sun!

“She has no rival,              
  there is no one like her.
She is the fairest of all.

She is like a star goddess arising
…    at the beginning of a new year;
brilliantly white, shining skin;

Such beautiful eyes when she stares,
and sweet lips when she speaks;
she has not one phrase too many.

With a long neck and shining body
her hair of genuine lapis lazuli;
her arm more brilliant than gold;

Her fingers like lotus flowers,
ample behind, tight waist,
her thighs extend her beauty,

Shapely in stride 
 when she steps on the earth.

She has stolen my heart with her embrace,
She has made the neck of every man
turn round at the sight of her.

Whoever embraces her is happy,
he is like the head of lovers,

And she is seen going outside
like That Goddess, the One Goddess.”

Assimi Goïta Speaks to the Malian People: No Sacrifice is too Big for this Country

Mali_Assimi Goita_3
Colonel Assimi Goita

Colonel Assimi Goïta, the president of Mali, recently addressed his people, the Malian people. I was moved by his humility, and depth. We should all aspire to do our part, and support our leaders, and more importantly remember that change starts with each one of us. If we want change, we each have to lend a hand, because it starts with us. We don’t have to wish for martyrs, but start one brick at a time. We are grateful for Assimi Goïta who is trying to bring back dignity to the Malian people, and pray that he can reach his goal, this goal which is ours, and blesses the entire African continent. We pray for him, and countless Malians, and citizens who are standing up. This is a fight for our freedom, our humanity, our dignity… Enjoy! The original is on Afrik-plus. Translated to English by Dr. Y.,


Flag of Mali
Flag of Mali

“I am a mortal, I am not perfect. I am aware of that. History will judge me one day, but in the meantime I just ask for your support. I did not choose this destiny. It imposed itself to me. God knows what He is doing.

I will go all the way but if I die before reaching our ideal, continue the project without me and lay the groundwork for change with my blood and my flesh.

No sacrifice is huge for this country.

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

I am not Thomas Sankara, or Jerry Rawlings, I am Assimi Goïta. Remember me as a reformer not a revolutionary.

Remember me as the bringer of hope to the people, the one who came when your blood was shed because of your desire for change.

I will go to the end of my mission. I will never betray it, I will not betray your trust.

Death does not scare me, I saw it every day on the battlefield, it is failure that scares me.

Black power fist_1If death marries me on the way to this ideal, do not mourn me.

Do not make my grave a sanctuary.

I did what I thought right for my country. I did it for me but I did it for you too.

I am Assimi, the man who smiles every day with death, his fist closed.

Assimi Goïta

The French Colonial Tax at the Heart of Mali-France Tensions

Flag of Mali
Flag of Mali

Below is the colonial tax which is at the heart of Mali-France tensions today. It is part of The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa which denies Africans the right to other military or economic partners without France’s approval. As stated before, France is angry that Mali has turned to Russia for help in regaining sovereignty over its territory to help fight against the jihadists whose presence have proliferated under the help of France and its buddies, the international community. The old colonial master wants to be the only one to decide the destiny of Malians in Mali… that era is over… Malians have the right to dignity! Malians, and Africans, have the right to choose the partners that can help them in their visions, a vision which seeks the well-being of their communities. Do you realize that France is now number 4 producer of gold in the world, when France does not have mines of gold on its soil? Mali produces upwards of 40 tons every year, and yet it is one of the world’s poorest countries on the globe! Mali’s production increased by 7%, with 65 tons produced, in 2019.  Gold is worth much more than oil! So as you ponder why the prize of gold keeps going up, and people tell you about the economy… maybe it is simply because of tensions in Mali, and maybe you should also root for Mali’s independence from the colonial yoke.

Mali - Conflict map_2
Mali conflict map

The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa – Component at the heart of the tension

#10. Renunciation to enter into military alliance with any other country unless authorized by France

… In the case of France’s ex-colonies, France forbid them to seek other military alliance except the one it offered them.

Senegal’s Lions of Teranga Win the African Cup of Nations of 2021

Senegal Lions of Teranga celebrate winning the AFCON 2021 (

Yesterday February 6th, Senegal won the 2021 African Cup of Nations against the Pharaohs of Egypt to become the new champions. This was their first win in the history of the game. To be awarded the trophy after so many years of getting so close is a real joy. They came second at the last edition CAN 2019 missing the trophy against the Fennecs of Algeria. I am happy that with their Senegalese coach (not many African teams have African coaches these days), Senegal made us really proud.

Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah in Garoua (Left) on January 15, 2022; and Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane in Yaounde on February 2, 2022 (Right). (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO and Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP via Getty Images)

The game opposed some of the biggest football players in the world Sadio Mané of Senegal and Mohamed Salah of Egypt, both of Liverpool FC.  Sadio Mané, scored the winning penalty in the shootout against Egypt, having seen a first-half spot-kick saved as Sunday’s game ended in 0-0 after extra time. “It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life,” the 29-year-old Liverpool forward said. “I won the Champions League and some [other] trophies but this is the special one for me. This is more important for me. … I am happy for myself, my people and all of my family.” Mane credits his team-mates with giving him the strength to return in the shootout, where he sealed a 4-2 triumph. “When I missed the first penalty, it was a big blow for me,” he said. “But my team-mates came to me and said ‘Sadio, we lose together and we win together. … The trophy belongs to the whole Senegal team – everyone deserves it.”

Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse celebrating victory (

For Senegal’s coach Aliou Cissé, this marks a victory at his third attempt in the Nations’ Cup final. The 45-year-old captained the Teranga Lions when they finished as runners-up in 2002 – missing the decisive penalty in the shootout against Cameroon – and coached Senegal when they lost against Algeria in 2019. He dedicated the 2022 victory to his countrymen before his post-match press conference was interrupted by his squad for celebrations. … He said, “[this] really proves the mental strength of this generation. We are very happy, we dedicate this victory to the Senegalese people, because since independence until now we are running after this first star. … Today, we will also have a star on our shirt.”

As a result of their win, Senegal has declared Monday a national holiday to celebrate winning its first ever Africa Cup of Nations! It is also good to note that the Lions of Teranga of Senegal won against the Pharaohs of Egypt in the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Cameroon. Many locals have claimed that the late Cameroonian President Ahidjo who is still buried in Senegal (story for another day), had been watching over the Senegalese team and blessing them, given that Senegal has been good to the previous president and his entire family.