Rwanda and UK Asylum Seekers, or the £120 million Deal

Rwanda_FlagLast month, Rwanda and the UK signed a deal to repatriate all African migrants that will come to the United Kingdom (UK) in search of a better tomorrow to Africa, and more precisely to Rwanda. The UK will pay Rwanda an “economic transformation and integration fund” amounting to £120 million, and will also fund each immigrant between £20,000 and £30,000 for their relocation and temporary accommodation in the scheme. Where do they find the money? I thought times were hard! Upon arrival in Rwanda, migrants will be temporarily accommodated in the capital Kigali as their claims for asylum are processed. If successful, migrants will then receive permanent residency in the country and be offered permanent accommodation. It is expected that all claims will, at most, take three months to be processed. Once in Rwanda, migrants will not be allowed to return to the United Kingdom to seek asylum. As a skeptic, I wonder how that will work, given that we hear often about over-population in the city of Kigali… Certainly, as I have said countless times, Africa is the richest continent on this planet, and it is about time that we, Africans, stay home to make it work, and get rid of those governments (puppets of the West) that are seated on our destinies instead of risking our lives in the Sahara desert, the Mediterranean Sea, or the English Channel. As a side note, when we know that the Rwandan army is deployed in Mozambique (among other places) to watch over the interests of Total, I doubt that those asylum seekers will really be integrated in Rwandan society as Rwandans, but maybe as extras in the army to be sent out to protect foreign interests in other African countries? Hey, if I were the government of Rwanda, it is a really good deal! Enjoy the article below from AfricaNews.

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UK_Flag
Flag of the United Kingdom

Hotels and guest houses in Rwanda are being prepared to accommodate asylum-seekers illegally arriving into the UK.

It’s part of a controversial deal, signed by Rwanda and Britain, to deport illegal migrants to Kigali.

The plan aims to discourage desperate migrants from attempting to cross the English Channel by flying them some 6,400 kilometres to Rwanda where they are expected to stay for good.

Both Britain and Rwanda have faced criticism at home and with at least two UN agencies speaking out about the controversial plan.

Migrants arriving illegally in the UK – often in small boats crossing the English Channel – will have their asylum claims processed in Kigali.

We will welcome these migrants with open arms, we will try to make them forget the problems that made them leave their country,” said Denis Bizimungu, general manager of the Desire Resort Hotel which is being refurbished and renovated to accommodate the migrants.

We want to make sure that the idea of crossing the Mediterranean never comes back to their hearts, we want their hearts to be filled with joy in this country,” he added.

UN officials and other critics – particularly in the two countries – have raised human rights concerns and warned that such a move goes against the Refugee Convention.

… According to Rwanda’s deputy government spokesperson Alain Mukurarinda “the contract between Rwanda and the United Kingdom is clear.”

All the expenses are taken care of by the British government,” he said.

World’s First Set of Nonuplets is 1-year Old!

Mali_Nonuplets
Halima Cisse, mother of nonuplets and the medical team in Morocco (Source: Africafreedomnetwork.com)

Can you imagine trying for one baby and ending up with 9 at once? It has been one year since the birth of the world’s first set of nonuplets. Conceived naturally, a first in the world, the 5 girls and 4 boys have all survived and are healthy and growing well. The parents, Abdelkader Arby and Halima Cissé, are from Mali. The babies have been taken care of by a full medical team in a hospital in Morocco. Initially, the medical teams both in Mali and then later in Morocco thought Halima Cissé was expecting septuplets, and so they were all surprised to find 9 babies in the end. Again, I salute the wisdom of the Malian government who saw fit to have the mother transferred to Morocco for more advanced specialist care; and I salute the immense dedication of the Moroccan team and government to the well-being of the babies. Excerpts below are from an article on the BBC website.

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Mali_Nonuplets_BBC
The nonuplets (Source: BBC)

The world’s only nonuplets – nine babies born at the same time – are “in perfect health” as they celebrate their first birthday, their father has told the BBC.

They’re all crawling now. Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something,” said Abdelkader Arby, an officer in the Malian army.

They are still in the care of the clinic in Morocco where they were born.

He said their mother Halima Cissé, 26, was also doing well.

It’s not easy but it’s great. Even if it’s tiring at times, when you look at all the babies in perfect health, [in a line] from right to left we’re relieved. We forget everything,” he told BBC Afrique.

He has just returned to Morocco for the first time in six months, along with their elder daughter, Souda, aged three.

They will just have a small birthday celebration with the nurses and a few people from their apartment building, Mr Arby said.

Nothing is better than the first year. We will remember this great moment …”

The babies broke the Guinness World Record for the most children delivered in a single birth to survive.

Mrs Cissé and the children are currently living in what their father described as a “medicalised flat” that belongs to the owners of the Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca where the babies were born.

There are nurses who are here, in addition to my wife, who help to take care of the children,” Mr Arby said.

… [The] boys are called Mohammed VI [in honor of the Moroccan king], Oumar, Elhadji, Bah [in honor of the Malian president at the time], while the girls are named Kadidia, Fatouma, Hawa, Adama and Oumou.

Each one has a unique personality, their father said.

They all have different characters. Some are quiet, while other make more noise and cry a lot. Some want to be picked up all the time. They are all very different, which is entirely normal.”

Mr Arby also thanked the Malian government for its help. The Malian state has put everything in place for the care and treatment of the nine babies and their mother. It’s not at all easy, but it’s beautiful and something that is comforting,” he said.

Everyone [in Mali] is very keen to see the babies with their own eyes – their family, friends, our home village, the whole country.”

Mali Rescinds France Defense Agreements

Map of Mali with its capital Bamako

On Monday May 2, 2022, Mali rescinded the defense treaties linking it to France. Remember that, as part of the colonial tax forced upon the Malian people by France (and all other 14 past French colonies in Africa), there is one rule which links Mali to France via defense agreements where France is supposed to help Mali in case of external attacks. As we have seen, France has not held its part of the bargain, instead funding and letting jihadists proliferate on the Malian territory and committing abuses against the local populations. Thus, the government of Mali decided to break off from its defense accords with former colonial ruler France, condemning “flagrant violations” of its national sovereignty by the French troops there. “For some time now, the government of the Republic of Mali notes with regret a profound deterioration in military cooperation with France,” spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a televised statement.

The tata of Sikasso, illustration by Édouard Riou published in Du Niger au golfe de Guinée, Hachette, 1892, by L.G Binger, p. 95

What might have further exacerbated the already tense relationship might have been the finding, about two weeks ago, of a mass grave near an army base which had been occupied by French forces. Although France has denounced these accusations, given the history of France abuses in Mali, and the region, it is hard not to believe. We all remember the French capture of the Tata of Sikasso on May 1, 1898 with Colonel Audéoud‘s troops and the destruction and desecration that followed. Even though it has been over a century, French abuses in Africa are numerous, from the genocide in Cameroon, Algeria, Madagascar, and countless other places.

Flag of Mali
Flag of Mali

The decision to rescind the French defense agreements is an awesome decision, and it is about time! The remaining 14 countries still held under the rule of France via the colonial tax should rise up to say NO!… stand up as one man to say NO MORE!… ENOUGH is ENOUGH! … and stand alongside Mali.

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

#6. Right for France to pre-deploy troops and  intervene military in the country to defend its interests

Under something called “Defense Agreements” attached to the Colonial Pact, France had the legal right to intervene militarily in the African countries, and also to station troops permanently in bases and military facilities in those countries, run entirely by the French….

Verdict Guilty: Blaise Compaoré Guilty of the Murder of Thomas Sankara

Thomas Sankara

On Wednesday 06 April 2022, a court in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (Who killed Thomas Sankara? The Trial starts in Burkina Faso) has found the former president Blaise Compaoré guilty of the murder of president Thomas Sankara. In reality, it was no secret that Compaoré had killed Sankara, his former friend and companion of arms. We all knew who did it, but during Compaoré’s 27-year reign, Sankara’s demise was taboo, plus the French government’s complicity in it did not help either. Given that Compaoré is now in exile in Ivory Coast, the condemnation is in absentia, and the sentence is life imprisonment. Two of Compaoré’s former top associates, Hyacinthe Kafando and Gilbert Diendéré, were also sentenced to life imprisonment. Compaoré will probably never set foot in Burkina Faso again, especially given that as the coward that he is, he now has Ivorian nationality so as not to get extradited. It took over 34 years to begin to bring some sense of closure to the family of Thomas Sankara and to all of us. Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara said at the courthouse, that she was relieved, and stated, ” … the people of Burkina Faso and the public opinion know now who is Thomas Sankara, … the man, … the politician, … what he wanted and what those who assassinated him wanted too.”

Flag of Burkina Faso

This is a monumental decision not just for Burkina Faso, but for the whole of Africa. It also shows that we, Africans, do not need the Hague Court to judge our own, and that we can make correct decisions. As such the lawyer for the Sankara family, Guy Hervé Kam stated to Reuters, “Today I am very proud to see the culmination of a legal battle of almost 30 years, proud to have a country where justice works.”

Below are excerpts from the BBC.

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Blaise Compaoré

Burkina Faso’s former President Blaise Compaoré has received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the assassination of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

Sankara, 37, was gunned down along with 12 others during the 1987 coup d’état that brought Compaoré to power. The pair had been close friends and had jointly seized power in 1983. 

Sankara remains a hero for many across Africa because of his anti-imperialist stance and austere lifestyle. …

He was shot in the chest at least seven times, according to ballistics experts who testified during the trial.

… the verdict was greeted by applause in the courtroom following the six-month trial that came after years of campaigning for justice by his family and supporters.

However, there is little prospect that Compaoré will serve his sentence any time soon. He has lived in exile in Ivory Coast since he was removed from office following mass protests in 2014, and has taken up Ivorian nationality. He previously denounced the trial by a military court as a political sham. …

Ten others were also found guilty, including Compaoré’s security chief Haycinthe Kafando, who was accused of leading the hit squad that killed Sankara. He has been on the run for several years and was also tried in absentia. He too received a life sentence. They had both denied the charges.

Gilbert Diendéré, one of the commanders of the army during the 1987 coup and the main defendant who was actually present at the trial, was also sentenced to life. He is already serving a 20-year sentence for a coup attempt in 2015.

… Eight other defendants received sentences ranging from three to 20 years, while three defendants were acquitted.

Timbuktu Manuscripts now Available Online

Manuscripts a Tombouctou (Mali) montrant de l'astronomie et mathematique
Manuscripts a Tombouctou (Mali) montrant de l’astronomie et mathematique

I am happy to announce that the Timbuktu manuscripts are now available online. Can you imagine that? Treasures of our ancestors, writings, judgments, mathematical concepts, architectural findings, from those great scribes of ancient times. Up to 40,000 pages will now be available online, covering wide topics from biology to music to religion. 

Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu
Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

With the Islamic attacks on Mali, Timbuktu has been under occupation since 2012 (Tensions Escalating in Mali). As you all know Timbuktu was a great center of knowledge in search for many centuries starting at least in the 12th century. It was visited by people from around the world, in search of knowledge. There were over 700,000 manuscripts at the great Sankore University in Timbuktu, and many more at other public and private libraries including the  Ahmed Baba InstituteAl-Wangari Library, and others (Lost Libraries of Timbuktu, Timbuktu under Attacks: Arise to save African Treasures). Many families smuggled the manuscripts to safety from Timbuktu to the capital of Bamako. The manuscripts contain centuries of African knowledge and scholarship on topics ranging from mathematics to astrological charts, biology, geography, laws, etc. They were written on various materials ranging from ancient paper, goat, sheep and even fish skins. Some were written in verse, poetic meter, while others in narrative styles using dialogues, stories of kings, scribes, noblemen, fables, anecdotes. They were renowned in the world for their physical beauty and outstanding wisdom.

Timbuktu_Abdel Kader Haidara
Dr Abdel Kader Haidara talking about the manuscripts of Timbuktu

In 2014, Dr Abdel Kader Haidara known for his work on the protection and preservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts and who smuggled over 350,000 manuscripts out of the city away from the jihadists, called on Google and invited the company to visit Mali and see the renowned manuscripts and join in the digitization of these treasures. Thus the collection Mali Magic was born as a collaboration between Google, local, and international partners. It took several years of combined efforts from Mali’s traditional leaders, historians, and digital archaeologists to digitize these ancient manuscripts, some dating back to the 11th century

Enjoy this article on the BBC website, and do not forget to visit the amazing work Mali Magic. The Library of Congress has also placed some manuscripts online. 

Timbuktu_Manuscript
Manuscript of Timbuktu (Google Arts and Culture)
 
 

Diébédo F. Kéré : First African to Win Prestigious Architecture Prize

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Diébédo Francis Kéré (Source: Azuremagazine.com)

Diébédo Francis Kéré, an architect from Burkina Faso, has just won the prestigious Pritzker prize which some call the Nobel prize of Architecture. With this, Kéré is the first African to ever win such a prestigious award. He has held professorships at the Harvard Graduate School of DesignYale School of Architecture and the Swiss Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. In 2017 he accepted the professorship for “Architectural Design and Participation” at TU München in Germany where he has been living since 1985.

Burkina Faso - Diebedo Kere_4
Opera Village in Burkina Faso – Diébédo Francis Kéré’s work (Source: arquitecturaviva.com)

A lot of Kéré’s work is focused on the African continent: parliament buildings in Burkina Faso and Benin, schools and health center in Burkina Faso, and the National Park of Mali. He has also worked on projects in Germany, the United States, and Great Britain among which is the Serpentine Pavilion in London. Light is at the center of his designs because growing up in Burkina Faso, sometimes in the classroom, it was very hot from the weather (Burkina Faso has few rains due to the proximity to the Sahel) and from so many children all bunched together, but there was not much light inside; plenty sunlight outside, no light and too hot inside. Growing up Kéré thought that he could improve the designs and make the life of children in his village and beyond better.

Kéré Architecture is currently working on a new parliamentary building inspired by the palaver tree. It is, he told NPR, a West African symbol of consensus building, and he hopes the building will reflect a commitment both to tradition and democratic process. “Literally speaking, it is a tree under which people come together to make decisions, to celebrate,”…

Burkina Faso - Diebedo Kere_Interior of the Serpentine Pavilion_KereArchitecture_PhotobyIwanBaan
Interior of the Serpentine Pavilion in London – Diébédo Francis Kéré (photo by Iwan Baan – Kerearchitecture.com)

He told the Pritzker prize that, “I grew up in a community where there was no kindergarten, but where community was your family. Everyone took care of you and the entire village was your playground. My days were filled with securing food and water, but also simply being together, talking together, building houses together. I remember the room where my grandmother would sit and tell stories with a little light, while we would huddle close to each other and her voice inside the room enclosed us, summoning us to come closer and form a safe place. This was my first sense of architecture.

The Pritzker Prize website, the LA Times, BBC, and NPR all had really good articles on him. Take the time to read and enjoy!

2022 International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

March 8th marks the International Women’s Day (IWD). Growing up, this was a day of celebration of the woman’s place in society, talks and conferences took place, school-age students wrote poems or offered flowers to their female teachers, in some cases parades took place, and much more. For IWD, President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso made it a day when the men participated in house chores, some would do the groceries for the day, thus getting more acquainted with the family needs, or take over some other chores; this made it so that the men where now aware of the demands and lives of their partners. More recently, the talk has been big on equal pay… yet when attending lectures where women talk about equal pay, few men are present… if real change is to take place, everybody needs to be a part of the conversation. There are probably a lot of men who would appreciate the extra income that their wives being paid equally would bring to the family, perhaps adding money to the children’s school fees, family travels, house repairs, medical bills, retirement funds, to name just a few. This needs to be a common goal. We cannot let the powers that be keep us divided over an issue such as equal pay, where women who work just as hard as men, and the same hours are paid less for the same job… Isn’t that absurd? IWD is not just another day on the calendar, but it is a day for everybody to acknowledge women, recognize their place as equal, and celebrate their contributions to society.

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.

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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.”

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.