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.
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.
Kenyan athletes were impressive as Mary Moraa got Bronze in the women’s 800m while EmmanuelKipkurui 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. ConselusKipruto took Bronze in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. In the women’s 5000m, Beatrice Chebet took Silver, and Jacob Kroptook 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 (5000m Olympic Bronze medalist) of Ethiopia won Silver in women’s 1500m, and Gold in 5000m; while her compatriot Dawit Seyaumtook the Bronze medal on 5000m. In the 3000msteeplechase, 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. LetesenbetGidey (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 MosinetGeremewwon 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Drum rolls… the Oxford English Dictionary has just selected 200 new words from East Africa to be part of its new edition. We all remember the 2020 Oxford English Dictionary which had introduced 29 Nigerian words to its lexicon. This year’s edition features the addition of almost 200 words from East African countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Given that Swahili is the lingua franca in all three of these countries (to a smaller extent in Uganda), it is no surprise that the words added have a strong Swahili origin. The words added include: Asante Sana (thank you very much), pole sana (sorry), Kanga (cottonfabric from East Africa), Chapo (thin pancake eaten for breakfast), Nyama Choma (roasted/grilled meat), collabo (collaborate), tarmac (towork the streets in search of a job; job huntic), jembe (not to be confused with djembe drums – hand tool shaped like a hoe used for digging), sambaza (to send mobile phone credit to someone), duka (small neighborhood store sharing all sorts of goods)… Isn’t it marvelous how each culture adds to another? With the growth of the Swahili language and its inclusion in schools across the continent, it is no doubt a forward strategy of OED to include these, even though a bit late in my opinion. Since the introduction of Nigerian words into the Queen’s English Dictionary, I have been wondering if these new words actually get used in England, Australia, or other places where English is spoken, or does their use remain just local, and the addition is more of a ‘political’ play on diversity? Enjoy from the OED website.
Recent OED updates have included a significant number of new entries from South Africa and Nigeria. In this quarterly update, the OED continues to broaden its coverage of words from English-speaking Africa, with the publication of close to 200 new and revised entries for East African English. These additions and revisions are for words used chiefly or exclusively in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three countries which share a common Anglophone background despite their differing colonial histories.
Something else that Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda have in common is their lingua franca, Swahili, and indeed several of the new and revised entries in the East African update are borrowings into English from this language. This includes the oldest of the new entries in this batch,jembe, referring to a hoe-shaped hand tool used for digging, which is first attested in an article by British explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1860. Over a hundred years later, renowned Kenyan writer and academic Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o used the same word in his historical novel A Grain of Wheat, first published in 1967.
One of the newest words in this batch is also a Swahili loan word: sambaza, a verb originally used to mean ‘to send mobile phone credit to someone’, but now used more generally to mean ‘to share or send something’. …
Other borrowings in this batch include Swahili forms of address such as mwalimu ‘teacher’ (first attested 1884), as well as Bwana(1860) and its abbreviation, Bw (1973), a title of courtesy or respect prefixed to the surname or first name of a man. There are also expressions and discourse markers of Swahili origin such as asante sana(1911) ‘thank you’, pole sana (1966) ‘sorry’, and ati(2010) ‘as someone said; reportedly, allegedly’.
… The vocabulary of East African English is characterized not just by loan words, but also by lexical innovations based on English elements, several of which have now made their way into the OED. They include words formed through suffixation, such as unprocedural(1929) ‘irregular, illegal’; through clipping, like the verb collabo(2008) ‘especially of musicians: to collaborate’; and through compounding, such as deskmate(1850) ‘a person who sits next to another at school’. Some English words also have meanings specific to the region. In East African English, the noun tarmac (1982) is also used as a verb meaning ‘to walk the streets looking for work; to job hunt’. A person who is pressed (1958) needs to go to the bathroom, while a stage (1965) is a bus stop or a taxi rank.
In addition to words used throughout East Africa, the OED’s latest update also features words unique to the varieties of English spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The lexicon of Kenyan English is represented by borrowings from a few of its many languages: for example, kiondo(1902) from Kikuyu andIsukuti (1972) from Luhya. A kiondo is a handwoven bag made from cord or string, now usually of sisal, with long handles or straps that can be slung over the shoulder, typical of the traditional handicraft of the Kikuyu and Kamba peoples of Kenya. An isukuti is a wooden drum, traditionally made from a hollowed log, which is usually hung over the shoulder and played by striking with the fingers and palms. Isukuti is also the name of a rhythmic, energetic traditional celebratory dance accompanied by drumming and singing, performed typically at festivals and weddings by the Luhya peoples of Western Kenya, such as the Isukha and Idakho.
… In Kenyan English, a biting (1997) is a bite-sized piece of food, a small snack, appetizer, or canapé; while a merry-go-round (1989) is an informal cooperative savings scheme, typically run by and for women, in which each participant regularly contributes an amount, and the whole sum is distributed to the members in turn. To shrub is to pronounce or write words in another language in a manner that is influenced by one’s mother tongue, and a shrub(2008) is a word pronounced or written in this manner. To shrub and shrub are colloquialisms chiefly used with reference to English or Swahili words pronounced in a manner characteristic of another Kenyan language.
… As for Tanzanian English, one of the most widely known words from this variety is daladala, the name of a van or minibus that carries passengers for a fare as part of a local informal transport system. Dating back to 1983, the English word comes from Swahili, with daladala being a reduplication of dala ‘dollar’, perhaps originally as a bus driver’s call. Dala is also the nickname of the Tanzanian 5-shilling coin, which used to be the typical fare for daladala minibuses.
… The vocabulary of Ugandan English draws primarily from Luganda, one of the country’s major languages. Examples of Lugandan borrowings in this batch are kaveera(1994)‘a plastic bag, plastic packaging’; kwanjula(1973)‘an engagement ceremony where the families of the bride and groom formally meet’; and nkuba kyeyo(1991) ‘a Ugandan person working overseas, especially one doing a low-paid or unskilled job’—the Lugandan phrase literally means ‘someone who sweeps’.Katogo(1940) is another loan word from Luganda—it is the name of a typical Ugandan breakfast dish consisting of matoke (banana or plantain) boiled in a pot with various other ingredients. The word later developed a figurative sense, as it began to be used to mean ‘a mixture or fusion of disparate elements; a mess, a muddle’.
Ugandan English also has its share of distinctive uses of existing English words. In Uganda, to cowardize (2003) is to act like a coward or to lose one’s nerve, while to extend(2000) is to move from one’s position so as to make room for someone else. Well done(1971) is used as a friendly greeting or salutation, especially when encountering a person at work or in a state of activity.You are lost! (2013) is also used as a greeting, or in response to a greeting, in a manner similar to ‘long time no see’.
Yesterday, the West African bloc ECOWAS has lifted the economic and financial sanctions against Mali’s military government after the promise that Mali will hold elections in February 2024. The move has been celebrated by many Malians who have been struggling under the restrictions and the global rise in fuel and food costs. As many applaud the lifting of sanctions, it is important to analyze why ECOWAS might have changed its mind: a) the countries in the West African block were not aware of how much weight Mali had in the region and the impact to their economies, and were all suffering from the Mali embargo, and thus are scramming to have Mali rejoin its ranks; b) With sanctions lifted, it will be easier for terrorists groups (armed by foreign forces) to travel back into the country easily, as there will be less control; c) a few days ago, the Spanish minister threatened Mali with a NATO intervention to protect European interests in Mali, which he later denied; d) France just moved its troops to neighboring Niger (another puppet). How convenient that the sanctions are lifted a few days after this minister’s outburst, and right before France’s troops move to Niger. Thus, knowing that ECOWAS is France’s puppet in the region, the lifting of sanctions is rather something to be skeptical of, and distrust entirely. No one should fall for this ECOWAS turncoat tactic… Mali should keep its guard high, and we should all pray and fight for the freedom of Mali and Africa as a whole!
As the economy everywhere appears to be in free-fall, with high inflation all over the world, many African countries are taking measures that will help their citizens deal with and hopefully solve some of their internal issues.
One such example is that of the Central African Republic (CAR) which adopted Bitcoin as a National Currency last April. This past Sunday, CAR President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, announced in an online event the creation of the Sango Coin and a zero-taxation “crypto-hub“, the first in Africa. The currency is named Sango after the main African language spoken in the country. This currency will, via the a platform called Crypto Island, allow the country to trade in its vast natural resources (diamonds, uranium, gold, and other minerals). Until now, CAR has been, like 14 other African countries, enslaved by the French colonial tax that is the FCFA which served at one point to ‘siphon’ up to 75% of the countries’ resources directly back to France [Africa is funding Europe!]. It is clear that those African nations need new currencies, and we salute CAR for having the courage to start, even though crypto seems to be unsteady at the moment (like everything else at the moment); it is always scary to be a pioneer, but it is rewarding as well! As a side note, the west tends to overlook, or vilify some of our leaders who try to stand up or do things right for their people. President Touadéra is one of those African leaders who has been demonized for his want to free his country from the French chains, turning to Russia for help in stopping a war in his country which benefited France and its croonies. Rarely do the Western media highlight the fact that President Touadera is also a trained mathematician, and in his free time still teaches students at the University of Bangui in his country.
Germany has agreed to return a sacred statue stolen in Cameroon in 1902 by a German soldier in the Nso kingdom in the Northwest region of Cameroon. The statue is the only depiction of the queen mother of the Nso people. For the story, Ngonnso founded Banso which marks the beginning of the Nso kingdom in the 14th century when she separated from her two brothers Nchare Yen, the founder of Foumban the capital and the Bamun Kingdom, and Mbe who founded Bankim. From Nso oral history, it is said that Ngonnso was able to conquer, defeat, and ensure that all Nso people stay together. She was a strong woman, who embodied the history and identity of the Nso people. When the German colonial commander in visit in Banso “took” the statue via unknown means in 1902, 120 years ago, it is as if the soul of the Nso people was gone. Special note of gratitude to all activists who demanded the return of Ngonnso for years, and to Sylvie Njobati who launched the @BringBackNgonnso Twitter account in March 2020, tweeting demands for Ngonnso’s restitution and tagging the German museum and its leaders. As always, unity is strength!
To learn more about the return of Ngonnso, check out the article on CNN, and NewsCentralAfrica. The excerpt below is from the BBC.
Germany has agreed to return a sacred statue stolen from Cameroon at the beginning of the last century.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which manages the museums in the capital, Berlin, said it would return the female figure, known as Ngonnso, to the Nso community in north-west Cameroon.
The statue was taken by a colonial officer and donated to Berlin’s Ethnological Museum in 1903.
A prince from the Nso kingdom told the Reuters news agency that the announcement was warmly received in Cameroon.
“After more than 120 years, we can only remain happy for it is a moment to commemorate and come closer to our ancestral links with love and togetherness,” Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira is quoted as saying.
The foundation also said that it will return 23 pieces to Namibia and is planning an agreement to repatriate objects to Tanzania.
As the remains, the golden tooth, of Patrice Lumumba is finally getting returned to his family and his nation after over 60 years, I felt it was necessary to share here Patrice Lumumba’s beautiful letter to his wife which happens to be his last letter. Although it is a sad letter, it is full of hope at the thought that one day Congo will be free. Roland Lumumba, his son, said in his interview to France24, “Only the dead can forgive, the living do not have the right to forget.” Entirely true… Lumumba would not allow us to forget his fight for the Congolese freedom, just as he would not want us to forget those who died at the hands of King Leopold II in the rubber plantations of Congo (King Leopold II and the Congolese genocide)… it is part of our history. As we fight for our freedom, we need to remember, and get inspired from the fight of those who came before us.
Ma compagne chérie, Je t’écris ces mots sans savoir s’ils te parviendront, quand ils te parviendront et si je serai en vie lorsque tu les liras. Tout au long de ma lutte pour l’indépendance de mon pays, je n’ai jamais douté un seul instant du triomphe final de la cause sacrée à laquelle mes compagnons et moi avons consacré toute notre vie. Mais ce que nous voulions pour notre pays, son droit à une vie honorable, à une dignité sans tache, à une indépendance sans restrictions, le colonialisme et ses alliés occidentaux—qui ont trouvé des soutiens directs et indirects, délibérés et non délibérés, parmi certains hauts fonctionnaires des Nations, cet organisme en qui nous avons placé toute notre confiance lorsque nous avons fait appel à son assistance—ne l’ont jamais voulu.
Ils ont corrompu certains de nos compatriotes. Ils ont contribué à déformer la vérité et à souiller notre indépendance. Que pourrai je dire d’autre ?
Que mort, vivant, libre ou en prison sur ordre des colonialistes, ce n’est pas ma personne qui compte. C’est le Congo, c’est notre pauvre peuple dont on a transformé l’indépendance en une cage d’où l’on nous regarde du dehors, tantôt avec cette compassion bénévole, tantôt avec joie et plaisir. Mais ma foi restera inébranlable. Je sais et je sens au fond de moi même que tôt ou tard mon peuple se débarrassera de tous ses ennemis intérieurs et extérieurs, qu’il se lèvera comme un seul homme pour dire non au capitalisme dégradant et honteux, et pour reprendre sa dignité sous un soleil pur.
Nous ne sommes pas seuls. L’Afrique, l’Asie et les peuples libres et libérés de tous les coins du monde se trouveront toujours aux côtés de millions de congolais qui n’abandonneront la lutte que le jour où il n’y aura plus de colonisateurs et leurs mercenaires dans notre pays. A mes enfants que je laisse, et que peut-être je ne reverrai plus, je veux qu’on dise que l’avenir du Congo est beauet qu’il attend d’eux, comme il attend de chaque Congolais, d’accomplir la tâche sacrée de la reconstruction de notre indépendance et de notre souveraineté, car sans dignité il n’y a pas de liberté, sans justice il n’y a pas de dignité, et sans indépendance il n’y a pas d’hommes libres.
Ni brutalités, ni sévices, ni tortures ne m’ont jamais amené à demander la grâce, carje préfère mourir la tête haute, la foi inébranlable et la confiance profonde dans la destinée de mon pays, plutôt que vivre dans la soumission et le mépris des principes sacrés.L’histoire dira un jour son mot, mais ce ne sera pas l’histoire qu’on enseignera à Bruxelles, Washington, Paris ou aux Nations Unies, mais celle qu’on enseignera dans les pays affranchis du colonialisme et de ses fantoches. L’Afrique écrira sa propre histoireet elle sera au nord et au sud du Sahara une histoire de gloire et de dignité.
Ne me pleure pas, ma compagne. Moi je sais que mon pays, qui souffre tant, saura défendre son indépendance et sa liberté.
Vive le Congo ! Vive l’Afrique !
My beloved companion, I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, and whether I shall still be alive when you read them. All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives. But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies, who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organization in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.
They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others.They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour. How could I speak otherwise?
Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not myself who counts. It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say No to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.
We are not alone. Africa, Asia and the free liberated people from all corners of the world will always be found at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there are no longer any colonialists and their mercenaries in our country. As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, to be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that their country expects them, as it expects every Congolese, to fulfill the sacred task of rebuilding our independence, our sovereignty; for without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men.
Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.
Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.
In 2020, Patrice Lumumba’s Children asked the Belgian King Philip for their Father’s Remains in an open letter. Today, Lumumba‘s golden tooth has been returned to his family and country 61 years after his assassination. For the history, Patrice Lumumba was the prime minister of Congo in 1960, and was assassinated by a coalition led by Belgium, and the US in 1961. At the time of his assassination, it was decided that no trace would be left of his body; thus Belgian officer Gerard Soete and his team dug up and, with a saw dismembered the corpse of Lumumba and his comrades Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo, and dissolved them in sulfuric acid while the bones were ground and scattered. We know this from a documentary which aired in 2000 where Soete showed two teeth which he said had belonged to Lumumba. He had taken Lumumba’s teeth as souvenir. In 2016, Ludo De Witte, author of the book “The assassination of Lumumba,” lodged a legal complaint against Soete’s daughter after she showed a gold tooth, which she said had belonged to Lumumba, during an interview with a newspaper. De Witte’s work has been essential in shattering the official Belgian government silence regarding the assassination of Lumumba.
I cannot imagine what Lumumba’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and all children of mother Congo must feel… it is so painful! It is like the beginning of some closure for the family. Is what was done to Lumumba not considered a crime against humanity? Isreturning Lumumba’s tooth supposed to be enough?
A gold-crowned tooth is all that remains of assassinated Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba.
Shot dead by a firing squad in 1961 with the tacit backing of former colonial power Belgium, his body was then buried in a shallow grave, dug up, transported 200 km (125 miles), interred again, exhumed and then hacked to pieces and finally dissolved in acid.
The Belgian police commissioner, Gerard Soete, who oversaw and participated in the destruction of the remains took the tooth, he later admitted.
He also talked about a second tooth and two of the corpse’s fingers, but these have not been found.
The tooth has now been returned to the family at a ceremony in Brussels.
Soete’s impulse to pocket the body parts echoed the behaviour of European colonial officials down the decades who took remains back home as macabre mementoes.
… For Lumumba’s daughter, Juliana, the question is whether the perpetrators were human. “What amount of hatred must you have to do that?” she asks.
“This is a reminder of what happened with the Nazis, taking pieces of people – and that’s a crime against humanity,” she told the BBC.
… Nevertheless, there seemed to be a personal element to the way Lumumba was vilified and pursued. The total destruction of the body, as well as a way to get rid of the evidence, seems like an effort to obliterate Lumumba from the memory. There would be no memorial, making it almost possible to deny that he existed at all. It was not enough just to bury him.
But he is still remembered.
… [Juliana Lumumba] recognises that her father “belongs to the country, because he died for Congo… and for his own values and convictions of the dignity of the African person“.
She acknowledges that the handing over of the tooth in Belgium and bringing it back to the Democratic Republic of Congo is symbolic “because what remains is not really enough. But he has to come back to his country where his blood was shed.”
The tooth will be taken around the vast country before being buried in the capital.
I am furious and shocked to learn that it is possible for a Dutch man to patent an Ethiopian national food! Seriously? I know about the greed of patents… but some things should be off-limit or not even allowed! Teff has been a staple food in Ethiopia for at least the past 2000 years. It is a gluten-free cereal high in protein, iron and fibre, which is considered a super-food. It is the essence of Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines as it is ground into flour to make injera. Truly, there is no Ethiopian food without injera, thus without teff! Imagine my surprise when I learnt that a Dutchman had patented teff in the Netherlands! First of all, I am stunned that someone can patent a natural growing food, or grains, in another country! Is there no end to greed? And then a few hundred years down the line, they will write in history books that teff originated in the Netherlands, not Ethiopia… ! This is how the falsification of history starts!Africa wise up!
For the story, back in 2003, a dozen varieties of teff seeds were sent to Jan Roosjen, a Dutch agronomist in the Netherlands, through a partnership with the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Conservation for research and development. 4 years later, the European Patent Office granted a patent to his company. Later on, when his company went bankrupt, he continued to sell teff products, and then tried to sue another Dutch company that was marketing teff baked goods. This is when it made headlines, and his patent was declared void in the Netherlands, but it is still valid in the rest of Europe; Ethiopia has gotten lawyers to fight for this. Why should Ethiopia even need lawyers for a case that is so obvious? Teff is Ethiopian, end of story!Now the country has to find lawyers to fight… it is like a never-ending cycle made to impoverish the already disadvantaged countries. Is there nothing in international law that stops this? … all these people who study international law don’t see loopholes like this? What if a country is so poor that it cannot afford lawyers, or what if the story had never made international headlines… then Roosjen would have kept benefiting from something that should go to Ethiopian farmers? Should natural food even be allowed to be patented? I leave you here with excerpts and quotes from several Ethiopians about this from the article in BBC Travel… but note that this is not the first time that Ethiopia has fought for its food treasures, it sued Starbucks for its coffee names in 2007.
… The dispute over who owns teff made international headlines earlier this year after Roosjen tried to sue another Dutch company that was marketing teff baked goods for patent infringement, and his patent was declared void in the Netherlands. When the deadline for an appeal expired in February 2019, many Ethiopians hailed it as a victory on social media.
Ethiopian diplomat Fitsum Arega tweeted that it was great news. “I hope we can learn from this that our national assets must be protected by Ethiopians & friends of #Ethiopia,” he wrote.
But with Roosjen’s patent still in place in other parts of Europe, the war continues. In February , Ethiopia’s attorney general Berhanu Tsegaye tweeted that the government was determined to defend Ethiopia’s legal rights related to teff. “Ethiopia has already deployed a law firm to fight the teff case internationally,” he wrote.
It is not the first time Ethiopia has had to protect one of its biggest products, with the country previously going into battle against Starbucks over the use of three premium coffee names. After intense talks, the world’s largest coffee chain and the Ethiopian government reached a licencing agreement allowing Starbucks to sell and market Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe coffee in 2007. According to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the high-profile dispute greatly increased the value of Ethiopian coffee.
Dr Bula Wayessa, who is an expert in indigenous crops, believes the Dutch teff patent stripped millions of Ethiopian farmers of their rights. “It represents a manifestation of global power relations in which multi-million-dollar corporations based in the global north excise cultural appropriation in Third World countries,” he said. “The flaws in the international legal system that give private companies patent ownership without thorough investigation are disproportionally affecting developing countries such as Ethiopia.”
Dr Wayessa, visiting assistant professor at the State University of New York, New Paltz, was born into a teff-farming family in the Oromia Regional State, which is one of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions. He grew up eating injera twice a day and helped cultivate, tend to and harvest the crop after school and in the summer holidays. … He said teff is not just a crop; it is part of Ethiopia’s cultural heritage. “Teff injera is a major common identity marker across more than 80 ethnic groups living in the country,” he said. “It frames Ethiopians’ indigenous food technology and informs their social and national identities by helping to chart social relationships through gathering around the plate and sharing.”
… Sofonias Melese, head of operations at New Ethiopia Tours, said … “Teff is the backbone of our kitchen. We eat it every day – sometimes three times a day – in almost all regions and tribes.”