Happy Mother’s Day 2021

Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba

To celebrate all the mothers out there… I thought of sharing this beautiful song by the legendary Papa Wemba “Mama,” from his album Nouvelle Ecriture 1997 dedicated to his mother. I dedicate it to all the mothers out there, and future mothers. Papa Wemba was the King of Rumba and King of La SAPE, and an African Planetary Star. Of his mother who was a professional ‘wailing woman,’ he said: “My mother was my first teacher and my first public. … I grew up with my mother’s melancholic singing. … When I will sing, she will say “my son, block here, and now project your voice“… when I did well, she will clap for me“(source: Tv5 – Africanité). For his mother, he composed Mama and Maria Valencia. Enjoy! Happy Mothers’s Day.

Burkina Faso ex-president Compaoré to face trial over Thomas Sankara murder

Thomas Sankara
Thomas Sankara a Ouagadougou

I know this is like 10 days+ old news… but it is news: the ex-president of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré has been indicted for the murder of Thomas Sankara by a military court in the country. We cannot reiterate enough that France through her minion Blaise Compaoré (with the implication/blessing of Felix Houphouet-Boigny) killed Thomas Sankara. When Compaoré was booted out of office in 2014, he sought refuge in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire which is controlled by another one of France’s minions imposed on Ivorians via France’s bombs, Alassane Ouattara (ADO). Not only did he run to Cote d’Ivoire with his tail between his legs, but he even renounced his Burkinabe citizenship for the Ivorian one so as not be extradited. Everything about the man Compaoré screams cowardice: can you imagine a president of a country for 27 years who changes his citizenship? Such a coward! Now, a Burkina Faso military court has indicted Blaise Compaoré for the murder of Thomas Sankara. What power does this court really have? How to implement its findings? Is it just symbolic? Moreover, this is in absentia, given that Compaoré is hiding in Cote d’Ivoire. Excerpts below are from an article on the Al-Jazeera‘s website.

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Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso – A military court in Burkina Faso’s capital has indicted former President Blaise Compaore in connection to the 1987 murder of his charismatic predecessor, Thomas Sankara.

Flag of Burkina Faso

A statement issued by the court on Tuesday cited “complicity in assassination” and an “attack on state security” by Compaore, who ruled the country until 2014, when he was forced to resign in the face of mass demonstrations against an attempt to extend his 27-year rule.

Thirteen others – including Gilbert Diendere, Compaore’s right hand man, and Hyacinthe Kafando, his security chief – were also indicted on charges ranging from “assassination” to “concealment of corpses”.

Benewende Stanislas Sankara, a lawyer representing the relatives of the slain former president, described the indictment as “a victory and a step in the right direction”.

It’s with a sigh of relief the family can now go ahead with all the guarantees that surround Burkinabe justice,” he told Al Jazeera. “We can now calmly go to trial.”

… Following his re-election last year, President Roch Kabore appointed a minister for national reconciliation, Zephirin Diabre, who pledged to address the issue of justice for Sankara.

In 2015, Burkinabe courts had issued an international arrest for Compaore, but Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has prevented his extradition back to Burkina Faso despite an extradition treaty between the two countries. …

… “The warrant can be executed at any time if Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso implement the existing agreements between the two states properly,” Benewende Sankara said. “I must specify that it can happen very quickly.”…

Dry Your Tears African! – Words from Bernard Dadié

Dry your tears African

I love this poem by  Bernard Dadié which I have posted earlier “Seche tes pleurs, Afrique / Dry Your Tears, Afrika“. The imagery is so clear and the words so deep: O Africa, “our senses are now opened to the splendor of your beauty, the smell of your forests, … your charms…” Africa is so rich,… and it is about time that her sons and daughters stand up to reclaim their inheritance, and feel her beauty, and enjoy her bounty-ness… Yes there is so much adversity, but dry your tears African… and rise up!

 

Sèche tes pleurs, Afrique
Ayant bu
À toutes les fontaines
d’infortune
et de gloire,
Nos sens se sont ouverts
à la splendeur de ta beauté
à la senteur de tes forêts,
à l’enchantement de tes eaux
à la limpidité de ton ciel
à la caresse de ton soleil
Et au charme de ta verdure emperlée de rosée.

Dry your tears, Africa!
We have drunk
From all the springs
of ill fortune
and of glory,
Our senses are now opened
To the splendor of your beauty
To the smell of your forests,
To the charm of your waters
To the clearness of your skies
To the cares of your sun
And to the charm of your foliage pearled by the dew.

 

The poem below is titled “Dry your Tears Afrika” or “Sèche Tes Pleurs,” published in 1967, by Bernard Binlin Dadié (So long to an African Literary Genius: Bernard Dadié).

 

Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude: Totally Acquitted and Free at Last

Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Gbagbo

Last week, on March 31st, the International Criminal Court justice court appeals judges finally upheld the acquittal of former Ivory Coast president  Laurent Gbagbo and his minister Charles Blé Goudé  (How long shall they kill our prophets…?). They were acquitted 2 years ago in January 2019, but the prosecution stalled, keeping them in Europe, trying to find ways to overturn the decision, and blocking all their movements. Now the ICC judges upheld their acquittal, and technically Gbagbo and Blé Goudé should be free to go home to Ivory Coast! After this witch hunt which has lasted over 10 years, and his arrest and detention in the Hague, Laurent Gbagbo is now free to go home! Can you imagine? Did the ICC apologize for all the years of hurt? the tarnished image? And of course mainstream media, which yesterday published those images of Gbagbo and his wife Simone in their room surrounded by the rebels, now publish one line if at all anything! Unbelievable! They should be sued for playing such major roles in destroying countries, obliterating people’s images, and causing wars! I live you here with excerpts from an article from the BBC. All these tough years of claiming their innocence, all these years of constant support, and people’s prayers, dedication, love, and determination have born fruits. Truth always wins! It may take years… but it prevails! Now it is said that the government of Ouattara, the one installed with French war chars and cannons will try to have Gbagbo go through another trial once he lands in Cote d’Ivoire… Oh, he does not know that even then, like Thomas Sankara said, “La Patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons!” We will keep fighting to the last drop! As Agostinho Neto said: “La luta continua e la victoria e certa!”

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has upheld the acquittal of Ivory Coast’s ex-President Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity.

Charles Blé Goudé celebrating with his legal team on 01/15/2019 (SkyNews)

It paves the way for his return to Ivory Coast, where he remains an influential figure.

… The former president was in court alongside ally and former youth leader Charles Blé Goudé, who was accused of leading a militia backing him.

They were both acquitted in 2019, but the prosecution had appealed what was seen as the shock decision to clear them. It argued that there were procedural errors in how the original verdict was delivered and insisted that thousands of documents and 96 witnesses presented during the trial had proved their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

But presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said: “The appeals chamber, by majority, has found no error that could have materially affected the decision of the trial chamber.

The appeals chamber hereby revokes all remaining conditions on the release of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé as a result of this judgement.”

… Whenever a case collapses at the ICC, it damages the perception of the court as a credible tool of international justice, our reporter says.

The appeals judges agreed that the evidence in this case was extremely weak, raising questions about how this trial went as far as it did, she says. It is not the first case that has collapsed at the ICC.

Rome Metro Station Named in Honor of Somalian-Italian

Giorgio Marincola in the 1930s

So Italy had a recent case of memory boost, remembering a Black man who gave his life for Italy in World War II. In Rome last month, the city council voted to name a future metro station in honor of an Italian-Somali man who was a member of the Italian resistance, Giorgio Marincola. Marincola was killed by Nazi troops at the age of 21, when they opened fire at a checkpoint on May 4th 1945, 2 days after Germany had officially surrendered in Italy. He was awarded posthumously the Italian medal of honor in 1953, Italy’s highest military honor. Not sure that it means anything [after all, the battles are deeper than that], but we are glad to see Italy recognize some of its forgotten African heroes.

Excerpts below are from the BBC:

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The station, which is currently under construction [let’s hope they actually come through with this], was going to be called Amba Aradam-Ipponio – a reference to an Italian campaign in Ethiopia in 1936 when fascist forces brutally unleashed chemical weapons and committed war crimes at the infamous Battle of Amba Aradam. … The name change came after a campaign was launched in June, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around the world … Activists first placed a banner at the metro site stating that no station should be named after “oppression” and pushed for Marincola’s short, but remarkable life to be remembered.

[Marincola] is known as the “partigiano nero” or “black partisan” and was an active member of the resistance. In 1953 he was posthumously awarded Italy’s highest military honour, the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Militare, in recognition of his efforts and the ultimate sacrifice he made.

Marincola was born in 1923 in Mahaday, a town on the Shebelle River, north of Mogadishu, in what was then known as Italian Somaliland. His mother, Ashkiro Hassan, was Somali and his father an Italian military officer called Giuseppe Marincola.

… At the time few Italian colonists acknowledged children born of their unions with Somali women [true of most Europeans in Africa in those days]. But Giuseppe Marincola bucked the trend and later brought his son and daughter, Isabella, to Italy to be raised by his family.

… Giorgio Marincola too was gifted, excelling at school in Rome and went on to enroll as a medical student. During his studies he came to be inspired by anti-fascist ideology. He decided to enlist in the resistance in 1943 – at a time his country of birth was still under Italian rule.

… He proved a brave fighter, was parachuted into enemy territory and was wounded. At one time he was captured by the SS, who wanted him to speak against the partisans on their radio station. On air he reportedly defied them, saying: “Homeland means freedom and justice for the peoples of the world. This is why I fight the oppressors.”

The broadcast was interrupted – and sounds of a beating could be heard. …

Raila Odinga on President John Magufuli

President John Magufuli of Tanzania

The former prime minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, said of Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, “He was determined to put Tanzania ahead in the region and Africa through industrialisation. … His primary business was Tanzania. Outside Tanzania, his other business was Africa. He … embraced some of the founding President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s ideals on patriotism, nationalism and self-reliance for his country. In about six-years, he went farther than Mwalimu Nyerere in trying to economically empower his people. While Mwalimu Nyerere embraced internationalism and had a broader view of the world and Tanzania’s place in it, Dr Magufuli was a super nationalist … Where Mwalimu Nyerere was a constant voice on the global stage, especially for Africa and the Third World, Dr Magulfuli reserved his voice and energy for Tanzania…. Dr Magufuli was, however, overly successful in transforming Tanzania in just about six years. He transformed Tanzania’s highways, ports, created Rapid Bus Transit to decongest Dar es Salaam and delivered SGR at a competitive rate, all because of a crackdown on corruption. Despite all these, Dr Magufuli’s … pushed hard the idea that success comes from hard work. In Tanzania today, people report to offices very early and they do not just sit there, they work. … May Dr Magufuli fare well in the next world.” [Raila Odinga, former Prime minister of Kenya in MarketWatch.com]

President John Magufuli in His Own Words

President John Magufuli of Tanzania

President John Pombe Magufuli has shown us, Africans, just like Thomas Sankara, that you do not need 20 or 40 years in power to make palpable improvement to the lives of Africans. Just look at what this man was able to achieve in 5 years! It is so reminiscent of Thomas Sankara‘s 4 years in power where he eradicated hunger, had roads and railways built by the local people, and influenced generations. So to all those African dinosaurs, the sellouts, or to anybody who applaud those treacherous creatures, please let them know that it is possible to get Africans out of poverty! All that is needed is visionary leaders who love their own… who love their fellow humans and not just their pockets! As always, we need to remember not to fall into the trap of democracy [Africans and the Trap of Democracy] laid out by the west, where democracy is a word used by the West against any government which does not abide by their will, and does not sell out to them…

Below are some of the quotes by the great man Dr. John Pombe Magufuli. May he rest in Power! Enjoy!

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As the 5th president of Tanzania, John Magufuli vowed, “My government will put emphasis on fighting corruption, job creation and industrialization.

To fight against corruption he said, “The way to treat a boil is to squeeze it out, and I have made it my responsibility to do that. I know squeezing out a boil hurts but unfortunately, there are no two ways about it.

Flag of Tanzania

Reflecting on his youth, as the son of a farmer, and on his knowledge of the people’s conditions, and need to make their lives better, Magufuli said, “Our home was grass thatched and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family, I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare.

As soon as he was elected, he divided his own salary by four, making him one of the lowest-paid African heads of state, cut public spending drastically, cancelled independence ceremonies as too costly, and began sweeping the streets of Dar es Salaam himself to set an example. As said earlier, this is reminiscent of what Thomas Sankara did in Burkina Faso.

Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, and includes about 120 different African tribes. Believing in the unity of Tanzanians, Magufuli said, “It’s now time for us to unite and put our ideological differences aside, I will work hard for all Tanzanians regardless of their tribal, religious or ideological affiliations.”

John Magufuli was a doctor of chemistry, and had both taught chemistry and mathematics at the Sengerema Secondary School, before joining the Nyanza Cooperative Union Limited as an industrial chemist.With a PhD in Chemistry, he was among the top 5 most educated Presidents in Africa. He said, “You cannot talk of preserving the environment when the majority of the citizens are depending on charcoal or wood for most of their energy source;” there needs to be other ways, focusing first on getting them out of poverty.

President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania

African countries’ economic capacity is not the same as that of developed countries,” Magufuli told a televised meeting of top security organs. He singled out the World Bank, which has been offering new lending to nations on the continent to help them tackle the health crisis. “Instead of offering more loans to fight corona, they should forgive debts,” the president said [see… the west is always eager to give out loans at high rates, why not remove the unfair debt they have put on African countries? remember Thomas Sankara Speech on Debt and Unity?]. Tanzania spends 700 billion shillings ($303.03 million) every month to service its debts, with close to 200 billion shillings going to the World Bank, Magufuli said.

In 2020, after his re-election, he said, “As you are aware, elections have been a source of conflict in many countries, but we Tanzanians have safely passed this test. This is proof to the world that Tanzanians are peace-loving, and we have matured in our democracy.”

Dr John Magufuli was a remarkable economic leader, who understood that food security is a national security issue that needs the highest attention. He fought for his people, and loved them deeply. He was a nationalist!

I live you here with the speech by the Africant poet, Obert Dube. Enjoy!!!

So Long to President John Magufuli of Tanzania: The Bulldozer

President John Magufuli of Tanzania (Source: eahealth.org)

My heart is bleeding from the news of the passing of President John Magufuli of Tanzania. When I learned the news, all I could think of were Bob Marley‘s words “How long shall they kill our prophets …?” As you scroll through the media, all Western world newspapers seem so cheerful announcing that the African president who was a coronavirus denier has died, brushing away the legacy of this man and what he has done for the people of Tanzania and of Africa in general. President John Magufuli passed away yesterday on March 17, of a heart attack! Odd for this very healthy man who was seen doing push-ups with soldiers just a few weeks ago. So who was John Magufuli?

John Pombe Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959 in the Chato region of then Tanganyika (now Tanzania). He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry at the University of Dar es Salaam in 1988. Later, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the same university in 1994 and 2009, respectively. I was happy to learn that he had attended the Mkwawa High School, named after the great king Mkwawa who defied and defeated the Germans, and later Mkwawa College of Education at the University of Dar es Salaam.

King Mkwawa

For years he was a secondary school teacher and then a chemist with a farmers’ cooperative union before entering politics as a lawmaker representing Chato in the National Assembly. He also worked as an industrial chemist before going into politics under the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. He was elected a member of parliament in 1995 and that same year appointed deputy minister of works, later becoming full minister in 2000. He served in several Cabinet positions, notably as the hardworking public works minister nicknamed “the bulldozer” in the administration of predecessor Jakaya Kikwete. In 2010, he gained popularity after he was appointed Tanzania’s minister for works and transportation for the second time. His bullish leadership style and fight against graft in the road construction industry was endearing for Tanzanians, who affectionately nicknamed him “the bulldozer.” Under his leadership, Tanzania saw growth and development. For instance, to leave Dar es Salaam the capital could take 4 hours, but Magufuli had so many roads build, that in just a few years, Tanzania was seen under a brand new lens.

Flag of Tanzania

He ran as president in 2015 and won 58% of the vote, defeating Edward Lowassa of the Chadema opposition party. He had a reputation as an incorruptible man. In 2015, the newly elected Magufuli made news on his first day in office. He showed up unannounced in the morning at the Ministry of Finance offices to see how many officials had come to work on time (this is reminiscent of Thomas Sankara). That week he also banned unnecessary trips by government officials, as an austerity measure. He soon canceled Independence Day celebrations and said the funds budgeted for the event would be used to improve roads and infrastructure in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital; he also urged citizens to clean up their communities to fight a cholera outbreak. Magufuli also fired a number of top government officials in his anti-corruption crusade. Under his command, his government passed laws to increase Tanzania’s stake in its mineral resources and demanded millions of dollars in back taxes from foreign mining companies, giving itself the right to renegotiate or terminate bad mining contracts in the event of proven fraud, which these multinationals did not appreciate; after all they are used to plundering Africa without paying a dime, so you can imagine their anger.

Map of Tanzania

Magufuli was focused on Tanzania’s economic success and sought to implement ambitious projects that would lift more of his people out of poverty. Under his reign, he expanded free education, and rural electrification. Scores of infrastructure programs, including trains and railways, a hydropower dam set to double electricity output, and the revival of Air Tanzania, were launched. Tanzania is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and in July 2020 the World Bank categorized it as a middle-income country five years ahead of schedule. “We had envisaged achieving this status by 2025 but, with strong determination, this has been possible in 2020,” Magufuli tweeted at the time.

In Tanzania, President Magufuli was a popular figure. His lean government and cost-cutting measures greatly earned him respect among citizens. As said earlier, he embarked on major infrastructure projects such as the port of Bagamoyo, and upgrading the Dar-es-Salaam International Airport. His hands-on war against corruption was admired not just in Tanzania — but the entire continent. “Magufuli came in on the platform of fighting corruption and empowering the masses,” Martin Adati, a Kenyan political analyst, told DW. “It is the people who have been benefiting from corruption and all these other funny things who are not very happy with him.”Magufuli remained a popular figure at home

President John Magufuli of Tanzania

So, why are Bob Marley’s words on my mind “How long shall they kill our prophets…?” Isn’t it strange that in Africa, the best ones are always the ones dying while the ones who are selling out their countries to the West are still standing? You know, the ones like P.B., I.D., S.N., F.E., A.B., ADO, P.K., M.S., and all of them? They can murder their populations, impoverish them, open their frontiers to all sorts of experiments by the big multinationals, and they stay so long in power… oh, and they get accolades from Western media as well. Isn’t it odd that this is the second president to die in office in East Africa, after Pierre Nkurunziza last year? And both were called “deniers” by the west? We have to pray for the people of Tanzania, because this might open the door to all sorts of funky business, nullifying Magufuli’s legacy, name, and efforts, and killing the wind of independence which was blowing on other African countries as well. May the spirits of Mirambo, Mkwawa, Nyerere, and Magufuli watch over Tanzania! So long President Magufuli, we liked your “bulldozer” style, because it included us, the people!

Professor Hulda Swai of Tanzania Wins Distinguished Science Award: ‘Women are as good as men’

Professor Hulda Swai (Source: nm-aist.ac.tz)

Congratulations to Professor Hulda Swai of Tanzania for winning the 2020 prize of the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Awards for Scientific Excellence. This is a prestigious scientific award in Africa. Her work with nanotechnology has helped to study more effective anti-malarial medicines, and through the World Bank, she has helped to secure millions of dollars to fund African researchers. She is an outstanding scientist, and Oliver Tambo Chair for Nanotechnology as well as the director of the African Center of Excellence at the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Tanzania. The award comes with the sum of $20,000. She told the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme, “I’m using nanotechnology, which is my training and expertise, to improve the availability of existing herbal extracts which are very potent but are lacking for example solubility.” Excerpts below are from the The Citizen. Please also take the time to listen to her interview to the BBC at the BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

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Flag of Tanzania

Arusha. Tanzanian scholar Hulda Swai has won a prestigious scientific award in Africa. The award has been given since 2008 by the African Union (AU) Commission as part of its drive to promote science, technology and innovation. The professor of life sciences and bioengineering was declared the 2020 winner of AU Kwame Nkrumah Continental Awards for Scientific Excellence.

It is sweet news but I’m not entirely surprised. Science has been part of my life since childhood.”

… The award goes with a $20,000 (about Sh 47 million) cash prize for the 66 year old female scholar specializing in nanotechnology.

Prof Swai is the current leader of the African Centre for Research, Agricultural Advancement, Teaching Excellence, and Sustainability at NM-AIST. …

Last year, Prof Swai was appointed as one of the chair holders of the prestigious O.R Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative. … The objective, she noted, is to give out scientific awards to top African scientists “for their scientific achievements and valuable discoveries and findings.”

Description of Rainilaiarivony, Prime Minister of Madagascar in 1868

Below is a description of Rainilaiarivony, the Prime minister of the Kingdom of Madagascar, in 1868, by a Frenchman. As you remember, this was a man who was married to 3 queens: Rasoherina, Ranavalona II, and Ranavalona III. He was in reality the one holding the true power. He held that position for 31 years from 1864 to 1895, when the Kingdom of Madagascar became a French protectorate, and he was destituted, and sent to exile in Algeria.

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Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony of Madagascar, ca 1880

Rainilaiarivony is of small height ; his hair is a bit kinky, the complexion is brown, mulatto, the mouth is thick, pronounced. He does not have the Malaysian [Austronesian] phenotype. He looks shy, embarrassed, and yet he is considered to have great willpower and remarkable eloquence.  Moreover, this figure, of gentle appearance, is as if closed, the furtive glances convey a distrust which always dominates in men who think themselves constantly threatened, from inside as well as from outside,

Docteur Lacaze, from a note from G. Grandidier, Les Africains, Editions J.A., Vol 5, p. 310 (1977). Translated to English by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com