Posted by: Dr. Y. | November 13, 2019

The African Crow: The Crow with a Nike Collar

Nike Crow_1

A crow snacking on some bread

A few years back, my father was visiting Melbourne in Australia, when he heard a bird crowing around. So he asked an Australian lady nearby what bird that was, and she answered the crow… and my dad went on to tell her that in his country, the crow had a white collar, and sounded just like that… so the lady chuckled and said, “so you have a Nike-collar crow in your country.” So meet the Nike-collared Crow.

Nike Crow_Rwanda_1

Crows in Rwanda

When I first moved to the West, I never understood why people taught of the crow as a bad bird, or rather a bird of bad omen. When I asked, they told me because of its black coat, and black feathers, and because of its cry. This sounded totally weird to me… why? Because in African culture, the crow is not a bad bird, or a bird bringing ominous news. It is actually a good bird. Not only that, but the crow is not an all-black bird, but it has a white collar. I was surprised to find this white-collared bird in Cameroon, in Rwanda, and in other places, thus telling me that the white-collared crow is indigenous to Africa.

With the white collar, isn’t your perception of the crow changed?

Nike Crow_Cameroon_2

Crows in Cameroon

Lionheart_(2018_film)_poster

Lionheart (2018 film)

I was quite stunned when I heard the reason why the Nigerian movie Lionheart (2018 film) had been disqualified from the Best International Film section of the Oscars: because of … too much English in it! Can you imagine that? Isn’t English the official language of Nigeria? So no movies made in English by Nigerians should be accepted? But an Algerian movie with French in it (French the language of the colonizer) gets accepted in that section? In other words, a Jamaican movie sent to the academy cannot be in English, a Ghanaian, Ugandan, Canadian, or Australian one should not be in English, etc… even though English is the official language in these countries? But an Algerian movie could be in French, an Ivorian or Comoros movie in French, and these would be qualified as ‘international’ enough! This does not even take into account that Lionheart (2018 film) does have sections in Igbo, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria. I think, as always the oscars academy has shown why they are really not inclusive at all, and above all, quite narrow-minded!

Below is the article from The Guardian.

======

Oscars_1

The Oscars

[…] The Academy was considering a Nigerian movie called Lionheart in its best international feature film category. I watched Lionheart when it came out last year, partly because of the novelty of seeing a movie from Nigeria’s burgeoning Nollywood film industry on Netflix.

Directed by and starring the Nollywood titan Genevieve Nnaji, it is a captivating look at family, class, sexism, politics and the texture of life in the Niger delta. It’s both very Nigerian and very relatable for audiences who know nothing about Nigeria. It’s incredible that Nigeria has never had an Oscars submission before, but this is a good choice for its first. Yet Lionheart has just been disqualified because there is too much English in it.

In fact, Lionheart does feature the Igbo language, which millions of people in eastern Nigeria speak. But the film reflects the way many Nigerians – as former imperial British subjects – speak in real life. As in most of anglophone west Africa, education, politics and formal economic activity is conducted in English, which people interchange with the dozens – in Nigeria’s case, hundreds – of African languages that they also speak. This is the legacy of empire. And this legacy of empire, even though they were once part of it, is what some American institutions don’t seem able to comprehend.

Flag and map of Nigeria

Flag and map of Nigeria

So the American Academy expects films competing in its “international feature film” category to emphatically not be in English. Its rules are very clear on the matter, stating that “an international film is defined as a feature-length motion picture (defined as over 40 minutes) produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.

But these rules have nonsensical implications. For example, the Algerian film Papicha, which is a favourite in the category, features a good deal of French – the language Algeria inherited from its colonisers. The message seems to be that as long as your imperial power spoke what Americans regard as a “foreign” language – in other words, anything but English – you can speak it and remain authentic. But if you share an imperial past with the US to the extent that English is your nation’s lingua franca as a result, then it is somehow less authentic to speak it. …

glove

Main et gant / hand and glove

Nous sommes comme salive et langue (proverbe Zulu – Afrique du Sud, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini). – Comme main et gant, impossible de se séparer.

We are like saliva and tongue (Zulu proverb – South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini). – Like hand and glove, impossible to be separated.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | November 6, 2019

Rooibos and Recognition for the Indigenous KhoiSan People

Rooibos_1

Prepared rooibos (source: Wikipedia)

Have you ever heard of rooibos ? Have you ever tasted rooibos tea? Well, as it is named, rooibos stands for red bush in Afrikaans, as denoted by its color. It is very popular in Southern Africa and has been consumed for centuries by the local indigenous Sān and  Khoi people. It grows exclusively in South Africa, in the Cederberg mountains north of the city of Cape Town. The leaves are used in a herbal tea, whose color is red like that of hibiscus tea. Traditionally, the local Sān people would climb the mountains and cut the fine, needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants. They then rolled the bunches of leaves and brought them down the steep slopes using donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun. Later on, once the European settlers had taken over the trade, no recognition to the indigenous people knowledge and input was given… until last week! Check out excerpts from the article published on South Africa’s Mail and Guardian below, and do not forget to follow the link for the full article.

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San (Basarwa/Bushmen) hunters

San (Basarwa/Bushmen) hunters

Transformation in the rooibos sector has been slow. The genocide of the indigenous San people and the virtual enslavement of the Khoi people in rooibos-growing landscapes of the Cape centuries ago, coupled with a government-controlled monopoly during the apartheid years, has led to a highly skewed and fractured industry.

Today, this R300-million local enterprise remains in the hands of about 300 white commercial farmers who cultivate 93% of the planted area. About 200 small-scale coloured farmers — largely confined to the dryer, more marginal parts of the winter rainfall fynbos region — produce only 2% of all rooibos tea.

A benefit-sharing agreement announced today by the minister of environmental affairs — between the rooibos industry and representatives of San and Khoi organisations — could signal the beginning of a change. 
More than R10-million a year — depending on weather, volumes and the price of rooibos — is likely to be distributed to trusts set up by San and Khoi organisations.

rooibos-country

Rooibos region in South Africa (source: rooibosltd.co.za)

If implemented judiciously and strategically, this could well change the face of rooibos in South Africa.

[…] At the agreement’s core is an annual traditional knowledge levy of 1.5% of the price that is paid by processors to farmers per kilogram of harvested rooibos. After being deposited into the government’s bioprospecting trust fund, the levy will be paid in equal parts to the San Council and National  KhoiSan Council. “Rooibos indigenous farming communities” — defined as “rural farming communities in rooibos growing areas who consist of descendants of original Khoi-Khoi peoples” — are to receive a portion from the trust set up for the Khoi people although the exact proportion has not yet been determined.

Non-monetary benefits will also be “explored” and could include the creation of employment opportunities, bursaries, development schemes, mentoring and the facilitation of livelihoods.

rooibos-tea

A cup of rooibos tea (source: MedicalNewsToday)

The agreement is a landmark, not only because it acknowledges the indisputable contribution made by traditional knowledge holders towards the establishment of the industry, but also because it could bring significant material benefits to indigenous San and Khoi people, many of whom remain marginalised and poverty stricken.

That the agreement offers restorative justice is undeniable, but the road ahead is far from smooth. Questions of how exactly benefits will be shared at a local level remain unresolved, and could result in conflicts. The long and troubled history of these oppressed communities has included dislocation, fracturing of family and community structures, and the undermining of people’s own initiatives.

The presence of strong, effective and transparent governance structures and sound external support will be essential to manage conflicting priorities proactively and ethically so that real benefits can be derived by all of the intended beneficiaries. …

Léon_Damas

Léon-Gontran Damas

They Came Tonight” is a poem by the celebrated French Guyanese author Léon-Gontran Damas. He is renowned as one of the founders of the Négritude movement, along Aimé Césaire and Leopold Senghor. In 1935, the three men published the first issue of the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student), which provided the foundation for what is now known as the Négritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s, aimed at raising and cultivating “Black consciousness” across Africa and its diaspora; this movement rejected the political, social and moral domination of the West.

Slavery_Ship1

Slaves on board a ship

They Came Tonight” is a poem similar to ‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo. In this case, it talks about when the Europeans came during slavery time, one night as the drums were thundering, and after that many Africans were taken away from their homes, from their loved ones, many were captured, and the day was never the same, history was never the same, families were destroyed, kingdoms destroyed, and to this day, Africa has not recovered for 400 years of slavery. This poem was first published in Pigments 1937, and later in Présence africaine, 1962.

 

Ils sont venus ce soir (Pour Léopold-Sedar Senghor)

ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie

des yeux
la frénésie des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues
DEPUIS
combien de MOI MOI MOI
sont morts
depuis qu’ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie
des yeux
la frénésie
des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues

They Came Tonight
for Léopold-Sedar Senghor

They came the night the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
the frenzy

of eyes
the frenzy of hands
the frenzy
of the feet of statues
SINCE
how many of ME ME ME
are dead
since they came that night when the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
frenzy
of eyes
frenzy
of hands
frenzy
of the feet of statues

Tunisia_Saied

Kais Saied, new president of Tunisia getting sworn in (Source: Al Jazeera)

Last week marked another big step towards democracy for Tunisia. Kais Saied, a political outsider and retired law professor, won the presidential election with a landslide victory. The Robot, as he is affectionately called, was sworn in as Tunisian president on Wednesday, 23rd of October. His win delivered a heavy blow to a governing elite accused of failing to improve living standards or end corruption since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy after years of authoritarian rule. Below are excerpts of an article from Al Jazeera.  Enjoy!

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Kais Saied has been sworn in as Tunisia‘s new president. 

The 61-year-old law professor has no prior political experience, never held office and barely ran a campaign.

Saied sealed a resounding victory in a runoff election on October 13, largely buoyed by a groundswell of support from young voters. He won just over 72 percent of the votes, with about 27 percent of ballots cast for his media-mogul opponent Nabil Karoui.

Tunisia_Essebsi_1

Beji Essebsi, Former president of Tunisia (Source: Wikipedia)

He succeeds former President Beji Caïd Essebsi, Tunisia’s First Democratically Elected Presidentwho died in office in July. 

A perhaps unlikely aspiring leader in the Arab world, the austere and scholarly Saied stood apart from the other 25 candidates in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election.

After winning that round, he announced he would not campaign ahead of the run-off election against then-imprisoned Karoui, saying it would give him an “unfair advantage”.

Observers say it’s that openness and obsession with equity that has connected with Tunisia’s youth, who, above all, see Saied as an honest leader offering them the keys to the nation’s future

During his meteoric rise, Saied vowed to fight corruption and promote social justice, while saying access to healthcare and water is part of national security and that education would “immunise” youth against extremism

[…] Selim Kharrat, president of Tunisian NGO Al Bawsala, said Saied’s popularity was in part fuelled by disenfranchisement with a political system that has failed to address core economic needs.

Tunisia_Flag

Flag of Tunisia

“The current atmosphere where many politicians are caught up in corruption scandals has helped this seemingly simple man,” Kharrat told Al Jazeera after the first round of elections.

Saied’s unadorned profile has stood in stark contrast to that of Karoui, who was arrested in late August on money-laundering and tax evasion charges, Kharrat said.

“He’s received no funding from any of the big parties or abroad, notably the better-off Arab Gulf countries, and this has shielded him from any suspicion,” he added.

….

stone1Une pierre de chez soi vaut dix fois mieux que celle de la rivière. (Proverbe Berbère Tachelhit – Maroc).

A stone from home is worth ten from the riverbed. (Southern Tashlhiyt Berber – Morocco)

 

 

Ethiopia_Abiy Ahmed

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Source: sa.breakingnews.co.za)

A year after the Congolese doctor, Denis Mukwege shared the  Nobel Peace Prize 2018, another African has won it again: Abiy Ahmed Ali, Ethiopia’s prime minister was awarded the  Nobel Peace Prize last week for his work in ending the 20-year post-war territorial stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia at a time of profound strife, and through a serious of deft political gestures, including the release of thousands of political prisoners and overturning highly repressive restrictions on civil society and political groups, he probably averted a civil war. Last year, he was the first Ethiopian leader to meet with his Eritrean counterpart in over 2 decades , and both countries signed a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship.”

Nobel prize

Nobel Prize medal (Wikipedia)

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the five-member committee that made the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize, credited Abiy with a peace initiative aimed at ending two decades of conflict between the two east-African neighbors that began over border disputes in 1998 only a few years after Eritrea gained independence.

When Abiy Ahmed became prime minster in April 2018, he made it clear he wishes to resume pace talks with Eritrea,” she said. “In close cooperation with the president of Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed quickly worked out the principles for a peace agreement to end the long no peace stalemate between the two countries.”

When Abiy took office, he freed political prisoners and managed in the same year to sign a peace deal with the Eritrean leader, Isaias Afwerki — agreeing in the process to cede disputed land to his country’s erstwhile enemy.

Peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone,” Reiss-Andersen said. “When Prime Minister Abiy reached out his hand, President Afwerki grasped it, and helped to formalize the peace process between the two countries.

Map of Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

Additionally, Abiy Ahmed has sought to mediate between Kenya and Somalia in their protracted conflict over rights to a disputed marine area. There is now hope for a resolution to this conflict,” she said.

In Sudan, the military regime and the opposition have returned to the negotiating table. On the 17th of August, they released a joint draft of a new constitution intended to secure a peaceful transition to civil rule in the country. Prime Minister Abiy played a key role in the process that led to the agreement,” Reiss-Andersen added.

Ethiopia Eritrea

Map of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the two sisters

Although it is quite early in his career – after all, it has only been one year since he became prime minister – I think his is more justified than the one given to Obama for his speeches. Ever since I have grown to understand politics, I am always skeptical of these prizes anyway. However, this prize should encourage African and world leaders to work towards peace for their people at all times. We congratulate prime minister Abiy Ahmed, and wish him well in continuing to lead Ethiopia with a steady head.

Kipchoge_INEOS 2019

Eliud Kipchoge after crossing the sub-2hour marathon line (Source: Standard.co.uk)

This past weekend was a weekend of firsts in sports, firsts set by African and Afro-descendant athletes. It was also a strong weekend for Black female athletes, with dominant, outstanding, and even historic performances by world record marathoner Brigid Kosgei, tennis champion Coco Gauff and Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport. We watched with great joy when:

 

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran a sub-2 hour marathon to become the first person in recorded history to run a marathon in such times. On 12 October 2019, Kipchoge ran the marathon distance on a special course in Vienna, Austria, achieving a time of 1:59:40 in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. However, his record will not go down as a world record, because this technical feat required unprecedented planning and support, and was heavily engineered. We nonetheless celebrate the history and meaning for mankind.

 

Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast of all times. The four-time Olympic gold medalist, at 22, broke a world championships record with her medals on Sunday. Winning gold medals for both her floor routine and the balance beam, Biles became the most-decorated gymnast at the world championship amassing 25 medals, breaking the long-held record of 23, which was set by male gymnast Vitaly Scherbo back in the 1990s. She is not only the most decorated in history, but the highest and fastest champion the sport has ever seen.

 

Kosgei_Chicago2019

Brigid Kosgei at the Chicago Marathon showing her record (Source: Reuters)

Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei set a jaw-dropping new women’s world record in Chicago over the weekend with a time of 2:14:04, breaking the record set by British runner Paula Radcliffe in 2003, 16 years ago. Unlike Kipchoge’s record, whose effort employed rotating pacers and just one “racer,” this one will count as a world record. Kosgei removed 81 seconds from the previous record, an unprecedented feat!

 

Gauff1

Coco Gauff after winning her first WTA title (Source: cbc.ca)

Tennis player Coco Gauff  became the youngest singles champion, at 15, in 15 years and the youngest American to win a singles title on the tour since 1991. She became the youngest woman to win Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) title since 2004 (and the youngest American to do so in 28 years) by winning Austria’s Linz Open on Sunday. I love the advice her dad who is her coach gave her: “Just relax, you’re not going to sprint to the finish line,… We’re going to walk to the finish line, OK?” And relaxed she got, in order to cruise to victory.

 

It was truly a weekend of Firsts, unprecedented, and of course Outstanding performances!!!

 

Posted by: Dr. Y. | October 14, 2019

Proverbe sur les menteurs / Proverb on Liars

LiarEvitez la compagnie d’un menteur. Et si vous ne pouvez pas l’éviter, ne le croyez pas. (Proverbe Maure – Algeria, Libya Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia).

Avoid the company of a liar. And if you can’t avoid him, don’t believe him. (Moor proverb – Algeria, Libya Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia).

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