Mining giant Glencore faces human rights complaint over toxic spill in Chad

Flag of Chad

Another giant is facing human rights complain over toxic spill in Chad… Usually these giant corporations are free to pollute in Africa, and never or rarely face any setbacks… I wonder what this is all about… is there a competitor to Glencore that wants Glencore out of Chad to come polluting as well? I know I am a cynic… but you will have to admit that these giant corporations have polluted freely in every corner of the world, and in Africa in particular, without even getting a tap on the hand. I applaud this and hope that the people of Chad will get compensated… as no pollution should go unpunished. Excerpts below are from an article in the Guardian.

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The wastewater basin at Glencore UK’s operations in Badila, southern Chad, collapsed in September 2018, unleashing 85m litres of runoff. Photograph: Raid (Source: The Guardian)

The UK government has accepted a human rights complaint against mining and commodities giant Glencore regarding a toxic wastewater spill in Chad, where dozens of villagers – among them children – claim they suffered severe burns, skin lesions and sickness after contact with contaminated water.

The complaint, brought by three human rights groups on behalf of affected communities, alleges environmental abuses and social engagement failures by the FTSE-100 company in relation to two spillages, the wastewater spill and an alleged oil spill, both in 2018.

… In September 2018, a wastewater basin holding a crude oil by-product collapsed at Glencore UK’s operations in Badila, southern Chad. Some 85 m litres of runoff – equivalent in volume to 34 Olympic-sized swimming pools – flooded fields and the local river, which local people use for drinking, bathing and washing.

At least 50 people reported burns, skin lesions, sickness and diarrhoea after bathing in or using the contaminated river water in the weeks after the leak. Many of those harmed were children, some of whom were admitted to hospital. One 13-year-old boy was unable to move his body for a year after swimming in the river, which doctors attributed to the “crude oil burns”. Livestock drinking from the river also died, according to the complaint.

France Admits Murder of Algerians … A Step Forward?

French flag

Last week, France admitted the abduction and murder of Algerians during the war of independence. The events that happened during those times have been described as a genocide committed by France in Algeria. Is Macron’s admission enough to patch the Franco-Algerian relationship? I don’t know why, but it sounds more like France wants to keep Algerian natural gas (largest natural gas producer in the world), and oil flowing while they have closed their economy due to pandemic, to keep getting those free billions from Africa. I know, I am a skeptic, but would you blame me when France conveniently waits for all survivors to die to admit the abduction and murder of Algerians? I acknowledge that it is a step, but does Macron expects us to clap? to hug him for it? I don’t know why these European presidents and kings think that admission of murder means apology [French President Acknowledges French Genocide in Cameroon, Belgian King Expresses ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo, Namibia Rightfully Rejects 10 million Euros Compensation for Genocide]. Like I have said before, it’s like France just woke up and said, “Yes… I killed your fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children… I tortured them… I murdered your freedom fighters… Idisplaced your families… it is all true… so what? what would you do about it?” The arrogance! Where is the apology? Where is the compensation for years of trauma? Where is the reparation? Until there is a clear “I am sorry”, until there is a clear “here is what we will do to right the wrongs,” until there is a clear “correction and inclusion in the history textbooks, opening of all classified documents”…. until there is a clear “respect for those killed, and for those living today” until then, there will be no respect for arrogant presidents! Excerpts below are from the BBC. Please also check what was written about the event on RFI.

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Flag of Algeria

France’s admission about the abduction and murder of Algerians during the war of independence is a big step but it is not enough, according to French historian Fabrice Riceputi.

It is a huge moment for the grandchildren of lawyer Ali Boumendjel, who were received by French President Emmanuel Macron to hear the truth about the assassination of their grandfather.

His widow Malika Boumendjel, who fought for decades for the truth about her husband’s disappearance rejecting the French official account of suicide, passed away last year aged 101 without hearing the acknowledgement she waited for all her life [isn’t it so convenient that France waits for survivors to die to “admit”?].

For Riceputi a rexamination of the French colonial rule in Algeria should not be restricted to “emblematic figures” such as Maurice Audin and Ali Boumendjel.

The French army in Algeria adopted since 1957 the technique of “forced disappearance” as a systematic method to crush the nationalists, according to Mr Riceputi.

It consisted of abducting, murdering and disposing of the body of any Algerian they suspect of having links with the FLN which led the war for independence.

There were tens of thousands in the capital city, Algiers and many more throughout the country, he says.

It was a “system designed to terrify the population” and silence dissidents and supporters of independence, the historian says.

It has also left dozens of thousands of families and generations of their descendants suffering decades of emotional and psychological trauma.

Mr Riceputi believes that the French authorities are avoiding the essence of the truth through these “selected” and “high-profile” admissions. …

The routine torture and murder of Algerian civilians by the French army during the seven-year war that some say claimed 1.5 million Algerian lives has been hushed up for decades.

Indeed, France has never even recognized the existence of a “war” in Algeria. Until 1999 they have always called it the “events” or “troubles” of Algiers. The atrocities committed by their army were described as “operations to maintain order”.

Justice at last from Shell … for Nigerians!

Eric Barizah, chief of Nigeria’s Goi community in Rivers State, shows oil pollution from leaks in the Niger delta. Photograph: EPA (Source: The Guardian)

A court has finally ruled that Shell Nigeria must pay for oil damage. How long has it been? Wasn’t Ken Saro-Wiwa already working on such issues in the 1990s? This ruling deals with oil pollution in the Niger delta region of Nigeria. Well, a Dutch court has finally asked the oil giant Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for oil damages. This is a first… and we just hope that Shell will not play the French card, and will actually compensate for all the environmental damages, the loss of livelihood, and probably the loss of lives they caused while they made humongous benefits. This is a major win for Nigerians, for Africans, and for all the communities around the world whose environments have been polluted by these giant corporations. Excerpts below are from the Guardian.

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A Dutch court has ordered Shell Nigeria to compensate farmers for major oil spills they say caused widespread pollution.

Shell Oil Company logo

On Friday an appeals court in The Hague rejected Shell’s argument that the spills were the result of sabotage, saying not enough evidence had been provided.

The court ordered Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary to compensate the farmers for the losses caused by the oil spills in the two villages of Goi and Oruma in 2004 and 2005. The amount of compensation had not yet been decided.

It also ruled the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, and its subsidiary must install warning equipment on its Oruma pipelines to limit the environmental damage in case of another spill.

The farmers claiming compensation argued the damage was caused by oil leaking from the pipeline, which could have been prevented if Shell had installed the correct detection systems.

Finally, there is some justice for the Nigerian people suffering the consequences of Shell’s oil,” said Eric Dooh, one of the Nigerian plaintiffs, in a statement released by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, which supported the case. “This verdict brings hope for the future of the people in the Niger delta.” Dooh’s father was one of two complainants who died during the case, which has gone on for 13 years.

Flag and map of Nigeria
Flag and map of Nigeria

The Hague appeals court ruled in 2015 that Dutch courts had jurisdiction in the case, seven years after the four farmers first sued, and after debate over whether Shell’s parent company should be held liable for the Nigerian subsidiary’s actions.

This is fantastic news for the environment and people living in developing countries,” said Friends of the Earth’s Netherlands head, Donald Pols.

It means people in developing countries can take on the multinationals who do them harm.”

World Tiniest Reptile found in Madagascar

Madagascar
Madagascar

There has been a discovery of possibly the world’s tiniest reptile in Madagascar, the grande Ile. It is a Seed-sized chameleon, which scientists have tagged the nano-chameleon, named Brookesia nana (who gives these sort of names? – the Brookesia is probably derived from one of the scientist’s name), whose body is only 13.5 mm long. Excerpts below are from the Guardian. Enjoy!

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Scientists say they have discovered a sunflower-seed-sized subspecies of chameleon that may well be the smallest reptile on Earth.

Two of the miniature lizards, one male and one female, were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in northern Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body that is only 13.5 mm (0.53 inches) long, making it the smallest of all the roughly 11,500 known species of reptiles, the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich said. Its total length from nose to tail is just under 22 mm (0.87 inch).

The female nano-chameleon is significantly larger, with an overall length of 29 mm, the research institute said, adding that the scientists were unable to find further specimens of the new subspecies “despite great effort”.

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

Why the Name: Port-Gentil?

Map of Gabon

I have always wondered why the second largest city of Gabon is named Port-Gentil… Is it full of kind agreeable souls? Is it a gentle town, very laid-back? Otherwise, why will it be named that way?

Emile Gentil in 1902

Well, to my surprise, Port-Gentil is named after the French colonial administrator Émile Gentil who served there in 1902. I have a lot of doubts that the man was a kind or gentle soul. From stories of these colonial administrators in Africa, many were more on the ruthless and disagreeable side, particularly towards Africans, whom they saw as savages. Indeed, after investigation into Emile Gentil, it turns out that he had been accused of massacres in Congo in 1905, but had been cleared by the Lanessan commission (what are indigenous’ words against a European’s?… particularly in those days); he was also part of the expedition that was trying to conquer Rabah, a powerful warrior leader in Chad. Gentil is best known for heading two military missions to conquer and consolidate territories north, from modern Gabon up to Chad. … Thus it is only a tiny shot to imagine the atrocities left in his wake… So why is the second largest city of Gabon still named after someone like that? Someone who murdered Gabonese, and other Africans? I know, it sounds sweet, “gentil”, but knowing the source of the name and the atrocities committed against the indigenous populations, why keep the name? If “gentle” is so important, why not translate it into the local language, or roll back to the original name, which is Mandji. It absolutely makes no sense for a city on African soil to bear the name of someone who has been accused of massacres by contemporaries on that very land!

Port-Gentil, Gabon

For completeness, Port-Gentil is located on Lopez Island (in the mouth of the navigable Ogooué River) and on a bay sheltered by Cape Lopez, which juts into the Atlantic Ocean. As the nation’s chief port and industrial centre, it is linked by air to Paris and major West African hubs as well as many Gabonese towns. Life in Port-Gentil is much more laid-back than Libreville. It is Gabon’s economic engine, and massive oil and gas rigs loom just off the coast. The city stretches along the beach, is full of pleasant wide streets and a bustling port. One block back from the corniche, Ave Savorgnan de Brazza (named after another European who massacred Africans) has most of the banks, shops and restaurants. Port-Gentil sits on a peninsula; it is actually an island, cut off from the mainland by the delta of the Ogooué River.

Surprisingly, just like many places coveted by Europeans on the African continent, there are no roads connecting Port-Gentil to the rest of the country. How outrageous! How come in 2021, there are no roads connecting the second largest city of a country, the industrial hub, to the rest of it? This seems like a wanted political decision, especially when the country, Gabon, has been the milk cow of Elf, the defunct French oil company (now Total), and is still a big milk cow of France today.

So even though, as always, I would like you to visit the sandy beaches of Port-Gentil, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Gabonese, I think it is about time that the city be renamed! Lastly, ROADS, connections to the rest of the country are a MUST!!!