‘Economist’ magazine insults Africans

There is outrage over reports published by the UK-based ‘Economist’ magazine, where Africans are depicted as backward and equal to animals.

A child in Africa. Some people see her as a threat.

A child in Africa. Some people see her as a threat.

Two weeks ago, the ‘Economist’ published a series of Special Reports on Africa’s population. The reports express panic that there will be mass starvation, worsening poverty and civil unrest unless Africa sorts out its population “problem.” However, the authors of the article – specifically David E. Bloom – revealed their true fears over Africa’s population growth.

“… in 1950 there were two Europeans for every African; by 2050, on present trends, there will be two Africans for every European….”

According to critics of Western-driven family planning efforts, the prospects of Africans exceeding the population of Caucasians is the cause for all the concern about Africa’s growing population. David Bloom’s statement of Africans exceeding the number of Europeans by 2050 is clear evidence of a racist agenda.

The article equates African women to donkeys: “Their duties barely advance them above a donkey: childbearing and rearing, working in the fields, fetching water from the crocodile-infested river, sweeping faeces from the straw huts …”

Anyone with a fair understanding of Africa will know that people are proud of caring for their homes. It is true that a grass thatch house cannot be compared with an apartment in London but Africans are proud of what they own.

In a particularly patronistic attitude adopted by Bloom in his article, the ‘Economist’ sarcastically compliments African families that have adopted a modern lifestyle: “An emergent African middle class is taking out mortgages and moving into newly built flats … two children is what they want.”

It is sad that the Economist can let Bloom and his ilk get away with such racist-driven comments, more than 50 years after the official end of racism against Africans. It is even more controversial coming in the year when the first black man became President of the United States, and who still has a large extended family in Africa.

By publishing population control propaganda, the Economist has displayed extreme insensitivity and contempt for Africans. But then, this is not unusual for a magazine that promotes homosexuality as indicators of “liberalism,” “tolerance,” and “diversity.” Thank God Africa does not practice homosexuality at a scale acceptable to The Economist’s publishers.

You can read the controversial article by clicking here >>

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President Obama addresses Africa

by Scott A Morgan

When it was announced that President Obama would give a major policy speech towards Sub-Saharan Africa in Ghana, there was considerable interest about what that would entail.

US President Barack Obama addressing the Ghana Parliament.

US President Barack Obama addressing the Ghana Parliament.

Obama’s historic speech which was given to the Parliament of Ghana covered several areas:

1). Africa’s current role on the world stage,
2). The vital role of good governance,
3). The challenges that both conflict and corruption play in African affairs.

    Currently, Africa is seen by several countries as a place to explore new energy sources. It is also a place for new economic development as well. Therefore, the continent does have a role as an emerging market. But the President also stated that economic development depends on good governance. There are several countries in Africa facing economic turmoil due to unrest and other factors.

    In the speech, President Obama stated that the world must support strong democratic governments in Africa. Just what are considered to be the keys to success for a democratic government? Those that he highlighted include a strong parliament, honest police forces, independent media and judiciary, a vibrant private sector and a civil society.

    Health care is going to be a challenge for Africa. HIV and Malaria are serious issues that need to be taken care of. Since the George W. Bush administration, the US has provided billions of dollars not only to fight HIV/Aids but to provide life-saving medicines to those already infected. While In Ghana, Obama addressed an issue that normally doesn’t get reported that much: the recruitment of African doctors and nurses to work overseas. This creates a gap in basic Care.

    One of the areas of contention both in Africa and in the United States is the role of AFRICOM (African Command). The President stated that wherever there are global challenges, a global solution must be implemented. He then stated that AFRICOM would not be used to get a foothold on the African continent but will confront challenges to the security of Africa, America and the rest of the world.

    Just who was this speech intended for? There was ample praise for how the government of Ghana has respected the rule of law. As for security issues, both Darfur and Somalia were mentioned but the Democratic Republic of the Congo was not. Zimbabwe was mentioned twice as well but the Gambia and the Guineas were omitted. Obama mentioned the homeland of his father, Kenya, in less than glowing terms.

    All in all, Obama’s speech was good and on the surface appears to expand on the policies of George Bush.

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    The Author comments on US policy towards Africa and publishes Confused Eagle on the internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

    AFRICOM plans for extremists and drugs trade

    by Scott A Morgan

    Recently General William (Kip) Ward, the Commanding Officer of the highly controversial US African Command (AFRICOM) gave an interview to NPR (National Public Radio). Some of the statements made by General Ward indicate that there is some major concern in Washington over events currently unfolding in Africa.

    General William Ward, AFRICOM Commander

    General William Ward, AFRICOM Commander

    The first major area of concern is Somalia. We have heard of the tragic history of that country in the Horn of Africa. The collapse of a functioning government, hunger, Islamist militias trying to install their belief system and piracy are just some of the ills that plague Somalia. The situation is so dire that the Pentagon sent $10 Million (Kshs759,000,000) in arms to prop up the current government. The group, Al-Shabaab, currently has power over the southern part of the country.

    The US fears situations like Somalia developing throughout Africa.  Clearly there are several locales where such concerns have actually occurred. Most notorious is the Kivu Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Ugandan, Congolese and Rwandan militias have set up their own fiefdoms free from the rule of law. Another case is the Niger Delta where there is an abundant supply of oil but no investments in infrastructure. These are two highlights of limited government influence or none what so ever.

    US policy is to support governments in various areas of the continent that seek to establish control over areas that they govern. If the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act is passed, then the US will assist in developing a long term strategy to achieve the goals mentioned in the title of the legislation. This could mean an additional role for AFRICOM in Central Africa. US efforts to rebuild the armed forces in Liberia with the assistance of the State Department have been successful to this point.

    The other area of concern for AFRICOM is the narcotics trade. This primarily is an issue that affects West Africa. It can be argued that the drug trade has had a role in the collapse of two governments in recent years (Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.) The rugged West African coastline has been used by South American cartels as a transit point to ship narcotics to Europe.

    Previous testimony on Capitol Hill in June indicated that AFRICOM is working with the Southern Command Joint Interagency Task Force South, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other bodies to monitor the flow of narcotics and support projects with the goal of interdicting the flow. It is felt that this is the best time to curtail the drugs trade before it undermines US strategic interests in Africa.

    These are two laudable goals that AFRICOM has. And they should succeed at them.

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    The author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com
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    Showing his true colors: A despot speaks

    by Scott A Morgan

    Although not widely seen on the internet, a Swedish TV Channel had an interview that was both interesting and revealing. The Network TV4 had a show featuring Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki and some of the statements were stunning.

    Eritrean family crossing a street in Asmara. This is perhaps the only country in Africa where people cross the streets at the right place!

    Eritrean family crossing a street in Asmara. This is perhaps the only country in Africa where people cross the streets at the right place!

    Eritrea’s relations with the rest of the world can best be described as tenous. It fought a war of liberation with Ethiopia. After gaining its independence in 1993, a line of demarcation was drawn that left neither party satisfied. To this date, tensions are still simmering along that border. Relations with Djibouti are also strained as Eritrean troops have occupied a small area of that country.

    Another area of contention is the status of press freedom in Eritrea. Since private media was banned in 2001, several journalists were thrown into secret prisons without being charged or tried. There have been high profile cases of journalists such as the late Fesshay Yohannes who died in Custody. In 2004 President Afewerki stated that he did not know Mr. Yohannes.

    When pressed for information about the status of Dawit Issac, an Eritrean journalist with Swedish citizenship, the President said that he didn’t know what crime was committed. He also said that “he did something bad.” In the lexicon of Eritrean politics that can be seen as saying anything that goes against President Afewerki.

    Another statement President Afewerki made was interesting. Afewerki claimed that there were no actual private media outlets in Eritrea and that those media outlets were financed by the CIA. This is not the first time that President Afewerki has claimed that the US Government is working to undermine his government.

    More often than not, this claim has centered around Somalia. It seems that every so often, the UN or the US claims to have evidence that Eritrea has been supporting the insurgency in Somalia. The UN often rescinds the claim but rarely will the US do so.

    It seems that whenever any leader has issues with human rights or democracy in general, they blame the United States. That always seems to be the rule for hiding whatever abuses are being committed. Blaming the US leads to resentment of the US for intervening in internal affairs.

    Another area of concern that the US has with Eritrea is over freedom of religion. Relations with Iran will also place Eritrea on the radar in Washington as well.

    There is a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Having people put in prison because they did not write anything about you is a sign of absolute power. As a hero who liberated a country, one would not have thought Afewerki could use such tactics while in power. Sadly, on achieving power, despotism reigns once again.

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    The Author publishes Confused Eagle on the internet and comments on US policy towards Africa. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

    Picture by Eric Lafforgue
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    Somalia needs 3 State solution

    By Scott A Morgan

    The concern that has been shown by various governments including the United States regarding piracy in the Gulf of Aden has merit. But such as in similar crisis situations, it seems that the West and other maritime interests would rather address a symptom of the problem instead of the root cause.

    There has not been a functioning government in Somalia since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. Needless to say that there is no way to address social and financial problems that the struggling fishermen have. The breakdown in law and order in the country has created a situation where piracy has become a viable means to support families and communities.

    So why have the Western and other powers suddenly become galvanized to take action in this situation? Well the numbers just happen to speak for themselves. In this calendar year, over 90 vessels have been seized in the Gulf of Aden. The payment of subsequent ransoms to free the hostages has netted the pirates an estimated US$150 million so far this year. So, several nations have deployed warships in an attempt to interdict this trade.

    We have heard that this is an attempt to solve the piracy issue but what about the root cause? There have been several recent reports that indicate that the Transitional National Government (TNG) is on the verge of collapse. Its influence has been degraded to the point that it only maintains power in Mogadishu and Baidoa. If the TFG collapses as many expect, what will be the next course of action?

    In early 2009, the breakaway region of Somaliland will hold elections for President and Parliament. This region has had a massive PR campaign to show that it is a stable part of Somalia. The region of Puntland has been aggressively targeting the pirates as well. The Islamists are in control of Southern Somalia meaning the old state of Somalia may not return at all.

    If there is a solution that unites the perpetually clan-driven politics of Somalia into a central government, this would be welcome. But it appears that the two year long effort to have the TNG restore a legitimate government to Somalia is failing and could collapse in the near future. It is possible that if the TNG falls then the incidents of piracy could actually increase both in numbers and in the specific search of targets.

    Whether or not the TNG fails may not be a bad option. Having three regional governments (Somaliland, Puntland and the Islamist South) with strong central powers and appropriate international backing and/or aid may be something that has to be considered. This could be the impetus for some form of intervention.

    Failure to address the problem now could spread it to neighboring states such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea and Yemen. This will not be a problem that could be easily solved by throwing money at it. Instead, it requires some nation building but on a scale that is yet to be determined.

    It appears that the easy answer is to have naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden. But when will the real issue be addressed?

    Obama and Africa: where to start?

    By Scott A Morgan

    The United States peacefully voted for a change in government. After 8 years the Republican administration of George W. Bush will be replaced by that of a Democrat, Senator Barack Obama. Other pundits have been determining what situation in the world will be the focus of the new administration. Very few people have mentioned Africa however.

    There are currently five crisis situations ongoing in Africa. Three of them (Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur and Somalia) are mentioned frequently in the international media. The fourth one, Zimbabwe, highlights the divide between Africa and the western powers. The fifth, which is in northern Uganda, has had a peace accord reached but it wasn’t signed by the rebel forces.

    At this juncture, the main focus is on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over a period from 1998 to 2002, this was the most brutal conflict in the world. Millions were killed in this conflict which is a direct result of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In recent weeks there has been an upsurge in the fighting in the Kivu provinces. Renegade General Laurent Nkunda has threatened to overthrow the government of President Kabila.

    The region is permeated with various rebel forces from, not only the DRC, but also neighboring Uganda and Rwanda as well. The militia that has been responsible for the attacks in northern Uganda is based in the DRC. There currently is a US diplomatic presence in the region as the UN mission is on the edge of disaster. Recently the UN has announced that it would like to have Special Forces augment this mission.

    Switching to Zimbabwe, the controversial presidential elections held back in March show no sign of being resolved soon. After a violent campaign led up to the July runoff which saw the incumbent Robert Mugabe win, talks began to see if a Kenya-style government of national unity can be formed. Talks held to resolve the situation are stalled. The US has long been critical of President Mugabe for his prior attempts to remain in power.

    Already, those activists who have been active in the campaign to solve the tragic situation in Darfur have called upon President-elect Obama to halt the genocide. During the campaign he did sign a document along with Senators McCain and Clinton criticizing the violence that has plagued the region. It is hoped that this effort can be successful before violence occurs in other parts of Sudan.

    Right now the two major issues in Africa appear to be the conflict in the DRC and the inability to restore a functioning government in Zimbabwe. There is considerable concern that the fighting in the Congo could spread and involve regional neighbors in a conflict that could dwarf the war that ended in 2002. The political morass in Zimbabwe will create problems in neighboring states such as Botswana and Zambia if it is not resolved.

    There are expectations that Obama will have African issues in a more prominent place in his administration. There were celebrations of joy across Africa when it was revealed that President-elect Obama had won the election. Despite the euphoria, there are indications that an Obama administration will follow precedent from previous administrations when it comes to the various hotspots.

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    The author publishes Confused Eagle on the internet and comments on US policy towards Africa. Confused Eagle can be found at morganrights.tripod.com
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    Moi Day Special: Kenya’s second president

    On the occasion of Moi Day, the Nairobi Chronicle recalls milestones of the Moi presidency. For better and for worse, Moi’s 24 year presidency will influence Kenyans for a long time to come.

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    Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

    Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

    Whereas Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was a transitional leader, managing change from colonialism to African majority rule, Moi got into power when Kenya had become a truly African state. With time, Moi’s actions and policies came to resemble those of neighboring states from which Kenya had distinguished itself with its relatively sophisticated socio-economic and political structures.

    Moi’s presidency was a contradiction of sorts: on one hand he craved the awe which Jomo Kenyatta got from the public. On the other hand, he wanted to be different from Kenyatta, by being more in touch with the average man in the village.

    When he assumed the reigns of government, Moi started traveling in a Volkswagen Kombi, raising eyebrows. As it was argued, such types of conveyance are for ordinary folk, not for a President. However, Moi was determined to get his people. The Kombi was the only vehicle which could grapple with the country’s difficult terrain – dusty roads, hairpin bends, precarious cliffs, unbeaten tracks.

    One time, while on his way from Kisumu to Nakuru, Moi expressed the wish to use a short-cut from Sondu through Sigowet to Kericho town. His aides condemned the route as impassable. “Are there people living in the area where this road passes?” he asked and declared he had to tackle the road, passable or otherwise.

    After ascending to the presidency on 14th October 1978, Moi pledged to maintain the stability that Kenya had enjoyed since independence. He sought to assure apprehensive citizens, investors and diplomats that he would follow the footsteps of Mzee Kenyatta. But it soon became clear that Moi had his own ideas for the country. Whereas Kenyatta practiced a hands-off style of leadership, Moi preferred hands-on management. He famously said, “Those who want to lead the country must wait their turn … I am the President and every minister must sing like a parrot to my tune.”

    While emphasizing national unity, Moi laid great emphasis on the need for dynamism in a globalizing world. Moi can be credited for introducing changes that would have been virtually impossible under the Kenyatta era. Moi’s critics say his initiatives were expensive experiments culminating in failure. However, Moi’s critics are mostly Kenyattaists and had they been in power, the country would have petrified in stagnation. The fact that some of Moi’s programmes did not succeed could be attributed to sabotage by Kenyatta loyalists inherited by Moi’s administration.

    As president, Moi’s first decision was to release political detainees from the Kenyatta era. These were politicians, academics, university students and journalists detained for criticizing Kenyatta’s government. Several of them had been in detention so long that they were in a critical condition requiring advanced medical treatment.

    During Kenyatta’s presidency, the civil service, security forces and state corporations came to be dominated by members of Kenyatta’s tribe, the Kikuyu. This was not a deliberate policy on Kenyatta’s part but a product of historical circumstances that placed the Kikuyu at an advantage in work skills and entrepreneurial ability. Moi set about creating ethnic balance in government organs by appointing more people from other communities. Eventually, Moi’s Kalenjin tribe dominated the civil service and this evoked resentment among other Kenyans.

    Unlike Kenyatta’s appointees, Moi’s tribesmen had little training for their new jobs. Matters were worsened by Moi’s tendency of picking individuals from lowly positions, transforming them into overnight power brokers and later dumping them when they became too big-headed for their own usefulness. Because of this, Moi had neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. He was loyal to nobody but himself – a true Machiavellian characteristic.

    Moi’s most serious challenge was the coup attempt of 1st August 1982. The poorly planned coup attempt by junior officers of the Kenya Airforce was crushed by Army and paramilitary units within a matter of hours. However the coup is said to have awakened Moi to the risks of power and from that day onwards, he took on a higher measure of political self-preservation. After the coup attempt, the security forces were purged of Kenyattaists who were replaced by Moi loyalists. In subsequent elections, politicians whose allegiance was doubtful lost their seats through political machinations engineered by the President’s henchmen.

    Between 1982 and the early 1990s, Moi was determined to keep a tab on the opposition and resorted to tactics varying from detention without trial, torture, electronic surveillance, intimidation and outright thuggery. There has never been any direct evidence personally linking Moi with any of these acts and its possible he was misinformed about threats to his administration.

    Moi’s political maneuvres provoked a backlash against the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU). Moi, eager to strengthen the party, had talked Parliament into enacting a constitutional amendment that made KANU the only legal political party. By the late 1980s there were demands for reintroducing multiparty democracy from the growing ranks of politicians seeking alternative avenues for contesting political office. Demands for multipartyism, coupled with pent-up frustration with Moi, led to riots in Kenya’s major towns in July 1990.

    The riots were crushed; several dozen people lost their lives. International financiers and Western nations pressurized Moi to open up the political frontiers. Monetary assistance was scaled down – a devastating blow for a government that had 30% of its budget financed from foreign assistance. The international media went on a feeding frenzy and described Moi as a typical African dictator. In December 1991, Moi asked Parliament to amend the constitution and legalize opposition parties for the first time in ten years.

    It would be another ten years before opposition parties could win power but only because Moi was no longer a candidate in the 2002 elections. Moi was unbeatable because his opponents often underestimated his intelligence by virtue of his rural-poor origins and heavily accented English.

    Among the reasons Moi gave for opposing multipartyism was incitement to ethnic nationalism. Soon after the opposition was legalized, tribal clashes erupted in the Rift Valley and persist to this day. The clashes were sparked by Cabinet Ministers who declared the Rift Valley – Moi’s home province – out of bounds to the opposition. Ethnic groups thought to be sympathetic to the opposition were attacked by Moi’s Kalenjin tribe, houses burnt and farms forcefully occupied. The clashes caused major economic losses as property was destroyed, trading activities disrupted and agricultural production ruined.

    Upon the re-introduction of multipartyism in 1992 until the close of his presidency in 2003, Moi stopped being development conscious. Moi devoted his time and energies exclusively to politics because of legalized competition for his job. Political intrigues intensified as politicians sought presidential patronage – and the cash that went with it. Financial scandals became routine in Moi’s government throughout the 1990s as his cronies devised means of acquiring wealth in the shortest possible time.

    Moi turned state functions into full time campaign rallies and these were held, not only on weekends, but at anytime during the week. Cabinet ministers and members of parliament, eager to win the favor of the president, tagged along wherever he went. The result: possibly one of the longest Presidential motorcades of an African president. A typical motorcade accompanying Moi consisted of at least 50 limousines with cabinet ministers, heads of state corporations, security chiefs and several diplomats.

    Among the notable successes of the Moi presidency was reform of the education system. By the early 1980s, a Canadian educationist said that education should stop producing white-collar graduates. The educationist said the future of labor was one of uncertainty, making it necessary to equip graduates with practical skills that are easily transferable across different work environments. Despite criticism, Moi went ahead and implemented the recommendations.

    School children were introduced to home science, business education, agriculture, arts, crafts and music. In high schools, students were taught power mechanics, electricity, accounting, metal work, carpentry, social ethics and sex education. Today, education experts acknowledge the wisdom of imparting practical skills on children, in a world where retraining and career shifts has become the accepted norm.

    During Moi’s presidency, thousands of schools sprang up across the country while four additional public universities were built to create a skilled work force.

    Regardless of what is said about Daniel arap Moi, the former teacher, legislator, cabinet minister, President and Member of Parliament has left his mark not only on Kenyans but also in international affairs. He initiated peace efforts across Africa most of which were successful. These include Namibia’s independence, Uganda’s civil war negotiations that began the Yoweri Museveni era and the Southern Sudan peace process. Moi’s advice was greatly sought by world leaders such as US President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany.

    Moi’s presidency began in 1978 with a promise to follow the footsteps of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. It can be said that Moi fulfilled his ambition of becoming a defining standard. “President Moi has made his own footprints in the sands of time,” said Mrs Thatcher.

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    With references from Lee Njiru’s article: “The Making of a President.” Kenya Times, December 11, 1997
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