Mandela’s Legacy

If you have been close to any News source today then you know that ailing former leader of South Africa Nelson Mandela has passed away.

A lot of people will be talking about his life and struggles, and apt comparisons to Ghandi and MLK – but one of the key things that probably won’t be discussed much is his accomplishments in modernizing and opening SOuth Africa’s economy to the formerly oppressed. That may well be his greatest accomplishment – to mold a country back together after a century or more of dysfunction …

During Apartheid the South African economy was held up by the twin mineral riches of gold and diamonds. Unfortunately those mines are pretty much played out. Besides trying to create a system wherein black Africans shared in the economy with their white counterparts the country needed to restructure the basis for i’s economy in terms of producing new goods to trade. Doing so meant breaking up the Apartheid Plantation system wherein whites owned 95% of the arable land in the country, slicing off a portion (not all) of these holdings into community corporations which could develop businesses. This launched the South African wine business into world competitiveness. It also allowed the country to develop regional trade relationships for manufactured goods and agricultural products. The result was that the income level of both white and black South African rose significantly.

The country still has a long way to go. One of the principal problems is a massive influx of immigrants from other parts of Africa who want to share in South African’s success. The formerly black Township of Soweto swelled from 3 million to nearly 20 million  people today in the last 15 years. The result of this is a 25% unemployment rate, despite a relatively healthy economy.

Rest in Peace President Mandela, and look proudly what your country has accomplished, your Long Walk is ended.

Remembering Nelson Mandela’s Unsung Economic Legacy

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, was the most important leader in South Africa’s history and one of the global giants of his time. What people often overlook, however, is the role Mandela played in building up Africa’s largest economy. Nearly as consequential as Mandela’s moral example was his skill in managing the transition from apartheid without widespread violence, repression, or economic collapse.

Mandela believed strongly in the link between economic and political progress. Soon after his release from prison, Mandela argued that there must be “a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed.” At the core of white minority rule had been the “homelands”: a system that kept almost half of South Africa’s population confined to semi-independent or supposedly sovereign states without the freedom to move or look for jobs in the rest of the country. The collapse of apartheid meant the end of those restrictions. The myriad legal restraints that prevented blacks and “coloreds” from gaining promotions—or access to jobs at all—were removed as well. From a state made up of 11 “countries” and three legally distinct racial groups—all with markedly different rights to move, work, and invest—South Africa became one economy. Think of it as opening borders to mass migration under the worst possible circumstances.

The dismantling of the homeland system, however, was by no means a certainty in the early days of Mandela’s presidency. The supposedly “sovereign” homeland of Bophuthatswana, home to 2.5 million, and semi-autonomous Kwazulu both threatened civil war over the dismantling of the homelands.  Relations between the African National Congress and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom party have remained tense—and sporadically violent—since the end of apartheid. But national unity and economic stability were both preserved largely through negotiation and compromise.

South Africa’s gross domestic product growth rate, meanwhile, picked up considerably under Mandela. Economic growth rose from less than 1.5 percent from 1980 to 1994 to slightly under 3 percent from 1995 to 2003. Despite the sudden influx of internal migrants with the legal right to compete equally for jobs, average personal incomes for white South Africans increased by 62 percent from 1993 to 2008, according to University of Cape Town economist Murray Leibbrandt. Average incomes for Africans themselves increased even faster—by 93 percent over that period.

As educational opportunities expanded, secondary enrollment rates increased from 50 percent to 70 percent from 1994 to 2005. The government also rolled out a range of infrastructure services: The proportion of the country that cooked using electricity from the mains climbed from 45 percent in 1993 to 73 percent by 2011, for example.

South Africa has become an increasingly important source of economic opportunity for its neighbors. South African investment accounts for around 70 percent of intra-regional investment flows. Imports from the Southern Africa Development Community—the regional trade block which South Africa joined upon its independence—climbed from $16.3 billion in 1993 to $68.7 billion in 2006. The number of migrants in South Africa—nearly all from other countries in the region—increased from 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent of the population between 1990 and 2010. There are now approximately 3.3 million SADC nationals living in South Africa; remittances from those migrants back to their home countries amount to close on $1 billion a year, according to South Africa’s FinMark Trust. The trust reports a 2005 survey of Zimbabwean remittance recipients in which more than half of respondents “agreed that they would have grown sick with hunger” in the absence of remittance payments.

Some tragic mistakes were made by President Mandela and his successors. The HIV/AIDS crisis and the government’s late and sporadic response to it shaved years off life expectancy. In 1993 4 percent of pregnant women in the country were HIV-positive. That climbed to 28 percent 10 years later, before finally leveling out. Today, a little more than one in 10 of the population is HIV-positive. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high—around 25 percent—and the gap between rich and poor is still wide. In 1993, the average white had an income more than nine times the average African. By 2008 that had dropped—but only to a little less than an eightfold income gap according to analysis by Leibbrandt.

Progress against poverty was even slower than these figures might suggest. That’s because inequality within the African population grew rapidly for the first decade of independence—a trend arrested only by the rapid expansion of social safety net programs in the last few years. (About 30 percent of South Africans benefited from social grants in 2010—up from 13 percent in 2002). Poverty in South Africa remains almost uniquely an African phenomenon. All but six percent of whites have piped water in their homes, for example, while two-thirds of Africans lacked access to it.

It’s worth considering the alternatives. At independence, South Africans looked north to Zimbabwe as a reasonably successful model of how things could work out after a difficult transition to majority rule. They’re extremely lucky that South Africa, under Mandela’s guidance, took a different path. Starting in the 1990s, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe ordered land “reforms” that took property from white farmers and awarded it to his cronies and henchmen, slashing output as a result. By the turn of the century, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate was heading over 100 percent; by 2006 it would top 1,000 percent. Zimbabwe’s economy remains in a state of punch-drunk torpor.

Some may be disappointed that Mandela failed to create an African lion to challenge the East Asian tigers in terms of growth and poverty reduction. But the nonviolent absorption of a considerable majority of the population into an economy from which they had previously been excluded, all while incomes and access to services improved and civil rights were respected, was an incredible accomplishment—one that owes much to Mandela’s leadership. Let’s hope his successors preserve that legacy.

Going Out in Style in Ghana

Picking a coffin in Ghana for that deceased loved on is a bit more complex than “Do you want the wood one, or the brass handles?”

Funerals are one of the most important events in Ghanaian society. Frederick Nnoma-Addison, a D.C.-based journalist who comes from the West African country, says funerals in Ghana are considered an investment in the memory of the deceased. “Yes, there is mourning, but we also reflect his or her good life, and celebrate,” he told Seth Doane. 

And while a funeral lasts just a few hours, since eternity is, well, eternity, it’s important to spend it in style.

Style?

Check this out! For the ful set – follow the link above.

Pachyderm Peppers

Sometimes a low tech solution far outperforms more high tech or direct measures. In this case red hot chili peppers serve to save farmer’s crops from elephants.

Get a whiff of this!

Elephants Now Think Twice About Midnight Snacks in Tanzania

MIKUMI VILLAGE, Tanzania—Snap. Crack. Pop.

That’s the sound of an African elephant with a dangerous case of the munchies crashing through underbrush at 25 miles per hour.

Said Longwa, a 52-year-old farmer and father of nine, used to face down crop-raiding elephants with nothing but a flashlight. Others in Mikumi village would beat tin cans or light fires; some exploded homemade pipe bombs. But the sound and fury didn’t deter the largest land mammals on Earth from staging nightly assaults on fields of corn and watermelon.

[ELEPHANT]A BULL ELEPHANT

During the worst period of crop raids several years ago, charging elephants killed three people from Mr. Longwa’s village, in the Morogoro region in central Tanzania, more than 118 miles from the coastal capital of Dar es Salaam.

When the elephants visit Mr. Longwa’s cornfield these days, they screw up their long noses and trumpet in consternation.

Mr. Longwa has treated his fence with chili mixed with engine oil—a preparation that adheres to the fence, even in heavy rain. “They will mull it over and often circle two to three times,” the farmer says of the elephants that approach his fence. “But once they get a real whiff of the chili, they snuffle and sneeze.” And leave the scene. Continue reading

Ugandan Kids Get Serious About Baseball

Looks like the American Pastime Sport may not die out after all. Africa may provide an entirely new market wich revitalizes the sport.

Ugandan children’s new favorite sport: Baseball

 

KAMPALA, Uganda – Unlike in most of Africa, soccer is not the top sport at the Rev. John Foundation School in Uganda’s capital. Instead, a fairly foreign American game is No. 1 and catching on quickly.

“Baseball is our main game here,” head teacher Emmanuel Bazannye said of his school. “Even the girls love it. The girls want to participate after seeing the boys doing it. We say that what the boys can do, even the girls can do.”

Baseball is not widely played in Africa, but Uganda looks poised to be the launching pad for the game’s entry into this soccer-dominated continent.

Last year a team of young Ugandan ballers made international news in heartbreaking fashion. They qualified for the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., but were denied travel visas by the U.S. State Department because of a lack of documentation.

“We cried for two good days,” said George Mukhobe, the coach who would have led the team to America. “It meant a lot for those kids.”

Augustus Owinyi was the team’s first baseman. Although now too old for Little League, he still shows up during practices, pleasing coaches who see it as a sign of his commitment.

Owinyi wants to be like Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The 13-year-old Owinyi met Rollins when the American visited Uganda in January and that memory makes him dream of playing Major League Baseball someday. His hopes for a career in baseball made the State Department’s visa denial especially painful.

“I felt very sad,” he said. “They gave us back our passports and said we were not to go. Some of us cried. I love this game. I see my future in this game.”

Ugandan sports followers say the school’s success in international competition has contributed to baseball’s popularity among schools that once were skeptical about the American game.

The school is preparing for a national baseball competition, where the winner will travel to Poland in July. It’s the first international opportunity for Ugandan youngsters following the failure to go to the Little League World Series.

The visa refusal spawned a wave of sympathy, but also inspired a fundraising drive that raised enough money to bring to Uganda a team from Canada that the Ugandans would have faced if they had competed in South Williamsport.

In January, the Ugandans beat the Canadians 2-1. Coach Mukhobe said that the win was more proof that Uganda had baseball talent.

Baseball still lags behind soccer across Uganda. But it’s catching on among schools attracted to its relative novelty and the government now backs the game’s introduction in schools.

About 60 schools encourage baseball, Mukhobe said, and this year a national baseball league was launched after it was endorsed by sports authorities. The baseball season started in mid-March.

Kenya Sends Troops into Somalia to Hunt Down Al Shabaab Terrorists

Tourism is a major contributor to the economy of Kenya, contributing about 60% to the GDP. So when you start kidnapping, abductingforeign aid workers,  and murdering tourists in Kenya – killing their tourist business

The normally pacifist Kenya has to do something.

 

 

Obama Orders US Troops to Uganda

One of the positive thigs about Obama vs Bush – is we don’t need to invade a whole country anymore to get rid of the bad guys…

An example of which was Libya, getting Bin Lauden, and eradicating about 75% of Al Quaeda’s leadership.

Now if US troops come under fire and accidentally have to whack this criminal SOB…

C’est la Vie.

One other thing…I am sure conservatives will jump up and down and scream in support of this scumbag.

President Obama says the Lord's Resistance Army Obama orders U.S. troops to help chase down African ‘army’ leader

President Barack Obama is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the notoriously violent Lord’s Resistance Army in and around Uganda.

“I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield,” Obama said in letter sent Friday to House Speaker John Boehner and Daniel Inouye, the president pro tempore of the Senate. Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

U.S. military personnel advising regional forces working to target Kony and other senior leaders will not engage Kony’s forces “unless necessary for self-defense,” Obama said.

“I believe that deploying these U.S. armed forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.”

Obama noted that the group “has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

According to the State Department, “since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across the region because of LRA activity.”

Obama said the United States since 2008 has backed regional military efforts to go after the Lord’s Resistance Army. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that since that time the United States has provided more than $40 million in support.

Efforts to combat the LRA, however, have been unsuccessful.

In his letter, Obama cited the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. In that measure, Congress “expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability,” he said.

“I have directed this deployment, which is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.”

Africa – The Mother of All Languages

Africa – the mother of all peoples on earth, was also where the first spoken languages were developed.

LANGUAGES

The Mother of All Languages

The world’s 6,000 or so modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early African humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, could help explain how the first spoken language emerged, spread and contributed to the evolutionary success of the human species.

Quentin Atkinson, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and author of the study, found that the first migrating populations leaving Africa laid the groundwork for all the world’s cultures by taking their single language with them—the mother of all mother tongues.

“It was the catalyst that spurred the human expansion that we all are a product of,” Dr. Atkinson said.

About 50,000 years ago—the exact timeline is debated—there was a sudden and marked shift in how modern humans behaved. They began to create cave art and bone artifacts and developed far more sophisticated hunting tools. Many experts argue that this unusual spurt in creative activity was likely caused by a key innovation: complex language, which enabled abstract thought. The work done by Dr. Atkinson supports this notion.

His research is based on phonemes, distinct units of sound such as vowels, consonants and tones, and an idea borrowed from population genetics known as “the founder effect.” That principle holds that when a very small number of individuals break off from a larger population, there is a gradual loss of genetic variation and complexity in the breakaway group.

Dr. Atkinson figured that if a similar founder effect could be discerned in phonemes, it would support the idea that modern verbal communication originated on that continent and only then expanded elsewhere.

In an analysis of 504 world languages, Dr. Atkinson found that, on average, dialects with the most phonemes are spoken in Africa, while those with the fewest phonemes are spoken in South America and on tropical islands in the Pacific.

The study also found that the pattern of phoneme usage globally mirrors the pattern of human genetic diversity, which also declined as modern humans set up colonies elsewhere. Today, areas such as sub-Saharan Africa that have hosted human life for millennia still use far more phonemes in their languages than more recently colonized regions do.

(more)

Libyan Birthers…

Yeah… They got “Birthers” in Libya too!

The Mystery Behind Gadhafi’s Birth: Some Say He’s Jewish

What if the biggest mystery surrounding Col. Moammar Gadhafi had nothing to do with his long, brutal reign as the world’s most eccentric and violent leader turned pariah?

And what if a long-lost letter from a Catholic cardinal who knew Gadhafi’s true identity was evidence that could have solved the mystery?

To many Libyan people, the biggest question mark about Gadhafi does not involve his repressive and dictatorial rule, delusional statements or brazen lies. Behind closed doors, for years, they’ve wondered if he is Jewish. Last week the issue came out in the open, asNBC’s Richard Engel reported from Libya that one in five rebels was fighting Gadhafi because he believes the leader is Jewish.

Conflicting reports surrounding Gadhafi’s birth have circulated since about 1970, two years after a Gadhafi-led coup made him the de facto leader of Libya.

In a handful of biographies from years ago, mostly written by Europeans, Gadhafi is almost always described as being born in a tent in Sirt, the son of a poor, illiterate Bedouin sheepherder and his wife.

But the hushed-up rumors in Libya about Gadhafi’s parentage involved his mother being Jewish. The stories have conflicted over the years, and the narratives are different. One had her converting to Judaism at age 9. In another, Gadhafi’s grandmother is Jewish but leaves her husband for an Arab sheik.

A more specific claim, backed up by a Libyan historian, is that Gadhafi was born out of wedlock to a Jewish woman and an Italian soldier in a village east of Tripoli. Because of the shame surrounding the birth, the baby was given to a Catholic cardinal who in turn gave the child to the sheepherder and his wife.

Kenya Parliament Kicks Male Member Out… For Earrings!

They are tough in Kenya. This MP gets kicked out for “Improper Dress” on the floor of Parliament.

Naomi Campbell ‘Fesses Up

Naomi has steadfastly denied that she got blood diamonds from Liberian Dictator Charles Taylor for years, despite Mia Farrow’s testimony that indeed Naomi had shown the uncut diamonds to her.

Confronted with the full weight of the court – she confesses -

Serial Killer in Kenya Blames Teacher Blood Cult

Cops Nab Woman Suspected of Leading of Killer Cult

A high school teacher has been detained in Kenya, after a self-confessed serial killer said that she told him to kill 100 people for good fortune. Philip Onyancha, 32, has confessed to killing 17 people, mostly women, and says he did so because teacher Elizabeth Wambui inducted him into her blood-drinking cult when he was in school in 1996, the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation reports. “My target was to kill 100 women,” Onyancha said. “I managed 17 and there were 83 to go.” He said he targeted women and young children because they were weak. Police nabbed Onyancha last Thursday when he called the father of one of his victims to extort money from him. Since then, he’s been remarkably helpful, leading them to various murder sites around the country. He’s neatly resolved so many unsolved murders that some Kenyans suspect he’s lying, a BBC correspondent reports.

Naomi Campbell’s Blood Diamonds

"Beauty's Only Skin Deep"...

War crimes prosecutors seek Naomi Campbell as witness

War crimes prosecutors Thursday asked a court to order supermodel Naomi Campbell to give evidence in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

They said Campbell received rough diamonds from Taylor, and claimed her testimony would prove that the former president “used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases,” according to papers filed with the U.N.-backed court.

Campbell has said she does not want to be involved in the case, prosecutors said, forcing them to ask the court to issue a subpoena ordering her to appear.

“Her anticipated evidence rebuts the accused’s testimony that he never possessed rough diamonds,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they learned last June that Taylor had given the supermodel a diamond in South Africa in 1997. The actress Mia Farrow confirmed it, they said.

“Ms. Farrow was present at the reception where the accused met Ms. Campbell and was told the next morning by Ms. Campbell about the gift,” they said in the court papers.

Campbell’s lawyer did not respond to repeated prosecution e-mails and phone calls earlier this year after The New York Times reported that Campbell was cooperating with the prosecution, court papers say. Continue reading

Somali Pirates Walk the Plank After Russian Capture

We don’t need no stinkin’ International Law!

Russia: Freed Pirates Probably Dead

A group of Somali pirates seized by Russian forces and then freed never made it to land and are probably dead, according to Russian authorities. The pirates, captured after the Russian navy freed a hijacked oil tanker last week, were released hundreds of miles from shore in an inflatable boat with no navigational equipment, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman says radio signals from the boat vanished an hour afterwards. Somali pirate commanders have threatened to harm any Russian citizens they find aboard hijacked ships in revenge for the Russian operation. Russia says it freed the pirates because of “imperfections” in international law, although many in the Russian media speculate that they were killed instead of freed. The lack of an international court to try pirates means “we’ll have to do what our forefathers did when they met the pirates ,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said before Russian forces stormed the tanker.

Lost Tribe

The “lost tribes” of the Jewish Faith also settled in Africa.

Lost Jewish tribe ‘found in Zimbabwe’

Lemba wear the skullcap, and practice Jewish traditions, although they are mainly Christians and Moslem today

In many ways, the Lemba tribe of Zimbabwe and South Africa are just like their neighbours.

But in other ways their customs are remarkably similar to Jewish ones.

They do not eat pork, they practise male circumcision, they ritually slaughter their animals, some of their men wear skull caps and they put the Star of David on their gravestones.

Their oral traditions claim that their ancestors were Jews who fled the Holy Land about 2,500 years ago.

It may sound like another myth of a lost tribe of Israel, but British scientists have carried out DNA tests which confirm their Semitic origin.

These tests back up the group’s belief that a group of perhaps seven men married African women and settled on the continent. The Lemba, who number perhaps 80,000, live in central Zimbabwe and the north of South Africa.

Zimbabwean Lemba women

Lemba women do not have Jewish DNA

And they also have a prized religious artefact that they say connects them to their Jewish ancestry – a replica of the Biblical Ark of the Covenant known as the ngoma lungundu, meaning “the drum that thunders”.

The object went on display recently at a Harare museum to much fanfare, and instilled pride in many of the Lemba.

“For me it’s the starting point,” says religious singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave.

“Very few people knew about us and this is the time to come out. I’m very proud to realise that we have a rich culture and I’m proud to be a Lemba.

“We have been a very secretive people, because we believe we are a special people.”

Religion vs culture

The Lemba have many customs and regulations that tally with Jewish tradition.

They wear skull caps, practise circumcision, which is not a tradition for most Zimbabweans, avoid eating pork and food with animal blood, and have 12 tribes.

They slaughter animals in the same way as Jewish people, and they put the Jewish Star of David on their tombstones.

Members of the priestly clan of the Lemba, known as the Buba, were even discovered to have a genetic element also found among the Jewish priestly line.

“This was amazing,” said Prof Tudor Parfitt, from the University of London.

“It looks as if the Jewish priesthood continued in the West by people called Cohen, and in same way it was continued by the priestly clan of the Lemba.

“They have a common ancestor who geneticists say lived about 3,000 years ago somewhere in north Arabia, which is the time of Moses and Aaron when the Jewish priesthood started.”

Prof Parfitt is a world-renowned expert, having spent 20 years researching the Lemba, and living with them for six months.

The Lemba have a sacred prayer language which is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic, pointing to their roots in Israel and Yemen.

Despite their ties to Judaism, many of the Lemba in Zimbabwe are Christians, while some are Muslims.

“Christianity is my religion, and Judaism is my culture,” explains Perez Hamandishe, a pastor and member of parliament from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

iPod, iPhone… iRape

Hat Tip – Truthdig on this bit on Conflict Minerals -

A background on what is going on in the Congo -


more about “iRape – Truthdig“, posted with vodpod
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