July 30, 2009

Pan-African Reading For All Conference feat. Ngugi

Over at Knowledge Matters, a blog run by Tanzanian journalist Emmanuel Onyango, there is an announcement about the Pan-African Reading For All Conference in Dar-es-Salaam. Please click on the title link for more information about the conference:

A well known African novelist, a Kenyan born Professor Ngugi wa Thion’go is expected to be among the key speakers at the sixth annual Pan-African Reading for All Conference scheduled to take place later in Dar es Salaam. According to the Chairman of the conference preparatory committee, Professor Mugyabuso Mulokozi, Professor Ngugi would also be accompanied by Kenyan popular scholar in the USA Professor Ally Mazrui, President of the Pearson Foundation Nieker Mark and Patricia Edward, President of International Reading Association. Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete would be the Chief guest of the conference that is expected to attract more than 200 local and International participants. The event has been championed by Children’s book project for Tanzania Develop Literature Society, Reading for All Pan-African voice of literacy and other stakeholders.

Anyone going to be in Dar for this conference? (Incidentally its around the same time as IPAD East Africa, which is also in Dar).


July 29, 2009

A Crackdown on Albino Murders? (Reuters Africa Blog)

In a small courtroom in eastern Burundi, state prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare waves a bone at the judges and the eight men lined up in front of them, as he states his case.

It’s a human bone.

The eight men are on trial for murdering albinos and trying to sell their body parts across the border in Tanzania, where some people believe that using albino body parts in witchcraft can bring wealth and good fortune. Some of the body parts found are now on display for all to see.

The grisly case shocked people far beyond the courthouse in the Burundian town of Ruyigi, where three of the men got a life sentence and the other five got 20 years in prison for aiding and abetting.

For Kazungu Kassim, a spokesman for Burundi’s albinos, the sentences were a victory. “It gives the Burundi Albinos Association a lot of courage because it shows that the government is on our side,” he told Reuters Africa Journal after the trial. “I think it could reduce the amount of attacks on albinos and I also think it might discourage anyone who was intending to endanger the life of an albino in our country.”

It was the first in a series of cases in which the governments of Burundi and Tanzania are finally trying to bring some of those behind the albino murders to justice. More than 50 albinos — who lack pigment in their skin, eyes and hair — have been killed in the two countries, presumably to fuel the cross-border trade in their sought-after body parts.

Tanzania opened five new cases last month, and Burundi passed down another sentence on July 23, condemning one more person to life in prison.

Both countries are also trying to convince ordinary citizens to help in the arrest of those responsible. But it’s little consolation for those who have already lost a loved one in such a brutal and horrific way.

Outside her hut, Leonie Kabura cradles her baby twins. They’re all she has left. Until a few months ago, her 16-year-old daughter helped to care for them. But she was albino, one of the 11 who was murdered in Burundi.

Her husband had left her because of the stigma attached to albinism here.

“Those people who were arrested should rot in prison,” says Leonie bitterly. “If the
government can kill them, then they should, because they are the reason for my hunger.”

Many albinos in this region still live in fear of being attacked and killed, and in Ruyigi town, the government has rented a safe house guarded by the police, where about 25 albinos have found shelter.
“We used to get along well with everybody,” says Godefroid Hakizimana. “That’s changed now. We’re being told that they’re going to kill us to earn lots of money.”

Africa is thought to have the highest concentration of albinos in the world. Only about 200 live in Burundi, but an estimated 200,000 live across the border in Tanzania.

In the main city Dar es Salaam, people were horrified by what’s been happening.

“I want to tell my fellow Tanzanians not to get conned by these witchdoctors,” says Catherine Nguni. “They themselves are looking for wealth, so how can they make you rich?”

Pamela Mcheka, also a Dar resident, is herself an albino. “My family tells me to be careful at night and that I should stay indoors,” she says. “I just hope God will watch over us.”


July 27, 2009

Learning Swahili and other African Languages in America

From: Peter Alegi
Subject: WEB: Africa Past and Present Podcast - episode 29 now available

Episode 29 of Africa Past and Present -- the podcast about African
history, culture, and politics -- is now AVAILABLE
In this episode, Dr. Ibro Chekaraou, Dr. Waithera
Karim-Sesay, and Mamarame Seck on challenges and possibilities for African
language study in America. The focus is on pedagogy and the language
politics in Africa with specific reference to Hausa, Swahili, and Wolof.

****** Africa Past and Present is hosted by Michigan State University
historians Peter Alegi and Peter Limb. It is produced by Matrix -- the
Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online

Peter Alegi
Michigan State University


Kiswahili Must Be Protected By All (Zanzibar)

ZANZIBARIS should honour Kiswahili, and take full responsibility of preserving the Isles culture instead of blaming the government or foreigners for any distortions, the Zanzibar Minister of Information, Culture, and Sports, Mr Ali Juma Shamuhuna, has said.

Responding to concerns raised by legislators during the two days debate on the ministry’s 4.4bn/- budget proposals for 2009/2010, the minister said there was no way Zanzibar could detach itself from the rest of the world to prevent global impact on their language and culture.

“The world is now a global village, and Zanzibar cannot isolate itself. Let us accept changes by taking what we think is acceptable in our society and leave out the rest,” Mr Shamuhuna said before legislators voted to approve his ministry’s budget.

He dismissed as baseless claims that his ministry had not done enough to protect the Isles’ Kiswahili dialect, culture, traditional dances, and norms.

Mr Shamuhuna argued that Zanzibaris, including legislators, should not expect the government to do everything for them. “If a son or daughter returns home very late in the night, how do you blame the government? Such behaviour needs parental commitments.”

The minister also said it was difficult for his ministry to protect Kiswahili without the commitment of people and leaders who, occasionally preferred to speak English, not Kiswahili, at official functions.

The Speaker of the Zanzibar House, Mr Pandu Ameir Kificho, interrupted during the debate by asking the legislators to stick to Kiswahili (without mixing it with English). Most of them however, could not.


July 26, 2009

Heart and Soul BBC Presents: Return to Zanzibar

Return to Zanzibar Part 1

Return to Zanzibar Part 2

YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN returns to Zanzibar on a very personal journey, to the idyllic island she visited as a child. It was here during holidays with her mother in the 1950s and 1960s that she first found the remnants of caves, used to hold thousands of slaves, and learnt about Zanzibar's slave past.


Unveiling Zanzibar's Unhealed Wounds

From the BBC
Unveiling Zanzibar's unhealed wounds
By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

I often went to Zanzibar as a child, with my mother, who was born in Dar
es Salaam.

We would take a crowded ferry and stay at a hostel for poor women and
their kids, who wanted a subsidised break by the sea.

The women in the local mosque provided lunch and we had a wonderful time.

The island, a fabulous mix of Arab, African, Indian and Persian
cultures and peoples, was utterly unlike my racially-divided hometown,
Kampala, in Uganda.


Then, one day, my mother told me about the thousands of black slaves who
had been captured in the hinterlands and brought to the island to be

She took me to Bagamoyo, the slave port on the mainland: the word means
"lay down your heart".

That trade went on from the Seventh Century until - it is claimed - the
beginning of the 20th Century.

Throughout early history, enslavement was common around the world, and
East Africa was just one more lucrative location.

But here, the abomination went on longer than at any other time or place.

The traders were mostly Arab, though some Indian merchants were
actively involved.

Those who captured and sold humans to the businessmen were local African
chiefs and henchmen.

A febrile young child, I was distraught when I learned that Muslims had
perpetuated this evil. How could it be?

The Prophet Mohammed had freed Bilal, a black slave, and asked him to
make the first-ever call to prayer. Surely that meant something?

And, as the years went on and we learned to look back with abhorrence at
the practice of owning and exploiting humans, how come there was no
acknowledgement of this injustice in Zanzibar?

The questions circled around in my head obsessively when I was a young teen.


Then came 1964, and the island detonated.

A revolution led by African soldiers deposed the constitutional
monarch, Sultan Seyyid Bin Abdullah.

It was, in part, retaliation for slavery - by people, and upon people,
who were not responsible.

It felt as if some ancient God of vengeance had risen from the sea.

They slaughtered anyone who looked Arab, and some Indians too. They took
their daughters to rape, confiscated their properties and
banished many.

To this day there is no list of the dead - those tortured and dumped
into the sea - the disappeared and the exiles.

My mother and I never went back to our favourite place, but for years I
have wanted to reveal these veiled stories.

Returning for the first time in more than 40 years for the BBC World
Service's Heart and Soul strand, I interviewed Leila, 99, whose
grandparents were enslaved.

"My grandmother had a baby, and the baby was still feeding - but the
traders said this would delay the journey so they just threw the baby
away," she said.

"My father was also thrown away but the missionaries took him in and
looked after him here."

Leila became very emotional.

"It is very painful - so many cruel people," she said.

"It's very hard because we can't remember our home, can't see or know
our relatives. We are cut off from our history."

When we turned the tape recorder off, her eyes glazed over and she threw
up blood all over her lovely satin dress - and me.

Then there were those I talked to about the revolution in 1964.

Those who knew the violated and stolen girls cried as they spoke. They
were taking risks talking to us, but it was time to do so, they said.

On a secluded beach away from the main town, Suleman Hamed told me how
his uncle, sister and brother-in-law were killed.

"People were killed in the streets and houses, and the revolutionaries
take your wife and daughters - for raping. That was a horrible time. We
think as if it was yesterday. And all because their ancestors were
Arabs. We are called Arabs, but I don't even speak a word of Arabic."

The historian Maalim Idris says he witnessed the gutters running with
Arab and Indian blood.

He showed me photographs of mass graves and of trucks piled high with
corpses being driven through the main street.

He believes no fewer than 3,000 Arabs and Indians were killed during the
revolution, but there is no official figure.

No healing

Going back to Zanzibar was a life lesson in the potency of the whole
historical truth.

Those of Arab descent feel too defensive about the slave trade and focus
on the revolution; Africans dwell on the trade and expect no mention of
the barbaric acts of the revolutionaries.

There will not be real, deep healing between the citizens of various
ethnicities until everyone talks more honestly about past injustices.

Without that, paradise is but an illusion.

An earlier version of this piece appeared in Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's
column in the Independent newspaper. Her radio documentaries can be
heard via the Heart and Soul website.


July 20, 2009

Pesa on the Hip

FYI. Sending money by mobile phone is big business in East Africa; It has some interesting potentials not only for small movements of cash but for larger transactions in the business sector.



Two exclusive halfday workshops to take place at:

iPAD East Africa and the East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC)

An Introduction to Mobile Money in East Africa
Mobile Money as a platform for payroll, bill presentment and payment

Mobile phone penetration in Africa will rise from less than 5% in 2003 to over 50% by
2012. Yet, 77% of Africans don't have a bank account, which means payments using
mobile phones are a rapidly emerging part of the payment ecosystem. This is particularly
the case in East Africa, which boasts the world's most famous mobile money service MPESA,
with 6.5 million customers in Kenya and live in Tanzania. The battle for the mobile
money market share is intense, with MTN's MobileMoney, Orange Money, Zain's ZAP and
Zantel's ZPESA also launching services and competing for customers.

Drawing upon the success of the world's leading Mobile Money event, the MMT
Conference and Expo, we are pleased to announce a new Mobile Money Academy session
at the Infrastructure Partnerships for African Development (iPAD) East Africa
conference and exhibition and East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC) on
11 August 2009 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

This unique and not-to-be-missed event combines an introduction and practical project
management guide to how mobile money works, with a specific focus on leveraging
mobile money for payroll, bill presentment and payment. This event is designed for both
mobile money service operators and their partners and suppliers; and for utilities and
corporations seeking to understand mobile money and use it as a platform for billing,
payments and payroll.


Mobile money as a platform for payroll, bill presentment and payment
Revenue collection for African utilities makes the growth of utilities possible. It enables
utilities to create the cash flow necessary to pursue their projects and development.
The African utility sector is embracing innovations in the information and communication
technology (ICT) field, improved cooperation and collaboration on pooling of energy
trading; regional regulation and cooperation protocols.


July 17, 2009

MP wants security beefed up to stem albino killings

This has been going on for a while, and was a hot topic when I last visited. Takes me back to one of my first daladala rides in Dar-es-Salaam: an albino guy gets in and sits next to me. Everyone in the bus starts tittering softly until finally the driver looks at us and says, "your brother" to me. Everyone in the daladala burst out laughing except for the albino guy, who kept his eyes down the whole time. Interestingly this call for investigation is coming from an albino MP who is also a Muslim woman. At the end of the article are some links for more information on albino killings and why they occur.

By Lusekelo Philemon (IPP MEDIA)

A member of Parliament, Al-Shymaa Kwegyir, yesterday urged the government to increase the number of police officers in areas notorious for vicious killings of people with albinism.Kwegyir made the plea here in a supplementary question to East African Cooperation deputy Mohamed Abood, who was standing in for Home Affairs minister Lawrence Masha.She said the proposal would help to lessen the magnitude of the problem in the affected areas.According to her, in Tanzania there were areas which were prone to albino killings which needed special attention compared to other areas.Responding, Abood said the government would work on the proposal and see how it could be executed.He urged people in the country to refrain from barbaric beliefs which led to albino killings.In response to the basic question by Kheri Khatibu Ameir (Matemwe, CCM), the minister said that from 2005 to 2008 about 1997 elderly people had been killed while in the same period about 1698 suspected killers had been arrested.He said the government had been taking practical measures to address the problem including forming intelligence groups that made it easier to identify suspected killers and those involved in other crimes.He also said the government had formed task forces in every region and district to address the problem.“The government, through community policing, has been educating people on the negative impact of albino and elderly killings in the society,” he said.The Matemwe MP had wanted to know the number of elderly people killed from 2005 to 2008 and the number of suspected killers who had been arrested in connection with the killings.

Albino killings in Tanzania
Albino killings in Burundi


Kenya’s Bill for Bloodshed Nears Payment

Memo From Nairobi (New York Times)

NAIROBI, Kenya — The envelope, please — those are the words on many Kenyans’ lips.

Ever since last year’s eruption of post-election violence, which killed more than 1,000 people and threatened to drive this once promising country off a cliff, Kenyans have been waiting to hear who masterminded the bloodshed and who will pay the price.

A Kenyan commission investigated the violence in October and came up with a list of several top suspects, widely believed to include some of the nation’s most powerful men. The names were sealed in a square brown paper envelope (incongruously wrapped with a white ribbon) and handed over to Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations who took on the role of peacemaker.

Kenyan politicians had promised Mr. Annan that they would form a special tribunal to try the suspects here, ending a longstanding culture of impunity that feeds the ethnic-political bloodshed that convulses Kenya nearly every election.

But so far, nothing. Kenya’s leaders, paralyzed by competing agendas and the prospect of prosecuting their own, have refused to set up a tribunal. So last week, Mr. Annan upped the ante. He sent the envelope with the names to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, which has now indicated that it will step in if Kenya fails to act.

“Kenya Cornered,” and “Annan Ambushed Us” blared the Daily Nation, Kenya’s biggest newspaper.

On Tuesday, the bloated Kenyan cabinet (which has more than 60 ministers and assistant ministers) called an emergency meeting to decide what to do, but once again, deadlock. The Kenyan government has essentially three options: coax a rebellious Parliament into approving a special tribunal; refer the case to the International Criminal Court, which has already been criticized for picking on Africa; or do an end run around Parliament and set up a special branch of Kenya’s judiciary, whose credibility is “below sea level,” according to one human rights official.

Human rights advocates are urging their government to do something, fast.

“If we don’t deal with the impunity from this last election, the next one will be horrible,” said Maina Kiai, a former government human rights official.

Mr. Kiai says that ethnic gangs are rearming themselves across the country, this time with guns, not machetes. He contends that unless the culprits are punished for the killings last year, which included hacking up old men and burning toddlers to death, the next time there is a disputed election, which he thinks there surely will be, people will be emboldened to wreak havoc again.

“It’s not peace,” he said, of the semblance of normality that has returned to Kenya since the election. “It’s a cease-fire.”

Kenya is still wrangling with problems that go back decades, and the tribunal crisis is wrapped up in a call for sweeping change, including land reform, electoral reform and constitutional reform. The so-called grand coalition government, cobbled together after the disputed election, was supposed to tackle these issues. So far, none of those boxes have been checked either.

Nothing, though, appears more sensitive than the tribunal. In February, Parliament shot down a bill to set up a special Kenyan court for perpetrators of the post-election violence, and in recent days, lawmakers have indicated that the votes are still not there. Human rights officials are not surprised.

“If we leave it to Parliament, and I say this as an individual and not on behalf of my organization, Parliament will not pass a tribunal unless they are sure the tribunal will be dysfunctional,” said Victor Kamau, a lawyer at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.


“Because many of the murderers are in the government,” he said.

The names in the envelope have not been made public. But Kenyans have their suspicions. Several Western diplomats and human rights officials have said that Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, and Agriculture Minister William Ruto are on the list, suspected of organizing death squads. The two men are from different ethnic groups and opposite political camps, with Mr. Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, in the president’s party, and Mr. Ruto, a Kalenjin who quickly scaled the rungs of the leading opposition movement. One reason for the paralysis over the tribunal may be that both sides, for once, have the same vested interest: continuing the impunity.

But all the talk of organizers, masterminds and planners of the post-election violence raises a big question: how organized was it?

In the days following the election, in December 2007, in which the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner over Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who is now prime minister, rival gangs rampaged across Kenya’s slums, in the hillsides and throughout many towns. Initially, a lot of violence appeared to be spontaneous outrage, vented along ethnic lines, though upon closer inspection, some of it seemed to have been organized, at least by local leaders and village elders. But what remains murky, many political analysts here say, is the extent to which top politicians were directly involved.

“I think a very large part of the violence was spontaneous,” said Abdalla Bujra, a Kenyan sociologist. “When it started, it was spontaneous. Later, there was some level of organization.”

But, Mr. Bujra argued, “none of the top leaders expected this to have erupted on a massive scale.”

Further bloodshed is another serious fear. Some people worry that if Kenya’s big men are hauled off to court, they will tell their followers to kill again.

“We have a history of politicians mobilizing their ethnic constituencies when they feel threatened personally,” said George Wachira, a peace advocate in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

“But that’s a risk we have to take,” he said. “At some point, we have to take a stand, and re-establish the rule of law.”

Or, as many other Kenyans might say, establish the rule of law in the first place.


Do Muslims Have a Global Identity?

Picking up where Dr. John Voll left off with the idea of Islam as a 'special world system.'


Full text: Obama's Ghana speech (Al Jazeera English)

Al Jazeera English - Africa - Full text: Obama's Ghana speech

Shared via AddThis


R.I.P. Ustaz Haroub Othman (BBC Swahili)

Inna lillahi wa ina alahi rajioun

Mwanazuoni maarufu nchini Tanzania, Profesa Haroub Othman, amezikwa Jumatatu nyumbani kwao kisiwani Zanzibar baada ya kuaga dunia siku ya Jumapili akiwa na umri wa miaka 66.

Profesa Othman, ambaye amekuwa mchambuzi wa maswala mbali mbali kwenye matangazo ya Idhaa ya Kiswahili ya BBC, alikuwa mhadhiri katika Chuo Kikuu cha Dar Es Salaam kwa zaidi ya miongo mitatu.

Kwa wengi anaeleweka kuwa ni mchambuzi wa masuala ya siasa, uhusiano wa kimataifa na mambo ya maendeleo.


Mwanazuoni huyo amekuwa mwenyekiti wa Kituo cha Sheria cha Zanzibar, jukwaa ambalo lilimpatia fursa ya kuzungumzia mambo mengi kuhusu demokrasia, utawala bora na sheria huko Zanzibar.

Wakati anafariki pia alikuwa ni mjumbe wa Baraza la Habari la Tanzania na katika uhai wake ametumikia tume mbali mbali za kiserikali ikiwemo ile ya Jaji ya Nyalali ambayo ndio ilioifungulia Tanzania milango ya kuwa na siasa za ushindani wa vyama hapo 1992.

Profesa Othman alipata elimu yake ya juu huko Urusi na Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es salam na alikuwa ni mwanaharakati aliyehimiza Umoja wa Afrika na kuwa karibu na wana harakati wa zama za kujikomboa na wenye fikra za kizazi kipya kote barani Afrika na duniani.


Rafsanjani gives Friday khutbah in Tehran

So what REALLY happenned in Iran? Fellow blogger and international scholar Austin Thompson posted something about a month ago, when this story was first breaking, urging caution about how the major news media outlets in the US were jumping to conclusions about election fraud, perhaps prematurely. In that context, its interesting to note the different headlines 'framing' this story, in which influential Iranian cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressed the nation. The Associated Press titled it: "Police tear-gas Iran protestors during prayers" while Al-Jazeera English titled it: "Rafsanjani: Iran in crisis." The Independent referred to Rafsanjani's criticism of 'hard-liners' in a story that was ironically also taken from the AP wire (by Ali Akbar Dareini). (See the link in the title)

I agree its important to stay alert to how this is being framed as it unfolds. It seems obvious to me at this point that SOMETHING was not right in how the Iranian elections were conducted. But the COVERAGE bias is striking to me...where were all these "pro-democracy" and "anti-authoritarian" advocates in the Western media when Israel illegally invaded Gaza?

Here is the English translation of the khutba from the Revolutionary Road blog"
It was actually taken from Sidewalk Lyrics, who did the translation as far as I know:

The moazzen is saying the azan.

Rafsanjani just got introduced to the podium.

Sound of loud chants we can’t make out.

Rafsanjani: Please sit down so we can make time for the speech.

Chants again. They’re not letting him speak. I can only make out “leader” in their chants. (the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader)

13:20 Rafsanjani: We are approaching the anniversary of the Friday prayers and today’s Friday prayer is in ways very similar to the first every prayers led by Ayatollah Taleqani. In hopes that we can use this prayer for the betterment of the future of our country and the goals of the revolution.

(Tehran radio is now cut off. The host just came on to announce that thousands of people are chanting Allah o Akbar in the streets.)

13:23 Rafsanjani: I have a main part to my speech. It will be about the most critical aspects of Islam.

13:25 The second part of my speech will be about the goals of the revolution, the goals people have worked for and have given their blood for and have been the endeavors of our Imam [Khomeini].

13:26 The third part will be about current day events and the conditions we are in. I will try to draw out solutions the way I see them. Of course, these will be my personal opinion.

13:27 Rafsanjani is speaking of Mohammad, the prophet, and the early days of Islam. This will go on for the first part of his sermon.

13:34 Rafsanjani is still speaking of Mohammad’s early days as prophet and his attempts to establish rule in Medina.

13:36 He is reciting a sourah from the Koran and interpreting it.

13:41 Rafsanjani is getting teary. “The prophet respected the rights of all those under his rule.” He brings an example from the end of the prophet’s life where the prophet comes to the people and asks that if he ever treated anyone unfairly, they speak up and let him know.

13:44 The prophet felt, during the last years of his life, that animosity was brewing amongst his people [he is crying now]. The prophet felt that his old friends are now enemies.

13:46 The prophet went to Baghi [where his old friends were buried] and said to them: you are lucky that you are no longer here to see that your old brothers are killing and destroying one another.

The first part of the speech is over. The second has begun.

13:51 He begins (as is the custom) by mentioning the upcoming religious dates of significance (e.g., the death of the seventh Shi’a Imam)

13: 52 May all the oppressors who make innocent people bleed be a witness to eternal condemnation

[the chants begin again]

13:53 I asked you, I pleaded for you to let me speak.

[more chants]

13:54 Rafsanjani condemns China. People chanted “Death to China” . He asks that people stop their chants.

13:55 China has a rational government. It must look at how it can benefit from its relations with the Islamic world. We hope that we will no longer be witness to such atrocities towards Muslims in China or anywhere else in the world.

13:55 But coming to our own problems. We started off very well in the competition. Everything went well and smoothly.

13:56 People became very hopeful. Everything was set for a glorious day. This glory was due to the people. They were the ones who went to the ballot box. And we must be grateful to them.

13:57 I so very much wish that that path had been continued. But unfortunately, that was not the case. I will now elaborate. We must first see what we [probably the ruling establishment] were after. This is coming from a person who was always by the Imam[Khomeini’s] side [he is referring to himself]. For 60 years. The Imam was always after the people. After getting their approval and their participation. This was the art of the Imam which made him so successful. It took the Imam less than 20 years to get the people to come to the streets.

13:58 These people, the ones who were behind the Imam, broke the back of the Shah and brought him to his knees.

13:59 After the victory of the revolution too, we worked on a daily basis with the Imam. Imam would always say that if the system is not backed by the people, nothing would stand.

14:00 The Imam would always quote the prophet [Muhammad] who would say to Ali [Mohammad’s successor]: leave the people if they do not want you.

14:02 He is speaking of the Imam’s command to Bazargan to form a temporary government. But the Imam tells him to keep it short to pave the way for the constitution.

[loud chants]

14:03 We agreed that you will stop chanting. If we do not have the votes of the people behind us, we will have nothing. The guardian council, the expediency council, EVERYONE gets their legitimacy from the vote of the people.

14:04 Without Islam, without a republic, we have nothing. Ali [Imam Ali, the prophet’s successor] waited 19 years until the people came for him.

[more chants]

14:05 Stop chanting.

14:06 Why did the elections come to this? Before the election, near the end, some people doubted what was going to happen. Maybe because of the way the broadcasting corporation behaved.

14:07 Rafsanjani: Some are chanting and I can’t make out what they say. But I am speaking what you want to hear. I want unity too.

14:08 I have never acted across party lines, and now too we must search for unity to find a way out of our quandary.

14:09 I have some suggestions. I have spoken to some members of the the expediency council and the assembly of experts about them too.

14:10 We must bring back the trust of the people. First of all, everyone must accept the law. The people, the parliament, everyone.

14:11 We must create a condition so that everyone can speak. We must speak logically. And a part of this is on the shoulders of the broadcasting corporation.

14:12 The guardian council did not make good use of the extra fives days given to them by the leader.

14:13 We do not need people in prison for this. Let’s allow them to return to their families.

14:14 We must join hands with those who have incurred great loss and try to lesson their pain.

14:15 We must give freedom to the press within the confines of the law.

14:15 We are all members of the same family. We must remain friends and allies. Why have we gone so far as to pain some of our marajeh [top religious leaders]?

14:16 I hope this sermon will pave a way out of this current situation. A situation that can be considered a crisis.

14:17 The sermon is finished.


July 16, 2009

Junoon Ocean of Love

This ocean of love breaks into another wave.
And blood pours from my heart in all directions.


July 15, 2009

Kenya seizes $1 million Asia-bound rhino, elephant ivory

Source: Reuters

* Tusks and horns came from southern Africa * Gangs target African wildlife for Asian market By Ben Makori NAIROBI, July 15 (Reuters) - Kenyan wildlife authorities have impounded nearly $1 million worth of elephant tusks and rhino horns smuggled by poachers from southern Africa and bound for illegal ivory markets in Asia. It was one of Africa's biggest ivory hauls. Sniffer dogs found the nearly 300kg of ivory at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta Airport in cargo crates coming from Mozambique on a Kenya Airways flight, the director of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) told reporters late on Tuesday. "The rhino horns are freshly cut and one of them has a bullet wound," Julius Kipng'etich said. "It's a sad moment. Remember all wildlife wherever it is, is a world heritage. So if we lose any, it's a loss to all of us as a human race." Kipng'etich said the animals must have been poached from southern African countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe or South Africa as Mozambique had no rhinos and hardly any elephants. According to the WWF conservation group, the whole continent has about 18,000 rhinos left, while sub-Saharan Africa has 690,000 elephants at most -- where once they were millions. Ivory demand in Asia is stimulating poaching by international criminal rings, wildlife experts say. "In the last year we have witnessed an upsurge in poaching for trophies, especially elephants and rhinos," Kipng'etich said. "In the last year alone Zimbabwe lost 100 rhinos and South Africa 162. This to me is the tip of the iceberg." Kipng'etich said the illegal shipment was bound for Laos, but that China was more likely to be the final destination. "From our own experience of movement of wildlife trophies, definitely this was going to China," he said. Rhino horns are used in traditional Chinese medicine where many people believe it can cure arthritis and fever. Elsewhere, ivory is in demand for carving into dagger-handles and other ornaments. Kipng'etich said a kilo of rhino horn was worth $5,000 on the black market, while a kilo of ivory sold for $3,000 a kilo, meaning the haul in Kenya of 280kg of elephant ivory and 18kg of rhino horn worth almost $1 million.(Writing by Alison Bevege; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)


The East African Fibre Summit

Nairobi, September 22-23, 2009

East Africa is on the eve on a communications revolution, which will be brought about by the landing of the region’s first undersea cables to the outside world in 2009. Governments and corporate users in the region need to prepare for the transition from a predominantly satellite-based communications infrastructure to a fibre cable-based communications infrastructure.

There is also an urgent need for new approaches to financing and building out information and communication infrastructure to address large unmet demand for information and communication services. Technological innovation helps make these new approaches possible and more flexible approaches to financing, service delivery and regulation will make them effective and sustainable.

The East African Fibre Summit will provide a platform for all stakeholders to assess these exciting developments, the impact they will have on their organizations and the optimum technical implementation strategies to gain maximum benefit from the opportunities they represent.

It will provide practical business and technology briefings to empower resellers, service providers and users to maximise their returns on their existing investments in satellite technologies and how to extend their ROI over the transition period, with blended communication systems as fibre comes on stream. Hybrid systems will be the order of the day, with wireless broadband and VoIP also boosted substantially as available bandwidth multiplies dramatically over the coming years. Satellite and wireless technologies will still have a role to play providing both data and VoIP services to business, residential, government and developmental users in both rural and urban

The East African Fibre Summit will provide participants with answers to crucial technical and business questions, enabling them to make the right deployment decisions at a time when 3G technologies are making an increasing impact in the region, ahead of the new fibre era. By providing a platform for regulators, policy-makers, vendors, service providers and users to network and share knowledge, the Conference will act as a catalyst to stimulate take-up of the right technologies to multiply connectivity across East Africa.


July 14, 2009

African Undersea Cables

Steve Song, a Canadian researcher living in Cape Town, made this very interesting and informative map of telecommunication cables in Africa. While I was in Oman one of these major cables in the Indian Ocean was damaged and it seriously impaired my ability to surf the web and check email. Furthermore this map goes a long way towards illustrating the need for further bridges across the 'digital divide.' Especially in East Africa.


Content Ideas: The Azanian Sea

Interested in Writing For Us? Here are some of the topics we're interested in. Don't find your's listed? Email nmathews@azaniansea.com with your idea:

Content Areas:

Politics: country profiles, elections, young people organizing, emerging trends, maritime security, regional cooperation, revolution and Islam, Is democracy the best form of government?, the African diaspora in the Arab world

Business, Technology, and Development: appropriate technology, development, infrastructure, cell phones, wireless internet, challenges of the 2/3rds world, pitfalls of tourism, Islamic banking

Music, Art, and Culture: ngoma, bongo flava, taarab, Islam, hip hop, globalization of American youth style, hybrid musical forms, artist profiles, record reviews, religious art, interreligious cooperation, educational policy, emerging trends in teaching Kiswahili, the Arabic origins of Kiswahili, youth culture in the Indian Ocean

History: emerging historical trends, historiography of the Indian Ocean, scholarly resources, slavery, race, maritime empires, colonialism, pre-colonial Africa, cultural mixing, origins of humankind, the impact of global hegemony on the Western academy

Environment: fishing resources and Somali pirates, deforestation, water conservation in the desert, oil and natural gas, landfills and waste removal, power crises in Africa, the politics of land usage


African Slaves in Islamic Lands: Afropop interview with Eve Trout Powell

B.E: You make an important point about the different kinds of people involved in Islamic slavery. Of course, we are really looking at just one part of the story, how the Arab and Islamic slave trade affected Africa.

E.T.P.: And how the African slave trade affected the Middle East. It is important to make the distinction because people goof all the time on this. By coming out of old Western concept of slavery, it is automatically assumed that slavery bears a certain kind of stigma, and it is really important to differentiate. Sometimes it did, if it was for Africans, but not necessarily the way would for African Americans. If you were Circassian in the Ottoman Empire, it was a wonderful thing in some ways to be a slave, because when you were freed, you could often reach the uppermost levels of power, short of being the Sultan himself. All the great viziers in the Ottoman Empire were trained as part of an elite institution. This was true within the Mamluk Empire as well, which was earlier. So you basically have different classes of slaves going on. And there were black slaves who could achieve those levels as well, so it is important to keep that in mind. You can't just exclude the Circassian slaves out of the picture, because there's a whole racial gradation that comes out. It is very complex, and we don't like to talk about how complex it is because we have a very black and white interpretation of slavery in this country, which just doesn't work in the context of the Middle East or East Africa.

Within the Islamic world, within the Middle East, there all kinds of racial gradations of slavery. They were whites. There were Abyssinians (Ethiopians). There were Sudanese. There were Nubians. There were Circassians. There was a whole complicated racial gradient going on which is very difficult for Westerners to wrap their minds around because slavery in the West, particularly African American slavery was black-white. Either you were black and you are enslaved, or you were white and you owned. This is something very difficult it seems for us, to intellectually divorce ourselves from our own racial constructions.
B.E: At a high level, what are the important things that distinguish the Western, European slave trade, from what was going on in the Middle East?

E.T.P.: I'm going to start my answer from the 19th century. I'm a specialist in 19th-century history, and I think it also the height of the African American slavery institution that is so iconographic for us, and then the Middle Eastern one that we’re talking about, is the 19th century. So here are some of the differences. In the United States, of course, and the Caribbean, you had agricultural slavery. You had plantation slavery. In the Middle East, this was very rare. You did not see this certainly in the 18th and 19th century. So African slaves in Egypt would work in people's households, would be part of people’s families, would live in the household, would not have a huge community of other slaves around them, but really would be surrounded by the family of their owners. This is very different from what you have in the United States south, where you have large numbers of slaves on many plantations. The slave-owning family could often be the minority in many cases. The slavery that we’re talking about in the Middle East is much more domestic.

Now there was also a military slavery, which you do not find all in the west. There was a military institution along the Nile Valley in the 19th century. This was known as the jihadiyya, in which you had particularly Dinka tribes conscripted into the Egyptian army as slave soldiers. And this is an old tradition in the Islamic Middle East. It goes way back: having slaves be soldiers loyal only to the ruler. Of course, in the United States, the idea of putting guns into the hands of slaves would have been just totally anathema to the whole institution. It is exactly the opposite in the Middle East. And finally, again, you don't have slavery as an inherited status. It just doesn't carry that same weight through the generations.


Top of the Hip Hops (Afropop in Dar 2004)

It was a long taxi ride from Dar es Salaam center to the Steers hamburger restaurant outside town, and we were already late. What seemed to be a disastrous start to an interview turned out to be the beginning of a very exciting journey through the lively Tanzanian hip-hop scene. I was curious to meet them, Tanzania's Top of the Hip-hops. As it turned out it was all very easy; the hip-hop community in Dar es Salaam is small and friendly. Different from what I expected, most artists do not have a manager or agent who deals with the media. From the first contact it was a very personal encounter. In just one week, photographer Lydia Martin and I went to see more then ten of the hottest artists and groups in the hip-hop scene, producers and promoters. I was amazed how ambitious and professional the artists are. It was my second time in East Africa, and not knowing much about Tanzania's music industry I had not expected to find hip-hop such a big business. Most of the artists have been working successfully in the music scene for more than five years, and Tanzanian hip-hop, better known as Bongo Flava, continues to grow in popularity. TV and radio programs are dedicated to Bong Flava, which is also reflected in the sales figures of some of hip-hop albums, eg. T.I.D's album Sauti ya Dhahabu sold over 200,000 copies in Tanzania alone.


Spatial Analysis of Somali Pirate Activity (Reuters)

Click the Title to go the Report on the Reuters website.

This report contains a detailed spatial analysis of the dramatic upsurge of pirate activity in 2009, focusing on changes in attack locations within the Gulf of Aden, changes in the attack success rate by month as well as on the unprecedented expansion of attacks in the Indian Ocean.
Pirate Incident Reports: ICC-IMB, ONI
IMO, NATO, Garowe Online & MSC(HOA)
- The overall pirate hijacking success rate for 2009 (vessel hijackings / total attacks) is currently at 23%. This is significantly lower than
the average in 2008 of 40% and is likely due to the increased naval patrols and heightened security practices of the merchant vessels in
the Gulf of Aden.
- Despite this relative decline in the pirate success rate, there is an alarming increase in the absolute number of pirate attacks and an
unprecedented expansion of pirate activity in the Indian Ocean, constituting a new phase of Somali piracy.
- There have been a total of 19 successful hijackings and 81 reported pirate attacks in 2009, an increase of over 650% from the same
period last year. If this attack rate is sustained, it will easily surpass the record number of attacks (115) in 2008 and could climb above
200 attacks in 2009.


Sauti ya Ghetto (Professor Jay)

New(ish) hip hop from Professor Jay!


Rwandan Governor Jailed For Life For Genocide (Reuters)

* Former Kigali chief gets life for genocide, rape, murder

* Indictment said Renzaho ordered killing of 60 boys

(Adds quotes in paragraphs 9, 10)

By George Obulutsa

DAR ES SALAAM, July 14 (Reuters) - A U.N. court trying the architects of Rwanda's 1994 genocide jailed a former Kigali governor for life on five counts including ordering the killing of 60 Tutsi boys in a church-run pastoral centre.

The Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) had indicted Tharcisse Renzaho of genocide, complicity in genocide, murder and rape in the massacres in which 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed.

The court found him guilty of all except complicity in genocide.

"He has been imprisoned for life. He has been found guilty on five counts, that is of genocide, two counts of murder as crimes against humanity, two counts of rape as crimes against humanity, " Danford Mpumilwa, associate information officer, said from the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, the court's seat.

Prosecutors said he was one of the massacre's main perpetrators. His name figured among nine major suspects for which the U.S. government had put out a $5 million bounty.

The court said Renzaho took part in arming participants of the genocide. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The court accused him, along with others, of ordering the removal and killing of 60 Tutsi boys from a church-run pastoral centre. Prosecutors say Renzaho was near a Kigali hotel when an army tank shot at Tutsi houses, killing at least 40 people. He did not try to intervene.

The 65-year-old was also accused of broadcasting orders over Radio Rwanda asking police, soldiers and militia to put up roadblocks to identify and kill Tutsis.

"The chamber found that Renzaho supported the killings of Tutsis at roadblocks, which were set up following his directives. It concluded he ordered the distribution of weapons, and that persons who received them, then killed Tutsis," the ICTR said in a statement.

"He also made remarks encouraging sexual abuse of women and was found criminally liable for rape that followed."

The former army colonel was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002.

Six other prime suspects with bounties on their heads are still at large including Felicien Kabuga, said to be the main financier of the genocide.

Renzaho's sentencing brings the number of ICTR's judgments to 39. Six of these were acquittals.

The court had until the end of last year to complete all trials, and until 2010 to hear all appeals before winding up. (Editing by Richard Balmforth)


July 10, 2009

Afropop Podcast

AfroPop Worldwide has a TON of dope content relating to African music. They "offer choice segments from our Afropop Worldwide programs as weekly podcasts delivered to you. You can now hear our cultural reportage from Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. You will also get segments from our Hip Deep series-within-a-series on history, music and ideas."
"A Podcast is a MP3 audio file that can be automatically downloaded to your personal computer and in turn transferred to an iPod or other MP3 player. In order to do this, a Podcasting application is used to "subscribe" to a Podcast, the program checks the site regularly and starts a download whenever it finds a new MP3 file. That means you can listen to it any time you like!"

How do I subscribe to this podcast?
Copy the URL in the box below into your preferred podcasting tool software (e.g. iTunes, Odeo, iPodder). You will automatically receive this podcast each time it's published.

podcast information page


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