The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Pan-African Postcard, 5. Advocacy & campaigns, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. African Writers’ Corner, 8. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 9. Highlights French edition

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Highlights from this issue

FEATURES – Salim Ahmed Salim: Speaking Truth to Power: Honouring Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem – Rafael Marques de Morais: Sonangol and the looting of Angola’s oil – Joan Baxter: Land grabs: Protecting investors, but what about the people? – Sokari Ekine: Too much hype about mobile technology! – Bernadette Iyodu: Uganda: The silent practice of deportations + more

COMMENT & ANALYSIS – Nnimmo Bassey: Voices from Bolivia: World Peoples? Climate Conference – Hama Tuma: Homophobia? It is ‘demophobia’ really! – Tim Wise: Imagine if the Tea Party was black – Elyas Mulu Kiros: Proudly Amhara, proudly Ethiopian + more

PAN-AFRICAN POSTCARD – Horace Campbell: May Day and worker solidarity – L. Muthoni Wanyeki: Ocampo’s coming, the witnesses are running

ADVOCACY & CAMPAIGNS – Radical philosophy under threat in the UK – World Press Freedom Day, Nigeria: 3 journalists murdered

LETTERS AND OPINIONS – Church’s hypocrisy on Kenya’s draft constitution

AFRICAN WRITERS’ CORNER – Nancy Muigei: The Voiceless Cry

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New Colonialism: Pentagon carves Africa into Military Zones By Rick Rozoff

5 May, 2010 — Stop NATO

‘The U.S. is not dragging almost every nation in Africa into its military network because of altruism or concerns for the security of the continent’s people. AFRICOM’s function is that of every predatory military power: The threat and use of armed violence to gain economic and geopolitical advantages.’

Last year the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), General William Ward, said the Pentagon had military partnerships with 35 of the continent’s 53 nations, ‘representing U.S. relationships that span the continent.’ [1]

That number has increased in the interim.

As the first overseas regional military command set up by Washington in this century, the first since the end of the Cold War, and the first in 25 years, the activation of AFRICOM, initially under the wing of U.S. European Command on October 1, 2007, then as an independent entity a year later, emphasizes the geostrategic importance of Africa in U.S. international military, political and economic planning.

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Between the Fleeting Words A Palestinian dance production inspired by the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish

7 May, 2010 — Alzaytouna

MahmoudDarwish.jpgAl Zaytouna is proud to present a new full-length production entitled Between the Fleeting Words, directed by Ahmed Masoud. The production fuses traditional dabke, contemporary dance, poetry, music and digital media. The show is a unique tribute to the work of the late great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, celebrating his poetry and the musical interpretations of his work, and using his words to tell the story of Palestine through the experiences of its people. The show also commemorates the 62nd anniversary of the Nakba and explores themes of identity, struggle, loss and resistance.

Between the Fleeting Words will debut on the 13th and 14th May  

13th and 14th May 2010 The Greenwood Theatre 55 Weston Street London SE1 3RA Map

Advance Tickets: £13 for 13th May performance and £16 for 14th May performance To book tickets click here or call 0871 230 0010


Ittijah General Director Ameer Makhoul Arrested by Israeli Authorities

7 May, 2010 — The Only Democracy?

Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Condemn Arrest as Arbitrary and Seek Immediate International Intervention

AmeerMakhoul.jpg[Ramallah, 6 May 2010] This morning at 3:10 a.m., Israeli Security Agency (GSS) agents accompanied by Israeli police raided Ameer Makhoul’s family home in Haifa and arrested him. Mr. Makhoul is a human rights defender and serves as the general director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and as the Chairman of the Public Committee for the Defense of Political Freedom in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel.

The 16 ISA agents and police officers immediately separated Mr. Makhoul from his family, including wife Janan and daughters Hind, 17 and Huda, 12, and conducted an extensive search of the home. According to Janan, the police confiscated items including documents, maps, the family’s four mobile phones, Ameer and Janan’s laptops, the hard drives from the girls’ two desktop computers, a camera and a small tape recorder containing un-transcribed oral histories Janan collects as part of her work. At one point during the police search, Janan says, one officer violently restrained her, twisting her arm and pushing her when she attempted to leave the home’s living room to observe the confiscations. The security forces also refused to identify themselves and showed her a warrant authorizing Mr. Makhoul’s arrest only after she repeatedly insisted. The order was signed on 23 April 2010 and cited unsubstantiated “security” reasons as the grounds for Mr. Makhoul’s arrest.

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New on NACLA Report on the Americas 6 May, 2010

Hollman Morris to Be Awarded Chavkin Journalism Prize
Investigative journalist Hollman Morris will receive the 2010 Samuel Chavkin Prize for Integrity in Latin American Journalism in honor of his brave work exposing human rights abuses committed by paramilitaries and the Colombian state.

Oaxaca Caravan Attack: The Paramilitarization of Mexico
by Kristin Bricker
On April 27, gunmen killed two activists on their way to the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, as a part of an international aid caravan. The caravan’s goal was to break a paramilitary siege that has left San Juan Copala, in the indigenous Triqui region of southern Mexico, cut off from the outside world since January, and to deliver food, clothing, and medicine. The attack, representative of Mexico’s long history of paramilitarism, again exposes the country’s political war against dissent, a reality too often hidden amidst Mexico’s daily drug-related violence.
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From the May/June 2010 NACLA Report
Out of the Past, a New Honduran Culture of Resistance
by Dana Frank

Whatever comes next in Honduras, tens of thousands of ordinary Hondurans, from its new culture of resistance, will meet it with nerves of steel, forged in the terrible repression that followed the military coup last June. At least 40 people in the resistance have been killed, more than 3,000 illegally detained, and hundreds raped, beaten, and/or tortured in detention. For every person who has bravely come forward to testify about human rights abuses, there are five behind him or her terrified to speak out for fear of reprisals. And yet Hondurans have emerged from all this with a new sense of their own personal and collective powers. What exactly is this new creature, the Honduran resistance?

This article appears in the May/June 2010 edition of NACLA Report on the Americas.

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Free Gaza Movement: We’re almost ready By Greta Berlin

7 May, 2010 — Free Gaza Movement

We’re almost ready. Our vessels are being loaded with construction materials, specialized medical equipment, generators, pre-fab homes, water filtration units, and school supplies for the children. Israel allows only 81 items into Gaza, forcing the people to use tunnels to bring in supplies, barely keeping their economy at subsistence level.

When asked why they refuse to allow supplies into Gaza, Israeli authorities stated, “If we disclose what is allowed in and why… it would damage our national security and harm foreign relations.” BBC, May 3, 2010

Therefore, we intend to open a sea route that will belong to the Palestinians. Gaza is the only territory on the Mediterranean that has no right to its sea, no right to fish more than a mile off its coast, no right to send out its flowers, vegetables and fruit for trade to other nations. Israel’s cruel blockade has shut 1.5 million Palestinians into an open-air prison, allowing only a trickle of aid through.

We cannot stand by and watch the people slowly starve and lose hope. Since our governments appear to be impotent, we civilians from around the world are stepping up instead.

We carry the hopes and dreams and prayers of thousands who have supported us over these past ten months, and we take those well wishes with us to the people of Gaza.

So for the next few weeks as we finish loading supplies and passengers, we will upload messages and well wishes like this one. Watch for them and send your own wish to us. Become a part of this citizen’s initiative by joining our Newslist, TWITTER account, Facebook page and YouTube list, all on the front page of our website.

Write to your representatives demanding they put Israel on notice for our safety and the safety of our cargo.

Then watch our journey from the live feed on our website at beginning soon.

Sameh A Habeeb – Israel, Judaism and Anti-Semitism

6 May 2010 — Palestine Think Tank

habeeb.jpgUnlike children worldwide, Palestinians, including myself, growing up in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem never had a normal childhood. My friends and I would play with sand rather than toys. There are no playgrounds and amusement parks as there are in the west. Palestinian children growing up today inside Gaza and the West Bank also lack toys, amusement parks and playgrounds to exert their energies. The difference between my generation and those growing up now is the level of brutality and number massacred.

There are moments when I remember the Israeli soldiers storming my home in 1992; they hit my mother and beat my 10-year old cousin. Although I was only 7, I still remember every single detail as if happened yesterday. During the Second Intifada, Israel bombed my neighbourhood several times. Many of my friends were killed. Death, blood and violence fill the memories of all Palestinian children. Can you imagine what the children of Israel’s massacre of Gaza are going to remember? The memories they have will plague them until the day they depart this world.

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7 May, 2010: 15:19

This seems to be the result with nearly all the results in, although I reckon there are going to be some challenges given the chaos at some of the polling stations.

It is now impossible for the Tories to form a majority government, so they’ll have to a deal with one of the other parties. Lots of cries about ‘the national interest.’

Tories: 304 seats 36% of the vote
Labour: 257 seats
29% of the vote
Lib-Dems: 57 seats
23% of the vote
Other: 28 seats
12% of the vote

The results show just how rigged the electoral system is with Labour getting five times as many seats as the Lib-Dems but only 6% more of the votes.

As they say, a ‘hung Parliament’, and apparently some polling stations ran out of ballot papers or closed before people had voted! Watch for fireworks, challenges to results etc.

Some polling stations had outdated election lists so people couldn’t vote! In Sheffield voters staged a sit-in.

Talk is now on ‘reforming’ the electoral system although the Conservatives have rejected the idea. For an in-depth analysis see

Proportional representation and Brown’s opportunist ploy By Moshe Machover

The most consistent PR procedure is the party-list system used in many countries for parliamentary elections and in most EU countries for elections to the Euro parliament. The country is divided into a small number of large constituencies. (In some small countries, such as the Netherlands and Israel, the whole country is a single constituency.) In each constituency a party can present a list of candidates, and a voter casts a vote for one of these lists. The assembly seats are allocated to each party in proportion to the number of votes cast for it.[11] In the ‘closed list’ variant of the list system, the seats are allocated to a party’s candidates in the order in which they appear on its list. In the ‘open list’ variant, voters may indicate preference for a particular candidate in the list of their choice, and seats are allocated accordingly.