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

1 Features

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER: HONOURING TAJUDEEN ABDUL-RAHEEM Salim Ahmed Salim Pambazuka Press is thrilled to announce the release of ‘Speaking Truth to Power: Selected Pan-African Postcards’ (, a collection of the late pan-Africanist Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem’s legendary Thursday postcards, available at ?14.95 from ( With the first anniversary of his passing approaching on African Liberation Day on 25 May, ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ captures Tajudeen’s inimitable voice, sharp intellect and irrepressible humour. The following article comprises the preface to the book, written by former secretary-general of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim in honour of Tajudeen’s enormous contribution to Pan-Africanism.


SONANGOL AND THE LOOTING OF ANGOLA’S OIL Rafael Marques de Morais Manuel Vicente, chair and director-general of Angolan state oil company Sonangol, had the distinction in 2008 of doing a business deal with himself in taking a percentage of Sonangol Holdings in his own name, writes Rafael Marques de Morais. This was an act in direct contravention of the country’s ‘Law on Public Probity’, Marques de Morais stresses.


PROTECTING INVESTORS, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? Dissecting the contradictions of agricultural investment in Sierra Leone Joan Baxter The large-scale acquisition for industrial agriculture in African and other developing countries has been described as a global land grab, ‘threatening food, seed and land sovereignty of family farmers, social stability, environmental health and biodiversity around the world’, writes Joan Baxter. While it is understandable that investors deny that this kind of agricultural investment is a “land grab”, says Baxter, what is perplexing is that ?the same kind of rhetoric is coming from some whose job it is to protect Africa’s farmers’ rights and their farmland from exploitative foreign takeover?.


TOO MUCH HYPE ABOUT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY! Sokari Ekine There’s a tendency among technophiles and people in the development industry “to state the obvious and make it sound incredible”, writes Sokari Ekine, in this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere, but AppAfrica’s insights on Google SMS in Uganda make a refreshing change.


UGANDA: THE SILENT PRACTICE OF DEPORTATIONS Bernadette Iyodu Deportations to and from Uganda encompass a largely unreported world of human rights abuses, writes Bernadette Iyodu. Those returning are commonly immediately regarded as a threat as potential political dissidents, while those deported from Uganda face a murky world of debilitating bureaucracy and detention.


AFRICA AND THE 2010 UK ELECTIONS: PARTY MANIFESTOS Alex Free As millions of UK citizens cast their votes in the country’s general and local elections, Alex Free considers the attitudes of the three major parties – Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – towards engaging with other parts of the world as set out in their manifestos, for a sense of how the outcome of the election might affect Africa and the global South.


ETHIOPIA: THE FIRE NEXT TIME Alemayehu G. Mariam With Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s regime gearing up to set things firmly in its favour, Ethiopia’s upcoming national election this month is already a done deal, writes Alemayehu G. Mariam. Zenawi’s threatening gestures towards opposition leaders and dissenting political activists, Mariam stresses, are simply part of a broader campaign of pre-electoral intimidation and political paralysis.


MY HOUSE IS YOUR HOUSE An interview with Tony Ehrenreich Phumlani Majavu In an interview with Tony Ehrenreich, COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) Western Cape provincial secretary, Phumlani Majavu discusses the extravagance of Julius Malema and the differences between Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki’s interaction with the ANC (African National Congress).


NO BAND-AID SOLUTION FOR SOUTH AFRICA’s RACIAL PROBLEMS William Gumede “Band-aid solutions to South Africa’s deep-seated racial problems are simply foolish”, writes William Gumede, and “it is naive to think that given the more than 300 years of colonialism and apartheid, racist attitudes will magically evaporate in under two decades. Until we acknowledge that racism is deeply embedded in South African society, instead of living in denial, pretending racial incidents are “isolated” events, solutions will only paper over the cracks and reconciliation across racial divides will remain elusive.”


AFRICOM AND THE US’S HIDDEN BATTLE FOR AFRICA Ba Karang Stressing that recent US military interventions represent nothing more than ‘the expansion and consolidation of Western capital’, Ba Karang takes a look at the emergence of the US AFRICOM (African Command) programme. The African continent’s emergence as a key oil and energy provider has not escaped the attention of the US government, Karang notes, and we are now seeing the ‘aggressive birth’ of AFRICOM.


2 Announcements


13 May Post-Election Reflections Reflections on what the recent UK election tells us about the health, or otherwise, of democracy in the UK with:

Firoze Manji, Editor in Chief, Pambazuka News Colin Leys (Goldsmiths and Queens University, Ontario, author of Market-Driven Politics, 2000) Hilary Wainwright, Editor, Red Pepper Heather Wakefield, UNISON Chaired by Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London

5.30pm Goldsmiths main building RHB 309

For more details, write to Nick Couldry, n.couldry[at] of visit


3 Comment & analysis

VOICES FROM BOLIVIA: WORLD PEOPLES’ CLIMATE CONFERENCE Nnimmo Bassey and Sharif Abdel Kouddous Democracy Now! producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous spoke with Nnimmo Bassey outside the World Peoples? Climate Conference gates in Tiquipaya, Bolivia.


HOMOPHOBIA? IT IS ‘DEMOPHOBIA’ REALLY! Hama Tuma The surge in anti-gay statements by leaders across the continent is aimed at diverting the attention of people both at home and abroad from the lack of good governance and democracy, writes Hama Tuma.


IMAGINE IF THE TEA PARTY WAS BLACK Tim Wise As the US’s Tea Party marches on, Tim Wise invites readers to imagine if the movement’s participants were black.


PROUDLY AMHARA, PROUDLY ETHIOPIAN Elyas Mulu Kiros Why should one take pride in one’s identity or country, asks Elyas Mulu Kiros, in an exploration of the tension between national and ethnic identities in Ethiopia.


APRIL: REMEMBERING GENOCIDE Gerald Caplan The anniversaries of the Rwandan and Armenian genocides and the Jewish Holocaust all occur in April, writes Gerald Caplan, but last month’s memorial service at Tufts University in Boston was unusual in bringing together survivors from all three affected communities to bear witness together.


MAY DAY: BUILDING A NIGERIAN LABOUR PARTY AS A PEOPLE’s VOICE Kola Ibrahim Fiercely critical of the Nigerian political and business classes’ perpetual money-grabbing and disenfranchising of ordinary Nigerians, Kola Ibrahim makes the case for Nigeria’s Labour Party to develop into a ‘mega-party’ representative of the country’s majority.


4 Pan-African Postcard

MAY DAY AND WORKER SOLIDARITY Horace Campbell Marking International Workers’ Day on 1 May, Horace Campbell argues that it is only through re-focusing on workers’ rights and representation and genuine democracy for all that African people will be able to fully liberate themselves from the exploitation of international capitalism.


OCAMPO’s COMING, THE WITNESSES ARE RUNNING L. Muthoni Wanyeki As part of his investigation into the country’s post-election violence in 2008, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s visit to Kenya this week ‘will be important symbolically – particularly in terms of how it is received and responded to by the relevant state agencies, departments and ministries’, writes L. Muthoni Wanyeki. But will it secure the accountability needed to ensure that this never happens again?


5 Advocacy & campaigns

RADICAL PHILOSOPHY UNDER THREAT IN THE UK Richard Pithouse weighs in on the news breaking this week that the Philosophy Department at Middlesex University in London is to be closed down on the grounds that their work ‘made no “measurable” contribution to the University.’


WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, NIGERIA: THREE JOURNALISTS MURDERED On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Sokari Ekine reflects on the murders of three Nigerian journalists. She accuses the Nigerian press of colluding with government in its own oppression and presenting an illusion of the free press by failing to defend its own members.


6 Letters & Opinions

CHURCH’s HYPOCRISY ON KENYA CONSTITUTION Responses to ‘Women’s rights and Kenya’s constitution: Challenging ‘men of faith” Ciiru Njehu, Nzilani, K’riak? wa K’nyua Responding to an article by Beth Maina and Cenya Ciyendi, Nzilani writes that ?the anti-constitution campaign by various church leaders in Kenya is an attempt to exert their authority and power in the face of the government?. Ciiru Njehu hopes Kenyans will “recognise the hypocrisy of the church leaders”, while K’riak? wa K’nyua says it “is time for the ‘voiceless’ to speak-out for themselves”.


THE WAY FORWARD FOR KENYAN CIVIL SOCIETY A response to “Kenya’s civil society needs a new vision” Simon Kokoyo Responding to an article by Zaya Yeebo, Simon Kokoyo writes that “the agenda for people-driven change or development in Kenya has always been either hijacked by people with ulterior motives or externally driven.”


7 African Writers’ Corner

THE VOICELESS CRY Nancy Muigei The silent cries of the innocent, Abandoned in the dark, Stabbed in the night, Shot by the wayside, By masked men in ‘plain clothes’

We do not know their names We know their masters Actions of intimidation The voiceless cry!

Seekers of truth strangled Maimed in daylight?

We have seen them, We know them But in little whispers we talk of them;

Intimidated by the lack of; Crucified for the act of;

Bailing for the blood of the innocent Kill and maim for what they cannot provide

The voice of the voiceless Crying in the silent wilderness Strangled by very powers we pay

We have seen them abduct kill and maim We have seen them tap and disconnect In fears we live In confidence we cry

They abduct They kill And silence Yet the voiceless die in the silent Those with voice are now in borders Those with voice never will return – Oulu, Kingara Those with voice fear

When will the new dawn rise?


8 Emerging powers in Africa Watch

DEEPENING AFRICA-CHINA ENGAGEMENT: THE AFRICAN JOURNALIST STUDY TOUR Hayley Herman and Sanusha Naidu Four African journalists have taken part in a study tour to Beijing, initiated and conducted by Fahamu’s Emerging Powers in Africa Programme. Hayley Herman and Sanusha Naidu report back on the visit, and invite readers to contribute their voices to a forthcoming newsletter that will provide African perspectives on the emerging powers in Africa.


9 Highlights French edition

PAMBAZUKA NEWS 144: LA CPI ET LES MASSACRES DU 28 SEPTEMBRE EN GUINEE – Si la justice guin?enne est d’faillante, la CPI fera sont travail – ( Amady Ba

Silence coupable sur le sort de Laurent Nkunda ( Amede Kyubwa

S?n?gal : Ces prix de mis?re qui ruinent les paysans et tuent l?agriculture (

?Corruption silencieuse? et l?g?ret’s de la Banque Mondiale ( Yash Tandon

La crise casaman?aise : Probl?matique et voies de solutions ( Amady Aly Dieng


Fahamu – Networks For Social Justice

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With over 1000 contributors and an estimated 500,000 readers Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan African electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa providing cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa.

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ISSN 1753-6839

End of Pambazuka-news Digest, Vol 127, Issue 1

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