“I’m not an expert in international affairs or diplomacy, but it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here”
Actor, Ben Affleck traveled to Africa’s Congo region three times over the last eight months, hoping to understand firsthand one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of this century.
Affleck and the “Nightline” team traveled through refugee camps, hospitals and clinics, meeting with warlords, relief workers, child soldiers and members of parliament in an effort to better understand the place where over the last decade more than 4 million people have died in the deadliest conflict since World War II.
What a class act – the United States announced today that Lopez Lomong, a former child prisoner from war-torn Sudan, will lead the their team into the National Stadium in Beijing for the start of the 2008 Olympics.
Lomong is now an American citizen and was chosen to be the flag bearer after a vote by his fellow team members. His journey is inspiring to say the least. Born in Southern Sudan; kidnapped and separated from his parents at age 6 during a civil war; Lopez escaped and made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, where he spent more than a decade before coming to the United States in 2001 and qualifying to represent his adopted country in the Olympics for the 1,500-meter race.
China has long been criticized for not intervening in Africa especially in Sudan’s Darfur region where they have business interests. China has a long standing policy of “non-interference”, but is quickly learning that as it grows in strength, it has a moral responsibility to influence positive change globally.
Hopefully Lomong’s long journey will act as an inspiration to millions of Chinese citizens and help them recognize that the hopes and aspirations of Darfuri’s are no different that their very own – bringing us closer to the “One World, One Dream” ideal of the Olympics.
Here is to a wonderful Beijing Olympics. Good luck to the host nation and to all the inspirational athletes partipating in China.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela lovingly referred to as Madiba, was on a rush visit to Nairobi on a cold July morning in 1990. It was rumored that he was gravely ill from pneumonia and was visiting one of our elite private hospitals for personal medical care .. 27 years on a prison island can take a physical toll on any human body.
We were marched off from class in pairs of 2, holding hands to wave at the great man as he passed by our school. It was traditional that foreign dignitaries in presidential motorcades be greeted by eager flag waving kids wherever they went – it rejuvenated our President and bolstered his ego.
I was given a Kenyan flag to hold and given a spot right by the roadside. As minutes turned to hours my initial excitement turned into restless anxiety and then boredom. The teachers insisted we practice waving flags so as to keep us occupied. Just as the teachers were losing hope – a policeman zoomed by on his BMW motorcycle. The kids arose in anticipation, then another motorcycle, then five more – the policemen were immaculately dressed with their shiny bikes and their white kidskin gloves. Mandela was on his way.
The presidential motorcade sped by us like lighting as we peered back eagerly trying to capture a glimpse. Then it happened. A frail old man with a feeble smile and piercing eyes raised his hand and looked out of the black Mercedes limousine. It was him. Mandela had smiled at us – for an 11 year old it was the closest I had come to history and although I didn’t realize it then something powerful had just taken place.
Mandela has come to signify the African spirit. Even at his frailest he had the presence of mind to acknowledge the kids who stood 2 hours for sight of him – Mandela cared. His steady gaze diminished all doubts that his love for life was waning and that he would return stronger.
This was my first glimpse of Nelson Mandela.
By forcing the opposition to abandon the election, Robert Mugabe has undermined his position. Mr Mugabe may cling to power for a while, but his grip is weaker. Zimbabwe needs help from the West. But most of all it needs its African neighbors to tell the tyrant unambiguously to go – and to snuff him out if he refuses. It can be done.
The economist mulls over the question further:
- Refuse to recognize any administration led by Mr Mugabe. The European Union, the United States and much of the rich world will ostracize him. Now is the time for Africa, especially the influential regional club of 14 countries known as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to act.
- South Africa remains the key. Humanitarian aid must continue to flow into Zimbabwe, but targeted sanctions already enforced by the EU, the Americans and other governments against Mr Mugabe and 130-odd of his closest comrades, who are banned from visiting the penalizing countries and have had their assets there frozen. Depriving Mr Mugabe’s cronies of trips to a decent country that works could have a salutary effect.
- The African Union (AU), which embraces all 53 of Africa’s countries, should also be far more robustly involved. Unlike the SADC, which is often paralyzed by its search for consensus, the AU’s rules provide for decisions, specifically including the imposition of sanctions on errant members, to be taken by a two-thirds majority.
- The United Nations, too, must be ready to help. South Africa has been disgracefully blocking discussion of Zimbabwe in the 15-strong Security Council, of which it is a current member.
Zimbabwe is a resource-rich country with a core of well-educated people, millions of whom have fled abroad and must be wooed back home. Mr Mugabe may cling to power for a while, but his grip is weaker.
read more | digg story
Ethan Zuckerman, a man who does so much in so many fields of developement, sums up the common man’s frustration with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe after the news that Tsvangarai pulled out of Zimbabwe elections. Here is what he had to say:
“‘Only God who appointed me will remove me — not the M.D.C., not the British,’ Mr. Mugabe vowed in the city of Bulawayo on Friday. ‘Only God will remove me!’”
Are you listening, God?
Need we say more ?
Today on June 22 from 11am – 1pm a good number of Africa minded individuals from different professional backgrounds met to offer their thoughts on technology and Africa at the beautiful Stanford Golf Course.
The event was sponsored by the SF Bay Area IPN and was titled, “Africa: The Next Asia?” It was kicked off by a panel discussion featuring Aleem Walji from Google‘s Africa Initiatives, Leila Chirayath – founder of Samasource, Arathi Ravichandran of Vipani , and Joseph Nganga, an expert in energy innovation and Board member of Carolina for Kibera . Topics explored were Africa’s steps in development; opportunities and obstacles to sustainable prosperity; to what extent should Africa mirror what we see in Asia?; and what are the challenges and/or potential benefits of following this road?
The Panel was kindly moderated by Ellen Leanse, who is a Bay Area Business Strategist, and Author. She works with early-stage and established companies to accelerate business growth through innovative business, marketing, and product strategies. Ellen also actively supports education and micro-finance organizations in East Africa, and she is currently writing a book based on recent experiences in Kenya.
Here were some excellent notes via twitter for the event from @tylerwillis captured via summize :
Realtime results for #ipn:africa
tylerwillis: #ipn:africa if 60% of your budget comes from the world, how much accountability do you reall have to voters? about 11 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet
tylerwillis: #ipn:africa making budget allocations publicly accessible took bribery/theft cost down from 70cents/$ to less than 10c/$ about 11 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet
tylerwillis: #ipn:africa accountability is easy, it’s dollars. If we promote sustainability we can let markets ensure accountability. about 11 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet
tylerwillis: #ipn:africa we need a simple, scalable solution for power supply to places completely off the grid. about 12 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet
tylerwillis: #ipn:africa energy opportunities are plentiful in africa, but attracting the amount of startup capital needed is hard. about 12 hours ago · Reply · View Tweet