Saturday, May 24, 2008

Africa in the News-Part II

These articles about Africa, in the recent secular press, I found at our local public library. Daily newspapers were excluded.

National Geographic, April 2008, cover title- "Africa's Ragged Edge: Journey into the Sahel," p. 34ff "Lost in the Sahel: Along Africa's harsh frontier between desert and forest, crossing some lines can be fatal" by Paul Salopeh, Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with the Chicago Tribune, photos by Pascal Maitre. Quote on p. 48: "Women have been singled out for maximum violence in Darfur. Mass rapes by the Janjaweed have been documented. Women have been burned alive." This is an well-written feature story, with great photograghy.

The Atlantic, March 2008, , . Feature story p. 40ff "God's Country: Muslims and Christians in Nigeria", by Eliza Griswold, photos by Seamus Murphy, Quotes: "Nigerians have seen that Sharia has not stanched corruption. In fact, many of the politicians who backed sharia have been linked to massive scandals." "Thanks to explosive growth in Africa, Christianity's demographic and geographic center will have moved, by 2050, to northern Nigeria." "Using militias and marketing strategies, Christianity and Islam are competing for believers by promising Nigerians prosperity in this world as well as salvation in the next." "In 2006, riots triggered by Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed left more people dead in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world." "As Barbara Cooper, the author of Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel , puts it, " 'Faith matters.' "

The Nation, October 22, 2007, "The Fight to Save Congo's Forests," by Christian Parenti, research support from the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Quotes: "The real power behind the throne in Congo is the World Bank, the single largest lender to this hugely indebted government." "First come the roads, and companies take a few hardwoods; then come poachers, settlers and agro firms, and deforestation picks up speed." "If the vast and isolated forests of the Congo Basin-the second-largest tropical woodlands on the planet- had a capital, it would be this sleepy city [Kisangani] of crumbling colonial era buildings and empty boulevards." Kisangi is a small town in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) 1300 miles from the mouth of the Congo River, where river navigation ends, and where there are no longer has any driveable roads to the the outside world. It was previously Stanleyville, a trading post, under the Belgian colonialists. Joseph Conrad used it as a model for Kurtz's interior station in the novel, the Heart of Darkness.

Newsweek, April 21, 2008, "Diemmas of the Horn: Washington wanted to keep Somalia from turning into another Afganistan. Now it's an African Iraq," by Scott Johnson. Quotes: "Some 600,000 have fled the country in the past year, and 750,000 are now trapped in squalid camps for the internally displaced." "A recent U.N. report declared Somalia's humanitarian crisis to be the worst in Africa." "...the violence in Somalia is increasingly random and getting worse."

Time, May 12, 2008, "Time 100 - Builders and Titans" has these 3 stories of importance to Africa: 1. "Alexis Sinduhije. A Burundi journalist risks his life to heal his nation's ethnic wounds," by Christiane Amanpour. Quote: "In 2001, Burundian journalist Alexis Sinduhije founded Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) as a means of fostering peace between the Tutsi and the Hutu in his war-torn country." Over 3000,000 died in Burundi in the civil war between the 2 groups in the mid-1990's. Sinduhije is a Tutsi who adopted a Hutu war orphan. 2. "Mo Ibrahim. How Africa's cell-phone king became a leading voice for democracy," by William Easterly. When Ibrahim sold Celtel in 2005 there were more than 100 million cell phones in Africa, compared to 2 million in 1998, when he started the company. Quotes: "While doing business in Africa, he recognized two other essential but unmet needs: good governance and accountable instutions." "The inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which rewards respect for democratic institutions, went to former President of Mozambique Joaquin Chissano last year." 3. "Mia Farrow. The Actress forced the world to pay attention to the killings in Darfur," by Paul Ruseabagina, who, himself, helped save 1,268 Rwandans at his hotel during the genocide. Quote: "For her work on behalf of these people, for her many years of hard work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, for her efforts to get China and the rest of the world to stop supporting the government of Sudan and to pay attention to the genocide in Darfur, I salute her."

Newsweek, May 12, 2008, "Something to Shout About: Africa needed hearing aids. Howard Weinstein got a chance to start over." This retired Canadian business executive is now providing affordable solar-powered hearing aids to partially deaf Africans, from a nonprofit business set up in Otse, Botswana, a town of 3,500 at the edge of the Kalahari desert. Quotes: "The World Health Organization says there are 250 million hearing-impaired people around the globe, with two thirds of them living in developing nations. And yet every year fewer than 10 million are manufactured." " 'Poor people in Africa, Latin America and Asia wear a hearing device until it runs down and then put it in the drawer or sell it', Weistein says. 'If you could come up with a solution, you could touch millions of lives.' " "Today the once empty room in the African semidesert has become the hub of a thriving nonprofit business. Some 20,000 people in 30 countries are using SolarAid brand hearing aids, chargers and batteries."

Time, March 3, 2008, "The Healer: On assignment for Time, musician and humanitarian Bob Geldof reports on the presidential trip to Africa-and why the Continent's rebirth is the Bush Administration's greatest achievement." "The great unacknowledged story of America in Africa didn't immediately originate with this President. But it was accelerated hugely by him, increased by him, argued by him and monitored by him." "A continent growing economically at more than 5% per annum, with 23 or so democratic-ish countries south of the Sahara." "Africa is the only continent yet to be built. It's a continent of 900 million potential producers and consumers. There are more languages and cultural diversity in Africa than almost anywhere else."

Current History, May 2008, "The US and Africa: Prisoners of a Paradigm?", by Greg Mills, head of Brenthurst Foundation and advisor to the president of Rwanda, p.225-230. Quotes: "Africa needs more investment and economic growth. It needs less theater and, certainly no more pity." "The Bush administration arguably has been the most generous ever in Washington, in terms of policy toward, trade with, and aid to Africa." Also see the Current History, Africa issue, May 2007.

Current History: A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, Africa issue, April 2008, "Africa's Religious Resurgence and the Politics of Good and Evil," by Stephen Ellis and Gerrie Ter Haar, authors of Worlds of Power: Religious Thought and Political Practice in Africa, Oxford University Press, 2004. "African politicians typically pay great regard to the spirit world as a source of power. Many cultivate diviners and marabouts to enhance their authority." "It is quite common in Africa to engage in practices from various religious traditions simultaneously." "Many Africans use a spirit idiom to express dissatisfaction with poor governance." "At a time when 'developement'-the notion that bureaucratic, seular government will lead to unprecedented prosperity-has for many lost its appeal, religion provides alternative ways of organizing society and politics and of thinking about the world."

Related articles, in which only portions of the stories are about Africa:

Current History, January 2008, Global Progress Report, 2008, p. 11ff, "Developement: Halfway there" In the year 2000, 192 coutries set up the Millenium Developement Goals to improve the lives of the world's poorest people by the year 2015. This is mainly a report, at the half way point, based on a UN update of the uneven results. The proportion of people in extreme poverty has fallen from a third, to under a fifth of the world, between 1990 and 2004, most dramatically in Asia. Quotes: " long as farmers in the Sahel are dependent solely on rainfall for the success of their crops, they stand forever on the edge of starvation." "If Africa uses this potential properly, parts of the continent will develope into legitimate emerging markets and will receive large inflows of private capital." "US poicy makers rightly regard the Darfur region of Sudan as a humanitarian disaster, and they also view it in geopolitical terms... This means they never get to the crux of the problem. In Darfur and places like it, people are struggling over scarce pastureland and cropland and especially over water."

U.S. News & World Report,, May 19, 2008. Cover Story: "Fixing the Food Crisis: There are as many potential solutions to the price hikes as causes of them, and none will come easily," by Maianne Lavelle and Kent Garber, and related stories by Matt Bandyk, Kirk Shinkle, and Nancy Shute, p. 36-42. Potential actions discussed: 1. Take a pause on biofuels 2. Improve food aid 3. Produce higher yields 4. Grow better crops 5. Curb the speculators 6. Break down trade barriers 7. Eat less meat 8. Share the crowded planet. Quotes: "Rural financing programs have allowed small farmers to support themselves." "In Malawi in 2006 and 2007... vouchers for fertilizers helped increase production 50%." "Food shortages and sharply rising prices have sparked riots in underdeveloped countries. Global grain stocks are at their lowest levels in decades, and the price of rice has risen 70 percent in the past year." Sites referred to for further information: , , , , , .

Newsweek, October 1, 2007, , "Giving Globally: The Search for Solutions", p. 51-76. Includes main article, "A Shot of Hope", by Mary Carmichael, with illustrations, charts, and graphs, as well as shorter articles: "Cool, Clear Water," by Christian Caryl; "A Reward for Good Behavior: A billionaire wants to give $5 million to African leaders who rule responsibly," by Emily Flynn Vencat; and "Saving the World is Within Our Grasp: The evidence is in: we can stop diseases like malaria and TB fron killing millions of people each year," by Bill Gates. Gates also lists a few of the groups that are making a difference:
Global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria:
Save the Children:
Nothing But Nets:
Doctors Without Borders :
GAVI Alliance:

Time, March 24, 2008,, "10 Ideas That are Changing the World," by Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, taken from his new book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, Penguin Press. He is also author of The End of Poverty. Quotes: "Ahmed Mohammed. A native Kenyan and a scientist, he is a leader of sustainable developement in Kenya's drylands." "The defining challenge of the 21st century will be to face the reality that humanity shares a common fate on a crowded planet." "Sustainable developement will not break the bank. The key is to make the right choices in our public investments and to find ways to harness, and channel market forces."

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