Sunday, 19 May 2013
African News Briefs
Man in Timbuktu
Group Warns Of Threat To Mali's Ancient Mosques Due To War
Apr 3 (GIN) – Fighting in Mali has reached the ancient Islamic city of Timbuktu, a celebrated center of Islamic learning since the 12th century. The conflict has raised fears among the cultural community of the possible destruction of some of the world’s archeological treasures.
This weekend, Timbuktu fell into the hands of the independence-seeking Tuaregs, an indigenous formerly nomadic group seeking to reclaim a vast triangle of desert as its homeland, Azawad.
Their take-over lasted barely 24 hours when a spin-off of the Tuaregs calling themselves Ansar Eddine and seeking an Islamic state in the Sahara, displaced them.
Irina Bokova, director of UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, urged all the warring factions to respect the country's heritage. "Timbuktu's outstanding earthen architectural wonders that are the great mosques of Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, are essential to the preservation of the people of Mali and our universal heritage," Bokova said.
Mali has been rocked by fighting since a coup by U.S.-trained military officers deposed the president allegedly because he was not doing enough to eliminate the Tuareg fighters. w/pix of Djingareyber Mosque in Timbuktu
Kenyan ‘Innovation Hub’ To Recieve Major Grant From Google
Apr 3 (GIN) – Search engine-advertising giant Google has singled out two Nairobi-based projects for a major grant, attesting to Kenya’s leadership as a global hub for mobile phone applications and advanced technology in Africa.
The grants are earmarked for Innovation Hub (iHub), an open space for web and mobile phone programmers, and KENET, a non-profit institution connecting schools with affordable high speed Internet. The grant totals $337,000.
It is the second major grant for Kenya’s technology sector. The World Bank recently announced a gift of $55 million to help developers come up with simple solutions for everyday use especially in health and education.
Kenya is now recognized as a global leader in internet technology applications with the second-fastest broadband on the continent after Ghana.
“Mobile phone is considered the computer of Africa and the de facto medium of communication,” said Mugo Kibati of Vision 2030. Currently, about 90 percent of Kenyan adults have or have the use of a mobile phone.
Kenya is ranked 56 out of 139 countries worldwide in terms of innovation by the World Competitiveness Report for 2010/11, putting the country at par with Asian tigers. w/pix of cell phone user
World Bank Likely To Tap Nigerian Woman Candidate For Top Job
Apr. 3 (GIN) – Western media pundits have all but crowned Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria for the position of World Bank president. If selected, she would be the first African to hold the position traditionally held by a U.S. citizen.
Nearly buried among the encomiums, are the views of skeptics that doubt that Ms. Okonjo-Iweala would bring enlightenment to an institution more known for saddling developing countries with debt and structural adjustment plans that put millions of public service employees out of work.
“Not only has the World Bank failed poor countries, with structural adjustment and other genteel forms of developmental quackery, but those countries have not enjoyed equal voting power around the very policies that affect them most,” noted Desné Masie, writing in the blog African Argument.
“There is no guarantee that with Okonjo-Iweala as figurehead, reform and fairness in the Bank's policies would be substantive. To clamor for a World Bank president from an emerging market is a hollow exercise altogether,” Masie asserts.
U.S. based educator Ikhide R. Ikheloa adds: “As an institution, the World Bank is an ancient bureaucratic relic whose time has come and gone. Now it is mostly a mean cudgel for meeting the West’s imperial needs in developing countries, aided by many of Africa’s intellectual and political elite.”
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala also faces questions over a Wikileaks cable by the U.S. Ambassador on the matter of corruption. According to the cable, the World Bank nominee steered public contracts to her brother worth up to $50 million. She denies the charge.
Finally, as Minister of Finance she supported the disastrous lifting of subsidies on Jan. 1. This sparked the nation’s largest mass movement when 5 million Nigerians rallied and marched to oppose the move.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to be interviewed first for the job on April 9, followed by Colombia's Jose Antonio Ocampo and America's Jim Yong Kim. A formal announcement is expected almost immediately, according to an inside source at the Bank. w/pix of Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Recalling A Namibian War Heroine Who Cared For Exiled Children
By Fungai Maboreke
Apr. 3 (GIN) - Namibia’s liberation struggle heroine, who took care of children exiled from Zambia and Angola during the country’s liberation war between 1977 and 1989, passed on in Grootfontein from natural causes. She was 89 years of age.
Meekulu Tresina Mukwaanime Nghimwena, hailed from a small village in the Kavango Region of Namibia. She took in children exiled by the war, and personally put them through a kindergarten school she ran in both Zambia and Angola.
Namibia went through 24 years of insurrection and warfare that left at least 25,000 people dead before attaining its independence on March 20 1990 under the leadership of SWAPO’s Sam Nujoma.
Six of her nine children and several grand and grand great-grand children survive Meekulu Tresina Mukwaanime Nghimwena. Her burial will be April 7 in her home village Mururani after a memorial service Friday to honor her legacy. w/pix of Ms. Nghimwena
New First Lady To Bring Senegalese Traditions To The Post
Apr. 3 (GIN) – Marieme Faye Sall, wife of newly-elected President of Senegal, Macky Sall, has been described as a “daughter of the land,” and the first woman of Senegalese birth and ancestry at the nation’s capital.
All Senegalese First Ladies, with the exception of former President Abdou Diouf's wife, who was Senegalese of Lebanese descent, have been European.
A devout Muslim with three children, she is rarely seen at political events for her husband. A close friend described her as “a committed housewife." Media stories predict she will burn thiouraye, the ubiquitous Senegalese incense, in the palace and bring an African flavor to the state residence.
While Mrs. Sall has chosen to stay behind the scenes in her husband’s career, the number of women in non-traditional jobs is growing. Two women entered the recent campaign for president against Abdoulaye Wade. Sow Sidibe and Dieng Douma Diakhate later gave their support to Sall.
Madame Sall was at her husband’s side at swearing-in ceremonies this week. Some 2,000 people attended the affair in the gardens of a large hotel in the seaside capital, including 11 African heads of state. It was followed by a closed session of leaders on the unfolding crisis in Mali, whose democracy has been upended after a coup. w/pix of Madame Sall