Cuban Vice President Ines Maria Chapman to Arrive in Kenya Today

Source:  Prensa Latina

March 31 2019

Nairobi, Mar 31 (Prensa Latina) The vice president of the Cuban Council of State and of Ministers, Ines Maria Chapman, will arrive on Sunday in Kenya, the last stopover of a tour of three African countries.
The tour, which also included South Africa and Lesotho, contributed to fostering relations between Cuba and the African peoples.

The Cuban vice president was welcomed by the top government and political authorities in the nations she visited.

At each meeting, participants highlighted Cuba’s role in the independence of this part of the world, as well as its collaboration in several fields, particularly public health.

The vice president, in turn, expressed her country’s gratitude for the strong stance against the economic, commercial and financial blockade the United States has imposed on Cuba for more than six decades.

Latin American, African Nations Lead in Women Representation in Parliament

Source:  TeleSUR
March 8 2019

latin_americanx_african_countries_lead_with_women_legislatorsPiedad Cordoba (left), Sahle-Work Zewde (center), Cristina Fernandez (right)
are major political figures in their countries of origin, | Photo: EneasMx – Reuters

Out of the top 10 countries in the world with women in parliament, nine are located in Latin America and Africa.

Despite remaining challenges, Women have come a long way in politics. Almost a century after gaining the right to vote in most parts of the world, women now have a seat at the table  serving as lawmakers and even leading their country’s parliaments. And in this category, Latin American and Africa lead the way.

RELATED: UN: Women Losing Colombian Congressional Seats, Representation

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as of December 2018 out of the top 10 countries in the world with high numbers of women in parliament, nine are located in Latin America and Africa. Rwanda has the best record for women representation, with nearly two-thirds of its seats currently held by women.

Cuba and Bolivia

The African nation is followed by two other countries with more women in parliament than men – Cuba and Bolivia. The rest of the group is made up of four other Latin American and Caribbean countries – Mexico, Grenada, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica – and rounded out by two more African nations – Namibia and South Africa.

“A world where women have equal opportunities as men in political, social and economic spheres, is crucial towards creating a comprehensive sustainable development and improving the livelihood for all,” Kenyan Senator Sylvia Kasanga said as part of the #BalanceforBetter campaign luanched by the global network of female politicians, Women Political Leaders (WPL).

In the United States, 2019 marked a historic year for the number of women sworn into office in the 116th Congress. A record 127 will serve as congresswomen, 106 Democrats and 21 Republicans according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Names such as Ilhan Omar stand-out as she became the first Muslim congresswoman, along with Rashida Tlaib and Latina Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest elected congressperson in the country’s history.

However, the U.S. is far from equal representation as it stands on the IPU list in the 139th position with 19.6 percent of women in Congress. At the same time Latin America, as a region, has increased its percentage of women lawmakers by 20 percent from 1990 to 2018 reaching 30 percent.

As the World Economic Forum indicates, quotas reserved for women can explain this increase as they are a common factor in many of the electoral systems with more women as legislators and MPs. One of the first countries in the world to introduce such a law was Argentina in 1991.

Since then policies aimed to put forward a certain proportion of female candidates have been applied across Latin America and in other nations in the Global South. Also, the improvement of education access for women has to be taken into consideration.

African Nations Condemn Intervention, Interference in Venezuela

Source:  TeleSUR
February 10 2019

sadc condemns interference in venezuela.jpgSADC meeting showing the various flags of the African group’s member
countries. | Photo: Reuters

The South African Development Community issued a letter condeming actions by the United States and its allies against Venezuela.

The South African Development Community (SADC), a group consisting of 15 African nations, issued a statement condemning the violation of international law in U.S. backed coup actions against Venezuela.

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In a letter dated Feb. 10, President of the Republic of Namibia and chairperson of SADC Hage Geingob noted the community’s concern with “attempts by the leaders of some countries to interfere in the affairs and sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The letter relates to the Jan. 10 self-declaration of Juan Guaido, a hitherto unknown lawmaker in Venezuela’s National Assembly in contempt since 2016, as interim president of Venezuela, and the subsequent recognition of him by the United States and some of its Latin American and European allies.

Since that event, United States President Donald Trump has made several threatening statements against the democratically-elected government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying that he won’t rule out military intervention.

Meanwhile governments around the globe have called for dialogue in the country rather than aggression, and have supported Venezuela’s right to self-determination.

SADC Secretariat@SADC_News

Chair H.E. @hagegeingob expresses solidarity with Venezuela & notes with concern attempts by leaders of some countries to interfere in Venezuela’s affairs & sovereignty https://www.sadc.int/index.php?cID=2702  @CyrilRamaphosa @EdgarCLungu @OfficialMasisi @edmnangagwa @DIRCO_ZA @sardcnet

The development group consists of 15 countries whose main goal is: “to achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.”

Among its members are: Angola, Botswana, Lesoto, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Benin to the British: Return the artefacts stolen from us in 1897!

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

edofest benin.jpeg

The Edo State government has intensified call for the return of artefacts stolen from Benin Kingdom by the British colonialists in 1897, with an exhibition of photographs of the prized artworks and their locations in Europe and America. 

benin ivory mask

Unveiling the photographs inside a gallery at the palace of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, at the ongoing Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said that the state government would continue to advocate for the return of the stolen artefacts.

He explained that the state government chose the Edo Festival for Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) event to scale up the campaign, in order to reach more people with the message, adding that “the artefacts represent part of the Benin history.”

He noted that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made provision for N500 million in the 2019 budget of the state, for the establishment of a Benin Royal Museum in collaboration with the Oba Palace, where the artefacts would be kept on return.

Prof. Greg Akenzua commended the organisers of the photo exhibition, and disclosed that the palace of the Benin Monarch, was working with 13 museums to establish the Benin Royal Museum in the state.He maintained that the call for the return of looted artefacts across the world was gaining traction, citing the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has promised that his country would return some of the stolen artefacts to their original owners.

“We are working with 13 museums who have agreed to work with us in the establishment of the Royal Museum. We have set a timeline of three years to put the structures on ground,” Prof. Akensua added.

Dr. Lutz Mukke, a German journalist and academic, who took the photographs of the looted Benin artefacts, said the photographs were the result of his journalistic investigation into the looted Benin artefacts at different museums around the world.

He disclosed that up to 90 per cent of the important cultural artefacts were taken away from Africa, and suggested that a “new deal” between Africa and the Western world was needed to fast-track the return of the stolen artefacts.

He maintained the stolen Benin artefacts numbering 4,000 to 6,000 could be found in about 60 Western museums with the biggest collections in the British Museum in London, Ethnographical Collections in Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

He also said that the German government has called on all public museums housing about 1000 looted Benin artefacts to return them.

“The photographs shown in the exhibition are from the museums in Boston and New York in the United States of America; Vienna in Austria; Stockholm in Sweden, Con Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Leipzig in Germany and London, United Kingdom.

“The artefacts are of course priceless as cultural heritage, but that does not mean we should forget their pure money value. The stolen Benin artefacts are estimated to be $1 billion” Mukke said

Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

museum of black civilization 5

Congo-Kinshasa: 39 New Ebola Cases Confirmed by WHO in a Week

Source:  AllAfrica.com WHO
December 12 2018

PRESS RELEASE

Data as reported by: 10 December 2018

500 Cases

289 Deaths

1. Situation update

The Ministry of Health (MoH), WHO and partners continue to respond to the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By using proven public health measures as well as new tools at hand (immunization and therapeutics), WHO remains confident the outbreak can be contained and brought to an end, despite multifaceted challenges.

Ebola Congo washing hands.jpg

Photo: Thomas Nybo/UNICEF Learning that handwashing is among the best ways to protect yourself against Ebola, schoolchildren in Beni, DR Congo, visit a
hand-washing station at their school.

During the reporting period, 4 December – 10 December 2018, cases continued to be reported in several health zones of North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, including in Mandima, a health zone in Ituri Province that last reported cases 102 days ago. During the reporting period, 39 new confirmed cases were reported from Katwa (12),
Butembo (8), Beni (6), Mabalako (4), Oicha (3), Komanda (1), Kyondo (1), Vuhovi (1) and Mandima (1). Three healthcare workers were reported among the confirmed cases. A total of 21 deaths occurred during the reporting period.

The continuous efforts to review and reconcile case records in the database resulted in the addition of eight confirmed cases who had been admitted at the Ebola treatment Centre (ETC) of Beni during October 2018, and the identification of two former confirmed cases as being healthcare workers.

As of 10 December 2018, a total of 500 EVD cases, including 452 confirmed and 48 probable cases (Table 1), have been reported from 14 health zones in the two neighbouring provinces of North Kivu and Ituri (Figure 2).
Of the total of 500 cases, 289 died (overall case fatality rate 58%), including 241 confirmed cases. As of 10 December 2018, 172 cases have recovered and been discharged from ETCs. Females account for 61% of all confirmed and probable cases, and children (cases. The number of health workers affected is 49 (47 confirmed and 2 probable), including 15 deaths.
Over the last 21 days (20 November to 10 December 2018), 100 confirmed and probable cases were reported from 12 health zones. The majority were reported from the major urban areas of Katwa (n=28), Beni (n=26), and Butembo (n=17); however, field teams are simultaneously pursuing the response activities around cases across Kalunguta, Komanda, Kyondo, Mabalako, Mandima, Masereka, Mutwanga, Oicha and Vuhovi.


Ebola outbreak in DRC is second worst in history

Source: IRC International Rescue Committee
November 29 2018

Today the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reached 426 cases, surpassing the number of cases in the 2000-2001 Uganda outbreak and making it the second worst in history after the 2014 West Africa outbreak which killed over 11,000 people. The emergency response has been complicated by ongoing conflict in North Kivu, where more than 50 armed groups are operating, and where the disease has spread across 14 health zones. As of today, the outbreak has seen 426 cases of infection, 245 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 57%.

On multiple occasions over the past months, spikes in violence have forced the suspension of efforts to contain the spread of the disease. These security incidents, coupled with community resistance, make contact tracing, vaccination and community mobilisation particularly difficult, which undermines the success of response efforts. The case fatality rate is 57% which is higher than commonly seen at this stage of an outbreak, especially given we have drugs for treatment and vaccine for prevention for the first time, illustrating the challenges for disease control in the North Kivu region.

Michelle Gayer, Senior Director of Emergency Health at the International Rescue Committee, said: “This tragic milestone clearly demonstrates the complexity and severity of the outbreak. While the numbers are far from those from West Africa in 2014, we’re witnessing how the dynamics of conflict pose a different kind of threat: a protracted outbreak is highly likely and the end is simply not in sight. The outbreak is far from under control and it is highly likely that it will not be beaten for another six months. We fear that hundreds more people will lose their life in this outbreak.

“Response teams and health workers on the ground are contending with the impact of years of violent conflict. Communities have endured years of insecurity which has in many cases left them skeptical and fearful of authorities. This is hampering community engagement, and coupled with insecurity means those at risk can’t always seek the care they need. We’ve also experienced a number of temporary lock-downs which see health services halted completely. The huge number of displaced people in the region – some one million people – complicates matters further, because the risk of transmission is higher and the critical work of tracing contacts is at best delayed, and at worst, impossible.

“This combination of insecurity, community resistance and disrupted or failing health services amounts to a perfect storm for disease transmission. The international community must continue to pay attention to this crisis or it will likely spiral, costing further lives and possibly spreading over national borders. Yes we need to see more funds and resources mobilised, but also address the impacts of the protracted conflict in DRC. We not only want to put an end to this outbreak but protect and restore people’s health, lives and dignity in this beleaguered region. Whilst we do not, this vast region’s population will continue to suffer and be the source of many future outbreaks that can threaten international health security.”

The International Rescue Committee is on the ground in North Kivu strengthening infection control practices in 51 health facilities, as well as training and mentoring healthcare workers to identify, isolate and refer suspected cases. Via existing teams in the area, the IRC is working to inform the community about the Ebola virus and highlighting the necessary precautions and steps to take if symptoms occur. The IRC is also providing specialised services for women and girls to address the issues they face across the emergency. The work also aims to increase their access to Ebola services and to ensure their voices and experiences are informing any Ebola interventions including community and prevention work.

With more than 13 million people in need of aid, DRC is one of the world’s most complex, chronic and long-standing humanitarian crises. The IRC has been operating in the DRC since 1996 and is a lead humanitarian actor in North Kivu, providing healthcare, women’s protection and empowerment, reproductive health, and child protection to hundreds of thousands of people affected by conflict.

Notes to editors:

To download photos of the IRC’s Ebola response in North Kivu, click here.

For more information on the IRC’s Ebola response, click here.

Previous large Ebola outbreaks

West Africa 2014 – largest in history: 28,610 cases, 11,308 deaths (39.5% death rate)

Uganda 2000 – previous second largest in history: 425 cases, 224 deaths (52.7% death rate)

Yambuku, DRC 1976 – previous largest and first recorded in DRC: 318 cases, 280 deaths (88.1% death rate)

The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

Source: Black Agenda Report
December 19 2018

Ajamu Baraka, BAR editor and columnist

The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

The Trump administration claims China and Russia are exploiting Africa, but US policy offers nothing but more guns, more bases and more subversion.

“Economic relations with China provides African states a modicum of spaceto exercise more effective national sovereignty than had ever been afforded them by the European colonial powers.”

malcolm x 3cMalcolm X reminded us that we had to be careful about the difference between the wolf and the fox. The wolf for black people were the hardcore, racist white folks with the hoods and clearly articulated stance in support of white supremacy. The fox, on the other hand were the liberals who were supposed to be our friends. Their ultimate support for white supremacy was always just as deadly but sugarcoated in diversionary language like “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” The game, according to Malcolm, was that black folks would recognize the danger of the wolf and run from the wolf straight into the jaws of the fox with the consequence being just as fatal because both the fox and the wolf are members of the same canine family.

This captures in many ways not only the nature of the ongoing saga of U.S. politics in general where there is really no substantial difference in the class interests and fundamental priorities of the two capitalist parties, but specific policies like U.S. policy in Africa.

“In Bolton’s world, the real threat to African states were the “predatory” Chinese and, for whatever reasons he threw in the Russians.”

In a speech last week before an audience at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, John Bolton unveiled the Trump administrations’ “new Africa Strategy .” In what could only be characterized as another example of the White supremacist racial blind-spot, Bolton revealed an understanding of Africa and the role played by the U.S. and Europe that was a compete departure from the reality of the systematic underdevelopment of that continent by Europe and the U.S.

In Bolton’s world, the predatory powers in Africa were not the European powers that raided the continent for black bodies to create the wealth of Europe and then carved up a weakened and devastated Africa among those same powers in 1884. It wasn’t the U.S. that murdered African leaders, overthrew African states and imposed brutal neocolonial leaders. No, the real threat to African states were the “predatory” Chinese and, for whatever reasons he threw in the Russians, that, according to Bolton “stunt economic growth in Africa and…threaten financial independence of African nations.”

Therefore, in typical colonialist arrogance in which Bolton’s analysis represents objective truth, he states that African states have a choice. Either surrender to Chinese and Russia interests, or aligned themselves with the U.S. to secure “foreign aid” and avoid subversion from the U.S.!

“There is really no substantial difference in the two capitalist parties’ policies in Africa.”

Of course, there is a different position, a reading of African history from the point of view of the African. From that perspective, it was the predatory practices of European and U.S. imperialist policies that reduced Africa to its present situation as the richest continent on the planet in terms of natural resources, land and people — to a balkanized continent of 54 nations, economically disarticulated, politically fragmented and still suffering the cultural effects of alien colonial cultural imposition.

Whatever the national intentions of China or Russia may have in Africa, only the most jaded or confused could fail to conclude that economic relations with these states and in particular with China provides African states a modicum of space to exercise more effective national sovereignty than had ever been afforded them by the European colonial powers that craved up and unmercifully exploited African labor and land.

But that is the point and the intent of U.S. Africa policy over the last 73 years since the end of the second imperialist war in 1945.

“It was the predatory practices of European and U.S. imperialist policies that reduced Africa to its present situation.”

Bolton and the racist policy-makers in Washington don’t want to see Africa nations with any space to act independently of the dependence imposed on them by predatory trade regimes, the world Bank and International Monetary Fund debt peonage.

While China provides investment in African infrastructure and production capacities, the U.S. offers Africa militarism and subversion from Libya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bolton didn’t mention in his statement that U.S. strategy for Africa which centers military recolonization would be a continuation of the U.S. policies of the last few decades and in particularly during the Obama administration that saw the expansion of the U.S. military presence by 1,900 %.

It is clear that the Trump “strategy” offers nothing substantially different. The policy continues to be more guns, more bases and more subversion.

“The U.S. offers Africa militarism and subversion from Libya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The destruction of Libya that resulted in the enhanced military capacities of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, the disastrous decision to carve up the Sudan and create yet another colonial entity called South Sudan, military and political support for PresidentKagame of Rwanda, President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Museveni of Uganda and expansion of AFRICOM reflects the murderous continuity of U.S. African policy.

When Bolton claims that in order to assist with African economic development it is “developing a new initiative called “Prosper Africa,” which will support U.S. investment across the continent, grow Africa’s middle class, and improve the overall business climate in the region.”

This approach is not in any way a departure from the Bush-Obama “African Growth and Opportunity Act, ” which made similar claims and focused on extractive trade policies to exploit African natural resources and served as basis of continued conflict over those resources in nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than six million Africans have died in resource based conflicts.

The psychopathology of the white supremacist colonialist mind that renders it unable to cognitively apprehend objective reality.”

Bolton’s claim that it is Russia and China that “stunt economic growth in Africa, and “threaten financial independence of African nations, “represents another example of either cynicism or the psychopathology of the white supremacist colonialist mind that renders it unable to cognitively apprehend objective reality.

Therefore, Bolton’s speech and Trump administration policy was not so much a new strategy but a cruder reaffirmation of a political stance on Africa that has always put U.S. interests first, absent the flowery language and liberal pretentions of Obama’s Cairo speech earlier in his administration . From Obama’s “exceptional nation” to Trumps’ “Make American Great Again,” it has always been about putting the interest of U.S. imperialism first.

The people of Africa must not allow the African continent to be drawn into competing blocs during last death thrones of a dying neoliberal capitalist world system.

We say to Bolton, Trump and the neoliberal democrats – U.S. out of Africa, Shut down AFRICOM, Africa for Africans at home and abroad!

“The U.S. and Europe have nothing to offer for the new world that must be built.”

Our radical imaginations can conceive of a world in which the choice is beyond the wolf and the fox. We are on the side of the majority, the majority of the world that is suffering the structural violence of global neoliberal capitalist/imperialist system. But Africans in the U.S. must make a choice. Malcolm said you cannot sit at the table and not have any food in front of you and call yourself a diner. Africans in the U.S. have been sitting at the table of U.S. citizenship and calling themselves “Americans” while our people are murdered, confined to cages in prisons, die giving birth to our children, die disproportionately before the age of five, live in poverty, are disrespected and dehumanized. A choice must be made, do you throw in with this dying system or do you align with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world.

The people of the global South are clear. They can make intelligent distinctions between friends and enemies, between their national interests and the national interests of other nations and where those interest might converge, if only temporarily. But the one thing that is also clear is that the U.S. and Europe have nothing to offer for the new world that must be built. In fact, when Europe and the U.S. are reduced in power and influence globally, it will be one of the most important events for collective humanity in the last thousand years.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. His latest publications include contributions to“Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. He can be reached at: Ajamubaraka.com